The Trip From Hell/PT 2

Brief Recap

If you read part 1 of this story you would know that at this point we are on our way to Long Island New York for a wedding. The RV is still at a truck shop and two new (upgraded) axles have been ordered. If you have not read part 1 then none of that makes any sense and you should read part 1…lol. You can check out part 1 by using the handy link below.

The Trip From Hell Part 1

Ok, now that you are up to speed let’s continue. Remember that in part 1 I told you we called Lippert pleading for help. She stated she would call me back either that day or the next day. Instead, they called the shop and gave them the same info. 3-5 weeks to process the order with no delivery estimate. Here we are 4 days later and they call us back while we are on the road. She states she received permission to “process” the order but still has no delivery estimate.

Not A Fan Of Lippert

We politely thanked her for her efforts but since we didn’t hear back from her we went a different route and ordered upgraded axles. Instead of her being happy for us figuring out a way to get back on the road, she became irate. What? We had explained to her on the original call that we were full-time RV’ers and that was our home. She had a nonchalant attitude on the original phone call so why was she pissed now? She even went as far as telling us she was going to send the axle anyway!!!

Why?

Why would we want the 4400-pound axle with the 3500-pound bearing anyway? We tried to reason with her and explained that she never called back, which she admitted, but there was just no talking to her. We politely told her that if she sent the axle we would have the shop refuse delivery. As it turned out she DID send the axle and the shop wound up accepting it… at first. They wound up returning it to her. To me, the whole thing was a big waste of time.

Made It To Long Island

We wound up getting a few different motels at the beginning but driving overnight towards the end of the trip. At one motel we stayed at the clerk was fighting with her boyfriend. When she wasn’t crying she was screaming at him. Another one (which actually cost the most) was a complete dive. The last one we stayed at the clerk kept trying to charge us premium rates for a basic room. He wound up putting us up in a room with a hot tub but gave us the basic price.

That one was about 40 minutes before the George Washington Bridge which is the location we wanted. Anyone that is familiar with getting on and off Long Island via the GWB knows you must hit it early morning, which is exactly what we did.

Time To Head Back

We had a great time visiting family and friends and attending my daughter’s wedding. The Thursday before my daughter’s wedding (which was a Saturday) we received a call that the RV was ready. Woohoo!!! Well mostly woohoo…lol. I probably could have put a down payment on a new rig for what this repair just cost me!!! Ouch!!! It’s all good. We are very comfortable in our RV and were excited that it was ready to be picked up.

On Our Way

Sioux Motel
Our Motel Room In South Dakota

After not fairing well with our motel choices on the way to New York, we decided to skip the motels and drive straight through. Yup, all 2500 miles of it. We decided we would just pull into truck stops and rest areas when we got tired and would grab a few hours’ sleep here and there when needed. It seemed like a good idea on paper.

Storms

While we hit a couple of nasty storms on the way to New York, the way back turned out to be worse. Heavy downpours, freezing temps, and high winds followed us almost from the start. Just before we hit South Dakota I started to notice my head was clogging and I was coughing pretty bad.

Bye Bye Tonneau Cover

About halfway through South Dakota, the wind started gusting pretty bad. At this point, we noticed that some of the trucks on the road were blowing out of their lane. We were discussing how glad we were that we were not towing the RV in these wind gusts as they were coming across interstate 90 hitting us broadside. As we were discussing the wind gusts I looked in my rearview mirror just in time to see a gust of wind lift the side of the tonneau cover right off the truck. Not a second later the entire cover was ripped right off the back of the truck!!!. It almost came right through the rear window!!!

We pulled over and now we’re standing on the side of I-90 getting almost blown off our feet as we assessed the damage. There was a small section of the cover still connected to the frame but the rest of it was destroyed. We had to cut the piece off so we could free the damaged cover and secure it so it would not come through the window.

What About All Our Stuff?

When we left the RV at the repair shop we took a lot of stuff with us and secured it under the cover. We already had the back seat of the truck packed as well. We did not want to leave anything of value in the RV at the repair shop. We also had all our sheets, pillow, linen, and clothes because we do not use motel stuff. Now we had to figure out how to secure the stuff in the back so it wouldn’t blow out.

