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Great Alaska trip for a bit problematic but we're home

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Great Alaska trip for a bit problematic but we're home

Unread postby skipnchar on Thu Aug 06, 2009 8:32 pm

Here's the photo version If anyone's interested http://community.webshots.com/user/skipnchar I WILL be adding more photos as time permits because those there now are for the trip TO Alaska and about half the the trip THROUGH Alaska but I've still got photos of the trip back on the Klondike and Cassier Highways. I'll probably also start an album for the lower 48 portion of the trip.

Thought I'd take a few minutes and give a rundown of all of the EXTRA things that happened on our recently completed trip to Alaska via the Alaska Highway and the return trip via the Top of the World, Klondike and Cassier highway. I've always been fairly fortunate to have not had much of anything ever go wrong during any of my travels but though this trip was fantastic and we had a great time, it was NOT always without trials and tribulations. Nothing that serious but lots of little annoyances to deal with. Here's a brief rundown of the problems we encountered.

1. Colorado Springs - Check engine light on the used 04 PSD I'd just purchased. Turned out to be a fuel pressure sensor had quit talking to the PCM. It was repaired under warranty and I got some GREAT service from Phil Long Ford in the Springs.

2. Friends traveling in Keystone hybrid blew out a Carlyle tire which took out a chunk of their fender well. It also took out a water line running to the kitchen. Turned out we were able to by-pass the water heater and use cold water only until he could get the trailer home. He also replaced the tires with another brand of Chinese made tires. Local dealer TOLD him they were Cooper but they weren't.

3. Traveling companion who traveled for the first week or our trip, had converter go out on his Keystone hybrid. We got him through the week by connecting my stand alone battery charger and using the 12 volt power from that to operate his trailer.

4. Daughter tried to crank up her pop up and broke a cable on one corner. We had to raise the roof by hand, prop it there while I replaced an eye bolt to reattach the cable. Got some excellent advice on the repair from the local Jayco dealer in Colorado Springs. Unfortunately since I never spoke with them I didn't get the dealers name and I'd sure like to give them a plug here.

5. Now with us traveling by ourselves, we stopped at Firefighters Memorial campground in the Flaming Gorge and found that the truck was not charging the trailer battery. Found a fuse blown and replaced it only to find it still didn't charge. A week or so later when passing through Bozeman Montana, I stopped and purchased a new female end to the power cord that connects the trailer to the truck. After I got that re-wired it charges just fine.

6. At Watson Lake Yukon Territory, when checking tires on truck and trailer I found a valve stem on the truck leaking. The campground also had a service station and they were able to pull the tire and replace the stem within just a few minutes. Could have been a lot worse along the road somewhere.

7. After traveling about 5 miles on a VERY dusty part of the road, with construction going on, we stopped for lunch. When we entered the trailer we found we couldn't see across the room. I'd made a really rooky mistake and not cinched down the hatch in the living room that morning. Wind had sucked it open and it had been funneling dust from the road into the trailer. It took us a couple of hours to air out the trailer with the exhaust fan and get things relatively well cleaned up. I HATE the smell of road dust.

8. Stopped at a boondocking site north of White Horse Yukon Territory and when unhitching the trailer found that we'd lost one of the pins that hold the latch up brackets in place. The bracket was still latched but nothing holding it there. Though I tried about every opportunity for the rest of the trip I was never able to locate a replacement for the pin. The rest of the trip we used an "L" wrench slipped through the bracket as a safety pin.

The Alaska portion of the trip went by uneventfully but we DID have the trip back through Canada to go yet.

9. While traveling East of Chicken Alaska, a fairly large boulder (they call it gravel) flipped off of our port side trailer tire and smashed the hub cap (real plastic) on my real wheel of the trailer. It also took off the dust cap along with the hub cover but of course we didn't KNOW that at the time. Discovered the missing dust cover and hub cap that evening about 75 miles south of Dawson City Yukon. That was another case of looking and looking for a replacement and really never found the RIGHT one. We DID find a dust cover at an auto parts store in White Horse but it lasted less than an hour before we noticed it was missing again. Just not QUITE the correct size. When I found the cover missing I'd greased all around the hub nut and put some tape over it but of course that didn't hold long either (but it held longer than that dust cover did). Finally found a universal dust cover at Happy Trails RV center in Prince George BC, (about a week later).

