Greetings from ever increasingly hot and humid Mississippi! The weather was actually real nice late last week, but I think that is over…summer is upon the Gulf Coast. We last left you with the hope of a change in luck with regard to repair facilities…4 May was the day for alignment, rotation and windshield replacement. Let’s start with all that so I can get it off my chest…quite an unbelievable story, after which we’ll get into the fun stuff of the week.
We were up bright and early on the 4th to head over to Southern Tire Mart in Gulfport to get an alignment and have my inner rear tires rotated to the front and the fronts rotated to the rear, and balanced of course. I was told it would take a max of two hours to get this all done, which was good, as I had an appointment to get our windshield replaced at around noon in Biloxi. Plenty of time! Wrong!!
We had done a lot of research on Southern Tire, and read many good reviews, as well as learning that they are about the only shop in the region that does heavy vehicle alignments and tire service. Let’s start with the alignment. First off, I will say I was glad I was able to be in the shop the entire time. The tech that was working the Hunter alignment system (new to Southern Tire) couldn’t find the alignment specs for the Coach. OK…things are going “South” already. Luck just so had it that the Hunter rep was on site to see how the equipment was doing, and he was able to get the correct specs loaded into the system. OK…now over an hour in the shop, and they are just getting started. They got everything hooked up, and the alignment really was not bad at all. Just a degree or two out on the front right. Under the Coach the tech went, and after a lot of grunts and snorts and also with the help of another tech, they could not get the adjustment made because the adjustment mechanism was seized. So…they couldn’t do the alignment. Since it is not too bad, I will wait until I get to a shop that has more experience with the Coach. Frustration building.
Over to the bay to get the tires rotated and balanced. They do this all the time, so this should be quick and I’ll be on my way! Nope!!! First off the tech they had working the rotation and balance was a soup sandwich. There is a protective pad that you are supposed to use when removing the lug nuts on the front so you don’t damage the wheels. He was about to put the air wrench to it when I mentioned the pad. He rolled his eyes and went in hunt of the pad. At this time, one of the other techs came up to me and said “you’ve gotta keep that kid in your pocket.” Say what? I’ve got to keep an eye on him! Not my job…you guys are supposed to know what you’re doing. I caught the supervisor and told him what was going on, and he brought some more seasoned folks over to help and apologized. Things started to pick up from there, and they got the right sides off, saw them balance the front, but didn’t see them do the rears. I was a bit distracted, as I was letting the glass place know I would be late. They said they would wait if not too late in the day. Right side done, on to the left. All of the sudden, everyone went to lunch except for the “kid” that had started the deal. At this point I was actually helping him. When he balanced the new front left, I asked if he cleaned the inner rim well enough when he put the stick on weights on. He looked at me kind of funny, and said “oh yea, I need to clean that first.” Off came the weights, and cleaned, then on with new weights.
Just as he was doing the rear tire, the glass place called again, and I told them the last tire was going on and I’d be on my way shortly. They said great, we will wait! It was past 2PM now. OK…everything is buttoned up, and I went into the supervisor to settle up, and I saw a charge for balancing four tires…hmmm. I never saw them do that, so I went out and asked the kid if he balanced the rears. He said “no, we never balance the rear tires on these heavy vehicles.” Say what?? Back to the supervisor and I told him what the kid said, and he said “say what?” Now the supervisor is steamed (finally) and he gets two seasoned guys to pull the rears and balance them (the kid is at lunch now). That took about 45 minutes because the two older guys had to spend time sticking it to the younger kid. I told the supervisor I had to get going…I was supposed to be gone at noon! He apologized profusely. I said let’s take a quick walk around before we settle. As I approached the front left, I noted a big dent in the chrome center cover of the wheel. Apparently the kid used the back of his fist to put it on. After that, I told the super that I was going to put my tire pressure monitors on just to make sure everything was good before I left. Well, all was not good. There was a slow leak in the front right. Apparently the kid didn’t seat the tire properly. OK…off with both fronts, re-seat, rebalance. Ugggh! OK…getting calls from the glass place, told them almost out the door. Finally done…I thought, but more on that later.
