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Old 04-10-2007, 09:24 PM   #1
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We started out on our spring break trip from GA to ME with great anticipation. We got maybe 50 miles from home when the main brakes went out. Evaluating our situation, I found out I had some brakes, apparently from the tag axle electric brakes. Using those brakes with the hand brake and carefully judging the traffic around me, we went on to Charlotte NC where we spent the weekend waiting for Monday to get the work done. Late Monday after getting a new RR caliper and rotor, we set out again. (Yes, I know it was not too smart to travel with limited brakes.)

We got near Maine and a late season snow storm nearly stopped us, but the plows were working and the interstate was kept relatively clear for slowed-down traffic. During this snow episode, our generator went our...just died and wouldn't restart. We move the kids from concentrators to oxygen tanks and planned to go home that way. We canceled the Niagara Falls part of our trip and began the trek back south throught middle PA.

It was on I-81 passing Wilkes-Barre that the transmission and radiator both blew. Fortunately we were near a "hopefully" reliable repair facility and were towed there without further incident. We've been in a motel for several days, now with a rental car, with the hope that a Jasper transmission will be here Thursday and we can be on our way by Friday. They are already working on the radiator problem, where both sides blew out.

It has been "mentioned" by DW that maybe I didn't do enough checking out the motorhome before the start of our trip. My question is " What Do You Check?" How much checking can you do on the systems that are buried in the chassis? If the brakes worked on a trip a couple months ago, is there reason to check them further just before a new departure? To what extent can you check them?

What can you check on a transmission that was just installed 2 years and 2 months ago, with a 2 year guarantee? What would you check on a generator that just had a major $2500 rebuild a few months ago? I was told today the front u-joint was full of rust and would have come apart soon. They will repair that with the transmission work, but is it something I could have or should have been able to check?

We have seriously discussed getting out of the RV business and just using a large van and cargo trailer for our travel. We don't really want to do that, but the expenses of this trip are a great cause for concern. What will go out next? What should I be checking, and to what extent?
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Old 04-10-2007, 09:24 PM   #2
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We started out on our spring break trip from GA to ME with great anticipation. We got maybe 50 miles from home when the main brakes went out. Evaluating our situation, I found out I had some brakes, apparently from the tag axle electric brakes. Using those brakes with the hand brake and carefully judging the traffic around me, we went on to Charlotte NC where we spent the weekend waiting for Monday to get the work done. Late Monday after getting a new RR caliper and rotor, we set out again. (Yes, I know it was not too smart to travel with limited brakes.)

We got near Maine and a late season snow storm nearly stopped us, but the plows were working and the interstate was kept relatively clear for slowed-down traffic. During this snow episode, our generator went our...just died and wouldn't restart. We move the kids from concentrators to oxygen tanks and planned to go home that way. We canceled the Niagara Falls part of our trip and began the trek back south throught middle PA.

It was on I-81 passing Wilkes-Barre that the transmission and radiator both blew. Fortunately we were near a "hopefully" reliable repair facility and were towed there without further incident. We've been in a motel for several days, now with a rental car, with the hope that a Jasper transmission will be here Thursday and we can be on our way by Friday. They are already working on the radiator problem, where both sides blew out.

It has been "mentioned" by DW that maybe I didn't do enough checking out the motorhome before the start of our trip. My question is " What Do You Check?" How much checking can you do on the systems that are buried in the chassis? If the brakes worked on a trip a couple months ago, is there reason to check them further just before a new departure? To what extent can you check them?

What can you check on a transmission that was just installed 2 years and 2 months ago, with a 2 year guarantee? What would you check on a generator that just had a major $2500 rebuild a few months ago? I was told today the front u-joint was full of rust and would have come apart soon. They will repair that with the transmission work, but is it something I could have or should have been able to check?

We have seriously discussed getting out of the RV business and just using a large van and cargo trailer for our travel. We don't really want to do that, but the expenses of this trip are a great cause for concern. What will go out next? What should I be checking, and to what extent?
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Old 04-11-2007, 12:50 AM   #3
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Ken, so sorry to hear of all the troubles. It sounds like you have quite a load in more ways than one. If this is true to the actual weight be careful you are not over weight. This could be a reason for some of the troubles. Even if you are not over weight you would want to check all safety issues before each and every trip. To check brakes you would want to pull the wheel and drums to inspect the bas and shoes. I am sure others will have some good info as well. We hope you have a better trip home and an answer is found. Take care and be safe.
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Old 04-11-2007, 01:41 AM   #4
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">6x12 Cargo Trailer </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
Ken,

A 96 Itasca 37RW is 37 and 1/2 foot long coach with a livingroom slide on a Ford 20,000 chassis. You are probable at the max or possibly overweight for that chassis with all the oxygen equipment and the 12 foot trailer hauling the cart. Driving that rig with that load through the hills and moutains could have been a contributing factor.

Generator could also be impacted by ice from driving in the snow also and may need a good thawing out and drying up. If it was rebuilt a few moths ago what was the condition of the oil when the break-in oil was changed out? Oil level in the generator would then need to be checked at least daily during the trip.

As for checking, you need to check everything from tire pressures to the condition of the antifreeze, motor oil, transmission oil, power steering fluid, brake fluid etc. When was the last time you had the radiator flushed and refilled with fresh antifreeze. Transmission was rebult 26 months ago, so 2 months ago what was the conditon of things when the fluid was changed? On an 11 year old chassis when was the last time the brake fluid was flushed out and replaced, calipers lubed and drums inspected? These items need to be regularly checked at least on an annual basis. U-joint full of rust would indicate that these have not been checked and lubed anually and that you are well behind for a chassis lube. Checks for insects in water heater, furnace, refridgerator propane systems all need to be done before starting out.

