7/1/13 Canada Day.
We awoke to light rain. But we had organized the night before and it didn’t take much for us to get our coach ready and depart Marco Polo. We bid farewell to our security guard, Anne and headed for the Confederation Bridge to take us to New Brunswick enroute to Nova Scotia.
As the day went on the rain was progressively strong. You learn to appreciate small things. In this case I thanked my windshield wipers. By mid day we had crossed over into Nova Scotia and were on our way to Cape Breton Island. Our plan was to arrive at the Bras d Or Lakes Campground late in the evening. We would keep the coach there a week while we explored the island and took our Explorer on the Cabot Trail.
We crossed over the Canso Causeway, which connected mainland Nova Scotia with Cape Breton Island. By now the rain seemed part of the territory. We were 20 kilometers up Trans Canada Highway 105 when I looked in my driver’s rear view mirror and noticed I was looking at an extended living room slide. This is usually a surprise at 60 mi. per hour. This coach even has a lock out that prevents the slide extension with the ignition on. So much for that safeguard.
It was after five. The road was two way with no shoulder. I pulled off and found my wheels on the edge of a 15 ft. drop off. We checked the slide switch – nothing. Bev grabbed a bright colored rain jacket and got out to follow the coach and wave traffic around us. I had my flashers on and slowly started up the road determined to find a place to pull off. But this is a remote area and pullouts are rare. Bev couldn’t follow forever. I stopped and she hopped in.
Opposite direction trucks zoomed by. The slide was still on the coach. I was going to pull into any driveway that would get me off the road, disconnect the car, and try to sort something out. It was almost ½ mile before I saw a turn out. It was large enough for the coach so I pulled in. We found ourselves in the St. Mary’s Parish Graveyard. It was relatively flat and at least we were off the road.
The slide easily weighs more than 1000 lbs. I got out and tried to push it in. I might as well have tried to lift the coach.
I called Newmar. I was getting to know these service consultants by name. I had spoken to Carl before.
“Do you have a 1 and ½ in. wrench?”
“How about a pipe wrench?”
“Well, you need one of those to free the 1 and ½ in nut that releases slide shaft from the motor. After you loosen that nut you should be able to push the slide in.”
“With all respect, Carl, that slide is pretty heavy.”
“Well, it usually takes about 3 people.” I thanked him and took the after hours number because I knew need more help.
I unhooked the car and headed off in search of a farmhouse. These farmers have everything. They might have a 1 and ½ in wrench. About 3 km up the road I saw a farm house set back from the road. I pulled into the driveway and hiked up to the house and knocked on the door. There I met Sandy Boyd. I told him of my problem and that I needed a 1 and ½ in. wrench. We went to his garage. This guy had everything. Before long he pulled out a 3in. crescent wrench. This monster must have weighed 20 lbs. You needed two hands just to lift it.
He handed it to me.
“That’s great.” I said gratefully. “Now I need a couple of gorillas to help me move the slide.”
“I’ll go up the road and get my brother. Where are you parked?”
“I’m in a graveyard.”
“Just up the road. See you there.”
When I reached the stranded coach I pulled out my huge wrench and waved it at Bev. I crawled into the bay with the motor and shaft. I tried to move the nut. No way. In a few minutes Sandy and his brother Lawrence pulled up in their pickup.
Sandy was about 2 to 3 times as strong as me. He tried and the nut didn’t move. I called Newmar again and they told me it would give we had to keep trying. With Lawrence and Sandy pulling on it together it finally gave.
The three of us pushed on the slide. Not the least movement. Sandy went home and got a couple of pipe wrenches. He and Lawrence worked the shaft and it miraculously started to move. Before long the slide was in and the locks engaged.
I called Newmar again and asked what would prevent the slide from coming out when I moved. They assured me it would not.
I thanked Sandy and Lawrence. They waved as they drove off into the rainy night. Bev and I put down our jacks, put out our remaining functional slides settled into our graveyard home for the night.