I got on the road and the Coach drove real nice…even better than after I had the shocks put on. I got to American Glass at about 4:20, and the two guys there couldn’t have been nicer or more professional. They did a fantastic job, and I can’t say enough good about that place. They had pulled two guys in at about noon (when I was originally supposed to be there) and they stuck around to make sure I was all taken care of. Of course I got some good-natured ribbing, but it was welcomed after the day we had.
OK, the tire saga is not done yet. Jason was off on Friday, so after the kids went down for a nap, I went back to the Coach to change out some tire pressure monitors. I was not able to use a TPM on my inner rear left due to the type of valve stem it had on, so with new stems, I installed that TPM…and it read 14 PSI?? Must be a bad sensor. I grabbed my tire gauge and it read 14 PSI as well?? Under the Coach I went, and you could definitely tell that tire was flat. Good grief! I called the super at Southern Tire, and he apologized “again” and sent a tech out. He got here in about 20 minutes. Guess who they sent?? You got it…the kid! I called back and he said he didn’t have anyone else available. Well, maybe this will go better. And it did. He seemed like a completely different person with his truck, on his own and no one sticking it to him all the time. He got the tires off, and determined that the valve stem had been damaged when they pulled them off at the shop to balance them (after the kid had installed them without balancing.) He removed the tire, broke it down, replaced the valve stem, and got us back in business. It has been performing fine since.
OK, the tire saga is done, right? NOPE!! Saturday afternoon Jason and the kids and I were at the Coach chasing down my TV reception issues. I just happened to be next to the front right tire when I heard a thunk. Hmmm…what was that? I crawled under, and came out with 8 ounces of stick on weights that had fallen off the rim of the tire! Remember, I didn’t see the kid put the weights on that tire, and apparently he didn’t clean the area where the weights needed to go. By the time I called Southern Tire, they were closed for the day, so I called them first thing Monday and explained what happened. Stunning silence on the phone. The guy asked me to be there at 0700 on Tuesday, and he would take care of it. Great timing…Terri and Meghan get back from Atlanta Monday night, and now she has to get up at 0530 so we can be at the tire place…AGAIN. So, on Tuesday morning off we went. We pulled right in, and they had one of the senior techs (who had just been out all night on road side calls) pull both fronts, rebalance and (hopefully) correctly install the weights. All he did any time the super came by was yell something about why the heck they haven’t fired the kid. Classy place!
OK…tire rant pretty much done. Bottom line, no matter what the reviews, you are never quite sure what you are going to get. Stay away from Southern Tire Mart in Gulfport, MS at all costs is all I can say.
Now, let’s backup and see some of the fun stuff that happened.
On Wednesday we were up early as Terri and Meghan were driving to Atlanta to meet up with Ashley and Mandi for five days of girl fun. Fun they did have…Georgia Aquarium, College Football Hall of Fame, Zoo Atlanta, World of Coca-Cola, CNN a Braves Game and I’m sure many other things I’ve forgotten.
Meghan picked Terri up here at about 0430, and I headed over to Jason’ s at about 0530 as he needed to leave for work at 0600. Kids were great all day.
After a bunch of time at the park, a walk around the block, and playing with bikes, trikes and you name it in the yard, I thought, whewww, got to be time for lunch and then naps! I looked at my watch and it was only 09:00!! What? Ok, time for puzzles, books and many other things. The day went real well, and Jason was home earlier than expected. Good thing I had a roast in the oven all day, and it was great.
Jason was off Friday, so I got over there about 8 or so. Another fun day with the kids.
Terri had done a great job of stocking the fridge before she left, so after roast last night, we had ground chuck burgers on the grill Friday night.
Saturday morning Peyton was supposed to go to a birthday party, but she wasn’t feeling well, so Jason and the kids did a fly by and dropped of the gift. I took that time to run down to a truck accessory shop and got two new chrome center wheel covers and a couple of lug nut covers. After I got back and got them installed, went over to Jason’s and had lunch with the kids. After that we headed to the Coach to trouble shoot my antenna reception issues.
