Tire Article Kudos
Technical articles in RV magazines often leave you blank. But I must compliment writer Peter D. Du Pre and Family Motor Coaching on the recent article “Where The Rubber Meets The Road” (April 2005, page 64). It was an excellent, comprehensive article.
Karl Kerns, F217545
A Note From Another Female Pilot
After readers’ letters in the June 2005 issue about Jane Blair’s article “I Can Do This” in the April issue (page 86), I realized it applies to me, too. I’m not a solo, but my husband prefers that I drive our 36-foot type A, towing a Cavalier.
When men see a woman driving, they immediately leap to help direct backing into a campsite, even though my husband, who they can’t see, is behind me giving me hand signals. Once at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, one man stood on my front left, motioning to the right, while a second man on my front right was motioning to the left. I watched the side mirrors for my husband’s directions!
Another time in Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico, a younger man stood and watched our whole process and asked whether he could bring his wife to meet me. They were from Sweden, and he wanted her to meet an American woman who could drive well.
Helen Mitchell, F251564
Merritt Island, Florida
A Great Rally
We would like to tell everyone that the Southern Alberta Drifters just put on the best rally we have ever attended. In 36 years with FMCA, believe us, we have attended many rallies, but the best ever was the Calgary Stampede Rally hosted by those wonderful Canadians in Alberta.
This is a relatively new chapter, and it was amazing to see how they pulled together to bring off a memorable affair. We had superb food, a great parking spot … every detail taken care of as though they had been running rallies for many years. FMCA can be proud to have a chapter like this.
Bill & Anne Tighe, F3255
Fabulous Mail Forwarding
We recently returned from our first full winter in Baja, Mexico. It was absolutely wonderful. We loved the place, the people, the food, and especially the warm weather. And we stayed in touch with our northern homeland through e-mail, phone, and the wonderful mail forwarding service FMCA provided.
We cannot say enough good things about FMCA’s mail forwarding program. Even though the Mexican postal system is a little unpredictable, each package arrived within two to three weeks of mailing, and each was intact. We even had FMCA forward one package to us as we traveled up the west coast after leaving Mexico. It, too, arrived on schedule and was waiting when we arrived in Hoodsport, Washington. We are very pleased and highly recommend the service to anyone who is traveling for extended periods of time.
We extend a huge thank-you to all FMCA staffers for their courteous and efficient service.
And, while we’re throwing bouquets, let us mention the extraordinary assistance we received at South Coast RV Service in Chula Vista, California. We took our motorhome in for routine service as we headed north from Baja and asked them to just take a look to make sure everything was okay. The technician found some major front suspension problems and reported them immediately. Four hours later we were back on the road knowing that we were driving a safe vehicle. A big thank-you to Mike and his crew for catching a potentially dangerous situation before anything bad happened.
We consider our investment in FMCA membership an integral and important part of our RV experience. Please feel free to use our testimonial in assuring others of the value of belonging to FMCA.
Mike & Gail McAllister
During our travels across the United States this summer, we stopped to personally pick up our mail at the FMCA mail forwarding facility in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was impressive to see the volume of mail, the amount of sorting, and the computer records needed to provide the weekly mail pickups we get wherever we travel.
We want to thank all the staff that faithfully provides this wonderful service to FMCA members. A special thanks to Betty Jo for giving us a tour of the facility and for the opportunity to spend the night in the campground behind the building.
Allyn & Joy Smith, F261471
RV Fire Prompts Pet Rescue
How do you define bravery and kindness? We are going to try.
On Sunday, July 3, 2005, we had just gotten out of church when the cell phone rang. It was Donna Abernathy from Waters Edge RV Park calling. We had been staying at this campground in Murray, Kentucky. There had been a fire in our coach, but she assured us it had been contained, and our cat and two dogs had been rescued. We let her know that we were returning immediately.
Getting the pets out was not as easy as one might think. For the rescue to take place, they had to deal with a locked entry door, and the windows were closed because the air conditioning was running. When smoke was first seen coming from the roof of our motorhome, people started coming over to see what the problem was. There was initially confusion as to whether we were in the coach. But once it was established that we weren’t, and that our pets were inside alone “” because they saw our cat, Sammy, looking out the front window “” that’s when they realized that our pets would perish if they didn’t take immediate action.
