2 – 11 March, 2016; From LA to TX, Lot’s of Rain, Lot’s of Maintenance Issues…Again!

Greetings from Fredericksburg, TX!  I think we are growing gills and looking for pontoons for the RV.  Man, it has been raining a lot.  We decided to stay at the Barksdale, AFB FamCamp a few more days to further explore the area, and to synch up with our next stop, which was Nacogdoches, TX and the Foretravel Motorhome manufacturer and also an HWH master repair facility.  We experienced more issues with fluid loss in the slides and the front end was not staying level overnight, so we scheduled a stop there…more on that later.

On the 2nd, we decided to head over to the base museum which highlights the 2nd Bomb Wing for the most part.  Since Global Strike Command is here now, they also have a few items related to the ICBM world, but the main focus is on the bombers.  It is a real nice historical facility.  A lot to see inside and a lot of aircraft on static display.

We had forgotten that Barksdale is where President Bush was rushed off to when the attacks took place on 9-11. They have a real neat display with video that highlights what took place throughout the day, hour by hour. You can see the many artifacts from the day, including the podium the President used on that fateful day.

It was neat to see this plaque on the wall. Col Kristin Goodwin is the present Wing Commander. Kristin and I went to the Air Force Intern Program together. This makes two bases in the last few weeks that are commanded by former classmates, first Joint Base Charleston, now Barksdale. It is great to see these great folks doing so well.

They have numerous aircraft on display, and the focus is not solely on bombers.

Of course they do have several Bombers on display that have been restored. I tried to get a pic with a Buff flying right over this static display, but was too slow to get the shot.

It was a great day, and we spent some time just checking out the base and taking advantage of the many hiking and biking trails they have.

On the 3rd, we took a drive in the country North of Shreveport and Bossier City.  We went to the visitors Center downtown, and learned they had an app that narrates you through an approximate 120 mile drive.  We did about half of that.  We were guided through several agricultural areas, waterways, oil fields, etc.

One of the oldest radio stations in the South.

One of the oldest draw bridges in the area that has been saved and restored at Caddo Lake. This lake is huge and covers a lot of LA and TX.

It was a great drive.  We never knew there was so much oil production in this part of LA…there were oil wells everywhere.  We stopped for lunch just North of Oil City, and it was great southern cooking.  Just a little hole in the wall (which we like) and it was $7 per person, and your choice of fried chicken, liver and onions, Mexican casserole or southern meatloaf.  Of course they had all the “fixins” as well.  Great food!  We drove a few miles further, then decided to head to the Boardwalk on the river in Bossier city. just across the river from Shreveport.  It is not really a boardwalk, but a huge outdoor shopping area.

Looking at the bridge that spans the river looking into Shreveport.

A small portion of the Boardwalk.

The 4th was a work day for me, so Terri spent a lot of time biking and checking out the clearance sales at the BX.  She saw this neat little sign that kind of sums up our travels.

Minor Tech Stuff:  Earlier in the week we scheduled our appointment at Foretravel in Nacogdoches, so on Saturday we decided to make a few repairs ourselves.  Terri installed a new really nice looking paper towel holder to get the big rolls off of the counter.  This saves a lot of space for prep and cooking.  She also started research on why a few of our drawers won’t stay shut when we travel.  It hasn’t been easy, since there is no tell-tale sign of how they stay closed.  She figured it out, and actually fixed them when we were at the Foretravel facility.  Also earlier in the week, our TV antenna would not rotate.  There is a mechanism inside the Coach that allows you to raise and lower the antenna and turn the antenna whatever way you want for better reception.  I did some research on-line, and decided to tear the thing apart.  I was tired of climbing up on the roof every time we needed to adjust for the picture.

I’ll start with the finished product. This is the crank and directional dial. There is a set screw on the back of the crank, and once you loosen it, the handle comes off, and be careful, because other parts fall out as well. The spring and the tube that extends into the metal shaft will drop right out, and likely on the floor and bounce away allowing you to go on a treasure hunt.

This is the tube that engages the metal shaft inside the ceiling.

If you look inside this tube, you can see two notches which slide into the metal shaft that connects to the antenna. What happened was the plastic broke off where it slides into the shaft, so no way to rotate the antenna.

This whole process took less than 20 minutes, and the cost of the new part was $8, which I was able to obtain at a Camping World store which was located just outside the gate of the base.  Of course they don’t sell just the tube, but several other parts as well.  I’m glad I saved the old spring, as the new spring that came with this tube was too short.

