Thursday, March 4, 2021

Abandon Ship!


    There's a very nice nature trail in Ringgold, Georgia that runs along side the South Chickamauga Creek and this morning Suzanne and I decided to explore it. 

    I found a couple of these pictures online. Hence, the greenery in winter...

At 1pm, upon completing our 2ish mile trudge and returning to the car, we drove into town and had lunch at a lovely little restaurant called The Homeplate Grill.  It was a beautiful, warm, sunny afternoon and there were two outside tables, neither of which were occupied, so after checking in with the hostess
we seated ourselves at the table to the left of the restaurant entrance where the sun was a little less intense.

Some fine southern fare

     Back at the coach, at around 3pm, I called the service desk at Premier Truck Group to ask if they had some idea as to when the parts would be arriving tomorrow so that we could be prepared to evacuate in a timely manner. 

    "Les is on his way down to your coach to explain the situation."

    Uh oh.

    The "situation" as explained by Les, the RV tech, is as follows...

    It seems that one of the sections of pipe needed for the repair, specifically the pipe that connects to the turbo, doesn't exist. It is nowhere to be found in the entire US Freightliner inventory and has to be fabricated at the plant. According to Les, fabrication, shipping and installation could take up to two weeks. 
    We are currently about 580 miles from home, my daughter has a few carpentry projects she wants me to complete before the baby comes in mid-April, we're getting anxious to see our kids, kids-in-law and grandchild, there's an upcoming doctor appointment, and we really don't care to spend a couple (or more) weeks hanging out in the greater Chattanooga area. 
     We've begun readying the escape pod and will head for home bright and early tomorrow morning. When the repair is complete we'll either drive down to retrieve the coach or board the dogs and fly down. We're not really upset about the predicament we find ourselves in and actually consider ourselves lucky that it happened where it did. We could have been in Van Horn, Texas or Delta, Utah or any number of remote locations far from the nearest big rig repair shop - much less an honest to goodness Freightliner facility! It could most definitely be worse! 
     It's all good.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

So Here's The Deal...


     One of the cool things about traveling around the country in a motorhome is that no matter where you are, when you're inside the coach you feel like you're home - even when it's in the parking lot of a Freightliner repair facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. 


     To be doubly sure we'd be ready when our service tech came a' callin' in the morning both Suzanne and I set our phone alarms for 6:30am before going to bed. We arose this morning after a restful night's sleep, readied the coach for slide retraction, walked the dogs and were back inside stowing/securing a few last minute items when there came a knock on the door... 

    "Whenever you're ready, bring it on up the hill to door #7 and honk the horn!"

     I retracted the slides and landing gear, disconnected from shore power, aired up the coach and drove up the hill to door #7 as Suzanne and the dogs followed behind in the car. Premier Truck Group has two very nice lounges for service customers - one for truckers and another for RVers. After allowing the dogs one more opportunity to potty we entered the building, walked through the service check-in area and up the stairs to the RVer lounge where we settled into a couple of very comfortable leather recliners, turned on the TV and awaited word from the tech as to what was wrong with our coach.

     I guess it was about 40 minutes later when I got the call... 

    "Mr. Killian, I have some pictures and an estimate for you. I'll be up in a minute."


    The pictures...

Leaking, rust-rotted post-turbo pipes

Not what things are supposed to look like
  The estimate...

     Hey... whudya gonna do? A little more than I expected - but it's a bigger job than I would want to tackle. Maybe if we were home and I had plenty of time and more tools at my disposal... maybe I'd take a whack at it. At any rate, the parts have been ordered and should be in by Friday. The tech told me he'd dedicate the entire day on Friday to getting the job done so that we can be out of here and back on the road by 7pm closing time. 

   The exhaust issue I had after leaving California? This was the real problem!  

     Figuring the coach was in bay #7 for the duration, we found a pet friendly motel about a mile down the road and checked in - paying for two nights. The room turned out to be... shall we say, "somewhat less luxurious than expected"? Despite housekeeping's valiant efforts, even the most liberal Lysol fumigation cannot transform a smoking room into the non-smoking variety. That, and the hairy pillow cases had us very much wishing we were someplace else. Just as we were discussing our options there came a call from our service tech at Premier.