Donna Abernathy’s husband, Steven, led the effort to open our entry door by breaking the glass, not knowing whether the dogs would be friendly. As the smoke billowed out, our dog Boogie bounded out the door. The entire unit was completely filled with smoke, except for a few inches of air at the floor. As they tried to work in this, they coaxed out our other dog, Angel. Retrieving our cat came with much greater risk. They were unable to see anything clearly, yet Steven and his mother, Pat Morrison, re-entered the burning coach numerous times, searching for our elusive cat. Their gallant efforts finally paid off when they found Sammy, who was scared and hissing, hiding in the dash of the unit.
While some were seeing to the pets’ well-being in the campground office, others were taking on the task of extinguishing the fire. Flames were shooting out the roof, so many campers came running with their own fire extinguishers and water hoses to join in the effort of putting out the blaze.
When the Murray fire department arrived on the scene to take over the operation, the fire appeared to be out, because of the immense efforts of our fellow campers. They found the propane shut off, batteries disconnected, and the spent fire extinguishers lined up around our motorhome. After they removed any items that could restart the fire, they affirmed that it was completely out. The fire department also acknowledged that by the brave efforts of these good souls, a potentially hazardous and fatal situation was averted.
The dogs and cat were miraculously in good shape, considering what they had just endured. Only because of the deep concern and actions of Steven and the others could we still have our beloved pets today.
In a time when we hear all the bad happenings going on, one only has to spend a little time receiving some kindness from America’s campers to get a fresh perspective on life.
Our heartfelt thanks go to all those at Waters Edge RV Park that day for their unselfish acts of kindness.
Stephen & Vickie Spiceland, F318217
Allen Park, Michigan
Fuel Prices And RV Travel
My wife and I are seriously considering returning to the motorhome “family,” after a five-year absence. One major roadblock we are experiencing is the increasingly expensive price of diesel fuel. I’m not sure you or anyone else has a real good handle on this problem, but it seems certain that the cost will rise to $4 or maybe even higher.
I’m writing to you in hopes you or some of your readers can put this problem into perspective and help us get past this mental roadblock. I am also concerned about what this problem might do to the resale market.
Editor’s note: I’m sure readers will have some comments to share with you on this topic. While no one likes the higher cost of fuel, fuel prices are only one factor in a decision to travel via RV. And all forms of travel are impacted by higher fuel prices.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), which studies such issues carefully, maintains that the outlook for RV sales and travel remains positive in spite of the higher cost of fuel.
According to a study done by PKF Consulting, RV trips also are still less expensive than flying; using a car and hotel; or taking a cruise. In addition, even when fuel prices increase, the difference isn’t enough to make other forms of travel more economical. For example, if the cost of fuel goes up by $1 a gallon, a 200-mile RV trip at 10 mpg would create an added cost of $20 for the 20 gallons of fuel it would require.
Money Saved And Coach Was, Too
After replacing a cracked exhaust manifold on our 1999 coach, the diesel engine manufacturer’s repair facility here in Southern California quoted us $6,500 to replace a leaking charge air cooler (intercooler), which included parts plus 28 hours of labor at more than $100 per hour. Since this was out of our budget after just purchasing the coach, we contacted our friends George and Shila Cioli, F140084, who run Northwest RV Supply, C10181, in Eugene, Oregon. They had a brand-new cooler, and referred us to Southern Oregon Diesel, C5885, in Roseburg, Oregon, who had replaced the cooler in their own coach.
We limped up to Oregon, and they had the work done in less than eight hours. The mechanics and owners were all extremely friendly and did a professional job. They saved us more than $4,000, even considering the fuel we burned during the round trip.
I highly recommend both of these facilities as being run by honest, friendly people and will always return for any major work on our diesel. Southern Oregon Diesel is an approved repair facility for both Caterpillar and Cummins engines.
Mike Warr, F309302
Cherry Valley, California
Helpful Service In Springfield, Missouri
Please tell your readers that if they are ever in the Springfield, Missouri, area and find themselves in need of an honest, knowledgeable, dependable RV service person to call Terry’s Auto Service and Towing (417-866-1400).
On Easter Sunday, while returning home through Springfield, the starter on our type A Holiday Rambler motorhome failed when we stopped for gas. Even though it was a holiday, Terry answered our call on the first ring and came to the service station. After attempting to repair it on-site, he towed us to his repair shop where we were able to safely spend the night. The next morning we got up, went to breakfast, and returned to find our RV up and ready to go. We felt the charges were more than reasonable based on the time and labor spent.
