Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A New Direction

First a little update on what has been going on with the Travco. Since it's first stay at Sound Avenue Equipment the Travco has been running great. I have been taking it on a few day trips and, knock wood, it has mechanically performed wonderful. Last week I had it back at Sound for an oil change and a little check up by the mechanics. So far, so good.

The new direction.............. well, my intention when I first got the Travco was for a full restoration but I also had a desire to put it to use. Putting it to use has won. The Travco seems to be in really excellent shape and was begging me to use it.

On a personal note, I do competitive obedience with 3 of my 5 dogs and have decided to use the Travco as my personal dog mobile with some camping on the side. This Summer I plan on doing a bit of travel around the Northeast enjoying my life with my dogs and my Travco. Wish me luck!

Last weekend I took a trip to a dog show in Warwick, RI. I was fortunate to have a friend, John Robertson, who is much handier than me, check out the water system and air conditioner. To my glee, he had the water and pump up and running fine and was able to fix the AC (which I had broke).

On the way to Warwick, I decided to make my first official stay at a campground. I stayed at the Mystic KOA

Nice place. Pretty empty, a little early in the season, but that was great. The section behind my site was not open yet, so my dogs had plenty of room to run, chase each other, play with sticks and enjoy the outdoor life for a change. I think they thought they died and went to heaven.

My stay was really enjoyable and why not, the site came with cable TV, electric and water. It was totally relaxing, watching a bit of TV, reading a book and taking walks with the dogs. I am looking forward to this lifestyle.

All good things come to an end and we packed up and took off for Warwick. I love taking the back roads and made a route through some beautiful countryside. I kept scolding myself for not stopping every time I passed something interesting. That is something I promise to do this Summer, STOP, and smell the roses. No rush, right? Need a new point and shoot camera.

We did manage to make a few stops. I passed an outdoor camping store, Ure Outfitters. Nice place and worth a stop if you are traveling, on Rt 3 in hope Valley, Rhode Island. The next stop was at Arcadia Management Area. Another place for the dogs to take a break and stretch their legs.

One last stop before Warwick, lunch at Middle of Nowhere Diner. The clerk at Ure gave me the tip. He said the TV show, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives featured it. Decent food and cheap.

We stayed the night in the parking lot of the dog show with 6 other RVs. Survived a wicked storm that night. I had my dog Otis entered and am happy to report he came in first in his class. The trip back home was uneventful except to say the Travco ran great. The next trip is up to Massachusetts Mother's day weekend for for another couple of dog shows.

Looks like it will be a very interesting Summer.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Winter Update

About a month ago I dropped off the Travco at a new mechanic, Sound Avenue Equipment in Riverhead, NY. I drive by there on a regular basis and have always seen RV's both new and old being worked on. Unfortunately, the owner had a mishap and was out of action for a while but last Friday I picked up the Travco. The engine was running rough and giving me a hard time anytime I went over 45mph. The alternator belt was a bit loose and a the temperature and gas gauge were not working.

When I picked it up, Bill, one of the mechanics told me the fuel filters had some water in them and were changed. They put a new sensor in and the temperature gauge worked great. The fuel gauge remains a mystery for now. The sensor works on its own, the gauge works on its own, it is properly grounded but all together........ no reading on the fuel gauge. Saved that one for another day.

So Sunday was the test. I loaded up the dogs and took the Travco for a test drive. We put on about 120 miles and......... it ran great!. Not one problem. Thank you Bill and everyone else at Sound Avenue. Keeping my finger crossed it stays that way.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Homeward Bound.... One More Time

Another big day. The Travco was ready to pick up from Frank's Garage in Hampton, NH. I had left it with Frank over Labor Day weekend. I was on my way to Maine with my 5 dogs and hoped to enjoy my first trip. Unfortunately, I ran into an overheating problem.

I had my son Todd, who lives in Providence, RI, pick me up at the ferry and we headed North. Todd has a new car that he is really proud off, a Dodge Challenger. Here is Todd at the wheel.

After a 2+ hour trip we reach Frank's Garage.

And there was the Travco.

I was greeted by Frank's father's German Shepherd.

Another photo of the Travco along side Todd's Challanger.

Now for the bad news. Frank had my radiator re-cored. The radiator had a hole in it caused by the improper fan clutch.

The radiator, when removed, was found to be in pretty bad shape. Makes me wonder what was done to the radiator at Henry's Diesel, where I was charged $200 (line item) for radiator repair. I think all they did was paint it.

Now for the rest of the bad news, the bill :) Here is Frank getting it ready with his 2 pups who stand guard at the office.

