Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

“Cleans Like a Blue Volcano”

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

Hello, again. This time around, we have a further cautionary tale about chemical interactions.
Sometimes, things that are completely safe, and labeled as such, can still create a mess if mixed with other completely safe things. For example…

An Airstream came in this Summer with the holding tank indicators not reading out like they should. The owner of the trailer had tried several things, including some cleaners that should have done the job (but didn’t). Buck and Rusty were both off, and I was manning the fort in the shop. After conversing with the customer, I decided I could chance letting John tackle this job. He pulled the trailer in to the shop, hooked it up to water, and started checking it out. One of the RV chemical companies had given us some samples of super-duper holding tank cleaner, which they advertised as “completely safe”, and John decided this trailer would be a prime candidate to try the new chemical on. He grabbed a bottle of the stuff from the parts department, came back to the trailer, and went inside with it.
A few minutes later, I heard a commotion from the area John was working in, and looked out just in time to see the main door of the trailer fly open, and a blue foamy blob come running out, closely followed by a sea of light blue foam. What the? I thought aliens had landed, and were trying to kidnap John, and steal the Airstream. Hey, sometimes strange things go through one’s mind before common sense kicks in. A few seconds later, a second foam-covered blob exited the trailer, bringing with it more blue foam. About this time it dawned on me the blobs were John and the owner of the trailer. I grabbed several towels, and ran out to where the blue blobs were standing. While John and the customer were trying to remove the blue foam, I ventured in to assess the damage to the trailer. The bathroom, floor, and part of the galley area were covered in blue foam. At least it was a pretty shade of blue. I sent John to the showers, and had two other techs clean up the mess. Luckily, the foam was easily removed, and didn’t leave any stains. That’s good, because I had visions of a smurf-colored Airstream interior.
After some serious questioning, the customer told me he had tried several other cleaning agents, including a couple of non-standard chemicals, to try to clean the tanks and monitors. He thought since he had left the trailer for several months with contents in the tanks, and everything was dried and caked in place, stronger measures were needed. One of those measures was a few gallons of concentrated sodium hypochlorite. For those not in the know, that chemical, in a less concentrated form, is also known as chlorine bleach. So that, plus whatever else the customer added, was a witches’ brew just waiting for the final ingredient to make what had the effect of a nuclear bomb in his holding tanks. The final ingredient was unknowingly added by our hapless technician, who didn’t check to make sure the tanks were empty before adding the tank cleaning chemicals.
After all was said and done, the Airstream was hauled outside and the tanks were dumped. The good news is, the tanks are now squeaky clean, and John will (I hope) remember to make sure the tanks are empty before adding chemicals from now on. Oh, and we have decided not to carry that particular brand of holding tank/sensor cleaning chemicals at the shop.

Wet Paint

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Hello, again. Things have been busy at The Shop, so I haven’t had time to update this electronic diatribe as much as I would like. Maybe if things slow down, I can catch up on some blogging. Anyway, on to today’s topic.
I don’t know what it is about wet paint that makes even reasonably sane and intelligent people have to stick their fingers in it. It seems like, if people see a sign that says “wet paint” they have to make sure it is, indeed, wet.
There is a reason for today’s study, and that reason is named Pop Rivet.Early in the morning, I had removed, sanded, and painted a water heater door silver. These doors come from the factory white, and a white water heater door on an Airstream sticks out like a sore thumb. So, after all the prep work, I mixed up some paint in a nice complimentary shade of silver, and painted the door. It looked great, and I left the door on a work bench to dry before installing it. I took the paint gun outside to clean it, and when I came back inside, I passed the water heater door. Glancing at it, I noticed a fingerprint in the center of the freshly painted area. I was not happy, as while it hadn’t taken all that long to paint, I had spent the better part of an hour prepping it and mixing the paint. Now, I had to strip the new paint and start over. Thinking dark thoughts about whoever ruined my paint job, I once again carefully prepped and painted the water heater door. When I was done, I put the door on a sawhorse to dry, and taped a sign that said “Wet Paint” on the sawhorse. I then proceeded to once again begin cleaning up from my painting project.

