Jul 292010

When they stopped working for the day on Tuesday, Chris, the tech assigned to our motorhome, told us that he had a couple of hours left on it, but he hoped to have us out by about 9 a.m. the next morning. So once again we rolled out of bed yesterday morning before the chickens, and at 7 sharp he came knocking on the door to pull the coach inside.

Well, we all know that nothing goes according to plan, and 9 came and went, as did 10. Finally, at 11:30 he came out to tell us that he had the new springs installed for our HWH leveling jacks, but there was still a very tiny leak in one spot in the bedroom slide that he was trying to resolve. No problem, we went into town and dropped off some things at the post office, then grabbed a quick lunch and headed back to the service facility.

More time came and went, and finally, a little before 1 p.m. Chris came out and took us back into the shop to show us where he was at. There is one spot on the bedroom slide that, when run through the high pressure water test bay that Winnebago uses, allows a drop or two of water to get inside. But if he just touched that spot on the gasket with his finger, it stopped. Since the amount of water pressure they use to test with is much more than any kind of a rainstorm outside of a hurricane, and it comes from several directions at once, I really don’t think it will be a problem, and I told Chris that.

He agreed, but Chris and Mike, the service advisor, wanted to be sure, so they called in their supervisor, who thought that as soon as the stiff new rubber gasket relaxes a bit, it will probably seal completely. They also made a notation on our records, so if it does ever becomes a problem, we’re covered under their parts and service warranty.

Terry and I were dreading the bill, because they worked on our rig for two half days, and two full days, at $100 an hour shop rate, plus parts. In all, we had new slide seals installed on both slide-outs, both slide-outs adjusted, the fiberglass roof inspected and resealed, our air compressor manifold adjusted, the small floor slide over the stepwell in front of the passenger seat fixed, the front door adjusted (it’s amazing how much you can mess up a door when you use it to break a burglar’s wrist!), the springs in all four of our jacks replaced, and several other adjustments to different things. They also tried to determine why our big power awning is so slow, and deduced that the motor is weak, but that part is obsolete, and no replacement motor is available.

To be honest, we expected to have to fork out somewhere between $4,000 and $4,500, based upon our experience with other RV repair shops. So we were delighted to be handed a bill for $3340. And that also included six nights of free camping at Camp Winnebago!

We are very pleased with Winnebago’s factory service. When you consider the fact that we showed up at the tail end of Grand National Rally week with no appointment, and had a long list of things that needed done, while they had all of those rigs in for service during and after rally, we felt that they did an excellent job of getting us in and taken care of.

And yes, it sounds like we have been spending a lot of money on the RV, but as I said before, a lot of that is because the original owner neglected maintenance so badly. If he would have been taking care of things as needed, a lot of this wouldn’t have been necessary. Like the old mechanic used to say, “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.” Still, we bought the coach for something like $30,000 less than any comparable one on the market that we saw, and we still feel that we got a very good deal.

We pulled out of Forest City about 1:30 and drove north into Minnesota on Interstate 35, then hooked up with Interstate 90 and took it east into Wisconsin. We jumped around on a couple of doglegs and eventually got onto State Route 21 eastbound to Interstate 39. Once on I-39, we took it north to Wausau, where we dry camped for the night at a Gander Mountain store, having covered 320 miles.

Today we’ll head over to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and follow U.S. 2 along the Lake Michigan shoreline to the Mackinac Bridge. That is one structure that has really scared me in the past, so I’m not sure if I’ll be driving across, or hiding in the bedroom sniveling, while Miss Terry does the driving. Time will tell.

Thought For The Day – Blessed are the flexible for they will not be bent out of shape.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  14 Responses to “On The Road Again”

  1. Nick,

    We all find out that things wear out and need to be replaced. Some of the expenses are surprises and some are anticipated. New RV owners of used rigs need to budget significant money in the first year. This has been our experience too.

    Glad all went well with you at Winnebago and it is good to see that one American business is alive and well — and caring about doing the job right. You had a good tech.

  2. Nick;
    Before you cross the Mackinaw Bridge, you may want to disconnect your van from the Winne. Have Miss Terry drive the van across. You will save a considerable amount of fee’s, as they charge more if your tow vehicle is connected.
    Better the extra $$ in your pocket than theirs.

    Have a safe trip and tell Miss Terry good luck in Traverse City, and our prayers are with her.


