Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Trip Without a Challenge? Part 2: The Day of Service


We were leaving on Wednesday night for the service appointment Thursday. The weather reports were uncertain for the week. As it might rain on Tuesday, I filled the water tanks, both interior and exterior tanks, on Monday. The temperatures were no where near freezing on all reports and this is October so there should be no concern about the water in the tanks freezing. On Wednesday during the day, despite a report that there would be rain during the day, it was clear and we loaded the Roadtrek for our weekend trip. About the middle of Wednesday, I saw a weather report for Pennsylvania that temperatures for Saturday might go down to 31 or 32 and that there would be rain showers mixed with snow showers. Oh boy! I had both tanks filled. I know that interior tank is fine if the outside temps go down past freezing to about ten degrees, but the exterior fresh water tank is exposed to the outside air, as are the waste tanks. We had not left yet, and we had a challenge. What is more, the weather report for Thursday, when the Roadtrek would be at the service center all day and we would be on our own outside on foot, was to be heavy rain. Another challenge. There is a very small waiting area in the building between the RV accessories store and the dealer showroom. This is across the road from the service center. Spending eight hours sitting there would be a challenge all in itself.

We thought about emptying the exterior tank but this would take some time. We decided to leave things as is. It would be a few days before the temperature fall so we could ask at the service center what they thought we should do and if necessary, we could always drain the exterior tank at the campground.

We decided to leave Wednesday night after dinner. We finished eating and got the house in order to leave it for several days by about 7:30 pm. The trip would take about three hours and I did not really want to get there too early. Backing the Roadtrek out of our driveway and onto the busy, two lane each way avenue that we live on always takes time. I had hoped that traffic on our road would be less at that time at night, but it seemed just as busy as rush hour in the morning. It took a good fifteen minutes for the road to clear and our large van to get out into the road and out of the way so that Meryl could get in after directing me out. We use walkie-talkies to do this. (It would be good if Meryl did not keep holding down the talk button all of the time when we do this so that I did not continually hear the whoosh, whoosh of the cars and trucks passing by.) She was finally in and we were on our way.

Because of low overpass clearances we cannot leave our area in the usual way one would with a car. We have to take streets instead of a limited access road and I decided that at night it is best if we take the longer route rather than the route that takes us onto smaller roads that is a bit quicker. Eventually we get to a truck route that must be one of the worst paved roads in NY and I suspect that this and the rest of the NY roads must be the worst paved in the country. Even places that have been repaired cause a jolt and the Roadtrek is not made for jolts. You feel every bump and you and the interior shake with every minor hole in the road. We have no choice and must take this road on every trip. Eventually, we got to the limited access road that will take us to one of the two bridges that we must cross to leave New York State.

It was then that we hit traffic and it was at a stand-still. The route to the bridge should take no longer than 45 minutes to an hour. It took an hour and a half. While this road is under constant construction, it was not construction that brought all of the vehicles to a halt, but one car at the side of the road with a tow truck. The radio traffic reports had no knowledge - or they choose not to report - this delay. Eventually we were over the first bridge with its ridiculously high toll and then across Staten Island to the second bridge with its own ridiculously high toll. Finally we were in New Jersey where the road surfaces get better and hopefully we would not encounter any further traffic - which we didn't.

We have actually never headed in this direction at night before, and the trip was a bit different in the dark. We got into Pennsylvania and then off the turnpike heading up to the dealer service center. It was about ten thirty when we were nearing our destination and we saw a Walmart in a shopping center up ahead. We decided to stop there, use the rest room, and stroll through the store to kill time. The 24 hour Walmart in Hatfield, Pennsylvania is very nice. When we left we were just a about ten minutes from the service center.

The parking lot at the service center is very well lit. In fact, it is too well lit. We arrived and pulled in front of the building looking for the power outlet. We were told that there is one at the side and one in the front. Not certain, how close we could park, we brought a 30 amp, 30 foot extension cord just in case. We also have a 30 amp to 15 amp converter plug if we only found a house outlet when we arrived. The side outlet was blocked by a large, empty Class A parked there. The front outlet was between the entrance door and a garage door. As it was going to rain I wanted to make sure we were parked in a direction that the rain would not come into the open vents where the air conditioner is. The walkie-talkies came out again and I went back and forth to find a spot that was reasonably level and that we could hook up the power cable to the outlet box - which by the way, not only had 30 amps but also had 20 amp outlets. The extension cord was needed and we hooked up. Inside, I put up the tv antenna, directed it toward Philadelphia and scanned for channels. There were 48 digital channels found - not bad, but the selection despite the number was not the best. We were all set for the night.

After the first two nights ever in the Roadtrek, I have been able to sleep well inside it. This was one of those off nights. Perhaps it was the traffic constantly outside our windows or the rain or the outside flood lights peaking through the small openings in the window covers, but I could not fall asleep. I do believe it was about 5:30 am or 6 that I did fall asleep. We had to be up at 8:30 am to be ready for the service peoples arrival at 9. The alarm went off first at 8. Ugh. At 8:30 we were both up and getting ready for the day and the rain that was heavy outside.

