Nov 12, 2019

A bit of progress

We started the morning working on sorting out the cracked windshield issue.  Turns out that we only have part of our insurance with ICBC and the other part with Aviva.  Our glass coverage is with them and our deductible in not $500.00 as I had previously posted but $250.00.  They say to go ahead and get a new windshield installed and that they will reimburse us once we get back to Canada.  A special thank you to blog readers Karen, Neil and Scott who came to the rescue with some suggestions.  Neil who is new to the comment section of my blog and most welcome gave us the phone number of a company to contact.  We did indeed call Andy who is most knowledgeable but it will take a week to get the glass in.  We just can’t delay that much longer.  He did inform us that the cost was $1600.00US 😯  Meanwhile we are hoping that Hector will come through for us tomorrow and do a minor repair that will hold the window together at least as far as Mazatlan and back to the US, about 1500 miles.

Next up was Accu-Trac who would have been willing to start operation radiator today.  Colin decided to wait until tomorrow just in case.  Sure enough the delivery was delayed and in the end only got to Accu -Trac about 3 PM this afternoon.

Sadly we discovered that it was not the radiator that we had ordered 😥  We wanted the brass and copper one but were sent the aluminum one as that was all they had in stock. We would have to wait a few more days for one to be shipped out from California. Colin called his go to guy at Freightliner back home in Kelowna and Troy said that many semis are now using aluminum rads. That this is the new normal and they are considered good radiators these days.  When they first came out years ago, they were not very good at all.  This particular one is all aluminum with no plastic at all. Both Troy and Performance Radiators here in Tucson who brought it in for us claim that we should get at least ten years out of it. So we now have an appointment with Accu-Trac at 7:30AM tomorrow.  They say that they will have us on the road at the end of the day 😎

Even better is that Accu – Trac charge $107.00 per hour for labour versus the $155.00 per hour that Freightliner charges. We also will be able to be right there to see what is happening and ask questions.  Also that means that Hector can come and work his window magic.  He would not have been allowed access to the RV at Freightliner.  I cancelled our hotel reservation for tonight for $95.00US and instead paid an additional $41.00 for another night here at the Crazy Horse RV Park.  We were supposed to be out of the RV tonight. So much nicer to be in our own RV tonight and again tomorrow night.  We so hope that this will all work out.  Accu – Trac is less than a mile away from here so by adding coolant we will be able to drive there with no issues.

Because of the increasing velocity of the wind Colin took down the arm and dish but left the tripod up.  It took less that five minutes to set it all up again and get 90% green on both lines.  We are taping a show tonight so it was nice to use the already set up dish.

The cold front arrived here in Tucson this morning with 60F temps and huge winds, gusting to 20 plus MPH. I had heat on inside for most of the morning. We did go out to do our final grocery shop this afternoon before crossing the Mexican border.  Tonight after we shower we will fill the fresh water tank and dump the grey.  That way we are ready for anything.  We also fuelled up the Jeep at 2.35.  Good price.

I love my RV fridge.  I actually have nine heads of romaine in there plus, plus, plus.

Now for the Mexico updates.

Click here for link about crossing into Mexico at Nogales on November 11th, part one.  This is an excellent detailed article by my friend Carol.  I was to cross two days prior but with our breakdown she and Bill went ahead of us.

Carol just posted part two of the 5 1/2 hour trip from Nogales to San Carlos.  You can access that well written and detailed trip by clicking here. I especially appreciate her comment about not worrying about the orange cones when doing that sharp left turn off to the Hermosillo bypass.  I would have been most concerned as we approached that area from a distance.  The distance travelled via the bypass may be the same but the ease of the drive as mentioned by Carol is most important.  I shuddered every time we had to drive though that city.

I also received input this evening from long time RVer Audrey who crossed into Mexico today via Lukeville.  I know that some of you are waiting to read this.  This is her report in her words.

Crossed the border at Lukeville/Sonoyta in our 1 ton dually pulling a 5th wheel, after going down to the border yesterday to get tourist visas. Once at the customs(aduana) at around k21, we took the autobus entrance, which is the second one. Passable English was spoken, we were told at Banjercito that our truck was over the allowable weight and we would need authorization from customs official.  This was no problem, as the customs office is in the same building, and the officer stamped our form, no questions asked. We then completed our TIP, and were on our way.  The road conditions from Sonoyta to Caborca were ok, there was just 1 rough and dusty detour of about 2 miles, N of Caborca.  From there to Santa Ana the road was good 4 lane divided, with one hefty toll.  Punta Vista RV park in Santa Ana is open, and would welcome your business!