Now for the good news or I should probably say the GREAT news!. The Travco performed flawlessly on my way home. I am happy I found Frank and his shop solved my overheating problem. They also solved my backfire problem. There was a hole in my exhaust system right before the muffler. They were able to put a patch on it and to my delight..... not one backfire.

Another trip on the ferry. On line.

Getting ready to get on the ferry.

On the ferry.

Like I said the Travco rode great. It does draw some head turning. I had a bunch of turned heads and thumbs up. I feel I could drive somewhere with little fear of breaking down. I was concerned that the overheating problem might cause other engine problems, but that seemed unfounded. Frank did a great job and if possible I will be a return client.

As far as Henry's Diesel, I feel they did a great job with most of the work they did but they failed me with the radiator and fan clutch. Due to that I can not recommend them. They are a very busy garage, were non responsive to my calls and never returned one. I realize everyone is entitled to a mistake, but there customer service is terrible. I will never return and my recommendation is if you have the chance to go there, don't!

The expense of the mechanical work done so far, my total budget for this year has been wiped out with nothing left for a restoration project. I plan on using the Travco for some weekend trips this Fall, and fingers crossed, nothing mechanical crops up.

Next year, most likely, I will tackle the suspension, rims and tires. Also in the Spring get the systems (water & propane) ready. I would also like to get the outside painted. Hopefully the following year a complete interior restoration. It really is a great vehicle and perfect for my needs.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First trip.......the good, the bad and the ugly!

I decided to take the Travco on a trip to Camden, Maine for an extended Labor Day vacation. It might have been optimistic on my part but I trusted that all the work done by Henry's Diesel, in Westport, Massachusetts, would make it road worthy for this trip. That was my first mistake.

I gave the inside a superb cleaning and checked out the electric and air conditioner to make sure they would work. The electric was fine, the interior air blowed cold air, but the dash air was warm. The days ahead called for record heat but I thought, since I was roughing it, I would make do.

I loaded up the dogs, who were as excited as I was.

Took off and stopped at the local station for a fill up.

Looks good, so far, doesn't it? Drove to the Orient Point-New London Ferry and waited on line.

Still, so far, so good. The route I decided to take was a long one, backroads, little use of Interstates, One of the problems I encountered was the Travco had a tendency to backfire. When I was driving slow and people were tailgating me, I would let off the gas and BOOM. It did stop the tailgating and scared the crap at more than a few people, including me. I thought that is something that definitely needs to be taken care of. Maybe a new carb would help. The backfire reared it's head at Henry's but Henry could not find the cause. They adjusted the carb, thought it might be a vacuum leak but nothing could be found.

One thing I noticed before the I left was that the coolant level in the expansion tank said "add". I pick up a gallon and added some. The temperature gauge has showed hot since I picked up the Travco, but Henry's explanation was the the idiot gauge was not correct. He said the gauge is old and was not reliable and everything was OK. Mistake #2.

I stopped for gas and noticed coolant blowing out the expansion tank. My initial thought was, maybe it was because I added some and the Travco was mostly running great except for the backfire. I drove on, mistake #3. You probably get were I am going with this.

I guess it was bound to happen, traveling backroads, I got lost. I found a state park in Massachusetts along the way, stopped and gave the dogs and me a good break and dinner.

Moved on. I thought I would be optimistic and hopefully get to Southern Maine for my first night. Mistake #4, the Travco is 41 years old and should not be pushed like that. Like I said, I was lost and broke out the GPS. It put me on Interstate 93. Being a little frazzled, I hoped on the South exit instead of North... ugh, but the good news was a sign for Interstate 95 and I knew that would take me on my way North to Maine.

Now for the bad news. As I was approaching New Hampshire. still on Interstate 95, I smelled burning coolant. Next thing steam coming for the engine compartment. I pulled over. I was about a mile away from the NH rest stop and I was planning a stop there, but for now the side of the road would have to do.

I gave the engine a good hour to cool and added the gallon of coolant I had to the radiator. Unfortunately, I could see it drip slowly down on the ground. Major problem, I thought. I checked my GPS and saw there was a Walmart, also about a mile away. I thought that would be my better choice to access my problem. It is great of Walmart to allow RV's to overnight in their parking lots and this night it was much appreciated.

There was about 8 other RV's there.

I filled up the radiator with another gallon of coolant and about 1/2 gallon of water. I also added Prestone Stop leak and crossed my fingers one time.

In the morning I took off to find a mechanic. Went to one only to find they were closed, early start to the weekend. Stopped at the second, he could not help but gave me the names of 2 others. I went to #3 but there were the biggest assholes (I wish I could remember their name). Told me there was nothing in it for them to help me out........ another ugh.

The radiator seemed to be holding up alright at this time. I saw no leaks and behold, the temperature gauge was reading normal. Thanks Henry for the misleading advice!