All this fighting the nasty wind gusts. Thankfully we had a couple of ratchet straps in the back that we usually use for the bike. We were able to strap some of it down while jamming the rest in the truck. At this point, we couldn’t get a motel unless we literally unloaded the back of the truck into the room. Onward we go.

We Have Arrived

We rolled up to the repair shop at about noon. We were completely exhausted and now I am sick as a dog. Our plan at this point was to pick up the RV and spend a night at the KOA in Missoula (where we worked all summer) to get organized and get a good night’s sleep. I forgot to mention that just before we picked up the RV we stopped at a gas station and topped off. We also bought what would be the first of many rounds of cough syrup and cold & flu medicine.

Over Goes The Bike

After paying for the RV repairs we headed out to the yard. The RV was parked in a massive area of thick mud. Thanks, guys. We also had to get the bike on the truck. They let us keep the bike in a small corner of the yard while we went to New York which I thought was pretty cool. Anyway, we emptied the stuff we had in the bed of the truck into the RV so we could load the bike. As we were loading the bike I decided it wasn’t going up straight. I usually make that determination before it starts to go up and again when it’s up and safely secured with backup straps.

Yeah, not this time. I was so tired and sick I guess I wasn’t thinking and when it was about halfway up I decided to release one of the straps (without thinking) and over the bike goes. Well, mostly over. I was able to hold it a bit until the strap was retightened but it was too late. The wheel came out of the cup and into one of the voids of the lift. We actually got lucky as an employee was fork lifting parts outside and agreed to help us out. He was able to get a fork under the front wheel and gently lift it back onto the Rampage. After securing the bike and hooking up the RV, we were finally off to the KOA.

Off To KOA

It was a weird feeling to be pulling the RV again. It was almost like we were waiting for something else to happen. The check-in at the KOA went fast. They had already turned their water off but had a spigot for us to fill our freshwater tank with. The next morning I woke up so sick that we decided to extend our stay one extra night. Apparently, driving 2500 miles in two days through rain and cold with no sleep after doing almost the same on the way to New York wore me down. Coupled with the fact that I was sick there were snow flurries in the forecast hitting the Butte area which is where we were going to be driving through.

Let’s Try This Again

After the second night although I was still feeling like crap we were off. When we got to the Butte area we actually got off the same exit and went to the same gas station as the night we broke the axle a month earlier. It was a little eerie but at least this time our bearing/axle was not smoking away!!! After fueling up and restocking Day Quil & Night Quil we were on our way.

Made The KOA!!!

It was a long day of driving especially since we were so nervous we were stopping every 60 miles to check the wheel temps. We finally pulled into the KOA in Pocatello Idaho and were able to get a good night’s rest. We did it. We finally made it out of Montana!!! At one point we were thinking that we may never get out of Montana.

All The Elements

We tried to do between 275 and 325 miles each day before stopping and resting. I swear we couldn’t catch a break. No warm weather. Everywhere we stopped it was in the 40s during the day and 30s at night. At one RV park we stopped at in Nebraska we woke up to about an inch of snow. This was not helping my head cold and cough. Most of the others we woke up to cold and fog.

Not Again

When we were in Tennessee while checking the torque on the u-bolts, I noticed the leaf spring bushings were completely shot. The bolts were actually moving around in the brackets. Now that’s just great!!! I didn’t have the heart to tell Chris. I also noticed on the walk-around we do before we leave a campground that the back bumper of the RV was bent up in the middle. WTF? Are you kidding me? The only thing I could think of is that the shop used a forklift to back the RV out of the shop and tried to put the fork under the center of the bumper. I would usually see something like this right away but I guess being as sick as I was I missed it.

Broken Leaf Spring Bracket

Atlanta = Another Breakdown

As we traveled through Atlanta heading for our KOA destination I cringed each time we hit a bump in the road. Yeah, I know. I should have found a shop in Tennessee when I noticed the bad bushings but quite honestly I just wanted to get to Florida. Bad decision. When we stopped at a gas station just past Atlanta I noticed that one of the brackets on the leaf spring was cracked. Ugh!!!

