Now in Byron, Georgia

Now in Byron, Georgia

We are now in Del Rio Texas

We are now in Del Rio Texas

Jacksonville FL to Keyport NJ/Surviving RV issues!

June 17 – 23, 2016

Now that we are finished at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville FL we are headed up north to Keyport NJ.  The 935 mile trip will take us 6 days, three 1 nighters and one 2 nighter.  That is a very fast trip for us and it had some drama as well.

Our first travel day was to be about 225 miles to the Comfort Inn Campground in Saint George SC.  However, it turned out to be closed for renovation so we went another 20 miles north to the Santee Lakes Campground near Summerton SC. This was a nice campground on Lake Santee.  This area has numerous campgrounds and motels.  We were here for just one night so not much to tell.

Very muddy here

That's us in the middle

Only here one night but I did take a walk to the lake.

Our second travel day was about 188 miles to Happy Trails RV Park in NC. This, again, was just a one nighter for us. This campground was one of those that has minimal management and really doesn’t need much either.  It caters to transient workers and travelers on I 95 wanting a quick stopover.  We pulled in next to the camp office, which was locked. We filled out the after-hours form even though it was only 3pm, added the fee of $29 in cash and dropped it in a slot on the door.  A sign on the office door said to call the phone number there if there wasn’t anybody at the office.  I called the number and no one answered and the mailbox was full so I couldn’t leave a message either.  Funny, 2 days later after we had left, I got a call from the campground asking me if I was still at the campsite!

Everybody needs to stop here once on their way to or from Florida on I95.
It's basically a tourist trap town.  It even has its own exit.

Our 3rd travel day, the 19th, was to be about to 218 miles to the Fredericksburg VA KOA.  But crap happened just outside Richmond VA about 30 miles south of Fredericksburg.  We had just exited Richmond Virginia on I 95 and got into a huge traffic jam that lasted for about an hour.  We finally got to the end of the traffic jam around 1pm and were accelerating up to our highway speed of around 65 when a car pulls up next to me and points back to the RV.  OH CRAP!!  I looked back in the mirror and saw smoke coming from the driver’s side area of the rear tire.  I pretty much knew that it was a wheel bearing.   I got safely off of the highway and went back to make sure that there wasn’t a fire and that it was the bearing and not something on the RV.  Yeah, it was the rear wheel bearing and there wasn’t a fire thankfully. 

We call our roadside service company Coach-Net to get some help.  It is around 1:30 pm on a Sunday afternoon so getting an RV service place wasn’t going to happen.  We needed to get off the highway to a place we could stay until we could get the bearing fixed.  Coach-Net has been very good to us over the years and they came through this time too.   They got a mobile tech company, Pete’s Mobile, to come out around 2:30 pm and strap up the axle so we could move the RV slowly to the nearest campground 3 miles away.  We were lucky that the Kings Dominion Amusement park Campground was just at the next exit on I 95 in Doswell VA. 

Just after the wheel fell off!  Note the dry front bearing.

They jacked up the RV and the rear wheel just fell off!  The only thing holding the wheel on was the weight of the RV. From looking at the axle spindle, it looked like the front bearing went dry as there was plenty of grease remaining on the rear bearing.  I don’t know why this happened as I was the one to grease the bearings this time.  I had just greased the bearings before we left Texas 2 months ago.  This was my first time doing the greasing so I spent some time reading and watching U-Tube videos to learn how.  I think I did the job correctly.  I even remember that when I pumped grease into this particular bearing, it was the 3rd of the 4, that it was the first one that really had loads of grease come out of the front as it should have.   After doing that bearing, I went back and put more into the other 2 that I had done before.  This really made me question how I did the work!!

The guys got the axle strapped up so the wheel hub wouldn’t drag on the ground when we move to the campground up the road.  The mobile tech guys diverted traffic from the right lane of I 95 while I pulled the RV on the shoulder at around 15-20 MPH.  The King's Dominion Campground was at the next exit just a couple of miles ahead, it was a long 2 miles.  After exiting the interstate we had about a mile to go to get to the campground.  The move was a little nerve racking for us but we did it without any issues.