Terry has excellent equipment, and we never had a moment’s doubt that our RV was being safely towed. It is never fun to have problems during any RV outing, but since we did, it was a pleasure to find a service person who was willing to go above and beyond to provide the assistance we needed.
John Thornton, F258931
Blue Springs, Missouri
We had a mechanical problem in Springfield, Missouri. After calls to several different diesel shops, we were referred to Ken’s Mobile Repair. I cannot say enough good things about this man. He’s prompt, knowledgeable, friendly, and works on motorhomes and buses. Ken can be reached at (417) 839-7415.
Ray Powell, F100551
FMCA Mail Forwarding
“Impeccable” RV Loan Service
I am writing to commend Customer One Financial, C9530, and especially RV loan consultant Kathy Guidi, who is depicted in their ad in Family Motor Coaching.
My wife and I recently attended the Fort Lauderdale RV Show, and although we are experienced sailors, we are new to the RV market. Kathy Guidi patiently explained all of our financing options, gave us her insight and personal experience with motorhome ownership, and assisted us with researching market values on select models as the day progressed.
After the show we purchased our motorhome in North Carolina and secured financing with Customer One. This was our second loan with them, and the service we have received on both occasions can only be described as impeccable.
Kathy Guidi was truly a pleasure to work with, and although I know our loan was not the largest written by her firm, the professionalism, responsiveness, and attention to detail by Kathy and her staff could certainly prove otherwise.
Rob and Kathy Comstock should be very proud of their employees and I, as a very satisfied consumer, wanted other FMCA members to know about this.
Keith J. Lindholm
Miami Lakes, Florida
Tailpipe Incident Reveals Georgia “Peaches”
We want you to know there are true “peaches” in Georgia. We drive a Winnebago Adventurer, which has a Ford chassis. We stopped at Southern Trails RV Resort in Unadilla, Georgia. While checking the coach before leaving, I noticed the tailpipe was gone and the exhaust pipe was twisted over the driveshaft. I did recall us hitting a piece of discarded tire from a semi truck as we drove the day before.
The manager of the campground suggested Borum Service in Unadilla. They were not equipped to handle such big vehicles, but the man there called around to find a place that could help. He found Peach State Truck Center in Byron, Georgia. The man at Borum cut off the twisted exhaust pipe so we could drive again, and we were on our way to Peach State Truck Center.
The service adviser there, Tom Obitko, looked at the problem and said they could fix it. It was already lunchtime by then. He located a complete muffler-tailpipe assembly, but it was in Detroit and would take several days to get to Georgia. So, the mechanics decided to obtain parts and make what we needed.
We took the car and went sight-seeing, arriving back at 4:45 p.m. The parts had just arrived, and the normal closing time is 5:00 p.m. They worked overtime and we were on the road by 7:00 p.m. The work was excellent and the price was fair. They even recommended a place for us to spend the night that evening.
Many thanks to all who made the day turn out so well for us.
Vera Dunham, F229873
Cedar Springs, Michigan
Border Crossing Quandary
We were wondering whether any other members have experienced problems with their coach’s automatic entry steps while driving over the border back into the United States from Canada.
We were coming over the Lewiston, New York, bridge from Canada and our coach’s automatic side stairs opened out and hit the concrete barriers. Our motorhome has an automatic override so that no matter what position our stairs are in, they will automatically retract when the engine is running. I can’t imagine that we would have traveled across Canada with our stairs open without anyone waving us down to make us aware of them. Needless to say, the stairs were mangled and needed to be replaced. Upon contacting our local RV dealer, we were told they have had an unusual number of requests for stairs over the past couple of months. They recalled that one of the replacements they had performed also was for damage at a border crossing.
We’ve heard rumors that the new surveillance equipment might interfere with the magnetic field that keeps our stairs in place. Since we make this trip several times a year, we are concerned. We hope other RVers will be aware of the potential for damage that awaits them.
Sam & Mary Lou Scime, F182874
Dade City, Florida
Thanks To California Service Facility
We have had several RVs and have dealt with many service centers in California, Oregon, and Washington. I am writing to tell people about the great service we receive every time we go to La Mesa RV in Davis, California.
