Sunday, August 16, 2015

Seeking cooler climes!

We did drive over to Tunica and spend a couple days there. They don't want us to come back apparently. We only seek to be entertained for a reasonable amount of time and that didn't happen, so we didn't hang around the casinos very long. And it was still so stinkin' hot down there. It was still close to 100* every day and once again, we spent a lot of time in the motorhome with the dogs. Kinda' hate to go away for too long.

We decided to head north since it was 20 degrees cooler back in northern Indiana and since we were headed that way, why not go now? We stopped the first night in Dover, Tennessee, and drove around this little town. It was named Dover because of its resemblance to the "white cliffs of Dover" in England. We looked up and down the river and only saw one small rock formation which looked to be limestone along the river. Nothing at all like the white cliffs of Dover, but I guess someone thought so.

There is a Civil War Battlefield here on the site of Fort Donelson. The fort was an "earthenworks" fort so it was hard to see the definition. There were a lot of trenches dug and still there. There was also some artillery and a few monuments. In the museum was a picture of the ironclad "Cairo" which is in Vicksburg. We have seen that ship. There was a display that showed the ironclads that were engaged in a battle on the Cumberland River here and played a strategic part in the outcome. It was quite interesting.

While we were driving through the battlefield there were signs indicated "eagle nesting areas" and we were lucky enough to see a juvenile up in a tree. I had a hard time getting a good picture that wasn't blurry. . . I need to work at getting my settings right on my camera. But he was huge. It is hard to believe how quickly they grow.

We left Dover the next morning and traveled a long day to Cincinnati to the FMCA campground. We had full hookups there and a nice yard for the dogs. We met some nice people. . . most are just passing through, but are very friendly.

We moved on Friday to St. Paris, Ohio, and spent two nights while we were visiting Tab and Deanna, our Alaska companions. We had a great time with them. We went to the golf course restaurant for dinner that night and their special was prime rib. It was delicious and I brought half of it home.

On Saturday we all went to Springfield. They were having a "food truck" event. It was in one of the parks and there were dozens of food trucks there and offering their wares for sale. They had everything from hot dogs to pizza to BBQ, etc. One even had kosher Jewish food. We found one we wanted to try, so we got something to eat. It was very good. It came in a styrofoam and was layered with BBQ and mashed potatoes. There were several kinds of meat, each layer separated by mashed potatoes. Terry and I split one. There was entertainment as well. Several musical groups played, a different one every hour. They were good as well. We really enjoyed our visit.

From there Tab drove us by his neighborhood where he was raised. Down the street from his home was a "rock garden" built by a man who lived there. He has a little city built out of stones. It is called the Hartman Rock Garden and is free of charge. They do accept donations. We walked around and looked at all the little creations and marveled at the work and time the man took for this labor of love. No trip to Tab and Deanna's would be complete without ice cream, so we stopped off at Young's Dairy for some ice cream before heading home.

We left there this morning, Sunday morning, and drove to Shipshewana. We are here for three nights. We plan to visit the town shops tomorrow, and the flea market on Tuesday and Wednesday before heading to Goshen. Terry needs to do some work on the motorhome so he wants to do that before we head over to the campground.

Till next time. . .


Saturday, August 08, 2015

A little R&R

We all need a little R&R and now seemed like a good time. We left Red Bay on Wednesday afternoon and drove to Tupelo to the CAT dealer. We had spent some time at Bay Diesel and he changed out the coolant sensor module which is what the first CAT dealer thought was wrong. But since Bay Diesel is not CAT certified they didn't have the software to activate it, so they sent us to Tupelo. They were waiting on us and when we got there they flashed that module. The problem is that reactivating that new module did not work. The problem of "low coolant" and "check engine" lights continues. A fairly long discussion ensued with the tech at Thompson CAT about the feasibility of tracking down the problem. The engine computer has plug-ins on two sides. One is the CAT side and everything that plugs in there is necessary to the operation of the engine. The modules that Freightliner plugs in to the other side of the main computer are interfaces that are there to inform you when something with the chassis has a problem. But those are not necessary to the operation of the engine. He likened them to tire pressure sensors. We use those too. We normally don't even check our tires anymore because we plug in the monitor and it tells us what our tire pressure is in each tire. But if a battery goes dead, that tire monitor will beep a warning, but the tire is still okay and will continue to be okay. So that's kind of the problem with this module. It's telling us we have low coolant, but we don't. We run the Silverleaf Engine Diagnostics program on a laptop which Terry watches as we go down the road. He can read the engine temps. So we know all is well. But if we leave the module "on," it will actually de-rate and eventually halt the engine, which we don't want. So we chose to keep the module deactivated. The tech said the message he's getting is indicative of an open ground. Tracing down a wire on that engine and wiring harness could cost thousands of dollars and be a twenty-five cent part. He wasn't very optimistic that it would be easy to find. I don't know. . . maybe he didn't want to do it. But at any rate, he made a good case for not tracking it down and we decided not to at this point.

The other thing that Bay Diesel did for us was find the source of our fumes. Two men crawled into the belly or basement of the coach and found diesel fuel in the electrical chaseway running front to back in the basement! No one else had thought to look there. . . instead they looked into the fuel lines raceway and it was clean. There also is a hatch in the underbelly that allows access into the fuel tank and one man climbed up on top of the tank and said he observed where fuel had spilled at one time. He said he believed it had sprayed into that raceway and coated all the wires with fuel. So what they did was remove the "loom" which is the corrugated plastic housing that goes around the wires. The loom was full of fuel and there is no cleaning that. It doesn't really do anything other than protects the wires during the building of the coach, according to Chris the owner. So it was removed and the bundled wires were wiped off. The box the wires were in was wiped down as well. We still have some smell. . . there is probably no way to remove it all, and we still smell diesel when we stop. It does seem to dissipate quickly in the coach. There still is a strong smell in the basement yet, but we are hoping that will eventually subside. We know there are no more leaks because the mechanics looked it over well, so hopefully we can put this behind us as well.

