ON THE ROAD WITH A LARGE RV
“Sure,” I said, “it will be fun!” “Let’s get an RV and go wherever we want to go.” So we did…..
We researched and researched and although The Husband was leaning toward a motorhome, I was leaning toward a 5th wheel and a truck. I liked the idea of still having transportation if something went wrong with our “home” necessitating it be left at the shop for repairs. So according to our research, Montana 5th wheels by Keystone were the highest rated, best insulated, reliable, comfortable etc. Ford pickups had the highest ratings in many areas. Overall Ford and Dodge were deemed the most capable of consistently towing the load that we planned to put on it.
We tried both Ford and Dodge and decided the Ford was the most comfortable ride for us. We were going to be on the road for long hours and needed comfort. So Ford F350 dualie it was! We attended so many RV shows and toured so many lots I lost count. After a while they all started to look alike. We ultimately decided on a 38’ Montana 5th wheel by Keystone.
Fast forward and we had now lived in our RV full-time for several months. It had very few road miles on it as it had only been towed across WA state twice. The toilet had a few issues but, at that time, we thought we had the problem solved. This proved to be erroneous thinking on our part.
And We Are Off To Utah
Fast forward a couple more months, it was spring. We had now lived in our RV full-time for almost a year. The Husband was offered a job in southwest Utah so off we went to take the RV to his new work location. I was to join him there at the start of summer.
Before we moved the RV from WA we purchased a washer for it. The washer worked great but use of the washer revealed a problem previously unnoticed. With the additional water from laundry the gray tanks got completely full for the first time. Or at least ALMOST full…full enough that the fact there was a leak became obvious. Water was dripping from the underside of the RV in places that were not intended to have water dripping.
We quickly made a call to the local repair people. Diagnosis? A leak in the gray tank caused by a plastic weld at the pipe on the inlet that hadn’t sealed correctly when manufactured. A new gray tank was ordered from Keystone. The entire underbelly of the RV had been taken apart and left on the pavement under the RV to dry and await the arrival of the new tank.
And We Waited And We Waited
After many weeks of waiting, calling the local service people only to be put off again, again and again the tank finally arrived. The service people installed it and started to test it for leaks. Yup, you guessed it. The NEW tank for which we had waited so long ALSO leaked!!! Tank #3 was ordered from Keystone and the waiting game began again. Remember, the underbelly of our RV was still wide open with various parts and pieces laying on the concrete pad under the RV. The local service people blamed Keystone for any and all delays. Keystone blamed the local service people.
After approximately 3 months of waiting with our RV torn apart, tank #3 finally arrived. The local service people finally got it installed, tested it and it actually held water. Yay, we were back in business and all the appropriate pieces were off the pavement and put back into their rightful place. Our level of frustration with the local service people and Keystone was pretty high at that point. We were thankful that we hadn’t planned any major trips during that 3 month period as the RV had been in no condition to be moved.
At the time we experienced the gray tank issues our RV was BARELY over one year old. It had been on only two minor road trips across WA state and one major trip moving it to UT.
And Now We’re Headed Further South ~ To Arizona
Fast forward a few more months and the job in southwest UT was done and we decided to head further south to spend the remainder of the winter in AZ (about a 7 1/2 hr drive). Day #1 of driving went pretty well. We had both of our vehicles in southwest UT so I was driving rig #2. I followed The Husband while he drove the truck and pulled the RV.
We spent the night in the RV in the parking lot of Cracker Barrel in Kingman, AZ and managed to get through day #1 with no major issues. Day #2 we weren’t so fortunate!! From my vantage point behind the RV, I could see the slide on the right sticking out by several inches. I called The Husband on the walkie-talkie and told him to pull over as soon as possible to check it. He determined there was nothing that could be done about it at that time and place (the side of the freeway.)
We continued on our way albeit a little slower as we were leery of the bulging slide on our RV. We got to our destination in Mesa and got set up. The slides were tested and went in and out just fine…well, of course, they did!! Now that we were stationary they appeared to be working just fine! We set up and enjoyed several months of sunshine in the middle of the winter.
And Now We’re Headed North ~ Back To Washington
The end of March arrived and with it, our plan to head north. It’s a 1500 mile trip so we planned to be on the road 4 days and 3 nights. The first day on the road, before we had even logged 2-3 hours, I had to call The Husband and tell him I could see the slide on the right side bulging out. He pulled off, got out a tow strap and proceeded to crawl underneath the RV ratcheting the slides in together. Hopefully that would enable us to make it the rest of the way to WA without them sliding out on their own!
We decided that when we stopped for the night it would only be necessary to put the bedroom slide out. This would make it unnecessary to unbuckle the tow strap holding the two living room slides in.
Sufficiently strapped together we were back on the road for only another 50-60 miles when I noticed a piece of the RV over the left fender well flapping in the wind. Another call was placed to The Husband…”find a place to pull off, pieces are flapping in the wind.” He pulled off, checked and found some screws had pulled loose and a piece of a fender well covering was flapping. Correcting that issue was added to the list of “honey-dos” to be accomplished when we stopped for the night.
Back On The Road But For How Long?
Back on the road again…another hour of travel and I noticed the curtain in the large living room window appeared to be blowing in the wind. Impossible I thought! I knew those windows were closed and locked when we left Mesa. Watching that rear window as I drove, I saw the bottom left portion was open, allowing air to blow the curtain around!
Again I called The Husband and again I told him to pull over as soon as he could find a suitable place, that the back window was apparently broken. He pulled off and sure enough, the lock has apparently broken just from the vibration of being on the road. Out came the duck tape. Three large strips of duck tape later, the window was sufficiently anchored to alleviate it flapping in the wind and we were back on the road.
Tow Straps, Baling Wire And Duct Tape
Day #1 was in the books and our home was being held together by tow straps, baling wire and duct tape…My hope for Day #2 was that it would find us happily motoring along with no further issues with the RV. At that point I was very much looking forward to our arrival in Spokane, WA where we had an appointment with Rob of River Valley Mobile Service repairman extraordinaire!
After repairing the rear window latch, the flapping fender well and the ignitor on my stove which had stopped igniting, he also told us about slide locks. A product previously unknown to us, they are designed to hold slides together while traveling. We purchased them for each of the slides to alleviate any chance of further problems while on the road.
I was beginning to think that we had an RV with an unusually large amount of problems. However, those in the industry tell me it’s not unusual for an RV to come off the production line with no less than 50 things wrong. Apparently a common joke is that they are built on either a Friday when work quality is low as everyone wants to get out for the weekend, or on a Monday when everyone is recuperating from the weekend. As I’ve stated before, do your homework and buyer beware.