We’ve been relatively lucky when it comes to RV issues (our fifth wheel was only run into once when it was parked, by a woman disoriented in an RV park (it’s a long story), our Class C bumped a picnic table once… although we did have a flat tire just outside Whitehorse, Yukon, and a few while moving the fifth wheel [yes, a few, on one relatively short trip, but that’s yet another story]), so after more than a decade of full-timing we were probably due.
We’d just driven our Class C a short three-hour drive from outside Boise, Idaho, to LaGrande, Oregon. We stopped at a rest area on the way but never left the rig and never turned off the engine (this is an important detail).
We stopped for gas, turned off the engine, and when Bob turned the key to re-start the engine, it was dead. Completely. No turning over, nothing.
So there we were, stopped at a fuel pump in a busy gas station, our thirty-plus foot Class C with our Jeep hitched behind it, and we couldn’t move.
A couple of young men jumped out of their car to help. Bob found jumper cables and we managed to get the RV cranked up and running. We drove it directly to the Ford dealer (the engine and chassis are Ford) and let it run (didn’t want to risk it wouldn’t start again) while they told us they don’t work on RVs.
What? This wasn’t a coach issue. It was a Ford engine issue. We told them we’d replaced the battery just two months before.
Of course, the battery could have been a bad one. They checked it and said it was testing okay.
So we drove it over to the RV park to check in, careful to get the rig set just where we wanted it. We were due to stay a few days and hoped to get a few hikes in while there.
To shorten a very long story, an automotive tech from the dealership came out to our site few times after the RV wouldn’t re-start when Bob tested it. The tech swapped out the battery and ran test after test.
Then the weekend hit. The dealership’s service department closed Saturday and Sunday, so we hiked to get our minds off our troubles. What if the rig was dead forever? What would we do?
By Monday the battery issue was still unresolved. Things were getting tense. In all of our years of full-time RVing we’ve always resisted setting appointments (other than park reservations) too far down the road because we never wanted the stress of having to make sure we were in a particular place at a specific time.
So of course, this time we had an appointment. Two states and less than ten days away. An appointment it had taken us more phone calls than we could count to get after a change in medical coverage.
We visited a local repair shop and from the moment the woman at the counter talked to us we knew we were in great hands. “We wouldn’t want to be stranded someplace,” she said. “So as soon as you can get the RV here we’ll get to work on it.”
She recommended a towing company, so we gave them a call, got an estimate on when they’d been by to move the rig, and headed to a restaurant we’d just discovered for the best mac and cheese west of Montana. Before we could finish, the towing company was waiting for us.
We’d asked if we could sleep in the rig that night, on their lot, when they couldn’t get the rig into their secure service bay, and they said sure.
Clouds threatened and rain came. We stopped in and out of shops in LaGrande, Oregon, keeping our distance from others, wiping our hands before and after every store.
We hadn’t been out more than three hours when the phone rang: the Winnie was fixed!
We drove the Jeep to the repair shop, doled out generous tips to the employees who’d helped us so much, and were set back up at our site well before the sun went down.
We’re hoping from here out our Winnie will chug along like the Energizer bunny 🙂