Volunteers Needed In Wyoming
I am associated with the United States Forest Service in Jackson, Wyoming, in the Bridger Teton National Forest. We will be rehabbing an old log cabin guard station this summer and are seeking volunteers with construction skills. We will reroof, chink, replace logs, etc. The first part of the project involves roofing with cedar shingles. The rehab project was to begin in mid-June and will run through the summer. The Forest Service will provide on-site housing for qualified individuals, either a modern cabin or a motorhome campsite with full hookups. The location is a gorgeous spot south of Jackson on the Hoback River, near the Snake River. It also is near Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park.
This is a wonderful opportunity for FMCA members to enjoy one of the most beautiful areas of our country in exchange for experienced labor. Please contact me for more details.
Mike West, F170372
Weight-Carrying Capacity Is Also An Issue
I agree with Jeff Jefcoat that customer demands for quality and service will drive the industry, as they have in terms of requesting more power for large coaches especially (“Quality And Service Issues,” “President’s Message,” March 2002, page 6). Customer demand is the key. But there is another aspect of motorhoming that I believe customers need to insist that manufacturers address, and that is weight-carrying capability.
The portion of the gross vehicle weight that can be used for carrying the things one will load into the motorhome becomes a bigger issue as more space is being provided inside new motorhomes.
In our motorhome, we have considerably more space to put things than we have the weight capacity to carry them. Saying it another way, we have plenty of room to overload our tires and chassis. Our motorhome isn’t the only one in this situation; I have checked the weight information on motorhomes made by other companies, and on other chassis. Many of them, with some worse than others, have similar weight carrying capability and storage space provided.
For the purpose of identifying how much cargo a particular unit will handle, some new units do provide information such as the weight of water, LP gas, and passengers. But even with that information in hand, how many of us know the weight of all the items we will be carrying, such as the pots and pans, the food that will go in the refrigerator, the cat and the cat litter, the dog and its food, the lawn chairs, the water hose, electrical cord extensions and adapters, dealer-installed options, and so on?
A tire blowout alerted me to this issue. I monitor tire pressure closely, and I also check tire temperature at stops. After the blowout, we weighed the motorhome while it was loaded. It is not overweight, but each axle is fairly close to its limit, and our storage compartments are not at all full. With anything but the slightest side-to-side imbalance, we could be operating right at the maximum rated tire capacity, particularly in the front. I wonder whether this is a good thing and started thinking about beefing up the tires. But other issues also need to be considered, such as the brakes, the pressure rating for the wheels, dual spacing, etc. This quickly gets beyond what the customer can address in the aftermarket and into items that motorhome engineers need to consider.
Clearly, manufacturers should be the ones to address this issue. Customers’ understanding of the issue will hasten this, as they ask about the various weight capacities and consider them before they buy.
As Mr. Jefcoat said, customer demand should take care of it. But first, customers need to be aware of the issue and make it part of their purchase process.
Ed Higbie, F301399
Positive Quality Experience
It saddens us to read of motorhomers who are dissatisfied with the quality of their RVs. We can, of course, speak only of our experiences, which have generally been good.
In the past 12 years we have owned four type A motorhomes. The last three have been diesel pushers. The first three were Winnebagos, and our current coach is a 41-foot 2000 Overland Lorado.
We have thoroughly enjoyed all our motorhomes and have had only an occasional, minor problem. For example, we just completed a 7,680-mile trip to the Southwest. We were gone for 3-1/2 months. In that entire time we had to change one $1.40 oil pressure sending unit (under warranty).
We are of the opinion that quality control, as important as it is, extends beyond the factory. How the dealer feels about the product he sells is as important as how the owner maintains it. We purchased all of our motorhomes from one dealer: Hill’s RV in Conway, New Hampshire. When Hill’s delivers a unit to us, we know it has already had a lot of attention paid to it. We feel we are also obligated to properly and intelligently maintain our motorhome.
Ron & Carol Sislane, F274902
FMCA’s Road Service Complimented
On April 5, 2002, on our way home from Florida, our motorhome broke down near Greenville, Alabama, on Interstate 65. I called Coach Net, FMCA’s Emergency Road Service, on my cell phone. I received immediate and courteous service. The operator took my information, and a tow truck arrived within the hour. They towed our coach approximately 50 miles to a GM dealership (Capital Chevrolet) in Montgomery for repairs. We followed in our towed car.