10. Got ready to set up for the night at a campsite on the Teslen River and hit the slide button and got NO response. It had worked when we'd left TOK River campground this morning but now...nothing. I got out the crank and cranked it open by hand. I discovered that it takes exactly 200 cranks from completely closed to completely open. I'm assuming it'll take the same number tomorrow morning when it's time to close it. It did. I crawled under the trailer to see if I could find any way to correct the problem but of course that the DOWNSIDE of the enclosed belly. I removed a small inspection panel in the underbelly and found a pretty red wire was wrapped around the shaft to the slide. It was unattached on both ends but couldn't reach far enough into either direction to find anything it had BEEN attached to. Apparently it had been jarred loose by the tremendous bumps during the "top of the world" road and then wrapped itself around the shaft when I'd tried to move the slide. I removed the wire so it didn't get tangled in anything else when hand cranking the slide.

Things went pretty smoothly all during the trip back down the Cassier Highway and each night and each morning I'd crank those 200 cranks to open or close the slide. Not really that much of a big deal but I still prefer the electric motor for the purpose.

11. We stopped at Smythers BC when we found a city owned dump station near their visitor information center. we'd been about a week without dumping and really needed to do the job before finding a place for the night. Connected the hose and pulled the valve on the black tank and...you guessed it. Got the same response at I'd gotten from the slide motor a few days ago. Nothing. I carefully removed the hose connection and looked up the pipe with visions of an old three stooges movie going through my brain. All I saw was the white slide still closed. The dump valve was broken and needed to be replaced. I counted my lucky stars that we were at a place with a GOOD dump station with a pit in which the sewer connection was located. I maneuvered the trailer so it was as close to the pit as possible and began removing the dump valve. As I pulled the last of the four bolts and broke it looses the tank dumped directly into the pit without spilling a drop anywhere else (including on me).

As I was putting the damaged valve back together, a gentleman came up to us and began asking about the Rockwood. Seems he'd just purchased the same trailer and wanted to know what we thought of it. In the course of the conversation he mentioned he was having a water heater replaced in his the next morning by a local guy who did RV work (they had no actual dealer in Smythers). I asked if he had any parts and the gentleman assured me that he did have some parts he stocked in his garage and gave me his phone number.

I called Bob and it turned out he did have a dump valve but didn't have time to put it in. I told him I'd put it in if he'd sell me the valve. He did and I did. Turned out he lived about three blocks from where we were using the dump station. I dumped the other two tanks and headed over there. While we were at Bobs house he recommended a nice local campground with full hook ups. We hadn't had ANY hook ups for almost a month so the idea sounded good.

We checked in at the River side campground in Smythers for the night. While there I installed the new dump valve so we were ready to leave in the morning. It was the next day that we passed through Prince George and was able to replace the dust cover with the universal. It didn't fit properly but with a little help from my 6 lb. sledge, it went on.

12. The next night when setting up camp at ten mile creek PP I discovered again, that my batteries were only about 50% even though we'd been hooked up to hydro the previous night (can you tell I've been in Canada for a while? I started the generator since ten mile creek had no utilities and plugged in. Still read 12.2 volts on the batteries. Checked fuses and connections and found no improvement in the 12.2 volts. It was obvious that the converter was not charging anything now. I ran the generator for about an hour before the beginning of quiet hours and got enough into them to get us through the night. REALLY glad for those big 6 volt Trojans cause they'll get you through a lot of problems with their capacity.

The next day we crossed back into the USA in Western Washington state and headed for the coast to find camping for the night. Ended up at Birtch Bay State Park which is a close fitting little park right on the beach with electric and water sites. The truck had a pretty good charge on the batteries so I didn't bother charging them that night and figured we'd try and find a replacement for the converter the next day. Called a local RV dealer who advertised on the campground map and found that he didn't have an inverter in stock for our trailer and he thought he could get one in about a week. When I explained I was just passing through the area, he suggested (reluctantly) Camping World in Mr. Vernon Washington.

I stopped there in the morning and found that they were completely UNHELPFUL in any way. I went to the parts counter to inquire about inverters and they didn't even want to talk to me about them. Told me to look around the floor because they had some on display there. I DID manage to pry the information out of them that they could install any inverter I found the following Saturday (today is Monday) and it would cost me around $150.00. I did look around at what they had and they had nothing that would fit my trailer (thankfully because I MIGHT have been tempted to use them since I'm not well versed in electrical matters).