Terri and I had narrowed it down to either the cable itself, the power supply inside the Coach, or the booster in the antenna. Jason has all kinds of coax repair tools, so we wanted to check the cable at the roof first. I’d noted a couple of weeks ago that the coax coming out of the roof was getting worn. He got up on the roof while I played with the kids. After a very short period of time, he determined the coax was not even connected inside the top of the roof. After he pulled it out, it looked like I may have taken a lightning strike, or close strike at some point in time. We had all the cable we needed, so he put all new stuff on from the roof to the antenna. I went inside and fired up the TV, and no better than it had been. When we plug the coax from the roof antenna directly into the TV rather than the power supply for the booster, we get some better reception, but still not right, so more exploring is required.
I’ve mentioned previously that you cannot take your eyes off of Logan for one second (forget the minute part.) Right after I took the above picture, Jason asked me to toss him up a tool. In the time it took me to grab the tool and look up, I saw Logan pulling his hands out of the drip tray on my grill…he had two fists full of nasty, sloppy, brownish nasty goo…and a huge smile on his face. Not a “hey I’m happy smile,” but a “you’re gonna love what I do next smile.” He was watching me real close…calculating in his little mind how long it would take me to close the 10′ between he and I. I wasn’t even able to take a step, and barely got the start of “Logan, no” out of my mouth, when he opened both fists and stuffed as much of that nasty stuff into his mouth as he could! And he liked it! Man, he must have been hungry. After a lot of paper towel, soap and water, he was somewhat presentable again. Needless to say, it took a while to get the tool to Jason.
Fast forward to more trouble shooting. I got a new power supply yesterday and installed it, but that didn’t solve the problem. At least I have a spare now. The next test will be to power up the power supply and see if I have 12V DC at the end of the cable that connects to the antenna. If I do, then the booster, or amplifier inside the antenna blade is fried. I’m hoping that is the case, as the only remaining thing it could be is the cable itself that runs the length of the Coach through the ceiling. This morning I pulled my VOM out to go check it, and Dumb Ron apparently left the power on the last time he used the VOM, as it was dead. We will check it once we get new batteries. The blade part of this Wineguard antenna is about $35 dollars, so not too bad if that is the issue.
We headed back to the house and grilled some steaks and got the kids to bed.
Sunday we were up and at it early to go back to the first Church we had visited. It was awkward going to Sunday services on Mothers’ day with just Jason and I and the kids. We also got some interesting looks when we went out to breakfast afterward. Oh well.
Sunday night was early to bed, as Jason had to be at work at 0600 again. Monday was also the day the girls would get back late in the day.
The rest of the day was pretty much a repeat of Thursday. Breakfast, park, walk, stroller ride, lunch, nap, and by the time we were finishing up dinner, the girls came home!
Despite the issues with Southern Tire, this past week has been awesome! Never dreamed we would be able to spend so much quality time with the kids and grand kids, or have the means for Terri and the girls to get together and recharge.
On another topic, there is a real nice guy that has his own RV cleaning business that frequents the park. I got some good tips on what he uses for some issues and here are a couple of the products he uses and swears by:
As usual, we have met some great RV folks since we have been here. We met Will and Cheyenne a couple of days ago, and got to know them a bit better yesterday. They are a younger couple that are full timing it. They have an 07 Newmar Dutch Star, and have done a fantastic job of upgrading and updating their Coach. Will is active duty Coast Guard, and has been here for quite a while for meteorology school. Next week they begin their trek to Washington State where they will live in their RV and Will will be assigned to a CG ship. He will have the critical job of monitoring the weather aboard in very difficult and critical waters. God speed and good luck guys!
Well, that about does it for now. We will head out of here on Friday for a slower than normal trek to Moscow, IA and the HWH factory for our annual free inspection. I’m sure there will be some cost involved, as there are a couple of items that I know need attention. However, it will be good to be at the place that actually makes the leveling and slide mechanisms. After that, we will be in WI the first week of June for our Grand Daughter Emma’s high school graduation. Then we bee line it to the upper NE and hope to come back through Canada to be in Michigan for our Nephew Alex’s wedding in late June.
As always, we hope this finds you Happy, Healthy and Living your Dreams!!