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Old 07-01-2007, 05:35 PM   #1
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If you've had a bad day- read about MY first venture into RVing:

In 2003 I bought a 1984 Winnebago Chieftain 33' motorhome from a local body shop/used car dealer. I know them well and have bought several cars from them. They were asking $9400 for the rig. I knew they bought it from an RV dealer who took it in as a trade for $6400. I ended up getting it for $8000. Before I picked it up, they put in new carpet, new brakes and a new AC compressor.

We took out first trip to a campsite near a our home. We discover the oven didn't work and the refridgerator wouldn't stay cool. Then the electric step quit. I told the shop about it and they fixed it all.

The next week we went about 3 hours away to a casino. We had a good time. On the ride back, about an hour and a half from home, my wife yells "the RV's filling with smoke!" Just as she says that, it loses power, and I coast to the side of the road. After a $148 tow bill to a local shop we get a ride home from her father.

Don't you know. the shop I bought it from was closed for their week's vacation. So I wait til the following Monday and call the owner first thing. His repsonse was "You know we didn't make alot on that sale?" He says he call me back. I wait until noontime and decide I'll go talk to him in person. Imagine my surprise as I pass a local repair shop and see my rig sitting there. Now instead of going to yell at him I'm ready to kiss him. It was the tranny, and he paid to replace it.

About this time my friends are telling me to sue the shop. I'm the eternal optimist and say "what else can go wrong?" (MAJOR FORESHADOWING!)

Now, after this I head to AAA and add RV coverage to my membership. She says we don't usually add it until your next use year, but OK.

A couple more weekends of uneventful camping, then a trip to Connecticut when I find out I drove on the highway all night with no running lights. (That was just a fuse.)

A quick aside- I have a son in a wheelchair who always wanted a "Camper truck" and we had a cruise booked for our family of five plus my mother-in-law (eternal optimist-remember?) So my goal when I bought this was to drive from New York to Florida.

At summer's end I load up a bunch of friends for a golf outing in Massachusetts. Is this rig running a little hot? When I get back a friend and I change out the heater core. We take it for a drive to check for leaks and my alternator burns up. So we replace the alternator.

Again I say "what more can go wrong?"

Now we pack in the 3 kids, my wife and her mother and me, our luggage and my son's power wheelchair. I was working midnite's then, so I wake up around 2 PM, pack everything up, and we leave around 5 PM. This way we hit the beltway in the middle of the night and avoid traffic. Our plan was to drive straight through. Around 2 AM we're in Virginia and I stop for gas. Everyone else is asleep. I get in to go and turn the key and... nothing. I can't get it to start. I call my friend who worked with me and knows mechanics. He says it sounds like the starter. He tells me to crawl under and bang on it. After 2 hours of tinkering, nothing. A guy pulls in for gas and asks me what kind of mileage I get. I tell him "right now nothing" and he says he'll take a look. He tried for over an hour, but couldn't get it going. He agrees it's the starter. What a kind stranger.

As we were in a truck stop, we just had to wait until 7 am for the service department to open. I'm sure I'm going to get hosed for repairs. In walks the mechanic who talks like Larry the Cable Guy. He says grab breakfast and he'll have us on the road in no time. By 9:30 AM we're ready to go. $148. $148 for emergency repairs at a highway rest stop in Virginia. Wow! We're back underway, 7 hours behind schedule, but with a renewed faith in human nature. By 1 PM I'm dragging because I've been up for 24 hours on 5 hours sleep. We were supposed to be ther by now. I stop at a rest stop and tell the family to have lunch while I sleep for an hour. The rest of the trip down was uneventful. We pulled up to the cruise port around 1 AM. Of course they won't let us in until 8AM. Up the road is a gas station. I pull in and ask the clerk if we can park for a few hours until morning and she say OK. I hit the sack.

Now we head to the cruise port in the AM. A line of cars is making its way around a broken down bus in the entrance. As I pull up to it and stop, the mechanic working at the back does something and the bus starts rolling backwards right at us. He tries to PUSH this bus by hand and I'm yelling at him to move before he gets crushed! It's coming right at me and I'm thinking "at least the bus company can buy me a new RV." Then the mechanic jumps in and hits the brakes, stopping it about an inch from my nose! We park and head out to sea and have a great time!