I had no more than walked across the shop, when I heard a commotion coming from the direction of my freshly painted water heater door. Spinning around, I saw my water heater door flying through the air, with Pop in hot pursuit. He nearly caught it, but it bounced out of his hands, and back into the air. He tried grabbing it again, this time it squirted out of his hands, and went straight into the air about ten feet, tumbling  and spinning like a berserk Frisbee. When it came down again, Pop grabbed it with both hands and tried to hold onto it, but wet paint is slippery, and it again slid out of his hands, this time heading for the floor. In blind panic by now, Pop tried catching the door, or at least stopping it, with his feet. This effort was also doomed to fail, as all he succeeded in doing was kicking the door straight up at his face, knocking his glasses off and spinning wildly across the shop on the floor, fresh-painted side down.

I stood in silence, taking in the devastation of Pop’s five second war with my water heater door. He had a bloody nose, broken glasses, pants and shirt with gooey paint globs stuck to them, along with his right shoe. The water heater door hadn’t fared any better, being twisted, dented, and scratched from its trip across the concrete floor. I walked over, gently pried the door off the floor before it permanently stuck there from the paint drying, and carried both it and the two biggest pieces of Pop’s glasses back across the shop to where he stood, looking like he had failed an audition for the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. I handed Pop his glasses, and headed out the door to deposit the water heater door in the dumpster.  Next time I decide to paint something, I think I’ll wait until it’s Pop’s day off.

I Know What I’m Doing

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

How many times have we heard that, just before a disaster unfolds?
Today, we’ll take a quick look at some of the things we thought we knew, but didn’t. One of the most basic things about appliances is to not put metal in a microwave. One of our customers brought in their trailer with a complaint that the microwave didn’t work. As usual, I drew the short straw, and went out to look it over. It was no wonder it didn’t work, it looked like a refugee from Chernobyl. The inside was black and sooty, and the outside control panel was partly melted, with congealed plastic looking like stalactites oozing down the front. A quick grilling of the customer revealed the microwave had worked fine until they heated a can of soup in it. After finding out what happened, I was really surprised to find out the microwave had heated cans of soup before, but this time, they must have pre-heated it a little too long before putting in the can. Yes, this was their first microwave, ever. Hard to believe, but some people still have never used one. Several hundred dollars and the better part of an hour’s tutoring later, newly educated customers left with their trailer and fresh microwave.
Next, a couple brought in their Airstream with both a missing center rock guard and a missing front window. He said he always tows with the front window open to help keep the trailer cool. I didn’t know what to tell this guy, other than “don’t do it again”.
Last for this time, a customer called up to complain that his new water pump never shut off. After calming him down, Rusty determined that he had not filled his fresh water tank, but he also had several faucets open. In that condition, the customer was absolutely correct: The pump never would shut off, since it would be impossible to build up water pressure to turn off.
And customers aren’t the only ones that do things they know not to do. Two days ago, the fire alarms and sprinklers went off in the shop. A quick search in the artificial monsoon found Buck standing on a chair, with a cleaning towel in his hand, directly under a sprinkler. He had been cleaning cobwebs in his office, and snagged the little piece that turns on the sprinkler system if it gets too hot. After the sprinklers were turned off and the fire department left, Pop took Buck into his office for a chat. I don’t think Buck will be cleaning any more cobwebs off sprinkler heads any time soon.

Camp Swampy

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

There are days when I really should call in sick.
Today was one of them. Buck called me into the office to have me check out a trailer. “It’s got a water leak” was all he would tell me.