Thank you ladies for your input.  This is going to help many others crossing into Mexico in the next few weeks.

Stay tuned for the details of operation radiator.




Nov 11, 2019

Que pasa

We spent sometime last evening and again this morning debating a new radiator vs a repaired one and for certain we want a new radiator.  So Colin was at Freightliner about 7:30AM today. First thing is that the parts department needs to try and find a new radiator that will fit onto our Spartan chassis. They can’t even discuss scheduling us in for the work until we have the part.

While Colin was gone I received an email from blog reader Larry who is in  Charlotte, NC.  His exact words were Hi, I see you are stuck in Tucson at the Crazy Horse Rv park.  I assume you are going to have the garage across I-10 from the TTT work on your radiator.  If so I would be careful dealing with them.  They have a poor reputation.  I never even checked their reviews on Google.  Thank you ever so much Larry. The reviews were mostly very  bad.  Someone actually had a radiator done by them and it started to leak three weeks later.

Once Colin got back from Freightliner we decided to try and find our own new radiator as the parts department were not very positive.  So I researched  on line while Colin made the phone calls.  I really thought that today would be a day of R & R  🙄

We worked from 8AM until 1PM.  Colin made 69 phone calls during that time.

He called Spartan (our chassis) a few times trying to get the dimensions of our radiator core.   I said to call such and such a number.  They had a radiator that they thought might work.  We still needed to go back and forth re size.  We called the people who made our current radiator for Spartan and they don’t have it any longer.  The history in my computer is extraordinary. I had three windows open with multiple tabs in each. Colin finally called the parts guy, Jake, at Freightliner.  He said that he had found something and it was $2400.00 plus $440.00 shipping and it was an aluminum and plastic radiator.  The one that Colin had found and was trying to verify sizes by calling Spartan was only $812.00 plus no charge for shipping, it was in Phoenix.  And it was brass and copper 😀  The back and forth on sizing took hours.  Meanwhile we called Jake in parts and told him about the $817.00 radiator.  Silence.  Then he said he would look again.  He never called us back, we always had to call him. By now we were certain that Colin’s find was a 95% fit.  Would Freightliner install it if we ordered it?  Yes. However Jake had found another radiator for only $912.00 plus $100.00 overnight shipping.  Sadly it was again an aluminium radiator.  We had until 1PM to make a decision and the clock was ticking.  At this point it wasn’t about the small difference in money but about copper and brass vs aluminum.

Spartan offered to send someone to the warehouse to measure the unit but they mis measured it.  We also found out that we had until 3PM to order the copper and brass unit.  Colin called Freightliner about scheduling the removal and insertion of the new unit.  Ideally we would like it done in one day, that way we don’t have to pack up and move into a hotel.  Earlier this morning service had said it was possible to do it on Wednesday.  They were not answering their phone so Colin drove over.  Meanwhile we were still waiting for the fellow to come and repair the windshield.

I needed to get laundry done so I got started on that, Colin dropped off my two large baskets.  I had walked back to the RV when he arrived.  He decided to order the part from Phoenix. They said that if the part did not fit and was not damaged from us unpacking and trying it that they would take it back.  Back to service and now it appears that Thursday is the first day that they may be able to change out the radiator 😯

Earlier today when we started researching other possibilities we were given the name of the company across the road that we no longer wanted to deal with.  They had quoted us between $2500.00 – $3,000.00 to remove, repair and install our radiator.  Now we had a brand new radiator for much less than that price including labour.  So we asked for another recommendation and Accu – Trac Truck Repair was suggested.  They did answer the phone this morning and told Colin that they could do it.  However they were not returning calls nor emails later when we had more specific questions.  Colin drove over there and they were closed for the holiday.  They have great online reviews.  I guess we just got the manager for a few moments earlier today.  He said that he could do it but we did not specifically ask if they could do it in one day, etc. Regardless you can see that we will be paying much less for a new radiator plus labour than we would going to the first company we found for a repair at over $2500.00.  Thank you again Larry.  I do love my blog readers.

So as it stands, we have a radiator coming in tomorrow about 10AM  that we hope will fit.  We will check with Accu -Trac at 7:30AM when they open if they can do it all tomorrow or even in one shot on Wednesday. If not then we take the RV to Freightliner and can pray for Wednesday but likely will have to settle for Thursday.  I checked and we can stay here in our site for one more night at over $40.00.  Or we can move over to the free hookups at Freightliner.

