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Straightening things out

Things start early at the service center .   At 7 a.m., anyone who is ready to go will get hitched up to a green John Deere tractor and hauled into a service bay — it’s first-up, first served.   We rushed around to get all four of us up and out, and when we were more or less dressed, I went over to the service desk to tell them we were ready.   Two minutes later, the tractor was hitching up.

jc-bumper-compartment.jpgI knew we were going to face some heavy expenses related to the scrape I had last January on the way to Quartzsite, and the recent bumper tweaking in New York.   The guys here felt that the bumper would be hard to straighten, in addition to needing welding, and probably would never be quite right again.   After considering options, I finally decided to go with a new bumper ($337 – ouch).   The old bumper, covered with irreplaceable stickers that memorialize our travels, will be shipped to our home base for permanent display in the garage.   In the photo at right you can see what an Airstream looks like without any bumper at all.

The other repairs planned were relatively minor.   We had the replacement valve stem on the tire that went flat yesterday, bending the rear scrapers straight again, replacing some trim and the bumper compartment cover ($79), and the Dometic refrigerator recall kit (free). But there was a surprise as well.

jc-bad-rotor.jpg

When the tech took off the spare tire we had hurriedly put on by the side of the highway yesterday, they saw that the disc brake rotor was completely shot.   The disc brakes have inner and outer brake pads, which are supposed to slide on a bolt so that they both apply evenly and wear evenly.   This particular set of pads seized up so that only the outer pad was wearing, and it wore out so completely that it scraped the rotor beyond repair.

jc-jared-working.jpgThat added a lot to the repair list.   We pulled all the other wheels off and found no similar problems, but the front axle’s disc brake pads were wearing more than the front, and it seemed time to replace those pads at least.   I decided to replace all of the pads so we wouldn’t be doing this job again soon.   The semi-metallic pads we have been using have lasted about 20,000 miles (not bad).   This time we are installing ceramic pads, which should last even longer.   So the bill has been increased by the cost of eight ceramic pads plus a complete hub/rotor assembly.   This is going to be an expensive day.

Well, we’ve always tried to maintain the Airstream to a high standard.   We have to, because we use it so much.   I’d much rather do preventative maintenance here in Jackson Center than have to find some place along the way in an emergency.

The good news is that the tires all look perfect.   I was worried about losing another tire to belt breakage, since we’d had several failures of that type last year.   So far, the wear looks good.   Still, I’ve requested the service center to check the axle alignment before we go.

As I write this the work is ongoing, so there may be more to it than I know right now.   I’ll post another update tomorrow.

5 Responses to “Straightening things out”

  1. Doug Wells Says:

    Check out the story on the travails of Airstream travellers on the MarketWatch site at

    http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/wanderlust-lifestyle-airstream-fans-faces/story.aspx?guid={895B88DA-BA05-4F8C-9E57-00846F9CE956}&dist=msr_3

  2. Zach Woods Says:

    Hi Rich –

    Great to see Jared was doing at least some of the work on your trailer. He is one of the Westfalia specialists at Jackson Center and he is a great mechanic and a very good guy to work with.

    Zach

  3. dr. c. Says:

    Perhaps those of us who enjoy following the blog ( tens, hundreds, thousands ? ) could assist financing of the high $$ maintenance projects by sending a modest check and/or cash in appreciation.

    If you will provide a mailing address, we can ” pass the digital hat “. Only a suggestion, let your conscience be your guide.

    Oh, to hell with modesty, think of yourself as the superstar evangelist of airstreaming, like the charismatic young preacher, Joel Osteen, who proclaimed, “God Wants Me To Be Rich”. Surely he was referring to you. And we can be certain, Eleanor will never be accused of assaulting an airline stewardess.

  4. Rich Says:

    What Joel Osteen said is certainly more modest than him saying, “Rich wants me to be God.” But I wonder how he did with his campaign.

    As to donations, we’ve been the beneficiary of many free meals and free nights camping in driveways all over the USA. Not only does that help the budget but it’s a big part of the fun. Anyone who has hosted us for a night has already done a lot to facilitate this blog and I can ask for no more.

    The rest of the blog readers are welcome to continue reading without guilt. They repay the blog with their supportive comments, advice when we have trouble, tips of places to go, offers of courtesy parking that we can’t always accept, friendship, and their subscriptions to Airstream Life magazine.

    Anyone who thinks that blog readers could do more should write their suggestions on a $20 bill (or a $50 if you run out of space), and mail to 411 Walnut St #4468, Green Cove Springs, FL 32043. Feel free to use multiple bills for long suggestions. ;-)

  5. Rob Super Says:

    “The old bumper, covered with irreplaceable stickers…” ’twill depend on the sticker (adhesive vinyl, or paper, or traditional water slip-on, or…?) but a hair drier often works wonders.

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