Hello all, John here.
The weather here has been quite unusual. We started yesterday at 45 degrees and sun, quickly jumping up to 65, then at 3:00 the bottom fell out. Wind picked up to gusts of +40mph, and the temp plummeted to below freezing by 5, and 11 degrees over night. The wind was the worst part, and it being almost a due west wind, I had to pull the slide in since it was blowing the topper all over. Not a huge deal since I had to tear down for the big adventure today anyhow!
Today was the day for new shoes for the motor home! Our old tires were made in June of 2000, which puts then at 7 1/2 years. They made me nervous because of their age, and they were starting to show weather cracking on them. It was time for new ones. Rubber made prior to 2006, has a life expectancy of 5 to 7 years. On a Motor home you rarely run the tread out, and that was the case with these, they hardly had any wear that was visible. Being the major pain that it is to replace a tire on the road, and the potential for major damage, and possible life threating damage, we felt it best to replace them now.
I decided to stay with Michelin XZE tires, although we did go one load range higher, from G to H. This means the tire has 2 more plys on the sidewall, and is capable of handling a larger load at the same air pressure, or less air pressure for a better ride. In our case, we are taking the better ride option, and are now able to run about 20 lbs per tire less. Part of the deal was an alignment. we haven’t had any wear or handling problems but I wanted to be sure all was well. When we bought the unit they supposedly aligned it, but since I wasn’t standing there watching them their idea of alignment might have just been setting the toe.
For the tires and service work I shopped around Saint Louis, and got some surprising results, prices varied by as much as $500.00 for the complete job. I almost had selected the vendor I was going to use and George gave me another lead, who came in the cheapest for the entire job, but not necessarily the cheapest per tire. The company was Brahler’s Truck Supply, on Hall St. in Saint Louis. The deal was put together almost entirely by email, which was very convenient, and Jim Crawford, the salesman was very knowledgeable and very accommodating. We set the appointment for a couple weeks out, because he agreed to order the tires in special so we would have matching, most recent date codes. I confirmed yesterday the 8:00 appointment, and felt good leaving the park this AM about it.
So I arrived a bit early, and the service manager (I think his name was Warren) was in the shop, and I told him who I was and what I wanted. He looked at his watch and said “you’re late” I replied back with a “Good Morning to you too, and if you talked to Jim, you would know my appointment was set for 8:00.” He returns quite gruffly with “NO! your alignment is set for 8, and these should have been done yesterday”. Not wanting to get into an argument with the help, I quietly responded “Well, I am here now, do you want to put my tires on, or should I go find Jim and tell him I am taking his $3200 sale to his nearest competitor?” at the same time thinking to myself, here we go again, why can’t I ever get good service? He grunted for me to pull into a bay, and he had two guys start in on it right away. The tire guy, Jack (short black fellow) was very good at what he did, which I would hope since he has been doing it for 30 years. He was polite, and fairly quick. The alignment guy Dave, also helped him a bit. Just after we got in the bay, Jim showed up, and we had a nice conversation. Part of that being why he really doesn’t care to do many motor homes. I am paraphrasing and elaborating his exact words but he basically said with RV work there usually comes an over privileged tight ass who knows just enough about the subject to make his job really difficult. I guess that could say something about the RV community as a whole, and might be a reason why it is hard to find a good service provider. He then called Warren over and asked him what he thought of RV work. Warren’s comments weren’t nearly as politically correct as Jim’s, and basically summed up why I was treated as such when I walked in the door. After Warren observed Jim and my conversation he mellowed quite a bit and did whatever he could to speed things along, and make sure I was happy. Funny how those things work.
After Jack finished up the tire work, I pulled up on the alignment rack. Here is where I got a bit frustrated. Jim was adamant that he had the best alignment tech in Saint Louis, and that he had done lots of IFS work before. As soon as I got on the rack the first words out of Dave’s mouth was “I have never seen anything like this before…” Dave did have good credentials, but like with most truck shops his experience was mostly with heavy straight axles. He did have a good attitude, and when things didn’t look right he knew to say he was in over his head. Together we called Freightliner Custom Chassis, and the tech on the line was more than helpful. He gave Dave the spec’s and explained how to adjust what he would need to, and even what to expect on my chassis with the Neway IFS. I watched Dave do exactly as Freightliner told him to, and all is well. I am glad I paid the extra for the alignment, the right side camber was off by quite a bit, but was easily brought into adjustment. The toe was set, and the rest looked great. Even though Dave didn’t know what he was getting into he handled the situation well, was willing to learn something new, and wasn’t afraid to spend some extra time to get it right.
I got out of there about 12:30, so not too bad time wise for 6 tires and an alignment. The camper rides much better, and I am very happy with the service provided, despite the rocky start. The bill came in at what they quoted, and I wouldn’t hesitate to go back.
Prince even had fun looking out the windows, he couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on.
So, I’m back at the park and all setup, and everyhting looks good. I wish it was warmer and I would clean up my wheels… doesn’t pay though since they are talking major snow tomorrow. Ugh.
Derek will post some pictures when he gets home.
Have a good night!