Mechanical Ingenuity!

  

Many would see working with their hands as second nature because they worked on cars or different kinds of construction projects. It was just a natural part of learning how the physical world around us works.

Tools on table

For most it’s as easy as picking up a tool and starting the work.
For me it’s looking at the tool, and wondering how does this work?!

That’s just never been my world so I knew that I would have MUCH to learn about the mechanical side of taking care of our new Winnie. Little did I know how much I would need to learn about simply DRIVING a 28-foot motorhome. My first drive came in the middle of Atlanta traffic on a Thursday evening. Now I had told myself that I needed to give more time for braking and that was quickly tested as a sloping turn on the highway turned into standstill traffic. I started to stop as soon as I recognized what was happening ahead but it was too late.

 

I quickly checked my left mirror and made a quick left swerve to avoid plowing into the trafficked cars ahead of me. There was a nice little beep that came my way but I’d like to think that was an acknowledgement of how sweet that move looked from an impassioned observer. Sweetie saw the whole thing as well from the car behind me and she was more relieved than anything that I made it through the Atlanta traffic gauntlet.

The following day we wanted to move Winnie to a more permanent parking place. Now one thing that Sweetie mentioned in tailing my ferocious driving pattern was that I tended to hang a bit on the right side of the driving lane. That probably makes sense because it feels like I’m going to hit something if I hang on the left side of the lane. But that sound advice wasn’t anywhere in my head when I took our RV out through a property gate and stripped the right mirror clean off.

Keep in mind that we just picked up Winnie LESS THAN 24 HOURS AGO. So there was her shattered mirror all over the ground. After gathering her busted remains, we decided that this was a project we could tackle. If you haven’t met Kara, this is what her life attitude looks like.

We Can Do It

Not only that, but she is far more mechanically experienced than myself. So in the weeks ahead, we started the project of replacing her mirror. Fortunately RV replacement parts can be ordered back from The Stone Age but it still took some effort to figure out the right mirror part to order.

Since we didn’t think to keep the old shattered pieces, that made it difficult to figure out what screws we needed. But that didn’t deter my Sweetie. She started to work on those screw holes and after several trips to Lowe’s, we got the screw size as close as possible to what was used to re-attach our new mirror.

Babe mirror fix

Alas we were unable to finish the project ourselves. The screw had broke off and was stuck inside the hole from my wild escapade so we needed a mechanic to make the mirror replacement.

During this mirror project, we noticed that our battery was mysteriously draining. Now it’s not uncommon for a car to need a jump start if you leave a light on overnight. But our Winnie comes with TWO BACKUP BATTERIES in addition to the main engine battery.

So it just seemed strange that the battery would be losing juice that quickly. I ended up calling the previous owner and he walked me through jumping the main battery off a backup battery.

Now this wasn’t nearly as impressive as the mechanical chops my Babe showed in working on the mirror. But I could feel something welling up inside of me… it was…

 

Accomplishment! And I had the honor of performing this accomplishment multiple times. So something was still strange. When the mechanic tested our batteries, there turned out to be something wrong with ALL 3 BATTERIES. Yikes! But getting all the batteries replaced ended up being a big relief since we were going to hit the road for an extended RV honeymoon summer trip.

Atlanta South RV Resort

Before taking that trip, we wanted to stay at a RV park and learn how to plug everything up. Keep in mind we hadn’t actually lived in Winnie yet! So we took her for a week-long stay at Atlanta South RV Resort. When we checked in, a very kind man named Richard on their maintenance staff escorted our Winnie to her spot. He even helped us figure out the cables we needed to buy so that we could go raid the RV section at Walmart.

Coming back with our new cables, we got everything hooked up for water, electric, and sewer. Yes! After staying outside for about 10 minutes, we went back into Winnie to enjoy her newly plugged luxuries. However when we opened the door, water started to GUSH OUT as it flooded our floor. Turns out one of the faucets was left on and pointing away from the sink. Gahhhhh!!! But thanks to our neighbor Don, we were able to put some fans on our wet carpet to start drying them out.

Phew ok now that we have everything hooked…. ummmmm…. wait where’s the hot water?!?!

 

Now I’m not a wuss but if I have to take cold showers, my body tightens up like a professional Greco-Roman wrestler. It’s not a pretty sight. No funsies.

When I pressed the electric pilot button a couple times inside the RV, the pilot wasn’t lighting on the outside. So I tried to light the pilot with a flame but that didn’t do the trick either. When Richard came back around to help us, he told me to try pressing the electric pilot button inside one more time. Apparently when the RV isn’t in use for quite a while, the pilot button takes a few tries. Accomplishment!

Before we bought Winnie, she had been winterized so in a sense she was coming out of hibernation. Before we could fill her water tank, we needed to flush out the anti-freeze from her innards. It’s a bit disconcerting but the fluid release valve is right next to the electric pilot in the outside panel. So when we flipped the release valve under the bed and in the outside panel, a gush of fluid came out of our girl.

Fluid release valve

This surprisingly took about 15 minutes to get all the pinkish fluid out of her system. Once this gushing water color returned to the land of drinkable, we shut off the release valve. Now we were ready to start filling her water tank! Through a Macgyver series of tests and trials, we found the right direction to turn the valves and successfully filled our tank.

Could this be the end of our mechanical trials?? Nope not in the least! In fact, we had quite the chapter living without running water for 10 days. Serious good times with my Babe! More on that in a different blog installment as we learn to thrive in the RV lifestyle.

Now to the fun stops in our 5-state journey. Next blog and first stop is Alabama!