2013 Travels travel blog

Carpe Diem at Freightliner Factory Service Center

We awoke to thick fog in Knoxville

A foggy "sunrise" over Knoxville Wal*Mart

Construction along I 40 in Tennessee

Crossing into North Carolina on I 40

I 40 has a few tunnels thru the Great Smoky Mtns

Great Smoky Mountains along I 40

We did some climbing and then descending

Long downhill on I 40

We headed east on I 26

We broke for lunch at an I 26 Rest Stop

Welcome to South Carolina

South Carolina's diesel price is much better

Gaffney's water tank shouts "Peach Country"

Today's destination: Freightliner's Factory Service Center

Fri, 04 Oct: Over hill, over dale... Or up we go and now we come down!

We awoke to a foggy Wal*Mart parking lot in Knoxville. We could barely see the store thru the fog and the sunrise consisted of a fuzzy round thing. Since today's run was fairly short (188 miles) and we didn't want to arrive too early, we took our time getting things ready and underway.

We were a short distance from I 640 (as evidenced by the truck traffic we heard all nite) and within a mile of getting in the loop we transitioned to I 40 east. This I 40 is quite a bit different than the I 40 we know (and love) in the west. First of all, it is really hilly and curvy. Also, there is much more traffic than we're used to (or care for).

Despite our complaints we didn't have any major problems. The fog dissipated as the morning wore on and the construction projects were few and minimally impeded our progress. As the interstate rise to go thru the Great Smoky Mountains there were a few tunnels that weren't a problem. The uphill and downhill didn't affect our overall fuel economy too much (about 8.2 mpg for the day) and our Cummins turbodiesel handled things nicely.

We switched drivers mid way and Bob got to "play in traffic". Shortly before noon we stopped at a rest stop along I 26 for a long (1½ hour) lunch. Again, since we didn't want to arrive too early we spent the time lunching and just relaxing.

Into South Carolina and then from I 26 to I 85 in Spartanburg. Another thirty miles to Gaffney, today's destination. But first, the diesel fuel prices in South Carolina are about 70¢/gallon less than Tennessee and North Carolina. Needless to say, we stopped at the Gaffney Pilot/Flying J where we filled up at $3.379/gallon with our PilotRV Plus card. Yeah, getting excited about $3.379/gallon fuel is probably giving in to the "new normal" instead of being mad as heck about it.

We arrived at the Freightliner Factory Service Center at 1440 and found the space we used three years ago vacant. We disconnected the car, topped off our fresh water tank, and got Carpe parked and plugged in. Since it was in the mid eighties and very humid turning on the air conditioner was a priority and we're thankful for the 50 ampere service we'll enjoy while parked here.

We are scheduled to take Carpe Diem in first thing Monday morning for her annual chassis, engine, and generator service. These services are very extensive and consist of far more than changing the oil and filter. She'll be in the shop for two days and, when finished, she'll be good for another year and our charge card will be severely "Ka-Chinged".

Mon, 07 Oct: Hello Karen...

Karen, nèe "Tropical Storm Karen", is making herself known in northwest South Carolina with little more than rain and some lightening/thunder. The rain, which is sporadic, is nevertheless quite heavy. The expression "rain on a tin roof" equally applies to the relatively thin fiberglass roof of motorhomes. One most definitely knows when it is raining.

But, let's catch up on our doings since our last post...

Saturday was a relatively quiet stay-at-home day. Our mail, which was sent from pre-snowed-in Rapid City Thursday, was available for pickup at the Gaffney post office. So we drove over after breakfast and picked up a large flat rate box chock full of magazines and little else of any value. No nasty letters from the IRS so we consider it a good mail call.

Yesterday, Sunday, we took Dinkum on a 260 mile round trip to Winston-Salem to brunch with dear Maui friend Jon Burkhart. Visiting with Jon is always an exercise in keeping up with the whirlwind schedule this man keeps. We keep telling him that anyone with a schedule that full of volunteer obligations is in danger of failing retirement.

Jon is well and, as always, we enjoyed every second of the four hours we spent catching up on all of our activities. The drive was uneventful and we returned home right in time for Happy Hour (yes, "Happy Hour" is always spelled with upper case "H"s.)

Which brings us to today. As this is being written it is nine in the morning and Carpe Diem is in the Freightliner Custom Chassis Factory Service Center for her annual service. This is a pretty comprehensive service that'll require two days in the shop and mucho $$$s. But, it is a once per year service that includes all facets of the coach's running gear and propulsion systems. If it keeps us off the side of the road it is money well spent.

Later this morning we'll take the factory tour and then deal with several overflowing bags of laundry. Stay tuned for updates while we're here...

Update: 1700 We got a day back...

As planned, we took the factory tour for the third time and once again were amazed at how the folks at Freightliner Custom Chassis put these things together. They have three lines, one for school buses (all Thomas bus chassis are built here), another for delivery vans (all UPS, FedEx, and other delivery van chassis are built here), and the third for RVs. Right how FCCC has about 65% of the RV market, and the percentage continues to grow each year.

Following the tour we grabbed lunch at Taco Bell and then off to the laundry for a heaping big load of wash. We took several machines, several of them the larger ones, and were in and out in an hour and a half. Then back to the waiting room to await Carpe's release from service.

Around 1630 Pat, the lovely lady that does all the scheduling and really keeps the place running, came out to tell us that our coach was back in her spot and we were free to "go home". They had completed all work in one day instead of two and we would be free to leave tomorrow once we settled the bill. Since they found a cracked suspension air bag bracket and had to replace the left front air bag, they would file a claim with our extended warranty company. Pat would arrange that in the morning so we were free to sleep in! Life is grand...

Tue, 08 Oct: Well, we almost got "outta Dodge"...

As planned we slept in and took our time checking in with Pat. We know how swamped she gets first thing in the morning so we didn't approach her until well after nine. As she was going thru the paperwork she discovered that she'd forgotten to call the extended warranty claim in and would do so. We decided use the delay to visit Wal*Mart and stock up on some perishables.

We returned after eleven and Pat had everything ready to roll. The total was about what we figured (many $$$s), but the credit card managed to cover it without whimpering too loudly. Since it was almost lunch we opted to eat before hitting the road.

With the car connected we finally rolled wheels about 1215 and drove out of the service center and onto I 85 west toward Spartanburg. As soon as she got on the Interstate Sandi realized that the steering wheel was not centered as it should be. Rather, it was canted about 30° to the right. The coach handled fine, but the steering wheel was just not right and would be very annoying to drive. We exited the next off ramp, turned around, and headed back to FCCC.

Pat was aghast to learn we had a problem, and called the tech that did the work. He said that replacing the suspension air bag probably misaligned the steering and he would take care of it. Sure enough, they took Carpe back in around 1330 and she was back out an hour later. Sandi rode along on the test drive and even got to drive back. She declared the problem fixed.

Since it was now after three we asked if we could stay another nite. They said sure and we pulled right back in space #20 where we spent our fifth nite as the guests of Freightliner. As we've oft said: "It is perfectly normal for a firm to make a mistake. What sets remarkable firms apart is how they react to the mistake!" FCCC didn't point fingers, they accepted responsibility and corrected it on the spot.

Well, we gained a day and we lost a day, which puts us right back on schedule. We're off in the morning for places south and east of here. Not sure yet if it'll be Charleston SC or Savannah GA. Gotta be flexible y'all.

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