Tue. Morning: 7/2/13
Still quiet in the old graveyard. The rain had stopped and I was anxious to address my slide problem. The closest RV repair was a place called Stone’s RV in New Glasgow about a hundred thirty kilometers behind us. I called Stone’s and reached Bob Murray.
I told Bob my problem. He told me he was swamped but he was the only one that could help me between here and Montreal. He agreed to see me. We pulled in our remaining functional slides, hooked up the car, and left our graveyard heading back for the mainland of Nova Scotia. I was frankly nervous that the slide would fall out again. Newmar reassured me this could not happen. I was still skeptical and had Bev watching the lock plates as we ventured off Cape Breton and headed west toward New Glasgow.
Two hours later I pulled into the tight confines of Stone’s RV. It wasn’t that Stone didn’t have enough land. He just had a huge inventory of motor homes, trailers, and 5th wheels.
Bob was a nice overworked service advisor. If he was paid a nickel every time the phone rang for him he could have retired years ago. My strategy was simple. I was afraid of being assigned the back of the line. Our bus took up a good portion of their available parking and I hoped this would make them want to get rid of me.
In an hour I met Brian Boomer. Brian was a senior motor home mechanic. He had worked on lots of Newmar’s and gone to Newmar School a number of times. I felt in good hands. I showed him the motor. He seemed at home in the bay of the coach. He cut the wires to the motor to attach his own battery to see if it was a power issue. It was not. The motor spun and nothing moved.
“Gears are stripped.” Was his succinct diagnosis. “You need a new motor and gear assembly.”
Back to Bob. He handed me off to Dale Fraser. Dale was the head of the parts department and turned out to be the fellow who “got things done.” We visited with Newmar for a while. No one likes warranty work. I got the picture. I said I would pay the bill and deal with Newmar later. Things started happening. Newmar had the motor. They would send it out and said it would arrive in 7-10 business days.
“Doesn’t work for us.” I told Dale. He relayed this to Newmar and they finally agreed to send it second day air. I was starting to have hope.
Dale found us a nearby RV park and Bev and I departed to await the arrival of the motor. We made it about 75 yards before the slide fell out again. There appeared no way to secure the slide in. In retrospect the locks required the electrical integrity of the motor that was lost when the wires were cut. But we didn’t know it at the time.
Dale arranged to have us pull up next to the shop at night and use their 30 amp. Power and even provided water for us. At least we were off the road and not in a graveyard.
We got to know New Glasgow pretty well over the next 3 days. Didn’t really need that much time. The province and the town had constructed a 40 million dollar rec center complete with Wi-Fi. Swimming pool, Wi-Fi, what more could a guy want.
Thur. arrived and late in the afternoon the Purolator currier dropped off the motor. Dale and I quickly checked and found it matched the offending motor. Brian said he could address the motor first thing in the morning.
The weather was simply hot. I hoped Brian could get the motor on before the brutal 90 degree mid day heat. The height of my motor home prevented it from going into the bay. It didn’t matter as no one had air conditioning anyway.
By three in the afternoon Brian had finally moved the shaft enough to get the new motor on and put everything back together. Time for the long awaited test. Brian told me to hit the slide button. It moved a few inches and quit. No worries. Brain knew how to adjust the current flow to the motors with a little screw he found in a control box. The slide moved a little more. In another few minutes he had it moving in and out. I didn’t trust anything about this slide. Every time Brian would go for a tool or something I would move the slide in and out. It continued to work. Brian showed me how the slide still needed a final adjustment but this could be done at the factory – my pre scheduled on my way back to Colorado.
Shortly after 4PM we bid good bye to our friends at Stone’s RV and headed for Cape Breton. It was great to have our home back and functioning.
We drove up Trans Canada 104 on Cape Breton. As we neared our savior graveyard I gave a gentle blast of the air horn. We reached Lake Bras’d Or (pronounced ‘Brador’) Campground around 8 that night. It felt like we were back on our journey. As we set up for the night I held my breath as I touched to slide button. It worked. We slept well that night.