Sunday, July 08, 2007

Who do you trust? continued

The interior work was almost completed on the RV so I called the local Midas shops in the area and found one with a large enough bay to work on a motorhome. It was only three freeway exits away. Time to bite the bullet and get the gas hoses replaced and the new tailpipes installed.

The manager is a woman and though I waited for a few hours, she and her crew were unable to do the work on Thursday so I could leave Friday as planned. I was going to recommend her shop to my RVing women friends since it was easy to enter and exit, and they had a large bay. I found out later that the lifts are only set up for 7000 pounds max, too light for most RVs. I met the father/son team (both named Rick, so the son was called Ricky) who would be working on my RV, told them what had happened so far and made an appointment for 9 am on Friday. They would need to drop the gas tank (with at least 65 gallons of gas in it), replace the bad fuel hoses and install tailpipes). By the way, after they looked at the RV, their analysis was almost word-for-word with that of my friend Rick. These men were trustworthy.

When I said the interior work was almost completed, the shower installation hadn't been finished because the repair guy couldn't get his arm far enough into the opening to attach and clamp the hoses. I still didn't have running water. I was supposed to drive to the shop after the tailpipe installation and have him finish the job there (and install the shower vent). He called Thursday night and said the shop was full of RVs so he had no room. I told him about the appointment at 9 on Friday and he said he would be at the RV park around 8 to do the work.

Later Thursday night, my friend Rick (yep-there are three Ricks in this story) came over and was determined to get my shower working. He did some damage to his arm and shoulder trying to cram it in the small space but after an hour, he was able to complete the installation minus the plastic clamps that fell into the floor and disappeared. He told me what was needed.

Now it gets complicated. I called the repair guy at 7 am to tell him he needed to bring more hose clamps; the rest of the installation was done. He said the shop didn't open until 9 so he couldn't get the parts until then, so he would come to the muffler shop and complete the installation there.

I arrived at the muffler shop at 8:50 am. At 9:30, Steve the repair guy arrived with his Skil-saw, cut a hole in the closet floor and was able to finish the shower installation "with only a small drip from the hot water." Then he left.

At 12:30, Rick and Ricky finally wrapped up the vehicles they were working on and brought mine in front of the bay. They had to work on the ground. I really felt sorry for them as it was a cold, damp day there. A third man helped them when he could. Meanwhile, a man arrived to clean the windows at the shop and a crew arrived later to paint, so customers had to sit outside. Let me tell you, the fun never ends when you spend the day outside a muffler shop.

The shop closed at 6 and the manager stayed until 7. The men said they would keep working until the job was done and lock up. She left and they kept working.

At 11 pm (yes, 14 hours after I arrived and 10.5 hours after they started the job), they were finished. I asked them to follow me to my exit since it was dark and foggy. They were concerned that I would get home safely so they agreed. There are two large sweeping steep downhill curves on Highway 1 and I was a little worried. Oh--I forgot to mention that my windshield wipers are old and they didn't have any at the shop that would fit. The clarity of the windshield was marginal at best. There was a mist in the air and the wiper just smeared it.

So I waited for them to suit up and get on their motorcycles. The headlights and taillights worked but the running lights didn't (probably a fuse). Anyway, I was less than five miles away and three exits from home.

We took off down the driveway, out to the street and onto the freeway a short time later. The RV handled the onramp just fine and we were on our way. As I cleared the top of the hill and began the first curve, my dash lights started to dim. I was steering with one hand and trying to twist the knob for better light. No luck.

I turned the now completely ineffective wipers off; they had slowed and almost stopped. The headlights dimmed and went out. Great. Now I'm in the dark in the fog with a smeared windshield, no lights and the brake pedal was getting closer and closer to the floor.

OK. I was officially scared. If I couldn't get the brakes to slow me down, I would careen off the cliff into the Pacific Ocean with perhaps enough height to clear the roofs of the houses below. I was practically standing on the pedal. I pumped the brakes and managed to slow a little. I was never so happy to see an offramp in my life. The two guys were right behind me.

I didn't stop at the stop sign but slowed the RV to 25. Thank goodness there was no cross traffic. I turned into the RV park and found the way down the row to my site. All I hoped for was that someone wasn't in the site. I saw my car in the site next to it, turned and pulled it into the space. And stopped.

The guys pulled up behind my car. I went to the door and opened it, my legs wobbly and my hands shaking. The dad said, "We wanted to tell you that when you left the driveway at the shop, you hit the tailpipe and knocked it loose from the weld. It was bouncing on the road."

The son said, "You know you only have one brake light?"

My jaw dropped. "I had NO lights at all and my brakes were failing! I couldn't see out the windshield because the wiper didn't work. Thank goodness I remembered to pump the brakes and that worked."

The guys had no idea. They couldn't see the front of the RV. They congratulated me for handling the RV so well. Then the dad said to get a wire hanger and wrap up the tailpipe so I could bring it back to the shop the next day. I thanked them and they went home.

I called my friend Rick and was still shaking when he arrived. He wired the tailpipe and checked the engine. The alternator had quit and my brake fluid was two different colors, neither of them correct. He recommended having them check the brakes the next day when I brought the RV in for repair. Then he said, "Would you like me to drive the RV to the shop and you follow in your car?" I readily agreed. He went home and I tried to sleep.

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