Upon our arrival, the service manager assigned a team of mechanics to reconnect the drive shaft and get the vehicle into a service bay where they quickly diagnosed the problem. The defective parts were replaced, and we were on our way again within two hours. Needless to say, we were impressed by how quickly we were taken care of and how the entire team “” Coach Net, the tow truck driver, and the people at Capital Chevrolet “” worked together to take care of us during our time of need.
Our compliments to FMCA for choosing Coach Net and its network of support companies and all of the personnel along the way who take good care of FMCA members. It was extraordinary service.
Robert Laverdiere, F156l74
Gravel Meets Windshields In Alaska
In the June 2002 issue of Family Motor Coaching, the editor of The Milepost guidebook discusses several road hazards one faces while traveling in Alaska (page 123). In our opinion, she left out the most troublesome one “” loose gravel causing cracked windshields.
Springtime road repairs seem to leave a lot of loose gravel adrift on the paved roads. You can manage to protect yourself by keeping a safe distance away from the fellow ahead of you, but you can’t do much to hide from the fast-moving oncoming traffic, particularly trucks.
Our two trips resulted in two cracked windshields. Regardless, both trips were worth it.
Freeman & Emily Nevins, F267225
Classic Bus Conversions Denied Access To RV Resorts
There seems to be a growing trend among RV resorts to deny admittance to anyone driving a 10-year-old or older motor coach. As a member of the Western Bus Nuts chapter, I’ve seen many motor coaches that individuals have spent years converting. These vehicles are attractive and represent a great deal of talent and ingenuity. We “converters” are as dedicated a group, I’m sure, as folks who belong to various classic auto clubs across the country.
Family Motor Coaching ran an article about a 1965 Blue Bird conversion in May 2002 (“A Coach Conversation Piece,” page 62). It is a beautiful job; however, the family that owns that coach, as well as my family and untold others, are being systematically denied admittance into RV parks that have established this ruling.
The people who convert coaches are a great group and their talent is unlimited. I have rarely seen a converted coach that could be described as derelict.
I recognize that RV park owners have a very large capital investment in their properties, and I respect their right to impose any restrictions they feel necessary. I don’t question their right to do this, but I do question their judgment.
J. Tipton Wilmarth, F100667
Kindness Is A Higher Standard
It is with deep gratitude that I want to express thanks to FMCA member Larry Meeks, F254919, from Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. Larry came to my rescue on April 15, 2002, near Tehachapi, California, after the awning on my Expedition motorhome began flapping and unrolling as I drove in extremely windy conditions.
After I found a suitable place to stop, I began trying to roll down the awning so I could roll it back up and tie it securely. Larry saw my desperate attempt and stopped to help me. He had a ladder, with which we were able to complete the job together. It would have been most difficult, if not impossible, to do it alone.
Larry’s actions reflected so favorably upon FMCA’s “Code of Ethics” that I want to take this opportunity to thank him publicly. He made my day and inspired me to strive for a similar high standard of conduct.
Everett Fikse, F136323
Refrigerator Expert Found
We own a coach conversion that was manufactured by one of the leading converters. Two refrigerators and four cooling units later, we finally found a repair center in Elkhart, Indiana, that discovered what was causing the coach’s cooling units to fail.
Jerry Hobson and his son Jeromy of Hobson RV work on refrigerators, furnaces, air conditioners, and water heaters. They pointed out to us that the heat from the cooling unit would not follow the contour of the side of the coach, so it was trapped in the curve of the vent chamber. They installed a simple 12-volt fan with a thermostatic control in the contour of the vent chamber. The fan turns on automatically when the heat builds up. This keeps the cooling unit from overheating. At the time of this repair, the refrigerator was four years old and on its third cooling unit.
Jerry Hobson has more than 31 of years of experience in RV refrigeration, and we highly recommend Jerry and his son Jeromy to anyone with this sort of problem. Hobson RV is located at 54933 C.R. 17, Elkhart, IN 46516; (574) 295-5893.
They are very reasonable, especially for the expertise that they offer.
Len & LuAnne Keith, F60604
Gratitude For Kansas KOA
We are writing to tell you about a surprisingly pleasant experience we had at the Lawrence/Kansas City KOA in Lawrence, Kansas, owned by Ralph and Kim Newell.
On May 23, 2001, we were traveling on U.S. 70 from Kansas City to Topeka when a piece of our coach’s awning material came loose in a 45-mile-per-hour wind. We got off the freeway and pulled into a shopping center but were unable to get the awning down. A highway patrol substation was located in the shopping center, and a very nice officer tried to help us find a repair facility, but none were available. She called the KOA and asked whether they knew of someone who repaired awnings. Within five minutes, Mr. Newell came over in his truck and helped us to get the awning down and roll the material up.
