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Old 09-28-2016, 10:39 PM   #1
3 Rivet Member

1996 30' Land Yacht
Benson , Arizona
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 150
A brief Road Trip report, a rant, and a THUNK

Made it home after a 7500 mile partial circuit of the US the last month.
Tucson to NH for family stuff, then up to the easternmost point of the US (a lighthouse) in Maine, down the east coast, a visit to Maggie Valley NC (home of the awesome "Wheels Through Time" Motorcycle Museum, if anybody has those interests), down to Pensacola, then down and out to the southernmost point in Louisiana, a tiny place called Grand Isle. Good seafood, humid, buggy, and a place you will surely die if a tsunami alert happens whilst you are there. One road in and out, about 4 feet above sea level, for maybe 80 miles.

All in all the 96LY30 ran superbly. Had a Yamaha DT175 strapped on the rear carrier, and got to do some riding. The rig was happiest at 65, but would do 70 without too much effort. Brief stints at 75. Mileage varied, mostly based upon terrain, but headwinds and high speeds (like on the freeways in big cities) took their toll. Best was 9.9, worst was 6.9. Burned about 1/2 qt of oil per tankful; sometimes more, sometimes less. At 83,000 miles now, guess that's not too bad.

Stayed at a few KOA's, a few privates, some friends driveways. Travelling after Labor Day is the only way to go. Never had a problem finding a place, as long as we had our internet enabled cell phone charged, and we had at least 2 bars to go surfing google. Never got turned away in our "Vintage" MoHome.

Other's prolly know this, but before we left I tried to purchase a Woodalls RV Directory. Our family had been using this for decades, in the 60's through the 80's. Then the kids grew up and moved away, and it had taken this kid this long to get back into an RV... But I digress. From Amazon Reviews, I learned that the old "Woodalls" RV Directory had been bought out by Camping World a few years ago, and the info provided was now pretty dismal. Then from a small private park owner in North Carolina, I learned why. Instead of listing all RV Parks, they now list all RV parks that are willing to pay $1000 year for inclusion in the directory. No $$, no listing. And the entire RV community within the country is the worse off. But I guess Camping World is better off financially. Personally, that made up my mind to minimize our $$ expenditures at CW. Greed has killed so many good ideas in this country.

And then there is Big Bend National Park. This is a really wild, desolate, and scenic place. We called ahead (the NP campground) to reserve a spot, and the gent on the phone told us to just pull in and pay the next day, because we were arriving after 1600, and "he thought there would be spots available". We finally arrived about 1900, drove/bounced our way to the campground (more on that in a minute)... and we were the 2nd RV in the park. This place had room for maybe 80 vehicles, and it was like a plague had hit. Nooooobodyyyyyarounnnnd.

Seems the season here is from Nov through about Mar, as temps can be a bit warm. It was maybe 90 during the day, and cooled down to 70 about midnight. As there were no hookups (for $7/night, I can live with that!) we ran the generator all night to keep the front AC going, and just directed the airflow back to the bedroom. The "other" guy was about 3 football fields away from us: we could not hear his, nor he ours. There was also a great hiking trail with some pedestrian aluminum bridges built over a swamp, leading out to the Rio Grande. Which should maybe have been renamed the Rio Pequito at this location. 0

Back to the drive/bounce in. I have never been on a worse road as coming into the park on the easternmost leg. Enough quick paced tiny hills/valleys to remind me of racing motorcycles in the desert- back then, we called the "whoop de doos". More than once I had to slow down (from the posted 45 mph) because the RV suspension started to reach a resonate frequency with the road. Which means that with every valley and hill rolling by, the motorhome suspension started accelerating faster. Higher lower higher lower HIGHER LOWER until I was worried about the suspension being damaged due to the forces being applied. Not good on a 16000 lb vehicle.
Then there was the anomaly. This was a very closely spaced set of whoop de doos that were also deeper than the others. In all fairness, there was a caution sign that said "rough road". OK., I can read, and my compression is generally pretty good. So I slowed from 45 to 30 - which was not enough. Then we hit it. After the first crest, I could see this was not going to be good, and started clamping on the brakes. Too late. The crest/valleys were so close together that the front end actually got airborne, and came crashing down with a sickening THUUNK. Wifey had her almost crazy face on, yelling out WHAT ARE YOU DOING... which was quite helpful.

Pulled over, and all seemed ok. But I had just rebuilt the front end, and I could see where the rubber bumpers on the lower A-Arms had impacted the frame. "Doing their job" I surmised, and we proceeded merrily along.

Until it came time to stop. It started out slowly, but each time I used the brakes, there was a light "thunk" when I released the pedal. All through the park, it did the same thing. When we pulled into our space, I purposefully released the brakes faster, and the thunk was noticeably louder.

