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It’s Nice to be “Home”

January 18, 2012

Our little sojourn to get repairs done took exactly one week.  We left on Tuesday morning, stayed overnight Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, brought the RV back to Roanoke on Friday evening, drove to Houston in the Trailblazer on Saturday, returned to Roanoke on Sunday and took the RV back to Sherman where we stayed overnight Sunday and Monday nights.  We returned to Northlake Village RV Park in Roanoke on Tuesday afternoon.  We are now connected to electric, water and sewer again, with the RV levelled and stabilized for the first time.

You probably haven’t noticed, but there’s been a subtle difference to my reporting.  In the past, I’ve recounted in great detail about the actual driving of the motorhome and all the nervousness associated with making these trips solo.  Suffice it to say that, of the four roundtrips from Roanoke to Sherman and back, I’ve driven the 80 miles twice while following Nell in the Trailblazer, and twice completely solo while she was at work.  I can stay between the lines at 65 mph and back into a parking space with no problem.  I even stopped for gas on the solo trip back yesterday.  I’m working my way up.

I can’t say enough good things about the guys at North Texas RV in Sherman.  Rick, the Service Manager gave us a spot to park overnight while we were there, complete with electric shore power.  Bobby, the parts man, got what we needed ordered quickly and worked at getting them delivered as quickly as possible for the least possible cost.  And if you have to see your RV up on blocks, you want someone like Larry, the guy in the picture above, doing the work.  Larry worked hard at finding solutions and making things work.  He didn’t just replace parts.  He fixed what he could before finally ordering only the parts that were necessary.  He also allowed me to look over his shoulder, explained what he was doing every step of the way, and showed me what the problem was with the parts that needed to be replaced.

So… we have a new fuel pump and carburetor on the onboard Onan generator, and the generator now seems to be working properly.  One of the reasons I stopped for gas on the way back was to make sure we had plenty of fuel to run the generator periodically to keep it exercised.

Pictured above is the offending culprit, or I should say the previous one was.  This is the new cylinder on the left rear levelling jack.  The shiny part of the cylinder failed inside it’s outer jacket, resulting in damage to the sensor/switch/sending unit that screws into the top of the cylinder.  And when that was damaged, it also caused a hydraulic fluid leak.  Because the jacks on this rig are the power down/spring up  type, one can disengage the jack from the driver’s seat manually, and the springs pull it back up.  So even though the jack failed, it could be raised to allow the RV to be driven.

The cylinder assembly cost us just under $364.  The warning switch was $39.  Four hours of labor at $90/hr was $360. (In parts of Dallas and Fort Worth, the labor rate for RV repairs can run from $114/hr and up.)

The fuel pump for the generator was just under $60, plus one hour of labor brought that work to $150.  The replacement carburetor and associated labor was warranty work since the first carburetor was defective.

It’s almost impossible to sit next to a shop with an RV parts store and not do a little shopping.  I bought a few small things and ran the bill up a little.  I also had the propane tank filled before I left there.  (Their propane charge was 15 cents a gallon less than what I pay in Roanoke.)  Bottom line: total charge, including freight charges and Texas sales tax was $1.103.48.

I topped up the gas tank on the first trip to Sherman ($90), and did the same on the final trip back ($97.72).  The fuel cost should probably be attached to these repair costs, since those were miles we wouldn’t have driven otherwise.  Did we save by going to Sherman to get this work done?  Absolutely.  If we had gone somewhere else, the carburetor would have been new work instead of warranty, and that cost alone would have been more than double the cost of the fuel we used.  Labor rates would have been higher, and probably charged “according to the book”.  At NTRV, Larry charged only for the actual time he spent, and I think even then he didn’t cover it all.

This morning, we woke up in quiet, familiar surroundings, with no interstate highway traffic noise.  The rig is level and stable.  Nell said she didn’t notice movement when I stepped up and down the outside steps yesterday evening, and she hardly felt it when I turned over in bed this morning while she was in the bathroom getting ready for work.  Those are the two most noticeable times when there’s movement without the levelling jacks.

It was 27 degrees when I walked the dog this morning.  I’m waiting for the temperature to get above freezing so I can go out and re-connect the water hoses and give the water pump a break for a few days.

Nell said it was nice to come home yesterday after work and find the place all back to normal.  For the first time in a week, all the pictures are hung back on the walls, the kitchen is back in order, and things are put back where they belong.  Even Hemi seems more relaxed, laying in the sun on the copilot chair, sound asleep.

It’s nice to be “home”.

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