Everybody Get Your Lean On
About a month ago, back in Cincinnati, a nice old man camping nearby came over to chat with us. He wanted to let us know that the rubber pieces attached to our rear suspension looked a bit worn. He was familiar with the problem because he had just replaced his own rear suspension recently.
As you may have gathered, I know pretty much nothing about motors, brakes, suspensions – anything car-related, really. I know especially nothing about these things as they apply to an RV. Everything I know I have learned in the past… month. So when he told me this, I of course had no idea what he was talking about. Luckily he could see the blank look on my face and helped me kneel down and look under the RV to check it out. This is what I saw:
The rubber pieces hold up the suspension and supposedly provide a more comfortable ride. They attach to those metal pieces and together they are referred to as a shear. They are made by a company called Morryde in Elkhart, Indiana.
The problem is, the rubber tends to tear as time goes on. The bigger the tear, the more likely it is that your suspension goes out: The rubber simply rips off from the metal and boom goes the RV.
So obviously I was concerned to hear from this man that it looked like ours were worn pretty thin. Kelly and I decided to contact Morryde and find out if it was dangerous to keep driving on the shears as they were. We sent them pictures so they could evaluate the situation.
The very nice man I spoke to there told us that yes, it looked like we would probably want to get them replaced, but no, they were not dangerous to drive on. Worst case scenario you are driving along and the suspension falls out, and the whole RV sort of just leans to the side. Doesn’t sound super pleasant, but also doesn’t really hurt anything (assuming you don’t lose control of the vehicle…)
Since there was no imminent danger we decided that we would wait and not replace them right away. We figured whenever they did go out it was going to be inconvenient, but it would also be inconvenient in Cincinnati, so it doesn’t make much difference one way or the other.
Well, the time has come to pay the piper!! Last Thursday our right rear suspension gave out.
Here’s what happened:
We were driving from the Dakota County Fairgrounds to another campground in Minneapolis. Per usual I am driving the RV with copilot Max and Kelly is behind me in the car. So we are on the road, going about 40 miles an hour in a 55 mile per hour zone (which is pretty typical, really, I drive slow like a grandma in this thing. You pretty much have to). We went through a normal looking intersection, but there was secretly a HORRIBLE BUMP right in the middle of it. It wasn’t a normal bump, it was more like a dip in the road. It’s not that I didn’t see it coming, it’s that I never saw it at all. I only felt myself suddenly and inexplicably rise slightly out of my seat and then come slamming back down again moments later whilst screaming “HOLY SHIT” (some occasions call for swears). It was one of those moments where the stomach rises up to the throat, like when you’re riding a roller coaster. It was bad. And yet somehow – everything seemed fine. I was waiting for the RV to keel over, was expecting a tire to have blown out – SOMEthing. But no, nothing.
It was about an hour later, going 20 mph right outside of our campsite that I hit an innocuous looking bump that dislodged the beast. No KABOOM, no loss of control, nothing terrible really, just a very obvious and disconcerting sudden lean to the right – hard. We hopped out and sure enough the rubber had torn away from the metal. Thankfully, we were literally about 50 feet from the entrance to the campground we already had a reservation at – talk about luck. We limped over there and parked, up on 2 wooden planks, and tried not to let the leaning bother us too much.
Since we already knew what parts we needed, we quick called and ordered them from Morryde to be delivered as quickly as possible (without costing an arm and a leg). That meant they would arrive Tuesday morning.
We called a couple of RV places, but were told they couldn’t fit us in until the end of the month (RV places are often booked up a while in advance. Most people don’t need a rush-job on their RV because most people use them only a few months out of the year at most!). We were referred to Boyer Truck, who is able to do this type of rush job, as they frequently work on buses and semi-trucks. Another stroke of luck – they were located about a half mile from the campground. This was a small miracle, because we very well may have needed a tow if it was going to be much further than that. Driving on the broken suspension is similar to driving on a blown tire – it is to be avoided. So they were close by, and they took us right away, but unfortunately the repair was not as quick or as easy as anyone was hoping it would be.
Kelly and I of course were dislodged from our home while they were working on it. I have never been homeless before – and obviously this was an extremely temporary homelessness, but it was an odd sensation knowing we had nowhere to be! We had Max along with us too, which limited the options. We ended up finding a dog-friendly coffee shop in Minneapolis that allows dogs inside. Perfect. We set up shop there and passed the time having a pretty normal work day. Unfortunately that day lasted waaaaay too long. We got a call around 9pm saying that they were still really struggling to get the old shears off. They were able to finally complete the repairs on one side that night, but not until midnight. Kelly and I passed an hour in their parking lot in the car catching up on Game of Thrones, which was actually a pretty good time, all things considered.
We slept in the repair-shop parking lot over night, and then got up at 6:30am to give it back to them so they could keep working. Back out into the world we went. Back to our coffee-shop-home. They finished up around 4pm and we were REUNITED! HOORAY!
All for the low low price of…. over $3,000, all together. EEEEEEEEEEK.
So let’s do the math. We paid $6,500 for this thing originally, but have now put over $4,000 into repairs so far. As Kelly helpfully pointed out – when we first decided to do this trip, we wanted to get an RV for $10,000 ….and now we have.
We have enough savings to cover it, so life goes on. An unfortunate bump in the road, so to speak…
With our bouncy new suspension we will be heading to northern Minnesota this weekend.