Once the laundry was done, we headed over to Trader Joe’s for a few items.  I just checked the bill and they over charged me by $1.50 for one item 😥  I don’t think I have time to deal with that.  The checkout gal was a bit absentminded and I was too distraught to focus.

On the way back to the RV we refilled one of our two five gallon jugs of water.  We are preparing to leave tomorrow and are planning as if we will be dry camping for five days.  So I had to come in and wash my hair (lots of water, etc. ).  We then dumped the tanks, filled the water tank etc.  Funny as we may even end up here all day tomorrow. But on the other hand we may be gone to Accu-Trac by 8AM so that they can start taking out the radiator.

So I can’t tell you the que pasa because I have no idea what is going to happen.

As we left the Circle K, I was surprised to see CBD being sold right next to the soft drinks and cigarettes.

At the moment we are in limbo re the windshield repair.  The crack is about 20 inches long and is exactly where I look out the front window as we drive.  The window repair dude never turned up and I started to call others. We also started asking about a replacement window  but that would take 5-7 days.  Some said that we should not try and stop the crack from spreading. Others said that they could try.  Finally Colin spoke with Hector @ Tony’s but he is away tomorrow but says that he is the only one who can fix it for us before we head to Mexico.  He claims that he has a special technique that only he can do. However we have no idea where we will be on Wednesday.  So at this point we are to call him Wednesday in the morning.  As you can see it is all up in the air.

I have moved onto chocolate as wine is not helping.  Will this nightmare ever end?



Nov 10, 2019

Two more things need to be repaired

Colin was surprised this morning when he opened the curtains. He recalls hearing a snap at some point last evening.

We did hear a stone hit the windshield yesterday morning as we drove back to Tucson. I guess by putting the jacks down the RV got slightly torqued and the window gave. 

We spent most of the day waiting for a mobile window repair guy.  The crack is about 18 – 24 inches.  We have a $500.00 deductible for window replacement back in Canada with our insurance policy.  Does anyone know if ICBC will replace a window in the US?  Anyway it turns out that the fellow will come by tomorrow morning now.  We both spent a good deal of time researching parts including radiators plus some what ifs.

Last night our special Shaw remote refused to fast forward nor rewind. Colin asked a friend to bring us a new one when he came in December.  Then for some reason he decided to check out You Tube and there was a step by step video.

He carefully took it apart and cleaned it as instructed and it works again.  Yeah Colin.

Earlier today I got a comment from a blog reader, Dave, who happens to be less than a mile away.

Debbie and Dave are full timers currently on hold at an RV hook up at Freightliner.  They have some work that needs doing.  We had a lovely visit and learned that Freightliner is open tomorrow on the holiday. We wrongly assumed that they would be closed tomorrow. Colin will be sure to check in there early tomorrow morning to see if they can do something for us quicker than the other place and if they can find us a new radiator.


Nov 09, 2019

We did not cross into Mexico today

I don’t know where to begin but best to go back to where I left off yesterday.

Now I know why we use the bypass via Buckeye along Hwy 85 and onto I8 and then onto I 10 and onto Tucson and I19. Going around Phoenix is a nightmare especially on a Friday afternoon of a long weekend.  We only discovered today that it was a long weekend.

How pretty our crushed recycling looks.

We were going to be arriving in the dark by about 30 minutes.

That was the 30 minutes I tried to get our Visa card to work yesterday at Freightliner.

Or the 20 minute merge onto I19 because of an accident. We had to stop along here as that loose fender began flying in the breeze again. Enough to get two truckers to warn us and and one honking single motorist.

We checked into Mountain View RV Park about 6:30PM.  We drove 283.3 miles yesterday, about the same had we done the Hwy 85 bypass.  We had not been stopped more than 5 minutes when there was a knock at the door .  A woman was selling beef tamales.  Meanwhile Colin came in as I was setting up to tell me that we had no coolant in the reservoir plus there was some dirt in there. So Colin went over to ask Bill of More Golden Years if he had any suggestions.  We knew that Carol and Bill would be there. No concrete suggestions but we had a very short visit before I chased them out as we had to eat.

Considering the circumstances I thought that we were eating a very good meal at 9:30PM.  Wild salmon patty, romaine salad, coleslaw, broccoli and rice. I finally completed my blog at midnight.

This morning we woke up refreshed at 7AM.  We were not in a rush as we did not want to arrive in the Totonaka area too soon due to the heat and us not have any cooling system with both the generator and batteries down.  Last night I had pulled out all my Mexico maps, put our US money away and filled our wallets with pesos and call forwarded our Canadian cell phone to our home number.  We were ready to hit that Mexican border.

