Notes from Nowhere

Pop’s

The main point of this post is to praise to the hilt an RV service center called Pop’s Truck and RV Center in Aztec, NM. I can’t remember the last time I needed tech service of any kind where I felt so genuinely well taken care and confident in the team and their work. If you’re ever in Durango and need RV service, call Pop’s first! they’re not close, but they’re awesome. The full story is below…

Propane. So ubiquitous, so bbq, so convenient, such a health risk if it’s leaking into your travel trailer. Since night 1 on a side street in Flagstaff on my way to Silverton, I’ve been awakened – or awaking – with headaches ranging from meh to hours-long migraines, including that night in Flag beginning at 2am.

I didn’t connect the headaches with propane until a couple of days later. My head was swimming, and still is, with everything about this new existence and the headaches were just another fact of life for the moment. Then I sniffed around the stovetop and eventually down at the floor where the furnace is installed. Propane?

I’ll be writing quite a bit about my experience with the customer service team at the manufacturer of my rig (that’s right, I’m already calling it a rig) but will wait until the first chapter of the story is complete. I’ll also be writing about my personal assessment of the past, present and future of the RV industry and its customer base. Some of that will be published in the next 24 hours or so.

In the meantime, I’ve spent much of the past two days trying to get a mobile RV service person to evaluate my propane issue as well as a refrigerator issue that turned out to be related. The first open appointment at the only Durango RV dealership and service center is late November. With a nudge from my manufacturer’s CS person, they were willing to do a basic ‘drop test’ (pressure test) to determine whether or not the system was running optimally, but for anything other than grabbing a wrench and tightening a loose fitting, I’d have to come back in…late November.

All calls to potential mobile service options either went unanswered or they were already overbooked. Suffering from yet another migraine this morning, I made the hard decision to prep (30-45 minutes) and hitch up (30-45 minutes) the trailer and drive over to the dealer if only for the possibility that I’ll have 100% confirmation of a leak. I told them I’d be there at 1pm. They said I’d have to wait however long it took for a technician with a moment of down time to deal with me. Could have been hours.

But then…

I walked over to the campground office to let them know I’d be deserting my spot for a few hours to deal with this service issue. I briefly told them my sad story and they handed me a flyer for Pop’s Truck and RV Center, 35 miles down the road in Aztec, NM. They explained that they did mobile service and that several of their guests had used them recently.

I called Pop’s and spoke to Wendy. I tried for a mobile service call but Wendy wasn’t entirely sure the tech would make it to me because Thursday’s not usually a mobile day and even though a tech was in the field, he had a wedding to go to and might not be able to make it to Durango. Plus it would be three times more expensive for mobile than local. (It’s a was a warranty thing, but still.) And if I drove over, Wendy confirmed that the techs would make time for me and could also check out the fridge which won’t work on propane, which is critical for off-the-grid operation. 90 minutes or so later I was at Pop’s.

Anthony very efficiently and cordially got me signed in and set me up in Pop’s Lounge – a comfortable trailer – where I did some work and made a call or two. Two to three hours later, Anthony, Sean and Casey rolled up to the Lounge and gave me a very detailed report of their findings. Not a propane leak per se, but all propane-related. Simply put: (A) the propane tanks’ regulator needs replacing. It pressure-tested low to the point that it was causing the fridge to keep trying and failing to light, probably causing propane or propane-like odor (B) the regulator may have been fouled by the propane tanks which were not properly purged before first use which allowed oil to foul the regulator which may be why the regulator failed in the first place and (C) there is a design flaw in the trailer. The exhaust for the furnace is just below the exhaust for the cooktop so that some furnace exhaust is very possibly seeping into the trailer via that route.

Pop’s is out of regulators. They’re coming out to me on Wednesday to do that install. In the meantime, they’re saying don’t use the tanks until they’re purged or it all could happen again. I had hoped to do this today but I have air bags being installed on my truck today in Durango to prop up the back suspension for a smoother tow experience. For correct and complete purging, Pop’s recommends a place in Bloomfield, NM, nearly 50 miles from the campsite. If the airbags are installed by early enough today, I’ll drop the tanks in Bloomfield late in the day and pick them up Monday. Otherwise, Monday for Tuesday.

Fingers crossed, once I’m back in the Phoenix area mid October to deal with the original and thorniest issue of getting the AC working as promised off the solar system, all the rest of this will be a faintly skunky memory.

And it’s only the beginning of week two 🙂

(Much more to come about the AC situation. Oish.)

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