Look Before You . . .

Leap? Park? Pull out in traffic? Drop the jacks?

I know each of us claims to have a ‘checklist’ that is part of our teardown and setup routine, but do we really run our checklist? Is it written down, and actually checked? Or are you trusting your (increasingly cluttered/distracted) brain for these all important, and potentially expensive items?

I got two reminders this week that I need to be more diligent when reviewing our readiness. Both instances were the kind of mistakes you can learn from others making them. . . infinitely less costly than making all the errors yourself!

First, a little background. I was in one spot for nearly four weeks, including not having to move over the Memorial Day weekend. But due to changing circumstances, we needed to extend our stay for another two to three weeks. As most of you know, short notice like that can wreak havoc with available spaces. So I was forced to move on a Thursday, for a quick three-day stay in space 18B, before I could move to space 37 for two full weeks. No problem.

So. . . as you all know, it takes nearly as much effort to move down the street as across the state. Your checklist should be the same, because the risk of damage or failure is the same. Don’t get complacent!

Example number one: this is a quick and easy one, and we’ve all seen it (or experienced it). I flagged down some folks that had been next to me for a few days in their 5’r. They loaded everything up and pulled out. . . with their TV antenna sticking up from the roof at full extension. When I stopped them, he exclaimed “I was SURE I put that down!”. Eye roll from his wife.

Example number two: so the puppy and I are settling into our three-day spot, and notice a bit of commotion down the way, and then a VERY large tow truck rolls by with a late model Essex 45′ coach on the hook behind it.  Uh-oh, that looks expensive. (sorry, wasn’t quick enough to get pictures).

The next day, there are about eight guys working around their previous site, doing what appears to be a hazmat recovery and cleanup?!? I asked one of the park maintenance guys what happened, and here is the story.

As you all know, parking sites can vary widely to width, angle, level, stability, etc. and we come to rely on our automated functions, slideouts, jacks, maybe a bit too much?

You can see from the pics that the site has a large dip in it, right where the rear wheels would land, sloping up at the front, with a large parking block at the rear. When they pulled the Essex in, backed it up, set it to auto-level, it did a great job and settled them all into place.

However (here comes the expensive part) the oil pan for their diesel pusher was exactly on top of the concrete parking block, and the jacks and rear wheels acted like a very powerful lever system, to force the oil pan into the concrete block and fracture it, and all the oil (several gallons) leaked out onto the ground and pad. Now they face a very expensive repair job.

So here’s the lesson for me: I’m going to add a few more items to my checklist, both real and mental, for things I cannot see (what’s going on underneath the coach), as well as the things I can see. I know I’ve caught myself a couple of times before, with “wow, that jack just barely missed the electrical cord”. Or you’ve done things out of order, and drop the jacks before you pull the sewer hose, and put things in a bind?

  • Do you have clearance to the rear of the site pad for anything hanging off the back of your rig? Bikes, kayaks, or motorcycles on a rack?
  • Is there clearance for your slides to the: tree? power pole? neighbor’s picnic table?
  • Do you have a clear path for your utilities? Will your hoses/cables reach?
  • Are your jacks going to land in a safe and stable spot?
  • Are there any interesting obstacles that will interfere with the underside of your rig or utilities? (see catastrophic failure above)

look-fourNow I get to move literally across the street, but the angle of the two spots with the roadway, will force me to pull out and go about a quarter mile out to the main access road, back up enough to change directions, and drive back to my starting point to back in across the way. I’ll do my site walk-around with a different perspective today.

Do YOU know where your oil pan is?

Happy Trails!

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