Published in the Rains County Leader on July 3, 2018:
If you’ve read my memoir, or if you’ve driven through our neighborhood, you know that David and I have a 40-foot motor home. After we purchased it in 2007, we spent many happy weekends at Florida state parks and campgrounds. We went on several two-three month adventures, and after we sold our Florida house just before Christmas in 2010, we made our way slowly west, arriving in Emory in mid-February, 2011. In July of that year, we went back to Florida for a couple of months to visit friends and doctors.
By the time we returned to Emory that fall, the price of diesel had risen so high that we parked the Eagle in the back yard. For several months last year, she was moved a few miles east where she provided temporary living quarters to a friend who lost his home in the tornado. Aside from that, she has served as our guest room for the last several years.
When a twenty-year-old vehicle of any kind sits unused for a while, things begin to go bad. We had to buy new starter batteries just to move it to our friend’s place last year. We knew at the time there were other things that needed attention, but he had a kitchen and a bathroom with a shower in his shop. All he wanted was a quiet, cool place for a nap during the day and someplace to lay his head at night, and as long as the RV was plugged in so the A/C worked, we could offer that. Once we got the engine fired up, our friend Jimmy followed us over to make sure we didn’t break down on the way and to help us set up once we arrived. I rode over with David, and just that short jaunt aroused an itch for the open road in both of us.
Lately, since David discovered he can watch YouTube on TV, we’ve watched a lot of videos about sailing and camping, and the open road itch is becoming more pronounced. It’s not as simple as throwing Kitty in the RV and heading out, though. The first thing I wanted to do was check the refrigerator. The last time we used it, it was leaking a brown liquid on the floor. The ice maker has always leaked, forming a small iceberg at the back of the freezer, and David is pretty sure that when we last turned off the fridge, the remaining water from the ice maker leaked down the back of the unit and onto the floor, bringing twenty years of crud with it. It sounds logical, but I wanted to be sure before I provision for a trip.
The problem is, in order to check the fridge, we needed electricity, and we had none. No lights. No ignition. No nothing. We knew the house batteries were getting weak, but apparently they had given up the ghost while the motor home sat unused. David did his usual Internet research, and found the batteries he wanted at a price he felt we could afford. After some anxious moments about whether the proper cables were attached to the proper posts, he flipped the switch – and there was light.
He was more interested in the lights than in the fridge, and since he’s the one that knows what he’s doing, the lights came next. We have a number of small spotlights that serve as reading lights over the sofa; work lights over the “co-pilot” chair, the computer desk, and the sink; and “mood” lighting over the dining table. They currently have tiny halogen bulbs which give off a lot of heat, so much in fact that the decorative ring around a two of the lights have popped off. David’s next project was to replace the halogens with LEDs which has proven to be a real challenge. After two attempts, we have yet to find replacements that fit. Luckily, we have been able to return the one that didn’t work, but the postage is on us.
David’s next project – the generator – has been equally problem ridden. He was convinced it would fire up once he replaced the house batteries, but that didn’t happen. He did all the trouble-shooting he knew how to do, and then he consulted several mechanically-minded friends. The man who sold us our zero turn lawn mower came over to take a look. After a few minutes, he diagnosed a blown fuse. David found a spare one, and magically, the generator came to life.
It ran for a minute or so, and then it exploded. Not literally, but there was a terrible noise, so they immediately cut the power. They found pieces of magnet littering the inside of the generator compartment, and several of the blades of the cooling fan were nicked and gouged. Now David is back to researching, and has found that we probably need a new rotor. I don’t know what that is, but I do know it’s pretty expensive.
While we wait for information about the availability of rebuilt parts and other solutions, we continue to watch videos and wonder when we’ll be able to scratch the itch. There are still lots of potential problems to check out before we go on the road again. First on my list is still to find out if the refrigerator works.