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Saturday, March 29, 2014

New Tires

Some things age gracefully.  RV tires, not so much.  Because my rear tires rolled over the seven year mark last fall and were showing cracks in the sidewalls, they had to go. (I had replaced the two fronts in 2011 because they were starting to develop cracks in the sidewalls.)

The day before, I took off the hubcaps,


and the lug nut covers so the tire replacement would go faster.



I had ordered the tires last month at a nearby Michelin truck tire dealer and made an appointment to have them installed.  They had me back the Journey into their shop and I was able to lift the rear wheels off the ground using the rear levelers and some blocks.  I had the front wheels chocked so the Journey wouldn’t roll (the parking brake is only on the rear wheels).


A one inch drive air gun zipped the lug nuts off in mere seconds.


Looking under the Journey with the wheels off, the hub, the brake drum and the airbag are all visible.


Next one of the techs “broke” the tire’s bead with a special sledge hammer.  He was a good shot, he didn’t miss once.  Maybe he’d done this before”"?


Then a special pry tool was used to remove the tire from the rim.


While the tires were off, I had all the valve stems replaced.  Might as well do it while it was easy to do.  A preventive maintenance thing.



Out came my new tires, showing a date code that they were made in the 36th week of 2013, pretty fresh tires.  I’m good to 2020 now.


The new tires were slipped on with a long pry bar.


Then each tire was put in this cage to be inflated.  It is for the protection of the tech, just incase the tire, for some reason explodes (it has been known to happen (very rarely) with devastating consequences).


The tires were then put back on and the lugnuts tightened with the air gun.


Something I was very pleased to see was that after the lugnuts were put on, the tech used a torque wrench to ensure the lugnuts were at the correct tightness (500 foot lbs.).


The old tires were placed in the disposal pile.  I looked them over.


Even though the tread was worn less than halfway (note the wear bars in between the tread),


and the inside of the tire casings looked good,


it just wasn’t worth gambling on driving with them.  Peace of mind and safety, you can’t put a price on that.

The end result, the FMCA Michelin Tire Program saved me a little over $200.  More money for fuel which we’ll be needing as we roll next Tuesday.  :c)

I drove back to the COE Volunteer Village in the pouring rain.  Now my new tires need a bath, and the hubcaps and lugnut covers put back on, as soon as the rain stops.


Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Finally Found The Pin We’ve Been Looking For

We spent one final workamping day, a long one, pin hunting here at J. Strom Thurmond COE.  We decided to double up the job, a “Two-Fer”.  After seven hours, we finished both jobs.  Since we were checking boundary lines and pins at an area that also needed docks inspected, we were able to do both at the same time.  Working smarter, not harder.  ;c)

Around Lake Thurmond, many people lease space from the COE along the shoreline to put in a boat dock.  Part of the deal is the docks must be kept in good, working order.  The COE really stays on top of the dock lease program, to prevent someone from letting their dock go to wrack and ruin and abandon it.

Like this dock we came across yesterday.


If you look closely, the far end of the dock had a roof that has collapsed.  The COE will notify the owner to repair it or remove it in a specified time or they will face heavy fines.  Potentially, the dock could break apart and float away, becoming a hazard to the many boaters using the lake and eventually end up at the dam, causing additional problems.

During the day walking around the boundary lines, we came across a very old marker, from the War Department, the predecessor of the current Department of Defense.  It dates back to before WWII and has survived the test of time, although it looks like it may have tangled with a lawn mower blade.


Finally, we found the pin we’ve been looking for for the last six months…the last pin we’re going to find during this workamping tour of duty.

Wouldn’t you know it, it was in a very muddy area.  And it was down under the surface about a foot.  As fast as I dug mud away, more mud and water washed into the hole.

The mud and water made it difficult to tie the marking ribbon around it.  I normally kneel down next to the pin to tie the ribbon on.  This time I couldn’t kneel down because of the mud, I had to defer to Marti.  With my back injury, I can’t bend down too far, so, brave lady that she is, she took over and got it done, despite the mud.  Of course, she did get slightly dirty…


It gave us a great feeling of satisfaction to have competed boundary line inspections of a whole area of the lake, relatively a small part when you look at the entire area of COE property, but an accomplishment we’re happy we had the chance to do and help out.

The COE volunteer program is an important one, without volunteers, the COE parks and recreation areas would not be as nice as they are.  Nationwide, COE volunteers last year saved U.S. taxpayers $35 million dollars.  Pretty impressive.  Here at J. Strom Thurmond COE, they are exploring the plans to increase the number of volunteer workamping positions and may build another loop to the Volunteer Village RV park to accommodate them.  A win-win, for the COE and volunteers looking for a great place to work.

Now we have the rest of the week to wrap up our personal business as we get ready to hit the road Tuesday, 1 April and head to our son Ryan’s home in Missouri.  They’re expecting daughter number four mid April, so we want to be close at hand to help with babysitting and whatever else they may need.

