An Enthusiastic Response From GMC Owners
I wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed the first installment of Bill Bryant’s articles about the classic GMC motorhome (“Story Of A Classic: The GMC Motorhome, Part 1,” February 2004, page 58).
The GMC chapters, of which there are 22 in FMCA, have several thousand members, and the GMC Motorhome Registry, of which I am the founder, has traced the history of more than 6,000 coaches. There is a loyal and dedicated reader base among current and past GMC owners, and I would like to thank you on their behalf.
Keep up the good work!
David Lee Greenberg, F22009
President, GMC Sunshine Statesmen chapter
Port St. Lucie, Florida
We enjoyed the article about the GMC motorhomes by Bill Bryant and are looking forward to the next two. We have owned our 1976 GMC since 1998. We are members of the GMC Great Lakers and GMC Eastern States chapters.
Many GMC motorhomes still look like they did the day they were made. Ours, like many others, has been modified to fit our taste.
We welcome everyone to visit a GMC rally and check out these coaches. We are always happy to show off our GMCs.
Jim & Sandy Wagner, F239949
Brook Park, Ohio
This is in reply to Colette Daughtrey of Dublin, Georgia, who requested Alaska travel information (“Readers’ Forum,” January 2004, page 211).
During the summer of 2003 I went to Alaska with a professional tour group, because I did not think I could do it alone. I had the convenience of not making reservations or buying tickets; working with a wagon master and tail-gunner; and traveling with some very interesting people. But I had a schedule made for me, with no opportunity to change it if I wanted. I know now that I could have gone on my own if I had bought The Milepost.
I do have some recommendations. Plan, plan, plan, and then be flexible with many alternate plans. Maps, good ones, are important. Yes, everything is a bit more expensive, with some things very much more expensive. Take a complete medicine chest and make sure you have all the prescriptions you need in their original bottles from the store. Always keep at least a half-full tank of fuel, and remember it is better to stop early rather than run out of gas. Side trips are plentiful, and you need to have enough fuel to get back to the main road without any worries.
A CB radio could be handy. Canadian cash, U.S. cash, and two or three good credit cards are also handy. Security is important, just as in the United States. Fanny packs are great. Keep your passport and ID with you at all times. Leave your pets at home with trusted people to care for them.
The roads are in very good condition. Some are gravel roads that have accordion-style surfaces, but traveling 35 to 45 miles an hour will keep the vibrations down. Your motorhome should be in top condition with spare parts for commonly worn-out pieces. Extra fluids, tools, and those plastic zip ties come in handy. The front of your RV needs to have some protection from gravel that can be thrown up by other vehicles and damage your radiator, windshield, or gas tank. I used 1/4-inch hardware cloth surrounded by water pipe insulation, and it worked. I have a chip in the paint and in the windshield, but no holes in the radiator.
Tires should be overly weight rated. Our group had many flats; sometimes, tires were completely chewed because of overweight vehicles and under-rated tires. Check the air in them every morning.
Check those fluids every morning. Do a walk-around, just like pilots would do with their airplane, and look at everything, top to bottom, all the way around. Check for things hanging down and puddles underneath. Make sure everything in the cabin is secure and tied down. You will encounter surprise bumps on occasion.
Clean that windshield. Make sure everything is tight when the windows and doors are closed, and check the seals. When it is dry there, the dust is very fine, like talcum powder. When it is raining, water gets into every crack and crevice. Road construction is always being done, and it is done wet. The mud covers everything with a fine layer that becomes hard like concrete. RV camps do not permit RV washing, but they will allow a rinse, if you ask politely. Do it quickly. Don’t forget to rinse the engine compartment, too. Those wires need to be watertight; maybe you should get a new harness.
Take your winter coats, hats, scarves, and mittens, and don’t forget to take new rain gear, including shoes.
Remember that semi trucks, tankers, and logging trucks have the right-of-way no matter where they are, which direction they are going, or how fast they are traveling. The gravel they throw could damage your unit, so get over or off the road. Their job is vital to the communities in that area.
Don’t forget to talk to the people. They are wonderful and quite interesting. Their history is not too far removed from the present day, as their grandparents were the pioneers. Much of the country was frontier in the 1940s. Even the folks in the campgrounds could be the ones who opened a section of the country or discovered a frozen mammoth. Ask good questions, and listen. You will learn the most interesting things.
Do go to Alaska! It is an experience you will never forget. Be a good scout and be prepared. You will love every minute, just like I did when I went.
After all, how old will you be next year if you do go? And how old will you be if you do not go?
E.G. Crompton, F294627
Crest Hill, Illinois
Be Prepared For Border Crossing
The Jarvis’s letter about their experiences with United States customs officials at the Canada border (“A Big Beef,” December 2003, page 167) described a typical situation when crossing from one country to another. As Canadians, we are used to having our RV checked when entering a foreign country (the United States) from Canada or Mexico. We usually phone the border crossing in the United States well in advance of our crossing to see what is restricted.
Whether or not the customs official is a “trainee” has nothing to do with it. Know what you have, answer his or her questions truthfully, and you will have no problems.
While beef is a temporary problem coming into the United States from Canada, so are pork products, potatoes, eggs, etc., coming from Mexico into the United States. Some items on the restricted list are permissible if they are cooked.
Gary Kanngiesser, F237331
Turner Valley, Alberta, Canada
Good Roadside Service
On January 23 while on a trip home from a family funeral, we experienced alternator problems with our motorhome. We called FMCA’s road service, Coach-Net. They directed us to North Main Exxon in Lexington, North Carolina.
