Just a few days ago I posted about the fact that our rig had just turned two years old and was out of manufacturer’s warranty. To this point, the problems we have experienced have been minor and we were really feeling lucky. Well, I am not sure if I jinxed us, but just as we pulled out of the campground to head towards Charleston to spend the week with our oldest daughter, Lee noticed that the rig seemed low on the passenger side, and pulled over. One side of the rig was about 4 inches lower than the other, something I would never have noticed . He stopped immediately, got out and checked, and discovered that a part of the suspension system was broken. It was 8:30am on a Monday morning and our warranty company in Illinois didn’t open until 9:30 Central time. Lee googled RV Repair in Rock Hill and made a call. Thankfully, Tim was right down the road and could come take a look within 30 minutes. Lee is a certified RV Tech and often fixes issues with our rig, but when it comes to something of this magnitude we needed a second opinion. Tim came right away and verified that one of the shackles on the passenger side was broken.
The image below shows the components. The shackle has two bolts and connects the leaf springs to the equalizer.
And here’s our broken shackle…
He also informed us no one in town would have the part and it would need to be ordered from Lippert. Thankfully though he also said he could do the work in the campground and when I went inside to speak to the ranger one of the first come first serve sites was open. These sites can be paid for day by day for up to two weeks and made the most sense in our situation. So with some help from Tim we got turned around and parked in the site, which was about 50 feet from the site we’ve been in for the past week.
Tim called the warranty company for us and thankfully there was no issue with him performing the service. He did try to call Lippert, who in turn called Open Range but they would not cover it under manufacturer warranty even though it was so close to the end date. It also turns out that at 10,000 miles our wheel bearings should have been lubed and we have put around 16,000 on the rig. That didn’t have anything to do with the shackle breaking (we believe it was stressed back in August when a tire blew on that side and wrapped around the axle), but was another issue that should be resolved prior to our leaving for Alaska. And one of the lug nuts was turning freely on our new tire (probably over torqued when installed) and the drum should be replaced. So what started as one problem turned into three and with the long trek through Canada right around the corner we knew we needed to get it resolved.
It was upsetting, of course. We had planned this week with our daughter for months and were looking forward to seeing her apartment and checking out where she worked. Lee in particular was frustrated by the timing of the incident, but I really, honestly felt blessed. There are so many places this could have been happened that would have been way worse, and the fact that we were safe, it was somewhat covered by warranty, and didn’t happen in a foreign country or on the side of the interstate many miles from a town are a blessing. Here’s the thing, the rig is going to break and sooner or later every single one of us is going to have a major repair. It’s part of the lifestyle. The timing though, well that’s something totally different. Sometimes these things happen and it’s a minor inconvenience and other times it is major hassle to get the repair completed. Most of the stories we have heard have been the latter, so the fact that we had a place to stay, were still near family, and were not in the middle of a work commitment is good. So in those moments you can choose to focus on the positives in the situation or dwell on the negatives. I chose the former. There is no sense in being angry that it happened in the first place though. If you move your home frequently things will happen. It’s just a fact. When it happens though, well that is something you can certainly be upset about. Just keep in mind when it’s your turn that it probably could be worse.
After getting the parts ordered, Lee and I decided to make lemonade and complete a big purge. Really you should purge every 6 months, especially in the first couple of years and we were going to do it in Quartzsite but things kept getting in the way. You’ve seen our schedule since then, things have been busy and we are way overdo. So we went room by room, cabinet by cabinet and went through everything. Lee set a “no value judgement” rule which worked beautifully. If either one of us wanted to keep something it stayed…no judgement, and in the end we ended up throwing away 4 bags of “trash” and setting aside 4 big bags of stuff for our daughter Kyrston to go through. Whatever she doesn’t want we will pitch. The thing I am most excited about is the reorganizing we did at the same time. Using the principle of keeping the most used items closest to hand, we not only freed up tons of space, but more importantly put commonly used items in an easy to reach space. And wow do I have so much more room. It was a long day and we were both tired at the end of it, but what a great feeling. We’ve lived in the rig long enough to know what our “problem areas” are and paid particular attention to reorganizing those. Overall it wasn’t that bad…I think we have done of good job, but we did have some weird stuff we have been holding onto that we were finally OK of letting go of.
So that’s how I felt on Tuesday night when I wrote the above. It is now Thursday and I am not feeling as chipper. The parts came in and the tech is on his way. but we have still not received a quote. We have called three times and been called three times in return by his office manager, but he has been working up the quote this whole time. Now the tech is coming to start the work and I have no idea how much this is costing me. Plus, waiting around for this I have lost two days with my daughter. I could have gone to Charleston either day, but stayed because the quote was coming and I felt I needed to be here. At this point I don’t feel deliberately manipulated, but more the victim of a disorganized small business. My anxiety level has risen over the last two days though and only Lee’s faith that it will all work out (that’s a switch) is keeping me somewhat calm. Here’s the thing, when your home is broken and you can’t move you are a captive audience with extremely limited choices. Yes, we could have switched to another tech at some point, but when? We even talked about getting the minimal done and heading to Indiana and biting the bullet on a Mor-Ryde suspension system but the timing would have been very tough with our work commitment not to mention the impact on our finances. Plus based on the experiences of lots of other folks how could we be sure we wouldn’t put ourselves in a worse situation just driving there? That’s why this whole thing sucks so bad. We are in such a vulnerable position and even with Lee’s technical knowledge there are some things we simply are not equipped to do.
OK, so as I finished typing the above, the call finally came and the tech showed up. Coincidence I doubt that, but the price to us was $700- $800 which is certainly manageable, and less than either of us thought it would be. For that we are getting 4 new heavy duty shackles, 2 new heavy duty equalizers, a new drum, all new heavy duty “wet bolts” with grease fittings and all the bearings greased and the brakes inspected. The image below shows the difference between the old shackle on the right, and the new heavy duty style. The new ones are more than twice as thick.
The good news is that while we were sitting around waiting for parts to come in and quotes Lee finished our DIY RV Projects (Inside) page. He has outside projects about 75% done, and we will post that when finished (the ladder box is taking a while to explain). But I was excited. Been trying to get that done for over a year and he spent 12 hours in total working on them for me. Plus Thursday Kyrston and Jeremy made the 3 hour drive up from Charleston (they arrived about 20 minutes after the tech showed up) and brought their new puppy Finnegan! Puppies make everything better and it was so wonderful to get to spend some time with them. Lee made a huge steak dinner and we played with the puppy (who is super fun and mellow) most of the day. Plus the repairs went great. The tech was finished in about 4 hours and after seeing the difference in the quality of new and old parts both Lee and I felt better about the whole thing. Yes it sucked that it happened at all, but when you believe things happen for a reason (as I do), that includes both good and bad.
Now we are heading to the RV-Dreams rally on Saturday (just in case we have any kind of an issue) and I can’t wait to see Howard and Linda again and meet all the people there. Should be very fun, and after that we are off to Alaska with a much heavier duty suspension system underneath us!!
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