Honey is that our wheel?

Honey is that our wheel?

We wish we had a camera focused on us when the DW and I looked at each other saying “That’s weird, what the **** is that … that looks like one of our tires … oh ***T, it is!”

This was one of those Oh S*** moments. We were going through the far right EZPASS lane at 5 MPH. While braking, we see a tire rolling by us that looks an awful lot like one of the tires from our car trailer!

The tire rolled in front of the RV, then hit the barrier, rolled through the toll booth and came to rest against the barrier.

“Oh crap, that’s one of our tires!” First quick glance at the backup camera showed the spare was still mounted … not good. We rolled through the toll, pulled into the breakdown lane and sure enough, the drivers side rear tire sheared off at the hub – all 5 lug nuts still in place.

This was about 400 miles into our trip tonight. We were pulling through the toll on I-90 NY heading towards Niagara Falls.

Just to let you all know … Axles and wheel bearings were done last summer, pre-trip checks include tire pressure checks, checking for wheel play, as well as pulling axle caps to make sure they are greased well and adding grease to the zerks as needed.

I also perform visual inspections, check car straps and most times will temp test all 10 tires and 8 hubs when stopped or filling with fuel. As it turns out tonight, I did not temp check any tires or hubs as we were again travelling in *heavy* rains. Guess I need to not be such a baby when it’s raining hard and make sure I temp test whenever I stop – pouring rain or not!

We had actually – just 48 hours prior – returned from a 900 mile round trip from home to TT Williamsburg and back. The trailer pulled fine on that trip. I did temperature test all wheels and hubs at stops on the way down and back, and there were NO sings of impending problems. During my pre-trip checks today, everything looked fine as well. Tire pressures good, no loose lugs, and no play in any of the trailer wheels.

My guess is that somewhere along the run tonight the wheel bearings gave out and when I applied the brakes to slow to 5MPH through the toll booth, the hub just had enough and let go.

It wasn’t funny and I am so glad we are safe … but it was kinda’ funny like a movie – seeing a wheel roll right in front of you. There’s nothing we can do about it but take a deep breath, be happy we were at low speed and laugh about it.

I called Coach Net to get us a tow, but as it turns out – because we were on the NY State Thruway, Coach-Net could not send a tow truck. We had to call the State Police who sent a Highway Licensed tow truck to get us off the highway. Once off the highway, we could call Coach-Net back to have them pickup the trailer. As it turns out, the State Highway tow driver recommended that I just strap up the axle on that side and get off the highway. We were actually looking at our exit when this happened.

This was a great idea, and saved us out of pocket money. Yes, this tow operator did get a $20 tip for his suggestion and honesty. We safely traveled the 15 miles to our destination with 3 wheels on the car trailer. The DW following behind me in the car.

Tomorrow I’ll call around and see if I can find a shop to perform repairs. We’re staying at the KOA Niagara Falls/Grand Island – and they close for the season on Tuesday. I’m here for work through the weekend, so hopefully we’ll be back on the road before they close for the season.

I’m just so glad we were not at speed when this happened….

— following day update

The failure I think we had last night was an electrical short. We have electric brakes on our trailer and what immediately stood out to me when I first looked at the assembly – on the side of the highway – was that the plastic jacket was completely missing on the wires that are attached to whats left of the brake assembly.

It was raining all day today, and my immediate focus this morning was to find a shop that could handle the repair, but I did get a couple of photos before I dropped it off. This one shows it pretty clearly. What’s left of the brake assembly is tied up with the yellow strap, and if you look closely, you can see that the wiring is completely exposed.

My experience tells me that this amount (length) of missing jacket did not happen between the time the wheel came off and when we pulled over. I believe that something during the drive caused a break or short in the wiring and the brake on this wheel was dragging and overheated. As I approached the toll booth and applied enough additional pressure to slow from 65 to 50 to 45 to 25 to 15 to 5 … the assembly just had enough and let go.