Never in all our years of RVing have we experienced the quality of service we received there. They diagnosed and replaced our alternator and sent us on our way. They were very reasonably priced.
Good service is hard to find this day and time. We highly recommend North Main Exxon; phone (336) 248-2784.
Thanks for a good roadside service.
Gene & Ruth Bachman, F224710
After Cleaning, Try This
In the February 2004 “Tech & Travel Tips” column (page 33) C.J. Maurer told how he returned his yellowed refrigerator vent to white by cleaning it with Thetford’s Premium RV Black Streak & Bug remover and a fine-grade scouring pad.
Recently I learned of a product called Krylon Fusion for Plastics that is available in many colors, including white. I found mine at Ace Hardware. This is a spray-on product that dries in 15 minutes or less and requires no primer. For aged or weathered surfaces, instructions suggest first wiping down the surface with an ammonia-based cleaner.
I think Mr. Maurer’s suggestion looks like a good thing to do first. After that, put on several thin coats of Krylon Fusion for Plastics. It should keep Mr. Maurer’s cleaned vent in pristine condition for a long time.
Arthur Schmidt, F251289
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Fire Brings Out Heroes
Late one Friday afternoon, my friends and I were headed for an evening meal at a Yuma, Arizona, Elks Lodge in my Chevrolet Sprint automobile when we saw dark smoke coming from the engine. Someone “up there” was looking out for us, as we immediately got out of traffic and swung into a bank parking lot. We jumped out of the burning auto, and I lifted the hood to see wires burning. I didn’t have a fire extinguisher in the car.
My friend Eileen Reid, F205580, tried to smother it with a blanket but was unsuccessful. My other friend, Marilyn Barbour, called 9-1-1, and we motioned to passing motorists for assistance. Two men brought over two large containers of soda they had just purchased and were about to throw them on the fire when a bank employee appeared with a fire extinguisher. She sprayed it directly at the fire until it was contained. The two men unhooked the battery cable.
Members of the Yuma Fire Department arrived and made sure the fire was out. They found that the battery cable had been rubbing on the frame until it was raw and caused sparks. Eventually, some of the other wires had also caught fire.
It was a blessing this happened when it did, and not in a more isolated location.
We had been going to the lodge to meet other members of the Singles International chapter. Eileen called Peter Leodler, F83087, the chapter’s alternate national director, and he picked us up and gave us a ride to the lodge. Another chapter member, Bob Hamilton, F82068, took the three of us back to our motorhomes later.
Thanks to all the people in Yuma for their wonderful response to my emergency.
Edie Williams, F209715
Cowichan Bay, British Columbia, Canada
Angels In Elkhart
My wife and I started a six-day trip to Bullhead City, Arizona. We planned our trip carefully, noting overnight stays and the park we would be staying at for five months. We carefully stored all possessions and thought the Navigator was ready to go.
Our first day out proved to be a disaster. The amp gauge stopped registering and the voltmeter showed that our diesel batteries were losing power. Then we found that the generator switch would not operate, and the step light and step were not operating. We were 360 miles from home, but after reviewing the problems and considering where to get them fixed, we decided to turn around and go to a local repair shop.
We had heard many scary stories of rip-off artists and poor workmanship by repair shops and had previously experienced one. We called a reputable, large dealer in Elkhart, Indiana, and were given the phone number of a shop they send their chassis repairs to. Angel Automotive’s hourly rates were in line. They were courteous, efficient, and warranted their work for 36 months/36,000 miles.
We recommend them to those in need, and we feel confident in driving a reasonable distance to have our motorhome repaired by them.
Angel Automotive is in Elkhart at 58200 Charlotte Ave.; phone (219) 294-6541. Incidentally, they send a monthly flyer that contains many facts about your auto/motorhome chassis.
William Feist, F181199
Three Rivers, Michigan
A Full Reimbursement
Last winter I took our trusty old 1994 Monaco Dynasty motorhome to Rexhall Service Arizona, at 3302 E. Main St. in Mesa, Arizona (phone 480-324-2210) for some windshield repairs. In fewer than 200 miles the problems redeveloped, and I had to have the coach repaired again. I’m happy to report that we drove to Alaska and back to Arizona last summer with no further problems.
When I wrote to Rexhall Service Arizona about the problems and the expenses we had incurred, they reimbursed us for the repairs, even though those repairs cost almost $100 more than their original bill. It appears the problems with the original repairs were caused by a subcontractor, but Rexhall reimbursed us the full amount anyway. I consider this above and beyond the call of duty and well deserving of an “atta boy.”
Andrew K. Brumbaugh, F177803
Praise For Winnebago
My husband and I have been camping together since 1974. We had pop-ups, fifth-wheels, and finally decided in 1996 that we wanted a motorhome. We immediately knew that it had to be a Winnebago. We bought a Winnebago Adventurer, and didn’t need to bother comparing it to any other. We now have a 2000 Adventurer.
Just recently we had some spots pop off of the finish of the exterior of the coach. I was just sick. I wrote to Winnebago and explained the problem. They immediately called us, and we took the coach to Cullum-Maxey RV in Nashville, Tennessee. Tom Cartwright, in the service department, contacted Winnebago and got the ball rolling. Winnebago came to our rescue and covered the cost of the needed repairs.
I often see letters of complaint about this and that, but I wanted to write and praise Winnebago Industries and Tom Cartwright of Cullum-Maxey in Nashville (615-889-1600). I plan for my next motorhome to be another Winnebago, and I also hope that it can be purchased at Cullum-Maxey.
Danny & Debbie Hale, F233751