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Part Nine: “Voyageur” is home. HOORAY!

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This is a photo of a very happy RV traveler.

We picked up our Roadtrek from the Cobra Shop and the frame looks better than new. Mike and his crew did a marvelous job. Everything feels solid and true. I will schedule a “four-wheel alignment in the next few days just to straighten everything back to – perfect. Our new front bumper is on order from “Discount Auto Parts” and I expect it to arrive within the next week…

Yesterday, I prepped the new aluminum, custom-made, air-conditioning louver, for installation. It will provide a waterproof vent for the air-conditioner exhaust air. I didn’t like the flimsy factory original so I had one fabricated locally.

The new louver will fill the opening and be secured over a fresh bed of clear silicone caulk with 3/16″ aluminum pop-rivets…

My new LG air-conditioner needs room to breathe and this should work fine…

Since everything is already apart I decided to sand – Ospho – and paint the old bumper brackets. They were kind of rusty and I DO NOT WANT ANYMORE RUST. Before I install the new bumper I am going to clean and prep the backside of the chrome bumper and paint it with a coat of spray-on bedliner. The way Chrysler designed the huge bumper makes it subject to retaining water from road-spray. I figure “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”

Self Portrait of the hard working “Queen” – Spokes-model Lucy…

As soon as “Voyageur” was parked safely in our driveway, Lucy got busy preparing the inside. She is packing all of the necessary cooking and life-support gear. Due to the incredible amount of “tucked away” storage, in this little twenty foot long RV, she is using labels made of blue painters tape to list the contents of each compartment. It will take a lot of searching to find a few of the items.

What is your favorite flat-screen TV?

We are currently shopping for a 12 volt, flat-screen, LED television and wall mount. If any of you have suggestions for suitable units please post them under “comments”. We would like one with an integrated DVD player…

We still have a weeks worth of RV chores and projects to complete but having a totally sound frame is an incredible relief…

Best wishes from Spokesman Dave

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Part Five: “Rusty” Restoration

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Sorry we have been off line for a while.

When we last spoke, Rusty (aka Voyageur) was on his way to Pam’s Motor City. We had high-hopes for Pam’s but it turned out bad. She called “Pat’s Body Shop” (owner has 44 years experience) and he said “No way.” basically he said it was not repairable and mixed in a lot of other problems. Bottom line was – they did not want to tackle the job. Said there was a lot more rust than I thought there was.  I never met the man or spoke to him. Pam assured me that he had a lot of “Up North” experience with salt damaged vehicles and it was an impossible task. Disappointed to have still another dead end, I pressed on…

The staff at Pam’s was very courteous and it was not their staff that turned it down. They don’t do any body work. I did schedule a four wheel alignment for my Land Rover.

Fearful of all the “Additional rot and rust that the body man said I had… I opted to pay $75.00 to have it towed fourteen miles to my next to the last hope “The Cobra Shop”. I had a previous visit with Mike and he was pretty sure they could do the job… Colonial Wrecker took it to Cobra… The grille and bumper are at home in my shop.

Lucy and I arrived while Mike was out picking up a sandwich, so we visited with Becky, until he returned. I spent some time inside “Rusty” retrieving a few more items that we would need on our Land Rover trip to Ocala, next week. Just a few minutes later Lucy tapped on the window and said “Mike is here…”

By the time I stepped out of Rusty”, Mike was already laying on his back under the front end. Mike spent some time examining the damage and then slid out to discuss what he saw. He indicated that the damage appeared to be exactly as I first thought – confined to the frame horns, forward of the spring perches. He explained how he would do the repairs. He spoke with a rare depth of knowledge and confidence. Mike went a step further and indicated that he couldn’t be one hundred percent positive until he had it inside and up on a lift. He seemed quite sure that there was no additional rust damage. He will be calling us first of next week with a thorough diagnosis, treatment plan and estimate.We are very optimistic…