When we get back we're off to Disney. Pack up, turn the key and... nothing! I brought a booster pack just in case. Try to jump it- nothing. I crawl under and look at the new starter- the wires jiggle a little and she fires right up. Whew! Twice more during our weeks stay I have to do that. The last day I have to do it again, and this time it takes a while. We set out around 11 AM. So I swear to myself that I won't turn it off all the way home. I leave it running while I gas up and everything.

Now it's 2 AM in Virginia and everyone's asleep and all of a sudden I hear this horrendous noise. I stop at he nearest truck stop just in case and decide she's had enough for one day. I take a nap until about 6 AM. When I wake up I try to start it and... nothing! I get the mechanic who tells me they're not allowed to work on RVs. But he looks and says "your starter's blown apart." I tell him it's brand new. He says that it. I call AAA for a tow and they say they won't tow it until I know where I'm taking it. Since I'm in Virginia I pull out my receipt from the first repair and don't you know we're only 6 miles away! I leave my family at the rest stop and ride with the tow. Larry the Cable Guy chages the starter for free! Now I get in to head back to pick up my family and... nothing! I call Larry over and he crawls under and says my Transmission is broke in two! I ask can he fix it, and he say not for a week! Now I'm 2 exits away from my family in Virginia and stranded!!

There's a guy working the gas station at the service are who over hears my dilemma and says he'll give me a ride. I rejoin my family and now we have to find a way home! The train and bus aren't handicap accessible. I think about renting a U-Haul and throwing everyone and everything in the back. No good. The gas station guy drives me to 3 car rental places all over town until I find a van that can hold us all that I can take out of state. What a nice guy. we gave him some cash and got his name, but I lost the piece of paper. More kind strangers in Virgina!

We set out in the van and stop for food and get in and.. nothing! It won't start. Now it's like 7 PM and we're 100 miles north. I mess around and get it running. Back to my plan of not turning it off all the way home.

We make it home and after a week I call and they tellme the tranny had to be completely rebuilt because whoever put it on used one from a Chevy Suburban, not a heavy duty Workhorse one. ($1600 WORTH OF WORK!)

I stop at the shop I bought it from to tell them that, only because I wanted them to know the kind of work the repair shop did that they sent it to. Imagine my surprise when the owner hands me $1000 to offset my cost! Now I KNOW they lost money on this deal.

I have to take the rental back, so I ask a couple of friends to come and decide we'll camp overnite and come back the next day. We'll make it a party. Larry the cable guy asked me for some NY apples, so I bring him a bushel. We pick up the RV and head to drop off the rental. Suddenly a horrendous noise! Th starter won't disengage! We turn around and go back. Larry says it must be MY RV killing these starters but leave it and he'll put a SECOND one on for free.

Now we've got to get a motel because we can't camp. We also need the rental van for another night.

The next day we get under way. Around 50 north on 95 it starts to rain. I turn on the wipers and BAM! they go crazy and we lose power. I coast off onto an exit ramp and we're stuck. I call AAA again and have it towed to a repair shop. He says he can get us going, but it'll take a couple of days. So we ride home 8 hours on the bus, with my one friend in a fetal position the whole way coz he can't smoke.

A few days later My wife and I drive down to pick it up. Another $1400, but hey "what else can go wrong?"

We motor towards home and about 25 miles from home my wife calls me on the cell and says "there's flames shooting out the generator!" I suddenly lose power and it feels as if I lost the alternator belt. It starts running a little rough, but I figure I'll go as far as I can and have it towed home. It never dies and we make it home. I park it in my driveway and that's where it been ever since.

I almost traded it in on a new coach 2 years ago, but the payment was just too steep.

Believe me, my next motorhome will be brand new with the extended warranty!!! Some of you may ask WHY I would want to keep RVing after all that but remember- I'm the eternal optimist!

-Chip
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Old 07-01-2007, 05:35 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 82
If you've had a bad day- read about MY first venture into RVing:

In 2003 I bought a 1984 Winnebago Chieftain 33' motorhome from a local body shop/used car dealer. I know them well and have bought several cars from them. They were asking $9400 for the rig. I knew they bought it from an RV dealer who took it in as a trade for $6400. I ended up getting it for $8000. Before I picked it up, they put in new carpet, new brakes and a new AC compressor.

