Summer 2012 – Update #1

Actually, we’ll back up a little bit in the year to catch our dear readers up on what we’ve been doing.  As you might imagine, Jeep activities continue to dominate – modifying our 2006 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited continues to soak up most of John’s time and our disposable funds (if there is such a thing as disposable funds.)  We decided that towing the Jeep behind the motorhome on the Jeep’s own tires (it’s called towing 4-down) was hard on the tires and everything else on the Jeep that rotates or moves, so we bought a used FeatherLite aluminum car hauler trailer.  Rubi is now a trailer queen and rides in style behind the motorhome.

Rubi after her latest round of upgrades/improvements

Rubi after her latest round of upgrades/improvements – she’s now on 35″ Goodyear MT/R Kevlar tires

Rubi (and her drivers) continues to evolve and improve after every round of upgrades and trails run – I say drivers since Jane has driven for about an hour on a trail that was a little challenging (on the Palo Duro Jeep Jamboree) and she did great.  The latest upgrades on Rubi are larger tires, new 17″ aluminum wheels, aluminum fenders (for more tire clearance), high strength front axles, armored differential covers, larger front brakes (larger rotors and calipers), new radiator, fan clutch, re-routed engine air intake and hood louvers.

After two years of intermittent work on Rubi by John, Rubi is just about where where she needs to be for the long-term.  Taking it to the next level (which means larger tires) would cost a pile of money and not greatly improve its off-road capability.  At this point, it’s now more about driver skill than equipment.

Our good friends Bob & Judy

Our good friends Bob & Judy at their summer home near Independence, VA the morning we left

So far this year, we’ve run Rubi at the Las Cruces, NM Chili Challenge, The Texas Spur Jeep Jamboree near Llano, TX, the Palo Duro Jeep Jamboree near Amarillo TX, and we’re currently near Montrose, Colorado and running trails in the San Juan mountains.

We left home on Flag Day (you did remember to put out your flag), June 14,  and headed to the nearby Miller Creek RV Resort near Johnson City, TX for a Winnebago club gathering and then hit the road for the western part of Virginia to visit with our long-time friends Bob & Judy.  They bought a foreclosed house a couple of years ago that was completely trashed by the prior owners and they almost completely rebuilt it over a couple of summers, so we were anxious to see the house and of course our good buddies.

A minor digression.  Our Norcold refrigerator/freezer decided to not work as well as it should – we were having to run

Our new Frigidare!

Jane is once again a happy camper after the successful swap-out of the Norcold for the new Frigidare

it on its maximum setting to maintain an adequate temperature in the refrigerator part.  After consultation with a Norcold tech and some tests we determined the cooling unit was most likely going south which was very bad news.  A replacement cooling unit was over $1,000 and the repair labor was $800.  After some thought, we decided it was time to replace the Norcold (which could operate on 12V/LP gas or AC) with a household fridge – more and more household fridges (which only operate on AC) are appearing in new motorhomes and are becoming very popular as less costly replacements.  So we bought an 18.2 cu ft Frigidare and after two days of hard work by Bob and John, it was installed and working great.  We have more fridge room but the freezer is roughly the same size as the old one.

We had a fun ten days visiting with Bob & Judy.  Once again we biked the Virginia Creeper Trail – 17 miles (out of a total 34 trail miles) of a former railroad bed and almost all of it was downhill – it was great exercise 😉 and a lot of fun.

John was very appreciative of Bob’s help (and his nicely equipped shop) with the fridge swap, it would have been completely impractical and impossible to accomplish while traveling without this situation.

It was time to say adios to our friends and head to Forest City, Iowa (northern part of the state)  for the Winnebago Grand National Rally held the third week of every July.

Forest City is a delightful mid-western town of only six or seven thousand residents and with each rally the town swells with an additional two thousand people.  The sleepy farm (and Winnebago factory) town gets so busy and hectic, the locals are thankful when the rally ends and the slower pace resumes.  The town folks are very hospitable and thankful for the business boost, but relieved to see things return to normal.

Like a stick and brick house,  something always needs a little maintenance on the coach, usually it is something

Our repaired thermal pane glass is installed

Our repaired thermal pane glass is installed

minor and we’re not disappointed – after all the coach is seven years old with 75,000 miles on it.  Leaky faucet, squeaky door, you get the idea.  The latest issue to deal with (and a very common one across many brands of RVs) is a seal breakdown in our thermal (dual pane) windows;  in certain weather conditions humidity will condensate between the glass panes.  The large window in our coach door was starting to fog up occasionally which was not a good situation – we need to see out of that window to drive safely!  Fortunately at the Winnebago rally was a company in attendance (Duncan Systems) that repairs these kinds of problems with windows, so we signed up for service.  They extricated the window, tore it apart, and resealed the two pieces of glass.  I asked if they injected nitrogen gas between the panes and they don’t – they insert a desiccant strip that absorbs any moisture, hopefully this problem is permanently solved on this window.  Unfortunately I suspect we will have many more windows to get repaired in the future.

Next installment will be focused on our five week stay near Montrose Colorado, and guess what – we’re running trails in the San Juan mountains.  We will leave here September 1 and probably head to Utah to do…. more off-roading.  Utah has a lot to offer so we will play tourists and do as much sightseeing as possible while there.  Near the end of September we will be in Deadwood, South Dakota to…. participate in the Black Hills Jeep Jamboree (yes, John is Jeep crazy.)

Thanks for traveling along with us and may God richly bless you.