Archive for December, 2010

Q&A With Lug

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Hello again. I thought as this year winds down, I’d share some questions that have been put to me, both since I’ve started this blog, and also some from years past.  Some are serious, some were funny, some, well…. Anyway, here they are, in no particular order:

Q: How do I keep wasps and mud daubers out of my furnace and water heater vents?

A: There are several products available on the market specifically made to put over the openings to keep insects from getting into your vents. If you want to do it yourself, you can make a covers out of stainless steel screen, and attach them with short lengths of wire through the original mesh.

Q: I turn the battery switch to “off”, but my batteries still go dead. What can I do about this?

A: Many RVs, especially newer ones with things like LP detectors, have what is called a parasitic draw. If you are planning to store your Airstream for an extended period, your best bet would be to disconnect the batteries from the coach, and either place them in your garage, or storage area at home. You can keep an eye on them there, and charge them if needed.

Q: I have to store my Airstream under trees, and sap gets on it. What can I use to get it off?

A: There are several products, such as Bug and Tar Remover or mineral spirits, that will do a good job of getting that sap off your aluminum. Don’t try to use  lacquer thinner, acetone, or MEK to remove the sap. You’ll also remove the clear coat. The fresher the sap, the easier to remove it. Don’t wait until it starts to look like dinosaur snot before trying to remove it.

Q: I have a problem, my name is Melvin Fishdown.

A: I’m sorry, I can’t help you with that problem.

Q: Should I remove the ball mount from my tow vehicle when I’m not towing?

A: If you have a safe spot to store it, where you’re not going to trip over it, or it won’t get scooped up for the local metal drive, yes. Your knees will thank you, your wife’s knees will thank you, and the little old lady in the parking lot’s knees will thank you.

Until next time


Computer Error

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

Sometimes it’s best to just stay in bed.  One of my customers found that out recently when he dropped his Airstream off for repairs. It was just a few things, and was repaired in a few hours. When he came in to pay his bill and pick up his trailer, however, he nearly had a coronary. It seems the computer we write repair orders and invoices on suffered a glitch, and added a pair of zeros to every number sequence entered. Instead of his bill being for 4 hours, and $200 in parts, his bill was for 400 hours, and $20,000 in parts. At an hourly rate pushing $100 an hour, he had a $60,000 bill. Oh, and the computer also adds a percentage to the bill for “shop supplies”, which generally covers the cost of shop towels, cleaners, and the occasional rivet. In this case, his bill was nearly $70,000, including tax. which is why I heard “Lug, come to the office, Now!!!” When the normally droll PA system puts that much of an emotional charge into being paged, the results are electrifying, to say the least. I headed to the office making all possible speed.

When I arrived in the office, I found most of the staff (Buck, Rusty, and Pop) all hovering over the customer, who was on the floor, and turning a peculiar shade of pasty greenish-gray. Pop turned as I came in and said, “Lug, you’ve got to do something!” I grabbed a bottle of cleaner, which is ammonia based, and waved the open bottle under the customer’s nose. The customer got a whiff, and started coughing and sputtering.  After he calmed down, I managed to pry the invoice from his hand, and took a look  at it. I saw the problem right away, but other than charging the customer the correct price, I wasn’t sure how to correct the problem. First things first, we got Mr. Featherwhistle taken care of and his truck hooked to his trailer, and saw him off safely. I made him promise to call us when he got home safely, since he’d had quite a shock.

Since I’m not a computer geek, I won’t pretend to tell you what happened, only that a guy from the computer repair place came out, and did computer things to our computer, and it seemed to be working as it should again. We found a couple of other invoices that were a bit overzealous in their pricing, and corrected them as well.

As I was heading back to the shop, I paused to talk to Pop about the computer trouble. He said “I wonder if we sent out our monthly invoices to our commercial accounts before the computer tried to make up rent money for us”. We looked at each other in dawning horror. We have dozens of commercial accounts, and none of them would think this was funny. I heard a phone ring in the office, then we both heard, “Pop, come to the office, NOW!!!”   I don’t know about Pop, but I think I’m going to hide under a trailer for a few days…

About the Author

Lug Wrench is a long-time mechanic, multiple Airstream owner, and dyed-in-the-wool pragmatist. All tales guaranteed 100% true, although names and certain details may be altered to protect the guilty.