“Worst come to worst”…

A few of our friends have asked us, “What will you do if “Rusty” just can’t be fixed?” Good question – answer – get over it. We will not let any problem that can be fixed, or was caused by money, steal our joy. Having a sick child, personal injury or loss of a limb could certainly dim our outlook. Anything else is just a MINOR set-back. As long as Lucy and I are together and our children and extended are healthy and happy… nothing else really matters. If I am with my Lucy, I am happy. It doesn’t matter if we are camping in a forty three foot, Cass-A, motorhome, Rusty, or sleeping in our Kelty Green River tent. We have chosen to enjoy every moment of our lives and to be grateful that we are a couple. While Paul was in prison and could have been killed at any time, his worried followers sent a representative to visit him, to discover his condition and offer their support. He told his followers “Don’t worry about me.” He went further and said I will honor the Lord in my Life or in my death. It doesn’t matter which.”

I feel the same as Paul. I am doing all I can to make “Rusty” roadworthy and safe. At the same time, I am not “Leaning on my own understanding.” I am “Acknowledging Him in all my ways and trusting Him to guide my path.” In the first chapter of James, Christ said “Consider it all JOY my Brethren, when you encounter various trials, for these shall build endurance.” Thank you Lord for the freedom of your love and the security of my salvation…

Stay tuned,

“Spokesman” Dave

Rusty Roadtrek: Part Three

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“Cheer up it could get worse” It did…

I am not posting this to “Bitch and moan”. I am very sorry that I didn’t investigate better before I paid for the van. Water over the dam. I want to document my discovery and my attempt at correcting the problem.

I took the van to one shop “Gene’s Frame Repair” and had a terrible result. I later found that this company was definitely not the best one for the work. If you are interested in what I found click here for the WINK TV “Call for action”.

Next I spoke with Doug Martin “Beach Fender Mender”. After a series of unanswered voice-mails and messages left with his wife Daniel, I decided it was time to move on. If the man doesn’t keep his word on “Call backs” I would have expected the same results on my project.

On to the reason for my huge repair problem…

Passenger side frame rail. Extensive rust damage. Crap! Looks like I shouldn’t have bought a “Pig in a poke”. Needless to say, I was heart broken when I saw it. This was supposed to be the vehicle that Lucy and I would travel in for the rest of our vehicle expedition lives. Well “cry or try”… I am not one who quits in fear or gives up without a good fight. There has to be a way to make it like new.

My first order of business was to find a suitable frame section from a donor vehicle. I made twelve phone calls with “Sorry no” results. My thirteenth call struck pay dirt. I spoke to Steve at Jim’s Auto Parts in Sebring, Florida and he said “Sure. I got what you need right here.” I asked how much and he said “Buck and a half” standard salvage yard jargon. I said “How much for freight?” Steve replied “I run my own trucks. That price includes delivery.” Amazing. A perfect donor frame deliver to my door for $150.00. Next morning I had my frame. It looked great. No rust or damage at all. I wire brushed it, painted on a coat of Ospho and then a primer coat of zinc chromate. The frame is ready for installation…

I have an appointment with Pam’s Motor City on Thursday. She has a complete body shop as well as engine and regular mechanic service. I am very optimistic that she owns the right company for the job…

I removed the grille and bumper to make it a little easier for her to get to the problem. In the process I discovered more rust damage underneath. Good thing is, the damaged parts are all in good shape on the donor frame.

I am bound and determined to complete the repairs and have this gorgeous Roadtrek back in fighting trim. While it is in the shop I will replace all front end bushings, tie-rod ends, sway bar links and front shocks. In addition; new rear main seal, timing chain, complete tune-up and replacement of passenger side exhaust header will be completed.

Lucy and I can’t wait to get “Voyageur” back on the road and back to doing what it does best. Carrying us on another great adventure creating wonderful new memories… I will keep you posted on my progress.

