Saturday, June 29, 2013

Newell Gurus Mini Rally - Day # 7 - Wrenching in more than one way

This is our 3rd mini rally since 2009.  At each of our prior mini rallies those of our number with exceptional wrenching (using tools to fix stuff) skills offer their services to other Newell owners (or for that matter, anyone in the park) who need help with fixing, or adjusting something on their coach.  Richard Entrekin is one of those gentlemen among us with exceptional wrenching skills.  You may recall TLE and I visited the Entrekins in Huntington, WV a couple of months ago, and during that time Richard helped me diagnose the problem with my tachometer.  Since I got sick while we were there we were not able to complete the diagnosis, but had a good idea of the source of the problem.  He promised to help me complete that work at the mini rally, and, of course, he is a man of his word.  

Friday was what we call "wrenching day" at the rally.  Richard was one of several skilled guys going from coach to coach helping fix things.  When I found him early Friday morning he was adjusting the steering box on Michael Day's 1992 Newell.  From there he carried his 5 gallon bucket of tools to my coach, which I had already set up for work......I had blocked the frame to make it safe to go under the coach, and I had cleared all the stuff out of the engine compartment that is stored there when we are moving.  The first thing he did was to crawl under the rear of the coach to tackle the recent problem of my speedometer.  He had barely crawled under when I heard him gasp  "OMG Clarke, what do we have here?".  I'm thinking he is trying to joke with me, but ask cautiously, "What's going on Richard?"......he replies "Come under here and see what I see" I comply and crawl under with him.....he points to the drive shaft where it attaches to the I am focusing my eyes on the spot he is pointing to I see several loose bolts.  It takes me a second to realize the significance of loose bolts on the crankshaft, and then this tight, wrenching feeling hits me right in the pit of my stomach.....

There are 8 bolts that fasten the crank shaft to the output end of the transmission connecting it to the differential which transfers power to the four rear drive tires.  Every single one of those 8 bolts was loose, and several where near failure.  My mind began to race as I imagined the catastrophic consequences of the drive shaft falling from the transmission linkage, hitting the ground at 60-65 mph, and then who knows what happens next......I'm seeing dollar signs with at least 5 digits after them.....I'm seeing us broken down on the side of the road somewhere just a few miles west of our current location......I had maybe 40-50 miles before the unthinkable would have (not might have) happened had not Richard looked at something else besides the signal generator for the speedometer.  It's that unspoken fear we all have who own these expensive, complex machines.......we all fear a catastrophic breakdown, which is why we are always checking things....which is why we crawl under our coaches, or have someone qualified do so, on a regular basis.

One of the 8 bolts....see how the threads have been obliterated?

While I stood there in stunned disbelief that I had come right to the precipice of a bank account draining catastrophe, and but for the fact that I wanted to fix my speedometer I would not have known, in time, what was about to happen to me of such magnitude.......I would have been in the same place several of my friends have found themselves in the past 10 days.  You remember me writing about Chris and Cherie's catastrophic engine failure in Montana that still has them in Billings, MT while their 8V71 Detroit Diesel is rebuilt.  Or our friends Forrest and Mary Clark who left us just a few days ago, and broke down just southeast of Gillette, WY with a an air valve failure that left them with no air suspension, and unable to move forward.  Their inconvenience was only 6 hours, but you get my drift.....they, too, were broken down on the side of the road just on the edge of spotty cell service.  They got their problem fixed, but at some cost.

Richard's keen observation skills saved me thousands of dollars, and I will be forever indebted to him.......what do 8 bolts, and 8 top locking nuts cost, you might ask......$6.57.....I would have gladly paid 100 times that cost for those 8 precious bolts that will save me from this disaster.  Are other problems lurking out there I don't yet know about?  I hope not.....but at night when TLE is sleeping I wonder when my turn is coming.  Of course, when we lived in a sticks and bricks home I thought the same thing.....when is the air conditioner going to break, or the furnace, or the roof leak......costly problems are always lurking out there, even in a sticks and bricks home.....did that keep me from being a homeowner.....of course not!  And it will not keep me from being a motor coach owner.  If the worst happens TLE and I will deal with it, and move I want to "deal with it"?  Of course not!

While Richard began removing the damaged bolts I drove into town to the local Fastenal Hardware Store to buy the new bolts.  By the time I had returned he was ready to install the new ones, and had removed the speedometer drive adapter and found the reason for my problem.....

......a broken drive "tang".....well I can't find that part at is 1.25" long, but will take me the rest of the afternoon to source a replacement (and I did find a source, but now have to wait until I am someplace for a few days to receive the package).  We also were able to remove the right angle tachometer drive and found the reason my tachometer was not working.  That will also require a little research to find a new right angle drive....BUT at least I know what I'm dealing with now, and can eventually get the replacement parts and install them myself....YAY!!

While Richard was helping me others were helping Tom McCloud fix his front basement A/C which had stopped working a few appears they, too, were successful.  There were other Newell owners helping other Newell owners all over the was a great "Wrenching" day.

Saturday many of us will again begin to roll our wheels towards new adventures, so Friday night we had our 3rd and final potluck dinner at 6 was closing in on 8:30 before we began to disband and move back to our coaches where we each would begin our departure preparations.  It has been a wonderful week full of renewed friendships, and new friendships that will continue to grow over the months and years to come.  There will be another Newell Gurus Mini Rally......when?  Who knows....we are not that organized, but when the time comes we will know it, and we will gather together again in a wonderful location and do it all over again.

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. or... watched over.

  2. We do feel "watched over" with a little bit of luck thrown in for good measure.