One downside to our six month stay was we just stuck things where they were easy to get to, but not where they should be when we travel.  A trip to Walmart resulted in some plastic bins and boxes to organize things.


We have to clean out our storage compartments and reorganize everything.


Friday I have an appointment with the Michelin tire shop to replace the four rear tires on the Journey.  They not only have “aged” out, being over seven years old (the date code on the sidewall shows they were made the 41st week of 2006 - 4106),


but they are starting to have cracks in the sidewalls, too.


I don’t want to have any trouble on the road now that we’re able to move around more.  Conventional wisdom in the truck and RV tire world is that seven years is the life expectancy of a tire.  Tires can be used longer as long as they are dismounted and inspected internally every year for up to 10 years.  Since mine are already cracking, I’m biting the (expensive) bullet and replacing them.  I’m using the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) Michelin Tire Program, which provides discounts on tire purchases for members.  Every little bit will help.

It’s sad to be leaving such a beautiful place where we’ve had lots of fun and made bunches of wonderful friends, both with the other volunteers and the ranger staff.  Thankfully, some new granddaughter babies arriving will ease the pain.  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

It Finally All Worked Out

We have to give our new (correct) mattress a “four thumbs up”.  After sleeping on it last night, Marti asked me as we woke up this morning, “Why didn’t we do this seven years ago?”

I guess you could say we slightly procrastinated on this mattress replacement.

First thing this morning, the FedEx truck dropped off another, smaller box.  The two free pillows arrived.  The mattress company representative came through and was true to his word.  Now it was our turn to make good on our promise to dispose of the wrong mattress by giving it to a charitable organization, as the rep had asked up to do.

First off, we had to fit the mattress in our Honda Element.  Fortunately, the seats fold down, giving us a big carrying space.  Even more fortuitous was the mattress had enough flexibility for me to fold it over and fit it in.


Off we went to Augusta, GA to donate the mattress to the giant Goodwill store.

Except Goodwill will not take mattresses.  Oops.  They did, however give us directions to the Salvation Army, which does accept mattresses.

Of course, not being from around here, it took us a while (and Siri, on Marti’s iPhone) to find the nearest Salvation Army building.  Wouldn’t you know this was the Salvation Army’s homeless shelter.  Can’t accept the mattress here, either.  Thankfully, the security guard gave us directions to the correct Salvation Army donation store.

We arrived after more touring of downtown Augusta and were able to drop off the mattress and get a donation receipt.  Marti snapped a picture of it with her phone and emailed it off to the mattress company.  With that, we’re done with all the fun.

Now we can start concentrating on getting everything packed up as well as our last week of workamping.  Yep, we’re planning on ending our working gig doing, what else?  Pin hunting!  300 pins down, 4,999,700 left to go. 

The rest will have to wait until we return next October.  ;c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Satisfaction (Almost)

While we’ve been waiting for our mattress mix up to be straightened out with the mattress company, we’ve been busy working at the J. Strom Thurmond COE. 

We spent two days driving almost 200 miles inspecting the “Steel Rangers”, the self service pay vaults at many of the unmanned facilities located all around the lake.


We inspected the stickers on the vaults and also ascertained that there were pay envelopes located in the envelope dispenser slots.  Some of the stickers are worn or damaged, plus many had tape reside on them needing to be cleaned off.


Not a big thing, just a little issue, but taking care of these small items keeps the COE parks, boat ramps and day use areas in tip-top shape.

Yesterday, I called the mattress company again.  I informed the representative that I stopped payment on my credit card.  I was then told to expect a call from a supervisor.  Lo and behold, a couple of hours later, I did get a call!  :cO

I again explained the issue and this gentleman not only apologized repeatedly, but wanted to fix the problem immediately.  He offered  to overnight the correct size mattress and to send an upgraded, more expensive one at no additional charge.

The icing on the cake was he would include two special foam pillows too, as a further apology.  Marti and I wondered if he would be true to his word.

At 4:30 this afternoon, the FedEx truck pulled up with a large box containing the new mattress.


It was much larger than the previous mattress box, as was the rolled up mattress.


Cutting open the roll, the mattress folded out and began to inflate.  Funny to watch.



It is the right size and much thicker than what we originally ordered.  I’m  thinking it will be a real good night’s sleep for a change.  Won’t miss that Sleep(less) Number bed at all.  ;c)


As to the wrong mattress, I’ll be taking it to Goodwill tomorrow to donate it, and get a receipt for it.  All I have to do is snap a picture of the receipt and email it to the mattress company.

The almost?  No apology pillows were in the box.  Maybe they are coming separately, but that isn’t much of a worry for me.

That pretty much wraps up that issue, now we’re looking at our last week of workamping.  Plus, there’s much to do to get ready to roll.  After being stationary for six months, we have lots of things to pack up and remember where we carry them.

