Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Taking Care of Business

The past week has been spent taking care of three items on our motorhome that either occurred after our last visit to Tiffin’s Service Center, failed after being fixed, or couldn’t be fixed within our time there.

The one that couldn’t be fixed within the time frame was the HWH leveling jacks. More than that though, we’ve been curious about the HWH plant and we knew it wasn’t far out of our way to swing by, see the factory and service center, and get the ‘real scoop’ on our hydraulic system. Moscow, IA isn’t exactly a bustling place, and the plant isn’t even in town; it’s right off the I-80 freeway. About the most scenic things we saw near the plant were corn, soybeans and wildflowers.


We arrived on Sunday for our Monday morning appointment. HWH offers free electrical hookups to customers (below), but the gates are locked all weekend, so we stayed at an RV park about 8 miles away.


When we checked in for our 9 am appointment, they said to pull in to bay #1. We did, then we waited.


The service center only has 8 work bays (that I could see), but it seems the techs were all busy working on other motorhomes.


About an hour and a half later, the tech talked with us. We told him the left rear jack wouldn’t extend sometimes when our site was unlevel, especially when the front of the coach was low. We also frequently have the problem of being level but not stable. He diagnosed the problems and replaced the 3000 lb. pressure switch, took the coach out to various places where the ground was unlevel and tested the system several times, and pronounced it fixed. There was no charge as it was covered under warranty. So by noon we were on our way. (And we haven’t had any more problems—hurrah!)

Our next stop was Madison, WI, chosen because it was a big city along our path and we were more likely to get RV repairs. Don had called Camping World to see if they could fix or replace our center air conditioner for us. This unit was fixed while at Tiffin, but it failed to work when we were in WY and SD when the temps were high and we needed to use 2 a/c’s to stay cool inside. (Our MH came with 3 a/c’s. We’ve never used them all at once, but we want them all to work.) The Madison Camping World’s service dept. was booked up for quite some time, but they recommended a mobile repair guy named Mike Williams, of RV Masters. Mike said he could help us on Tues, so we got a site at the Madison KOA, which is really in DeForest, WI.


We had a nice, large, partly shady site but the rate was rather steep at $47/night. We thought it might only take a day or two and we couldn’t find another place to stay with full hookups, and I wanted to catch up on laundry.

When Mike checked out the air conditioner, he turned it on and it worked! We couldn’t believe it, as both of us had tried it several times over the past few weeks and it didn’t work. Oh well, that was an easy fix!

So I asked Mike, as long as he was there, if he could check out our macerator toilet that was cracked diagonally across the base. The crack was probably there when the toilet was new, but I just recently noticed it. It wasn’t affecting the operation of the toilet and replacing it wasn’t urgent, but we wanted it to be replaced while it’s still under warranty.


Long story short, yes, he could; he got it shipped to arrive by Friday or Monday, and the warranty would cover his labor except for the trip out for the estimate ($65, which we paid). Faced with at least 3 more nights, possibly up to 6 more, at almost $50 per night, we asked Mike if he knew of a less-expensive park. He told us about the Lake Farm Park, part of the Dane County Parks system. We had already paid for two nights at the KOA, so we moved on Wed. to this lovely park and paid the Senior rate of $24/night for a nice, large 50 amp site, with water and dump available nearby (but we had to move to reach both). And this location was much closer to the parts of Madison we wanted to explore. While chilly and sometimes wet weather prevented us from going kayaking in any of the many lakes in the area, we did enjoy our stay.


During our wait, we enjoyed a bit of Madison, a large city (about 225,000 population) that’s the capitol of the state, with the feel of a college town because of UW Madison being right next to downtown and near the Capitol and other government buildings.


One of the favorite neighborhoods for college students to shop, eat and just hang out was not too far from us, so we window-shopped, people-watched and ate there a couple of times.



I also enjoyed the various architectures represented.



While window-shopping, I felt as if I was inside the store with all the items displayed out on the sidewalk at this shop.


The spiked top and mini-skirt really caught my eye. Wonder if I’d actually buy them, even if I weighed 104 lbs. again? That was never my style, but you never know…


On Saturday we got up early and went to the Dane County Farmer’s Market. Booths are set up by vendors all around the Capitol building, and shoppers move in a counter-clockwise direction to make their selections. We’ve been to a lot of farmer’s markets where there were lots of craft items and other things for sale but few things actually from farms. We weren’t disappointed at this one though; we couldn’t believe the number and variety of items including flowers, fruits, jams and baked goods, but mostly vegetables! And the place was huge!






The plants in the center are 9 varieties of chili peppers. Aren’t they colorful?


And, oh yes, there was a lot of cheese. We are in Wisconsin, after all!


There was even a fairly large variety of cactus, and we’re a long way from the desert.


How about some honey, Honey?


The early hour (started at 7 am, we arrived a little after 8) plus a slight overcast and an unusual weather pattern of cool temps meant that most of us were bundled up a bit more than normal in late July. Don wore shorts and a T-shirt, however.


As the weather warmed up and the crowd was getting denser, we were getting hungry and our shopping bag was full and heavy, so we drove to Denny’s for a comfort-food hearty breakfast.

Back to the ‘business’ that kept us in Madison for a week, our new toilet arrived and Mike and his son came to install it on Monday afternoon.


Although the empty spot where the toilet goes doesn’t show much other than a water and electric line, the installation booklet seemed quite complicated when I glanced through it. Good thing Mike knew what he was doing. And the new toilet has no cracks and works great.


Two other jobs were completed by Don during the week. He installed flexible valve extenders on the inside dual tires on the motorhome so the Pressure Pro sensors would work on them.


The second job was to fix a small, but very annoying, rattle that we’ve noticed for awhile and had a hard time tracking down. I finally figured out that it was the skirting/panel in back of the left front wheel. It wasn’t adequately anchored to the rest of the body, and was rattling constantly. How did he fix it? Duct tape! He rolled up a piece and shoved it into the small gap. At least that works until we can get it anchored correctly somewhere down the road.

As most full-time RVers will tell you, maintaining a recreation vehicle is sometimes a nuisance, but it sure beats dealing with a flooded basement of a house, getting rid of termites in the supporting beams of a townhouse (and replacing the damaged wood), raking leaves or shoveling snow. When I left all these things (and lots of others I disliked) behind over 10 years ago I never looked back, and I don’t mind having to take care of maintenance/repairs on our RV now.

But it’s great to be on the road again. We left Madison this morning and arrived in Bailey’s Harbor on the Door County Peninsula this afternoon, where we will stay for the next week. There’s a lot to explore here, and we hope the weather is nice enough for a kayak outing.

It was a nice low-stress, occasionally scenic drive, and we were very happy to have fixed everything that we know was broke! (Except for that pesky DataStorm satellite dish…)


  1. I've noticed that Don never seems to get cold. Does he own a pair of long pants?

  2. You sure seemed to have lucked out with good RV Repair facilities as well as the the mobile repair guy.

    Madison looks like a nice town - even has a Five Guys!!

  3. Wow, you are doing better than we are! Broke the sliding kitchen window over two weeks ago and still waiting for the replacement. We have a big hole in the side of the camper. Repairman ready, but the tempering company that is holding up our window! Supposed to rain tonight and tomorrow. So, you are doing very well in the repair department!
    Have you tried Five Guys Burgers and Fries? Yummy!!


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