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Old 01-13-2012, 01:50 PM   #1
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Mystery Author has research question...

Hi, all. I write a series of mysteries featuring Joe and Dottie Loudermilk, two married full-timers and amateur sleuths who get in trouble with the law wherever they go, and I have a question I hope someone here can answer for me.

In my latest story, the authorities confiscate the Loudermilks' 24-foot Excella (circa 2000-2005) so that forensic technicians can examine it for clues to a possible homicide that occurred in its bathroom. (Yes, in the bathroom).

For the purposes of my plot, I need Joe Loudermilk to be called down to the Sheriff's station where his trailer is being held to solve a minor technical or mechanical problem that has the forensic investigators stumped. For instance, let's say there's a floor or wall panel they want to remove that they can't figure out how to get open without breaking something. They need Joe, as an informed Airstream owner, to come down and show them how to get the thing off.

All I'm looking for here is a reasonable excuse for them to call Joe out to the station. Anything that might confuse or intimidate someone unfamiliar with the inner-workings of an Airstream would probably fit the bill.

Many thanks for your help!

Gar Anthony Haywood
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Old 01-13-2012, 02:17 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JLoudermilk View Post
...

For instance, let's say there's a floor or wall panel they want to remove that they can't figure out how to get open without breaking something.

...
There's the problem with the plot. When authorities search, they use pry bars and chain saws. They don't have to fix things when they are done.
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Old 01-13-2012, 02:49 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JLoudermilk View Post

In my latest story, the authorities confiscate the Loudermilks' 24-foot Excella (circa 2000-2005) so that forensic technicians can examine it for clues to a possible homicide that occurred in its bathroom. (Yes, in the bathroom).

For the purposes of my plot, I need Joe Loudermilk to be called down to the Sheriff's station where his trailer is being held to solve a minor technical or mechanical problem that has the forensic investigators stumped.
Maybe he could come down to explain the badge on the trailer?

I think the excella line was retired at the end of 2001. Stated lengths were 25, 29, 30, 31, 34 so a 24 footer would be an anomaly.

Some trailers have/had a panel in the kitchen that seems to covering something (looks like a small kitchen cabinet door with no handle). In reality it is hinged and if you add a handle to it, can open it and use it for storage. They might wonder what is behind that and how to access it....

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Old 01-13-2012, 02:56 PM   #4
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Or where's the secret towel hanger ...
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Old 01-13-2012, 02:58 PM   #5
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Maybe while they were in there poking around, one of the techs can notice he has extensive rot in his floor from a leak somewhere and thought Joe should come down and take a look? That would be TOTALLY authentic, from what I can see...
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Old 01-13-2012, 03:05 PM   #6
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Or, they could demand that he reveal the outside access door to to the expansive storage compartment beneath the trailer floor.
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Old 01-13-2012, 03:14 PM   #7
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Vaughn, I sense a slight distaste for authority in your response.

Technically, you're right, of course, but in this case, the cops aren't at all sure a homicide has been committed, so they're doing the responsible thing and treating Joe's Airstream with kid gloves.
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Old 01-13-2012, 03:16 PM   #8
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Ken, if this suggestion is on the level, please elaborate.
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Old 01-13-2012, 03:24 PM   #9
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Have Joe come in to explain why the overhead vent keeps opening and closing on its own.
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Old 01-13-2012, 03:33 PM   #10
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Maybe Joe knows that there was no 24' Excella in 2005.

This makes him suspicious of the trailer's construction, and by studying the exterior dimensions versus the interior dimensions, he helps the police find a hidden cache of gold/heroin/cash/murder clues in a hidden closet on each side of the trailer that were cleverly disguised as part of the closets in the mid-section.
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Old 01-13-2012, 03:37 PM   #11
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Oops, I just re-read your opening, and now realize that the TT (travel trailer) is Joe's.

Sorry!

Or... Maybe Joe has never noticed the discrepancy in dimensions in all the time he has owned the TT, and apparently a previous owner hid something before he mysteriously disappeared.

(Joe bought the TT from the previous owner's bereaved and very pretty wife, much to the disgust of Joe's wife.)
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Old 01-13-2012, 03:39 PM   #12
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Didn't Excellas have a hidden floor safe in the closet area?

This safe could have some important evidence and Joe knows the location and how to open it.
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Old 01-13-2012, 03:42 PM   #13
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It Was Not on the Level, but...

Quote:
Originally Posted by JLoudermilk View Post
Ken, if this suggestion is on the level, please elaborate.
We love our Airstreams in part because they are beautiful but quirky.
One quirk is the lack of outside storage, while our fifth-wheel-friends and motor-home-mavens all have expansive, "basement" storage.
So, I was just being cute, but...
If the investigating detective has a "regular" travel trailer, he may insist that there must be outside access to the under-the-floor storage someplace.
Poor Joe.
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Old 01-13-2012, 04:06 PM   #14
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True story here: I loaned my 18' Caravel to some friends to go into Canada with. I gave them all the papers, note saying it was OK for them to take it in etc.

At the border, the customs people wanted to have all the compartments opened so they could look inside (for whatever, guns, drugs etc.) My friends had all the keys, but because they were unfamiliar with their operation, they could not get the refrigerator access door open. It requires a push and a turn, and they thought they had the wrong key. Customs would not let them in without looking in there. Many awkward minutes went by apparently in a standoff... we can't open the compartment, we don't know how or the key is wrong... "well, then you can't come into Canada".

Finally in a last go around with the keys they had and some determination, the access door opened, and the Customs folk saw: TaDa... the back coils of the refrigerator.

They were allowed into Canada.

BTW, today the exact same thing could happen on the return into the US.
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