     "Mr. Killian, I've got your coach back together and parked down in the RV lot if you'd like to move back in."

    Boy did I!

    I went out to the front desk and got my money back, minus a $20 housekeeping fee (uh, yeah... right) and we drove back to the RV lot at Premier. We'll hang out here for the next couple of days awaiting the arrival of our parts. The RV lounge will provide a comfortable enough environment for us and the pooches to while away the hours on Friday when the coach is behind door #7 being repaired. There are also some nice looking parks and hiking trails in the area. 

Then it's back to living the dream! Right?  

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Tuesday, March 2, 2021

"Chattanooga... We Have A Problem..."

      We spent Saturday night in Vicksburg, Mississippi at the Ameristar RV Park, just across the street from the Mississippi River and owned and operated by the Ameristar Casino and Hotel. We stayed here once before on a homeward trek. During that stay we sampled the local tamales, something for which Vicksburg is famous. This time around we passed on the tamales and instead, I barbequed some chicken. Sometime in the early afternoon a brand new Tiffin Allegro pulled in beside us. And I do mean brand new. The owners and a brother-in-law were travelling from their Texas home to their Virginia home and it was their maiden journey in the new rig. The dealership must not have provided a very thorough tutorial as they had lots of questions for me as to "what to do next?" or "what button should I push to...?".  As I was preparing for departure the next morning, the husband was looking over my shoulder, paying very close attention to my every move and asking more questions. I was glad to be of some assistance. 

     We considered spending two nights in Vicksburg but instead stayed only one, heading back out on the road around 9:00 Sunday morning. 


     We pitched our tent Sunday and Monday nights at Gadsden, Alabama's The Cove RV Resort and Campground. I've mentioned before that many of these establishments take great liberties with the term "Resort" - and TCRVRAC was no exception. Lots of gravel, a fair amount of mud, tight turns if you're in a big rig. I mean, it was a nice enough place on a pretty little lake... but resort? Check out Indio California's Motorcoach Country Club. Now that's a resort!


      And speaking of less than ideal accommodations...

       Today we find ourselves overnighting in Chattanooga, Tennessee at Premier Truck Group of Chattanooga, a Freightliner dealer and repair facility. 

      As soon as we left Gadsden I could hear a noise coming from the engine compartment upon acceleration or while climbing. I stopped at a Pilot Service Center to get out and listen at the back of the coach as Suzanne revved the engine but whatever was causing the noise was happening only while the engine was under a load. 
      Unsure whether to contact a Cummins or a Freightliner garage, I first called a Cummins shop in Chattanooga. I described the sound to the service consultant, telling him I suspected it may be a belt, and he advised me that I might be better off with Freightliner, specifically Premier Truck Group, as they would have a greater variety of belts and parts. I should explain that the engine in our 2011 Winnebago Tour 42qd is made by Cummins while the chassis is manufactured by Freightliner. 

      We had to take a short eight mile detour, turning south on Interstate 75 instead of north, before arriving at PTG. It's a huge facility and we consider ourselves very lucky to have been so close to such a seemingly top-notch Freightliner shop. The service writers were very responsive and I had my paperwork filled out within minutes. Their RV tech was also out in the check-in area and under the engine of my coach within minutes - seeing what he could see and asking me more detailed questions about exactly what I was hearing and when. Emerging from beneath the coach he told me he'd try to fit us in this afternoon but it was more likely going to be tomorrow morning before he'd be able to get it in the garage. 
"Can I boondock in your parking lot overnight?" 
"We have six RV parking spaces at the bottom of the hill with electrical hookups. Go ahead down and pick a spot. They're marked".


     So here we are in Chattanooga. Hopefully it won't be for long and it'll just be a belt that needs replacing. Fingers crossed. Our coach has a rear-facing radiator and even if it is just a bad belt, replacing it may mean having to remove the gigantic radiator to gain access. It may take a while.
     I've found several pet friendly hotels in the area and when PTG is ready to tear into this thing, we may end up checking into the local Super 8. 

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