I decided to try and make the next mechanic recommended by stop #2. He was about 10 minutes away on the Interstate. On the way there was a NH Liquor Store, so I pulled in just to check things out. Ugh....... I could tell we were running hot. I gave the Travco a rest, hoping to make it to the next mechanic. I made it about another mile, overheated and pulled over.

This time a police officer stopped and asked if I need help. He said he heard the backfire, LOL. With the overheating problem the backfires were the least of my problem. I sensed he wanted me off the road, so I agreed to a tow. Another mistake, this one #5. It cost me $240 for a mile tow. I have Coachnet and should have waited and called it in myself.

We towed the Travco to Frank's Auto Repair in Hampton, New Hampshire. Frank seemed like a very nice guy and a fellow dog lover. He had 2 dogs sitting with him at his desk. He and one of his mechanics took a look. The found a hole in the radiator, which they felt was caused by the fan clutch. They said the fan clutch was to close to the radiator and worn a hole into it. It seemed like henry's put in the wrong fan clutch. The radiator would have to be pulled, sent out and re-cored and the right fan clutch would have to be installed.

Since Henry's had just installed the fan clutch and worked on the radiator, I decided to give him a call. He was not there but I left a message with Stephanie and she said he would call me back. Good thing I did not hold my breath. I guess after spending close to 8K with him, he offered no help and no return call. I will follow up, once the final verdict is in on what was wrong, but if Henry's screwed up he will hear from me. Funny thing about the internet, google Henry's Diesel and see what comes up first. It is my blog and my previous post about Henry's Diesel.

Now back to the rest of the story. The dogs and I were stuck at Frank's. I will not bore you with all the details, just the condensed version. The Travco was going to be left and I needed to find a way home. I called friends that were not far away but that was not going to get me home. Tried my son in Rhode Island, but he was on duty for the next 48 hours, he is a fireman. Called friends back home but either there vehicle was too small for all of us or the needed a few days to come. I thought about staying at a hotel but my problem was no car to get me there. Did I say there were no rental cars avaible in the area.

My sister came to the rescue. She rented a SUV and came to get me the next day. Frank allowed me to stay overnight at his Dad's storage facility next to his shop. In the back it was really peaceful and the dogs and I spent the next 26 hours.

Now the good. My sister, Theresa, got there, we loaded up the SUV and took the trip to Maine. We did not make it to Camden but went to Freeport. We shopped, ate good food, and did doggie stuff. Everybody, including the dogs had a great, great time.

I usually go to Freeport every year. I stay at a cabin at Recompence Shore Campground. I called to see if a cabin was available and there was the one I usually rent was available for one night. Well, good luck must have shined on me a bit because right before I got there there was a cancelation and we were able to rent it for the rest of our stay.

The good............ I love the Travco. It is perfect for me and the dogs. Hopefully Frank will get it all straightened out. Besides the radiator, I asked him to find the cause of the backfire and fix and to get the in-dash AC to work. The other good was the rest of my mini vacation, spending time with my sister and my dogs.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Homeward Bound

The day finally came, the Travco was ready to come home from Henry's Diesel. I went up to Westport, Massachusetts with my friend Sherry Pickerell and 2 of my dogs, Arlo and Louie. Stupid me, I forgot my camera, so the photos are from my cell phone.

It was a rainy day as I traveled down Interstate 95 to New London and the ferry to Long Island.

I was happy to have the company of Arlo and Louie.

The Travco did great. It was a little noisy inside, I think new tires might help that. The only hiccups were the fuel gauge does not work, even though a new sender was put in and I had a backfire when I let go of the accelerator exiting the highway twice. But we made it to the ferry save and sound.

So here is a list about all the work that was done in no particular order.
1. Tow to Henry's.
2. Removed grill to remove radiator for cleaning and repair. New radiator hoses.
3. Engine tuneup. Replaced distributor cap, points, rotor, condenser, sparkplugs, wires, air filter, fuel filter, PCV valve, all belts, rebuilt the carb, new water pump, timing chain, a bunch of gaskets, and thermostat.
4. New water pump.
5. New fan clutch
6. New pushrods for the engine. Old ones were bent. Adjusted valves.
7. Replaced all brake lines. New wheel cylinders.
8. Cleaned and repacked wheel bearings.
9. Installed new choke exhaust tube and adjust choke tension.
10. Removed gas tank. There was 1/2" of solid sludge residue that needed to be removed. Cleaned tank.
11. Installed new sending unit in gas tank. Replaced corroded wires under chassis. (unfortunately, gauge still does not work)
12. Transmission serviced and new filter.
13. New wiper blades.
14. Replaced light bulbs on exterior that were out.

