Monday, October 31, 2016

On the road again

Sort of.

We got off to a good start, but then the drive shaft decided to fall out of the Guppy. The good news? It chose to do so after we'd made it through Kansas City and were off the Interstate. We'd pulled off I-35 to go looking for lunch. Half a block or so from the intersection we needed to turn at to get the Waffle House, we heard this interesting (and not particularly pleasant) noise, kind of like something heavy and metallic had just hit the pavement and was now dragging. That was the bad news. The not quite so bad news was it waited until we were coasting down the shoulder of the road before it let go completely. No having to worry about either dashing out into traffic to try to retrieve the part or getting to witness some poor sap in a passenger car trying to drive over it. A drive shaft for an E-350 is fairly substantial piece of metal; I don't think it would be easy to just drive over.

So now we're stuck in Gardner, Kansas, hoping AAA is serious about doing reimbursement for travel interruption expenses (e.g., motel rooms, meals) and waiting for Olathe Ford RV to open on Monday. The S.O. can put the drive shaft back in; he already has the U-joints he needs to do so, but Auto Zone did not have a yoke that is part of the overall scheme of things. If Olathe Ford RV does not have the part, then I guess we go looking for it in Kansas City. There is definitely a limit on just how long we want to hang out in a room at the Super 8 admiring the view of the Walmart parking lot.

I am having kind of mixed feelings about AAA. On the one hand, they did (eventually) get a tow truck to us that would have dragged us to any location we desired within 100 miles. As it turned out, the humongous tow truck only had to drag us half a block. By the time the tow truck got here, we'd done enough calling around to figure out that the garage AAA recommended could not help us (the Guppy was too tall and too long). That garage referred us to another, which turned out to be the Ford dealership right here in Gardner, a dealership that also peddles RVs. So they could actually work on the Guppy. That was the good news.

The bad news? First, when I called I learned their service department closed at 3 on Saturdays and they're not open on Sundays. We were welcome to have the Guppy dragged there (their gate would stay open until 7 or so) but it would be, I shit you not, "at least 2 weeks, maybe 3, before we can fit you into our schedule." Definitely a WTF moment. I'd just told the woman we were had an RV that broke down several states away from where we live and she's suggesting we hang out in a motel room for half a month before maybe they'll squeeze it into their busy schedule. No surprise, then, that the S.O. decided he would do the work himself. Then it became a question of finding an alternative site for parking the Guppy.

That's when I noticed the Super 8 across the street. Turned out they had rooms. They also had a place where it was okay to park the Guppy until it's repaired, at least as long as we're guests at the motel. So that's where the Guppy is now -- parked close to the motel and waiting for the S.O. to do the repairs.

Anyway, back to the mixed feelings about AAA. Apparently the customer service person I spoke with had no clue just what a Class C motor home is. The Guppy is built on a Ford E-350 chassis; the E-350 is a Ford  1-ton van. The Guppy is a tad long (27 feet) but doesn't fall into the heavy truck category of things. Any tow truck that could tow a typical 1-ton cargo van could handle the Guppy. So what did AAA send after what felt like an interminable wait? A tow truck designed for towing Greyhound buses and semis. I swear the tow vehicle was bigger than the Guppy. My one regret is that I didn't have my camera with me when it pulled up by the motel. I am guessing that the size of the tow vehicle the AAA person thought we needed is the main reason it took over 3 hours for him to get there. At one point we were told the tow truck was on its way, but then got another call saying he got called to a higher priority (better paying?) job than us.

So I'm annoyed with AAA for not having a better handle on just what type of tow truck could have handled the Guppy and at the same time moderately grateful that the delay gave us time to find a place to park the Guppy where it is possible for the S.O. to do the work. In fact, if the local Auto Zone had carried all the parts we need, we'd be back on the road now. As it is, Auto Zone had the requisite U-joints but was missing another piece, a yoke of some sort, so while I sit here typing the S.O. is off in search of parts.

As it turned out, we won't have to deal with the Ford dealership service department that so blithely told us there'd be a multiple-weeks wait before they could squeeze us in. At breakfast this morning we struck up a conversation with a woman who lived in Gardner (or just outside it) for over 20 years. They've retired to Lake of the Ozarks but come back here often to check on a business her husband still owns. After she learned why we were here, she called a local mechanic and asked him for advice. He referred the S.O. to a place a couple exits up the Interstate that specializes in servicing trucks, both big and small. If they don't actually have the part, they should be able to get it fairly quickly.

And then we'll be on the road again, quietly wondering what's going to fall off next.


  1. Eric had trouble with AAA not sending the right tow units and got stuck in Florida for weeks about a year ago. As I recall, after a few experiences with AAA he dropped them and switched over to Good Sams cuz they understand the RV world better.

  2. As long as we're going to mess with the Guppy, Good Sam's would probably be a good idea.

  3. You might think of Good Sam in the future. I don't know their dependability but they specialize in RV's. We had good Sam when we went to Alaska and back, fortunately we didn't need them.
    the Ol'Buzzard


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