We decided to stay in Northern Indian to get some repairs done on the RV. Some were planned, others were not.
Shortly after our last blog post, we moved our home thirty minutes north to Elkhart, Indiana where we worked at a rally and wanted a shorter commute. Before we left Goshen, our slide broke. No problem, Trey fixed it (again.) When we tried to put the slide back out in Elkhart, it broke again. And then it broke again. This time the part that broke was on the underside of the trailer requiring the removal of coverings and insulation. Oh, and then it began to rain.
After the third failure, the box tubing on the shaft adjuster was stretched and cracked. You can easily see where the tubing cracked below. Upon closer examination, Trey could see tiny evidences of rust along the split. That told us that this had probably been failing for a while. Maybe that was why our slide seemed to fail more frequently than in previous years.
We got the slide fully extended and removed the broken piece. We both stopped to evaluate alternatives. Two years ago when we had the new suspension put on the trailer, we had Dan's Hitch raise the hitch on the truck. We were pleased with their work and they were only two miles away. Trey decided to take the part to them to see if they could replicate it or give a suggestion for a place. The welder thought it was best to repair the tubing. They discussed a few ways to make it better and stronger than the original. Once again, Trey was highly impressed with the folks there. They listened to the issue, asked proper questions, identified solutions, and did quality work. We couldn't have broken at a better location! We hope this is the end of our slide woes for a while.
We stayed in Elkhart a week working the rally and getting other work done in between talking safety with RV owners. Looking around at how many smaller trucks were matched with larger fifth wheels, we knew we would see many issues on weighing day. We did. It is never fun to tell someone that a truck they've purchased to tow their RV is too small, but we are faced with breaking that news on a regular basis. On average almost 60% of all RVs going down the road are over ratings in at least one area. This rally had more than average, which meant we had to break quiet a bit of bad news and risk running out of red ink for the printer. We really wish truck & RV dealers would be honest with thier customers and customers would educate themselves before making major investment.
After that rally we had an appoint at MORryde to get our trailer suspension checked and bearings repacked. Our appointment was for 6 AM, so we arrived the day before and slept in thier parking lot. No sense in waking others in the campground at 5 AM.
I know we said this two years ago, but we really love the folks at MORryde. They build quality products and the folks who work there take pride in thier work. Trey struggled with whether or not to repack the berings himself and finally decided to pay someone to do it. Looking at the shop floor mid-job, we were both happy to pay someone else. Our check up said everything looked good and we were out the door a few hours later.
We returned to the Fairgrounds in Goshen and set up camp again. The slide worked perfectly, but we broke our ceiling fan, a cabinet door, and our front jack motor. It is not as bad as it sounds. We were going to get rid of the fan anyway and just needed an excuse. The cabinet door was fixed with a little glue and some straps. We screwed a couple of small plates inside to made sure everything stayed in place.
The jacks puzzled us. We had never manually cranked the front jacks, so this gave us the opportunity to try that out. We were only about 1/2" from where we needed to be so that wasn't too bad, but it took about 100 rotations on the crank handle to get us there! Then the search for the problem began. We found a fuse and a breaker to the motor and they were both fine. After various other unsuccessful trouble-shooting scenarios, we found a replacement motor. Before clicking the "Order" button, Trey took one last look a the power lines to the motor. Turns out it was a another breaker. RV systems can be so difficult to trouble shoot. Each one is unique and quite different from systems in houses.
It had pretty much been seven days of problems. We hoped the next few weeks would bring a few days of reprieve.
We got a few days of reprieve. Then the next storm hit. Trey designs and manages a few websites for various non-profits. We discovered that a hacker hit four of those sites causing us to have to shut them down until something could be done to fix them. It was quite frustrating. He has managed websites for twenty years without this issue and all of a sudden four sites were hit at once. He spent Labor Day weekend at his computer trying to fix what some destructive people broke. He found a short-term solution, but something much more drastic will need to happen for a permanent fix.
A week later, the hackers struck again. This time he caught it within an hour. It took hours, rather than days to fix, but he is still working on a more permanent solution.
Thus, the new blog site. Trey has been wanting Susan to learn a new web content management system for some time, but she has pretty much been unwilling. Some of that unwillingness was from a real lack of time, but most of it was from lack of desire. "My brain has a small capacity and it is already too full." The web attacks made Trey move the blog to the new system and thus Susan was required to learn. She is still learning the ins and outs of the new site, but has learned enough to do some basic posts. Don't tell Trey this, but I think she will like this one better than the old one.
Life at a Fairground
Life hasn't been all repairs. Since we are once again staying that the fairgrounds, there is always something going on.
One morning we woke to a very full parking lot out our front door - even on the grass by our trailer!
