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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

On the Road Motorhome Maintenance and at Caballo Lake State Park NM

Quick update to my last blog... Here is the Elusive Lily who was a campground runaway and found later that night... now safe and sound in her lawn chair.  Her toe is missing it's nail, but she is licking it and keeping it clean. She had caught her toenail in the small grid like hole pattern of their RV steps and ran off into the darkness in pain and fear.  They have now covered the steps with a thick rubber mat so it never happens again.

Guess that is a good idea for you RV readers with stairs that have tiny holes in the metal surfaces....  a dog toenail can so easily get caught!  Never thought of that before.  Our Safari has smooth metal steps, but our last two rigs had the kind with the small holes.  Hmmmm.

Now, back to the blog for the day:

As we travel, of course little things break, but also we need to do some regular maintenance....

Yesterday we:

  • checked the oil level in both the motorhome and the generator.  
  • checked the water level in the batteries and topped off with distilled water
  • checked the water level in the radiator surge tank.  
  • lubed the radiator fan shaft grease zirc 
  • cleaned our automatic stair mechanism because the desert dust was making it sticky
  • two clearance lights were out, so he changed bulbs and checked all the lights
  • wire harness to Tracker was sporadic on the signal light connection, so he cleaned that up
  • tailgate on the Tracker was getting grimy with grit and dust and needed lubrication
  • replaced a missing screw on the motorhome door lock and lubed LPS spray to not get gummy
  • and all of our tires are always monitored for pressure with our N Vision Hopkins system
Having tools along and the appropriate sprays and lubes really helps.  Murphy's law is that if you buy replacement parts to keep on board, the original part will never break in the first place!  So we now haul along a rebuilt alternator, tension pulley, injector connectors and belts.  All of those things had broken in the past when we DIDN'T have extras along.  So now that we do have them, we hope they never break again! LOL

It's good to keep an eye on these things, we have already gone 1,840 miles so far on our trip.

The average diesel price we have paid is $2.70 a gallon.. and our fuel mileage is averaging 8.6. Not too bad.  We had some headwinds the other day and our mileage was down in the 6 mpg range. We don't often drive when it's that windy, for safety and economy. LOL

A few blogs back I wrote about how Steve found a replacement solenoid for our Pac Brake mechanism at Colaws RV Salvage.  He had installed it quickly so we could get back on the road, but only used wire nuts at the time on the electrical connections.  Now that we stopped for a few days, we lifted up the bed to make the connections more permanent with wiring clip connectors surrounded by shrink tubing to protect them from the elements.

Note the raised bed in our motorhome....  most RV's with the engine located in the back also have the bed, various room slides and closets etc in the way.  In those configurations, the engine is only accessible through little trap doors or has to be repaired through the bottom or heaven forbid dropping it out of the motorhome for major service!  That is why most big truck repair places don't like to work on motorhomes at all, or charge a higher hourly rate for RV's.  They would rather send you on down the road to someone else than work on you.  Also having to make their workers keep clean shoes for going in and out of the motorhome for repairs is tough....  compared to working on a big semi rig where the whole engine is exposed with a tilt of the cab.

We had that experience in our last motorhome, a Coachman, where the workers went in and out with greasy boots all over the light green carpeting and my handwoven wool rugs!  Plus a few grimy hand prints on the wall as they went in and out of the doorway.  I was sooo upset!   The repair place offered to pay for cleaning, after I complained.  I scrubbed good with Dawn dish soap and got it all out, but never again I tell ya!

Well, back to our repairs:

On this motorhome, we are fortunate that the whole king sized bed lifts up and exposes the entire engine to work on. Twice when we had to pay for service, both places tried to refuse us and send us along... but once we showed them the access we have in our rig, they changed their minds and worked on our motorhome after all.