We followed him back to the campground and decided to stay. Then we discovered that while the canvas was whipping around, it had broken one of the vent covers on our coach. Mr. Newell had a vent cover in his store and got up on the roof and repaired the damage. He charged us only the cost of the materials, which was very reasonable.
We believe he went far beyond what he needed to do to help stranded travelers. He deserves our gratitude, and we will be sure to stop at the KOA in Lawrence the next time we pass that way.
Jack & Cathy Dorfman, F234992
San Jose, California
National RV Comes Through
In April 1999 we purchased a new National RV Tropi-Cal. We had the usual minor new-coach problems, but one thing continued to be bothersome. The entry door had a rattle that sounded like we were dragging a garbage can down the road. Our dealer tried to remedy the problem, to no avail. We tried all sorts of things to quiet it down, but nothing worked.
After owning the coach for 28 months, we called National RV and explained the problem. Their service rep, Andy, gave us an incident number and directed us to their new service center in Lakeland, Florida. There, we met Jeff, who took over with all of the confidence in the world. After about two hours, we were on our way with a quiet coach.
Service after the sale is one thing, but to accept responsibility 16 months after the warranty has expired speaks of National RV’s dedication to customer satisfaction.
Ernest & Theresa Woleslagle, F152167
A Barth Fan Writes
What a great article about Lee Merriman, president of the Barth Rangers and of FMCA’s Barth International chapter (“Family & Friends,” May 2002, page 36). Barth Custom Coach owners have been greatly blessed by Lee and his wife, Shirley, two die-hard Barth advocates. Lee is always available to answer the many questions posed by new Barth Coach owners. He is very knowledgeable and eager to share that knowledge.
Those who want to learn more about Barth Custom Coach can visit www.barthmobile.com, a non-commercial site dedicated to these extraordinary coaches.
Dave Bowers, F281698
Eden Prairie, Minnesota
Great Cummins Repair In Tucson, Arizona
We encountered a problem with our motorhome’s diesel engine while in Willcox, Arizona. We obtained the name and phone number of the nearest Cummins dealer and had our coach towed to Cummins Southwest Inc. (1912 W. Prince Road, Tucson, AZ 85705).
Our motorhome was inspected within 30 minutes of our arrival, and by the next day, the problem was solved and parts were ordered. The staff worked with Cummins to obtain permission for the work to be done under warranty.
We were kept aware of the coach’s progress by Kimra Hayes, service writer; Eric Steventon, service sponsor; and Carlos Martinez, service adviser, all of whom were very friendly and courteous. Paperwork was expedited so we could leave Friday afternoon before the shop closed for the weekend. The mechanics worked almost nonstop and kept the interior of the coach very clean. As you can imagine, this was greatly appreciated.
We certainly recommend this facility to anyone needing help while in the Tucson area.
Jack & Loretta Rose, F105286
White Lake, Michigan
Generator Trouble No Trouble
We recently returned from a quick cross-country trip, during which we had some generator problems. We wanted to share a tip for anyone who might be traveling in the Beaumont, Texas, area, and have the misfortune of needing generator repairs.
The engine alternator on our 10-kilowatt Onan Quiet Diesel decided to give up the ghost after approximately 600 hours of operation with repeated high temperature faults. Coincidentally, this occurred within hours after one of the serpentine belt pulleys on our Caterpillar C-12 engine froze up and shredded the belt. After we got the engine attended to in Houston, we traveled eastward in search of a generator repair facility.
It turned out to be one of the most expeditious and professional service visits we ever encountered. We called Teel Maintenance & Supply Company (409-833-8611) based on a Cummins repair facility recommendation. When Henry Iglesias advised us that they could take us in unscheduled, we headed into downtown Beaumont. Dennis Reeves, one of Teel’s technicians, diagnosed our problem to be a seized alternator pulley bearing, which caused the water pump belt to break. Not having the alternator in stock, they canvassed the area, found one, and had it shipped in the next day “” no small feat, it being the Thursday before Christmas. Dennis then proceeded to get the parts installed, the generator case reassembled, and us on the road by 3:00 that afternoon. And all this work was performed at a very reasonable rate.