Colin came in just before we put our slides in and told me that we were not going anywhere.  We had a major problem with the radiator.  Bill came over and said that if it was him he would not move towards Mexico.  I finally found a truck repair place open in Tucson and they said that they would help us once we arrived. So off we went heading north 😥  and got there about 10:05AM, they came over to see us about 11AM. They did a pressure test and it was very obvious that we had a radiator leak.

They obviously work on both RV’s and trucks so we felt that we were in good hands.  However this is when we became aware that it was a long weekend.  No one would work on the radiator until Tuesday.

Lots of oil on the back of the engine(last night in the dark, Colin was checking the oil level too and forgot to tighten the oil fill cap) and dripping antifreeze everywhere. So we decided to limp to an RV park less than a mile away that happened to have just one open site for the weekend.

Better to do that for three nights and return at 7AM Tuesday and have the radiator removed.  It would then be sent to a radiator shop that usually manages to do a 24 hour turn around. We would of course have to move into a hotel for Tuesday evening. If the radiator was not back by noon Wednesday then we might have to spend a second night in the hotel.  We are really hoping for a reinstall by Wednesday late afternoon so that we can cross into Mexico on Thursday.  We still have an appointment to have our generator removed the morning of our arrival into Mazatlan.  I think that possibly Saturday would work but not so much Sunday. Our only concern is that this shop only deals in cash.  We will have many trips to an ATM and between us we will get the required cash amount.

Fortunately we were able to check into the Crazy Horse RV Park for a discounted $41.40 per night 😯  We have no choice as we can’t drive too far.  Wish that the internet was better but at least we have a spot.  I was pretty much in shock for most of the day but am finally accepting the que pasa of it all. I did all of my million  to do’s today and plan to take the next two days off.  We can run around on Tuesday and Wednesday when we are homeless.

Colin with the help of our French Canadian neighbour sorted out our blowing in the wind fender problem. He provided and helped install this brace and it works.

Those two basement doors will now open as one. That white stripe in the middle is residue from the gorilla tape.  Colin will remove that tomorrow.

Lovely sunset tonight but from the wrong country.  Oh by the way, that canopy cover is all solar panels.  You have to pay $7.00 more per night to benefit from the shade of the canopy.  We had no choice as this was the only open spot.  You have no idea how much we wish to be free of being tied to an RV park.

Our original radiator only lasted until April 2008, however it was repaired twice, first time in Rincon, found it coming down the hill, second time in Aguascalientes and found it because Carmeh insisted on going to the bathroom right now.  So we stopped beside a Pemex that become our home for several days.  They were most gracias as it was a car only Pemex. Both those times it was removed and repaired off site. Then we had the core replaced in Vancouver in April of 2008 at Ed Walkers’s.  So this time we were just an hour away from Mexico when we caught the problem. Our radiator apparently prefers to break down in Mexico.  This time our second original core will be repaired here in the US.

Yes I know, not the post that you were expecting.  Still hoping to get to the Isla sometime next weekend.



Nov 08, 2019

Pushing ahead! From one RV service facility to another….

….it is not costing us a ton of money but is huge on frustration.  Some have commented on how unlucky we are.  I prefer to say that we have enjoyed this RV from 19 wonderful years with few incidents. Now that I am blogging and mention every single incident it seems to be a lot and it is but then we are dealing with an aging lady who needs some TLC.  She has another 2o years in her.

I want to start with the Mexico updates in case you get bored reading about the que pasa of the next breakdown.

This is a brief note from Kathy of Kathy & Eric’s Travels. Click here for her post from Nogales to Navajoa. Plus this is a wee an excerpt from yesterday re travel on the Sinaloa roads “Yesterday’s travel was on Sinaloa roads and they aren’t like the new concrete Sornora ones.  Some areas were repaved but a lot were rough and …lots of expensive tolls.    However…we weren’t pulling the RV so it was a lot easier on us because the fifth wheel wasn’t bashing around behind us.  I might also add that in the two days travel from the Mexican border we did not see even one RV.  No motorhomes, no trailers or 5th wheels.  Odd.

Carol and Bill who write More Golden Years are staying in Amado and went into get their paperwork at KM 21 yesterday.  Click here for a detailed write up between Nogales and KM21.  There is some great advice in here. Thank you Carol, now I won’t have to write about this tomorrow.  Plus you gave me some pointers about those different wave topes.

Blog reader Al sent some valuable information re manually setting up the Shaw wineguard system in the US and in Mexico.  Thanks for this.  I know that Pierre is ecstatic as he now has TV again.