Multiple Shops

It was about noon on a weekday and we were in a fairly commercial area. Those were two things in our favor. We looked on Google maps and tried to find a route with repair shops on it. We started driving slowly and stopped at every shop we passed. Each and everyone said they don’t do that work. Ok, this is starting to get ridiculous. One guy even told us that even if he had the part he couldn’t do it because he was going on vacation. Thanks a lot buddy.

Repaired Leaf Spring Bracket

Custom Body Shop

We were starting to give up hope. According to Google Maps, there was a muffler shop about 1.5 miles away. I figured muffler shops should be able to weld so we started heading in that direction. It was our last hope. If they couldn’t help us we would be looking for the closest campground. A few hundred feet up the road I noticed a body shop. I know that body shops weld but the question is would they be willing to help. This trip has been an eye-opener to us on how many people just are not willing to help. It’s very sad.

I Got A Guy

After talking to the manager and explaining our situation he was hesitant at first. He said the muffler shop we were heading to could probably help us. Oh man, not again. After talking to him for a few minutes he seemed to have a change of heart. He said “let’s go take a look at it” and we walked over to the RV. He looked at it and after we bounced some ideas off each other we agreed that a washer welded to the bracket would probably do the trick. He said he had a great welder in the shop and would go talk to him. He also said the only way he could do it was that I would have to deal with the tech as far as pricing and payment directly. I knew at this point it would be pricey but who cares. At least it was getting fixed.

Where’s The Closest ATM?

The tech came out and after assessing it said he could do it for $200. Ummmm, where’s the closest ATM?…lol. I wound up backing the RV into their parking lot. I unhooked the RV and off to the ATM I went. By the time we got back, he had the bracket welded and was starting to put it back together. After about another half an hour or so he was done, we hooked the RV back up, and we were on our way. Thank You D&D Kustoms!!! It wasn’t the prettiest but it held up for the rest of the trip and we made it to our site in Florida.

Our Site At Hammondell

What Did We Learn?

  • Expect The Unexpected. We Thought We Were Prepared For Anything. Not So. It Seems As If Parts Are Getting Harder And Taking Longer To Get
  • Have A Good Roadside Assistance. A Flat Bed Tow Like We Needed Could Run Over A Thousand Dollars
  • Don’t Be Afraid To Get Involved With Finding Your Needed Parts If The Shop Is Giving You Excessive Wait Times. We Could Have Had Our Axles Much Sooner Had We Gotten Involved Earlier.
  • Just Because You Check Your Brakes & Bearings Before Each Trip, It Does Not Mean One Can Fail Unexpectedly
  • Get Yourself a Good Tire Pressure Monitoring System. I Never Saw The Need Unitl Now. They Are Not Fool Proof And Won’t Detect a Blowout But We Feel If We Had One Of These Systems We Would Have Seen The Temperature Rising On The One Wheel. We May Have Been Able To Pull Over And Let It Cool Before It Failed Completely And Damaged The Axle.
  • Take Pictures Of Your RV Before And After It’s At The Shop. Also, Walk Around The RV Before You Leave The Shop To Look For Any Damage. We Should Have Noticed The Bumper Right Away When We Picked It Up. We Were So Tired & Me Sick We Just wanted To Get Out Of There.
  • If You See Something Wrong With Your RV That Could Be A Potential Danger, Take The Time To Get It Fixed. We Should Have Found A Campground As Soon As I Noticed The Bushings On The Leafsprings Were Missing. Our Situation Could Have Turned Out Much Worse.
  • Always Make Sure You Have Reserve/Emergency Money. Expenses Can Add Up Quickly In Certain Situations.

2 thoughts on “The Trip From Hell/PT 2”

  1. Dennis and Chris I know it was a heck of a trip. But I did catch myself laughing a few times. (Sorry) Glad you made it safely to Florida.

    Reply

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