  3. Drove the bridge yesterday morning, Nick. It was really windy and road construction on the outer paved lane, so I had to move over to the open grate lane. Yuck. Doing the maximum 45, the motorhome was a little squirrely when the wind would hit, so I slowed down. That helped a lot. Just remember that.


  4. Glad you had a good experience at Winnebago, Nick & Terry. If you make it to Quartzsite next winter, consider getting a whole new electric awning. The company that was called Best Awning (can’t remember their new name) sends trucks and techs from San Diego and they do excellent work on site wherever you’re parked. They replaced the large awning on my 2003 Winnebago Journey (after it blew off on the freeway because the arms didn’t lock) and did an excellent job. It was a challenge to redo all the electrical wiring, but they managed to figure it out, and at a good price. In fact, they did a package deal and replaced the fabric on all the window awnings at the same time.

  5. What Dale meant to say was “Wear your brown pants.”

    We are both sure that Terry will do a fine job navigating the Straits of Mackinac (high) over water route.

    Just remember that 5 mile stretch over water is way a quicker way to Traverse City than going through the tunnel at Detroit via Sudbury.

  6. I suppose you could figure that you spent $556.66 per night for 6 nites of camping and that the repairs were free!

  7. We’ve been enjoying reading your blog each morning, and were surprised that you drove with in 5 miles of our house yesterday. We live in Wisconsin and are just South of Hwy. 21 near Friendship, Wi. Small world! When you drove through Necedah, there was a small factory that makes those tear drop RV trailers. We didn’t know it was there until we met a couple in Williams Az. that had one. They had driven all the way to Necedah, Wi. to pick it up at the factory and they then traveled all over the US with it. Anyhow, safe travels to you.

  8. You are just down the road from us! We are just north of Gander Mountain. You just missed the storms. A day earlier and we had winds, rain,lightning and thunder most of the night. Glad you made it out of Forest City with money. Quaint little town though.
    We heard the other day that Corp of Eng. parks will not honor the 50% off anymore. Anyone one else hear this or is it just a really bad nightmare?
    Enjoy Wisconsin and safe travels.

  9. Glad Winnebago came through for you. We spend lots each year on our coach too but that’s part of the maintenance/repairs/upgrades needed to maintain a coach. It sure beats buying a new coach. Our coach was solidly built. She is still going strong (over 220,000 miles) after 17 years. She is paid for. We look at the newer flimsier coaches and say no deal. Hope your coach gives you many years of adventuring and fun!!!

    I went on line (www.us-parks.com) and looked at the American the Beautiful- Senior Pass (equivalent to Golden Age). It says, “In addition the Corp of Engineers and the Tennessee Valley Authority may honor the Senior Pass.” Also “Does the Senior Pass include any discounts at Federal Recreation sites? The Senior Pass provides a 50 percent discount on some Expanded Amenity Fees charged for facilities and services such as camping, swimming, boat launching, and specialized interpretive services.” And “In general discounts are honored as follows: Individual Campsites: The discount only applies to the fee for the campsite physically occupied by the pass holder, not to any additional campsite(s) occupied by members of the pass holder’s party. Sites with Utility Hookups: If utility fees are charged for separately there is no discount. The discount may apply if the utility fee is combined (seamless) with the campsite fee.”

    So it looks to me like they may be allowing each site or branch of the government to make their own rules. Haven’t heard that the Corp have opted out of the 50% discount for camping. Sure would be interested if anyone has been refused the 50% discount.

  10. FWIW, We just used our Golden Age card on 4 different occassions at the COE Fisherman’s Corner CG on the IL side of the Mississippi @ I-80. We were “bouncing” back and forth between Forest City and Nappanee, IN and it was conveniently half-way between the two cities.

  11. Up to date rules concerning COE passes honored are listed at the following web address. They seem to honor old passes for the lifetime of the pass holder.


  12. we are pleased that you are happy with the service you received from Winnebago. They did work on our rigs also. Nick I am with you about the Mackinac Bridge, it is a scary one to go over. We were over it only once and even Mike was not so sure, we crossed it at 15 mph because of the wind. I thought we would never get off of it. Next time we have to cross it I will be in the back of the coach until we are over it.

  13. Nick I have gone over the Mighty Mac many times and I believe the folks that operate the bridge still have a driver that will take you across at no charge. That way Miss Terry can relax and enjoy the view while you are snivelling and hiding under your bankie…. 😉

  14. Thank you to those that answered my question on COE’s. We love those parks and it would be a let down if they did not honor those with passes. Thanks again.

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