Should you have the misfortune of needing generator repairs while in this part of Texas, we strongly recommend you consider Teel Maintenance & Supply Company in Beaumont. Their facility is only about four blocks from Interstate 10 and easily accessible to any big coach. You’ll experience true and honest Southern hospitality.
Glenn & Betty Perkins, F206961
Merritt Island, Florida
A Traveler Fights DVT
One Friday morning I was walking around the fairgrounds where a Rexhall owners rally was taking place, and I thought I had a cramp in my left leg. I asked my husband to massage it, but we both got sidetracked, and he never did. I found out later that this could have been one of the worst things we could have done.
At that night’s “homecoming” dinner, I found I could barely walk, and the pain worsened as time passed. A woman at our table went looking for help. Our own Rexhall nurse and four other nurses came by and asked me several questions. The consensus was that it was a blood clot.
When I went to the hospital they did an ultrasound to determine that indeed I did have deep vein thrombosis (DVT) “” a blood clot within a deep vein. I was given several drugs and could not put any weight on my leg. I have to have my blood monitored every three days, for now, and this procedure could last up to 12 months. Since we are full-timers, our plans have now been drastically changed, because I want to be taken care of by only one doctor, not switch as we travel.
I found out that I did not fit the mold as being the most likely candidate for DVT. However, since we do travel quite a bit and sit for hours at a time, I wondered whether this could be the cause. The doctors are not sure. However, my doctor said, “If you cannot get up to walk around, at least flex your feet and wiggle your toes.” So, I advise all of you to do what I was not doing. Stop every hour or two while you’re traveling to walk around. This could happen to anyone.
Laura Bornkamp, F192770
Curious About A Coach
We were driving down the freeway in California and saw a small motorhome with the name “Boxcar IV” on it. Does anyone know about this brand of motorhome or its manufacturer?
Morgan Hill, California
An Illuminating Incident
Most letters mention motorhome mechanical trouble, but I want to remind others that a flashlight can be pretty important, too.
We keep a Maglite six-battery flashlight in our coach. It is one of those items that just sits until it’s needed. I waited too long to check the flashlight, and when I went to use it, I discovered that the batteries had corroded inside. I couldn’t make it work, so I sent it to the Mag Instrument Inc. Warranty Department in Ontario, California.
I explained that I was at fault for not checking the flashlight, but with no questions asked and at no cost, they replaced the whole flashlight and shipped it back.
We complain when things go wrong. It is only fair to commend companies when they do us a good turn.
Chester A. Shurtleff, F42828
A Positive Experience
As we were preparing to leave a campground in Phoenix, Arizona, we realized that the back end of our motorhome was higher than usual, and we heard a strange, loud vibration in the floor of the coach. We called Spartan’s service number and were advised to contact Massey’s Diesel Repair in Phoenix. We made a temporary fix with our ever-ready roll of duct tape and paid them a visit.
A mechanic named Red immediately crawled under our coach and verified that it was a minor air bag problem “” a broken clamp around a boot. Within 15 minutes of our arrival we were ready to roll again, at no charge.
If motorhome problems can be a positive experience, this one could be classified as such. Thanks to Spartan Motors for directing us to Massey’s, and to Tom and Red at Massey’s Diesel Repair.
Bruce & Edie Mattson, F258003
FMCA Mail Forwarding
New Cabinets Made The Difference
As reverse snowbirds, we began our annual trek to cooler climates in April 2001. We had it in the back of our minds that we might purchase a new double-slideout motorhome to replace our 1998 Safari.
We attended the FMCA international convention in Redmond, Oregon, last August and saw what seemed like hundreds of units, but our final decision was to keep what we had. With that decision made, we decided to add more interior cabinets to give us extra storage space.
We knew the reputation of Davis Cabinet Inc. of Junction City, Oregon, and had seen samples of their work in friends’ motorhomes; so, we decided to give them a call. We made an appointment for measurements.
We met with the owner, Rick Davis, who was very professional and personable. We had to wait awhile for the installation date, because of their work schedule. But after the cabinets were installed, we were thrilled with the craftsmanship. It is impossible to tell the new cabinets from the original ones.
While we were awaiting the installation, Rick gave us a personal tour of the factory. It has the latest and most up-to-date woodworking technology available. We were amazed by the speed at which they could make cabinets. They also make cabinets for residential homes.
Any RVer who simply needs additional storage space should see Davis Cabinets Inc. (150 E. 10th Ave., Junction City, OR 97448). Their work is beyond reproach.
Jack & Bubbles Bishop, F192933