We took out first trip to a campsite near a our home. We discover the oven didn't work and the refridgerator wouldn't stay cool. Then the electric step quit. I told the shop about it and they fixed it all.

The next week we went about 3 hours away to a casino. We had a good time. On the ride back, about an hour and a half from home, my wife yells "the RV's filling with smoke!" Just as she says that, it loses power, and I coast to the side of the road. After a $148 tow bill to a local shop we get a ride home from her father.

Don't you know. the shop I bought it from was closed for their week's vacation. So I wait til the following Monday and call the owner first thing. His repsonse was "You know we didn't make alot on that sale?" He says he call me back. I wait until noontime and decide I'll go talk to him in person. Imagine my surprise as I pass a local repair shop and see my rig sitting there. Now instead of going to yell at him I'm ready to kiss him. It was the tranny, and he paid to replace it.

About this time my friends are telling me to sue the shop. I'm the eternal optimist and say "what else can go wrong?" (MAJOR FORESHADOWING!)

Now, after this I head to AAA and add RV coverage to my membership. She says we don't usually add it until your next use year, but OK.

A couple more weekends of uneventful camping, then a trip to Connecticut when I find out I drove on the highway all night with no running lights. (That was just a fuse.)

A quick aside- I have a son in a wheelchair who always wanted a "Camper truck" and we had a cruise booked for our family of five plus my mother-in-law (eternal optimist-remember?) So my goal when I bought this was to drive from New York to Florida.

At summer's end I load up a bunch of friends for a golf outing in Massachusetts. Is this rig running a little hot? When I get back a friend and I change out the heater core. We take it for a drive to check for leaks and my alternator burns up. So we replace the alternator.

Again I say "what more can go wrong?"

Now we pack in the 3 kids, my wife and her mother and me, our luggage and my son's power wheelchair. I was working midnite's then, so I wake up around 2 PM, pack everything up, and we leave around 5 PM. This way we hit the beltway in the middle of the night and avoid traffic. Our plan was to drive straight through. Around 2 AM we're in Virginia and I stop for gas. Everyone else is asleep. I get in to go and turn the key and... nothing. I can't get it to start. I call my friend who worked with me and knows mechanics. He says it sounds like the starter. He tells me to crawl under and bang on it. After 2 hours of tinkering, nothing. A guy pulls in for gas and asks me what kind of mileage I get. I tell him "right now nothing" and he says he'll take a look. He tried for over an hour, but couldn't get it going. He agrees it's the starter. What a kind stranger.

As we were in a truck stop, we just had to wait until 7 am for the service department to open. I'm sure I'm going to get hosed for repairs. In walks the mechanic who talks like Larry the Cable Guy. He says grab breakfast and he'll have us on the road in no time. By 9:30 AM we're ready to go. $148. $148 for emergency repairs at a highway rest stop in Virginia. Wow! We're back underway, 7 hours behind schedule, but with a renewed faith in human nature. By 1 PM I'm dragging because I've been up for 24 hours on 5 hours sleep. We were supposed to be ther by now. I stop at a rest stop and tell the family to have lunch while I sleep for an hour. The rest of the trip down was uneventful. We pulled up to the cruise port around 1 AM. Of course they won't let us in until 8AM. Up the road is a gas station. I pull in and ask the clerk if we can park for a few hours until morning and she say OK. I hit the sack.

Now we head to the cruise port in the AM. A line of cars is making its way around a broken down bus in the entrance. As I pull up to it and stop, the mechanic working at the back does something and the bus starts rolling backwards right at us. He tries to PUSH this bus by hand and I'm yelling at him to move before he gets crushed! It's coming right at me and I'm thinking "at least the bus company can buy me a new RV." Then the mechanic jumps in and hits the brakes, stopping it about an inch from my nose! We park and head out to sea and have a great time!

When we get back we're off to Disney. Pack up, turn the key and... nothing! I brought a booster pack just in case. Try to jump it- nothing. I crawl under and look at the new starter- the wires jiggle a little and she fires right up. Whew! Twice more during our weeks stay I have to do that. The last day I have to do it again, and this time it takes a while. We set out around 11 AM. So I swear to myself that I won't turn it off all the way home. I leave it running while I gas up and everything.