SK-7003 Manual Point Procedure-1

In the good news department, Libby was flown back to Edmonton today.  Apparently she endured the flight well and last I heard was being checked in via emergency.  Likely she will be having surgery on the one arm in the next  day or so.

Back to when we arrived in Quartzsite yesterday.  We did all the usual like fill the propane, fill up our two fresh water five gallon jugs and head over to RV Lifestyles.

Buck made a point of explaining all the details of the Heathrite 10,000 BTU heating system.

You can get a manual or thermostat adjustment and of course the 10K size or even larger.  Then you have to chose between the blue flame heater ( on the left ) which directs the heat upward or the radiant heater ( second from the left ) aka as the two brick heater.  We chose the radiant  heater and as they could not install it until mid next week we will wait and have them hold it for us and get it done in March on our way north.  I have a question for all of you who already have one of these, which one did you chose and why?  I like the idea of the heat coming directly towards me and warming me up.  We then stoped at Love’s and had Alan check the tires and he agrees that we do need new ones but that these would get us the 1500 miles to and from Mazatlan. Another quick stop at Herbs Hardware for a few water parts and we were done with the errands.

We checked into the Passport America Park, Hasslers RV Park, just on the dot of five as the office was closing. A great place for $15.95 per night.  A great deal neat art on site.

We parked, put the jacks down and slides out and then noticed our neighbour who lives in this small cargo van. When I opened our bedroom window which was jus a few feet away, I gasped.  The smell of smoke was unbearable.  Colin agreed.  Plus we had no idea if he left the door open all night.

This is where our latest issue started, the rear RV airbags were not inflating.  Finally we got them half full and were able to wobble to a new pull through site. Which was one site over from this gentleman.  It  appears that he likes to collect things.

What a cute little place just across the way from us.

We want to say a very special thank you to Sky who was managing the park for a few days.  She is a Canadian from Salmon Arm and was beyond helpful.  We have always dry camped in Q but with our current issues and needing shore power we had no choice.  Hasslers RV park is an interesting place in many ways other than it’s neat decor and art and has some very unique people living there.  It would be interesting to meet some of them .  However we were beyond exhausted and needed to rest.

We ended up walking over to Silly Al’s for pizza as I was too tired to cook. This was a great bruschetta pizza with lots of fresh ‘real’ mushrooms, garlic and a good deal mozzarella cheese.  Our first time there but for certain we will be going back.

There was a live band playing and they were pretty good but the sound levels were off and made the music discordant. Colin thought that the guitarist was very good.  We even danced to two songs but I was ready to leave.  In fact I was in bed by 9:30PM.

Colin took the photos with his iPhone. Our RV.

Love the whale on the right.

Apparently there are over 10,000 horseshoes in all these pieces of art.

This morning was the big reveal.  As I showered Colin called around to find where we could get air bag repairs.  He even discovered that possible the local Love’s might be able to help.  We dumped and filled the fresh water tank as we had no idea if we would be leaving and if we did how far would we get or would be stuck at a truck repair chop over the weekend.  Colin walked away to dispose of our garbage while I sent out a prayer to the powers that be to get us going.  I then started the engine.  Colin came back and put it into cruise control at 1200 RPM in order to speed up the compressor that would create a greater flow of air to the air bags.  It worked and we were driving by 9:30AM.

We stopped at Freightliner in Tolleson just west of Phoenix at 11:30 PM.

They have their own RV division but were fully booked but promised to fit us in.  The RV was not taken in until 12:40 and we only then learned that they only work until 3:30PM on a Friday.  We really did not want to stay there until Monday. At 2PM we were told that the RV was ready.  They have no idea if they fixed the problem as the problem did nor manifest itself.  They only had the one part out of the two that could be the problem so they changed that.  $418.00USD!!!  The part cost $76.00. Ouch  😯  However we were not hooked up and driving until 2:50PM.  Colin moved the RV and the Jeep and did the hooking up while I spent a full thirty minutes trying to pay the bill.  Their credit card machine refused our Canadian card.  We tried bypassing the PIN, etc.  I called ScotiaVisa and they said that the card was fine but the machine was the problem.  Finally my Mastercard worked by bypassing the PIN.  Just one more thing to deal with.  That half hour delay would become an issue later in the day.

It is now midnight and we are crossing into Mexico tomorrow.  You will get the rest of the story in the next post. Suffice to say we are in Amado and hopefully good to go.  Oh yes there was another coolant reservoir issue tonight.  More on that tomorrow.





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