At 9 we were finally unhooked up and we went inside the service center office. The wonderful lady that we always work with and make arrangements with was not in yet. The gentlemen at the counter had no idea why we were there. I went through the list of what needed to be done. He went to the computer and confirmed that we had an appointment. He was a bit surprised that we were waiting - really, what else would we do. To bring a car with us in addition to the Roadtrek would be double the gas and the tolls. And we do not own a car that can be towed behind - which is possible with some small cars. What I don't understand is that I have been emailing and talking to this service department for two months about this service visit, and when we finally walk through the door there is no detailed record in the computer about why we are there. When we walked out into the rain to go across the road (more like highway) to go wait in the little waiting area, I was hoping that I actually explained the problems as fully as I had before in my emails and discussions and that the jobs that needed to be done would actually be attended t0.

When we got inside and went up the few steps to the waiting area that divides the accessories store with the showroom there was a round plastic picnic table with four chairs, a magazine rack, a television that was off, a coffee service at the side, a candy machine, and a man sitting in one of the chairs reading a newspaper. He was there getting his recently purchased Class C worked on. We sat down. My wife had embroidery to do. I had planned on taking my little music player with an audiobook on it out of the RV but in the confusion and rush to get out and into the service office, I forgot all about it. I was so exhausted from not having slept very much the night before, that I just sat.

Eventually, the gentleman with the newspaper finished it and offered it to us. It was very nice of him. We got to talking and he was from about twenty minutes away. He told us that he has a winter residence in Florida and the RV would be used for the first time getting him and his wife there. He had not used it before and asked us questions about staying in campgrounds. Conversation moved the time along, but not enough.

About an hour and a half went by when a couple with a new 2012 Roadtrek 210 Simplicity joined the three of us at the table. They have been long time RV Fifth-wheel owners and had just traded that in for the new Roadtrek. They knew a lot about RVing but very little about Roadtreks. They, too, had questions about ours and our experiences, and we shared a lot with them. (I realized later that I should have told them to come and look here. I did suggest that they join the Roadtrek Yahoo Group which is very helpful.) It was getting to be like an RV party, and now the time moved a bit quicker. Of course, no one's RV service was soon to be finished.

About one o'clock, my lack of sleep coupled with a blood sugar drop was getting to me. I had to get lunch. By then the Roadtrek couple had gone off on their own to find lunch. We said goodbye to the Class C owner and we headed out into the pouring rain to the Wendy's restaurant that is about a quarter mile away. When we got to the restaurant our rain jackets were dripping large puddles. After lunch and feeling better, we looked at our choices there to kill time and opted for the Home Depot which was the closest dash in the rain.

I am not a big fan of Home Depot, but it was there and we went up and down the aisles like it was Disney World, hoping for a call that the Roadtrek was done. The call came at about two thirty. We headed back and by now the rain had all but stopped.

At the service center office the woman that has been so helpful to us since our first service visit. The service tech who worked on our RV came out and he and she explained what was done. The problem with the black tank sensors was not resolved, but they now knew what the problem is. There is a resistor in the circuits that measures the electrical resistance of the water in the tank showing how much water is present. That resistor tested faulty. I was told that this is not a common resistor and they did not have one in their parts department to make the replacement. Again, I have to wonder, since it is a Roadtrek authorized service facility, should not something small like a specifically Roadtrek required resistor be on hand? The resistor must be ordered and we would have to come back. The job would take several hours as a shield and the tank must be dropped down to access this resistor to replace it. We have an appointment in November for a demonstration winterizing - what this is, is that they winterize the Roadtrek but at the same time show us and teach us all of the steps that they are doing so that in future winters we will be able to do this ourselves. I asked if this could be done when we come for that. They said yes, so we have some more time to kill in this town two weeks from then and then we get to see the winterizing. At least they found an actual something that is wrong that can be fixed. Some told me that the tank sensors are just always unreliable and just live with it. I don't accept that so easily. I asked about the grey tank handle - the other big problem that we were there for. He said something about the handle rod getting caught up on something inside. He did not replace the valve but repaired it. For the $17 a new valve costs, I would have been happier if he had replaced it.

Before we left I asked about the temperatures falling and what we should do. Now the forecast in Pennsylvania was for several nights of temperatures around 32 or 31 degrees. He told me that we would be fine, and that the temperatures have to drop to around 20 degrees both day and night for three days in a row for the water in the RV to freeze. I was somewhat reassured, but still concerned and decided that we would empty the exterior tank and get some RV anti-freeze at Walmart to put into both waste tanks - just to be sure.

Finally, we left the service center in our Roadtrek and headed toward Lancaster County for what we thought then would be our relaxing weekend in the Roadtrek. Well, it was a good thought, anyway...


Next Week - PART 3: The Historic Storm

No comments:

Post a Comment