The “Motorhome Regulations” guide in the January 2011 issue (page 92) contains incorrect information about the drivers license requirement for motorhome operators in Louisiana. According to an official from the Louisiana Motor Carrier Department, a Class E license is required to drive a motorhome in that state.
FMC regrets the error.
Waste Management Notes
I enjoyed “Waste Management, Part 2” (January 2011, page 60). It seems to be timely regardless of when the reader takes the time to delve into the depths of this sensitive topic. Although we are in our seventh year as full-timers, the article offered us suggestions, reminders, and a few observations that brought on smiles best described as “Been there, done that, and still have the T-shirt.”
I would like to offer two additional suggestions. One, when you are flushing your tank, carry a timer along with you, should you chance to walk away. This can prevent an error that might require considerable time to clean up; been there!
The second suggestion relates to the seals on sewer connections. I find an occasional application of plumber’s silicone grease (found in any hardware store’s plumbing department) keeps these seals from binding and helps make a good seal. It can also be used on the seal of your toilet, whether slide or ball. It helps with the smooth movement of these parts. Of course, if you use this to lubricate anything related to the fresh water system, you better have another container of the grease. It is inexpensive and surely beats the intestinal misery associated with improper use.
Tom & Leigh Schaefer, F360347
FMCA Mail Forwarding
New “Cat” At Cabin Diesel
I had been having problems with the Caterpillar engine in my motorhome and took it to a Caterpillar dealer in Oklahoma for them to diagnose and fix the problem. Since I had 103,000 miles on the coach, I also asked them to adjust the intake/exhaust valves. They could not find anything wrong by using their computer, and I left with the engine still running rough and losing power. It continued to get worse. A friend recommended that I take the coach to Cabin Diesel Services in Big Cabin, Oklahoma. I did, and they immediately found the problem was in the number six cylinder. Assuming it was the injector, they ordered one, and I spent the night in their campground. They have a very nice 10-space, full-hookup campground on the property.
The injector arrived the next morning, and Matt got right on the job of replacing it. Unfortunately, the cylinder still showed having a problem, so he had to remove the valve cover again, and that’s when he noticed that one of the valve stems was broken. Not good news! Bottom line, we wound up ordering a remanufactured engine from Caterpillar. During the next two weeks, Trace Helm, the owner of Cabin Diesel Services, kept me informed of what was going on and what to expect. They kept the coach inside their shop, hooked up to electricity so the refrigerator would stay cold. They also lined the floor with plastic and wore booties every time they entered. A real indicator of the care the folks at Cabin Diesel show for their customers is the fact that Jim watered the plant we forgot about!
Although having to buy a new engine is never fun (or cheap), Trace and his staff made an otherwise miserable experience very tolerable.
I wanted to let other FMCA members know about this FMCA commercial member (C9576) located in the northeastern corner of Oklahoma. They are an associate dealer for Caterpillar, Cummins, Detroit Diesel, and Spartan, and also a parts and service dealer for Freightliner, Sterling, and Western Star. They can be reached at (877) 222-4601, (918) 783-5159, or through their Web site, www.CabinDieselServices.com. They’re located at the Big Cabin exit off Interstate 44, on U.S. Route 69.
Richard Hugo, F323345
Ponca City, Oklahoma
Update From Immediate Past National President
As promised in my December 2010 “President’s Message” column in Family Motor Coaching magazine, I want to bring you up-to-date on the progress of my condition.
These past four and a half months have been trying, to say the least, and at times downright painful. I have not been receiving any kind of treatment since the beginning of December 2010, directed so by my doctors. My son Michael had done a lot of research and sent many e-mails to such places as the Mayo Clinic; the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; and the Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida.
Because of his efforts, I managed to be accepted by a team of four doctors at the Moffitt center and visited them on December 22, 2010. They deal in malignant and nonmalignant blood disorders, and especially myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). After extensive blood tests, it has been determined that the cause of my bone marrow not producing red blood cells was a medication I took for a pain over my right eye last summer. I had taken this medication before and had contacted the doctor for another prescription when the pain returned last June. Apparently, this time there was a severe reaction to the medication that created the same symptoms as MDS.
I will have occasional blood tests during the year as a precaution.