In particular, we recommend service representatives Mathew and Aaron. We have had such a pleasant experience with these two gentlemen. They are always eager to help and go the extra mile, even if it means working overtime to help us.
Art & Pat Naylor, F244217
Fine, Kind Chapter Folk
I would like to tell you about some wonderful people in the Ozark Schooners chapter. They believe in going places and having fun, but they are kind and considerate and always helpful.
My husband can’t walk outside because he is unsteady on his feet. He has a leg amputation and no hip on his right side. He uses an electric wheelchair to get around. We are members of the chapter and have attended rallies whenever we can. They are always right there to help us. I want to say thank-you to a wonderful group of people.
If you are looking for fun and relaxation with great people, come join the Ozark Schooners. You won’t be disappointed.
Hank & Dorothy Jehling, F161754
The Shirt Off His Back
On a recent trip to the Soo Locks in Michigan in our MCI-9 bus conversion, we were joined in the campground by a bronze-colored Gulf Stream Atrium motorhome. The couple got out, performed the hookup routine, and settled down in their well-lit, luxurious motorhome.
I thought, “Wow, they must be rich folks from California.” The next day the man in the fancy coach, Ernie, was outside wearing a T-shirt with a submarine on it. I introduced myself and told him I was admiring his shirt, since I had served on a sub and had never seen such a shirt. A few hours later, Ernie walked over to our bus and gave me his shirt. His wife, Carol, was as friendly as any other camper. After a couple more days as they got ready to depart, their coach stopped, and out came Carol and Ernie and gave us hugs. Rich folks, no “” that is not the right description “” just wonderful, friendly people.
The shirt has become my treasure.
Roy W. Ranum, F215226
Silver Bay, Minnesota
Coach Service In Branson, Missouri
Here’s a note to owners of motorhomes and bus conversions when visiting Branson, Missouri. In the past 25 years of motorhoming, I have never had any company give the service that Ken and Margaret Irvin do at Branson Motor Coach Specialists Inc. This is the most professional service and repair facility with which I have ever dealt.
I have had numerous service jobs done there over the last five years, and every time I have been pleasantly surprised at the timeliness of the repairs and the knowledge of Ken and his staff. It just seems like they go “above and beyond” with any work they perform. They are very careful and professional about everything they do, and their pricing is competitive.
If you are ever in Branson and need any kind of service work on your motorhome or bus, Branson Motor Coach Specialists is the place to get your work done right the first time. They are on Shepherd of the Hills Expressway; phone (417) 336-5935; www.bransonmotorcoach.com.
David & Shirley Lowe, F224829
Thanks To Coach-Net
We have been members of FMCA’s road service, Coach-Net, for seven years and have not needed their assistance until our trip this year. The help provided to us was twofold. First, assistance was promptly dispatched in the form of an Arkansas state road assistance crew. Since our coach’s breakdown occurred on the very busy Interstate 40 one mile west of the Mississippi River bridge, we were very relieved to see them. Then a tow truck that was capable of handling our 34-foot motorhome was on the scene within 45 minutes and had us at a repair facility in Memphis, Tennessee, within two hours. Great job, Coach-Net.
Unfortunately, the tow truck driver dropped the U-joint as he unhooked the driveshaft, requiring that a new U-joint be purchased and installed. I felt, as did the people at the repair facility, that the wrecker service should pay for this expense, as a new U-joint would normally not be required. The wrecker service did not agree, so I contacted Coach-Net. After they investigated the incident, I was told that they would issue me a refund for that part of my repair. Today I received that reimbursement.
We extend our sincere thanks to all concerned, especially to Carla Schulz, liaison for Coach-Net.
Harvey Swalley, F256081
My wife and I are considering buying a new type A motorhome in the near future. We have looked around but have become discouraged because most of the units we’ve looked at do not meet our needs in the kitchen.
With all the slideouts, the bedroom storage is very good, but the kitchen counter and drawer space are grossly inadequate. We have seen coaches with just one drawer. Many have three very small drawers and no counter space if you remove the sink and stove covers.
We have talked to people who have recently purchased new coaches, and they have all commented on this problem. They end up using some of the space in the back of the coach to store things normally kept in the galley.
We realize that some people don’t cook, but many of us do, and we would like to see more room for food prep and storage.
Gerald & Bridget Post, F127037