Okay, so I gathered some tools and walked out to the 2006 Safari sitting in front of the shop. Opening the door, I stepped inside. I noticed right away that distinct aroma of rotting wood. There’s nothing like that smell, though some things come close. Untreated black tank contents, for one.  Getting back to the rot, I mean Airstream, at hand, I looked around, and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. It was a front bedroom model, which means the entry door is at the rear. I moved on into the trailer, heading for the bathroom to begin checking the plumbing. I got bout three steps in, when suddenly the floor dropped out from under me. I had a couple of horrifying seconds with that sinking feeling, then suddenly I was through the floor and through the belly pan under the trailer, and was standing none too steadily on the parking lot under the trailer in the middle of a slowly spreading lake of brown water that was pouring out of the belly pan. This was very bad. Nobody was nearby, the trailer was filling my shoes with really bad-smelling water, and I didn’t dare try pulling my feet back out of the hole for fear of cutting myself on either the rotten wood or sharp aluminum edges of the belly pan. Terrific. At least it wasn’t raining, and I was dry from the knees up.

Suddenly, inspiration struck, and I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket, and dialed a number. “Hello, thanks for calling the shop. How can I help you”? “Buck, this is Lug. Come get me out of this trailer”!  It took some convincing, but I finally got Buck to come out to the Airstream. He took a quick look, and burst into laughter. I’m not a small guy, and I’m sure the sight of me standing on the ground with a trailer around my knees was pretty funny, but I wasn’t in the mood for any hilarity. “Stop laughing, and get me out of here!” I snapped. That seemed to make it worse for some reason, and Buck started howling with laughter. When I called Buck, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Picking up my cell phone again, I ignored Buck rolling around on the ground laughing like a hyena, and made another call. “Hello, thanks for calling the shop. How can I help you?” “Rusty, this is Lug. Can you come outside? I have a problem, and need help.” “Sure, Lug, I’ll be out in a minute. What’s that noise? It sounds like somebody laughing.” “Never mind, just get out here”! A minute later, Rusty made it out to the shop, and promptly started laughing. “It’s not funny! Get me out of here!” I bellowed. That seemed to make things worse, at least from the perspective of getting me out of the mess I was in. Eventually, Heckle and Jeckle ran out of laughter, and got some tin snips to cut me out of my situation.

When we finally got me out of the trailer, an inspection revealed that somehow that trailer had missed getting the rear of the body at the floor sealed against rain. A wet Fall and Winter had allowed a lot of water to intrude onto the floor, under the vinyl flooring. The alu-coated subfloor insulation had not allowed the water to drain out, holding all that water under the plywood, with predictable results. So, a new floor and a thorough sealing job later, the Safari was back on the road, with a couple of patches on the belly pan where the feet of an unnamed technician had found rotten plywood has all the structural integrity of a piece of wet toast.

I’m still plotting my revenge on the other two participants in this fiasco.

You Have to be Smarter Than Your Tools.

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

This time around, I thought I’d remind you of some of the perils of power tools. These are the things most of us already know, but forget in the heat of the moment, usually to our chagrin. Over the decades, I’ve seen some dumb things done to people by them selves, and the fact it was self-inflicted, and the victims were far from “short bus” mental-power-wise, makes it even more embarrassing for them.
First, it’s called a drill for a reason. I’ve lost count of the number of times my co-workers did their level best to bore holes in various parts of their bodies. One day, I was working under an Airstream, and I heard an electric drill running. Suddenly, the drill made a funny groaning noise, followed by an unidentifiable teeth-gnashing noise. I looked out from under the trailer in time to see John heading for the office at top speed, trailing both a stream of blood and an electric cord which seemed to be growing out of his hand. Things got even more interesting when John tripped over the cord, yanking the drill out of the spot it had been imbedded in his hand as well as doing a nosedive into another trailer. A trip to the emergency room, a Tetanus shot, and a few days off work later, John was nearly back to normal.
Then there is the champion of digital elimination, the table saw. While I’ve only seen one severed finger over the years, I have seen a lot of serious damage caused by people doing things they know not to do. One memorable incident occurred when a now-retired member of the shop forces held a chattering block of wood down on the saw table with his bare hand. The spray of blood was impressive, to say the least. 22 stitches later, the employee remembered there are tools and other things meant to keep your hands away from spinning blades. If you absolutely have to hold down a small or thin piece of wood, lay a second piece of wood over the one you are cutting. That will not only keep the wood from chattering and give you a much smoother cut, it will keep your extremities out of direct contact with spinning cutting parts.
Next is one even I have been guilty of. When using a knife or other sharp cutting blade, always make sure it will tend to go away from you if the blade slips or breaks. I still have a scar on my hand from where I was using a razor blade to scrape off glue. I was pushing the blade away from me, not realizing I was pushing the blade toward a finger. That one only took two stitches.
Another tool that deserves more respect than it gets is the lowly screwdriver. Many times, people will shove for all they are worth, trying to break a rusty screw loose, only to end up stabbing themselves when the screwdriver slips off the screw.
There are many hazards, and nobody can avoid them all. The most we can do is use our common sense, and stop to think about where that tool will go if the unexpected happens.

