More Fun in Florida!

I left off last time telling you about our new bikes – courtesy of Swagman!  They are awesome!  We are really enjoying them!  

The issue created by having these great new bicycles and rack is how to eliminate the possibility of another failure.  While we do strongly believe that our previous 2 racks should not have been rated for use on the back of a 5th wheel trailer, they were, and still failed – so are there other contributing factors?  Bill believes our current hitch – which came on the rig from the factory and is rated to carry 150lbs – has too much bounce, and that bounce “didn’t help” in the bike rack failures.  Did it cause it?  We don’t think so, but now that we actually have a VERY heavy duty rack, he thinks the hitch could become the “weak link” and wanted to do something to prevent that.  We’ve been lucky, so far, that the bike rack company’s have stood behind their products.  To expect that again, or expect Heartland to acknowledge the poor design of their hitch, is just asking too much.  

So – Bill did a bunch of research – one of his fav things actually – and came across a possible new hitch to add – replacing what is already there. This hitch would have to be welded on – we did talk about bolting it on, but he felt welding would be a better option.  I asked my Dad if he knew anyone who does welding and sure enough his friends neighbor owns a new welding businesss, so Bill gave him a call and left a message.  Corey, of Fencers Welding, called right back.  He was able to come over later that day; he and Bill discussed the best way to get the job done.  Bill showed him the picture of the hitch he was considering, but Corey had a different idea.  Let me show you:

This brand new welder has less than 2 hours on it!
You can see where the current hitch is bolted to “C” channel, which is welded to the Lippert 12″ frame – this is how it came from the factory
He started out welding in place
Side view of the 1/4″ thick box tubing
He decided it would be easier to weld by removing it
Almost done! The original hitch was only the piece that the receiver is attached to, the long straight piece and cross piece were added – one cross piece left to weld!
Done! Just adding some paint for a finished look! Corey was very thorough!
 

The last step was bolting it back on, and since some of the bolts had loosened, Bill got some lock washers at Lowes to prevent that in the future.  Complete job took less and 2 hours and cost a total of $135 (we gave him a little extra for doing such an awewsome job!).  If we had decided to get the new hitch – that would have been $160 by itself – plus the cost to weld it!  

The other great thing about doing it this way is we didn’t touch the frame itself.  When researching options, Bill found comments that stated our frame warranty could possibly have been voided by altering it in any way.  All we did was alter the hitch itself and reattached it exactly how it was before.   

Something I completely forgot to talk about in my last post is we got my car back!  My Dad had taken it to get detailed before we got back and it looked great!  It’s been getting used every day since we got here – it is so easy to scoot around it in vs the truck!  Since our arrival here on Dec 29, (today is 1/21) we’ve added about 600 miles on the car – and the truck has been getting a well earned break!  

Speaking of the truck – we were so impressed with the excellent job done on the car – we took the truck to the same place to get the truck detailed.  It looks better than it has in a LONG TIME!   


Guess it’s time to wrap up this post!

My parents recently celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary!  I think I’ve mentioned before that my parents take care of our mail for us.  Bill and I decided we wanted to take them, along with my sister, out to dinner.  


Another night, I joined my Mom and her friend, Maria at a Florida Orchestra performance called “Bravo Broadway”. What a fun evening!  



Bill and I also spent the day at the Tampa RV Show.  I read on FaceBook how people who attended on Wednesday had sat in a lot of traffic and stood on long lines, so to avoid that we were up and out early on Thursday!  There was very little traffic, compared to what had been described on Wednesday, and the line to enter was due to the gates not being opened yet.  As soon as the gates opened, in we went.  We grabbed a book with the map and found our way to Classy Chassis – which is where we had arranged to meet up with some friends.  After establishing exactly where it was, we had about 50 mins to see things before our meet up time.  

We decided to go see the new Landmarks.  Wow – they are nice!  First time happening – I had some serious stove/oven envy!  And bedroom envy!  Heartland’s newest model, the Oshkosh is just amazing!  


