Jul 092009

Yesterday morning we were up and getting the bus ready to travel a couple of hours before we are normally even out of bed. We had a short driving day planned, only 150 miles from Elkhart, Indiana to Muskegon, Michigan. We never pull out of a campground before 10 a.m., because we prefer to let the morning rush hour traffic get over with, though Elkhart doesn’t have much of a rush hour anyway. 

But, things don’t always go as we plan, do they? We have a set routine we follow when we are traveling; while Terry stows things away inside the bus, I check our oil and water, give the engine compartment a quick inspection to be sure the motor is still where I left it, then unhook our utilities, stow our TV dish, and scan the bus and van tires with our PressurePro tire monitoring system to be sure of proper inflation.

With all of that done, we hook up the van to our Blue Ox tow bar, disengage the Remco driveshaft disconnect, and do a brake light and turn signal check to be sure everything is working properly. The whole procedure only takes a few minutes, and while we used a printed pre-trip checklist in our early days, after ten years of fulltiming, we have it down to memory.

As I was checking things inside our engine compartment, I spotted green antifreeze dripping from a short three inch diameter hose that carries radiator fluid to the engine. Since we were parked on grass, there had not been a puddle to notice before. Closer inspection revealed a hole in the hose.

We carry a few spare parts with us, as all seasoned bus nuts do, so we happened to have some extra hose of the same diameter in one of our storage bays. We put a bucket under the hose to catch as much fluid as possible, and replaced the bad one with new, then refilled the radiator.

The entire process wasn’t that hard, even for someone as inept of a mechanic as myself. (Let’s be honest, Miss Terry did most of the work while I tried to look busy in case anybody wandered by.)

With all of that done, we cleaned up (in case you have never been around a bus conversion, all you have to do is open the engine bay doors and grease and oil jump out and cling to you), made a stop at the dump station, and pulled out of Elkhart Campground about 11:30 a.m.

This just illustrates how important it is to do a pre-trip inspection every day when you are traveling. You never know what minor problem is just waiting to become a major problem once you’re on the highway. While it was aggravating to lose 90 minutes of traveling time and get all dirty replacing the hose, it was still a lot easier than trying to replace a hose on a hot engine while broken down on the shoulder of the highway, or waiting for our roadside service company to send out a tow truck.

We had a short nineteen mile trip west on the Indiana Toll Road to South Bend, where we picked up U.S. Highway 31 and followed it north 130 miles to Muskegon. We have a week’s reservations at Fisherman’s Landing, a city owned RV park and marina, and we plan to spend the time visiting family here, and maybe we’ll even get our kayaks in the water!

Thought For The Day – It’s hard to make a comeback when you haven’t been anywhere.

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Nick Russell

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  2 Responses to “Always Do A Pre-Trip Inspection”

  1. On our Way to the New England states while fueling up we spotted a water leak in the front. Since it is a pusher we had no idea where the water came from. We did open the radiator cap to relieve the pressure and continued to our destination, only than to discovery that we had a leak in our heater core. Since it is a metal core we had it repaired. Aways have to do the maintenance thing, it’s part of the fulltimming journey.

  2. Some times life just leaps out and bites you when you least expect it. Yesterday following a short move in location to a welcoming church parking lot, I checked my Pressure Pro prior to shutting down only to discover that my left front tire Pressure Pro indicator was flashing “74”, no, “72”, “60”. . . well, you get the picture. One of my projects for this morning will be to contact Coach Net and see what can be done. Maybe one of their wonderful minions can huff and puff enough to inflate my tire just enough to get me down the road. Oh well. . . life occurs. As always, oRV

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