So when we left Thompson CAT, we didn't want to go far. We have never found many campgrounds around Tupelo that we liked, but we found the "Trace Lake State Park" about six miles from town and headed over there. It was a great find. Our site here was probably 80 feet long and paved, with full hook ups and on a lake! We spent two days there and had some pretty intense thunderstorms. Nothing dangerous, but so much rain! During the night Butterscotch got restless and decided she wanted to go out. I was a bit confused till I heard what I'm sure was a bobcat. It was screaming like cats do during the night, but it was much louder, so I'm sure that's what it was. We have seen them in the wild here before and we were in a forest. There were a lot of deer here as well. We saw some everytime we drove on the park roads. Needless to say, Butterscotch stayed in and safe.

From there we drove over to Sardis. This is a lake where Terry used to fish with his Uncle and his cousin Gary when he was young. It is a large reservoir.  I had always wanted to see it, so we drove over. We were only about 60 miles away, so it was a short drive. This is beautiful over here. The lake is really nice and there are a couple campground on it. We are parked below the dam in the John Kyle State Park. We again have full hookups. . . I'm seeing a trend here I think. The Mississippi state parks are often full hookup with 50 amp and if you are 65 or older or disabled you can get $10 off. So the sites are $24 and you pay $14. That's the real deal!

There are dozens of hummingbirds surrounding the feeders at the check-in station here in the park. I can't get good pictures. . . need to check the settings on my camera, but they are so much fun to watch!

We are leaving here tomorrow and headed to Tunica. I can really relax there, particularly if I win anything! LOL Oh well, even if I don't it will be okay. We plan then to head for Indiana. It has been in the high 90's the entire time we have been south and the heat index is in the red zone everyday. We spend a lot of time inside with the dogs. The weather in northern Indiana has been better, so we plan to head back up there soon.

Till next time. . .


Sunday, August 02, 2015

Gaffney was a bust.

Well, we had great hopes from Gaffney and were sorely disappointed. The people were nice enough and they didn't charge us a dime after the first day. But after four days working on the motorhome, we did not get the two repairs made. Those would be the diesel leak fumes in the coach and the "check engine" "low coolant" errors.

They could not find the source for the diesel fumes. They pressurized the fuel tank for three hours and never found any leaks. They inspected and did not find any residue from previous leaks, etc. Diesel fuel does not evaporate, so wherever it drips or leaks will remain forever and eventually gather dust and dirt and grime which is what they look for when trying to find a leak. They searched everywhere, but never found it. I am convinced they didn't look "everywhere" because we still have the fumes and after running all afternoon when we left Gaffney, we had a strong odor in the coach again. It has to be coming from somewhere. . . we are not imagining it. They just didn't look in the right place or do the right test. But they tried everything they knew to do, so they left it at that.

The other problem is the "check engine" light which goes on when we get a "low coolant" warning. We had them change the coolant. We had it last changed at a Cummins shop and they didn't put in CAT coolant. There is a difference we found out, but that did not make the error we are having. The engine eventually goes into "limp" mode and then will shut down the engine. They worked for three more days to try and get it fixed. They again changed the sensor, put in a different module, ran new wires to the sensor, etc. Nothing worked, so they eventually gave up on that as well. On Friday they went into the computer and deactivated that sensor, which is what CAT in Ft. Wayne had done. That removes that sensor from the lineup and we were able to run again without that pesky warning. Still needs to be fixed, but we have to find someone who knows what to do.

It was extremely disappointing because we were certain this service center could do it all. We have a different opinion now. Don't get me wrong. . . the people there are very, very nice and they were very accommodating. But we don't think they do much with diagnostics and solving complex problems. They are very good on the various services you might want performed and cheaper than what we have paid before, but when it comes to our problems, they really didn't know what to do.

So where are we now? Red Bay, Alabama, where Phaeton Place was born. This, also, is not the place to fix our two major items, but we developed another problem they can fix, so we came here. When our large kitchen slide is out, we see a tear on the underneath side of the slide floor. It is fiberglas and we don't want it to get worse. It could be damaged more if not repaired, plus bugs could get in there. When Terry called them, they were very much aware of the exact problem and have a fix ready to go. So we have to wait here till our service number comes up and we will be all set. We thought while we are here we are going to ask around about the other two problems and see who is recommended for us to go to. We have heard of a shop in Decatur, Alabama. They are both a Freightliner shop and a CAT dealer, so they should be able to do both.

The ride over here was uneventful and long. We left Gaffney Friday afternoon around 4 p.m. We drove a couple hours but stopped before we got to Atlanta, not wanting to drive through there during rush hour on Friday night. We got up yesterday, Saturday morning, and drove over 300 miles, which is a long, long day for me behind the wheel, especially since we went through both Atlanta and Birmingham. I told Terry lucky for him I was having a lot of back pain cause that kept me awake on the longer than normal drive. LOL On the way over we saw an Oscar Meyer "Weinermobile" heading eastbound on I-22. Pretty cool!

So now we are in Camp Red Bay and already meeting new people which happens every time we come. It's been a few years though.

Till next time. . .