Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

New Jacks and Why We Keep Phannie Around

At Red Bay RV Park, Red Bay, Alabama...

Having not spent quite all of our cash on the upgrades already done, we decided that we needed to try harder. I had been wanting to do an upgrade of Phannie's leveling jacks for some time. The coach was manufactured with electric jacks instead of the much more prevalent hydraulic ones and, while they have worked fairly well with no problems, the automatic leveling feature has always seemed less effective than it should be. The manufacturer apparently thought so, too, because they developed an upgrade that has gotten numerous good reviews from other owners. That works for me, I thought, so here we are again at the huge Tiffin maintenance facility in Red Bay to get the retrofit done. In this photo, Phannie has been lifted without much dignity in bay 40, exposing her underside for all to see:

Then the old jacks come out and the new ones go in:

Next was some new wiring required for the leveling system's brain to send signals to the jacks:

This job took Tiffin about half a day, and the jacks now work like a charm. I think that, for me, the jury is still out as to which is the better system--hydraulic or electric. The hydraulic system is more powerful but also more complex, requiring a hydraulic pump and a goodly amount of plumbing to each actuator. These can be expensive to repair, to say nothing of the mess that can be made by leaking hydraulic fluid. The electrics, on the other hand, are simple by comparison, and repairs most often involve just the replacement of a relatively inexpensive jack; no plumbing or hydraulic fluid is required. 

So, this brings to a conclusion Phannie's upgrades for now (there will undoubtedly be more in the future). 

We are sometimes asked if we've considered a newer coach that already has some of the upgrades we are making. Well, yes, we have but, so far, we have resisted the urge for several reasons: 

First, Phannie's purchase price as an older coach was relatively small to begin with, but it had all of our basic must-haves (four slideouts, a king bed, a washer/dryer, lots of storage, etc.). Added bonuses were super low miles and good maintenance records. 

Second, it has been astonishingly reliable and trouble-free, and I keep it that way by being a bit OCD with its upkeep. I've come to know the old gal from top to bottom, and I can tell instantly if something is not as it should be. Who knows what problems we would inherit we were to buy a newer coach? (No, we wouldn't buy a new one; there's so much we would rather do with that kind of money.)   

The third reason is that, as fulltimers, we are traveling a lot. Living fulltime in a coach makes it look, well, lived in. Since Phannie is showing some wear here and there, we tend not to get upset if the carpet gets a stain or we ding something now and then. If we had something like a new Zephyr, we would probably need to see a therapist at our sight of the first blemish. Perhaps most important is a certain freedom we have in not needing to impress anyone. (It wasn't always so; it's a shame people have to wait until they're old to become wise.)

Fourth, the engine and chassis are designed for many hundreds of thousands of miles without a need for overhaul; we won't get anywhere near that number of miles before we're too decrepit to do this any longer. An added bonus is that the Cat engine mercifully predates the EPA's nanny-state regulations requiring DEF. My resistance to giving in to their scheme is a small thumbing of my nose to a bloated bureaucracy forcing on the country a solution to a largely-debunked problem. Don't get me started on this. 

The last reason is that the updates we've done on Phannie have been so numerous that there is little else left to do other than perhaps something of a cosmetic nature. If we were to buy a newer coach with all of these upgrades, the cost/benefit ratio calculation quickly becomes unreasonable. 

Tomorrow we have an appointment at Bay Diesel here in Red Bay for Phannie's annual service visit. We'll let you know how she comes out.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

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