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Saturday, August 15, 2020

MOTORHOME is FIXED! Good Things are Worth Waiting For

Yippee Skippee
Wheeee Heeeee 
and all that good stuff! 

The motor home is fixed and running again!!!!

We are extremely thankful to Nick Badendick of Oconto Truck and Power Center for his diligence in working his way through from the bottom up, diagnosing what was wrong with the motor home.

Instead of just throwing parts at it, he decided to work his way slowly through the electrical system--- once he determined it was not a fuel line problem or a fuel filter problem like we originally thought. 

The problem with our particular year 1996 of Cat 3126 Diesel engines is that the diagnostic plug port does not fit the modern diesel mechanic's cord plug for their diagnostic computers. We know the pin pattern lines up, it's just that the lip edge housing around the outside of the mechanic's plug will not fit on our diagnostic port. We have run into this at a number of diesel repair places that specialize in Cat engines. We know of one place that the technician actually shaved off the edge around his plug so it would fit our port to get a correct reading. And it worked! But we would not expect all mechanics to do that, would we?

We do know that at the big Fabco Cat repair place in Green Bay, they do have a series of adapters that can be plugged in that will convert it. But not every mechanic out there would have such a set of multiple adapters in their tool box.

So we happened to offhandedly mention to Nick that if he wanted to use the diagnostic port, he would have to shave off the surrounding edge of his plug! We laughed a little bit, and said of course we would never expect you to do that. Guess what? That's exactly what he had to do!!!

He was able to trace his way through our wiring diagrams, through a series of sensors and solenoids. He did happen to find 2 broken wires during the process which he reattached to the grounds that they needed to be firmly attached back on to.

Then he went on to keep looking, and was finally down to one final sensor which is called the Injection Actuator Pressure Switch.

This was the last step before possibly having to replace the entire HEUI fuel system at the cost of about $1,000, or heaven forbid, the ECM (electronic control module), which is the brain for about $5,000. So this was our last chance at possibly solving the problem.

Nick had just gotten back from his wonderful anniversary vacation with his wife this week, and set right back to work on our motor home. I think it was bugging him in the back of his brain, that he wanted to get home and tackle it and solve the conundrum.

Much to our surprise, late on Friday night at 7:18 p.m., we get a phone call from Nick! Yes, he been working that late, on a Friday night, on our motorhome. He had it running! Yeee Hawww Yippeee Ki Yi YAYAYAYAAAAAAYYYY!

It was that part!

He said the next morning he would be able to hook up the drive shaft. It had been disconnected for towing, of course. We said we would meet him over by the shop at 7:00 a.m. to hook it up. Steve said he would give him a hand.

We set the alarm for 6 a.m. and headed over with our coffee cups in hand.

You can imagine our joyous appreciation as the engine roared to life and purred like a true Kitty Cat. The guys had been outside busy hooking up the drive shaft while I was taking care of a little bit of "unpleasant business" inside.

Because the motorhome had been parked for three weeks in a grassy field next to a woods, it seems like some little critters, namely MICE, figured out they would make themselves at home!

I found little mousie doodoo's here and there, scattered across the kitchen counter, down into the kitchen sink, across the front window and dash area, and I suspect they were dancing upon our tabletop.

I started cleaning up inside while the guys were busy yakking outside. Normally at home, we keep the Victor electronic mouse repellent units running during winter storage or in the garage next to the motor home year round. I am sure that's what keeps down any mice inhabitation in our home, garage, and motor home. But the savvy little creatures in the woods out by the truck repair place felt that it was quite a beautiful vacation home to move in and make themselves at home. We had left no food or trash bags inside. But I'm sure they could smell residue of cooking and baking from the week before the motor home was towed there.

Oh well, that's just something to deal with, and we will make sure there are no hidden creatures out there tonight looking for a spot to call home. Not only will we put the Victor most repellent units in the rig for a couple weeks, we will also set out a few mouse traps with peanut butter. Just in case.

Anyhow, Nick had a very busy Saturday as it was his son's graduation party. So he said for us take the motorhome back to our house and we will settle up on the bill on Monday. That way we will take care of the paperwork when it's a normal work day with his office.

We gladly extolled our gratitude at the wonderful job he did, and that he was able to solve the problem.  And we handed him a bag of home grown tomatoes. Share the wealth.

Then that happy boy Stevieo got behind the wheel, and cruised on out of the repair parking lot. I was following behind in our vehicle (more on that later). I  made this little video of him driving away. I know he was grinning from ear to ear as he drove the rest of the way home.

We pulled in the driveway --- and I said let me grab the dogs and we will hop back in and go for a little test drive. 

We headed out on the highway and opened her up. Steve said the vehicle feels much more responsive, peppy, and better acceleration at the pedal ---- as well as the turbo boost seems to be operating more smoothly.

I punched the numbers on the Silverleaf dash computer digital readout and it said that instantaneous gas mileage when doing 60 miles an hour on the highway was 10.4 mpg! I don't think we've ever gotten that good of mileage. Then I hit the trip miles per gallon average from when we had driven up North and back --- and we were only at 7.6 mpg back then three weeks ago. So we gained almost a whole 3 mpg difference? Although of course, we were not towing the Tracker this time. Remember? The Tracker blew a head gasket while we were camping and we left it up North with my brother. We said he could part it out or fix it or scrap it or do whatever he wants to do with it.