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Suspension upgrades for the RV

Alrighty then … Labor Day Weekend is appropriate for me this weekend

I got a lot of things done so far this weekend on the RV – not everything I wanted, but that’s how it goes. Items to check off the list:

– rear poly SB bushings, done!
– rear CHF, done!
– new Konis front and rear, done!
– powerwash the RV, done!
– zep wax, done! — we’ll see how I like it tomorrow. I do see a few drips tonight that I will need to deal with tomorrow. I have not yet zep’d the roof. Now, did I zep over some imperfections – yes. Do I have a week to clean up every imperfection before applying zep? No

I was a little hesitant on doing the zep – but the RV “bled” white paint noticeably during the wash cycle, and she’s 12 years old AND she looks pretty nice right now with the first application of zep.

What didn’t get done?

– front SB bushings. After getting 3 of the 4 bolts loosened, I found that the last bolt is a little rounded and I could not get the socket on it securely. I decided it was best to re-tighten the other 3 bolts, rather than risk not being able to drive the RV. It’s likely that this 4th bolt will need to be cut off. The current bushing are still solid/appear to be in good shape, so I’ll be ordering 4 new bolts/nuts for the front SB and then tackle that when they come in

– CHF on the front. I can see how using the stock links will bring the SB really close to the leaf springs. I think I may just order new links for the front, and have a local place extend them to 14″ center to center for me, and then try the front CHF.

So after all the suspension work, how does the best handle?

Pretty darn well I think! I took her out for a few runs and I can certainly feel the improvement in the chassis:

– there is much less body roll/rocking while taking corners

– while a bump in the road is still a bump, I feel that the Koni’s absorb them much better. I can still feel the road bumps, but to me – it seems that they are absorbed at/below the floor level and have much less impact on the upper part of the “house”

– Corners and exit ramps are soooo much easier to take – again house/body roll is significantly reduced. I know that I was able to take the exits that I have taken for 6 years, at a better pace – with much better control.

– The overall ride is noticeable improved.

I don’t think that I can point to one item that has improved the handling – since I did 3 major suspension changes at once, but I will say that the time and money spent on these suspension improvements were well worth it.

While the SB bushings on the rear and the CHF were relatively easy changes, the shocks were anything but. I had bilsteins all around and I assume these were the original shocks on the RV. The bolts were *really* difficult to get off. I did complete the change of all 4 shocks in one day, but for me it was about 6-7 hours. I expect that it would have likely cost me at least 6 hours of labor at our local shop – at a cost of $125/hour. So I definitely saved myself some money – even after spending about $250 on new tools/stuff to complete the job.

I’m glad that I prepped with WD-40 a day prior, but even still, getting the bolts loose took some *SERIOUS* muscle. I had to put my entire body into getting the bolts off, knees/legs up against the rear tires to give me the most leverage. After the bolt removal, installation and tightening – I was really sore. Nothing a few advil and an adult beverage(s) at the end of the day didn’t fix

Installation of the shocks was relatively easy. Given that these are not gas shocks (like the bilsteins), I was able to just extend the shock to the length I needed to install it.

Getting the rear torqued to the correct specs was difficult due to the limited access I could get with the torque wrench – but I got it done.

So this weekend, my wallet is a LOT lighter, my muscles got a workout, I’m a little sore – but the BEAST handles so much better. In my book, a win all around.

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Our new campsite marker

During our trip to Busch Gardens – Williamsburg this past week, we got ourselves a site marker. We’ve wanted to get one for a while, and saw some nice samples at Busch Gardens, so we designed one during our 3 days there.

Coming to a campground near you … currently at Bar Harbor RV Park, in Abingdon, MD.

campsite marker

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Time to update the website!

We’ve done quite a bit of travel since we last posted on the website … and we’re missing a lot of new posts – pretty much all of 2014, 2015 and 2016.

So where have we been over the last 2 1/2 years?

  • Pocono Raceway
  • New Hampshire Motor Speedway
  • Vegas Motor Speedway
  • Wawaloam Campground – RI
  • Thousand Trails – Hershey, PA
  • Thousand Trails – Chestnut Lake, NJ
  • Thousand Trails – Williamsburg, VA
  • Fargo, ND
  • Sioux Falls, SD
  • Elkhart, IN
  • Busch Gardens, VA
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Ocean City, NJ
  • Seaport RV Resort
  • Mystic Seaport
  • Joliet, IL
  • many more places …

Guess I have some work to do to get our missing travels, and pending posts, updated here.

