I loathe electrical gremlins

I bought a spare.

After returning home from Asheville Monday I had a really weird experience plugging back in to shore power at our storage facility. It started when we noticed that the generator had shut off sometime during the trip but only noticed when we were in the storage lot. The generator light was kind of blinking at me still. I pressed stop to get it to knock it off and my memory is fuzzy about whether it did or not. I blamed it on the angle we were at and fuel starvation but tried starting it again when we were level and it started but then sputtered out after a few seconds. We were trying to get home so I decided to save troubleshooting for later.

So, we get unloaded and I plug in to the 20A outlet at the storage place. The Progressive Industries surge protector does its thing going through both lines, no issues, thumps as the relay kicks to allow power to the transfer switch and then shortly thereafter I hear what sounds like arcing from somewhere in the electrical bay… couldn’t localize. I unplug quickly. What the hell is that?

I realize we’ve still got both air conditioners switched on and likely set to want to call for power so I go inside and turn all that off. I switch off the inverter which was on “charge only” mode. I plug back in. The PI does its thing, thumps, and no arcing sound. Okay. I go over and turn on the inverter and I hear a thump of some kind from the electrical bay so I shut the inverter off again. Try again and same thing. Sit and stew wracking my brain for a while and turn the inverter on once more, hear the same things but decide to leave it go. The inverter starts doing what I expect it to do. Go back to check the PI and it’s displaying what I’m used to seeing, reasonable voltages and amperage loads, no errors, cycling.

I decide after much gnashing of teeth to leave it up as is and check on her in the morning. That check in the following morning showed no change. I hate electrical mysteries.

I suspect the transfer switch as the source of the arcing. The only thing I can think is that the relays were in the position to pull from the generator still, and when the PI sent power to the transfer switch it swapped over and had the inverter drawing and perhaps both air conditioners calling for charging the caps and we attempted to pull serious amps. Unsure why something in the chain didn’t throw a breaker, but that’s my theory. When I get troubleshooting time I plan to pull the cover off the transfer switch and check the connections and look for evidence of arcing.

Given how central the transfer switch is to the enjoyment of Qubie I decided to spring for a spare. Roughly $200 but if it fails me somewhere on the road I’ll be glad to have it.

Asheville and more musings over the future


Last night we returned from a long weekend trip to Asheville where we stayed at our favorite spot in the Smokys, Mama Gertie’s. It’s close enough to be a pleasant, fairly short drive though some persistent rain followed us most of the way. That’s fine, Qubie handled it just dandy especially with my recently-installed Safe-T-Plus steering stabilizer.

I’d had a Blue Ox Trucenter steering stabilizer installed before I ever took delivery of the coach (long-time followers may remember I reinstalled it after determining that the dealer hadn’t installed it quite right). It started making what I can only describe as a “moaning” sound when turning in one direction which made me fear it was failing. Some folks claimed they heard Blue Ox was discontinuing the product so I figured I’d get out of that ballgame and install a competing product, the Safe-T-Plus steering stabilizer. There are two main differences between these products:

  1. The TruCenter features the ability to re-center the unit based on driving conditions. It’s the primary reason I selected it first and a feature that I’ll miss, honestly.
  2. The Safe-T-Plus provides more centering force than the TruCenter, 230 pounds versus 180 pounds.

The install was quite straightforward, though it took several attempts to get the unit “centered” where it would track straight down the road. I’m close enough now that it’s not annoying.

I think the centering force is an improvement over the TruCenter. There’s very little play in the steering and a feeling of, yes, stability when driving. I feel like I trust it more than the TruCenter.

Regardless, we made it to Mama Gertie’s easily and set up on our mountaintop site and just relaxed for the rest of the evening Friday. What a lovely place! That’s the view from Qubie in the image at the top of the post.

