Wednesday, October 28, 2015

For Chevy Roadtrek Owners - Replacing a Broken Sun Visor Clip

This article is going to be of interest to just the owners of Chevy Roadtrek owners with the newer Chevy Express 3500 or 2500 van - that would be Roadtrek 170, 190, and 210. This applies to years from 2011 on - and MAY also apply to earlier years.

It should seem like it is no big deal to replace the clip that holds the sun visor in place over the windshield. This is something that is in all vans, trucks, and cars - and usually is held in place by screws that screw the clip into the metal roof line under the headliner. That is how many of these are installed - but not on the Chevy Express vans. In fact, doing a search for how to do this on the Internet comes up with results for just about everything else but the Chevy Express Van.

When we first got our Roadtrek in 2011, during the first trip I went to move the sun visor to help to block the sun in my eyes while driving and I noticed that the clip that holds the sun visor from moving and in place to flip down, was loose. I carefully moved the visor out and the clip came down. I tried to push it back into place and it did not stay. On our next trip to dealer service - not knowing if this was a Roadtrek part (as this sits right below the curtain track for the front windshield curtain) or if it was a Chevy part - I asked the Roadtrek service tech at the dealer if he could put it back when he was doing the other work that we were there for. He said he would and when the work was done and we were given the Roadtrek back to leave he said to me that he had never seen a clip go in as this one does and he was not sure that how he got it back to stay would hold for very long. The clip seemed tight, but not exactly in the position it should be in. It actually lasted there until this past summer.

Again, while on a trip, I had glaring sun in my eyes and I went to move the sunvisor and the clip came down in my hand. This time, if we were going to continue on with the trip, we were not going to have time to find any type of dealer and spend time there to have this fixed. So we finished out the trip with a sunvisor that moved with every turn of the van and never really stay in the right spot to block the summer sun.

When we got home I went on the Roadtrek groups for help and was informed that the clip was not from Roadtrek - that Roadtrek does not touch the headliner (though we know that it has to be touched to install the curtain track) and that the part comes from Chevy. Well, at least I knew now where to go to for the part. One kind responder - another Chevy Roadtrek owner - shared the part number that he had been able to find - but no one seemed to know exactly how it installed. I had no problem getting the old one out - it was sitting on my desk.  I started searching for both the part and the method of installation. The part is available from a number of sources - some say that what they are selling is original GM, others say it is a used part from a van, GM sells the part in their service department. The part number is GM# 25840046.

I called the local Chevy Parts Department at the Chevy dealer that I have bought several of our cars at and asked about the part. I was told that it was a two day order and I could order it on the phone. I asked if I could come in and show them the part I had that had fallen out for them to see if it was broken and if I really needed a new part - and if so I would then order it there in person. He said sure and the next day, off we went with the part to Chevy.

I showed the part to the man at the service desk who I had spoken to. He looked at it and told me he had never seen anything like that before. He had no idea how it went in, and he was not sure if it was broken or not. He called over the parts manager who said, "What's that?". They suggested that I walk it over to the service department - which I did. I saw a service manager who I have worked with in the past on my car. I asked him to look and tell me if he thought that the part was broken. He, too, admitted that he had not seen one of these before - apparently they don't come loose or fall out too often (which is a good thing - but when they do it seems they are a mystery). He looked at it and thought he could see parts of it that looked broken or cracked. That was enough - and I knew that I would order the part. Before I walked back to the parts desk I asked the service manager if when it came in, would he have one of the service techs put it in for me - I was not asking him to do it for free - I was willing to have them do it and pay the dealership for the work. His answer was "We'd rather not. We don't want to take the chance that it might break when we try to put it in." Well, that was a surprise! Chevy did not want to repair a broken visor clip in a Chevy van with a Chevy part. As I was walking away, he asked what the part costs. I told him what the parts department told me - $25 including State and local sales tax! He said, "Wow! For that?". Yep...

Online the part is much less - but it is uncertain if you are getting OEM GM and if you are getting a new part. So it was best to order the part from Chevy - have it the next day and not have to have the visor flop around any longer.

OK so we order and pay for the part and go back the next day to pick it up. The part comes in only one color - beige which matched the one in my Roadtrek.  The part has a button that comes down in the middle of the bottom. It appears that the button locks a clip that secures the visor clip to the hole in the metal ceiling beneath the cloth and padded headliner. When I had tried to put the old one back, that button looked like it pushes two sides of a clip apart that lock the visor clip to the metal. With the old one those two sides did not spread very far and the clip just fell back down when touched. I was hoping that the new one would lock in.

