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Countdown

It's been almost a month since my last post. I'd like to say that I've been too busy to write, but the truth is that I've been sick and the medicine I've been taking has dried up all of the words in my head along with whatever else was floating about. Enough about that; time to plan for the trip.


A couple months ago, we bought a 2000 Ford E350 Econoline Super Duty van that had been converted when new by Sportsmobile in Austin, Texas. She had 100,000 highway miles, new tires, was clean, and had an engine that still looked like something familiar. We only paid $22K for her, which although sounds like a deal, I knew to be a starting point. Her owner had passed away a year prior and so she sat waiting for us to take her on a new adventure.


After the 400-mile trip from Tyler, Texas, where we bought her, the first thing I did was take her to an RV service center to have her checked out stem to stern, and to replace the drain cock for the fresh-water tank which we knew to be cracked. I paid them $1,000 to tell me she was clean and for the maintenance tech to discover the systems himself as he explained what did what to me during the handoff. Clearly, this was all new to him too. I'm going to provide a quick rundown for new/old camper owners considering vanlife or just a reliable beastie to carry them as they travel the country:


Good news/bad news: the air conditioner, refrigerator, water pump, and hot water heater all work as they should. Bad news: he couldn't get the heater to work when he turned the selector to "warm" but they can look at repairs for a shop rate of $150/hr. Good news: After reading the Dometic manual, I found that "warm" just means ambient. This unit is AC only. I bought a small electric heater and simply won't be camping in the snow. Not a biggie as she's a one-ton truck with rear wheel drive...not the mountain goat one would need to trek through the Rockies in the snow. Strike one.


Bad news: the tech assured me that generator was garbage, but he could sell me a new one for $6K plus installation. Bummer as this is an all-electric camper and so the generator would be nice for off-grid camping. Good news: I took the camper in to the local Onan repair shop and not only is the generator in great condition...it only has 112 hours on it and so although the chassis is 24 years old, the generator is still considered new. Strike two.


Bad news: the tech told me that the sink drained, but drained slowly and probably needed to have the plumbing repaired. Good news: the drain has a hair catcher. Evidently this tech doesn't do many dishes. Strike three.


I actually gave them a fourth strike. They claimed that the carbon monoxide detector was bad, they'd placed one on order and would not charge me to do the install (a ten-minute swap out), and that the unit would be in in two days. Two weeks later I called them. They had no record of ever doing any work for me in their computer. They did, however, cash the check.




So, what's next?


I'm replacing the weatherstripping on the driver's side in the hopes of getting rid of wind noise. Our sweet neighbor replaced the cruise control servo and switch...nada...will take it back to Tim's Automotive (who are great, by the way) to see if they can't figure out why the cruise control isn't working. I have the first leg of the trip mapped out and reservations made at various campsites from here to the west coast...all that's left is to pack and go.


More next week. Stay tuned.


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And to think I’ve complain about motorcycle maintenance. I’m going to be quiet now and start trying to save up for tires.

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