Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Grandy Creek KOA: Jul 16-18

We took our Keystone Premier 31BH travel trailer RV out for the second time this past weekend. We went to the exact same pull-through site at Grandy Creek that we went on the Victoria Day long weekend a couple of months ago. Leaving on the Friday night after dinner was really nice. Traffic was light and smooth and we arrived at the campground around 9 pm. This time, I packed it with more gear and supplies to see what it would be like to tow during our extended road trip later this summer.

I'm getting more used to the new towing setup now and found that it towed even better than before. The biggest difference was that I inflated the rear tires on our 2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali to the maximum 44 psi as shown on the sidewall and I raised the weight distribution bars on our ProPride 3P hitch to 8 inches. It felt very smooth and the forward/back tugging sensation that I felt on our last trip had disappeared. I think it has to be due to loading the RV differently with more balanced weight than to the change in tire pressure. I least I hope so because....

There was one problem with setting the tires to 44 psi. When we were about an hour away from our destination, the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) on the Denali warned me to check the rear tire pressures. I guess they were approaching 50 psi. Now, that's understandable because the psi naturally rises when the tires are driven on. However, it was a relatively cool evening that night. I'm worried that extended driving on hot pavement in the intense summer heat in the east would cause the tire pressures to rise even more and even though I know I didn't inflate the tires more than the max, I'm just not comfortable ignoring the warning messages.

On our trip home, I lowered the tires to 40 psi, but the TPMS still gave out a warning part way through our drive. I'll probably set it closer to the 32 psi recommendation and leave it like that.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali: Front Brake Pads Replaced 43711 km

I noticed a faint squeaking from the front brakes as well as a different feel on the brake pedal, so I knew I needed to get the brakes checked before we went on our road trip later this summer. I stopped at a prominent independent shop because of the celebrity-endorsed TV commercials I had seen. They told me that the front pads and rotors needed to be changed and gave me a variety of quotes comparing different qualities of parts.

The cheapest were around $700 and the most expensive with OEM performance were over $1000. Concerned about towing our RV half-way across the country and through the Rockies, I opted for a slotted performance rotor and got a final quote for $1200. They also mentioned that they noticed that the front shocks were leaking but that might be covered under warranty and recommended I check to see if I was still covered. I was scheduled to get the work done later that evening but they called to tell me they couldn't get the right rotor in time.

Because of what they said about the front shocks, I made an appointment with my GM dealership to get it checked out this morning. When I found out from them that my vehicle was no longer under warranty, I called the independent shop back to ask them for a quote. They told me that a lot of labor was involved and it would cost between $800-1000. Yikes!

Even before they looked at the shocks, the service advisor told me that very often the shocks "sweat" and that makes it look like they're leaking but it's not really a problem. And that's what it turned out to be. They told me they would clean it up and then check on them again at the next service. Good news!

The other bit of good news was that they said that the front brake pads needed to be replaced, but the rotors could be machined. They gave me an option of going with OEM parts or a cheaper (noiser) alternative. I went with OEM and it cost me ONLY $400! Incredible! With a little bit of luck with parts unavailabilty, I was able to save over $600--not including the another $1000 that the other shop would have charged me!

The one bummer was....

The dealer performed a GM recall notice on our heated washer fluid. It had already been recalled once for a fix, but I guess the fix wasn't reliable so they decided to disable the entire system all together and send customers a cheque in the mail for loosing that particular feature on their vehicles. It's a bummer because I really liked the heated washer fluid and never had a problem with it.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

RV Stablizer Jacks Replaced

Thanks to other Keystone Premier 31BHPR owners at RV.net I knew to check out the stabilizer jacks on our travel trailer even before we went out on our first trip. The problem with the jacks from the factory was that the stop nut that prevented the rods from backing all the way out when you retracted the jacks was loose. Ours suffered from the same problem and all four stabilizer jacks were replaced after we returned from our maiden voyage....

The hardware on each of the new jacks definitely look beefier than the originals. It was interesting that all four were not replaced with the same brand. The ones in the rear were branded Husky (as shown in the picture). But even though the hardware looks the same, the ones in the front had no name. The only conclusion I can make is that they are NOT Husky stabilizer jacks.
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Thetford Toilet Valve Leak

During our first trip with our 2010 Keystone Premier 31BHPR, one issue that came up was a leak from the RV toilet. After investigating a little closer, I discovered that clean water was coming out of the top of the valve in the rear when the foot pedal was lifted up to fill the bowl with water. You can see in the picture, where the water was coming out.

When I went online to research the problem, I found that other people at RV.net had the same problem and that this was a known issue. The good news was that Thetford was aware of the problem and their customer service department was doing an excellent job taking care of it....

When I dropped the RV off at our dealership to look after some other warranty items, they could not replicate the leak. So I called Thetford's 1-800 number today, gave them the serial number on the Aqua Magic V toilet as well as the VIN number on our Keystone and they told me they would send the part out to me right away. Now, that's great customer service. Since we'll be on the road for 3 weeks, if the leak develops while we are away, I'll be able to replace the part myself.
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Saturday, July 03, 2010

Our First Geocache: Westwood Raceway

I decided to start Geocaching with the kids this summer. Instead of buying a separate GPS device, I downloaded a free geocaching Android app for my LG EVE GW620 smartphone. It works reasonably well. We started close to home and found this one near the old Westwood Race Track.

You can find more information about geocaching here: Geocaching.com
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