We drove up the highway a ways and pulled off into a cute little county park. There we sat for a while and watched the fisherman come in-and-out of the boat landing. I did some more cleaning for a little bit, and we relaxed and enjoyed the idea that our motorhome was now functioning again. It was like we were reconnecting with it again, and gaining trust that it would serve us well and travel more miles for us.  Then we turned around and headed on back to Oconto to park it at home. Safe and sound. Where it belongs!

As for the toad vehicle, remember I said that our Tracker died? Well, that left us with only one car to get around. My beloved old Lincoln Continental. I know it's a big old Grandma Cruiser, but it's comfortable and I like it. We know it's getting quite well on in it's useful years as its only a 2001 and has over 200000 miles on it.

Over the last three weeks, we have discussed picking up another vehicle that could be comfortable as well as towable behind the motor home. We tossed around ideas of having a stick versus automatic transmission. Not all automatic vehicles can be towed 4 wheels down. We tossed around the idea of running with a tow dolly and having 2 wheels up and towing a vehicle. We also tossed around the idea would we want a little pick up truck? But from time to time we haul grand kids and we also have the dogs and we would really need a back seat. So we kind of thought about a little SUV and thought we'd keep our eyes open and see what we could find.

We have always liked the Saturn vehicles. We've had 2 of them over the years, as well as some other family members have had them come and go too. We know that the Saturn Vue is towable as well as the Saturn Ion and most of the other Saturn cars.

The only problem is, they don't make Saturn any more!

While we were not in any position to buy any type of a "new" vehicle. Especially with the impending repair costs on the motor home as well as a strained budget now that we are retired and on a fixed income. We've been trying to do various repairs and projects around the house and really didn't have a lot of $$$ to spend on another vehicle right now.

But we said if the right one came along we would see what we could do?

Steve happened to find a very interesting situation on Facebook Marketplace. A gentleman had picked up this Saturn Vue 2007 SUV from his place of employment. It had been a fleet vehicle for his company.  They were retiring it from service and he was fixing it up for his son to take out West on a move, relocating his family. They had just put on new tires, a new battery, had the transmission flushed, replaced a faulty tie rod end on the suspension, and a complete all around check up. Even little things like wiper blades were replaced and everything was up to snuff. But then his son found out they had a 3rd child on the way, and they really couldn't comfortably fit 3 child car seats safely in the back of this small size SUV.  So his son took their larger SUV to Washington, and now they had to sell this one. 

What made this deal the most interesting is that it was already set up for towing! The front tow base plate was already on the front (worth about $500-600) as well as all of the wiring set up for hooking it up to have the tail lights and brake lights work in conjunction with the lights on the motor home. (another $50-100 worth of labor for that) There's a special switch on the dash to flick from regular driving over to towing that handles the electronics and you don't need to pull fuses like on some vehicles.  Everything is set up for being towed, because the vehicle had been used at the man's place of business. He works for a company that makes high lift bucket trucks. Any time one needed to be delivered to a business after purchase, this little Saturn Vue would be hooked onto the back and towed to the place of delivery. And then the work man would unhook it and drive it back to the company. So half of all the odometer miles on this vehicle were racked up just from being towed behind and not actually driven.  We got the new transferable tire warranty, battery warranty info, and all of the fleet maintenance records too.

A big thing to consider was that no matter what vehicle we would buy, we would have to be purchasing a tow base plate to go with our tow bar system as well as adapting all of the wiring. So it was a great deal to have that stuff already done on this vehicle. The seller was flexible with the price and said there was a little wiggle room, and we drove on down to check it out.

It was what we wanted, the people were very pleasant, we achieved a mutual agreed upon price that made it worth our while--- as well as left them a little bit of profit to recoup what they put into it getting it ready for their son. We scraped together our pennies and paid $2,200. So everybody left the deal happy happy. That's the way to do it. It was a win win.

The only thing we needed is an auxiliary braking system, which our kids just bought a motorhome and had one with theirs that they weren't going to use. Our Tracker was under 2,000 pounds so we never needed one with that. But this Saturn Vue is heavier and needs that braking system to assist with braking safely when being towed.

We drove it home, took care of title and license transfer with our plates from the Tracker, it's done all online now. The DMV is not even open in our little town for a walk in customers due to Covid. So we handled that all online as well as the sales tax necessary for our state.

It's kinda cute....

We are happy to say, that since we've been driving it for the last 2 weeks, everything is fine and there were no hidden surprises or unfortunate repairs needed.

And on the home front, after we got the motor home back and parked in the yard, Steve and I jumped up and hung up the last 5 pieces of siding on the house before it got too hot or humid.


It's all done now on the North side. We only worked up until the edge of the triangle of the gable. We did not touch any of the upper wood siding because it was still in really good shape. Not only that, that is where the power supply is coming into the house from the overhead electrical wires.

We decided we weren't going to do anything with that portion of the gable end. The wood looks good enough and we were able to match it up perfectly and continue the same spacing with our new siding meeting up to the old siding.

Now all we have to do is hang the shutters by the window in the laundry room and we will be done!

Personally, I think it's time to go camping!


  1. Congratulations on the repairs to the MH and the new towd. Time to play for a bit.

  2. Awesome ! After every storm, comes the sun. With the sun comes a rainbow.Ypu guys sure know how to make rainbowa.

  3. Glad to read everything is turning out for the best.
    Luckily you were not far from home with the repair shop.
    Now you might consider a longer road trip to really test things out.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

  4. Serendipitous happenings with both the part and the SUV. Nice vehicle for that price!

    I agree, you've been working hard and it is time to take a break and relax. Take care and stay well!

  5. It would be nice to have a nice long vacation in the countryside. Hope you are able to do it soon!


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