Walked out of camping world and decided we'd stop at the first RV dealer we came to along I-5 heading south. Turns out that was Valley RV and Marine, located in Mt Vernon Washington. They don't NORMALLY stock WFCO converters but the just HAPPENED to have one in stock and it just HAPPENED to be identical to the one in the Rockwood. I asked when they thought they could install it and the tech said "how about right now?"

An hour later and $200.00 cheaper than Camping World would have been, I was back on the road with a functional converter.

13. No there really isn't any thirteen because THAT would be unlucky Everything else went perfectly the rest of the way home. I didn't mention that we'd also stopped in Alaska to help a guy with a flat tire on a 5th wheel or that we'd picked up two Fairbanks residents a few miles east of Chicken Alaska and driven them to Dawson Creek to get parts for their stalled Class C motor home, or the Jayco Eagle we camped next to at Morley River BC who couldn't get THEIR slide retracted in the morning (just a dead battery). Those items were just a NORMAL part of RV travel when you're a LONG ways from help of any kind.

Though we had a lot of problems we still consider this trip to be one of a lifetime for us and we enjoyed ALMOST every minute of it. The new truck did great and the trailer, NOW with over 70,000 miles towing on the clock, is still a gem. I'll be dropping that belly to fix the slide problem as soon as it cools down from the 100 degree weather we've been having since getting back home.
2007 Rockwood 8314SS Travel Trailer
F-150 HD OR F-250 PSD SCREW (whichever I feel like driving)

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Re: Great Alaska trip for a bit problematic but we're home

Unread postby Big Rig Guy on Fri Aug 07, 2009 11:39 am

Now thats a post, looking forward to going through all your pics. Thats a trip that I would love to take. Sounds like you had the normal amount of frustrations that I would encounter on a journey such as yours.
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Re: Great Alaska trip for a bit problematic but we're home

Unread postby Big Rig Guy on Fri Aug 07, 2009 11:48 am

Just went through the pics, you had alot of nice campsites, especially the one by the lake/river. How did that powerstroke work out for you re power and fuel economy??

I see you were using your Honda 2000 too, did you do alot of boondocking??????? carry your own water??????? how did that work out????

What did you forget to take with you????????? I know there is something lol
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Re: Great Alaska trip for a bit problematic but we're home

Unread postby Limey on Fri Aug 07, 2009 2:15 pm

Welcome back Skip! That was one heck of a post - glad that the majority of the trip was great - I'll be looking at the pictures shortly :)

Jayco dealer in the Springs is K&C RV. I bought a Jayflight TT from them and have nothing but good things to say about them! I bought my Coachmen 5er in the Springs too - but from the Coachmen dealer of course!

Cheers.
Martyn (aka Limey)

2004.5 Dodge Ram 2500 QC CTD 4x4 SLT; 2007 Coachmen Chaparral 267RLS;
Reese 15K Slider; Prodigy; JT Stabilizers; Rotochoks; 2 Honda EU2000i's
2006 Glastron MX175
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Re: Great Alaska trip for a bit problematic but we're home

Unread postby cwit on Fri Aug 07, 2009 7:05 pm

Skip some of the nicest pictures I'v seen. Just made us more determined to take this trip in a few years. :D
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Re: Great Alaska trip for a bit problematic but we're home

Unread postby skipnchar on Fri Aug 07, 2009 8:51 pm

Big Rig Guy wrote:Just went through the pics, you had alot of nice campsites, especially the one by the lake/river. How did that powerstroke work out for you re power and fuel economy?? Power was great but economy could be better. ON the Interstate I get around 11;5 MPG but on the back roads with climbs and frequent acceleration more like 10 MPG. I had though it might be better with my relatively light trailer but at least it'll FLY up a 10% grade without even grunting. 10% grades are a dime a dozen in both Canada and Alaska. The Torqueshift trys to help a little TOO much sometimes but you get used to it and learn to leave the tow haul off except when going down steep grades.