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Worst Travel Day Ever … or at least to date.

So let’s recap … had a good start to the day, leaving Thousand Trails in Williamsburg VA. Got on the road by 12:30 for a 3 1/2 hour trip to Baltimore, for a 2 night stop at Bar Harbor RV Park.

We get on the road, but need to stop for fuel as we only have about 1/3 tank. Pull off an exit for fuel, but while driving by the gas station I don’t like the setup and don’t want to stop there. Ok back on the highway, 1 exit later I see a sign for Pilot. Great, we stop for fuel at Pilot – paying only $1.86/gallon WOO HOO .. that was a cheap fill up. Check the car straps, get back on the highway and the generator stops running. Ok, let’s pull off and take a look. Got genny running again, check the car straps and back on the highway we go, genny stops again 1/2 hour later. Open the windows and turn on the roof vents, but the temps inside are rising above 90 degrees. Time to stop again. Now take note I replaced the fuel filter, carb, fuel line, air filter, oil and oil filter prior to this trip with new parts. The only thing I did not replace was the fuel pump.

We pull off the highway again, stopping at RV friendly Bass Pro Shops to further diagnose – looks like the fuel pump is bad. Spent the next 2 hours trying to find the pump at truck stops, RV dealers and auto parts stores. 1st RV dealer actually had an ONAN fuel pump, but it’s the wrong one The last auto parts store we stopped at said they had an aftermarket pump (same one I see on amazon), in stock in the warehouse. I order the pump, setup my “garage” in the parking lot and wait 45 mins. Well 45 mins later, it’s the wrong pump. Has the right part number, but it’s not the pump I need. Well through some more troubleshooting (and hot-wiring), I get the pump working again. Ok let’s get going .. check the car straps and we’re back on the road again, yay!

Oh wait … wow that’s a lot of traffic – navigation is reporting 70 minutes of traffic due to an accident. I am so glad that genny is running again, as it’s hot outside. Make it though the accident traffic and then all our navigations light up with another traffic warning – all lanes on 295 north are closed due to an accident. Great, we are routed that way – ok let’s make a quick stop to stretch my legs, check the car straps and choose an alternate route. We decide to head further up 95 – bad idea, we should have just drove towards the traffic.

Our re-route takes us though Baltimore, instead of around it. We get off 95 and the bridge is out in Baltimore – more re-routing through the city now. We really don’t like the close quarter driving through a major city, but hey I get another city driving sticker for myself!

Wow, the roads through here are BUMPY, BUMPY, BUMPY and the re-routing is taking us through some bad neighborhoods. That’s ok, but the tight quarters, the cars parked sticking into the street, all the pedestrians walking around, cars not giving us space in the tight lanes — stressful. Oh, did I mention that the generator stopped again just before we exited Rt 95 and will not start again

Finally we made it to RT 40 – home stretch to the RV park. Back on a wide travel road. we find the turn off for the RV park and pull in. It’s dark, it’s 11pm – let’s get to the office, find our spot and try to unload and setup quietly. Nice!! we have a pull through spot and I will not have to take the car off the trailer and disconnect the trailer from the RV. In fact, we only have to back up (in the dark) about 40 feet to swing into our spot.

Maureen helps me backup in the dark, we pull into our spot. I jump out to make sure we are lined up ok and Maureen asks “You did unhook the left side straps from the car when you got out earlier, right?” Hell no, I did not!!! – the streets through Baltimore did a number on us. All the bouncing and jolting around, must have been enough to either loosen up a strap enough, or knock one of the hooks out of the pocket I lock them in. BTW – did you notice that we **always** check the car straps every time we stop?

Ok potential crisis averted – let’s get setup. Hot and sweaty, mind racing about what could have happened — let’s get jacks down, open the slides and get some midnight dinner. Maureen asks – “What’s that noise?” while I am opening the galley side slide – I don’t know, I don’t hear it – then POP. I forgot to take the adjustable slide lock out before opening the slide.

Reminder note to self for next time – stop, take a deep breath or two and regroup before setting up after a bad travel day.

Jacks down, slides out – dinner is warming up and I am having some DRINKS!