Catawba Falls


Saturday we had a pretty free day and we were interested in doing some sightseeing. Initially Cat wanted to do Mount Mitchell but I thought the weather would be less-than-ideal and suggested an alternate: Catawba Falls. Only a 20 minute drive from Mama Gertie’s we figured even if it was underwhelming we wouldn’t spend the day getting to and from. What an incredible place! Our gamble so totally paid off.

The parking area was pretty packed but the turnover was decent and we found a spot. There’s a restroom at the trailhead — the typical trailhead type of restroom with the toilet over what amounts to an open septic tank, so far from pleasant but serviceable — and a bit of signage and then a heavily treed, shaded path on a pretty steady ascent up to the falls. I think it’d be a lovely place to trail run for training, especially with the falls at the top to cool off before bombing down the trail on descent. I didn’t measure it but the signage indicated it was about a 3 mile round trip hike.

I simply loved the falls. I stood in knee-deep, cool mountain water and just stared for a long time taking it in. Cat and Julia did similarly. It was so naturally lovely. Next time I’d bring a change of clothes and take a nice dip in the pool at the base. Refreshing!

The Asheville Spartan Race

Way back when all this started the original motivating factor for getting Qubie was attending more races. As such it’s always nice to use her for that purpose and this trip was one of those. The Asheville Spartan Race is usually a pretty good one, with varied terrain and some decent hills to work with.


I stole some of Cat’s joy because I thought it was a bad idea to have them attend. I worried about parking — the area had gotten significant rain over the preceding week to where they sent out a special email warning of the conditions — and I worried about the festival area being a mudpit. I wasn’t necessarily wrong about either of them as many people had to have their cars pulled out of the mud and the festival area… well… tell me what you think.


That’s the entrance to the festival area, which was impossible to traverse without going through ankle-deep mud.

So, the girls dropped me off, I ran the race, then they picked me up after. I guess the next time I will just try to let go of my worries and let them have their fun. Julia had galoshes, Cat had her “water shoes” which I imagine would have been fine. Subie is AWD, so I guess we’d have been fine. I just always have anxiety for them during these things… don’t want them bored or miserable or whatever. I need to let it go.

Regardless, I had what turned out to be a great race outcome-wise. This was my 15th Spartan Race and best finish ever: I finished in 3rd place in my age group (out of around 140) in the open division and in the top 3% overall. Sweet! Did absolutely abysmal on the obstacles but my running made up for it.

Mount Mitchell and the Blue Ridge Parkway

Cat figured I’d be too tired to do anything after the race Sunday so I imagine she was surprised when I suggested we see Mount Mitchell. An hour north of Mama Gertie’s — as the crow flies it’s only about 14 miles away, go figure — Mount Mitchell is the highest point east of the Mississippi in the continental US. Getting to it involves driving along about 20 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway which was beautiful. Scenic vistas, curvy roads, impressive tunnels. We really enjoyed the drive as much as the destination.

Mount Mitchell itself was such an amazing contrast in scenery. From the pines that dominate the lower areas, to the evergreens and almost elven forest at the top it was mind-boggling how different it was. We’d love to explore more sometime and take some of the nature trails.

When neighbors open your eyes

Back at Mama Gertie’s Cat and I both noticed an RV parked nearby. There were several Tiffins around — 3 Allegro Buses, a couple of Phaetons and even an Open Road — but one RV caught our eye as kind of unique.

We’re still rolling through the options in our minds for how we pursue this lifestyle in the future and one of the things that Cat mentioned during the trip up was “I don’t really want or need more space, why doesn’t someone make a premium diesel RV with all the features that entails but on a smaller scale?” And not something like the Allegro Breeze which we originally saw and dismissed due to the headroom and tiny bedroom. One kind of Qubie-ish, but diesel and all the bells and whistles.

