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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pre Departure Checks

Alas, our time in Branson is finished, tomorrow we head out to Hot  Springs, Arkansas and meet up with some friends we knew from our old home state.

I am a bit anal over maintaining our motorhome (no snickering out there!).  It not only is our only home, but it is a machine and a complicated one at that.  I’m a firm believer in the old “ounce of prevention” saying, so this is a quick look at what I do before we head on down the highway.

First off is a check of the lifeblood of my CAT diesel engine, the oil.  It takes 19 quarts of good quality 15W-40 oil, I prefer Shell Rotella.  This is an important check and also quite the struggle because of the dipstick, a known issue on CAT engined Freightliner chassis.

The dipstick is almost six feet long.  You almost have to pack a lunch because it takes so long to pull out.


It goes in this little opening in the dipstick tube.


Not a big deal, eh?  Well this is where the fun comes in.

The last six inches to seat the dipstick in its tube, it fights and fights.  Evidently the tube and the oil pan have some kind of interference that hangs up the dipstick, making it almost impossible to seat.


I find that I have to twist it around and around while pushing downward on it.  This is where I can finish the lunch I packed while trying to get the @&$%^#*(! dipstick seated.


With much patience (and some wailing and gnashing of teeth) it finally goes in.  (Phew!)

Next is a check of the engine coolant.  This is much easier, just a visual check to make sure the coolant level is in between the makes on the tank.  It’s the slightly darker red color in the picture.


Next is the hydraulic fluid tank for the power steering.  Another visual check, hard to see in the picture.


I also check the monitor for the air filter, it is a little visual gauge that tells the health of the air filter.  You need to replace the air filter when the indicator reaches the red mark.


Last check in the back engine compartment is the fuel filter water separator.  There is clear plastic bowl that you can see if there is any water, it would be on the bottom.  On the bottom of the bowl is a little drain that you can drain off any water if found.


Next is a check of the generator up in the Journey’s front.  I check the oil and the coolant.


There is a clear plastic tank with high and low coolant marks (the two white lines under the yellow cap.  Another quick visual check.  Then the dipstick for the oil, much much more user friendly.  The generator takes the same oil as the CAT diesel.


The last check is my tires.  Along with a careful visual inspection of the tread and sidewalls, I check the tire pressure.  I use a dual foot top quality pressure gauge, it cost about $20, but is much more accurate than the buck three eighty gauges you find in a jar at the check out counter at most auto parts stores.


You can use one side of the dual foot head to check outward facing fill valves.


Then you use the other side of the dual foot head to check the inward facing fill valves on the inside tire.


I run my tires at 110 psi, the maximum inflation listed on the sidewall.  I know there is a formula that I can reduce the pressure somewhat based on weighing the Journey, but I like the extra air pressure to give a little safety margin, and the Journey’s ride is just fine at that pressure.

With all that done, a walk around to ensure all the compartments are closed, the jacks are fully up and there are no items hanging off the Journey, like the sewer hose and the electrical cord. 

Once I’m satisfied all is well, I slip behind the wheel, look at how low my fuel tank gauge reads and start to cry…

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.



  1. Nice, thorough check, but isn't that the co-pilots responsibility? Sorry Marti, I lost it for a minute.

    1. Paul would probably slink behind Marti to check Marti's work! hehehe

  2. Nice check! How long are y'all hanging in Hot Springs? We're planning to be there in a week or so. Safe travels!

  3. here's to many safe miles and cheap fuel..but not too cheap!

  4. It's a good thing you are so anal about it. It keeps you busy and out of Marti's way. Besides what else would you do?

  5. Nice day before checklist!! Now we would like to see the day before the day before checklist;o)))

  6. Good for you, so thorough! We are getting the checklist thing down pretty good, though hanging in parking lots doesn't give you many things to do!

  7. While you're looking, be sure to look up also. We drove down I 90 with our antenna still up in August. Sometimes you get so comfortable with your routine that you miss the obvious :)

  8. And here I thought I was doing well with a walk-around.

  9. We hate that dip stick too! It is so hard to get back in. I wonder if there is some trick to it that we don't know.

  10. I've pinned your checklist on my motorhome board.

  11. butterbean carpenterOctober 8, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    Howdy Marti & Chief,
    Thanx, for the revue of the shows and all of the hard work of the pre-trip checks' especially the dipstick that lets you use your seafaring vocabulary!!! Of course, Marti could do it, but then what would you get to do!!! Have a great time in my next favorite state, in which I was conceived!!! My 'little' brother would argue with y'all about the Baldknobbers,
    he thinks they'er the greatest show on earth, but of course he's in their IQ range!!!