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Southeast (Gulf Coast), Texas, United States

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Red Bay in the Rear View Mirror ---- Hello, Texas!!!

We woke up on Tuesday morning with an appointment for installing the Diamond Shield on the front of the Bus, and a real desire to hit the road again!! 

We had been in Red Bay since February 5…… pushing the 3 week mark!!!   Normally, I don’t mind being in Red Bay, where you have access to all kinds of techs that can make modifications to your Bus, access to spare parts, and a peaceful place to park.  However, since we arrived, the weather has been very cold, and always had the threat of ice and snow but we never got very much in Red Bay!

As we were getting the Bus ready to head to the Service Center, I had trouble with a leveling jack not wanting to retract.  I finally got it up, and got to my appointment on time.  After letting the coach fiberglass warm up a bit, the Diamond Shield guys got started.


Since the Diamond Shield guy is located in the mechanical shop, I asked a mechanic to check the jack.  As I suspected, it had a problem with the motor, so I asked him if he could change it out ‘that day’!!  He said ‘yes, if I could get a work ticket’!

I went to the office, and talked a lady into getting me a work ticket quickly, and brought it back just as Diamond Shield Guy was finishing up, and the mechanic pulled my rig into the next bay, with a lift system, and changed it out!!  I was really lucky to get fit in!!IMG_4555IMG_4559

The guys in the mechanical shop finished it quickly.  I paid the lady in the office, hooked up the car, and Patsy and I were on the road toward the south by 1:30PM.  Our destination was New Braunfels, TX for a lone Star Allegro rally this weekend.  The weather forecast called for snow and sleet for Tuesday night again in Red Bay, and we really wanted to leave!!

Our original plan was to head south to Jackson, MS, and then take I-20 toward Shreveport, LA and Dallas, TX.  However, as we were watching the news and weather on TV, we heard a comment about “I-20 in Shreveport becoming an ice skating rink”, so I pulled over at a truck stop, and we looked at the map software and weather channels on the internet. 

After a little studying, we found that it was only about 40 miles further to take I-55 South and pickup 1-10 in Louisiana and take it west to New Braunfels.  We made the change, and the road was nice and clear.  We even had partially blue skies most of the afternoon.


On Tuesday, we made it as far as Amite, LA and spent the night at a Wal-Mart.  Wednesday morning, we filled up with diesel for $2.42/gal at the Wal-Mart Murphy’s station, and took off.  We had rain from the time we left, and all along I-10 to the Texas border, but it was warmer, and a lot better than snow.


We made it to a Texas rest area near Seguin, TX about 6:00pm and shut down for the night.  It was a 500 mile day, but we were only 20 miles from New Braunfels.

At the rest area, we watched TV DISH, and checked things on my PC with my MIFI from Verizon.  Found some news from friends at Red Bay.  They had snow, and the Tiffin factory and service was shutting down on Thursday due to snow!!  Here are some pictures (borrowed from others cuz’ we weren’t there!!)………

 Accident in progress with snowCRB with snowFun with snowIMG_1083IMG_1084

Of course, for Texan’s, snow can be beautiful!!

IMG_1085Snow in the trees

We are currently parked and set up (in the sun) at the Hill Country RV Resort in New Braunfels for the Lone Star rally that officially starts tomorrow.

This afternoon, we are visiting  Gruene Historical District, and meeting friends at the Gristmill Restaurant for dinner.


More later……….

Thursday, February 19, 2015

One Step Closer to Finishing Up at Red Bay

Last night, we left the self-serve campground by the Tiffin Service Center, and drove over to Vina, AL to park overnight at Brannon’s “Custom RV Service” building.  We had a scheduled appointment for 7:00AM this morning, and the forecast temperature was 8 degrees.  Although Vina is only about 10 miles away, there are some pretty good hills and a long overpass that might be iced up, along the route……….. so, we decided it best to wake up there!


Brannon showed up at 7:00AM, and immediately went to work on my list.  It took until about 1:30PM for him and his helper to finish up our work list.  All jobs were done efficiently and correctly. 

Since our timeline included the lunch hour, Patsy and I had a good chance to have a conversation with Brannon and his wife.  We did the visiting in the customer lounge in the shop…..