So we’re walking through the RV park and this RV kind of jumps out distinctively. It sure looks less long than Qubie. It’s definitely a diesel and newish. What is that? It’s the Newmar New Aire. A full blown, full-height diesel pusher with all the fixins including independent front suspension and air ride, but with floorplans that only extend to 33 feet long (Qubie is 36 feet long by comparison). Interesting! Cat loved how compact it appeared from the outside and I agree. I think there was a bit of concern with the feel of the interior since it would be smaller than Qubie in several ways… yes, there’s the obvious 3 feet length difference but the slides, while opposing, are less deep so the interior would be narrower.

We don’t hate the interiors at least how they’re depicted, but one thing was really offputting while watching someone’s walkthrough: the wiring is atrocious. Tiffin is far from perfect, but there is nothing in Qubie that looks anything as bad as this.

Screen Shot 2018-08-07 at 5.19.46 PM

That’s just one example, but the walkthrough has many, many more. I look at this and I see a maintenance nightmare. So we both pretty much dropped that idea entirely. It went from an exciting possibility to a hard no in about 5 minutes. Try harder Newmar.

Contemporary design in RVs


One of our fellow Tiffin bloggers posted a very entertaining and informative “musings” post that had one thing in particular that was interesting to us. Winnebago has a new line, the Horizon, that features a vast departure from the traditional class A design aesthetic at least within the standard, non-custom realms. It’s a far more conventional design like a high-end Eurospa. Cat and I both find it compelling. While neither of us really consider buying a Winnebago, we do hope this design aesthetic catches on and exerts some market pressure so that other manufacturers — I’m looking squarely at you, Tiffin — consider adding their own lines with a similar concept.

We’ve still been looking at many options and coming up short. One thing that we’ve realized is that if we’re looking at the typical RV design, we really haven’t found anything that any of the manufacturers are making that we like even as much as Qubie. The newer Open Roads are still mostly okay but with a bit more “bling” on the facias than Qubie (and we like Qubie’s more simplified look better), but the Phaetons have even more visual whizbang that just… doesn’t appeal to us. Same with the other makes, they always start blinging things up.

I’d be very interested to see the manufacturers take a hard look at the Horizon. I hope Winnebago sees success with it as it should make the appeal more noticeable. Tiffin, I believe, tried to make some headway along these lines with a move to a less-woodwork, more-pleather slide fascia in the 2019 Allegro Bus but it was like a half-measure with the rest of the design. Backlash from many viewpoints was rapid and vigorous and those fascias didn’t make it to production. Maybe the Allegro Bus isn’t the place for a move to contemporary, maybe a new line is. Or even a specific floorplan of an existing line. What I really hope is that Tiffin doesn’t see the backlash as “people don’t want contemporary design”. That’s inaccurate. People don’t want half-ass contemporary design. I think they’d be open to a more coherent, thought-out contemporary design. Whole-ass it, in other words.

So what does our future hold? Right now, really looks like Qubie. Which is actually quite fine. She did great on this trip. Maybe we’ll pursue additional ride improvements like the Liquid Springs CLASS system, especially when they offer front and back systems. It’s an investment, but it’s nowhere near the level of investment a new diesel RV would be. Guess we’ll keep thinking.

Home, with a healthy dose of luck and fortune

We left Navarre Beach yesterday morning, no problems, lovely traveling weather. We decided to take the offer the salesman from NIRVC made and pulled in there in the afternoon for a complimentary overnight stay. We took the opportunity to peek into another few RVs before grabbing some dinner, doing some laps around the parking lot for our daily exercise, and hitting the sack for an early start.

That gets us to this morning where we got up bright and early to get on the road and get some miles behind us. Little did I know I was on the path to nightmareville.

Long story moderately short: one of our slides wouldn’t come in. Honestly, that’s the one thing that I really feared which might seem a weird thing to fear. But really, there are very few house-related things that can strand you. There are plenty of chassis-related things that make travel impossible, but they’re all out of my hands anyway. But house-related? Not really. Except the slides, and particularly if the slides get stuck out (I mean, if they’re stuck in you just… have a slide stuck in). With the slide stuck out I wasn’t going anywhere.

