Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Shakedown Cruise

When we first bought our Bounder in 2004 we were introduced to the concept that every new motorhome has problems. It seemed like every time we took a trip, the first thing we had to do on our return was take it into the repair shop to get things fixed ranging from minor niggling defects to relatively major problems. This lasted for probably the first three or four years that we owned it. Only in the last two or three years was it broken in to the point where we could take two or three trips between visits to the RV mechanic.

After we bought the new Allegra, we took one weekend trip to Julian, which is only a couple of hours away, and other than that all it has done is sit in our driveway. Yesterday, however, we hit the road on its first real shakedown tour. We are headed, ultimately, for the Black Hills but yesterday we drove from Redlands to Cedar City, Utah.

Our first problem was just getting on the road. I was on call the night before our departure and ended up having to go into the hospital to finish up a patient admission in the morning. I also had not been able to get around paying bills, which definitely needed to be done before we left town. (In the long run, we will need to be able to do that on the road, but we aren't really set up for it yet.) In the end, we didn't get away from Redlands until just before noon.

The first thing we learned was that now that Vicki is unemployed, she doesn't drive the car very much. In fact, it had not been out of the garage for several days. So even though she just put a new battery, it did not have enough charge to run the brake assist device for our toad (tow vehicle). So we lived without it for this leg of the trip.

Our second discovery was that this motorhome was not going to be able to go everywhere at 70 or 75 miles an hour the way the Bounder did. It is okay on the flat, but climbing hills we frequently had to slow down to 40 or 45 mph to keep the transmission happy and the RPMs under 5000. We had already decided we were going to travel more slowly as full timers. I guess this is as good a time as any to start.

Perfidious, lying piece of junk
Vicki bought a super-duper Rand McNally GPS system allegedly designed specifically for RV drivers. It's supposed to keep us on RV safe routes with no low bridges or underpasses and no narrow roads. It may actually do all of that (I don't really know), but if it doesn't get you where you want to go it's pretty useless. When we were approaching Cedar city last night, this thing told us to get off the freeway one offramp too early and then turned us the wrong direction, eventually indicating that our campground was off in the middle of some farmers recently plowed field about 13 miles from its actual location. So we had to turn on the GPS in my cell phone (which knew exactly where campground was) and it informed us in rather snippish terms that the first step was to make a U-turn. In a 37 foot vehicle towing a car on a barely two-lane farm road this is quite a bit easier said than done. We finally found a short stretch with what looked like reasonably well packed dirt on each side of the asphalt and slowly cranked that baby around, clearing the barbed wire fence on the opposite side of the road by a safe margin of about 3 inches. Our next few stops we will definitely have more than one GPS running when it comes time to get off the freeway. It never hurts to get a second opinion

Finally, as we were getting ready to go to bed last night, we discovered water seeping up out of the floor in the back bathroom. We have a leak somewhere… terrific. We really don't know where it's coming from or why. For now we're going to try running completely on our water tank and keeping the pump off as much as possible to keep pressure out of the system. At the moment, it seems manageably slow, but if it gets worse it may be a killer for the trip. I'm not sure we want to hand the rig over to a shop 1000 miles from home to rip it apart looking for a leak. Hopefully, it won't get too bad and we will be able to complete our journey.

Vicki, who has read every RV related book available on, tells me that everyone agrees this is a normal part of the "full timer" experience. It's all part of the fun, she assures me. Maybe, but for fun I prefer swimming or reading or TV.  Plumbing problems, not so much.


1 comment:

  1. Sounds like about par for the course; this is the shakedown trip after all. Hope you two get to continue on and have a good trip. -CR