Moving Right Along

Current Location: Voyager RV Resort, Tucson, Arizona

This morning we got up early and Malcolm was out putting items back on the new rig that were removed from the old one. He installed the push-button RV door lock, the stained glass window in the door, the shelving racks we had up front to hold our golf bags, the tire pressure monitor system repeater (and sensors on the trailer wheels) and, of course, our Heartland Owners Club plate.

We were somewhat wasting time to extend our stay until checkout at the KOA (11:00 AM) because we had an hour drive down the road to Tucson where the check-in time is 3:00 PM, though they were accommodating for us arriving a bit early. We pulled in and were set up a little after 1:00.

When Malcolm went to hook up the sewer hose to the trailer and removed the cap on the sewer output, he was surprised by a small gush of water trying to pour out. He quickly replaced the cap and checked all the gate valves. This trailer has two black tanks and two gray tanks. Fortunately for Malcolm, it was one of the gray tank valves that was still open. Everything was closed and connections were successfully made.

We drove over to Camping World and picked up a few items we needed for the new trailer and dropped off a whole back seat and part of the pickup bed’s worth of items at Goodwill. Once back at the trailer, Malcolm installed the handle on the screen door and a non-slip grip on the bottom step outside. We had picked up a step rug to match two other ones we already had but got the wrong size. We’ll swap that out tomorrow.

For dinner, we wandered over to the restaurant here at the RV Resort. Dinner was pretty good. Afterwards, we shopped for postcards in the gift shop next to the restaurant.

Back in Business

Current Location: Picacho / Tucson NW KOA, Picacho, Arizona

When we last left our story, we had checked into the Comfort Inn on Monday afternoon. Tuesday morning, we were over at the dealer sorting through, bagging and boxing up stuff in the old trailer. We watched longingly as our new trailer sat a few hundred feet away in the sold yard, awaiting preparations.

All that stuff!

All that stuff!

On Wednesday morning, we stayed a bit late at the hotel since we had to check out by noon. There was no more room in the inn. We headed over to the dealer and were heartened to see our rig was no longer in the sold yard, but was over in the service area. We found out it was being prepped for delivery, but wouldn’t be available until Thursday. We finished up what we could in the old trailer and started digging around for a place to stay on Wednesday night.

Malcolm found one remaining room available at a nearby bed and breakfast, the Gaslight Inn in Glendale, Arizona. He made a reservation and we checked on the cat (who remained in the trailer due to no pets at the B&B). We stopped by our service adviser’s office and asked about our rig. She indicated that we would be able to do a walk-through at 10:00 on Thursday morning. Yay! The only thing they had left to do was to change out the TV set. When we originally looked at the unit, it was obvious that it had the wrong TV (too small). They agreed to purchase a new one the right size and have it installed.

We left on a cheery note and checked into our B&B. Once checked in, we walked around the historic downtown area near the B&B and Val found a yarn shop. She picked up a few things and we walked around a few other shops until things started closing. We dropped our purchases off at the room and checked out the German restaurant next door. The food was great.

The Gaslight Inn B&B

The Gaslight Inn B&B

Yarn shop

Yarn shop

German Restaurant

German Restaurant

This morning we were up early. We prepared for the day and ran our stuff out to the truck. We sat in the lobby until it was time for our breakfast at 8:30. The food was great. We dropped off our keys, thanked our host and headed back over to the dealer. They were just backing our rig into the customer inspection area.

Shiny!

Shiny!

We did our walkaround, found a couple of very small items that were fixed right away, then shuffled off to finish up paperwork inside. While we were inside, they rolled the new rig around next to the old one, door to door, so we would be able to transfer stuff easily.

After the paperwork, we were outside around 11:30 or so starting to move everything over. We stopped about 1:30 and had lunch there at the dealer (they grill out burgers, dogs and chicken every day). They came out and installed the new TV and checked on a lack of 12V power to the rig when it was unplugged from power. That turned out to be a blown fuse on the converter. Everything else looked and worked great.

We finished moving things over, hitched up and headed out around 5:00 PM. Naturally, it took a while to get out of Phoenix due to rush hour traffic. We stopped at a truck stop and grabbed some Arby’s food to go and ate it in the truck. We headed on down the road about an hour and stopped for the night here in Picacho at the KOA. They were surprisingly still open at the office (7:30 PM) and got us set up right away.

Stopped at the truck stop

Stopped at the truck stop

We’ve spent the evening starting to sort out a lot of the stuff we just dumped in the chairs, couch, bed, etc. We’ll do a little more sorting tomorrow morning, then we’ll head out to Tucson and visit friends over the weekend.

Callie approves

Callie approves

We’ll have trailer pictures up soon.

Hoteling It

Current Location: Comfort Inn, Phoenix, Arizona

This morning we were up early since we knew we had to move the trailer from behind the RV parts place before 7:00 AM. We were actually out and about around 6:30 starting to get ready to move. Various employees from the buildings surrounding us were slowly trickling in which meant we might possibly be blocked in from leaving if we didn’t move soon. We unhooked power, hitched up and moved to the parking lot in front of the businesses. We lucked out and found one area that was striped as three parallel spaces that was just long enough for our rig.

