One of Those Trips

Flying Saucer Launcher

Flying Saucer Launcher

We had great plans to spend some time in Newfoundland on our latest walkabout, but was not to be. In addition, motor home quality bit us again.

The first few days were marvelous, running north to Sicamous BC and then east to Bow Valley Campground with great weather and beautiful scenery. Our next segments were planned to take us across Canada through Saskatchewan and Manitoba, then across the top of Lake Superior. Those two provinces were as flat as advertised and the fields of rapeseed were gorgeous. What was not gorgeous was a railroad crossing on Trans-Canada 1 that took out both dually tires on one side, the wheel cover and damaged the fairing. Our Good Sam coverage found us a tire shop to come out and make things right.

Then things got goofy. Waking up in Ashland WI after a night of thunder and lightning, we discovered the roads to the east were closed due to flooding and that there was no way to get to the UP in Michigan. We backtracked back almost to Duluth and headed south.

We had not planned to be in the Midwest under a heat dome. The air conditioning while driving is great, but the roof-mounted Coleman on the Navion was not up to the task. Ten degrees cooler than outside was the best it did, even in the shade. When it’s 90 degrees outside it’s uncomfortable inside for humans and dogs.

We also discovered that the generator was completely dead when Sherry tried to start it in Beloit, WI. Dead, dead, no clicks to red numbers, nada. I have an appointment in two weeks with Cummins (a two-hour drive twice) to get it repaired under warranty.

New Cabinet Latches

New Cabinet Latches

More cabinet latches broke while on the trip for a total of seven. I have begun replacing the Winnebago latches with standard roller latches. While not having the positive catch the OEM latches have, they will hold the doors closed while driving. We use baskets in the cabinets, so things falling out is not an issue. I’m still working on an elegant way to secure the TV, which uses the same poorly designed latch as the cabinets.

While getting things repaired we’re now planning a trip to Northern California in October and hopefully we can make another run at Newfoundland in 2017.

 

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Oh, Canada!

Happy Canada Day! Canada Day in the woodsThe Canadian border guard was actually pleasant and smiling as we headed north on US/BC 97. He was very impressed with our Newfoundland destination, but advised us that we were going the wrong way and that we needed to make a right turn as soon as possible. The Okanogan Valley in British Columbia is gorgeous and well populated by a zillion fruit stands. We stopped at one and selected some great fruit and vegetables, including blueberries that were affordable. My only complaint is it’s a very slow drive due to the need to drive through all the towns.

Our mission today included buying a Canadian mobile phone, so we stopped at the Cherry Mall in Pendicton where Sam at Virgin Mobile fixed us up after we explored options with the folks at Rogers and at Bell. Now we can call in Canada to make reservations and send/receive text message back to the US. With the exchange rate of $1.30 to the US dollar, it was a good deal.

We’ve stayed at the KOA in Sicamous before as the sites are roomy, level and wooded. It was Canada Day, so I finally got to display the large Maple Leaf flag that Mike Cullen helped us find several years ago. Oh, and did I mention the KOA also has a pancake and sausage breakfast? The cook was new and still trying to get the right temperature for the grill, but she nailed it for my short stack.

We spent Saturday rearranging gear as we often throw stuff on the beds and stow it away later. Some rain on Friday, but mostly sunny and pleasant today. Allie and Kinnon are remarkably quiet companions so far.

2016 Maritime Walkabout – Storage

Crock PotOne of challenging yet fun things about a motor home is deciding where to put all the Stuff. Our Navion is smaller than a “small house” and we lived in our former View for six months, so arranging things is an important task in order to maintain space and sanity.

We try to follow some guidelines when arranging things. It might appear that these are self-evident, but some gear is too fragile or too large, so creativity is a must.

  1. Items we use frequently should be close at hand. Everything coffee and tea is kept together by the kitchen sink, for example.
  2. Items used together should be stored together. We keep all the canine items in the storage areas over the driver.
  3. Things should be organized to minimize set-up and take-down routines. We no longer carry with us the bed extension cushion as it’s been used so little and is unstable when in place.
  4. Items that are used outside should be stored outside. An exception is the slow cooker (above), which has its own box in the rear external storage area. After many trips we found an outside place for the X-pen, which is heavy and had been riding between the twin beds. A hitch mounted cargo carrier has its advantages!

