Our Christmas was spent with our grand-kids, their folks and friends. And we got to have some outdoor fun too.
|Grand kids: L-R Easton, Owen, Brie and Kaylie|
|Ginette, Easton, Brie and Trevor opening their gifts.|
|Deni and Courtney had baby Kaylie (three months old) napping.|
|Owen with a nice book he got from Santa.|
|Here is Easton giving Brie a ride on the tractor he received on Christmas one year ago.|
|Trevor and Brie enjoying some outdoor time.|
|Ione, Jeanette and Gwen|
|Mariette and Lorne|
Giving her thumbs up, she then drove the dually while I followed behind. The test proved true. The swivel-wheel was balanced and ready to attach to the 5th wheel.
|A swivel-wheel road test.|
Back home from the service centre, I started our dually the very next morning and to my surprise, huge clouds of white smoke were steaming from the exhaust. WHAT? Back to the service centre, it was discovered that the EGR (an emission control thing) had failed. That required a fairly lengthy number of hours to delete the EGR. It also required removing the turbo and headers to access the EGR. I have no idea what or who caused the problem. Was it bad luck, incompetence or both.
Back home, after many days in the service centre, we were ready to hitch up and head out on the 31st of December.
|Ready to roll to the US southwest.|
Given that it was New Year's Eve, and given that repairs would likely take several days - including New Year's Day - Jeanette and I thought it through and chose to head back for home. Without the turbo, the truck would pull the 5th wheel but at less than half the normal speed.
We had limped back to our home within five hours after leaving at 7:30 am.
I called the service centre. The owner was keen to have my truck back to determine the cause for the failure of the turbo. Within minutes, a diesel mechanic found the problem. A clamp that holds one of the blue tubes that connects the turbo tube near the radiator had fallen off. Really?
Recall that the turbo had to be removed to delete the EGR. So, someone at that service centre had been negligent when reinstalling the turbo assembly. A new clamp was installed and on the test ride, it failed again. The tube blew off. A new tube was ordered - along with two new clamps - and once installed, we were good to go. That was completed late in the afternoon of New Year's Eve.
Jeanette and I quietly celebrated New Year's Eve at home. We had been invited to join other friends for celebrations but after our experience that day, we chose to stay home, get a good sleep and head south, once again, bright and early on New Year's Day.
|Cruising past Seattle on New Year's Day.|
I called our RV Plus AAA for a recovery service. Slowly and carefully explaining our towing needs, it was determined that two tow trucks would be commissioned to take us to a Ford dealer nearby. We would have a two hour wait.
Well, that 'Murphy Bad Luck Guy' reared his ugly head again. AAA sent us a 1 ton truck. When it arrived, Jeanette expressed the opinion that we would not be going anywhere fast with a tow truck that could not tow our rig, let alone load our dually on its back. The driver apologized once he saw our set was. He could not help us and could not call AAA. We had to make another call. Aargh!!!!!
A second call to AAA and I was put through to a supervisor. The woman was most competent and quickly apologized for the error in sending an undersized tow vehicle. Reading our file on computer, she could not believe how someone could make the mistake. She would handle our file and she would order a 'stat' for fast service. An hour or so later, an F-650 tow truck appeared with a licensed driver who could disconnect the drive shaft, and tow us to a Ford dealer nearby.
In the meantime, RV and motorcycle friends were heading north bound, on I-5, back for home. Recognizing our 5th wheel, they turned around and dropped over to see how we were doing. Once the proper tow vehicle arrived, John and Kim headed back for the Canadian border and their home.
|All in one towing.|
|Parked at Mullinax Ford, a small Ford dealer in Olympia, WA.|
Do you find this hard to believe? This is honest to goodness truth. No service for several days or possibly even going into the next week?
To add insult, I was told to get our 5th wheel out of their dealership. They had a business to run and we were in the way! WHAT? Were we not new business? And while I was in the service centre, the sales manager was banging on the 5th wheel door. Opening the door, Jeanette was told - in an insulting tone - to get our 5th wheel and truck out of their lot.
