We are a bit behind because of our two recent Memorial Day posts (one I meant to post from 2015 and then the one from this year). Coupled with the fact we have been on the GO all summer! So let’s catch up and review our travels so far.
On May 12, we left Amity Campground on the border of Georgia and Alabama, then drove to Red Bay, Alabama, home of Tiffin Motor Homes for some DIY (do it yourself or rather “Do It Bill”) projects. We stayed there for a week. The drive there was about as perfect as it gets for us, but yet, we hated driving through the entire State of Alabama and not stopping to enjoy its beauty! We really don’t like to drive this far and miss this much. This is our preferred maximum travel day.
Our week in Red Bay, Alabama: We have always had GREAT experiences there. We make new friends easily since we have a common interest in our “homes” and we just love the laid back atmosphere. We have written a number of blog posts about our times there: If you missed the posts or want to learn more, click here to read the first in our series about our first visit after we bought our 2010 Tiffin Phaeton 40′ QTH (we still haven’t learned what that stands for); and click here for last years visit – not nearly as challenging! Thankfully, we only needed a few minor maintenance things done this year (especially after the expensive generator repair written about here). Bill’s confidence has soared since he has met so many other Tiffin owners, especially Phaetons, who have shared their DIY tips. The other draw to return there is we can buy all the parts we want at wholesale in the Tiffin Campground Store. In other words, dirt cheap. It’s just one of the little things Bob Tiffin does for his clients. Here is our list of Bill’s DIY with a few photos:
1. My passenger seat foot rest was not working properly. Bill made a temporary fix by using ties to hold it together. After talking with a professional at the Tiffin Service Center, we learned it was the “worm gear in passenger chair foot rest – Parts #2304 (left) and 2305 (right).” We bought both parts since he wouldn’t know which he needed until he got it apart. Thankfully, it was the right side – which turned out to be the less expensive part!
2. Replaced gray and black tank valves-Part #3070. The Tiffin Store only had the black tank as the gray tank valve was on back order. So the hunt began to find one in Red Bay. We checked with the two other RV parts stores in town, but neither had it. We found it at Brannon Hutcheson’s Custom RV and Repair Shop in Vina, Alabama, about 20 minutes from Red Bay. Brannon is a former Tiffin employee is now one of the “go to” guy for work no longer performed at the Tiffin Service Center.
3. Bill became intimate with our Suburban hot water tank when it stopped heating our water while we were staying in Cotton Hill this past winter. After lots of research (thanks to forums) and patience, he learned it was the “Check valve-Part #18971,” also known as the back flow preventer. We tried to buy one the rest of the winter wherever we went, to no avail. He made a temporary fix by removing the plastic part which was the back flow preventer to hold until we could buy one here. Our part is below. You can see two white plastic pieces, which snapped and wouldn’t stay in place. This valve is only in the hot water line and is only really necessary when you winterize your rig. He felt we didn’t need it since we live in our rig full-time. But you will see a pattern, he likes things fixed whether we need it to use it or not.
4.While taking the hot water tank apart to figure out the check valve problem, he saw how the hard water we regularly use at campgrounds was hard on the tank. He knew he was going to have to drain it and clean it out. He decided to wait until we were here. He then learned the value of replacing the anode rod. He threw our corroded one away before I could take a picture, but below is a representation of what they look like when they do the job, compared to a replacement rod. He went with “Anoide rod-Part #6165.” He had two options and this was what our model needed. If you aren’t familiar with anoide rods, we suggest watching the RV Geeks YouTube video which explains why it is so important to change your anode rod regularly, maybe every two years. He said ours was in worse shape than the hot water tank in the video! It was really corroded and gunked up. He loves to save money and didn’t want to have to replace our hot water tank, so this was a very needed job and was done well! 😄
5. We adore our grandsons! They both gravitate to turning on and off on and off our bedroom fan. It’s just at their height and who can blame them wanting to make that “propeller” go round and round? But the youngest one didn’t just want to turn it on and off, he decided to see how it worked – by prying it off! So we had to buy “Bedroom fan switch Part #5006375.”
6. As mentioned, Bill likes every thing to work whether we need it or not. We have an unnecessary spotlight on our roof – Tiffin no longer installs them on their motor homes. You just never know when you might want a spot light, so why not figure out why it wasn’t working. He hoped it was just the bulb but of course there is nothing so simple. Thankfully, after a lot of hard work and patience, he only needed to replace the bulb which is the Guest brand as well as changed the in-line fuse under the steering wheel in the cockpit area. We actually could have used it once when a neighbor arrived after dark and it was VERY dark. Otherwise, I think when our grandsons are a bit older, they will love turning it on and off….it’s in the “cockpit” area and they are forbidden from entering it since they only have to hit one button which releases the brakes and could mean a disaster!
7. Our fresh water tank had a slow leak. Bill started by taking it apart, cleaned the pump and thought a new filter would fix it. It did! So he also replaced our other water filters. The water we regularly use at various campground is hard on the water systems. Prevention is the best remedy!