We got set up on our site by around 4:30 pm!  That was really pretty good considering that the bearing burnt off around 1pm and now 3 hours later we are set up on a site in a campground! The mobile tech guys stayed with us and after we were set up they started to take the bearing assembly apart.  The axle and the bearing seats looked good so the repair work can be done at our site, yippee!  After getting the parts removed and the axle spindle cleaned up somewhat, they quit for the day.   They are going to get new bearings and install them tomorrow.  There shouldn’t be any issues as it will be a weekday so everybody is open.  Also, these bearings are not that special either so there should be stock available. We wait for tomorrow to see!

Campground at Kings Dominion

The guys get to work

Monday the 20th, the mobile tech guys showed up at 11am to begin the reassembly of the wheel and bearings.  They spent a lot of the time cleaning up the bearing seats.  When the front bearing went dry and came apart the wheel hub came in contact with the axle spindle just above where the front bearing race is.  There was a very small area that needed to be filed, sanded, and polished before putting on the bearings.  About 1pm they finished and I was really pretty nervous about the amount of the bill for the work. 

Waiting on the new bearings now

While we wait we took a bike ride.

The cleaned off axle spindle. You can see the damage near the front bearing seat.

Unbelievably the bill came to only $250.  They spent 4 hours on Sunday getting us settled off of the road and taking the bearing apart.  Then on Monday the spent another 2 hours putting the bearings on and remounting the wheel.  Coach-Net picked up the cost from Sunday and we paid for Monday which was 2 hours labor and the $50 for the bearings.  I wouldn’t go on the road with an RV without roadside assistance and Coach-Net has been really good to us over the past 4 years.

Tuesday the 21st we are back on the road heading to Lums Pond State Park in Delaware about 192 miles north.  I was just a wee bit nervous with the rebuilt bearings so I was very cautious.  I turned the mirror down so I could see the area of the wheel easily.  I also stayed around 60 mph for the first 50 miles.  After the first 50 miles I pulled off and took a look at the wheel bearing area and did a quick feel of each of the other bearing covers on the RV.  All looked and felt good so we were ready to continue the trip. 

Now for the next weird event for this travel to NJ from FL. Except for a big storm around Baltimore MD where we endured loads of lightning and very heavy rain is was a no issues travel day.  

The storm let up by the time we arrive at Lums Pond State Park in Delaware. This is a new campground in this state park, just opened a few weeks ago.  The first site we were put on the electricity didn’t work.  I tried both the 50 and 30 amp receptacles with no luck.  I then used my volt meter and found the receptacle to be dead all together.

Patty went to the office and we were told to just find any other site and just let them know which we picked.  We got moved into a new site and our neighbor from the original site came over and asked why we moved.  We told them and they said the last people there had the same problem but they just made due, didn’t say anything to the park.  OK, that was weird that they would do that and not say anything. However, is gets weirder still!  

I plug in at the new site and my power protection system makes a really bad noise.  I unplug and try again now getting nothing, no noise or power.  Hmmmmm….  I check the power receptacle with my meter and there is in fact power there. OK, now my protection system looks to have failed. Wonderful!

Our site at Lums Pond State Park in Delaware.

It’s about to get dark and the storm is headed our way and we don’t have power yet.  The Progressive Industries HWC-50 protection device is located behind the basement wall that is currently blocked with all of our stuff.  I quickly unload that side of the basement and take down the wall.  Now I can smell burnt electrical components.  I took off the cover to the unit and it looks to be badly cooked.  The unit is located at a bad angle so it is difficult to see inside but I can see that the power switch (contactor) seems to be fine, seems the electronic components are what failed.  I remove as much of the electronic connections as I can from the switch and reconnect power to the unit.  I want to see if there are any issues with the switch.  I now have an electrical arc happening inside the system box, I didn’t get all of the connections removed.  This time I made sure that everything was removed from the switch and retried the power and now all is good.  I still do not have power to the RV yet though.  I took the cover off of the switch wedged the switch closed with a scrap piece of metal and reapplied the power.  Now we have power to the RV but now no electrical protection.

Progressive Industries, the maker of the power protection system, has a great reputation so I wasn’t worried too much about getting a new one or the old one fixed.  It is really weird though that I had a power problem at one site and then the very next site my protection system fails.  Nothing really makes sense with this.

