We are sitting at DeMartini RV today in a conference room. This room has become our official office! Since they have great WiFi here, we are allowed to setup in one of the conference rooms and use our computers.
Our RV is almost ready and hopefully all will be fixed today. The only remaining issue is the slide and the techs finally have the OK from Fleetwood to fix it under warranty. It appears that the rails for the slide were improperly installed at the factory. The folks that make the slide mechanism (Power Gear) were contacted and said that there should be no gap in the rail channel for the gear wheel to slide into. Fleetwood at first said otherwise, but finally relented after Carl, the DeMartini warranty coordinator, kept after them. So now it is approved to move the motor position on the rail so that the gears do not go into a gap. What a difference a 2 inch move should make.
In order to do the repair, they have to disconnect the entire slide mechanism and this removes the support holding up the slide. If they didn’t somehow support the weight, it would actually fall off the RV. So here is how they supported it…
Yep, that’s a forklift holding it up. Slides weigh more than you might think and they can carefully raise and lower it by a quarter of an inch as needed to feed it back onto the rails.
While they were doing this, I was outside walking around to stretch after sitting most of the day. I came across some techs working on an RV that had been in an accident. Apparently it had run into a heavy duty tow truck and crushed part of the frame on the passenger side front. Aside from some lightweight panels being dented, the major steel structure was also bent and needed to be put back into alignment.
Unfortunately, this steel is thick as it not only supports the weight of the RV onto the truck chassis, but it also acts as a safety barrier in case of accident – something it did all too well. So how do you get the steel bent back into alignment?
As an aside, you may remember the World Series earthquake in 1988 in the Bay Area. It collapsed one deck of a span on the San Francisco Bay bridge. This happened because one of the tall piers was knocked about 6 inches out of alignment. They thought that getting this back into alignment would take months and that the bridge might be closed for at least a year.
Well some engineer got out his calculator and figured out how much mass at what speed would be needed to hit the pier to knock it back into alignment. Then they went and obtained an old freighter from the mothball fleet,loaded it with dredged mud to increase the mass, and towed it into the pier at just the right speed. The pier moved just enough so that the fallen deck could now be re-installed and the bridge was reopened within 2 months of the quake. Not bad.
So, back to our RV story…..what piece of equipment would you use to straighten the steel that was bent in the accident? Try this one….
Yes, that is a backhoe! By anchoring the RV in place and carefully positioning the backhoe, they used the claw to pull on the bent steel. The hydraulics in the backhoe allowed the gradual increase of pressure until the steel moved without doing any further damage to the structure. This is just not something you would see everyday nor would I normally expect my RV to be worked on by a backhoe!