Friday, November 30, 2007

A Situation

We left Thackerville, OK, anticipating a short drive (150 miles) to our next campground in Athens, TX. We picked a place that was 7 miles from where we were to have our auxiliary braking system installed, reasoning that, from there it was a mere 150 more miles to our home RV park in Livingston, TX. That would put us in to Livingston in the very early afternoon on Monday.

Upon arriving, we noticed it was a very small, brand new park. A guy in shorts and an old army jacket slowly made his way over to us. He instructed me to place our payment in an envelope and put it in the drop box, and then take any site we wanted. The park was empty except for his rig and one other. We picked a nice spot where the satellite wasn't blocked by trees and began to set up. As it was cold, Donna plugged in a portable heater to get things warmed up. She heard a pop, like a circuit breaker tripping, and noticed that the heater was off. I was outside getting the utilities hooked up. She asked me to come in and reset the breaker; however, when I opened the panel, no breakers were off. Hmmmmm. Then we noticed the power display said "inverting". Uh, oh, that means we were running off the batteries with no 120v power. I went and checked the breaker at the park panel, and it seemed to be OK. To be sure, we changed sites, ending up in another row. Same result = inverting. I fired up the generator - still inverting. This is not looking good!

I called tech support at Country Coach (remember, this is Sunday on Thanksgiving weekend). Surprisingly, a person answered. We did some diagnostics over the phone, and the tech came to the conclusion that our "transfer switch" wasn't functioning. That is the device that looks at your power options (120v shore power, 120v generator, or battery power 12v to 120v inverting), and picks the best source for your energy needs. Nothing we do can get us off of battery power. He advises me to take the rig to one of their authorized service facilities - of course, the nearest one is back in Dallas - 100 miles NW of our location. Needless to say, it was a long night. I had to start the coach up every 2 hours to keep the batteries charged.

Bright and early Monday morning, we arrive at M&G Engineering in Athens, and have the brake system installed. Now we are legal to tow our Jeep in any state, and we have the peace of mind knowing we can stop a lot better in an emergency situation. While the installation was in progress, I made a call to Buddy Gregg RV in Dallas. The service advisor said he would work us in as soon as we got there. We turn back north and head for Dallas to see what's up with our power.

At 12:30pm, we were 1 mile away from Buddy Gregg RV when I-635 came to a screeching halt. There was a big accident right at our off ramp. So 6 lanes of traffic had to merge into one lane and then exit the freeway. 1-3/4 hours later, we made it off, made a short jag, and arrived - a bit frazzled, but safe. We got checked in, ran a few errands, and went back to the dealer. I saw our rig being backed out of the bay - all done!?! Turns out there was a breaker coming out of the inverter that had tripped all 120v power. So it wasn't the transfer switch - it was something I could have done without driving 100 miles out of our way! And here it was 3:30pm, and us facing the prospect of finding an RV park in Dallas at rush hour. The service advisor at Buddy Gregg saw our frustration and offered us a site at their mini-RV park. He got an attaboy and some homemade cookies for taking care of us.

We're a little ticked at Country Coach for not having us check the breaker before we drove 100 miles out of our way, but we're thankful that there wasn't a major problem. At $3.49 a gallon and 7.5 mpg, it was an expensive detour.

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