I have seen seven doctors and visited four different hospitals since this all began. I have learned a lot since last September. I have learned that I will read and investigate the side effects of any prescription written for me by any doctor.
I will seek opinions from other professionals and physicians should I have any diagnosis from any one person.
I will listen to my children, who sometimes know a lot more than the old man.
And, finally, I will forever be grateful to all of you for your support and prayers. I have received many, many e-mails, cards, and letters from the FMCA family. It is truly a caring family.
Thank you, each and every one of you.
Charlie Schrenkel, L140050
Polk City, Florida
Rapid Tow Bar Replacement
Two days before Thanksgiving we were leaving the Fort Worth, Texas, area on Interstate 20 toward Mesa, Arizona, for our winter stay. All of a sudden, we felt a slight jerk from behind, and a quick look in the rear camera revealed that one of the bars on our tow bar assembly had let go. After a few moments of trying to keep our 2009 GMC Sierra pickup from hitting anything “” it was moving around quite a bit on the one remaining bar “” I was able to get into the back lot of a Sam’s Club store.
I had purchased a Dominator tow bar by Demco, rated at 7,500 pounds, mainly because of the design of the unit, and because I was familiar with some of their agricultural products, being a farmer myself. I called Demco, which is in Iowa, and talked to Scott in customer service. I asked whether there was a Demco dealer in Fort Worth. There is more than one, but Scott said he thought United RV Center was the closest. He said he’d call them to make sure they had a replacement tow bar and would arrange for an exchange. Jesse from United RV Center said he would send someone right over with the replacement, and Adam got there in no time.
From the time the incident occurred until the time we had a new tow bar attached, less than an hour and a half had gone by. It was refreshing to know that we still have great American-made products with good, old American values behind them. Both Demco (800-962-4463) and United RV Center (888-648-3378) couldn’t have been better.
David & Christina Kidd, F418049
Practice A Fire Escape
It is a well-known fact that many motorhome fires originate from the refrigerator, which is located somewhere forward of the bedroom. If a fire breaks out, or a smoke alarm fails during the night when you are sleeping, you could be trapped in the bedroom. No problem, you say, because there is an escape hatch to be used in just such an emergency.
Being on the back half of my 60s and not quite as flexible as I once was, one day I thought it would be a good idea to actually try to get out through that bedroom window. I can tell you, it is extremely challenging and difficult, and may be impossible for some people.
Remember, there is a limited amount of time to escape, and, in most cases, two people have to get out. With this in mind, if the first one out is delayed by fumbling to find a way to unlock, open, and maneuver through this unfriendly opening, valuable time will be lost. The second person is then left behind and alone, with no direction or assistance and less time to fumble and figure it out on their own.
Keep in mind that because of burnt wires or a tripped circuit breaker, there may be no house lights available in a fire, leaving you in the dark. Also, you need to be aware of obstacles right outside your coach, such as electric pedestals or water stand pipes. They may be positioned directly under your escape window and, again, probably in the dark.
So, please try soon to use your motorhome’s escape hatch if you hope to survive an entrapment in the bedroom. It is absolutely essential to become familiar with the operation of the escape window and the physical demands to use it successfully. You may find a need for a stool for a boost, or a prop for the window, or other aids (such as a small ladder) as your individual coach and abilities require.
Preparation and familiarity with your escape plan can mean the difference between life and death.
Richard Gehret, F304976
I am writing to invite FMCA members who have always wanted to see Alaska to join my wife and me on an informal caravan there. There are so many historical sites, national monuments, landmarks, and state and national parks to see there and along the way, as well as glaciers, grizzly and black bears, moose, elk, bison, seals, whales, and hundreds of species of birds. We plan to see sights in Canada and Alaska as part of our travels.My wife and I are excited to return to Alaska for the fourth time. We will be starting our journey after the conclusion of the Fleetwood American Coach Association spring rally in Memphis, Tennessee, which takes place May 16 through 21, 2011. From there we have a detailed itinerary that includes mileage figures for the coach and the towed vehicle. There is no charge for tagging along on this trip; everyone simply covers his or her own expenses. If you are interested, I will send you a complete schedule. Contact me, Will Triplet, at (870) 404-8946 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Will & Charlene Triplet, F395462
Mountain Home, Arkansas