Friday, September 25, 2015

RV Maintenance, Moolah, and More Monuments

Colorado National Monument
I left my summer 2015 campground host job at Dinosaur National Monument on September 16th and continued my adventure to New Mexico with a planned layover in Grand Junction, CO. Both sad and glad to be moving on, I had enjoyed the daily beauty of rising to view the awesome Gates of Lodore in three seasons of changing light and weather.

My travel plans included driving to the Grand Junction, CO to have about a thousand dollars of safety improvements made on my 1997 Georgie Boy motorhome. I had initially planned on getting the two front steer tires replaced along with an alignment to prevent the premature wear on the new tires. I knew that the previous owner had neglected several preventative maintenance duties including caring for the suspension. I had already replaced the front suspension spring air bags that dampen the harsh ride of this large motorhome. The addition of four rooftop four panels and four heavy batteries plus other improvements to the vehicle had added even more weight to the vehicle.

Upon investigating the cause of the tire wear I learned that numerous front end components had reached their end-of-life and that for my driving safety the situation warranted a major moolah outlay for parts and labor. And as they say, nothing like having a front end steering system collapse at 60 mph to ruin your day, so out came the credit cards for:

2 new front tires with a higher load rating, spin & balance; 2 front brake calipers, seals, rotor lathe turning, brake fluid flush; and 2 wheel bearing repacks: $1,279
4 upper and lower tie rod ends, 2 idler arms, and 1 drag link, plus labor : $1,747.16+
2 front shocks: $298.32
1 steering dampener: $55, my own labor

Total cost: $3,379.13 + six lost travel days waiting for parts and installation. Ouch!

Well, actually its not six frustrating days of waiting. Three of the seven ordered parts were the wrong part numbers. Aaaargh. They have to go back and renew a search for expensive, after market replacements.

What's a person to do in this situation? I put on the RV what would work and made a Plan B that stretches out the repair process about a month. I'll have to wait for my next big destination city (Las Cruces, NM) to finish the repairs and hope everything stays together until then.

Thankfully, these are mostly once in a motorhome lifetime expenditures. My travels will be smoother, safer and a bit more predictable. Until then what are the RV lessons I've relearned?

  • Don't neglect maintenance. 
  • Quality always pays. 
  • You seldom know what you don't know. 
  • Expect the unexpected. 
  • Don't trust that the repair shop knows what there doing, especially on an older vehicle.
  • Whatever, pick yourself up and get back on the road again.

On to better things...

On my last day of waiting for repairs I spent the afternoon touring Colorado National Monument that sits directly above and south of the city of Grand Junction. The monument is blessed with dramatic canyon views seen from a large flat top mesa that has lots of lakes, hiking trails, a campground, and roadside observation pull-outs. Definitely worth a drive through unless you're in a large RV or are afraid of heights. The historic, vertigo inducing, Rimrock Drive has three tunnels with low clearance heights so only smaller vehicles can navigate the winding, edge of the cliff road. There are shear drops adjacent to several road sections so driving from the west or east may make a difference for you or your passengers.

The not so grand tetons

You can watch the Colorado National Monument Visitor Center Web Camera

What's next on my travel plans? Cortez, Colorado and Hovenweep National Monument, Canyon of the Ancients, and then onto Mesa Verde National Park.

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