Party hardy,

Dave the “Spokesman”

I’m a little RUSTY

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Lucy and I decided that of all the RV’s we have owned in the past, a Roadtrek would be best for our future travel plans. Fully self-contained, good gas mileage and easy to drive and park. With that thought in mind I began my search… In the past I have had excellent results both buying and selling on EBay. This time was a little different. I bought a “Pig in a poke” and some problems ensued…

I bought the Roadtrek “Sight unseen”. The few photos on the ad looked okay. The seller said she didn’t know much about the RV. She had taken it as payment on some land. I flew from Fort Myers to Kentucky to take delivery. She had dropped off the RV at the airport so we never met. I got the key from the parking attendant and stepped aboard.

It looked good inside, but nothing worked. Generator would not turn over, no water flow from the on-board 12 volt pump, Fedders air-conditioner was in pieces and none of the interior lights would come on. No pump meant no toilet flushing. I started the engine to begin my 1200 mile trip back to Florida and it ran smooth. Smooth but VERY loud (more on the LOUD later). Ready to pull out of the airport I switched the dash-air to “MAX” and waited for the ice-cold air to begin cooling my body and the rest of the interior. You guessed it – NO COLD AIR. Oh well… The stereo sounded great, the power windows went right down and off I went. Still happy, but somewhat disappointed…

I had gotten a late start, was driving an unknown vehicle, so I  planned a short first day. I pulled into a “JIffy Lube” and had an oil change and lube. While I was there I had all tire pressure checked; rear 80 psi Front 55 psi. The wiper blades were shot, so I had them replaced as well. (As it turned out, that was a great decision) Off I went in search of a convenient campground for my first overnight stop. There were very few (none) on my route until I finally approached a motel with RV spaces next door. I rented a shady spot (no air-conditioning) plugged in my power cord and got ready to enjoy my first night in “Voyageur”. There was a nice restaurant just across the street so I splurged on a nice meal. I was wide awake from nervous energy, first-night jitters and an unfamiliar bed. Oh yes… I also missed my Lucy. I finally fell asleep lulled by the sound of the diesel trucks roaring by on the Interstate…

Up with the chickens I resumed my trip. Quick stop for some hot coffee and I prepared to enjoy the winding, narrow, undulating roads, that took me on the back roads leading to Cumberland Falls State Park – Gorgeous! I stopped in the park and enjoyed a very relaxing hour long hike along the Cumberland River. The falls were spectacular… Turned out my “peaceful”, meandering ride was about to come a little less “peaceful”…

CLANK, BANG, RRRRRROAR!

What the heck happened? I looked in my rear-view mirror, as I began slowing down and saw bits and pieces of my exhaust system, skidding and sparking, as it slid down the pavement behind me, spewing dust particles everywhere… (Never buy a pig in a poke) Well, guess that explains why she sounded a little loud, when I first started her up. A quick search on my Android phone and my GPS brought me to a nearby muffler shop. Turned ot the had an open bay and the took me right in for repairs. Brand new everything and the total was $374.00 and only an hour lost… The mechanic even welded a new bracket on my broken generator exhaust and was kind enough to show me exactly what he meant when he said “She’s rusted all to HELL under here!. You got BIG problems!” Turns out……. he was exactly right…

My propane system has been totally compromised by rust (Never buy a pig in a poke). The replacement system; storage tank, brackets, regulator, valve, hoses and fittings, will cost me around six hundred dollars.

“While yer down here, take a look at this…”  (Never buy a pig in a poke) He said “No wonder yer genny won’t crank, she’s rusted all to HELL!” Sound familiar? Looks like another grand for a new gennerator too… And…. I a STILL happy I bought this Roadtrek…

I finally resumed my trip still hot, windows open but a whole lot quieter. As I drove along I did a lot of thinking and planning about how I would complete (and pay for) each of the many repairs. I drove until I was just too tired to continue and after a light dinner in a truck stop diner, shut her down in the parking lot and spent a fitful night. I wanted to be home and back with my Lucy. As I said my evening prayers I prayed, “Please Lord no more surprises. Just get me home safe.” I kept remembering what my mom used to say “Cheer up. It could be worse.” Turned out she was right…

I cheered up- it got WORSE…

Continued in part-two “It’s gonna cost how much!!!”

Cheers, Spokesman Dave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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