Here is what you find when you look up through the head liner where the clip once was -

Here is what the clip looks like and you can see the button below the base behind the part that comes down to clip onto the sun visor -

 Here is the clip from various angles and you can see how it works to go in.

 You can see in the photos that there are actually two mechanisms that hold this in place - the upper part that spreads into the hole and below that just above the base there is a spring clip on each side.

As I examined where this has to go and how it has to go in, I used the old one to see what happens when I push the part up into the hole and where the springs on the side seem to go. It seemed that all of that went up into the hole. I found that I had to push and hold the headline all the way up to make sure that the part went as far up as it could to lock in. I also found that the maneuver to do this and get the button in was awkward.

I also knew that once it went up - if it did not seat properly, there was no taking it down without breaking it and spending another 25 bucks for another one. I measured the depth of the hole - there was enough room above for the whole clip assembly to the base to go in. I started my attempt at this.

I pushed the headliner as far up as I could. I made sure that I had the clip in the proper direction and orientation - VERY IMPORTANT - check twice so that it does not go in backwards! Over the years I have learned that check and "measure twice and cut once" is an important lesson to learn. I had it in the proper direction and I pushed the clip up toward the hole in the metal ceiling though the headliner - making sure that the base was on the outer side of the headliner where it belongs.

I then pushed with some force up and into the hole to sandwich the headliner between the base of the clip and the metal. I pushed it up as far as it would go and I started to push the button up to lock the clip in place. The button went halfway up and then there was a LOT of resistance. It took a lot of effort to push that button into place with the fingers of one hand, but I could not let go with the other hand in case the clip came down before it locked. I got the side of the palm of my hand on the button and got it to go the rest of the way up and as far as it is supposed to go. When I let go, there was a deep impression of the bottom of the button in my palm. It was up and it did not move when I took my hand away.

Now, I very gently touched it - was it going to come down? No, it stayed in place. Next I gave it the acid test and I pulled on the clip - it was solid. Good. So far it seems that is is fixed and secure.

It may be that this is the only instructions on the Internet on how to install a visor clip on a Chevy 3500/2500 van. There seems to be nothing else like how this one goes on. I looked at the visor clips on my 1996 Chevy van and they have screws that hold them in place. I looked at the clips on my 2013 Chevy car and that clip is completely different than this one.

So if your visor clip comes down, now you know what part to get and how to install it!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Colonial Williamsburg Revisited

I have been going to Colonial Williamsburg for over 50 years and have seen many changes over those years. Meryl and I started going to CW - as called by those who work there and those who have a special relationship to Colonial Williamsburg - when we were first married and have gotten there almost every year since. We had not been able to get there last year and I have not written about it here since the first year that we had the Roadtrek. Things have changed since then and it is time for another article.

From where we live - by routings - the trip should take eight hours including stops for lunch and dinner. With construction and traffic the trip can take almost 12 hours and while we have done this straight through it is not the best idea to do. A stop in PA and move on the next day for the rest of the trip. I take what many would consider the wrong way to go. We go on 95, around Baltimore to avoid propane restricted tunnels - which some claim you can go through and some claim you cannot - so we just go around and take the bridge - if we are not stopping in PA first. Then it is 95 to the Capital Beltway and around DC back to 95 and straight down until the Richmond bypass and then onto Rt. 60 which takes you right to CW and the campground that we prefer. We have rarely gotten stuck around Baltimore and we have never had a problem around DC. The problem comes in before Fredericksburg and approaching the bypass around Richmond. Many have shared what they feel are better routes - all of which take one way around and way out of the way - and when looking at travel times for these routes come out to be the same time as dealing with the traffic - but you are moving along through the many more miles. Anyway - the unpopular 95 has worked for us before and since the Roadtrek. It also brings us to a gas station that has always had the lowest price gas of any in that area or any other that we go through - both traveling and at home. I don't know why this is with this station but it has been this way for years. We paid $1.94 here in August when gas at home was still near $2.60 and was not much better anywhere else that we traveled through. Hmm... wondering what it is right now - quick check with Gas Buddy and its $1.88 (Oh my!). (This is at the time of this writing 9/30/15.) Here it is still well over $2.00. (I get real excited when I see low gas prices!) So moving on - cheap gas that actually lasts and is not gone after 100 miles - to getting to the campground.

We stay at American Heritage campground in Williamsburg, VA. It is reasonable and is the nicest campground of any that we have ever been to. Every site is a paved, level site. The cable television selection is better than most and the wifi is very good. We don't use it but there is a swimming pool and also sports fields and a hiking trail into the woods. It is situated off the road and you do not hear the road noise.