Murphy’s Law factored very highly this morning. I went out to start troubleshooting. It was raining, of course. That’s the first Murphy pop up. I checked all the obvious things first. Nothing. Then I started getting more in-depth.

I had one motor that was indicating a wiring error. I looked online and watched videos which gave me a strategy to disengage the motor so I could at least get the slide in and get home. I started unscrewing things to try to get access. Note that this occasioned standing at the top of my folding ladder reaching roughly 11 feet up, removing screw after screw… in the rain. Got the decorative fascia off, still no joy. Removed more and more screws and still couldn’t get access to the motor. That’s annoying. I finally lost my nerve — honestly, because it wasn’t looking anything like what I’d been led to expect — and went to discuss possibilities with the girls inside.

Decided I’d have to ask the service folks at the dealership for assistance. Murphy #2: if you’re going to have this kind of failure, what better place than at a dealership? It’s kind of amazing, really, as last night I was kind of regretting the decision to stay at the dealership. We had electricity at our site, but not water or sewer. We were able to grab some water to fill the fresh water tank, but not quite the same. We also couldn’t leave Subie hooked up so we could just take off in the morning. Minor, but still. But, thinking about dealing with that failure at the RV park, we got supremely lucky to be where we were.

I’d been troubleshooting for several hours, so by then they were open. I walked in and saw my salesman, Dave.

“I was expecting you to be long gone by now,” he remarked.

I held my hands out kind of helplessly. “That’s where Muprhy’s Law comes in… I’ve got a dead slide.”

I’ll snip this one way down. He grabbed the service manager and explained the situation. Roughly 2 minutes later one of their valets was pulling Qubie into one of their service bays — yes, just drove through the parking lot with my bed slide out, with no fewer than two people waving us down while we drove trying to warn us of our idiocy — and the service manager and a tech were troubleshooting. They did the same things I’d done, started removing the same screws I’d very recently replaced (which, honestly, felt pretty good that I was on the right path in my troubleshooting).

While they were inside trying to pull off the inner fascia, I climbed up on the (much taller) ladder and tried to feel around to see if I could find the issue. And I did, actually. The wiring harness into the motor had come completely unconnected. The only difficulty was getting access to the other side of the wiring harness to reattach, but they managed that and thankfully the slide retracted. They put things back together (mostly… they’d unscrewed the slide controller in my bay to get access and forgot to reattach it that I’ll have to reattach… no biggie), shook my hand, and told me to have a nice day. No charge. I know they’re mostly angling for a future customer, but I can’t complain.

Yeehaw, gas up time. Better than being stuck.

So, we got on the road about three and a half hours late, but made it home safe regardless.  Major thanks to the folks at NIRVC for both their hospitality and their assistance in getting us on the road.

Bidding farewell to Navarre

You never realize a place will become a favorite until it happens. It’s happened for us at Santa Rosa RV Resort. We’ve had a simply perfect spring break visit here. At least part of it was the luck in weather, but much of it is the resort. Small enough to be quaint, excellent amenities cared for by a dedicated, diligent staff, and a lovely design with attractive sites.

We’d already have booked for next year if the girls weren’t going on a special Girl Scouts trip over spring break. I think it will be on a short list of destinations for our traveling future.

Tomorrow we turn Qubie north on our way home. We’re stopping over at NIRVC who graciously offered us a stopover on the way home. Might take another few peeks at other RVs while we’re there. Though I will say that after even more reflection we might be leaning a slightly different direction for any eventual upgrade. A direction we’re a bit more familiar with shall we say.

(Shh… It’s a Tiffin. The Phaeton 40IH is very appealing… and much less of a hit on the checkbook than the Entegra. Some things would be sacrificed, but it might be a reasonable choice for the future. That’s a ways off though! Who knows what any of the manufacturers will be producing in that timeframe.)

Catching a moment of zen

Cat’s found a new love of paddleboarding. I went out with her today on a lovely if windy day, then grabbed the drone to grab a bit of footage.