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At 8:00 this morning, the manager from Les Schwab came in his mobile repair truck to look at our brakes. He wasn’t the one who originally did the repair–he told us that the guy who originally worked on our brakes, someone named Marlin, was the only other person who was qualified at the shop to work on RVs mobilely. Not surprisingly, Marlin left for vacation right after he finished “fixing” our brakes. Do you think he had other things on his mind besides doing his job well?
Marlin, I’m calling you out. You almost got us killed. When I pulled into that turnout we were probably going down a 6% grade. I had my family’s life in my hands thanks to you and your carelessness. If you ever see this, I hope you get fired.
I’m not one to say something like that, either. I’ve worked in service-oriented positions since I was a teenager; I know people make mistakes. But if I ever did something that I thought might endanger someone’s life, I couldn’t live with myself.
Anyway, it turns out that there was a defective caliper. The shop manager was surprised. He thought that it was going to be a leaky seal of some sort, so he brought a box of those with him. He said it’s rare for the calipers to be defective.
Ryan then informed him that we noticed the brakes were soft the moment we drove away and questioned what type of system was in place to ensure a thorough testing of the brakes occurred at the shop? The response was, “Anything I say would just be an excuse.”
The manager (we hadn’t caught his name so that’s what I’ll keep calling him for now) drove back to the shop. Luckily they still had our old calipers and he brought one back and put it on. The brakes immediately felt better, although the parking light on the dashboard still wouldn’t turn off. Also, there was a hesitation in the release of the brakes; they were slow to come back up when you took your foot off.
We were told that the manager was going to be heading out of town himself, but he would tell his assistant manager what was going on and get a new caliper ordered for us. It would likely come in tomorrow. We told him that at this point we were low on water, our waste tanks were full and our batteries were low. We were going to check in to an RV park for the night and would come to the shop tomorrow.
I drove back to town at 30 miles per hour or less in second (or first) gear, depending upon the grade of the hills. I probably pissed a lot of people off who got stuck behind us, and I don’t care. If they had gone through what we had, they would probably be driving that way too. Try sleeping on a hill and wondering if you’re going to roll down it and off the side of a cliff in the middle of the night because you’re brakes are completely gone, and see how fast you drive.
I might sound a tad…angry? Bitter? It’s been a rough weekend. I try to keep things positive–but sometimes you just have to be real. Whether you live in an RV or an apartment or a house or a boat, things can go wrong. This is one of them, but it certainly doesn’t make me want to throw in the towel. I just needed to vent a little.
I want to get some “lessons learned” in here, too. Here are some things we might consider for next time.
- We know now that we have disc brakes, front and back. That means there were calipers applied to four wheels. We actually have 3 axles and dual tires on the back axles, but according to the mechanics, the third axle is just there as a backup and does not get serviced (not by them, anyway. If I ever get the chance to talk to an expert in RV brakes, I’m going to ask about that).
- It is NOT normal for RV brakes on our motorhome to be soft from the moment we leave the shop. After we’re done tomorrow, the plan is to drive around town where it’s nice and flat until we’re certain that everything has been repaired properly.
- If need be, we are able to spend 3 days in a row dry camping–but we probably don’t ever want to do that again if we don’t have a choice. We definitely don’t want to do it on a steep slope, next to a highway.
- Good Sam is not a very…good samaritan when you really, really need them. I am going to start looking into recommendations from other RVers for different roadside assistance memberships.
Meanwhile, we are safe and sound and tucked in to an RV park where we have all the amenities we need: power, water and sewer. We both took long, hot showers. After I finished working (yes, I still had to work today) we walked over to the grocery store through the cool ocean air and bought some food. On our way back we saw some seals at the harbor, so I thought I’d share a little clip with you. I apologize for the quality; it’s really, really foggy so my camera had trouble focusing. But the guy you see first is floating along on his back and then he’s joined by two friends. We can hear them talking to each other from our spot.