Seriously!  LOVE that stove top!  Do you see how much floor space is in the bedroom?!?  I got the above pics off their website, but the model we looked at also had an oven, much larger than our current oven – more small residential type.  The sales guy saw my excitement and of course started the “this can be yours” type conversation, but all Bill had to say was “What’s is worth?” and I knew there was no way we would be getting a new one!  We LOVE our home – and now 2 1/2 years later – Bill has done so many little things (some not so little) to make it ours – cannot imagine having to start from scratch.  It was fun thinking about it for a little while though!  

We pulled ourselves away from the Landmarks just in time to walk back to Classy Chassis to catch up with Bill & Linda and James & Cindy!  You may remember, both couples are RV Dreamers and we met them both the first time at the 2014 Rally in TN.  Since that time, our paths have crossed on a few occasions, most recently last winter at Cedar Key, where Bill & Linda helped us plan our trip north to AK; and in Lake Charles LA, where we stayed with James & Cindy for a few days.  

Hugs were exchanged all around and after some catching up chatter, Bill N suggested we might get some lunch, before the crowds.  It was a great idea, as we were seated right away and served fairly quickly.  In contrast, by the time we were finished, the place had filled up and there was a 10/15 min wait for a table!

We parted ways with Bill & Linda and about half hour later Bill got a text from Jim & Diana that they had finally arrived (after sitting in a bunch of traffic in I-4.  It was great to finally meet this couple in person, as we had many friends in common (being fellow RV Dreamers), and we follow each other’s blogs for years.  Jim and Bill have also chatted many times regarding truck and rig issues, as they are both the type to take care of as much of that as possible themselves.  We were overdue for an in-person meet up!

Diana, Jim, me, Bill, Cindy and James

We wandered around, checking out a few brands, and were near the Augusta’s when I got a message from Karen & Bob, friends from our Amazon days “Where are you?”  It was wonderful to see them and exchange a few hugs!  

We made our way back to the Supplier Building A, Bill and I wanted to stop by and see the Amazon workamper booth to say hello to Kelly Calmes.  He remembered us – even our names!  This is truly amazing, as Kelly, as the head of Amazon Camperforce program, hires upwards of 500/600 workampers each “peak” and we didn’t even work this past year!  We told him we had signed up for 2017 – and we’d see him in October!

Bill and James went to find the RV Armor booth while Cindy & I checked out a few others.  We caught up with the guys and after a quick hello with a couple of the salesman,realized it was time to meet Jim & Diana across the street at 5 Guys Burgers and Fries.  

We sat outside, enjoying the beautiful weather and talked for over an hour.  Finally, it was time to say “see you later” and wish each other “safe travels”.  We will be spending time with Jim & Diana on the east coast after leaving Clearwater, but no idea when our paths will cross again with James & Cindy, so it was a sad parting with them.  They are counting down their days to retirement, when they will be ready to join us out on the road!  

The following day was another friend day!  We had been invited to a picnic friend’s Karen & Al (of Wish Upon an RV Star) whom we met at Amazon, helped to organize.  It was great to see them!  You may remember, Al works in AmCare, and was a huge help to me when I hurt my knees.  Their friends, Joan & Steve, were the main organizers of the picnic.  Also in attendance were Dino & Lisa (of MNDrifters), Bonnie & Richard, Jessica & Harry (of RV Days with Jessica and Harry) Diana & Pat, and several others I hadn’t met before.  It was a perfect weather day for a picnic!  

Beautiful trees in Magnolia Park
Peacock
Me, Bonnie, Richard, Jessica and Harry – pic courtesy of Joan
Karen & Al (in front) with 2 gentlemen – sorry I’m so bad with names! Pic courtesy of Joan
Diana, Pat and Bill – pic courtesy of Joan
Lisa & Dino – pic courtesy of Joan
 

Whew!  What a week!  This post actually covers more than a week I guess – probably closer to 2 weeks!