Now it's 2 AM in Virginia and everyone's asleep and all of a sudden I hear this horrendous noise. I stop at he nearest truck stop just in case and decide she's had enough for one day. I take a nap until about 6 AM. When I wake up I try to start it and... nothing! I get the mechanic who tells me they're not allowed to work on RVs. But he looks and says "your starter's blown apart." I tell him it's brand new. He says that it. I call AAA for a tow and they say they won't tow it until I know where I'm taking it. Since I'm in Virginia I pull out my receipt from the first repair and don't you know we're only 6 miles away! I leave my family at the rest stop and ride with the tow. Larry the Cable Guy chages the starter for free! Now I get in to head back to pick up my family and... nothing! I call Larry over and he crawls under and says my Transmission is broke in two! I ask can he fix it, and he say not for a week! Now I'm 2 exits away from my family in Virginia and stranded!!

There's a guy working the gas station at the service are who over hears my dilemma and says he'll give me a ride. I rejoin my family and now we have to find a way home! The train and bus aren't handicap accessible. I think about renting a U-Haul and throwing everyone and everything in the back. No good. The gas station guy drives me to 3 car rental places all over town until I find a van that can hold us all that I can take out of state. What a nice guy. we gave him some cash and got his name, but I lost the piece of paper. More kind strangers in Virgina!

We set out in the van and stop for food and get in and.. nothing! It won't start. Now it's like 7 PM and we're 100 miles north. I mess around and get it running. Back to my plan of not turning it off all the way home.

We make it home and after a week I call and they tellme the tranny had to be completely rebuilt because whoever put it on used one from a Chevy Suburban, not a heavy duty Workhorse one. ($1600 WORTH OF WORK!)

I stop at the shop I bought it from to tell them that, only because I wanted them to know the kind of work the repair shop did that they sent it to. Imagine my surprise when the owner hands me $1000 to offset my cost! Now I KNOW they lost money on this deal.

I have to take the rental back, so I ask a couple of friends to come and decide we'll camp overnite and come back the next day. We'll make it a party. Larry the cable guy asked me for some NY apples, so I bring him a bushel. We pick up the RV and head to drop off the rental. Suddenly a horrendous noise! Th starter won't disengage! We turn around and go back. Larry says it must be MY RV killing these starters but leave it and he'll put a SECOND one on for free.

Now we've got to get a motel because we can't camp. We also need the rental van for another night.

The next day we get under way. Around 50 north on 95 it starts to rain. I turn on the wipers and BAM! they go crazy and we lose power. I coast off onto an exit ramp and we're stuck. I call AAA again and have it towed to a repair shop. He says he can get us going, but it'll take a couple of days. So we ride home 8 hours on the bus, with my one friend in a fetal position the whole way coz he can't smoke.

A few days later My wife and I drive down to pick it up. Another $1400, but hey "what else can go wrong?"

We motor towards home and about 25 miles from home my wife calls me on the cell and says "there's flames shooting out the generator!" I suddenly lose power and it feels as if I lost the alternator belt. It starts running a little rough, but I figure I'll go as far as I can and have it towed home. It never dies and we make it home. I park it in my driveway and that's where it been ever since.

I almost traded it in on a new coach 2 years ago, but the payment was just too steep.

Believe me, my next motorhome will be brand new with the extended warranty!!! Some of you may ask WHY I would want to keep RVing after all that but remember- I'm the eternal optimist!

-Chip
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Old 07-03-2007, 08:15 PM   #3
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Best lemonade story I ever read!
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Old 08-14-2007, 09:57 PM   #4
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What a story... you made me laugh, and then feel bad for you, and then laugh, and then feel bad for you...I do hope you continue RVing... it's always memorable... but remember, no matter what you are driving down the road, stuff is still gonna break. Optimism is key! Happy traveling!
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Old 08-15-2007, 08:07 AM   #5
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Chip, you really are "THE eternal optimist"!
What a Story. I did not know whether to laugh or cry!
Thanks for telling it - Glenn.
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Old 08-15-2007, 10:35 AM   #6
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When given the choice between laughing or crying, I always pick laughing. Sometimes it makes people wonder about you...
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