Dec 8 - Repair Vibrations

We're back at Lazydays RV Park after having the slide repaired yesterday and the vibrations have pretty much stopped... I'm talking here about my vibrations.

Since the bracket on the slide broke I've been concerned (maybe consumed is a better word) by one thing... somebody's going to want to weld it back together. That doesn't sound so ominous... something to be consumed by. But it can be. You see, the electrical systems of a motorhome is a complicated thing. There are actually three completely independent systems: the 12 volt chassis system (like any car or truck, it's the alternator, battery, wiring that takes care of lights, electronics, etc.); the 12 volt "house" or coach system (everything 12 volt in the living area or coach part of the motorhome... lighting, inverter, furnace, electronic controls for refrigerator, etc.); and finally the 120 volt system that, when we're "plugged in" or running the generator, powers all the normal goodies (microwave oven, fridge, outlets, water heater, tv, etc) that most people are used to in a regular fixed-in-one-place house. It's all very complicated... wires and boxes and do-dads everywhere... and probably almost impossible to fix once something goes very wrong. Faced with troubleshooting a transient electrical problem in one of these units and the very real possibility of the repair bill exceeding the value of the camper, it's easy to understand why so many folks decide on the "Thelma and Louise" solution and just drive it off a cliff.

Welding on a motorhome chassis can be problematic. Welding, most welding, is done with electricity... lots of electricity. And when all that electricity is applied to the metal frame of the slide, it can find it's way to the frame of the bus-house... just like "the ankle bone's connected to the shin bone, the shin bone's connected to the knee bone... and to every electrical doo-jiggy because they're all, every last one of 'em, connected to the frame of the bus-house. Am I making my concern clear here? Are you seeing why I was vibrating with concern, just in anticipation of the repair.

I called one of my main contacts at Spartan Motors... the builder of our chassis. What he told me only increased my vibrations. For an absolutely safe welding event, it's necessary to disconnect all batteries as well as no less than 4 electronic control boxes (EECM, TECM, ABS brakes, and another controlling the gauges and dash controls). All of these things are located in hard to find, hard to see, and hard to get to places... of course. "Thanks Mike, I think I'll just go back to bed, pull the covers over my head, think happy thoughts, and wait for it all to be over." Maybe I'll wake up and find this was all a bad dream.

So, yesterday, Wednesday, we drove the bus-house over to Freedom RV, the highly recommended Newmar dealer and service shop here in Tucson. It's only a few blocks from Lazydays, but I felt like a condemned man being dragged 10 miles to execution. I had created a scenario in my head as to how this was going to go... RV repair shop attitude, request, demand, sneer, condescension, anger... it was all in there. 

After parking, the "service advisor" comes out and we discuss the problem. No less than twice I state and reinforce that I want to talk with the tech who'll be actually working on the problem and that I don't want any welding being done without talking with me first. I was prepared to do all the "disconnects" myself if I had to... or to drive away un-repaired if they didn't want to do it my way. Vibrations.

They said it'd "be a little while before we'll get to it so have a seat in their lounge and we'll come and get you". OK. pace floor, get coffee... Dar ran to a nearby restaurant for some food... I wasn't leaving for anything. I found a newspaper and started reading... get my mind redirected for a while. We were expecting to be there most of the day, so Dar took off with the car to do some shopping. And there I sat.

A little over an hour later I walked back to find my "service advisor"... who was no where to be found. I didn't see the bus-house and no one else seemed to know anything either. A few minutes later I found Mr. "service advisor"... who informed me that it's all done! "What? All done?... I thought you were going to have me talk with the tech before doing anything?" Seething... we walked over to the bus-house. I looked at the repair... sure enough, there was a big new blob of weld that was now securing the rod bracket. "You welded on my motorhome after I asked you to NOT do so until I'd been involved?" He didn't say anything. The tech chimed in... we've never had a problem... not in 14 years.

My thoughts and emotions were flying... on the one hand, I was pissed off that someone could be so inconsiderate of a customer's request and the risks they were putting on us by just doing what they wanted... the way they wanted to do it. On the other hand, I was partially relieved it was mostly over (a lot like the way I felt after having a wisdom tooth pulled)... the bracket was reattached... the slide was working. The only thing yet to verify is that all the other components and electrical gear and ECM things were still OK. And once I checked those things out I was even more relieved and happy it was over. We lucked out on this repair, the way it looks.

Don't get me wrong. I still give Freedom RV a solid "F" for customer care, listening to my requests and then just doing what they wanted anyway.  One of the downsides of RVing is having to deal with RV dealers and RV repair shops. Taken as a group their reputation is probably lower than the US Congress right now. When you do run across one that's solid, reputable, passionate about doing a good job, and treats customers like adults, you want to run through the RV park and shout out "they do exist... I found one..." Unfortunately, that won't be the case here.

As for me, I've stopped vibrating.

Below are photos of the "before"... the broken rod bracket, and the "after"... the re-welded bracket.

broken bracket... belongs attached to the beam above... where that elongated hole is.

repaired bracket... re-welded and re-painted black

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