We put out the bedroom and one living room slide and put Callie in the bedroom so we could eat breakfast at the restaurant in the shopping center. When we got done with breakfast, we did some work around the trailer. We were waiting for 9:00 to roll around so we could call the RV dealer to make sure we could bring our trailer down there.

Malcolm removed the EMS/surge protector from behind the breaker panel. We both disassembled our home theater/stereo system, labeling the speaker wires in the process. We left the Blu-Ray player hooked to the TV.

Electrical Work

Electrical Work

Malcolm also removed the stained glass window from the door so we can put it in the next rig. We replaced the window with one we bought from the RV place here. Malcolm also removed our fancy keyless entry door handle and replaced it with the original normal door handle that we somehow managed to save all these years.

Replacement Window

Replacement Window

After calling the RV dealer, we hit the road. Malcolm watched the wheels carefully on the 15 mile trip. We generally drove about 30 mph (the speed limit was 40) all the way there and had no problems. We checked in with the dealer and were told to park our rig next to one of their buildings. We had plenty of room to put out all the slides so we can work on the rig further and pack stuff up.

At the dealer

At the dealer

We headed into the dealership and Malcolm got them some paperwork that they needed – specifically a W2 and pay stub (both electronic, so he emailed them over and they printed them out). We brought Callie inside the dealership and she did really well in her carrier. The dealership fed us lunch and we generally sat around and waited.

Malcolm called a local hotel and found that they didn’t charge extra for pets (most hotels do) and that they had rooms available tonight and tomorrow night, but they are booked the rest of the week. We went ahead and reserved two nights and waited around until 3:00 check-in time before packing up and heading to the hotel. The dealership is aware that we won’t have a place to stay after Tuesday night, so they indicated they would prioritize our rig to have it ready by Wednesday.

Callie approves of our accomodations

Callie approves of our accommodations

After we settled in at the hotel, we called some new Heartland friends and arranged to meet them for dinner in Phoenix. We had a great time visiting with them at an Italian Restaurant.

Tomorrow we head over to the dealership to do some more packing up inside the trailer (and to make our presence known so they won’t forget us).

One Way to Fix Your Rig

Current Location: Phoenix, Arizona

Special shout out to Al’s RV and Marine, where we’ve been camped for the last 24 hours or so. Even though they won’t end up doing the service on our rig, they have been great at providing us power and water while we wait through the weekend. We returned the favor in a way by purchasing several items from their store yesterday and today.

This morning we got up, fixed our coffee/juice/breakfast and relaxed for a few. Malcolm had noted that there was an RV Show this weekend at the University of Phoenix stadium just a few miles away. We decided to do what any bored RV’er would do – go check out the inventory. We walked through our favorite floorplan, then wandered around a few other rigs.

One thing led to another and we ended up signing paperwork to trade our current trailer in on a new one. We are purchasing a 2015 Heartland Big Country 3950 FB. The FB stands for “front bath”. This is a really cool floor plan that puts the “master bath” in the front of the trailer, with the bedroom behind it towards the middle. Another nice feature is a half-bath (sink and toilet) on the main level just inside the front door.

Floor Plan

Floor Plan

It was the last day of the sale and the dealer, La Mesa, was running some really good deals. We paid less for a nicer trailer this time than we paid for our current one two years ago. Part of that is because we’ve learned a lot in the last couple years and knew what to look for price-wise. They also gave us what we were expecting for a trade-in, as well, including them fixing the current bearing/axle/tire problems.

Our new home

Our new home

They indicated we would be responsible for moving our rig to their location, about 15 miles from where we are now. We moved it about 5 miles with the axle strapped up, but that was really dicey, plus we had to do that moving very slow with an escort. When we got back to the trailer, Malcolm worked on checking on the axle to see if it would be possible to put new bearings and a new hub on it to at least let it roll on four tires.

As Malcolm got the axle successfully cleaned up, the gentleman from the RV parts store that we are parked behind came out to let us know what was going on and to let us know the store was open until 4:00 today. That worked out well, as they had the bearings in stock that we needed, but not the hub. Malcolm got the old bearing races knocked out of the hub and installed the new ones. Within an hour or so, he had the hub, bearings and tire mounted onto the axle. That should at least get us to the dealer safely.

Cleaned up axle

Cleaned up axle

Hub mounted

Hub mounted

Wheel back on

Wheel back on

We also started the tedious process of removing our stuff and putting it in boxes. It will take a few days to get done, but the new trailer won’t be ready to take delivery until the end of the week. Tomorrow we need to move our current trailer from behind the building where we’ve been all weekend. We looked at a couple of campgrounds between here and the dealer and found one that will work for a few days, unless the dealer will let us pull in and hook up at their location (which would be better). We’ll call them in the morning to check on that possibility.

