The Cons of Living in a Travel Trailer

Sorry we've been a little behind in posting lately. Between seeing friends in Virginia Beach (hey, Alissa & Jordan!), hosting my grandma and mother during our visit to D.C. and traveling to our next destination, Richmond, we've been a little tied up. Those are what we call good distractions -- the pros of living life on the road and seeing friends and family along the way.

 Shot taken during a visit to the Presidential Heads during our time near Virginia Beach.

Shot taken during a visit to the Presidential Heads during our time near Virginia Beach.

 My mom and I at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in D.C.!

My mom and I at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in D.C.!

Now let's get to the cons, and the real culprit as to why we haven't been writing: Elsie has a wheel problem.

Let me set the record straight when I say we have been blessed to have zero major problems with our 1968 FAN so far. But when we hitched up from Bull Run Regional Park near D.C., we noticed a pretty big problem. First, the tire on Elsie's right side was low. We filled it up at a nearby gas station (thanks, Sheetz!) and found the tire was crazy low -- like 35 psi instead of the recommended 65 psi. We filled her up, but when we did that we noticed a scraping noise that occurred every rotation. We looked to see if anything was catching or if there was some debris under the carriage. But to the human eye, it looked fine. So we drove on the 2 hours on I-95 to Richmond.

We noticed we had a wheel problem on our 1968 FAN travel trailer. Here's what it sounded like.

However, when we pulled into Pocahontas State Park, it was worse. Like wayyyyy worse. We knew we had a problem, so we did what most modern age kids do: we took a video of it and sent it to our dads. Ha! They agreed that something was not right, asked us to jack up the trailer next day and do some tests. It seemed like a wheel bearing issue, but the only way to tell was to jack up the trailer and see if the tire had any wiggle. The next day we did jack up the trailer, but got nervous. We called my brother, who is crazy handy and has had a few boats in his life. He assured us to go higher, that we needed to see if there was wiggle. We jacked Elsie up using one of our wood blocks and, sure enough, there was some wiggle. Dads and bro agreed: wheel bearing is likely shot. But, what to do? 

 This is the wheel bearing stuff. We didn't even know this existed until Friday!

This is the wheel bearing stuff. We didn't even know this existed until Friday!

Justin decided he could walk us through it. So, we laboriously took the tire off and he FaceTimed us through the de-assembly process. BTW -- this is crazy cool, right? I mean FaceTiming mechanics for DIY projects should so be a thing. There's probably an app or service like this already, but this was definitely a time when I was like TGIF (thank God for FaceTime). 

Okay, anywho, we drove to the NAPA store 15 minutes away to get our new bearing and race. We get there, buy the 20th anniversary 20% off bucket and materials, head home. We get back and Justin's like, whoa: you gotta get the other bearing and race out. We were like huh?! Then we knocked out the second one and realized we needed another bearing and race. Back to NAPA!

Okay, we get back one more time, he walks us through the re-assembly and, lo and behold, NAPA gave us the wrong size bearing and race. Back to NAPA one more time! Finally, we get back. Justin walks us through putting it all back together. Sure, it took all day Friday for two late twenty-somethings completely unskilled in mechanics to put on a wheel bearing, but...we did it! Victory, right?

 This is a shot from the middle of our re-assembly. 

This is a shot from the middle of our re-assembly. 

Wrong. After all that we gave the wheel a spin and it turned cleaner, but still scraped the ground on every rotation. Worse yet, we noticed wear marks on our wheel well. The tire had been hitting the top of the wheel well the entire trip to Richmond. And now it was resting on top of the wheel. Zero clearance between the wheel and the well. So while the bearing was newly replaced, it wasn't our only problem.

We spent all of Saturday morning calling RV dealerships and mechanic shops and tire shops. None of the RV service centers would take us, citing they were booked until June and/or didn't service trailers they didn't sell. And many mechanic shops said no because they didn't have a bay big enough or asked us to check back late next week.

We did, luckily, correspond with a place that is going to see us first thing on Monday. We believe it's the leaf spring, but we won't know for sure until we take it in. It was certainly a disappointing weekend, and one without many answers. But, as our families have reminded us, this is the cost of trailer ownership and the trade off of living on the road. Let's just hope that we find answers and get Elsie back into tip top shape!

 We took a hike on Sunday afternoon to clear the air and our heads. This is a shot of Carson on the spillover trail.

We took a hike on Sunday afternoon to clear the air and our heads. This is a shot of Carson on the spillover trail.