Towing Targets

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Hello, again. This time around, we’ll be taking a look at how others seem to view your Airstream, and what, if anything, you can do about it. Our first victim (literally) is a long-time customer that seems to have a bull’s eye painted on his Airstream. This poor guy has had more things hit his trailer than a world war II battleship. It’s been hailed on, had tree limbs drop on it, a deer run into it (at a campground, no less), it’s been rear-ended and sideswiped, and was the recipient of an errant foul ball to a window. He’s tried everything he can think of to keep this from happening any more. I suggested a hardened bunker for storage, but that still won’t stop things from being attracted while towing.
Here, there are a couple of things the average Airstream owner can do while towing to minimize exposure to “things” hitting their trailers. First, of course, is to avoid sudden death lane changes, travel with the flow of traffic, and making sure all marker and brake lights are functioning. Something else is to put a couple strips of Scotchlite reflective tape on the rear bumper. Generally, a combination of red and white reflective tape is best.

Obviously, you can’t do a lot about the occasional hail storm, but you can take steps to minimize damage from violent storms. If you hear that it’s supposed to be windy, roll up your awnings. If it’s supposed to rain, close AND LOCK the windows. Closing the windows does no good, if a gust of wind blows the window off your Airstream. Plus, your neighbor at the campground will likely not appreciate the addition of an extra window through the side of their RV.

For wildlife issues, avoid leaving food outdoors and cleaning up after meals, placing the old food in locking garbage cans should help keep most critters from attacking your Airstream. Of course, if it’s mating season for a species that’s attracted to bright, shiny things, nothing you can do will keep them away from your Airstream. Magpies, woodpeckers, deer, and Madonna are all examples of these.

Then there are shop employees that wait for the crunch of metal and glass before they decide they’ve backed your Airstream far enough into the shop. I’ve tried many things to keep these demolition derby rejects away from your Airstream, but occasionally one slips through. At least we can perform body repairs…

 

Chlorinating the Gene Pool.