Peeved, I walked back to our 5th wheel, only to be even more peeved when told about Jeanette's encounter with the sales manager. Working the telephones, I called triple AAA to secure a tow to another Ford dealer. While AAA were working on finding a towing service, I got busy calling three large Ford dealers in the area. A service centre adviser at the large Lakewood Ford dealership (only 19.8 miles north from where we were) offered a diesel tech to service us as soon as we could get our truck towed there.
Bang, bang bang....and this time I opened the 5th wheel door to be met by the errant sales manager wanting an answer as to when we would be vacating his dealership? I stepped outdoors, closed the door, exchanged some terse words with this idiot....and he walked away. I have a tough time suffering fools....and she was one BIG FOOL. I never heard nor saw again that day. Message had been clearly delivered. I would vacate when I could.
I also asked why this dealership - with no service - would not assist in helping us find another dealer and/or finding a towing service.
The comedy of errors (that 'Murphy' guy) erupted yet again. The only licensed tow operator who could pull our rig was on a day off. He would not agree to tow us. The only other option was to find a towing service that could provide a 5 ton flat deck to load our dually and another truck to tow our 5th wheel. Over a four hour period, no service could be found; and this in the huge major metropolitan greater Seattle/Olympia corridor.
I could not believe hearing the AAA adviser tell me that they could not find a service to assist us. They were dropping the ball. Finding a towing service would now rest on our shoulders. I was not a happy guy, let me tell you!
Once we get settled in the desert - and the time permits - I will be writing letters to AAA, BCAA, and Ford USA. I plan to copy these letters to the Washington State Better Business Bureau too. I also have to take issue with the Canadian service centre that initially installed the EGR delete kit. The Lakewood Ford service centre discovered the turbo tubes were installed backward. Of all things, it cost us more dollars to fix the initial screw ups.
|Please, please, please avoid ever seeking service at this Ford dealer in Olympia, WA. The dealer does not deserve your business.|
A call made to Nisqually Towing connected me to a nice lady who listened to my plight but admitted she didn't know anything about their equipment and had no idea if they could assist us. I asked her to please write down precisely what I needed her to pass on to a their senior tow truck driver. He was on a call, assisting on a recovery. She did take the notes. Feeling uncertain about her, I asked if she could repeat what she had written. She had taken good notes. I then asked if she could call the senior tow truck guy, read the notes and ask if he could be of service.
A few minutes later, I received a call from the very nice lady at Nisqually Towing. A few questions were posed and she promised to call back within a few minutes. She did just that. We struck gold. Nisqually towing could handle our needs.
By 3:30 pm, on Saturday, January 2nd, 2016, two large tow trucks showed up at the awful Mullinax Ford. Our truck was unhitched from the 5th wheel, then loaded onto a large flat deck. The 5th wheel was hitched to another 5 ton truck (equipped with a proper hitch) and off went, heading for I-5 northbound and to the large Lakewood Ford dealer.
Minutes after dropping our F-350, the dealership had the truck in its service centre and within one hour, Jeanette and I had a comprehensive breakdown on the required service to get us rolling again. The failure was fairly catastrophic. The fault also cooked our fairly new batteries (there are two on our truck). Service would begin late that Saturday afternoon but, sadly, we would have to sit out Sunday and most of Monday before having our truck repaired.
Lakewood Ford securely stored our 5th wheel while Jeanette and I were booked into a local America's Inn and Suites nearby.
Finally, by Monday, mid-afternoon, we had our truck back. This Ford dealer was top class. How unfortunate that we were not originally towed there. Had that happened, our truck would have been repaired on Saturday and we would not have lost an extra two days, plus hours upon hours of frustrating attempts to get us out of the awful Mullinax Ford dealer in Olympia.