I see you were using your Honda 2000 too, did you do alot of boondocking??????? carry your own water??????? how did that work out???? We boondocked MOST of the trip both in Canada and Alaska. We stayed at a total of three nights in RV Parks (one near Canloops BC, one at Watson Lake Yukon Territory and on just outside Fairbanks Alaska OOPS almost forgot the municipal park in Smythers BC on the way home so make that four times. The rest of the time was without any hook ups of any kind and either just out in the woods, along the road or at provincial parks, forest service campgrounds or state parks in Alaska. Boondocking sites are pleantiful and there are few restrictions for using them other than around some of the towns like around White Horse or Anchorage. WE filled our water tank at every opportunity and did the same with dump stations. They were the most difficult but never had to pay for the service. Many gas stations in Alaska offer free dumps with a fill up.

What did you forget to take with you????????? I know there is something lol
I really can't think of anything that MATTERED that we forgot. I didn't take the USB cord that connects my digital camera to my computer for downloading photos but we found that the cord for our TOMTOM sat nav system worked just fine for the purpose. We ended up taking over 1,500 photos so the ones on the linked photo album are only a sampling. Many of those were taken by shooting through the windshield so I think I took a picture of the same squashed bug about 50 times LOL. Probably have more pictures of him than some of my grand kids.

I WILL be adding more photos because what is there right now doesn't get me back out of Canada. I believe I have about three more days to post and THEN I'll begin posting the lower US part of the trip which includes Colorado Springs, Flaming Gorge in Utah, Tetons, Yellowstone, Glacier and some from the trip home through Washington, Idaho, Montana Wyoming and Nebraska. (When I find the time).
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Re: Great Alaska trip for a bit problematic but we're home

Unread postby Big Rig Guy on Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:07 pm

Skip, yea that damn camera cord, I know I am missing mine right now too. Looking forward to the balance of the pics.
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Re: Great Alaska trip for a bit problematic but we're home

Unread postby PrivatePilot on Sat Aug 08, 2009 12:21 pm

Awesome post, Skip - sounds like it was definitely the adventure of a lifetime. We hope to do it some day ourselves when we have more time to dedicate to enjoying a trip like that, as opposed to being forced into long days of driving to accomplish it.

You sure had your fair share of problems, but I hear that Alaska's roads are tough on even the best equipment.

Looking forward to more pics.
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Re: Great Alaska trip for a bit problematic but we're home

Unread postby cwit on Sat Aug 08, 2009 6:40 pm

I think the pictures were great and we will make the trip in a few years.
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Re: Great Alaska trip for a bit problematic but we're home

Unread postby thetwoofus on Sun Oct 11, 2009 10:41 pm

Wow Skip, That's quite a trip, I read your 12 listings and wondered what I would do if I were to have the same problem. I have two slides so does that mean I'd have 400 cranks? Dang think I'd sleep on the couch. :roll:
My wife was talking about making that trip sometime. Her Mother is still in the rest home so it would be a couple years before we could leave here for the simmer. Probably before we'd go I'd up grade to a 5Th wheel and a larger truck then I have now.We'll make one more trip to AZ this year and then next year we'll replace the truck.

You guys can't top this trip can you? Maybe drive to Europe when they get the bridge completed. Have they started it yet? My bother and his wife lived in Italy and I told him I'd come visit them after the bridge was built. I never made it to Italy. :(
I did some reading about that Alaskan hwy, That sounds like quite the highway, Seems like it would shake everything loose.

Are you going to Texas this year? We won't be going to Mission, instead we're going to Casa Grande AZ this year. Leaving here in 7 weeks. Looking forward to the trip.
I started looking at your pictures but will finish them when I'm done here.
Thanks for posting all about your fun and trials. Your a brave man to stick your head under that black drain hole to see why nothing was coming out,glad you got it fixed.
That could have been disastrous. :shock:

Take care, George
2011 Cedar Creek 36B2 ordered with outside kitchen removed and a nice big wardrobe in it's place.
Pulled with a 2011 F-250 Super Duty 6.7 Diesel Crew Cab and 8' box with a Hensley Trailer Saver.
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Re: Great Alaska trip for a bit problematic but we're home

Unread postby thetwoofus on Mon Oct 12, 2009 10:31 am

Wow Skip, Great pictures! I only made it to # 70 this morning, the pictures are like what you said about the sign post's, it'll take all day to see them all. I'll have to come back later on today. Very interesting to say the least. It looks like a really cool trip. :lol: (no pun intended)
2011 Cedar Creek 36B2 ordered with outside kitchen removed and a nice big wardrobe in it's place.
Pulled with a 2011 F-250 Super Duty 6.7 Diesel Crew Cab and 8' box with a Hensley Trailer Saver.
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