Day 8 – October 31, 2017
Happy Halloween to all. We certainly had a ghostly day of sorts. We should be sitting in Fort Myers tonight getting ready to make the very short trip to Bonita Springs and our winter home. Instead we are still sitting in the Orange Blossom KOA outside Orlando because we could not get hitched up this morning.
Everything was going smoothly. The pin went into receiver without a problem. The arm that then closes over the pin to lock the hitch would not slide over and cover. I tried and tried several times with no luck. Eileen went to the office to see if there was any who could help. A very nice gentleman came over and we tried several things with no success.
He left to get reinforcements in the person of Gene who is an experienced fifth wheel person. Gene and his wife are full-time RVers here for a month before returning to their home area in Tallahassee. Gene worked his magic and after quite a few tries he worked the arm much closer but not close enough to install the lock that keeps it in place as you are traveling. Without that lock you could find yourself either with a torn off tailgate and a fifth wheel stuck in the road or sitting in your truck looking at the sky as the fifth wheel pushed your truck bed to the ground. I’ll pass on both.
If you follow the daily journal you know that we were stopping in Tampa today at Tampa RV, the sister store to Albany RV where we bought the fifth wheel, and by the way, where the hitch was installed. We called them to say that we would probably not be there today and expect us tomorrow. The two gentlemen reminded me that there was another sister store in Orlando. I thought, I will call them and see if they can help us. No. They have no mobile service and they could not promise to look at my hitch if I drove the truck there – 20 minutes from us!
I contacted Good Sam Road Service. I recently purchased the platinum level service. They offered to have a tech talk to me over the phone. This did not seem like a problem easily diagnosed over the phone. This is the second time we have needed them and they were of little help. Platinum seems more like pewter.
I contacted an RV mobile service recommended by the office. When he called back he said that he did not do hitches but it sounded like the truck might be on uneven ground and needed to be leveled a bit. That made sense as the site was unlevel and I had to add extra blocks to the left side yesterday while setting up. I took a ride to Home Depot and bout an 8-foot 2×8 and asked them to cut it in half which they did. I then asked if they could bevel the ends for me. Negative. The radial arm saw could not do that. I inquired if they had a circular saw around that I would do it myself. Negative.
I returned to the site boards in hand. Gene was walking by and I explained the theory to him. He doubted it was the problem but was more than willing to jump in and have at it again. We got the same result. Eileen came up with the idea to just start calling places that do hitches. That is when we came across Camping World. There was one 20 minutes form our campground in Winter Garden. I called and spoke to Adam. He said that I had called on the busiest day of the month and was not sure they could do anything today. He put me on hold. When he came back, he had spoken to the service manager Jason, who was willing to at least look at it and try to diagnose it. Off we went.
Adam and Jason could not have been any nicer. Jason had another technician with him. They hooked the truck up to a fifth wheel that was in the lot. The arm did not slide over all the way for them either. As an added gift, a couple small pieces of metal dropped to the truck bed as they were trying to get the arm across. Right there I made the decision to inquire about just having a new one installed. Eileen agreed immediately. I had no confidence in the hitch any longer. They were able to price one out for us. We saved some by using the existing runners which are attached to the truck bed. And we used our Good Sam membership discount. At least Sam is good for something! They also agreed to install it first thing tomorrow morning. I will have to deal with the manufacturer of the broken hitch when I can. It was installed for free so I cannot ask Albany RV for a refund. It was worth every penny.
Hopefully we will be on our way tomorrow without any more problems. The only bright side to this whole incident is the on-going evidence that RV people are the best. They are willing to help when you need it and at least provide a friendly presence and some much-needed empathy when you are struggling with something. There are not many who have not faced circumstances in which they also needed help. You can only hope to pay it forward when the opportunity arises. Please send good thoughts that I am writing from Fort Myers tomorrow.