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Today is a brief cautionary tale reminding you to be aware of what chemicals you are mixing.
The cause of today’s story is an Airstream that its owners decided to sanitize the black tank. Nothing really wrong with that, though I think maybe they were trying to take cleanliness to the extreme. These people either weren’t aware, or had forgotten, that some things are not meant to mix. You know, like fire and gasoline, oil and water, baking soda and sulfuric acid– and swimming pool chlorine tablets and black tank contents.
They dropped a couple tablets in the tank through the toilet, and headed for home, theorizing the tablets would neutralize the bad stuff in the tank. I guess if you were trying to give the hazmat response team something to do, it would be a great start. In a mostly enclosed holding tank, not so much. A couple of minutes after the tablets started doing their thing, the fumes from the chemical reaction to some of the tank contents started fuming out of the plumbing vents. Luckily for them, they were driving down the road. Unluckily for the people following them, they were driving down the road. They noticed the cars behind them weaving all over the road, and pulled over to make sure nothing was wrong with the trailer. They discovered there was, in fact, something very wrong. They climbed back into their tow vehicle, and made a beeline for the nearest Airstream dealer so they could take care of the unfolding disaster. In the true way of the world, they were closest to mine.
The first inkling I had they were coming was when I saw them pull into the driveway, with trees on either side of the driveway spontaneously combusting, birds dropping out of the sky, pavement melting… Okay, maybe not, but it certainly sounds more dramatic than all the hired help gasping for breath when they pulled in. And of course, since I’m a perennial favorite of the Karma Gods, I got chosen as human sacrifice. I really have to find out what I did in a past life to honk them off at me.
I’ve grown accustomed to breathing as much as the next guy, so I waited almost a half hour before venturing into the rolling toxic waste dump. By then, most of the chemicals had reacted, and the fumes had started clearing, but it still was a chore to breath the stuff that was in the trailer. I opened all the windows and vents, and staggered back outside to wait for things to dissipate.
Investigation revealed the tank was really sterile, as nothing I’ve ever heard of could live in there. A new toilet and dump valve, after thoroughly flushing out the dregs in the tank, and things were almost as good as new. I explained to the customers that chlorine, like you find in bleach and even pool tablets, does not react well with ammonia, one of the main ingredients of black tank contents. I advised them to use a quality holding tank treatment from any RV supply store, and if they really wanted to clean out the tank, put a capful of liquid clothes soap in the tank, with a gallon of water, and drive around with that in the tank for a while.
No one was killed, no one was seriously hurt, though my eyes and throat burned for a while after they left. All in all, it was just another day in The Shop.

Venting

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Today I am going to talk about those rooftop vents and skylights found on most modern ravel trailers and motor homes, and some of the things I’ve seen people do to try to fix them.

The first type is the aluminum/ABS combination of vent lid found on many Airstream products during the 1970′s and 1980′s.  These are aluminum covers with white translucent ABS centers riveted in place so more light will enter the RV. The problem with this is the UV from the Sun attacks the ABS, and the sealant used will dry out, causing both air and rain leaks. I’ve seen everything tried to fix them, from a piece of a plastic milk jug (complete with expiration date) to a small sheet of aluminum over the hole, to duct tape and a plastic bag. If you have one of these lids, and want to save it, probably the best solution is to remove the inner and outer ABS center, and attach a square of smoke colored Lexan in its place. Run a bead of adhesive around the edge of the hole to keep rain out. Don’t use duct tape.

Skylights on later model Airstreams also tend to degrade and disintegrate, usually while in the middle of a vacation, and just before it starts to rain. I’ve seen everything from duct tape (again) to gobs of silicone and a hunk of plywood, trying to keep the trailer from becoming a mobile swimming pool. These parts, you can at least still get from your Airstream dealer. Again, a piece of smoke colored Lexan works well, you’ll just have to be sure to either put large flat washers around the individual mounting screws, or a piece of aluminum channel on top of the Lexan, with the mounting screws running through it.

Plumbing vents are also problem children. I’ve seen roofing tar and paint can lids used to try to stem the water flow.  The later model Airstreams are the cheapest to fix, a new vent cap and sealant is usually less than $10, if you want to DIY.

Then there are stove vents, the later model ones are made out of plastic, and, like the skylights, tend to disappear on the road.  On this one, replacement is pretty much your only option.  I’ve seen duct tape (it seems to be a favorite repair tool), as well as plastic shopping bags, shoved into the hole. That works until somebody tries to cook dinner, and the plastic bags either blow away or melt.

There are also the little battery vents, which some people block off to slow floor rot. That isn’t a really good idea, since that lets explosive gases build up in the battery compartment, and sometimes in the trailer itself. Combined with some of my uncle Mort’s home made chili, it can be a recipe to put another Airstream on the moon.

There are furnace vents, that either get clogged with insect nests, or blocked by the main entry door. I think running the furnace with the door open is counterproductive, but that’s just me. When I get work orders that state “furnace shuts down when operated with main door open”, I just shake my head.

Then there is the toilet vent on some 1970′s Airstream models. It is supposed to vent the noxious fumes from the toilet while it’s in use. It only does this when the fan is running, and both ends of the vent are not blocked.  I’d say it’s important…

Free Falling

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Today I’m going to share with you some of the effects gravity has upon us when we least expect it.

