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Old 11-27-2007, 05:23 PM   #1
John Bowers
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First RV, and its a 3400RL

My wife, Cathy, and I (John) picked up our first RV back on Saturday. I had been looking at motorhomes for several years, sitting on the fence so-to-speak. Cathy wanted none of such a motorized beast. Instead, friends of our daughter's (she's a neo-full timer herself) showed Cathy and me their 3400RL back on Labor Day. Cathy was instantly in love.

I was surfing through Craigslist.org in the Southeast area, and stumbled on a 2007 3400RL just listed. It was available along with a 1999 Ford 350 dually if necessary. Well, I only have a 2002 GMC Denali with 10,400 pounds towing capacity. Suffice to say, I purchased the Montana and the Ford truck. We drove it home on Saturday, as I already mentioned.

The trip from south Georgia was smooth and uneventful, excepting driving through downtown Griffin. I advise never to do that with a large 5th wheel if you don't have to. The traffic lights are not synchronized, and every other one is nearing the top of a hill.

I made it home minus 200 feet. We have a steep gravel driveway, and I elected to pull up slowly in second gear. Well, the truck wouldn't make it to the top in that gear and that speed. So, I stopped and shifted into 1st gear. Of course, the rear wheels just spun in the gravel. I stopped and put on the emergency brake. When I let off the foot brake, the electric brakes on the trailer released and started pulling the truck back. So, I again stood on the brakes. At this point, I shut off the truck motor to think.

I'm pretty good at backing up trailers, so I decided to back up the Montana to get a running start. At this point, the "new" truck let me down. My starter would not work. The motor spun, but the Bendix would not engage. I called Cathy, who had beat me home by 15 minutes and was in the house watching and wondering what her idiot husband was doing. When she answered the phone, I calmly asked her to come out and block the wheels at the trailer so that she could save it. Poor girl ran out of the house in a panic. Luck for me, as my braking foot was getting tired.

With chocks behind the trailer wheels, I got out of the truck. I grabbed some necessary tools and inspected the starter. Inspection didn't help the starter, and it still had a stuck Bendix. I beat on it a few times to no avail.

Next, I called my sister-in-law, Lisa, to request her husband's, Jamie, help. Jamie came over to see the situation for himself. Jamie and Lisa have had a camper for several years and had many experiences. Jamie already knew of the precarious grade of my driveway and recommended attacking it at a faster speed. I thanked him for this belated instruction. He then suggested that we enlist the help of a fellow neighbor, Bruce, who owns a Freightliner.

We visited Bruce and got his help. Unfortunately, the Freightliner was not available, because my truck and trailer blocked the driveway. We can approach my farm through an adjacent trail through the woods, but the Freightliner would not fit through that route. So, Bruce brought over his F-250 truck.

We attempted to attach both Bruce's F-250 and my Denali to the front of the Ford F-350 and pull truck and trailer. This didn't work, as both F-250 and Denali just spun their wheels. The Denali is all-wheel drive, but the F-250 was only rear-wheel drive. Next, we used more chain and connected the Denali to the F-350 and the F-250 to the Denali further up the drive at a more level area. This finally worked.

The new Montana 3400RL is now parked next to my workshop, where I have installed a 50 amp service and water connection. The F-350 spent a day inside the workshop while I pulled and replaced the defective starter. Cathy is happy, and has been e-mailing her friends with pictures of the truck convoy pulling the Montana up my driveway.

I have learned my first important lesson in towing. And, I'm happy to share it. If Cathy will give me the pictures she took of my travails, I will post some.

Thanks for the great forum. I hope to be a good, and eventually longstanding, member.

John
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Old 11-27-2007, 05:39 PM   #2
HughM
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And I thought that I had problems my first time out with a defective A/C. John that was some story. You can only go up from here.
Enjoy your 3400RL