Looks fried to me!

Now for the last leg of our travel up to NJ from FL on Wednesday the 22nd.  We have just 125 miles to go, a very short travel day for us.  We got everything ready to go and the final step was for me to do a pull test.  The pull test does two things; it ensures the 5th wheel is securely attached to the truck and that the RV has brakes. 

To do the pull test we leave the front landing gear a couple of inches off of the ground.  This makes sure that the RV will not hurt the truck if it detaches from the truck.  I use the brake bypass in the truck and put the trailer brakes fully on.  Then I put the truck in drive and move slowly forward until the truck is stopped by the RV brakes.  That is the test.  Anyway, this morning the trailer brakes did not hold and the truck kept moving!  CRAP!!

I tried a couple of things to remedy the brake issue.  I cleaned the receptacle on the truck and on the RV.  I inspected the contacts on the plug and receptacle for any damage.  I also plugged into the original second receptacle we have on the truck by the bumper.  None of these things worked to fix the problem.   I did notice that I had a little brake from the trailer but not much.  So the last thing I tried was to increase the gain of the controller to the maximum.  Still no luck!

We decided to take the chance and move on up to our place with our friends in NJ.  We will be there for 2 weeks and then I can figure out the issue while I have the time.  I know the trailer brakes are not good so I now am really cautious.  I kept the speed down to around 55 mph and kept a lot of room between me and the next vehicle.   We didn’t have any problems with the trip to NJ.  The big thing for me was knowing what I had for brakes so I could be prepared and avoid any quick stops.  

I am going to jump forward a bit here to finish this brake issue.  I really didn’t know how the trailer brakes worked so this was going to be a learning experience for me.  I did my usual and did my research about trailer brakes.  I searched the internet and read my Dexter brake manual.  I have Dexter magnetic electrical brakes.  Basically, the brake controller in the truck works with the truck brakes to send voltage back to the trailer brakes that is proportional to the amount of brake that you are asking for in the truck.  A little brake request and the voltage may be just 3 volts.  Maximum braking and you get the maximum of 12 volts to the trailer brakes.

The trailer brakes are really pretty simple.  Each wheel has its own brake.  The brakes are the basic drum with brake pads.  The pads are connected to a metal rod that is pulled by an electric powered magnet.  The more voltage you give the magnet the harder it pulls the rod thereby the more force applied to the brake pads on the drum that is attached to the wheel.  All 4 of my wheels brakes are connected in parallel so that each gets the same voltage from the truck through the trailer cable that is plugged into the truck.

The Dexter manual is really pretty good.  The manual gives the resistance all of the electromagnets should have if all of the connections are good.  I measured ours and they were fine. Next, I measured the voltage coming from the truck at the receptacle and that was good too.  I didn’t measure the voltage at the brake magnets as I didn’t think there would be an issue with this since the truck was good as was the trailer and the receptacles. 

OK, now that all of the electrical looks good, what else is there!?  Well, two things; either the brakes are out of adjustment or there is grease in the drums.  I already had one bearing fail so I was concerned that maybe the other 3 may be failing and spitting grease into the brake drums.  That would be really bad!

I checked all around the brake drums and found no evidence of excess grease so I was pretty sure that a bearing issue was not the cause.  Could it really be the brake adjustment!  I read up on how to make a brake adjustment and also watched youtube video on the subject.  It seemed really pretty simple to do and it was!  

To make the adjustment, you first need to raise the wheel just off of the ground. Now remove a small plastic cover on the back of the brake drum and turn a small wheel with a screwdriver.  Adjusting all four brakes took me an hour.  The good part was that the brakes just needed to be adjusted! That was the whole issue, they just needed adjustment!  I had not had them adjusted this year but I did last year.  So it had only been 8 months of traveling before they were out of adjustment!  I sort of think that the place that did it before didn’t really adjust them.

What a trip!  A wheel bearing failure, a power protection system failure, and a brake failure all within 6 days!  

We will be here in our friends Rob and Cindy’s driveway for the next 2 weeks before heading into New England and Canada.

Our site at Cindy and Rob's driveway in Keyport New Jersey.
This is the 5th time we have stayed here now!

Stay Tuned! 

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