8. Finally, he bought new windshield wiper blades, his ever faithful T9 to spray our jacks, 303 to clean the Diamond Shield after every trip, and a few other miscellaneous parts he many need down the road. And all at wholesale prices.
On top of all this, he was able to give our bus a good wash! It was a busy week! We managed to walk 3 to 5 miles every day and we enjoyed attending church again at the Red Bay First Baptist Church. We also learned a few more things from our neighbor:
1) If we ever need help, he said just call the Tiffin Service Center Parts Department (Phone (256) 356-0261 open M-F, 7:30 am-3:30 pm Central Time). Explain your issue and they will find an expert to help. Guess what? It wasn’t a just few weeks later when our driver’s side slide, a full size slide with the refrigerator on it, wouldn’t go in. We were in Lake Rend and were changing sites (more later about how we had to change sites four times). Not that we were in a hurry, but we had a lot going on that day! We called the number and Cory was our expert. He said to look on top of the household batteries and if there was a broken shear pin, it was an easy fix. If he saw a bunch of broken gears and metal, we had a more serious problem. He felt confident it was the easy fix. Thankfully, it was the easy fix!
2) We have had a few issues with our older jacks. We did have to replace the front two jacks our first year for $800. We learned the T9 mentioned above keeps them working. But we know the day is coming when we will have to replace the other two. And since we’ve now had a slide problem, we he told us about a GREAT go to place in Moscow, Iowa, called HWH Corporation. They not only manufacture the jacks and slide motors, they provide a wonderful service center. Just bring your motor home in for an inspection of the motors and they will check them out. If they need serviced or to be replaced, you can get it done, by the pros right there. One of the biggest concerns for RV owners is getting repairs done properly on specialty parts. We plan to make that a stop for next years maintenance.
That ended the repairs and purchases he wanted to make. We are thinking about adding a dish washer so we did look at used ones. We are not sure if it will be worth it, although I am getting dish pan hands!
Next stop, we planned to take a little “vacation” time before we drove up to visit family for about 10 days. We decided we would return to the Land Between the Lakes US Army Corps of Engineer Park. We had a wonderful time there the previous year and wanted to see some friends from Paducah again.
Wouldn’t you know it, it was booked! There was availability at another Corps park, Hurricane Creek, just across Lake Barclay so we made a reservation there. It would be an easy trip there, so we thought. Our friends looked it up and then tried to discourage us saying it wasn’t the type of campground we would like. But we rarely ever don’t like a place. What could be wrong???? PLENTY!
Our trip there could have been made into a horror flick – for RVers! Bill said every thing was being thrown at us except the kitchen sink! Here’s the nut and bolts: it was supposed to be a 200 mile drive in 4 1/2 hours. About our max. It turned into well over 6 hours and nearly 300 miles! We only do that type of travel for a REALLY good reason. The good news was we had a great site …. we thought until dusk. Then the mosquitoes came out in full force! They especially liked me, Debbie. Usually they ignore Bill! I couldn’t count all my bites and Bill was even attacked!
The next morning, we were trying to get our bearings. What should we do? We realized we were in a mosquito habitat! The place had recently been flooded and now we know, that makes it ripe for mosquitos. We decided to cancel our remaining reservations and just head over to Mt. Vernon, Illinois to see Bill’s mom, brother and his wife. There is a small campground right in town, just 10 minutes from his family. I called to make a reservation….and wouldn’t you know it, they were booked. Really??? This is not a destination location. There was some sort of rally or family group staying there. So now what to do? PRAY!
Long story short, we discovered we could stay at another US Army Corps of Engineers Park nearby at Lake Rend. Granted, Memorial Day was approaching but the website showed one walk-up spot left. I called the number on the website and was told it was indeed available. So that did it, we had to hurry there – about a two-hour drive. Off we went….only to arrive and be told that site is for a volunteer so it is permanently closed! We explained what we had just done and we had called ahead! It turns out the phone number we called was to the general visitor center and “they don’t know what is going on in the campgrounds!”
Let’s just say, somehow we got a site, but it looked like we were going to have to change sites four times during our now three weeks there. Since we arrived early, we stayed on due to an appointment we had made for June 5. We never thought about staying there last year because we thought it was too far away. It turned out to be ideal for us and we were so glad the other campground was booked. So what we had to change sites four times??? Unless your one slide decides to not close. Thankfully, it happened where we had the time to fix it without a lot of pressure.
We’re almost caught up now on our summer travels. Next up will be an amazing time at Starved Rock State Park in Utica, Illinois for three days. We are working our way up to Wisconsin.
Sometimes this lifestyle gets a little complicated and frustrating. We have been so fortunate we haven’t had any major complications and have been able to go with the flow. But Bill does tend to be a bit of a worry wart – always seeing the worst case scenario. I am the optimist with all the faith needed to assure him things will work out. Interesting, our sermon this Sunday was about this very subject – about the small things in life and the importance of faith. Small things do matter in the grand scheme of life.
So this scripture seems to be appropriate to all of our MINOR trials and tribulations we’ve experienced which really amount to small things. It all boils down to faith. Jesus is responding to His disciples when they couldn’t perform a miracle:
….For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20