Saturday, June 1, 2013

Getting Fixed

Tuesday morning after Memorial Day our game of tele-go-round began anew, searching for someone to fix our sick motorhome. The Tiffin dealer in Eugene did not work on vehicles over 30 feet in length. They referred us to a dealer in Junction city who said they could help us in three or four days, maybe. The software they need to read the computer output from the engine was out of date and they weren't sure they could diagnose the problem. They suggested we call Tiffin, the motorhome manufacturer in Alabama. The service department in Alabama felt it was clearly an engine/chassis problem, i.e. not their problem, and we needed to call and talk to Ford Motor Company upon whose chassis the motorhome had been built. The phone representative in Detroit (who sounded like he was all of about 15 years old) said we could take it to the Ford dealer in Albany Oregon which was 45 or 50 miles north of us. The service shop in Albany was unsure whether they could really help us or not but were willing to take a look if we could get the coach there "tomorrow".

The cavalry has arrived
At this point, rather than trying to drive a disabled vehicle up the interstate for 50 miles without having any good idea of what was wrong with it or trying to arrange to have our 25,000 pound motorhome towed that distance, we decided to give another call to "Bob", the roadside service guy. We were hoping he could at least tell us what was wrong with it so we could make a more informed decision on how to proceed. He had told us when we talked to him Saturday that he would be back in Eugene on Tuesday but he was mistaken. He did, however, offer to a call around and try to find someone to help us. About 30 min. later, we received a call from "Steve" who runs a roadside RV repair service of his own and told us his buddy Bob had asked if he would help us out. At this point, we were willing to take whatever help we could get and agreed to have him come out and look at our vehicle. He had some work he had to finish up for another lost soul, so it would take a couple of hours to get to us. Oh well, at least we had a comfortable place to sit and wait and it sure beat hell out of "three or four days".

Steve finally arrived around two o'clock in the afternoon. After hearing our story and the sound of our noisy engine, he opined that we had probably somehow burnt out our catalytic converter. Then he disappeared under the RV for about 15 min.  When he emerged he was confident he had discovered the problem. The catalytic converter appeared to be fine. The rest of the exhaust system not so much. It was literally falling apart at every join from the engine to the muffler. All of the connecting bolts on the driver's side were gone and those on the passenger side were loose and would be joining their compatriots shortly at which point large chunks of the system would probably fall on the ground. "Oh, and by the way, did you know that your inside tire on the driver's side is flat?"  Terrific.

Back in September when we took our trip to South Dakota we noticed that our motorhome had trouble climbing grades so we ended up going over the Rocky Mountains at about 30 miles an hour as semi trucks roared past us laughing. When we returned to Redlands, we discussed this with the service guy at Mike Thompson, our dealer, and he told us he could probably help that with something called a Banks system. This is a modified air intake and exhaust system that is supposed to run more and cooler  air through the engine causing the gasoline to burn more efficiently and improve power and gas mileage by about 20%. I was suspicious but after a bit of Google research which said more or less the same thing, we agreed to go ahead and let them install this new airflow system on the Allegro. And, lo and behold, it actually seemed to work. When we took a trip to Arizona in February there seemed to be noticeably more power and hill climbing ability. We were very pleased.

Good news (I hope)
So the exhaust system that was falling apart in Oregon was not the original Ford exhaust but the shiny new Banks exhaust system we had paid several thousand dollars to have installed in January. According to Steve, the people at Mike Thompson had simply done a shoddy job. The good news was that more or less all of the pieces were still there, they just needed to be bolted back together again with some new gaskets and locking springs so the bolts could not rattle loose another 500 miles down the road. And, he assured us, he was quite capable of doing that on the spot. No towing, no trip to Albany.

So while Steve crawled around underneath our motorhome fixing the depredations caused by our Tiffin dealer, we climbed in the Subaru and drove to Portland to meet Lyle and Linda at their bed and breakfast place. We had a very nice sushi dinner, caught up on the latest family news and then drove back down to Eugene. By the time we got there, it was pouring rain and the wheels were off the left rear axle of the Allegro. Steve had taken them off and driven away with the flat tire to see about fixing or replacing it. He was supposed to meet us back at nine o'clock the next morning.

A wad of cash and we're on our way.
Nine o'clock came and went, as did 10 o'clock and 11 o'clock. We called and spoke to him on the phone and discovered that he had the tire at a repair shop. They had found a screw that had gone through treads and were going to be able to fix the tire with no problem but we were apparently not at the top of their priority list. Finally at about 2 PM, Steve returned with our repaired tire and mounted the twin wheels back on the motorhome. Now it was time for the acid test. I took out my key and turned over the engine and it sounded… well, pretty normal. Steve, the one man roadside assistance business had done what all the Tiffin and Ford dealers in a 100 mile radius had been unable to do.  God bless 'im. We happily forked over a large-ish wad of cash for his services (not really all that happily, but you know what I mean) and, with a certain amount of trepidation, got back on the interstate and drove to Portland without further mishap.

So here is the plug for what little it is worth. If you ever need roadside motorhome services in the Eugene area, call Steve at A to Z Mobile Repairs, (541-606-4802). He's a champ and also, as it turns out, a really nice guy. Of course, if the exhaust system falls off again before we reach South Dakota I'll retract everything I've said, but at the moment he's our hero.

1 comment:

  1. Wow!! You really are having quite the adventure. Nice to see that you are back on the road.