We had noticed a new building next to his shop (partly hidden and to the left in the first photograph), and Patsy asked them about it.  Finding out that it was their new RV Sales Store, Patsy wrangled a tour.  I went along because it was a slow “blog day”


It looked like a metal building with a brick front.  However the brick front was a special vinyl…… and looked really nice.  I asked and found out that Brannon and his father-in-law did all of the construction themselves.  They did a very good job.  He said that the old wood on the inside was taken from an old barn.  The siding on the checkout stand came from the old barn, also.  Here are some photographs of the interior……….


We also took a look at the bulk storage area at the back of the store which is through the double doors shown in the above photo.  It is 20’ deep and extends across the width of the building.  It has a large ‘receiving’ door at the rear.


When we went through the double doors,  I saw this work table set-up.  Brannon said that he was going to start making his own ‘slide toppers’ on site in gray, white and black!


Brannon and his wife have been accumulating sales stock, and storing it in his shop.  After we left this afternoon, they were going to begin moving it to the store building.  The plans are to open the store shortly after April 1.

I have known Brannon since before I picked up my ‘08 Bus in December, 2007.  The first modification that I did on the Bus was to have Brannon install the SeeLevel system to read accurate levels in our water (fresh and waste) tanks.  Since then, he has done a lot of work, and all of it is professionally done!

His plan is to have more than an RV parts store.  He says that he wants to stock every mechanical part that he changes on motorhomes.  I think he said that this is over 100,000 items.  He wants to have them on site, so that he can make his repairs/modifications more quickly and efficiently.  However, he would also sell the parts if somebody wanted spares…… and with Brannon, you would know that when the time came, you would have the correct part.

Brannon will also carry accessories such as TPMS, remote temperature monitors, tire gauges, sewer system parts, hitch accessories and towing equipment including Blue Ox and Demco.  Again, as his Tiffin customers know, if he stocks it for sale, he believes it to be a good product!

In addition to the slide toppers, Brannon shared that he is buying a ‘Binder Machine” to be able to put binding on the edges of  carpet installs and to be able to make carpet covers for motorhome dashboards.

He further told me that he wasn’t trying to take work away from others in the area, but instead, to be able to do the complete job without having to schedule others to finish up the work!

Brannon is a hard working technician and businessman, who will be very successful, and will be an asset to Tiffin motorhome owners!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Working on The List --- But, It Is Cold!!

The weather outlook that I listed in the last post has pretty much come to fruition.  It has been ever bit as cold as predicted, and the rain on Monday made it a real mess, but we were OK in the Bus parked in a self-serve campground down the road from Tiffin.

On Monday, we visited the windshield shop and let them know we were ready for the replacement.  This morning at 10:30am, they called and told us to “Come On Down”.  We did, and in a couple of hours, they removed the cracked windshield, and re-installed a new one.  Here are some pictures:

Old coming out…….












It’s out………


Official Inspection Crew………


New windshield carefully going in………


And it is in with the peanut gallery growing……….


Immediately after we delivered the Bus to the Service Center, Patsy and I drove to the local Piggly-Wiggly Store, which has a lunch counter, and got a plate of Chicken & dumplings, along with a vegetable casserole and cheese macaroni to take back to the Bus.  It was large, so we shared it.


On the way to Piggly-Wiggly, we spotted a fountain in a new park in downtown Red Bay, that had been left on last night.  Naturally, it was iced over………..



With the windshield replaced, we still have a small list of work at Brannon’s Custom RV on Thursday, and the application of the Diamond Shield over the new front end paint that is currently scheduled for next Monday.

We are hoping to leave Red Bay on Tuesday of next week and head back to Texas.  It all depends on the weather and the ability to get the work done.

In the meantime, we will just hunker down!!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Weather Affects Our Travel Plans!!

As posted previously, the painting of the front of the Bus was completed last Thursday and the plan was for it to cure out over the weekend and get the Diamond Shield (DS) put on this Monday.

Then the weather stepped in and made me change my mind.  The DS site states that if should be installed in a temperature of 65 to 90 degrees.  While I am sure it will be at least 65 in the work bay at Tiffin, it will be a lot lower once the Bus is backed outside in this cold weather!

The following chart is copied off the AccuWeather.com site.  Based on this forecast, I have canceled our DS install for tomorrow (Monday), and have requested a new appointment for the following Monday, Feb 20.




In the meantime, I will try to get the scheduled windshield replacement completed and the miscellaneous repairs at Brannon’s shop completed during this week.  If my “plan” works, we may be able to get out of Red Bay on Tuesday, and attend the Lone Star Allegro rally in New Braunfels, TX beginning Thursday, Feb 26.