This is not a modern automobile which we are getting spoiled by with their extended maintenance schedules and needs to be givin a the once or twice over at regular intervals.
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Old 04-11-2007, 02:40 AM   #5
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As was suggested, these need to be 'checked' and 'verified'. I believe the most important thing on one of these units is a)brakes b)brakes etc.. If it don't have brakes, you can't stop!! I'm no brake expert, so I take mine to the experts on my vehicle (not a dealer btw). Mine just happens to be a P32 chassis, GM and I have the fortunate luck to have these folks who are also my friends do the brake thing for me before I venture out. I'm going to do it every 12000 miles period.(About 2 yrs). they also top off and/or flush fluids as needed.
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Old 04-11-2007, 03:00 AM   #6
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Boy ,you just went though one of my worst nightmares traveling.I hope you get back on the road quick.I think if you give up the MH,you will miss it.After a certain point,any vehicule is going to require a ton more maintenance.Some of the failures you had might not have been found if you did a 101 check before you left.I can remember breaking down in almost every state on the way to Fla from Ma. as a kid.Spent all my vacation money on high priced highway repairs.I checked everything before I left and though a series of events ended up blowing a tranny,coil,oil pump,2 tires,short in electrical system.Every mechanic that worked on it screwed something else up. You have done some serious work so far,odds are you should have some better luck in the future.
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Old 04-11-2007, 04:08 AM   #7
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NeilV hit the nail on the head and I recommend the same thing. Find out the manufacturers recommended maintenance schedule for the items in your coach. Follow the schedule. For RVs the time duration between maintenance work may come before the mileage.

Lastly, I never do any work on my coach just before or during the big trip season. All work is done during our short trip season (Winter). This ensures the parts and work are functioning correctly before the big trips occur.
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Old 04-11-2007, 06:41 PM   #8
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Hey Guys,

Thanks for all your replies. I've read and re-read your replies and have come to the following conclusion...I have been very lacka daisical about routine maintenance. Since we don't make many long trips, and don't put a lot of miles on every year, I have gone too much on the assumption that if nothing seems to be wrong, it is probably ok. The rusty u-joint is evidence that is not the case.

This motorhome is a big investment and deserves to be treated better by me. And probably more importantly, my family deserves to be safer when we travel. Down the list somewhere is the fact that preventive maintenance is a lot cheaper and more controlable at home, not on the road.

There are some things I have to do when I get home, but at least I should have a good transmission and good brakes.

Thanks again for your input and for steering me in the right direction.

Oh, as for giving up RVing, with the investment this week (to be determined), I don't think we can afford to get rid of the rig.
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Old 04-12-2007, 03:24 AM   #9
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I have to say that I started out the same way with my first coach. I did practically no maintenance. I thought I'd just take it to the dealer once a year and be done w/it. The coach ended up being a piece of junk and my lack of maintenance only made the situation worse.

With this coach I have been diligent w/respect to maintenance and learning how to do it the right way. Many on this forum have patiently written long answers to my uninformed questions.

As I finish my first year of ownership this fall, I hope to repay the generosity to new members via this forum.
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Old 04-22-2007, 07:50 AM   #10
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Well, we finally got home last evening after spending 13 days in that motel with four kids and bad weather. The transmission apparently went in well, but had to be ordered from Chicago. It took three radiators to get it right...the first was the wrong one (locally), the second (from the west coast) had a bad fitting and leaked, and the third (also from the west, but preshipped to the area) was a charm, except they left a couple things loose and I got some leaks. The morning we were to leave, I was loading things and saw a couple of spots on the ground. Called the shop and the owner was nearby and stopped at the motel to see what was happening. He found the loose connections and had me drive across the street where he had a second shop. An hour or so later, with a tightened radiator hose clamp and a tightened transmission fitting, we were on our way.

The first test was the same hill we had broken down on two weeks earlier. We got over the hill without much speed, but with transmission and radiator intact. The next morning I looked fearfully for spots on the ground, but found none. The same the next morning, so I guess the leaks are fixed and I can concentrate on other problems.

I was disappointed to learn Jasper only puts an 18 month warranty on MH transmissions. I had gotten 24 months on a no-name replacement 26 months ago. I was also surprised to learn the radiator tanks are plastic, and that one side blew out rather than a hose.

Now I can work on my furnace, which hasn't worked since last fall (possibly the motor, which won't turn fast enough to move the sail switch), and the generator, which was rebuilt in September. A couple of smaller must-do items also to go, but you can bet your sweet bippy (Laugh-In, circa 1970) that I will watch the maintenance charts in the future.
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Old 05-24-2009, 10:56 AM   #11
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I always leave florida (where my home is) each summer; this is what I do; I check everything the best I can, then plan a short trip to the local state park (approx 50 miles away) stay a week then return home; usually if there is any problems that I haven't found before, they will show up on that short trip. repair the problems that have shown up, pack and hit the road (I usually stay away for about 4 months). this is what works for me.
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Old 05-24-2009, 01:49 PM   #12
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Well... I do have a suggestion: Find a good RV-Service technician and .... Get 'em to travel with you.. (ok, enough joking)

Sounds like the trip from... Well, not from heaven but that other place we wont' mention.

Honestly there the things you list, there is not a lot you could have done save routine maintenance. Brakes should be inspected by a competent tech from time to time. (Though I'm competent to do the inspection I don't do motor home brakes, I know how, my tool box does not however)

I assume you did the routine maintenance on the Genny, again, not a lot you can do beyond regular oil changes and tune ups there.

Same for the rest of it.... Not good that it all hit at one time

Tranny, you can check the fluid and again, change it (And the filter) on occasion

In all cases, for the oil change/inspection/filter change etc. intervals.. RTFM
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