I have an appointment next Friday to have four new tires put on the rear of the Journey, the tires are aged out, they are more than 7 years old and the sidewalls are starting to show cracks.  (I replaced the two front tires just before we hit the road in 2011).  Don’t want to have a blowout on the road.  (Our next door neighbor had a rear tire blow out on his motorhome and it did $20,000 worth of damage).

An oil change on the generator and a good overall wash will be done, too.  Once we’re rolling, I’m going to stop at a Speedco shop and get the CAT diesel engine oil and filters changed.

We’re not looking forward to getting back on the road (too much)!


Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Ball Is In Their Court

The mattress saga continues.  With no resolution, let alone satisfaction, in sight.

Since Mattress Insider sent us the wrong mattress, a short queen instead of the full size queen we ordered (and verified three times with them that we we ordered a full size queen before the order was placed), we have not heard back from them on how they were going to correct their mistake.

I called their customer service line three times, talked with representatives who all promised to call me back with a solution (none ever did), so I took matters into my own hands.

I contacted my credit card company, explained the problem and had them reverse the price I paid for the mattress.  Now we’re waiting to see if we hear from Mattress Insider.

We’ve decided to use the mattress, the company promised a 100 day return policy if we’re not satisfied (that’s an understatement).  I used a couple of foam pieces from our old Sleep(less) Number mattress to wedge the too short mattress in place.  It’s better than setting up and putting away our pull out couch every day.

We have only a short time left on our workamping job before we need to head out to Missouri on 1 April.  Hopefully, something will be resolved by then.

Plan B (you know I always have one waiting in the wings) is to order a new mattress from a different company, one I should have chosen in the first place.  I chose Mattress Insider over the other company because its factory is in South Carolina vs. California for the other company. 

It will be interesting to see how this all works out.  At least right now, we’re sleeping on a free mattress.  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Always On A Saturday

We’ve had quite a busy week here at our workamping job at J. Strom Thurmond Lake COE.  We enjoyed every minute of it and probably will miss the work when we leave here in about two weeks.  The experience has been wonderful and we look forward to coming back for another three months in October.  Remember, there are about five million boundary line pins out there and we’ve only found about 300.  ;c)

With all the tasks we’ve been involved with, we’ve had little time to do any work on the Journey.  One item we’ve put off for way too long was replacing our lousy Sleep(less) Number mattress with a good, conventional one.


The problem we’ve had is the middle of the mattress dips down and you are constantly rolling towards it all night long.  No matter what inflation number we’d set it at, it was just uncomfortable.  Many mornings, I’d wake up with a very sore back, not what you want when you already have a bad back like me, and this mattress touts how good it is for folks with a condition like mine.

Opening up the Sleep(less) Number mattress, you can see the two individual air chambers and the gap in the middle.  Nothing we tried helped and a call to their customer service said to just keep the mattress fully inflated to the highest number.  That defeated the whole purpose of the mattress and if I wanted to sleep on something that firm, I’d just lay on the floor.


After much research and good recommendations, I decided to order a mattress from Mattress Insider.  I followed the website instructions, carefully measured my mattress and determined it was a full size 60” x 80” queen.

I ordered the mattress online.  Shortly after the order was placed, I received an email asking me to double check my measurements to ensure I wanted a 60” x 80” full size queen.  I did and responded to the email that was correct.

A day later, I received a phone call from a customer service rep following up my measurements, triple checking that it was the right size I wanted.  Yep.  Pretty impressive.

The mattress came in a big box, weighing about 70 lbs..


Opening the box revealed the rolled up mattress.


Before I could unroll it, I had to remove the Sleep(less) Number mattress and dig out the air pump mechanism from under a cabinet next to the bed.



Much better, empty space and about 30 lbs. of useless weight gone.


Next, we placed the mattress on the bed foundation and started cutting open the packing tape holding it closed.



Once it was freed from the packaging, we rolled it out and it began to inflate to full size.


Pretty impressive, until something didn’t look right.  It appeared to be a little short.  My tape measure proved it.


After all the checking, rechecking and checking again, the company sent me a Short Queen, 60” x 75”!

I called the customer service number, they asked me to email them pictures of the mattress with the tape measure showing the size, which we did.  I was then told that I’d have to wait until Monday when all the managers were back to work to see what they will do.

For one thing, I can’t deflate and re-roll the mattress to send it back, plus I wonder how long it will take to have them ship me the correct one?  This is going to be interesting.  The Sleep(less) Number bed is already in the dumpster so I guess we’ll be sleeping on our pull out couch for a while until the right mattress comes.

Always on a Saturday.  You’d think I’d learn.  We’ve already decided that when we travel, we won’t travel on weekends, not only to avoid traffic, but if we ever need help, say something like a flat repaired, we’ll have a better chance getting fast service on a week day. 

Now I think I’d better do maintenance and upgrades to the Journey on weekdays, too. ;c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.