Behind us was the buggy parking for the Amish.
There was an big auction a the fairground that day. At any given time there would be five or six auctions going on for everything from housewares to guns to tractors to trees. There were two auctions going on a the same time all day long in the housewares barn. Later, they added a third auctioneer just to get through all the stuff.
Things went pretty cheap! If we didn't live in an RV it would have been fun to bid on something. Here is a really old pressure cooker. There was a larger one just a couple of stalls away. It even had the original instruction book inside!
We walked around the auction for a bit and then went back to work in the trailer. Later in the day we watched folks load up their cars and trailers with their new treasures. We even helped some of them carry their purchases.
Another evening's entertainment was provided by the pavement repair folks. The machine on the right chews up the pavement about 2 inches deep. Machine on the left vacuums up the gravel produced by the first, then a front loader dumps new asphalt down while the guys with shovels level everything out. Finally a roller comes and gives the repairs a final pressing. These guys filled three pretty good-sized holes and were gone in a little over an hour. The parking lot is good. Now they need to fix the road!
The buggy races came to town. I think they call them "Trotting Horse Races" here. We walked down to the track one evening to watch. The horses follow a pace truck until the race begins. The truck has a wide gate that the horses must remain behind. Once the race starts, the truck speeds up, the gate folds up and the horses start their trot.
Here are some horses at the finish line. Most races were pretty predictable, but a few had exciting finishes. The announcer was awesome and did a great job of naming the horses as they raced around the track. We finally got too cold and returned home.
New Cooling Unit on the Fridge
This week we took the rig to Shipshewana, IN to replace the cooling unit on our RV Refrigerator. Our fridge is about 14 years old and runs on electricity or propane. The life span of these units are pretty limited. Folks would say these units last about 7-10 years before failure. The replacement cost on a new refrigerator is about $4,000 for a 12 cu ft. Yes, you read that correctly. Leon in Shipshewana can replace the cooling unit for $1,000 - $1500. His reputation is exemplary. We could get a rebuilt unit (Leon rebuilds them himself) or buy a larger capacity new unit that he buys from someone else and installs.
This summer we found ourselves resetting our refrigerator multiple times each week (sometimes daily) to keep it properly cooled. It seemed wise to get a new cooling unit while we were so close. Otherwise we would have to consider a different repair facility or the purchase of a new fridge - ouch! After talking with Leon, we decided to go for the new unit. They both work well until temps get above 90* and at that point Leon said that the new unit seems to outperform the rebuilt one a bit. This is simply because there are more coils in the new unit. Since our home base is in Texas, we felt the new unit was a good match for us.
A friend here at the fairgrounds secured a place for us to store our food while the fridge was being repaired. That was cool! The night before, we moved our food to the fairground fridge and began disassembling and cleaning ours. How often do you get the opportunity to remove all the food shelving and really clean your fridge? Not sure Trey really planned to spend his evening that way, but he was a trooper and helped out. Since we have had so many problems with our slide, we pulled it in the night before, too.
Once we arrived in Shipshewana, we watched them remove the fridge. They had to take off the doors to unscrew to the framing from the wood cabinet.
Then they could pull the fridge out of its hole. During this process they discovered that the solar power was wired through the cooling unit on the back of the fridge. Leon cut the power cable and then we watched Houdini Leon crawl in the back side of the fridge to untangle the cords. You can't tell from the picture, but that space was about 2' wide by 6" deep. We still aren't sure how he made it in that small space.
With the refrigerator removed, we could see the inside of the fridge box. With all the horror stories we heard about RV refrigerators, we weren't sure what to expect, but we wouldn't be surprised if there was some soot. What a relief to see a very wide, very clean flue! The darker insulation is where road dirt and dust came in the side vent of the RV.
Here is a side by side view of the cooling units.
To the right is the old cooling unit they removed. Next is the new cooling unit they installed. You can see a difference in the number of coils alone!
We added a bit more insulation to the cabinet before they put the fridge back in. When the fridge was installed in the factory, all the side insulation had been pushed to the back of the fridge. Our food pantry is on the other side of that wall and we were uncomfortable with the amount of warmth that cabinet held. now we have double insulation where before we had none.
When we arrived back at the fairgrounds that afternoon, our slide broke again, sigh. We do not know the problem, therefore can't find a solution. A friend who also owns a Travel Supreme visited last week and he wasn't sure what could be causing the constant problems either. This might be a puzzle/frustration for some time to come.
EDIT: After even more discussion about the slide issue, we thought of something else we could try. The motor shaft and the extension rod have never been completely in line. It has been this way since we've had the trailer. Trey took several hours yesterday aligning the two. Not sure if this even remotely addresses the (unknown) issue, but we will let you know the end result.