 

2016 Maritime Walkabout – Planning

puffinIt’s about 37 days until we take the ferry from Port Townsend, headed for Newfoundland and Labrador and we’re busy planning the trip. This will be our fourth long trip in our motor home and each journey impresses upon us the need for planning. Not that we aren’t spontaneous on the road, but this time we want to be more careful about each day.

We began planning this trip with the goal of seeing more of the Maritime Provinces of Canada than we did in 2012. Our first consideration was to not repeat the mistake we made last year by showing up before any campgrounds were open for the season!

This trip we’re going to try a daily planning form so that we can pay attention to the day and have a record for reviewing campgrounds and future trips.

Daily PlannerOften we’ll start the day’s drive with only a hazy idea of where lunch will be or where we’ll fill up the tank. Hopefully this will help us organize our thoughts more clearly. The form is in Word and we’ll print it two to a page on both sides of the paper and place them in a binder.

Next: Organizing outside storage.

Organizing

One of the major insights gained during our most recent trip is that we have stored gear, from sewer hoses to coffee makers, like we did in our 2006 View J. For those familiar with these Winnebago floor plans, our 1015 Navion V is laid out completely different.

Our first task was to develop a set of criteria to help us arrange things in a more efficient way. Our previous storage criteria was to 1) match the storage space with the shape of the gear and ignore convenience and 2) keep the weight down. We now have a lot more cargo carrying capacity (CCC) and more space. Now we have more gear and less patience with getting on our knees to retrieve that gear.

We first measured various openings and then set out to The Container Store at Southcenter. The staff was incredibly helpful and their Clear Weathertight Totes are exactly what we needed. They come in different sizes, we bought eight that will fit through the openings of all the exterior doors.

The Navion has an exterior compartment on the rear right side that has a seal and is apparently for wet items. I had stored the sewer hose and connections in here in a treated canvas bag, but the zipper broke and things were just not “tidy” enough.

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The new arrangement has all the sewer items in one box, along with the hose support, knee pad, and two 25′ water hoses water hoses. The water hoses are connected end to end, so no contamination. Everything gets rinsed when used and the seal on the container keeps any smell inside. I broke the hose support into two sections so it would fit. This also helps with the issue of the sewer outlet not being very high off the ground.

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The exterior compartment under the slide requires extreme yoga to access when the slide is out, so here is where we store little-used gear.

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These boxes contain an extra sewer kit (we’ve been camping where twenty feet was not long enough), emergency triangle and cone, and a heavy gauge 110V extension cord.

A coffee aficionados, we needed a taller and convenient place for the coffee makers. Under the kitchen sink is ideal for us. The Black & Decker machine is used in the mornings when we leave as we can make a pot of half-caf in the thermal carafe that lasts until lunch. On the left is our drip coffee maker for boondocking (using the stove) and the pod machine is used when we stay more than one night as we have slightly different tastes in the boldness of the roast. Mark us down as addicts.

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More on the interior next time. Comments and pictures about what you’ve done are most welcome!

Snow & Ice

2016 Southwest TourPosting, while we were traveling, just didn’t work, so I’ll throw some thoughts up post-trip, categorizing my posts by learning experiences rather than by location or chronologically. Our plan was to head toward Arizona to visit with friends who live in El Mirage AZ near Christmastime. Unfortunately getting a factory safety recall done in time for the holidays was not in the Grand Scheme of Things, so we left straight from the dealer on January 2nd.

Starting an RV trip from where we live involves limited, and somewhat boring, choices. North into Canada, East on I-90 or I-84, and South on I-5. Winter adds snow and ice in mountain passes in the Cascades, The Columbia Gorge and the Blue Mountains just to start.

It turns out the most stressful weather part of the trip was on flat I-5 between south of Olympia and Woodburn OR – and the passes in the Sisykous were just fine! I carry chains because of the quirky chain laws in Oregon, but would never use them. Portland on Ice was white knuckle on my part, but the rig managed just fine.

