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From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Be prepared - was Hello
Date: Wed, 01 Dec 1999 15:10:26 EST
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel wrote:
>  <> writes:
[My list of spares snipped]
> > This sounds like a lot of stuff . . .
> You are a piker, John... in '72 we saw a guy who was a LOT better
> prepared than you:  in tow behind his converted schoolbus motorhome he
> had (believe it or don't) his own wrecker.
> We carry some tools & parts, too, but we don't figure on a nuclear
> holocaust either.  We have discovered that there are auto parts stores
> even in Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory, and hardware/home supply
> stores even in Nevada.
> IMO this is overboard preparation for travel on a continent where the
> natives are friendly, service & supplies are cheap and available
> everywhere, and if you are like me you will forget you stashed a spare
> frammis anyway!
> Will KD3XR

I normally would not waste my time responding to anything Will said
but in this case he is promoting a myth that seems to be widely
held.  The myth is that one can easily buy spare motorhome parts out
on the road.  While that  may be true for Will's little Class B
which is basically a van, it is not the case for other vehicles. 
Rather than try to generalize, I'll simply describe the situation
with my Itasca Class C.

In my MH's case, and probably others, Itasca/Winnebago mixed and
matched OEM parts in order to make the MH.  My VIN indicates that
this is a Chevy C20 chassis.  The problem is, C20 parts don't fit in
many cases.  For example, in order to clear some MH structure, they
used a lower radiator hose from the C30 chassis.  The HEI
distributor uses the 6 wire module from the early 80s GM SUV with
knock control even though it does not have the knock control
module.  Itasca wired up a rig to retard the timing a fixed amount
under certain conditions.  The fanbelts don't reference to any
C-chassis number.  Had I waited to buy spare fanbelts until after
the old ones had shredded, I'd be SOL.  In order to clear some
structure, Itasca made a fuel pump offset plate and used a car fuel
pump.  I have yet to find the correct replacement throttle cable so
I had a custom one made by Lochar Custom Cables.  These guys cater
to the hotrod market.  Given the recent discussion about how bad GM
throttle cables are, paralleling my experience, the Lochar cable was
a very good move.

The reason I know all this stuff is that I have spent hours in my
friend's auto parts store figuring out the correct spare parts.  IN
some cases it meant walking the isles looking in the boxes to find
the matching part.  Had I gone to, say, an Autozone where the human
robot behind the counter is lost if he can't find the part number on
his computer screen, I'd have been SOL again.  By buying all of
these parts ahead of time, something that involved only a couple
hundred dollars, I KNOW I have the correct part even if I let a
garage do the repairs.

Another aspect is that most car parts stores nowadays stock only a
minimal amount of parts for the most popular vehicles.  For an older
or oddball vehicle (your MH IS an oddball to the parts houses), the
automatic response is "I don't have it but I can have it here in the
morning".  That means yet another night broken down and staying
where I don't want to stay. And if I had to call a taxi, as I once
did, to get to the parts place, I have 3 more taxi rides to pay for
in order to get the part.

Then there is the built-in sundial in these vehicles.  There must be
a sundial because nothing ever breaks in the daytime!  Every single
breakdown I've ever had, the recent blowout excepted, either in my
MH or my catering trucks, has been after business hours. Absent my
spare parts kit, I get to spend the night on the side of the road
when I break down or else I get to pay a big tow bill.

The final aspect is that of control.  When I have a nicely stocked
spare parts kit, I'm in control of my destiny instead of having to
put my fate in the hands of a tow truck driver or some bored parts
house guy or whatever.  Some people may be OK with this lack of
control but not me.  I personally can't imagine going forth
traveling hundreds, perhaps thousands of miles from home without the
protection of a reasonable set of spare parts.  I'd no more do that
than travel without a fire extinguisher or a spare tire.


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