We’re about to launch eastward and it’s taken a bit of doing to get this far.
First was to get the toad all hooked up. Discretion being the better part etc (a 60-year-old fat guy rolling around under a car ain’t a purty sight) I asked the guys at Frank’s Towing & Repair in Navasota to install the baseplate on the car. Note this this wasn’t something they normally do, but since they’d installed trailer hitches on their own vehicles they were willing to give it a go, and there was no way I could get it done without a lift.
We were all reading the instructions and they’d start and I’d wander off. When motion stopped I’d go back and we’d puzzle over instruction a bit more. Finally it was done after a couple of hours, $100 and only one spare part.
Next step was the electricals. Cue the fat guy! It was miserable to be rolling around in hot gravel except when it was wet gravel but no way was I going to pay an “RV technician” $130 a hour to simply wire up taillights on a car.
So that was all done along with the air-brake lines. Now for a test!
We went around back of the CG, hooked it all up and it worked too good! The brake system blew the toad brake pedal to the floor and held it there until it blew a compressor fuse.
OK, I give. This is above my pay grade.
I started calling around to RV service shops. Most didn’t have a clue what I was talking about or didn’t service anything remotely resembling RV brakes. But I found Action RV in Conroe and made an appointment.
It wasn’t an ideal situation; Conroe’s about an hour away and we’d have to stay at a KOA to make it early enough. The KOA was, to put it politely, a paved pasture for which we paid $45 a night to park on.
Anyway, to Action RV. This was a diagnostic appointment; we’d need to come back to actually fix things. The tech recalled something his mentor or grandpa or someone had told him about our old Oshkosh chassis and he found the steam-age mechanical brake proportioning valve above the brake pedal, lubricated it and it decided to work. Unfortunately the compressor wouldn’t shut off and just kept blowing fuses. We decided to replace the compressor and tank rather than piecemeal it.
This of course meant another appointment almost a month later and another stay at KOA.
This time things went well; the compressor was in and the toad connections were good. We had a little problem with no brake lights on the MH but then back a KOA they worked. Kudos to Action RV for doing the job in half the estimated time and cost.
Little did we know.
The brakes were really wonky leaving KOA and heading down the road. Wonky as in not much brakes. But we had toad brakes, the engine exhaust brake and some brake action so we proceeded carefully. Not much else to do along TX 105 and not much to run into.
We made it back to the CG and I found the brake fluid reservoir _empty_. That’s empty, as in I put my fingers, wiggle ’em around and they’re dry. I put about a quart of brake fluid in and they worked right just a little but evidently they’d slurped a lot of air in the lines.
The documentation for the braking system says for this symptom to bleed the lines and if that doesn’t fix it, replace the master cylinder.
So I decided I needed some help. I figured it was the same as the brakes in an old VW Bug, just bigger, but cue the fat guy.
I started calling around to find someone to come to the CG and bleed the brakes. Note that the CG is out in the boonies. Some decided they didn’t work on motorhomes, some didn’t have a clue what I was talking about, but I eventually found Brumfield in College Station.
“I’ll get you going,” he said, and we made an appointmet for the next week and agreed to call.
I called and he said “I’m stuck in ‘Calina, my wife wanted me to take her to Myrtle Beach and now the airline isn’t flying.” So we agreed to call in a few days.
He called me a day early, came out and brought a helper with him and we proceeded to bleed the brakes. It took three; me to push the brake pedal, the helper to turn the bleeder at the wheel and Brumfield to holler back and forth. But we got it done fairly quickly with no undue excitement and he charge me a very fair price.
Now we appear to have working brakes, I still have to wire up the wifi antenna and I need to take the car to Frank’s to get it inspected to renew the registration. We have some extraneous stuff to get rid of but we seem to be largely ready to go.