It's such a big opening that Steve can even crawl in and stand on the engine to reach things in the far back.  We use a cargo van metal pole as a prop pole.  It has rubber grips on each end and is made to hold cargo in place in a delivery van. It's adjustable and very heavy duty.  The pneumatic ram lifting shocks that were on the bed are long gone kaput, but we should replace them soon with a more sturdy pair.  Having added a regular household king sized mattress has added weight to the bed platform and the old rams didn't have the oomph to hold that up.  So we use the prop pole to add security while Steve is under there.  It takes both of us to lift the bed platform and add the pole.  So I think some heavier pneumatic ram shocks will help immensely.  Another thing on the "Honey Do" list!

Another thing, a few blogs back I had mentioned about the headlight replacement Steve did before we left home.  These older Safaris are notorious for their lack of headlight power....  some owners have done a work-around with adding relays and stronger thicker wires to handle the load of amps to the lights to increase their brightness.  Some had added LED headlights but the power to them is still lacking. Only certain sized headlight bulb and lens combo will fit in the openings after removing the grill.

Steve measured up our old bulbs/lens a while back and bought these higher wattage headlights at Fleet Farm (a mid west farm/home/building type store chain)  and installed them instead.

(note to Dad P... that is what we used our Christmas Gift Card on! Thanks!!!)

They were the right size, and the only alteration he had to make was to carefully bend one of the three prongs on back to conform to the configuration of our old bulbs.  He did the install so quick I didn't get to take any pics that day, but here are some shots of the box front and back, and of our old headlight he saved.

Now he can't remember which prong had to be bent on the new bulb, but it was made to look like this old one so the original plug could fit.  The drastic difference in illumination is amazing, and we are not as hesitant to drive at night now if we have to.
(still don't like to, but at least we can if we have to)

Well, it's time to get out of the motorhome and go exploring.  We are at Caballo Lake State Park in NM.  There are three parks in this unit, the one up near the lake above the dam, the one further down the Rio Grande river at another dam called Percha Dam and this unit right along the Rio Grand called the Riverside campground.  It was the nicest with trees and REAL GRASS....  The dogs are happy!

There is also some primitive camping available along the beach and in the flats. But we chose in the Riverside campground for a few dollars more and have electric and water too.  Might get some laundry done while we are here, since we would have water access.  The washer/dryer in our rig uses about 6 gallons to wash and 5 gallons to rinse.  Then we can top off our water tanks before we head out again on the road.

Here is Steve having a morning jaw jacking with some other Rvers.  We invited Jerry over for a brat and homemade tater salad dinner last night.  He said it's been a long long time since he's had a good Wisconsin Bratwurst!   And he brought over a nice bottle of wine to share! He has this trailer set up as a camper and can flip the bed up and haul a Honda Silverwing motorcyle in there too.

Today we are going to find an old ghost town that some of the locals told us about. We are going to do it as a day trip in the Tracker with a picnic lunch, jugs of water and the doggers along.  Should be fun!


  1. We need to look into those headlights. We don't like to drive after dark, but on occasion find oursleves not planning wisely and you know the rest of that story.

    Your tips are good reminders!

  2. We've been past those 3 campgrounds a few times going up & down highway 25 but have never taken the time to stop in & check them out. Looks nice....next time. We had our Damon Motorhome about 6 years & I never saw the engine once. I knew where it was but never took the doghouse off to look at it. If I had the only thing I would have known how to do was take a rag & wipe some dust of it maybe............

  3. I love what you do, but my husband would be lost with the kinds of maintenance yours does. I would have to buy something much smaller and new, so that I could depend on it. I am so jealous though. It looks like so much fun.

  4. Caballo Lake is one of my stops on my way north during the summer months in New Mexico. I get their annual pass for $225, and dry camping is free. Or $4 for an electric site. NM has so many nice parks. Enjoy! :)

  5. I like the Riverside campground at Caballo Lake state park also! The closeness of the river and the trees makes it so lovely!

  6. Wow, would I love to have that much access to my engine like you do. I have a small hatch in the bedroom under a step and you can only see half of the engine there. I had a belt changed a few years ago and it took two techs an hour to do, one on top and one underneath. I keep my engine purring in regular oil and filter changes so I (hopefully) never have to face an engine removal! :cO

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