First, an Airstream trailer showed up for some repairs. I went out to meet the customer, and was concerned when I noticed he looked like he’d walked into a swinging shovel. In fact, his appearance was a direct result of one of the repairs the trailer needed. He had opened his door that morning and stepped onto his retractable step. The step retracted while he was moving out of his trailer, and the resulting swinging catapulted him face-first onto a conveniently placed picnic table. At least he had the table to break his fall, or he would have hit the ground a lot harder than the relatively soft wooden table.
I took a look at the steps, and I could see where the slots in the step outriggers had worn to the point the steps wouldn’t stay put. Many times, this means the outriggers will have to be replaced, but this time I was able to take a die grinder to the slots, and cut new notches in the outriggers for the steps to “catch” on. By doing this, I was able to save him nearly as much money as he spent for his co-pay at the emergency room. He was happy to “break even” on this repair, but it’s probably a very good idea to check the movement of the steps and make sure they won’t take you on a brief, expensive, and painful ride.

Next was a direct experience with gravity by yours truly. A few days ago an Airstream trailer came in for a few maintenance items, including a new air conditioner shroud. I found out I can still do a 34 foot dash when removing the shroud uncovered several nests of seriously peeved yellowjackets. Dropping the shroud, I ran rearward, momentarily forgetting I was perched a dozen feet in the air on a travel trailer. I remembered where I was about the time I ran out of suspended real estate, with a horde of stinging insects in hot pursuit. Off the back of the Airstream I went, accompanied by the sounds of me yelling, and a high-pitched buzzing. Like the customer above I had something slightly softer than the ground to break my fall. In this case, it was the plastic-sheathed roof of a pop-up camper. I suffered only a lot of sore spots, but the pop-up now has a large dent almost dead center of the roof, where a large, heavy mechanic landed on it. Luckily, it was an older model, slated for the back lot anyway. If anybody out there decides to replace their own air conditioner shroud, a few judicious bursts of bug spray into the old one before you tackle the job would probably be prudent.

Last, there is an indirect tale of gravity. I was removing a damaged awning from a “Brand X” trailer. I had the assembly laying on the ground, and John, our resident crash-test dummy, was standing nearby, “supervising”. I started removing one of the bolts that hold the spring-loaded tube onto one of the arms, and warned John, “Stay back. This thing is going to go right over where you’re standing”. John assured me he was in no danger, he would be able to get out of the way if anything came toward him. Okay, fine. You were warned. I finished unbolting the arm, and naturally the roller tube took off like a shot, directly at John. He screamed like a girl, turned, and took two running steps away from the awning–straight into the concrete block wall behind him. He hit the wall with a hollow thud, and fell over backward, directly into the path of the madly unrolling awning. It rolled over him, hit the same wall John had, and sat on top of him, spinning to a stop on top of some of his most sensitive body parts. When everything finally stopped moving, he slowly crawled out from under the wadded-up awning fabric, not sure which of his injuries he should be holding. He settled for a hand in each area, and was assisted into the office by Pop, who had come around the corner to see what all the high-pitched screaming was about.

So, for any of you in doubt, the law of gravity, along with Newton’s three laws of motion, are still very much in effect. At least here in The Shop.

Wrenches on the Road

Monday, September 5th, 2011

Hello, again. This time, in honor of the official end of Summer, I thought I’d inflict you with a composite of a couple of camping trips we’ve taken over the years. Yes, I own an Airstream (several of them, as a matter of fact), and I’m not afraid to use it. So, without further ado:…

