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Brown Bomber

First trip - Key West shakedown run

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 Last weekend I drove Myrtle (the Turtle), my 1985 Toyota Dolphin, on a 400 mile round-trip shakedown run to Key West. It was my first RV trip and the first for my cat, Nala. After ten minutes of crying he settled down and rode like a pro the rest of the trip. I even caught him standing on the dinette seat once with his head between the side curtains looking out the window like a dog!                                 Before hitting the road I installed a new timing chain kit and water pump (a challenge), new belt and hoses and new Toyota red coolant, spark plugs, oil change and filters, pretty much everything from the new owner's checklist on this forum. The posts on shocks and suspension were very helpful; I bought KYB front shocks from my NAPA store and the rear shocks online then decided to have a local shop install them. The RV rides and handles much better now. I plan to replace the leaf spring bushings in the fall but the springs themselves seem fine to me and the local shop agreed.                           This being my first RV I'm surprised at how pleasant it is to drive. The four stock mirrors are right where they should be. Just a glance left and right shows how I'm centered between the stripes in the lane. A previous owner stuck one of those old-fashioned plastic wide angle lenses on the back window and it works great. Looking in the rear view mirror is like looking at a rear view camera but with a bigger panorama and no disconcerting screen. With the 4 cylinder engine and 4 speed manual the Dolphin gets out of its own way at stoplights but winds out pretty high in top gear. No big deal, 45-55 MPH is the speed limit in the Florida Keys and I found it's also the sweet spot that had that old 22re engine purring like my cat getting scratched. I chilled out on the ocean scenery and let other drivers pass me when they could.     15 miles from Key West it started to drizzle and after a few minutes of use the drivers side wiper blade came off and landed on the hood. The plastic hole that grips the nub in the wiper arm was worn out and couldn't keep the wiper attached. Glad I put Rain-X on the windshield the day before! I drove straight to the Key West NAPA where $7.50 bought a new wiper blade that stayed put.                                                Key West was great with good food, sun and sand but not too hot. I set out for home Sunday morning with newfound confidence in Myrtle the RV. About halfway home though I started hearing a rhythmic click from the left side underneath that increased with the speed. I pulled over and could not find any tire problem. Set out again, same sound, pulled over again, no tire problem to be seen. By the third time I pulled over I was stumped and called Progressive for road service only to be informed I didn't have road service on my policy. Damn that agent for not hearing what I asked for; damn me for not reading the policy docs. One more look at the tires and this time I found the problem, a huge screw in the inside left dually tire. I took a chance and drove the last 40 miles home on surface roads at 35 MPH. Myrtle made it with her tire intact and inflated. The next day I pulled it and had it patched for $20.00.                           OK, dodged that bullet, now why are the charging system and brake warning lights on all of a sudden? Back on this forum Linda S. said it's always the alternator. I checked it with a multimeter and the voltage dropped under load. Thanks Linda, looks like the alternator indeed. It came out easily without having to remove any hoses or the distributor cap, having no power steering helped. I found a rebuilt one with a lifetime guarantee for $82.99 at O'Reilly's, little more than the $75-80 I was quoted to rebuild the old one. Installation went smoothly, no more warning lights and there are hundreds of O'Reilly's out there for peace of mind on the road. I paid the agent $22.00 additional yesterday for road service coverage and did not yell at him. I think everything turned out well and I'm glad.                                             This Sunday Nala and I are headed 5-1/2 hours north for a two day stay at the Hillsbourough River State Park near Zephyrhills, where the same spring water people pay for in bottles flows from every tap. Then we'll head a bit further north to visit friends in Clermont where there really are hills and return back home Wednesday. That's the plan. Thank you to all the great people on this forum for your help and experience, I wouldn't be on the road without you.

Uncle Monty

 

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Hey man, two thumbs up!   "Shakedown cruise" really applies in your case, doesn't it?  Sounds like you are handling things rather well.   Your story is a nice inspiration for me - I bought my dad's '86 New Horizon a few weeks ago, did a small amount of front suspension touch-up & put on new tires just yesterday - and later this morning, Diane & I head 250 miles west here in the Rocky Mountains to a sweet Colorado state park for 3 days, then to another for 4 days.  Dad used his sparingly in the last 3 years, and for longer trips before that - so I've got my fingers crossed & hopefully won't have as many bumps as you encountered.   We used it for this same trip 3 yers back & all was well then.   Thank you for your story - puts me in mind that I should check my policy & my AAA membership to see what my benefits are.  And, I should throw in more than just a few tools.

Edited by tstockma

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Always happy to find out some of my advice actually helps people. Sounds like a great trip. I love Key West. Lived there for a while a million years ago. 

Linda S

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Hope you have arrived safely in those beautiful Rockies, Tstockma. Congratulations on having the New Horizon officially yours. Enjoy the week!

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Hi Linda S., your good sense and good cheer make the forum better. We appreciate 'ya! Key West is a little more "gentrified" than the old days but still fun and funky. Happy Fall-

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Hey Bomber! Nice trip to Key West Man. I was afraid to take Grannie there due to the very narrow roads and unreal traffic! Didn’t you get nervous driving there Lol? Been to Key West many times but not in an RV. 

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On 9/25/2019 at 1:29 PM, markwilliam1 said:

Hey Bomber! Nice trip to Key West Man. I was afraid to take Grannie there due to the very narrow roads and unreal traffic! Didn’t you get nervous driving there Lol? Been to Key West many times but not in an RV. 

Hello Mark William, sorry I didn't see your reply until now, thanks for the good word! I had my Dolphin parked in a friend's driveway in New Town which has wider streets. I did drive it to the Southernmost Point in Old Town for a photo op. It was tight but no problem. If your rig is 20' or less you can park it on any street. If it's over 20' you can park at the municipal parking lot near the Bight on Caroline Street for the day and walk/taxi/uber around Old Town. Overnight parking is prohibited and Boyd's on Stock Island is pricey, but there is another campground near Sugarloaf Key and Long Key State Park isn't too far away if you can get a spot.

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On 9/21/2019 at 1:12 PM, Brown Bomber said:

Hope you have arrived safely in those beautiful Rockies, Tstockma. Congratulations on having the New Horizon officially yours. Enjoy the week!

Thanks Brown - yep the trip was extremely nice for us, I'm slowly identifying my project list & it's really in decent shape despite deferred maintenance over the years.  Basic mechanics on the truck worked just fine.   Baked trout in the oven, etc!   Here's the top of Monarch pass, all 11,312 feet of elevation.

 

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