Today was mainly a day of adding heat lamps in the wet bay and behind the refrigerator.  I already had them in those places, but the one behind the refrigerator rolled around somewhere between the cold weather in Northern Arizona and here, and came into contact with the wiring causing the insulation to melt and the wrong bare wires to come into contact with each other.  An hours’ work splicing those wires took care of the problem.

Time will tell what will happen. In the mean time, let the snow and ice fall!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Bus Painting Update

As stated in the last post, we got back to Red Bay last night, and found the Bus in the paint booth and a door unlocked for us to enter the building….. just as Bruce Deaton said!

When they came to work at 5:00AM this morning, they were, as usual, very noisy with raising the large metal doors, talking and playing the radio real loud!!  I think they have a contract to provide music to downtown Red Bay………. they act like this is a working body shop instead of an inside boon docking facility with 50A power hookup!!

Anyway, it really doesn’t bother us since they are so accommodating and do really good work!  When I heard them this morning, I got up and asked the painter if we needed to get up and get out.  He just replied in a southern voice…. Stay in or stay out!!  I got him to repeat that in RSRT (Real Simple Richard Terms), and he told me that since he had to put plastic over the whole front half of the Bus (including the entrance door) and seal it, we either had to get out or plan to stay in until he finished!  When I asked, he stated that he would probably finish around noon to 2:00pm. 

Having just gotten out of bed, I chose the latter, and when I got back to bed, Patsy agreed that it was the right choice!  We slept until about 9:00am, and then patsy got up and did some baking…… cookies and a cake.  I got on my PC and read emails, blogs, and paid some bills through Wells Fargo.

About 10:30am, there was a knock on the door.  We weren’t exactly all that dressed, but Patsy answered it and the painter said he was finished.  I heard Patsy ask him when he was going to do the clear coat (ain’t it neat that she knows that stuff?!!), and he said it was already done!

I later had a discussion with Bruce Deaton, and he wants us to spend another night in the paint booth to let it dry good.  That is fine with us, because surprisingly, there is no smell, and it is going to get down to 17 degrees tonight and it is only getting up to 37 today.  Needless to say, we have not been outside the shop today!!

The rig looks really good, and here are some  pictures.  The vertical white strips are reflections of the lights on the wall!!  (NoteYou can always click on any photo to enlarge it)…


Plus some pictures from the rear…………  the rig looks good in the paint booth light!!!


Right now, we are scheduled to have the Diamond Shield put on the front cap on Monday.  Then we have to get the windshield replaced and then have some work done on the front A/C and the DS slide at another shop in town.  We are hoping to get back on the road at the end of next week.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Day Trip to the Amish Country in Tennessee

This morning, we left Red Bay at about 7:30AM and drove 90 miles north to Etheridge, TN to visit the Tennessee Amish Community.

As we got near, we saw a lot of Amish traffic going the other way toward Lawrenceburg, TN, where we assumed they were having a farm auction.  Most of the Amish horses were pulling special ‘animal hauling’ buggies, although there was the normal horse and buggies!


We had printed a map of the area off the internet, which turned out to be good because the folks at the local ‘Amish Welcome Center’ did not open until after 11:00am.  By then, we had toured about 40% of the area.  Like in Mississippi, signs were posted at the farm entrances to denote what and if they were selling that day.  A lot of them were selling!!

Here is a variety of the homes and farm buildings………..



One of the differences that we noticed between the Mississippi & Tennessee  versus the Amish from Ohio and Pennsylvania was the upkeep of the houses, farm buildings and the grounds around them.  The northern Amish keep their grounds manicured, plant colorful flowers and shrubs, and meticulously keep the buildings clean and painted,  The southern Amish, while maintaining the structures, there is a lot of unpainted wood, and the grounds are more overgrown with weeds and wild brush.  However, they are all very hard working!!

Here are some pictures of people…….












The following are miscellaneous pictures that we liked…..


A school yard at recess time……….


The following was a sorghum making facility at one of the farms……


And lastly, is the farm where we purchased a gift for a great niece in Victoria….


We returned back to Red Bay, and Deaton’s Body shop about 5:00pm, after traveling almost 300 miles.  This was the results of today’s work, from gray primer to the base color, with the masking for the design on the front.  It should get more colorful tomorrow…..


Not sure what we will do on Thursday, but for sure, we will sleep in!!