One of our new goals was to stay in the Coachella Valley for more than one or two nights and get a small taste of sun birding and try out my recumbent tricycle. More on this in my next post.

Winnebago Quality

Yesterday we finally got our 2015 Navion V delivered back to us by the Winnebago dealer after three weeks in the shop, ending what has been a discouraging series of quality issues we didn’t expect from Winnebago. The experience has left us hesitant to recommend either the brand or the service department at Roy Robinson RV in Marysville even though the Navion is a dream to drive and we look forward to many more years of RV travel.

Here is the list and how each item was resolved (in no particular order of importance):

1. Gray water system would not drain totally, leaving a couple of cups of water to drain on the ground the next time the drain cover was removed. Winnebago P1000103said this was by design (!) and Roy Robinson said they’d not heard of this happening before. As a temporary fix I replace the cover with one that had a
hose connection, emptying the gray water into the sewer hose when hooking up. When we got back from our trip, Roy Robinson added an additional gate valve. The tech said he’d had to do this many times.

2. Slide out support for the king bed was too small for the side support tracks, causing the slide to collapse when weight was on it. I added thick felt dots on both support sides and consider this done.
3. The power roof vent repeatedly blew the fuse for it’s circuit. The two roof fans and the HVAC thermostat are on this circuit, so I put a piece of black tape over the switch. KIMBROUGH RO 36007105 001We ordered the power vent as Sherry couldn’t reach the manual vent in our 06 View J. It took three trips to the dealer, each time to discover the problem hadn’t been fixed. The last time it took from Sep 19 to Oct 10 to troubleshoot the problem. Three times we were told it was a pinched wire. Twice the repair was deemed as completed only it wasn’t. Here is the result.
4. The door that opens to the LP tank was missing the rear striker plate. Took two tries at this. Now that the door latches on both ends, the fit with the body trim and forward door isn’t right. I’m just going to not latch the rear end and ponder a trip to a local RV shop.
5. The AC outlet near the coach door was noticeably crooked. I fixed this.
6. The AC outlet under the thermostat was not secured to the wall. It was not installed properly. I fixed this.
7. The remote door lock remote (and the dash button) stopped working the passenger and coach doors after about a week into our first trip. I’m kind of tired of relating the story line here, but it went from initially being a “blame game” to “the owner needs to solve the problem”. Armed with that status, the Tacoma Mercedes provided me with a tech sheet on the Signal Actuation Module (SAM) and Winnebago factory provided me with the instructions on how the dealer was supposed to replace the coach door lock wiring. Lynnwood Mercedes finally replaced the SAM module after two visits and Roy Robinson RV replaced the wiring harness during one of our many visits. The result is that the passenger door works remotely and coach door works remotely – but only with the engine running. I do not have any confidence that further dealer troubleshooting will solve the problem.

My primary gripe with item number 7 was the lack of coordination, the “not me” description of the problem by Winnebago and placing leg work of the solution on the owner.

8. Dust got in the cockpit connection box for the steer by wire circuit. This caused an unholy number of warning lights and much consternation west of Douglas WY. Mercedes dealer in Salem OR gets five stars for suggesting a can of compressed air and blowing it out. Have not had a problem since.
9. The storage doors were not adjusted properly when we picked it up, causing marks above the doors. Dealer adjusted the doors, I’ll try to rub out the marks.

P1000104

10. The electrical switches by the door and driver side bed were unmarked. I labeled them using white on black tape from my Brother label maker.
11. The lighting bar above the galley came loose and dropped down. Roy Robinson glued it back in place.
12. Many of the cabinet doors, the kitchen and closet doors were not aligned properly. Roy Robinson fixed these, though some of the overhead doors still need my adjustment. One of the overhead doors was warped on delivery and was replaced.

We were also very disappointed while on the road to the East Coast at the repair time responses by both Winnebago and Mercedes. With the exception of Mercedes Salem, response involved a week or more just to be diagnosed. My dentist, doctor and barber can do better than this.

OK, I’m done now and we’re now trying to get on the road. Now we’re not just a little hesitant to turn our rig over the the dealer again. Hopefully some hot springs time in British Columbia and then south to Valley of the Sun in November will smooth things over again. On the road again!