On Sunday we went to church, then ate lunch at Cafe USA in Bossier City…what a great place!  It is a Green Bay Packer shrine in some wort of way.  A lot of Brett stuff, but a lot of other memorabilia as well.  We then decided to take a drive through the country to see what we were in store for drive wise with the Coach on Monday.  We got back to the Coach before dark, and got packed up for the 3 hour drive in the morning.

On Monday, the 7th, we were up and at it, got the tanks dumped, and hit the road.  Hit the roller coaster would be a more appropriate statement.  We thought I-20 through Jackson, MS was bad…not nearly as bad as I-20 through Shreveport!  It was a 60 MPH zone, and I was doing between 30 and 40 MPH, as were most large vehicles.  One swell was so bad that I think the front tires went airborne.  We experienced something later that we never had before…when we got set up at Foretravel, Terri opened the closet, and all of the blankets had bounced off the shelf and taken out every one of our garments that were on hangars…what a mess!

We got set up early in the afternoon, let the service department know we were there, and they said they would get us in first thing on Tuesday.  We headed down to the visitors center and learned a lot about the oldest city in Texas.  We wanted to tour the area a lot more, but we had nothing but torrential rain since the time we’d arrived.  We grabbed a bite to eat, then turned in for the night ready for an early rise.

True to their word, we were in first thing, and decided to take advantage of the factory tour.  Foretravel is a high-end luxury coach manufacturer.  They only make about 30 coaches per year, and the new models all seem to start between $750k and $1M!!  The folks were all great, and we enjoyed the tour.

Finalizing a chassis wiring.

They do a lot of custom build work, so no one build is the same. They have had to modify their facility over the years, as the Coaches have gotten taller, but their building did not. Several of the beams in the ceiling have been cut back to allow for the coaches to roll down the line. These are probably some of the most intricate and well produced motorhomes we have seen.

This is the front end of a chassis. The floor is in, and they are finishing up the wiring and plumbing before they start to install the furniture, appliances, followed by the side walls, roof and slides. After that it goes to paint and customization. From there it goes to quality control, which was fascinating. These guys and gals are very nit picky. One of the coaches had tape all over it identifying paint issues. I could not see any of the issues they had identified…too blind?

Now this is kewl…they are getting ready to insert one of their proprietary slides. Note that they are rounded…no square edges (this would keep Dumb Ron from splitting his head open every now and then). The other really neat thing is the way they seal the slide when it is in or out. Most of us have rubber flaps that slide along the slides as they go in or out and provide the weather and noise barrier you need. Foretravel worked with HWH and developed a rubber insert that goes all around the slide in the coach wall that inflates and deflates as needed to move the slide in or out. No matter where you stop the slide, after a moment the rubber seal inflates and completely seals the slide off. One of the guys on the line said when they are done with the installation, they hit the slides with high PSI pressure washers in many different configurations to check for leaks. He said they rarely if ever have leak issues.

Later in the day, we got the coach back.  They have a nice campground at Foretravel.  50AMP, water, dump station and free laundry.  We decided to head into town in the rain to see what we could see.

Downtown Nacogdoches. Nice town square that been continuously restored.

A perfect birthday card for one or both of the son in law’s…actually looks more like my brother in law Craig, LOL!

We would be going back in the shop in the morning to finish a few things up.  So, what did we have done, and what is still not working?

In our previous post we mentioned that the synch cylinder leak that was fixed was not.