Got up in the am to start the final push home, and spent a good hour looking under the front end, banging on parts with a leather mallet. Could not find anything amiss. EXCEPT that the right side upper A-Arm ball joint had a whole lot of grease on TOP of it; could just barely reach my hand up there, as I had no tools to remove the wheels; note that I will not make THAT mistake again. We had just run out of time to get a compressor and jack set up.

At any rate, I babied the brakes all the way home (another 600 miles) and we made it into our parking spot at home. Although the last 3 miles I was hoping I would not have to call AAA. We have a shared 3 mile dirt driveway that is pretty much just a giant washboard, and the noises from the front end had me concerned it would fall apart literally in sight of home.

But now it's back to work to pay for the trip, and in a couple weeks pull the front end apart.

So. If anybody is heading to Big Bend NP, you have been warned. And if anybody has had their LY airborne, I would love to hear how it worked out... 0

Note: Seems the CAPCHA thing has been altered in my absence. But after typing in my post, hitting submit, telling the screen I was not a robot, and then selecting all photos with trees, I was once again rewarded with a blank screen. Darn it. But this time I also copied my text into Notepad. Hopefully I can submit this before CAPCHA screws me again.

Please - does everybody get this? Or am I doing something wrong? I do the CAPCHA thing, and then I lose everything, EVERY SINGLE TIME.

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Old 09-28-2016, 11:34 PM   #2
Rivet Master

2014 20' Flying Cloud
Long Island , New York
Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 2,853
Hints about how to deal with Captcha include composing long messages in WORD etc., and then copying over when ready to post: [edit -- as you did in Notepad]

No easy answers.

Sorry for your travel troubles, although I have not read your entire post.

Happy Trails!


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Old 09-29-2016, 12:55 AM   #3
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2007 22' International CCD
Corona , California
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 2,267
A brief Road Trip report, a rant, and a THUNK

Been to Grand Isle a very long time ago. Yup. A minor tsunami and it's under water for sure.

At the time, I was passing through to head out to an oil pipeline burying rig out in the gulf. French crew, didn't speak much English. Texan and Louisiana riggers and roustabouts. Couldn't understand them at first either. Great bunch of people to work with, though. It's amazing what you can explain to a strictly Francophone engineer using nothing but pantomime, schematic diagrams, mathematics, and French cusswords as applicable. I was channeling a French mime from another life, I guess. Turns out a Wheatstone bridge circuit is the same in French and English. (Thank the engineering ghods for that!)

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Old 09-29-2016, 04:49 PM   #4
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1998 36' Land Yacht Widebody
Great Falls , Montana
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 146
Images: 14
Its great to hear your travel story and many of places you visited I have passed by or thru at one time or another. However, your trip to Grand Isle seems more pleasant than mine when I was there in the Coast Guard in 1980. Went down there to deliver parts from New Orleans and got stuck with broken down truck. Hot as heck and biggest bugs I ever saw outside the Everglades!

If you made it to Maggie Valley then you probably passed through Asheville on I40. If you recall on the 240 bypass there is a huge bridge over the French Broad River. Going east bound in the far left lane is where I had my "airborne" experience. First let me say...I am afraid of heights...not of flying but could never stand tall ladders or looking over the edge of highrise buildings. My AS had been at the Freightliner dealer in West Asheville for basic oil change service. Pulled onto the expressway and quickly speeded up to 65mph and changed lanes......when I hit that dip where the asphalt meets the bridge, I bounced so high I thought I was going over the side......the tires chirped and I hit the left curb and felt the whole rig tipping to the left. Scared the crap out of me...still not sure but think I was on 2 wheels for few moments!! Needless to say that made me investigate the shocks and found them to be 1997 originals....and this was in April 2015. After all was replaced and updated, its been a dream to drive. So far 2 trips cross county with no problems and now living full time in Ft. Lauderdale on the water as I write this.
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Old 09-30-2016, 11:18 AM   #5
2 Rivet Member
1996 33' Land Yacht
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 23
Thanks Pago Very interesting and glad you made back home safe. Jim
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Old 10-03-2016, 06:37 PM   #6
3 Rivet Member

1996 30' Land Yacht
Benson , Arizona
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 150
Thanks for the comments gents.
I had hoped to get to the front end this past weekend, but it seems somewhere in the last days of the trip a flu bug bit my posterior.

Nasty bugger this time around. Could pretty much make it from bed to the couch and back the last several days; this thing has sucked my energy away akin to the Enterprise losing her dilithium crystals...

Hopefully next weekend; I'm dying to see what component(s) failed.

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