I am sure there were a bunch of other things done, but I think you get the idea. There was a lot of work done and I feel safe to drive the Travco anywhere.

Now back in Greenport, I parked the Travco in Claudio's parking lot last night. I could see it from my window and it did attract a crowd of people checking it out. They are a little unusual and that is why I fell in love with them.

The next few days I am going to be cleaning it up. Next Tuesday, I am going to take my 5 dogs and the Travco on a little vacation. We will be staying in Camden Hills State Park in Maine. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Travco at Henry's Diesel

I was up in Massachusetts and decided to take a side trip for a visit to see the Travco at Henry's Diesel, where they are doing the mechanical work.

Had the pleasure to meet Stephanie, who has been very helpful in coordinating the move to Henry's.

Also, had the pleasure to meet Henry. He was kind enough to explain what he has done and what he is going to do to the Travco. Henry said overall, considering its age, the Travco is in excellent shape. I wish I was more knowledgeable about mechanics, but unfortunately, I know next to nothing about engines, brakes, transmission.........etc.

Henry said the brakes needed new brake lines and new wheel cylinders. The brakes, he said, are as new.

The engine needs new push rods, the old ones were bent.

Henry showed me this, said it needed to be replaced, the seals were shot:

The water pump needs to be replaced. Henry said it was in a very difficult spot to work on. Since there is a small hole in the radiator, Henry is going to pull it and have it repaired making getting to the water pump that much easier. They took off the front enclosure.

The wheels are the infamous suicide rims/widowmakers. The tires, Henry said, are in good condition with no rot, the rims, no rust. I have to make a decision, whether to buy new aluminum rims and new tires or wait until later when I near the end of my renovation. Though I am not going to do a lot of travel I will need to drive the Travco around getting from shop to shop, having things repaired/renovated.

I was really pleased to see the Travco being well taking care of. I have complete confidence in Henry and his team to get the job done perfectly. I was quite lucky to find them. If you ever need your Travco, motorhome or truck serviced, I do not think you could be in better hands. Henry said, "When I am finished you will be safe to drive the Travco anywhere." I believe him.

Besides the above, here are a few other things Henry's Diesel will be taking care of:
-replacing all hoses and belts
- complete tune-up
- replace all fuel, gas and oil filters
- transmission- new fluid, filter & clean the screen
- probably much, much more that I can't think of, but will fill you in as time goes by

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Travco On The Move

Well, yesterday was the big day! I had arranged for the Travco to be picked up by a tow company at Joe & Charlene's home, the previous owners. The Travco has been sitting idle the last 3 years and I did not want to chance hitting the road without a mechanic checking out the engine, transmission.......................

Joe did get the Travco's engine running and it was sure tempting but better safe then sorry. The tires, though looked like new, there was no way of telling how old they are and if there is rot. Like I said better safe then sorry.

Trying to figure out how to get the Travco to Long Island was my first challenge. At first I thought a local mechanic in Massachusetts might be my best option, getting it road worthy, then driving it to the New London-Orient Point ferry. The first mechanic I tried was unresponsive and I decided another route might be best. I checked with RV transport companies to get quotes and they came in between $1200-$1400. Still checking out other options I called Marty's USRV, a RV dealer in Berkley, MA. Spoke to their service department and asked if they could help. They said what I wanted was not what they do but were kind enough to recommend Henry's Diesel in Westport. Got in touch with Henry's and spoke with Stephanie, she was very helpful and we arranged for their towing company to bring the Travco there.

After spending 5 hours waiting in line at Motor Vehicles for the plates, I was off to give the Travco a wash down before the towing company came. I have to say she cleaned up very nicely. It was great giving her a scrub down, starting to sink in that she is mine and the exciting adventure ahead.

Please realize this is my first motorhome and there is so much I do not know, but I am willing to learn. I took some photos of the interior, but I have not started to clean the inside yet.

Here is a photo of the bedroom. You can see the original owner (I think he was the original owner), Dr. George Whiting, did some customization. It looks like there was a double bed at one time but it was turned into a funky single. Kind of U shaped. Not sure if I will return it to the double design or keep it as it is.

The fridge seems in good shape except for the door, it is warped and does not have a good seal. Not sure if it works or if I need to replace it, time will tell. It did come with a small funky, ice tray.

Here are photos towards the front and towards the back.

The driver's seat, where I hope to spend many hours.

It looked liked Dr Whiting took out the heater and put in an air condition unit. I will have to do a little more research on that, but if anyone can enlighten me please make a comment.

There is a water heater in the outside front, driver's side, storage. It says instant so hoping that works. I don't think it was original from what I read on other Travco restoration blogs.

As you can see this Travco was well taken care of, a real gem. I should hear back from the mechanic this week and will take it from there.