Franklin, KY - Events of Wednesday, October 12 to Sunday, October 16, 2016
We pulled out of Scenic Hills last Wednesday morning and headed south toward Lower Alabama. We were originally going to skip our usual stop in Lower Alabama this fall and take a more easterly route through Charlotte and then follow I-95 along the coast into Florida. However, with Hurricane Matthew heading up the coast the week before we were scheduled to leave Ohio, we decided to go back to Lower Alabama after all to avoid the areas along the East Coast and any possible aftereffects of the hurricane.
Our first overnight stop was at Cedarbrook Campground in Lebanon, Ohio, which was about a three-hour drive. Cedarbrook has a little over 100 campsites, about a quarter of which are pull-throughs with the rest back-ins. Most sites have full hookups with either 20/30/50-amp electric or 20/30-amp electric, but some are water and 20/30-amp electric only.
The roads and pads at Cedarbrook are somewhat dusty gravel. Site spacing is a little close, but not too bad for a private campground. There is grass between most of the sites. There is free cable, and Wi-fi is available for a fee. The campground is pretty far from the interstate, so there is little traffic noise.
We got a pull-through site with full hookups and 20/30/50-amp electric. Our cost for one night was $51, which we thought was steep considering the sparse gravel, relatively narrow sites and the fact the Wi-fi isn't free. However, there isn't a lot of choice for campgrounds with pull-throughs at that approximate distance from Berlin. We used to stay at the RV facilities at the FMCA headquarters on the eastern side of Cincinnati, but that's not an option since we no longer have a motor home.
On Thursday morning, we had another drive of about three hours to Grandma's RV Camping in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. We've stayed there a couple of times before. Grandma's has about half back-ins and half pull-throughs. Although they are a decent length, the sites (especially the pull-throughs) are quite close together. The roads are paved, as are the small patios. The sites themselves are all gravel (the gravel is relatively clean and plentiful) with no grass. There are full hookups with 20/30/50-amp electric and free Wi-Fi that was fairly fast. Grandma's is conveniently located right off I-65, and that means there is quite a bit of traffic noise. Our cost at Grandma's was $32 for the night.
We pulled out of Grandma's on Friday morning with a scheduled drive of almost four hours to our next stop in Cornersville, Tennessee, where we planned to layover for the weekend. When we pulled off at a Flying J just north of the Kentucky-Tennessee border to fuel up, Paul felt the trailer dragging as we were making our turn to approach the pumps. When he looked in the mirror to see if we had hit something, he saw the rear trailer tire on the driver's side sitting at an angle. Uh-oh!
We couldn't stop where we were because we were blocking the entrance/exit to 2/3 of the pumps, so we proceeded very slowly past the pumps to a parking area off to the side. Paul used the trailer's hydraulic levelers to lift the rear of the trailer to take the weight off the wheel so he could assess the situation.
After removing the hub cap, we found the outer hub cover and the castle nut had both unscrewed and were stuck in a wad of grease inside the hubcap. The outer bearing had disintegrated.
Paul remembered reading in several of the RV forums in which he participates that people are having problems with bearings these days because the suppliers of the axles and hubs are using cheap, Chinese-made bearings. However, we didn't think we would have this bad a problem this soon. Paul was planning to clean, inspect and re-pack the bearings when we got to Florida this winter, and he would have replaced them all with US-made bearings if he found any problem at all. Obviously, he should have looked at the bearings over the summer.
We have CoachNet roadside assistance. When we called them, they said they would have a tech call us back to get more info. After waiting almost an hour for a callback, we discovered the tech had already called much earlier, but we had somehow missed the call. After calling CoachNet again, we had to wait almost another hour for a second call from a tech. They said they would send out a mobile RV repair service who would either make the repair or help us limp to a nearby campground or repair facility.
It took the mobile repair service about 45 minutes to show up. The mechanic said we needed a new hub assembly complete with bearings and a new grease seal. Since we have disc brakes, which are much less common than standard drum brakes, parts are harder to find. The mechanic had no luck finding parts locally late on a Friday afternoon so he had no choice but to chain up our axle so it wouldn't drag and secure our dangling brake caliper to allow us to limp to a campground while he continued to look for parts. When he had the parts, he would come to the campground to complete the repair.
Dad's Bluegrass Campground is located one exit (about 4 miles) north of the Flying J, and they had sites available. The mechanic followed us to make sure we made it safely. We checked in and got settled.
The campground sat abandoned for three years, and new owners just re-opened it four months ago. The website says they are a work in progress, and they are making repairs and improvements every day to bring the campground back. All in all, the campground has good bones. The site spacing isn't too bad for a private campground, the 50-amp electric was strong and reliable, and there was good water pressure. The owner is super-friendly very hard-working.
In addition to RV sites, Dad's has a few tent sites and a few cabins. Almost all The RV sites are all pull-throughs, and they have full hookups with either 20/30-amp electric or 20/30/50-amp electric. The roads and pads are somewhat dusty gravel, and there is grass between the sites.
The campground is close to the interstate so there is some traffic noise, but it wasn't as bad as Grandma's. Being close to the interstate was a good thing in this case because, not only was it easy to limp there with the 5th wheel, but close proximity to the interstate meant a good Verizon signal, which was necessary because the campground has no Wi-fi. Our cost at Dad's was $35 a night with a 10% Good Sam discount.
About the only drawback to Dad's is there are a good many long-term residents, and some of their sites are somewhat cluttered. However, the owner says the long-termers are keeping him afloat financially so we can't blame him for being happy they are there.
We got a call from the RV mechanic late Friday evening. He located the parts, but they had to be ordered, and it was too late for them to be shipped until Monday. We told him we would pay extra to have them shipped overnight for a.m. delivery Tuesday.
We are thankful God was watching over us through this ordeal. The incident happened while we were at a gas station instead of on the interstate. Who knows what might have happened if the wheel had come off while we were traveling at 65mph! And we're also thankful we found a decent campground close by instead of having limp the 5th wheel a long distance or having to wait out the weekend in the parking lot of an RV repair facility.
Except for the two-hour delay in waiting for a call back from a tech, which was partly our fault since we missed the first call, we are very happy with CoachNet. They pay for the initial service call, but the RV owner is responsible for any work that is done after the service truck arrives. CoachNet will also pay for towing to the nearest qualified service facility if required. However, the biggest service they provide in our opinion is finding someone, anyone, nearby who can do the repair.
We did our cleaning chores on Saturday morning then tried to relax the rest of the day. The campground has live bluegrass music on Saturday evenings, but we we were still too frazzled from the episode on Friday to go up to the pavilion to check it out. We relaxed some more on Sunday.
On Monday, we decided we might as well make the best of a bad situation and do a little sightseeing. We'll tell you all about it in our next post.