Back on the Road, Sort Of

Current Location: Phoenix, Arizona

On Friday morning, we hitched up the trailer and pulled it the five miles out to Seligman Truck and Auto. We dropped it off beside their building and our service technician got right to work on it. We headed back to the KOA to do laundry. While there, he called to say that they were able to tap the end of the axle and he was just going to run into town to get an axle nut and we’d be ready to roll.

It turns out there weren’t any axle nuts in Seligman, so someone had to run to Williams to get parts. They came back with an axle nut, but they found out that there just weren’t enough threads on the axle to safely hold the nut in place. Back to plan A which was to get an axle stub and weld it on. When they called to order the axle stub, the place told them they no longer do axle stubs because of failures related to welding them on incorrectly. Instead, they did have one entire axle in stock so that’s the route we all selected.

We dropped off our laundry and hooked the trailer up to 110V power at the shop, ran out the bedroom slide and put Callie in the bedroom of the trailer so she wouldn’t be miserable. Fortunately, it was only 68 degrees outside, so the ceiling power fan kept the inside nice and comfortable during the day.

We headed back into Seligman to eat lunch and wander through some of the Route 66-themed shops. We eventually got our fill of Route 66 shops and headed back out to the repair shop to sit around and wait. Val ended up on a Facetime call with the granddaughters while Malcolm watched the finishing repairs to the rig.

Finishing up the new axle installation

Finishing up the new axle installation

Looking good

Looking good

Everything was put back together about 4:30 PM and we finalized the bill – about $1350 total. We were back out to the Seligman KOA before dark and had dinner going on the grill shortly thereafter.

All good as new

All good as new

This morning, we pulled out and headed south and east. Our final destination was to be Tucson to visit some friends. On the way, Malcolm thought it would be a good idea to go ahead and pull the plastic plugs off the wheel center caps so we could keep better tabs on the hub grease caps and monitor for any temperature issues. We probably should have done this a long time ago. We might have caught this problem in plenty of time to have prevented the issue.

Center cap plugs removed.

Center cap plugs removed.

We headed on across I-40 to Flagstaff, then down I-17 towards Phoenix to pick up I-10. We made a couple stops along the way, one for lunch at a rest area where Malcolm checked the hub caps and they were all in place and cool to the touch. Another stop at a rest area about a half hour north of Phoenix and everything still checked out fine.

Mountains behind truck stop

Mountains behind truck stop

As we were rolling through the west end of Phoenix on I-17, we had a couple cars pass us and wave towards the back of the trailer. No tire pressure monitors were screaming. We were hoping it was something like our bike cover flapping in the breeze. No such luck. Malcolm got out and found smoke pouring out of the wheel well on the same side of the trailer that we had problems with before. This time it was the wheel on the back axle that was askew. To make matters more fun, the back side of the wheel had flames licking out of it.

Another bearing failure

Another bearing failure

Malcolm ran around and threw open the trailer door, grabbing the fire extinguisher off the wall and running back around to the tire to extinguish the flames. Fortunately, they hadn’t hurt anything. While Malcolm was waiting on hold for Good Sam Roadside Assistance (all operators were busy), a gentleman in a black truck pulled up behind us to check on everything. He had been driving down the road underneath the overpass we had stopped near and saw Malcolm running with the fire extinguisher. Our new friend, John, drove up the road, turned around and came back to see if he could help.

Narrow shoulder

Narrow shoulder

Good Sam identified a nearby repair place and found that they could service our rig. They were going to try to find someone to get it moved there and asked if we could possibly get the wheel off, strap up the axle and drive it carefully there. We told them we would try. If that didn’t work, it was going to be several hours before they could probably get someone there with a big enough rig to carry our trailer.

When Malcolm asked if John was game with helping, he didn’t hesitate to say yes. He followed us as we slowly rolled down the shoulder to a wider area where we could work without being right next to four lanes of interstate traffic. We lifted the trailer with the leveling system and pulled the tire, wheel and hub off as one assembly. At least the axle looks in better shape than the last one and can probably be reused.

We tossed the tire in the back of the truck and took two ratchet straps and strapped up the loose axle end. Malcolm removed the brake backing plate to keep it from dragging the ground. With everything strapped up, John ran blocker in his vehicle and followed us all the way to the repair shop – about a 5 mile drive at 15 mph.

The repair part of the business is closed until Monday, but they have a retail shop in front. The gentleman that fielded the call from Good Sam instructed Malcolm on where to park the trailer in the back and got us set up with 30 Amp power and water. So, for the weekend, at least, we are camping in back of the repair shop.

Val talking to John

Val talking to John

We offered John something for all his help and he declined. We did give him one of our “business” cards. So, John, if you are reading this – thanks a million!

Monday morning when the shop opens, we’ll find out how long it might be before they can work on the trailer and whether we’ll have to find a place to stay while we wait. The salesperson from the store part of the business did say that he knew the service department is swamped right now, so it may be a while.

On the lighter side, before being sidelined with more injuries, we did manage to find 29 of 51 state license plates today:

License Plates

License Plates