You can’t get here from here.
We all piled into the truck, and pulled out with Airstream in tow, headed for the mountains of the Northeast. Most of the trip was uneventful, with the singular exception of having yet another tire start to come apart on the trailer. I’ve lost several tires this way, and have learned through bitter experience what that feels like in the truck. I left the highway at the next exit, headed for the nearest tire store. I pulled in, and could just tell from the looks on the faces of the hired help I was about to become unpopular.
I parked and went inside. “I need an ST225 75R15 load range D tire, mounted and balanced”. I said. “Err, well, umm, we don’t have one of those”, said the guy behind the counter. “Our store across town has one”, he expanded. “can you call them and make sure they have it, and give me directions on how to get there”? I asked. He looked relieved to get out of a possible problem that easily, and quickly made the call. Yes, they had just one, a Goodyear Marathon, and they could send it over in about an hour. “No, the guy says he’ll come get it”, said counter guy. So, a few minutes later, I was back on the road, since the place that had the tire (the only one in town) was along our way. 20 minutes later, we pulled into the parking lot of tire store #2. “Hi, I’m here to get that Marathon mounted and balanced”, I said to counter guy #2. CG#2 looked at me in blind panic. “I sent that over to our other store. I thought that’s what you wanted”. I’ll save you a graphic description of what happened in the next few minutes, but the end result was we had to go BACK to store #1 to get the tire that was originally at store #2. You can insert your own 4 letter words here, if you want.
Back in the truck I got, and we headed back to tire store #1 again. And of course, the tire that is coming apart is still on the trailer. I pulled in the parking lot, and the manager of store #1 met me in the parking lot. It seems the delivery guy took it upon himself to return the tire to store #2. By this time there is steam emanating from my ears. I told Mr. Manager to please have an employee take the tire and wheel off my trailer, and GET THAT DAMNED TIRE BACK HERE ASAP!
Two hours later, we were back on the road, with a very deeply discounted new tire on the Airstream.

You still can’t get here from here
The following year (this year) we were again on the road, again in the middle of nowhere, and again had a tire start coming apart on the trailer. Again, I pulled off at the next town, and we made it to a tire store near the highway. Again, the tire store didn’t have any tires of the proper size and load range, but their store across town did. Here we go again… “Call and make sure it’s there, please”, I instructed. They did, and they did. “Okay, I need directions to that store, and I swear if they ship that tire over here, you’ll see this place on the 11 O’Clock news”. I know the store manager thought I was crazy, but I was having flashbacks. I got my directions, and arrived a half hour later to get my tire. “Oh, we don’t have any of those”, said the counter guy. There was a brief, one sided conversation, at the end of which the counter guy found our tire. We were back on the road again, this time after only a single afternoon.

No Reservations
I called and made reservations at 3 campgrounds along the way to our destination. I wanted to have a firm daily destination for our trip, even though it wasn’t a long trip. When we arrived at the first campground, they had no record of our reservation, and no vacancies. “Is this XYZ campground?” “Yes”. “Is this your street address?” “Yes”. “Is this today’s date?” “Yes”. “Is this one of your reservation confirmations?” “Yes”. “So where is my campsite?” “Oh. Err, Umm, uhh…” Since this was the only campground for 50 miles (which is why I made the reservation), we finally ended up boondocking in the parking lot, and my credit card was refunded. I’d have rather had a campsite than a refund, though.
The next evening, I was surprised to find we once again had a campground with no record of my reservation. This one was slightly better, though. they had one spot left. I called campground #3 before I even plugged the Airstream in. “Who?” I’m sorry, we don’t have any reservations for anybody named Wrench”. This was quickly rectified, and I’ve since made it a point to make a phone call to confirm our reservations.

The strange case of the missing motor oil
Yet another trip, we stopped at a campground for the weekend, and settled in. Next morning, I had to go to town, so I hopped in my truck, started it, and noticed I had no oil pressure. I shut off the engine, and found there was no oil in the engine. I crawled under the truck, and found the drain plug was loose. Hmm. I unscrewed the plug, and not a drop of oil came out. I looked around, and saw a few drops of oil leading away from the truck, toward a hedge near the road. It seems somebody stole my used engine oil. Whoever it was also stole oil from another campground patron that night as well. Over the years, I’ve had some strange things go missing, but that had to be the strangest.

That’s it for this time, I hope you have a great Labor Day. Next time, I’ll try posting some tips to help keep you from being an example in one of my blog entries.

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.