Stinky RV’ers

Admittedly, my idea of recreation differs from the norm. Idle hours laying on a beach is like slow torture for me and I would rather hang by my thumbs than spend more than a minute or two swinging in a backyard hammock, good book or not.

So maybe they had people like me in mind when they called them Recreation Vehicles because there is absolutely no recreation involved. They are designed for people who like to keep busy– fixing things – constantly. 

You may recall that last December I pulled our 43-foot fifth-wheel trailer back to Ontario. Ten miles from home, one of the curbside tires blew, shredded, and wrapped itself around the axle, tearing off the electric brake leads in the process. Naturally, it happened on a busy road at night, in weather conditions that overworked all the roadside crews and delayed any Triple A type help for hours. After jury-rigging a repair to limp home, it cost $1400 to replace the tire, wheel, brakes and the fender torn off by the spinning tire fragments. 

This spring Heather towed that trailer back out to Wisconsin and I de-winterized it, only to find the hot water heater would not function. The handle of a shut-off valve broke in my hand so the problem was obvious. A simple fix, except this RV uses plastic plumbing pipe with brass fittings fastened together with steel clamps that seem to be squeezed in place with some sort of hydr?aulic device. ?Hacksaws, files, pliers, a flat screwdriver and a string of expletives later and the clamp was off.

?Access to this plumbing repair was through what RV’ers refer to as a basement. It actually a storage compartment under the trailer not designed for access by anyone over the age of fifty. The faulty valve was deeper still behind an access panel that requires sqooching, squeezing and squirming to end up on one elbow with a flashlight in your teeth and something unreachable jabbing into your ribs.

?All of these repairs were done between and after the camera work so it was day three before we had an opportunity to test the new valve – but nothing changed. Still no joy. After much head scratching, the problem was narrowed down to one other shut off valve that looked and felt fine but must have also been blocked, so out came the hacksaw again. On day five, it was ready to test but the water pump mysteriously quit. After being here for a week, the possibility of a much-needed shower was finally getting closer but the RV was not yet finished with us. The shower faucet must have retained some water last year, which froze over the winter and split the housing. Water squirted everywhere except out of the handheld sprayer as it should. Still, it was hot and mostly contained within the shower stall. Regardless of the contortions required to get wet and to rinse, it felt wonderful to finally be clean.

So now, all I have to do is fix the toilet once the parts arrive. Knock on wood.  

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  1. Paula Simon April 30, 2017 10:03 am

    Voice of experience: hope you replaced the other 3 tires at the same time. By law of averages, it’s only a matter of (short) time til the next one fails, too. And the next…

  2. Dorothy N April 29, 2017 11:25 am

    I’m exhausted just reading your tales of repair!! I sincerely hope the next fixes work the first time, and nothing else is triggered to stop working so you can get some crane-time.

  3. Margaret Irvin April 28, 2017 8:51 pm

    Dear Joe, My mother would have said that you were a glutton for punishment.

  4. Mindy April 28, 2017 8:25 pm

    Bless you, bless you, bless you Joe…there is no part of recreation in all of that. You need a few hours of something near and dear to your heart.

  5. Joan Poole April 28, 2017 7:57 pm

    Oh my! That, I can only imagine, but your description certainly put my mind into overdrive to imagine what you were going through. Wonderful real life stories. Is there a book to follow? Thanks for sharing.

  6. Jillbru April 28, 2017 5:11 pm

    Awww….Joe, you are one amazing guy!

  7. Dora Giles April 28, 2017 4:13 pm

    Certainly hope the toilet problem doesn’t last more than a few hours. LOL


  8. Susanne April 28, 2017 2:47 pm

    Did you read the job description many years ago when you signed on? While lying around on the beach is torture, so is working in a dark and cramped place, pinching fingers, and getting things in eyes and nose, and still getting so frustrated that you feel like picking up the whole RV and heaving it.

    • Joe Duff April 28, 2017 8:25 pm

      My job didn’t come with a description and if it had, I likely wouldn’t have believed it. I agree, both are torture but there must be some neutral ground in the middle like actually working with Whooping cranes. That’s the reward for all the other stuff.

  9. CraniacP April 28, 2017 2:00 pm

    Yikes! Seems like it would be cheaper and less painful to rent (or even buy!) y’all a house and a big garage on D Road for the 3/4 of the year you’re there. Provided it had good plumbing …