After 6 years and nearly 20,000 miles of RV travel in this configuration – I’m glad this was not our first trip – because if it was, it could have been our last ….

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Homeowners – Don’t Forget to Seek Out Alternate Electric Suppliers

For those of you, like us that aren’t fulltimers and still have a S&B (Sticks & Bricks house) … have YOU reviewed your electric bill and chosen an alternate energy provider? We did a few years ago, but as I learned over last summer, you have to remember when your promotional periods end – or check your rate each month.

We had a couple of months at the start of last summer when our rate nearly doubled from the previous rate of .0659! After a couple of bills with sticker shock, I then chose *another* promotional plan with the same supplier at a rate of .0749 kWh … well that plan just expired this month, so back to the CT Energy website I went. Compare Energy Suppliers | Energize Connecticut

Rates are on the climb again, our current provider offered a fixed rate of .0899 kWh for the remainder of 2014. Not that bad compared to others, even though it would represent an add’l $27/mo increase on our bill based upon our average usage.

In looking at the companies that are offering promotional rates under .0800 kWh, they are all short term promotional periods of 1 to 3 months, and then switch to a variable rate. Some promotional rates that move to variable state the variable rate will be under the utility rate that is currently .09235 … but a variable rate really gives them a chance to jump your rate.

I finally decided to change our supplier to Gulf Energy. They offer 3 fixed rate plans for CT Customers:

— 3/14 though 6/14 @.091/kWh
— 3/14 through 11/14 @.084/kWh
— 3/14 through 6/15 @.087/kWh

I decided to take the long term view and fix our rate at .087/kWh for the next 16 months. For signing up we’ll receive a $10 Gulf Gas Card and for every 5,000 kWh we use, we’ll receive another $25 Gulf Gas Card.

Our average usage – working from home, running a number of computers and TV’s is about 1800 kWh/mo. So we should see a $25 fuel card every 3 months. Over the term, that will probably equate to about $150 in fuel cards – so in essence an $8 rebate on electric every month.

I’m not really happy about escalating rates, but at least we’ll have a fixed rate, that I am pretty confident will remain competitive for the next 16 months.

If you haven’t checked your bill and your options, take an hour or so to do it. It can represent some savings in your pocket each month.

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Time for some updates

Yes I know!! It’s been a while since I’ve updated the site with our travels from this year …

I have a number of “draft” posts that have to be completed.

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Back at our favorite “campground”

#timeforacoldone … I put a new transmission in my trusty John Deere yesterday and got a LOT of the yard done since then. I just finished up the yard “near” the house. It looks so nice when it’s all greened up like this. There’s still some work to do in the Orchard and the “lower 40” – – heck, there’s always something to do in the yard if you’re bored here 

After being away for the better part of the 3 years, it’s nice to be back at “Camp Home”



Categories: Connecticut, Fulltiming, Life On The Farm, News and Updates | Leave a comment

Our Mobile Office

We run a small technology company, and we regularly get asked by our friends, family and sometimes even customers, how we’re able to stay in touch and work when we’re travelling in the RV.

This photo gives a good idea of how we’re able to accomplish that – *usually* pretty seamlessly. I always take a look at coverage areas when we travel, as it is crucial for us to be able to communicate while travelling.

The next purchase that we do need to make is a 4G capable Cell Phone booster. I’ve been looking at the Wilson Sleek 4G device to fill that void.

… yeah I am a techie geek, and proud of it 

Our Mobile Office


We spend this past weekend at the NASCAR Race at Pocono. We have Trackside RV parking, and our view is great. I watch most of the race from the top of the motorhome setup with:

– a 2 person chair
– headset with scanner
– digital camera
– Android phone for camera and video
– Dell XPS12 Convertible Laptop streaming the race on TV from my home office
– some snacks and a few Heineken’s

2013-06-09 15.41.07

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Off to the races again!

It’s that time of year again, and we’re headed back to Pocono Raceway for the NASCAR weekend. We also have a few days of camping on our schedule after the race, at Hickory Run State Park. It’s about 30 minutes from the track, is dog (2 Labs) friendly and has lots of hiking trails.

More to come later ….

Categories: Attractions, NASCAR, News and Updates, Pennsylvania | Leave a comment