We took our time getting ready to move yesterday. I went into the Cabela’s store in Hamburg, Pennsylvania after spending the night in their lot. I bought a pair of lightweight trail runner shoes. Donna went for walk in the neighborhood.
We changed up our plan and decided to spend a couple of nights at an RV park in Gettysburg before heading to D.C. We reserved two nights with our Passport America discount at the Artillery Ridge Camping Resort three miles from historic Gettysburg (map). We were preparing to leave around 10am.
After pulling the slides in, I retracted the HWH leveling jacks. The parking lot at Cabela’s sloped and I had the jacks well extended. I felt the coach shudder as the jacks came up and Donna heard a noise back in the bedroom. She said to me, “Did you hear that? Do they always make that sound or is it because I’m standing back here?” I didn’t know what she was asking about because I didn’t hear anything in the front of the coach.
I went outside to walk around the coach and look everything over. When I circled around the right rear, I saw a problem. I could see the ram from the hydraulic jack extended down within an inch of the pavement. The pad that should be on the end of the ram was dangling from one spring, the other spring was missing.
I used my push broom as a pry-bar in an effort to push the ram back up. I couldn’t budge it – I only succeeded in bending the broom handle. We were in trouble. We couldn’t roll down the road with the ram extended like that. I needed help.
We have a roadside assistance plan with Coach-Net. Apparently, Monday mornings are a busy time to call. I used Coach-Net once before and they were very good, but like all call centers, they have their issues. I was on hold for nearly 10 minutes before I talked to someone.
When you call, the first person you talk to goes through a verification process including all of the vehicle info and personal info that’s already on file. This took another 10 minutes. Then they document the problem description and turn the case over to their technical people. I advised the woman that technical assistance over the phone wasn’t going to help. I knew what needed to be done – I just didn’t have a big enough pry bar or a second set of hands. She said she had to turn the call over to a technician before they could have someone come to the coach. Then the call got disconnected.
I called back and got right through this time. I explained what just happened. She put me on hold for a moment, then came back on the line and said she checked with their technical department and everyone was on the line with a customer – she would mark my case “priority” and I would get a call back.
Donna called the campground in Gettysburg and told them we might have to cancel due to mechanical issues. They said they would hold our site until we called later in the afternoon and told them whether we could make it or not. They were very nice about it.
I sat back and read a book with the generator running and air conditioners on. It was already in the upper 80s and humid out. About a half hour later, I got the call from the technician. He said he would find a mobile service in our area and call me back with a name and ETA. I waited another 30 minutes – by now it was one and half hours since my initial call. So I called them back again. The guy told me he was working on finding someone that could come to my location – I needed to sit tight. After another 30 minutes, he called and said he had someone that could do the work. It would take 90 minutes for them to get to me. I thanked him and sat back with my book. It was 12:30pm and I didn’t expect help until 2pm.
I went outside to look for the MIA spring. I found it – it had shot straight up and jammed in the chassis. It wasn’t broken, but it had come off the tab on the jack pad. I had repaired this pad when we were in Bakersfield last year. The tab was bent and I straightened it as best I could, but it wasn’t right.
I was surprised to see a service truck with an Onsite Fleet Repair logo on the side pull up next to us at 1pm. I started putting my shoes on when I saw the driver on his cell phone. My cell phone began ringing. I answered and told him he was right outside our door. By then, there were more than a dozen RVs in the Cabela’s lot.
The driver and his sidekick got out and introduced themselves. I showed them the problem. He removed the jack pad and went into the rolling workshop in the back of his truck. He had a large vise and was able to quickly straighten the bent tab. The other guy took a long pry bar and a block of wood to the ram. I opened the manual valve on the solenoid so the fluid could pass back to reservoir as he pried the ram up. Once he had the ram up, he used the pry bar to extend the spring. The first guy grabbed the end of the spring while it was tensioned by the pry bar and guided the end into the mounting tab. I couldn’t bear to watch. If the spring slipped from the pry bar while he had his hand around the end, the heavy spring would likely take off a finger or two. They had it in place with no trouble and we were back in business.
I extended and retracted the jack a couple of times to make sure the spring would hold. All was good. Coach-Net covered the dispatch and travel time for the mobile repair. I had to pay their minimum labor cost of $90.
We were on our way by 2pm and expected to be in Gettysburg by 4pm. I stopped at the Flying J truck stop at exit 10 on I-81. All of the pumps had trucks at them. I lined up behind a truck and waited. It took him about 15 minutes to fill up and pull forward. I took on 50 gallons of fuel with two high speed nozzles in about 5 minutes. The fuel cost $2.75/gallon with my Pilot/Flying J discount card. The truck that was fueling ahead of me only pulled forward far enough for me to get to the pump. I couldn’t move until he moved. After five minutes, I walked up to the cab of the truck. It was empty – the guy had gone into the store! There wasn’t anyone behind me so I was considering backing out of the lane. Just as I made the decision to do so, Donna saw the guy return to his truck. He pulled out and we followed. This turned out to be a 30-minute fuel stop.
We turned onto I-83 at Harrisburg and the traffic slowed to a crawl. Donna saw a lighted sign that said be prepared to stop – traffic incident at mile post 7 on PA581. Our route was taking us across PA581. It was stop and go for more than five miles.
When we finally made it to mile post 7, we saw the incident. We were heading westbound. The blockage was a wreck on the eastbound side of the highway. The five-mile backup on the westbound side was entirely due to drivers stopping and gawking at an overturned tractor-trailer rig and a wrecked Cadillac Escalade on the other side of the divided highway!
We found the Artillery Ridge Camping Resort around 5pm and checked in quickly. Our site is spacious but it isn’t level. I used pads under the rear jacks after dumping the air from our suspension and it’s still an uphill walk from the bedroom to the front of the coach. We’ll live with it.
I was ready for a cocktail. It hadn’t been the best day, but like Sean Welsh (Our Odyssey) says, “These are first-world problems.” There are people all over the world coping with much worse situations. Donna made her famous crab cakes for dinner. They were delicious.
We want to go sightseeing in Gettysburg this morning. Thunderstorms are forecast for this afternoon.