Hugh
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Old 11-27-2007, 05:47 PM   #3
stiles watson
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John, I know this was stressful while it was occurring, but reading it is hilarious. Here's hoping all your glitch quotas were used on this maiden voyage. We have the same basic floor plan as you and we love it. Happy RVing....
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Old 11-27-2007, 07:57 PM   #4
Okie Guy
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John,
Thank God your here. Now I am not the only one having issues. I seem to have a black cloud follow me around on camping trips. Welcome to family Montana!
I hope you and Kathy have many years of fun and safe travels!
Phil
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Old 11-28-2007, 01:02 AM   #5
Mudchief
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John & Cathy, congratulations on your new Montana. Anybody that pulls one of these units will sooner or later have a story also. Glad Cathy was home to put those chocks behind the wheels.
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Old 11-28-2007, 02:25 AM   #6
Longwell
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Welcome to the forum.
What a great story!! I can't wait to see the pictures.
I am wondering, though, how you are going to take all those trucks with you on the road.
Larry
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Old 11-28-2007, 02:48 AM   #7
rogersuemegan
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Maybe time to sell the stick house with the steep driveway and become a full-timer???? Loved your story still laughing, as we have many of our own tails to tell, like having a blow-out on the five'er in the mountains of Northern Maine, with a long down-hill grade to a little French speaking town (right on the Canadian boarder) at the bottom of the mountain and by the time we got there all the trailer breaks had gone out... but thats another story lol, glad you are all OK and finally made it in to the driveway!!
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Old 11-28-2007, 03:48 AM   #8
HughM
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John gives new meaning to "RV Caravan"
Hugh
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Old 11-28-2007, 04:33 AM   #9
Joe-n-Doe
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John,

Welcome to the forum. Great story! I'm glad it all worked out.
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Old 11-28-2007, 05:06 AM   #10
Parrothead
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Thanks for a great story!
Hsppy trails........................
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Old 11-28-2007, 01:48 PM   #11
exav8tr
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ROFLMAO!!!!!!!!!! Welcome to the best darned forum on the www. Hope to see you "on the road" someday and not in your driveway.......

Phil & Cathy
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Old 11-28-2007, 02:21 PM   #12
Mrs. CountryGuy
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Great story, NOW POST THOSE PHOTOS!! We all want to see!



Congrats on the new rig, and a new adventure!
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Old 11-29-2007, 12:11 AM   #13
Glenn and Lorraine
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That has to be the best story I have read in weeks. I just can't stop laughing. Now like Varol said "let's see that picture". If you need any help posting it just let me know. Send me an Email or a PM and I'll be glad to help ya.
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Old 11-29-2007, 02:19 PM   #14
John Bowers
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I should be flying home tomorrow, and will get the photos from Cathy so that I can post them. Really!! Three trucks to move one trailer was something from the Keystone Kops.

Thanks for all of the replies. You'ze guys are a really friendly bunch. I know I'm going to really enjoy meeting you as Cathy and I begin our travels. We're starting with our shakedown weekend on December 7th through 9th. We're going to Shorter, Alabama to try our luck in the casino and the dog track. Depending on our luck, we will outfit our Monty at either Neiman Marcus or Big Lots.

Thanks again.

John & Cathy

p.s. I'll place a bet to win on any dog named "Monty", "Montana", or similar handle.
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Old 11-29-2007, 03:38 PM   #15
boylanag
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Welcome to the forum. Great story. We can't wait for the pix.
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Old 11-29-2007, 03:49 PM   #16
HughM
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John, You won't have to worry about us dropping in to see you at your stick house. Meet you at the campground.

Hugh
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Old 11-29-2007, 05:06 PM   #17
Waynem
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John,
Maybe now you might consider paving the gravel road where it starts to climb. To bad the '99 did not have 4 wheel drive.

Great story - Has your neighbor asked if you wanted to buy his Freightliner?

Semper Fi!
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Old 12-02-2007, 12:22 PM   #18
John Bowers
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Here's a couple pictures of the stuck truck and trailer coming to the top of my driveway.

This is as far as I made it on my first attempt. The picture is not as dramatic as the actual effect on my heart rate at the time.



This is what we ended up as the caravan.



Next time, I have to cross my creek doing about 20 mph, according to my brother-in-law Jamie. Of course, he doesn't have to re-arrange Cathy's cupboards afterwards.

Well, I hope the pictures posted properly.

Thanks for the interest and moral support.

John & Cathy
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Old 12-02-2007, 02:19 PM   #19
exav8tr
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Great pics, thanks John. Keep the faith.....
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Old 12-03-2007, 01:43 AM   #20
Glenn and Lorraine
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Nice photos John but I kinda like my reinterpretation better....



Guess you call that creative license.

YES, I know, I'm a BAD BOY. forgive me!

I'll never do it again.
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