A single wide trailer on wheels, and a Memorial Day weekend with mixed emotions. A journey north with a likely chance of a one-way flight home.
Specifically a 1976 Tiffin Allegro, exhaustingly dragged around by a Chevy 350. We found this fine specimen on Craigslist in the Virginia Mountains for $1500 with 48k original miles. Three of us hopped in the car fully expecting to find a water damaged rolling piece of junk — We weren’t far off, but it was love at first sight...
Quickly putting our safety aside (the keen eye will notice someone retrofitted $50 office chairs into front seats), we drove home through the night with only a few minor issues. Finding a dead alternator, quickly adding a new battery, and a minor issue of the title and bill of sale flying out the unlatched door at 70MPH. Long story short - bonded titles, never again.
Memorial Day weekend was quickly determined to be the maiden voyage of the rolling sardine can. Destination? Let’s just go for broke. With that Thursday evening at 430PM we set off from Cary, NC. Headed.....North? The trip was ‘live-blogged’ via Facebook, Actual posts in Bold with side commentary and pictures.
May 21 6:07PM: “Northbound, I think half the truck is filled with tools for when we break down...”
May 21 8:31PM: “What’s that knocking noise? Oh shit. Our bumper fell off...we should pull over”
May 21 9:52PM: “Started overheating - pulled off to fill up gas. Now won’t start.”
We spent 15 minutes under the truck banging on the starter trying to get it to re-engage.
May 21 10:16PM: “Emergency maintenance time. Still over heating. Time to modify and or rip out the thermostat.”
May 21 10:26PM: “It got too drunk and puked.”
Once we shut the truck off, we heard boiling in the cooling system. Again with safety in-mind we had to bleed off pressure with the truck still hot so we could troubleshoot the thermostat.
May 21 10:48PM: “Testing lab concludes thermostat was bad. Might not be only issue.”
May 21 11:35PM: “Made new gasket and we are back on the road. Not sure if we will be able to build coolant pressure/temperature...”
We made a new “gasket” out of some extremely old tube of gasket material, not having any of our favorite magical RTV on hand.
May 21 11:45PM: “We stopped for some RTV ‘just in case’ and Patrick found a new shirt.”
May 22 12:30AM: “My gasket didn’t hold. Let go on highway”
May 22 1:07AM: “Boiled all the water out of the block. Filling it up with bottled water, take two at gasket with RTV this time. Needs 24 hours to set— might see if we can make it to a parts store with our repair.”
The cooling system was almost completely empty from our initial gasket failure. We put about 3.5 gallons of water into the system and tried again with a sealant, this time RTV.
May 22nd 4:49AM: “Almost to Jersey border - filled up with gas again - starter said nope. Time to smack it with a hammer again.”
After our repeated starter failures, we filled up gas before NJ because with full service stations, we were super worried about attendants requiring us to shut the truck off, restart could easily take 15 minutes...or it might never start again.
May 22nd 7:00AM: “Good guy Greg at full service jersey station let us fill the RV while running so we wouldn’t have to use the starter. #stilltruckin”
May 22nd 11:34AM: “Still trucking. Not sure how”
At 12:10PM we stopped over in CT for the day, ended up staying two
May 23rd 2:39PM: “ #stilltruckin. Had some downtime to fix intermittent start issue. Test lab concludes starter wiring in the RV was faulty. We have built a new starter circuit for the truck and verified operation in the safest of circumstances.”
We removed the starter and verified operation with jumper cables - seems there is something wrong with the internal wiring between the key cylinder and starter itself. So we ‘ran’ a new wire.
May 23rd 8:17PM: “our exhaust fell off. Good thing we brought a generator, power grinders and electric drills. #prepared”
Before we hit the road, we noticed the drivers side exhaust pipe was completely bouncing around underneath the truck. A quick visual inspection showed the manifold flange was separated and leaking. There was also a completely loose exhaust clamp towards the middle of the camper.
May 23rd 8:33PM: “Drilling out broken exhaust studs.”
May 23rd 9:31PM: “Still repairing exhaust. We didn’t have a welder, and the band clamps are completely rusted. Solution: we are hammering quarters into the gap to hold it in place. #ghettoengineering”
May 23rd 10:01PM: “Back on the road and truckin to NYC...”
May 24th 1:04AM: “Our little starter bypass/wiring just saved our ass. Filled up the tank in the Bronx and truck wouldn’t start. #electricalsafety”
Running on fumes, we pulled into a very sketchy gas station in the Bronx - Truck wouldn’t start, time to engage our redundancy system.
May 24th 1:47AM: “Bed time. #majestic”
May 24th 7:35AM: “Finally found roads worse than both third world countries and South America. It’s called Jersey. Our exhaust mending has failed and our generator nearly fell out the back of the truck. Patrick is putting a band clamp on the exhaust. No pictures because the rest of us were TRYING to sleep...”
May 24th 9:51AM: “Ditched the RV with a shady car park. Headed to Times Square via NJ Transit. This was our secondary majestic steed to the airtrain.”
May 24th 10:58AM: “What RV?”
May 24th 8:56PM: “#murica weekend continued. Rolling into DC. Fitting t-shirt.”
After hitting NYC for just a few hours, someone had the
stupid great idea to hit DC in the same day. “For the story”
May 24th 10:58PM: “Neat”
May 25th 8:00AM: “245 miles from Cary. Shitter malfunction. All windows open. GO FASTER”
Someone broke the cardinal rule of having a vehicle with a toilet...or rather a 40 year old RV - DON’T EVER USE IT.
May 25th 10:00AM: “Hopefully last fuel stop. We made a video so you can understand how our redesigned starter works.”
May 25th 12:03PM: “Somehow we made it home! Happy Memorial Day Everyone!”