  • Foretravel identified, as we had that the cylinder is leaking from the ram at the back.  This is a sealed system, so you cannot tear it apart and rebuild it.  HWH is presently manufacturing a new one.  They do not keep them in stock.  It will take two weeks for them to build it, and a week to ship, so we will head back when it arrives.
  • The Coach was not staying level overnight.  If the front had to raise up, it would drop overnight, and have to re-level.  These guys determined that the pressure switch was leaking on the front of the HWH manifold.  They had the part in stock, as it is the same one they use on their coaches.  Fixed.
  • Read ride height valves.  The tech found a rock that was stuck in the mechanism for the left rear valve.  He said he had only seen this once before.  Fixed…we think.
  • Our horn stopped working a while back.  Techs found that mud dobbers had built nests inside the flutes of the horn.  I should have been able to find this on my own…Dumb Ron!  Fixed.
  • I had purchased two new mirror arms in Oregon last year, as the ones on the coach we all corroded and looked awful.  These guys were able to get the new ones on with some modifications in their metals shop.  Fixed.  Jason and I tried to replace them this summer.  The problem was that we couldn’t get the arms off the base as they had corroded so badly.  Good thing we didn’t, as the new arms I had were tapered, and the old ones were a straight shaft going into the base.  There is no way to know this until you tear it apart.  They guys used a lathe to get everything just so, and they look and work great.
  • Fantastic vent motor in the living room was shot.  New fan installed.  Fixed.  We have had issues with the fans in the past, but this was the motor itself, and not one of the gears or actuator arms.  It would have cost more in labor to replace the motor than to have a new one installed.
  • Our main door handle was not black any longer, and looked really bad.  They did not have an exact match, but were able to paint it to the original luster.  Fixed.  OK…Dumb Ron, why didn’t you do this yourself, or better yet, have Terri do it, who is much more capable it seems??  Well, they did it for $20.  After getting the sanding done, cleaning, buying the paint and tape, and making sure it was not windy in a campground to ensure I didn’t get black paint all over my Coach or someone elses, I feel it was money well spent.  Terri found a lot of ways to correct this situation on line, but none of them worked…everything from shoe polish, to boot black…you name it.  They didn’t work.  Done, and it looks good.

Ok, so we got out of the shop early on Wed.  We got packed up in order to leave early on Thursday.  We met several nice couples over the course of our stay there, and we went next door at night to play spades with an awesome couple from Arkansas.

We had the choice of staying at the Foretravel Campground until our part came in, but decided to head for the Texas Hill Country and meet up with Terri’s Uncle and Aunt…you know, the original “plan.”  We spent a lot of time Wed afternoon trying to locate a campground that had room…it was tough, as it is spring break, and everything is packed for the most part.  We found a new campground just outside of Fredericksburg, where we are now.

This trip here was not a good one.  The rain was non-stop, and the roads were not all that good.  We will take a different route when we go back.  We arrived about 3 in the afternoon, and while Terri was talking to the ladies inside about which site we wanted, I went to unhook the truck.  This is an easy process…unhook a few wires and bars, then jump in the truck, place the key to on, and move the shift selector out of neutral to any gear, and the truck goes out of tow mode…well it is supposed to!  It would not work, and the only thing that the owner’s manual says is to try it a few times, and if it doesn’t work, set the parking brake and call for service.  What??  We decided on a spot, thankfully a long pull through.  I reattached the truck, and we went to our site.  We figured we would have to lay in wait without transportation except for our bikes, with all the rain unless we could get this fixed.  I called the local Ford dealer service center, and they said they had never heard of the issue, but gave me a few things to try that would not ruin the transmission.  Essentially, to put the tranny in tow mode, you turn the key to on (not starting the engine) then put the transmission in N and rotate the 4X4 selector from 2H to 4L and back 5 times.  This completely neutralizes the transmission, and off you go.  One of their fixes was to try to put it into tow mode (even though it was) and then try to take it out again.  This worked…wheww!  If that had not worked, they stated to disconnect the battery to let the system fully reset for a half hour or so.  Hopefully we won’t have to do this again.

All is good now, right??  Nope!  We went to put the LR slide out, and it jumped, bounced, moved side to side, and powered down.  I was able to run it back in (it had not gone out far) and tried it again…same result.  What the heck!!  The bedroom slide worked fine.  We are leaving the LR slide in until I can talk to HWH or Foretravel.  My thinking is that when Tony’s followed the HWH tech guidance and removed the one quick disconnect that was leaking and attached the hose directly to the synch cylinder, it’s caused all of these other issues.  We will see.  Once again, we will reiterate that we are so happy that we picked a floor plan that allows us to use everything with our slides in.  It is a bit tighter, but all very functional.

So, here we are, watching it continue to downpour.  It is supposed to clear up tomorrow and we can’t wait to get outside and get some exercise!  We will get some tonight, as we are meeting Terri’s Uncle and Aunt at Hondo’s on Main in Fredericksburg, where our new friends from last year, The Almost Patsy Cline Band are playing.  We hope to get some loops around the room.

Well, other than being bummed out about fixes that don’t fix anything, and the money involved with all of that, we are happy to be in the Hill Country again.  As always, we hope this finds you Happy, Healthy and Living your Dreams!!!


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