Now, many of you may find this story to be surrealistic. Writing this, it does seems surrealistic to us too. To be dealt with so much incompetence: beginning with our truck service at home, losing the turbo, returning home, needed more repairs, the electrical failure, incompetent AAA service, disastrous and inhumane treatment from Mullinax Ford, numerous telephone calls to find services, and the stress (money too) for all of this almost cooked our snow bird adventure for this 2016. We seriously considered taking our wounded selves back home and to never, ever again return to the US southwest.
A good night's sleep, coupled with some encouraging words from our good friend Hector (who was patiently waiting for us at the Seven Feathers RV Resort) returned our resolve to persevere and continue our winter journey. And it has been a good trip since.
|Some of the weather we drove through. This is in southern Oregon|
Arriving at the Seven Feathers RV Resort truck stop, in southern Oregon - and where Hector was hanging out, waiting for us - I was pulling up to a fuel bay when an Oregon State Trooper stopped us. He took issue with our swivel wheel. He claimed we were illegally operating a triple tow. I patiently explained that our swivel wheel was not connected to a ball and it was not an articulated system (which defines a ball type towing mechanism). I also explained that this was the 13th time we towed through the State and had been followed on numerous occasions by State Troopers in Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, and Nevada. We had not ever been stopped once it was observed that ours was not a ball type triple tow system. Well, this Trooper was adamant. He held us up for well over 45 minutes while sitting in his car attempting to get a ruling from a superior. I could even prove that we had owned this set up since 2010. We carry the bill of sale and the title in our RV records
In the end, he still argued that he was right and I was wrong.
I then detailed a case that was previously defended in the courts, in his state. It involved a Californian - towing a swivel-wheel like mine - who successfully defended himself in an Oregon court. The judge ruled that the swivel-wheel was not a triple tow.
Nadda! This trooper was going to issue a ticket. I chose curb my polite arguments.
He returned to his car and minutes later walked back to our truck and issued a warning. So, although not ticketed with a violation, he made clear that should we be stopped by another Oregon Sate Trooper, we would be served with a ticket because we were now in the computer system. CRAP! Feeling like we should just pack up and head home, Jeanette felt like doing just that. Go home, sell the whole RV set up and further our travels anywhere in the world but never again in the USA. That was how we felt!
I called the Texas based manufacturer of our swivel-wheel and confirmed the Californian who successfully defended the Oregon ticket. Feeling positive about defending a ticket - should that present itself - we chose to press southward.
However, we did choose to spend two nights at the Seven Feather Resort. We had some business to take care of and working the phones and computers while parked proved better than trying to complete that while rolling. Hector, ever the trooper, hung in with us too. His wife, Diane is still back home dealing with her father's health issues before joining Hector in the Palm Springs area.
In the weeks ahead, I will attempt to find the court record for the swivel wheel court case; print the documents and keep them with our RV documents.
|Another carrier system called the Idaho Tote.|
That said, it has been a trip to never, ever forget.
I pondered long and hard - for days on end - about whether to write about our tribulations. 'Murphy' got us good this time out. But that's life or, as we like to say in the French language, 'c'est la vie'!
So....with support from close friends....some time to compose ourselves following the disastrous set of circumstances, we fully realized that 'Murphy' came very close to killing our travel plans. But...in the grand scheme of life, our tribulations do not even come close to those suffered by so many folks from natural disasters, third world living conditions, war, political strife, sickness and health....and more.
It's all good!
|Our lovely site at the Seven Feathers RV Resort|
|Good roads and driving conditions on the high mountain Siskiyou Summit.|
|Great driving conditions at the Lake Shasta Summit|
|Hector and I - with Chico, the great Portuguese Water dog - enjoying relaxing chat.|
|At the Orange Grove RV Park - east from Bakersfield, CA|
|Hector got busy harvesting some oranges.....|
|.....and Jeanette managed to harvest enough oranges to keep us through the next couple of months.|
Thanks for dropping in.