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Our Shakedown Trip With the New Braking System

We have a trip scheduled in mid-June to take our nine year old granddaughter to Chattanooga for a few days. I suggested to Jerry that we might want to take a short trip prior to that to make sure everything is working like it should and also determine that we know what we are doing! We just happened to get an invitation from Travel Resorts of America inviting us for a three day, two night stay so since it wasn’t very far from home we decided to try it out the first week-end in June.

We brought the RV home and got it all packed and ready to leave early on the morning of June 1 which just happens to be our anniversary. I think we almost have as much difficulty packing for a three day trip as we would have for a three month (not that we’ve gone on a three month trip). It took us the better part of two days to get the meager things into the coach. In the midst of that I decided that we needed some area rugs to put our personal stamp on the coach. After all we’ve had it over two years so don’t you think it’s time? We had bought a new comforter and shams to replace the smoked and horribly smelling bed linens we lost in the fire so now it was time for the floor. Two trips to Lowe’s and we found something that might work. We’ll see about that.

Then it was time to attach the car to the dolly. Jerry had typed up a list of instructions and I had printed it out. We have learned that getting the Jeep ready to tow is easy if you follow EVERY step. In order to be towed the Jeep must have the two speed transfer case with the neutral switch and you have to put the transfer case and the transmission in neutral. If you leave out one step it won’t work. It probably took us about 45 minutes to get the car attached and that included running into the house to watch a video on YouTube on how to do it. We finally got it! Yea!! I don’t think it will be that difficult once we get the hang of it. In fact I think it will be much easier than the tow dolly plus Jerry doesn’t have to get on the ground and crawl under the car each time. At the time we started RVing we didn’t have a car that would flat tow so a dolly was the logical way to attach a toad (that’s RV for the car being towed) so although we’ve been RVing over three years this is still new to us. We’ve always said that we learn something new each trip. Sometimes it’s little things and sometimes it’s BIG things. Let’s hope hooking the car up was our lesson for this trip.

We’ve got the coach packed, the car is attached and all we have to do in the morning is get ready, take a few last minute items out and we’ll be off. Now the next interesting point will be detaching the car and putting it back in the drive mode. We’ve got the list of instructions!

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Braking Systems

After ordering the Air Force One braking system for our coach I was surfing the web and was on the RVillage site. Someone asked about towing so I added our experience with the tow dolly and said that we had ordered the Air Force One system. As is usual with social media several of us began to “chat” and someone asked me if our coach was gas. Well, yes it is. He responded that he didn’t know a gas coach could use an air brake system. Oh my – I began my research. Jerry had researched the different braking systems but somehow had missed that air brake systems would only work on a coach with air brakes – well duh – we should have figured that one out. We immediately called Campers Inn and were able to change the order to the SMI Stay-In-Play system with no problem and were still scheduled for the following Wednesday for installation. Whew – dodged a bullet finally.

We brought the coach home on Tuesday and headed out Wednesday morning for Campers Inn Jerry driving the RV and me following in the car. We arrived at our appointed time, 10:00 and then got the good news plus the bad news. The good news was that the system was less expensive. The bad news was that it took longer to install. Probably a wash either way. We ended up spending the entire day in the area. Since they were installing the system on the car we drove the RV to the local outlet mall and wandered around there for a while and then had some lunch. We eventually went back to the dealership and waited while they completed the installation. I cannot say enough good things about Campers Inn of Raleigh. They were most courteous and even invited me to a birthday party they were having for an employee.

Finally everything was completed, the car was attached to the RV, we had gotten instructions on what to do so off we went. Fortunately we had a very uneventful trip back to Kinston because when we got home we encountered yet another problem. Jerry detached the car from the RV and I began to back it up and realized that I had very little braking power. Oh my, what now? It was after 5:00 so we parked the car and the RV and called it a day.

On Thursday after talking with Campers Inn they sent a technician to our house (55 miles) to go over the installation to see if they had done anything incorrectly. This was the first time they had installed this system so it was a learning experience for them as well. He couldn’t find anything wrong so our next call was to the local Jeep dealership in Greenville. They told us to bring it over. I still can’t believe that Jerry drove the car 30 miles to Greenville at 4:30 in the afternoon with no brakes. I was so worried about him and tried several times to call him as I was too far behind him to see him. When he didn’t answer my calls I began to get more anxious and when I got to the dealership and saw him my first words were “where is your phone”. He often has his ringer turned off and I assumed that was the case this time but no – the phone was home.

He got to the Jeep dealership safely and we left the car. They ran a diagnostic on it and discovered that the vacuum switch had been put in backwards during the installation of the braking system. They repaired it and we picked the car up on Saturday. Campers Inn has graciously opted to pay the bill since the mistake was on their part.

The car is home, working fine and now we will get to see if we can get everything together for a trip! Time will tell.