So, on to Colonial Williamsburg. If you have never been there or don't know at all what it is, CW was built in the 1930s with Rockefeller money. Rockefeller was enticed to spend his wealth by the pastor of the local and historic Anglican church who had a vision of restoring a sleepy college city back to what it looked like in the 18th Century. Many of the buildings remained. Well, Rockefeller with the help of Rev. Goodwin's influence bought the whole town - well just about the whole town as there were a few holdouts and they were just built around. They created Williamsburg as it was with archaeologists and researchers and specialist architects and did so with 18 Century building techniques. What you see today is coming on 100 years old on its own in a not a very long time. What you see, go into and are surrounded by are restored or reconstructed homes, public buildings, and trades shops populated with people of the past - living history interpreters that bring the city of the 18th Century back to life. It is all around you and if you let yourself be drawn in, you are part of it. It is time travel - and for the serious visitor - meaning not the family or couple who come in for the afternoon on their way to the amusement park, walk the streets and don't buy a ticket to experience what goes on inside and areas outside not on the street and look and leave - it can be an experience like none other.

In CW you will encounter every day people of the past, trades and workmen - men and women, and some people who you may recall from history lessons long ago - Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington - to name a few. These are not people in costumes walking around as in Disney parks - these are historians who have taken their interpretations to the highest levels of research and will convincingly portray these people of the past so that you will come away believing that you have met the real thing.

Since my last article some things have changed. I spoke then of the Revolutionary City program which at that time was spread over three days. Since that program has gone from three days to two days to now a part of one day. These are scenes of events that took place in the city of Williamsburg in various years during and before the American Revolution. The focus this year has been 1781 - the year leading up to Washington's victory over the British at Yorktown, Virgina just several miles from Williamsburg. The year will change next year, and the next year, etc. Added in the day in the afternoon were outdoor,  staged programs about other events that took place in the city - most on a more personal basis between people who lived in the city in the 18th Century.

There has been some construction going on as research showed that a "Market House" existed on a stretch of property that has been left open. The CW team of archaeologists did a dig and found traces of the posts that supported this open air structure along with a small building that was also found in the research. It has taken three years to complete the research, build the buildings using historic tools and methods and it is about to open to the public this Fall.

This is where people would go to do their food shopping - no, not everyone grew their own. There was a market place that would open early in the morning and some would have stands inside the Market House structure and others would sell from blankets around the outside. You would go to buy vegetables, fruits, fish, and meats. One needed to get there early to get the best cuts and the best choices. When opened it will be interpreted both as an historic site and also be used as a sales site.

This is the newest - some of the photos below are the oldest. The Capitol Building - the building that housed the legislative body of the House of Burgesses where Washington, Jefferson, Henry all served as Burgesses. The Capitol is a reconstructed building built on the original foundation.

Duke of Gloucester Street - the main street of the colonial city - full of trades shops, taverns, and residences.

A tavern in the 18th Century is not only a place to go to enjoy a rum or punch but also is a place to dine and/or sleep.

You will also find the homes of some patriots who were very famous in their time but little taught in history books today - unless you live in Virginia. This is the home of Peyton Randolph - the President of the First Continental Congress and the President of the Second Continental Congress until his death while in Philadelphia at the beginning of the proceedings. He was highly respected  throughout the Colonies and would have been, it is felt, the first President of the United States had he lived.

In the trades shops and yards you get to see and interact with those everyday people who helped make things happen. This is the yard of the Wheelwright's shop.

One of the staged programs - this looks at a serious situation of a woman about to be married who realizes as we watch the short encounter with the aunt of her fiance that she will not be able to bring both her personal servant (slave) and that servant's child with her to her marriage. There are many programs presented that make very real to us the realities of life in this time.

For us this is always a great trip. We had the pleasure to be able to talk with old friends who work at CW who we have met over the years and we also met, by surprise, friends from home that were there visiting as we were who are fellow members in our reenacting unit.

If you have an interest in history this is a must visit. When you arrive buy a multi-day ticket. It is now good for any number of days from the date of purchase to the end of the calendar year. It takes a minimum of three days to see enough of Colonial Williamsburg to come away with an appreciation for it. Less and you barely scrape the surface. There are also many other historic places to visit in this area and I will write articles about our visits to those soon as well. We spent 9 nights and ten days here this year. We have stayed longer. It is open all year. From January through February there are fewer programs but all buildings remain open. There is RV parking at the Visitors Center and shuttle buses or a walking trail to the historic area . I have a secret parking place to park the Roadtrek that I am thinking now I better keep to myself...

Colonial Williamsburg