Rough Start to Smith Center Trip
After 6.5 years in our 2015 31IKE and 31k tow miles on my Hubometer we’ve got a long list of repairs and upgrades so we headed out to Smith Center yesterday. We planned on some friends and family visits in WV ,KY and TN on the way to Kansas.
The biggest issue is some outward bowing of the side wall above the curbside dinette slide causing that deep slide to tilt out at the top and making it difficult to retract. Though we’ve done semi-annual inspections and caulking of all seals some water infiltration has happened above the slide near the door. Curtis suspects behind the gutter is our problem spot. I was very worried about it, hoping it would hold out till we got it out there and last night I was actually counting the side retractions I have to do till SC. Should have gone with my premonition and not extended it fully. The outward lean was so bad that the stress on the hydraulic ram bracket snapped it this morning about 9:30 in a campsite near Cumberland, MD. Lots of fruitless calls to find mobile service till I made a last attempt to Ft Ashby Camper Sales in Ft Ashby, WV about 13 miles away. They really came through on a Saturday, got there in a couple hours, ran back to the shop for a welder, welded the bracket for a workable fix and with them pushing to assist we got it in. Made on the road by 3 and 175 miles down to our next stop in Frametown, WV by 6. I’m extending it only about 18” till I get it to SC.
There are lots of other repairs and we’re doing plenty of upgrades like replacement solar panels/controller, a venting bathroom skylight and a new AC so we can get rid of the loud jet engine that’s up there now. The list is so long that we are leaving the trailer out there for two weeks, flying home and resuming our trip after the two-week break.
We should be set for rolling with this FW for a few more years. It’s a great layout, well built, in very good condition with many original custom features and lots of additions to fit our needs. With the cost of a replacement and our satisfaction with this unit sinking some bucks into it is our best bet. We’ll get to try out all our updates with a 10-week tour that will take us to NM, CO, WY, SD, ND, MN, WI, MI, IN & OH. Looking forward to seeing many spots we’ve never been to like Wind Cave NP, Badlands NP, T. Roosevelt NP, Lake Sakakawea SP, Voyagers NP, Isle Royal NP, Pictured Rocks NS and Sleeping Bear Dunes NRA. For tonight I’m just feeling lucky we got back on the road and our pre-Smith Center plans aren’t up in smoke. I’ll be toasting my good fortune with some Bourbon Trail tasting in a few days!
2020 Chevy 3500HD High Country CC SB SRW Dmax
2015 Excel Limited 31IKE -