3.19.2011

The 2-bit Part

When we bought our lil fancy ultra-lite state-of-the-art 18 foot camper a year ago, folks said we were crazy. Friends informed us that those things "weren't nuthin' but trouble!" " Big ole money pits" is all they are, we were told. Just like boats, a neighbor said. " Bottomless cash pits", he preached. "Wait a minute there Bud, ya do realize I'm Cappy right? I know boats. Heck, what do ya think that is on my driveway?", I asked, motioning towards our boat. "A out-board motor rack??" "Another thing", I argued, "I been camping since I was a kid. I camped in mosquito net hammocks, tents, pop-ups, pickup truck beds, etc. all my life. Just 'cause I ain't never had a trailor camper don't mean I don't know what I'm doing", I calmly replied(NOT).
Imagine my joy when Peggy and I set sail on a 3000 mile road trip last Fall. We camped our way all the way to New York State to spoil the grandchildren, watch the leaves fall, visit friends, and then camped our way back again with nary a camper problem. Oh, there were problems to be sure; problems with the SUV, but not the camper. It wouldn't be an adventure with some kind of problems, and I'm sure Peggy will tell the story eventually, but the camper performed flawlessly, and I couldn't wait to park it back in the yard and inform all those nay sayers how wrong they were about our lil camper; which I did, at length, several times.
This Spring we opened the slide-out and set up our camper on the driveway to use as a guest house for company passing through for a visit. I was a lil disappointed to find a puddle of water on the floor the next morning, but not too worried. I made a quick call to the service department of the camper place, and made sure I wouldn't void our warrenty by fixing the drip myself. The guy said, "no problem", so I opened the access panel under the mattress and exposed the plumbing. I quickly saw the problem; a fitting on the end of the main water supply hose was leaking. It was one of those crimped on fittings and was leaking at the crimp. I cut the fitting off the hose with my pocket knife, jumped in my Jeep and went to the local hardware store, fitting in hand, for a replacement fitting. Jimmy, my friend, at the hardware informed me that they didn't carry that type of fitting. "Ya gotta get that at a camper store" he said with a twinkle in his eye. The hose fitting had a 90 degree swivel fitting in it, ending in a water hose female fitting. He had plenty water hose replacement ends but none with a 90 degree bend in them. Still unperturbed, I figured 'what the heck'; might as well make an adventure out of it.
The next day Peggy and I loaded up and drove the thirty minutes to New Orleans to the camper place. We chatted up the guys there and visited for a while, and the parts guy GAVE us 2 replacement parts for FREE. He said, "No big deal; we will write them off as warrenty work". We left the place with me feeling kinda smug at a plan I made. Since we were all the way down there we went out to eat a Valentines Day dinner at a Chinese restaurant. The meal was good and we had a blast and went home laughing and singing like we do, feeling great that the camper part was free and we could write off the gas for the trip, in our minds, on our Valentine date, and all was well. That is until the next morning when I discovered I had the wrong parts! The parts the guy gave me were meant to fit over a tubing and what I had was a hose that was too thick for the fitting to fit over. When he had handed them to me the day before, I had just shoved them in my pocket and walked out, not noticing that what he gave me was some "outies" that fit over a tubing. What I needed was some "innies" that go in a hose. I gotta tell ya at this point I'm beginnin' to get a lil aggravated. This free 2-bit part was starting to get ma dander up. I went in, broke the news to Peggy and we decided to drive straight there and back again and get it over. This lil project was beginning to eat up some of my precious fishing and yard time with my playmate.
We rushed down to the camper place, explained the problem to the parts guy again, and traded our 2 free parts in for 2 more free parts; this time the right ones. We left feeling pretty good, making good time and finally getting something accomplished. By the time we were climbing up the "310 bridge" over the Mississippi river, headed home, we gave a big sigh of relief figuring, at last we had the worst behind us. Boy were we wrong. As we came down the bridge we heard a "thump", like a stone hit the side of the SUV. At the exit ramp Peggy noticed something didn't feel right, and knew right away it was a flat tire. When we pulled over onto the shoulder to look, I found the driver's side back tire ruined. "Not a problem", I thought. "I have changed many tires in my time and it aint much a chore", I told Peggy as I got out the jack and stuff from under the back seat. Imagine my surprise, anguish, embarrassment when I couldn't get the spare tire out from under the vehicle. I cranked the cable wench thingy to drop the tire and the cable unrolled all the way to the ground but the tire stayed in place. I pried, pulled, pried and cursed, shaking the whole SUV with my effort, but the tire wasn't budging. A nice young guy obviously on his way home from work stopped to lend a hand, but with both of our combined efforts we couldn't shake the tire loose. I was running out of options but not whooped yet, so I told Peggy to call AAA. We waited for about an hour for them to get to us, it being rush hour. The triple A guy named Desi, from Tony's Towing in Kenner, Louisisana couldn't get the spare tire down either, even with his best efforts. We wound up having to have the dang thing "flat-bedded" all the way back to our home town and unloaded it at the local tire place. Oh yeah, did I mention da dawgs were along on this adventure? We rode in the truck with the AAA guy, but the dogs had to ride up on the truck in our SUV. After dragging the thing into the stall in the garage of the tire store, our buddy there told us the folks at Trapp Chevy in Houma had put the spare tire in upside down and had wedged it up under the frame of the SUV. With a lot of professional tools and muscles, they finally got the spare tire pried loose and put on temporarily, and ordered a replacement tire. We went home exhausted. I had completely forgotten the camper parts in my pocket 'til the next day. After we picked up the new tire, I remembered the camper parts. After all that, I had the camper drip fixed in less time than it took me to type this sentence.


















Lets recap: 2 round trips to New Orleans: $60. for gas, $60 for tow truck, $240 for tire and service, $35. meal and tip at the Chinese buffet, and a free 2- bit part. See, like I said campers aint money pits. SUV's well, das another story.
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