Las Vegas, NV, Part I: Toad Trouble
We had a fairly long drive of five hours from Yucca Valley to our next stop in Las Vegas, NV. Paul always likes to gas up the motor home before we stop, so pulled into the Flying J just north of Las Vegas. As we made the turn into the station, we heard a crunch and scraping noise coming from the back. Paul glanced at the rear view monitor just in time to see the toad drifting off to the side of the motor home all by itself with entire front fascia missing. Fortunately, we were going very slowly, and the car rolled to a stop by itself.
We jumped out of the motor home to find the base plate (the part that is bolted to the car frame that the tow bar attaches to) had failed, and when it failed, it pulled the front fascia off the car. The failed base plate and the front fascia were still attached to the tow bar, which was still attached to the back of the motor home.
We were stopped right in the entrance to the gas station, so we quickly unhooked the tow bar from what was left of the base plate, gathered up all the pieces, and pulled the car and motor home off to the side.
Fortunately, the motor home is OK except for a minor scuff on the back corner that can be buffed out, but the car - not so much. Actually, it looks worse than it was. The fascias of most cars these days are plastic and are held on with snap tabs and plastic snap-together rivets so they come off fairly easily. There were some minor scrapes on the fascia, and a couple of the snap tabs were broken off; but other than that, the parts looked to be reusable. We'll have more about the re-assembly later.
Actually, the whole ordeal could have been a lot worse. God was watching over us. We had just gotten off the interstate with fairly heavy Las Vegas traffic, and if the car had broken away there, who knows what might have happened. It may have crashed into the back of the motor home, hit another vehicle, or hit the median barrier; but it certainly wouldn't have rolled to a stop in a few feet on its own.
We use an auxiliary brake in the car so the motor home brakes don't have to do all the work, especially if we would have to stop fast. The brake system has a break-away feature that is supposed to stop the car if it becomes detached from the motor home, but the break-away switch was attached to the fascia so the the wires ripped off before it had a chance to work. Paul relocated that switch to the car frame when he did the re-assembly.
There is more to be thankful for. We were also glad the mishap occurred in a larger town where we could get parts and repairs more easily than in a smaller town. On top of that, the Flying J wasn't crowded so we didn't cause a major problem for them when we were stopped in the middle of their entrance. The few cars coming and going could easily get around us.
The car was
drivable, so Margery followed behind the motor home as we headed to the campground after picking up the pieces and gassing up. We stayed at Roadrunner RV Park located on Boulder Highway east of the Strip. Roadrunner has full hookups, paved roads and paved sites. The sites are a little narrow and a little short, but at least they have a strip of shrubs between the sites. The campground has mostly pull-throughs, which are a little longer, with back-ins around the perimeter.
Boulder Highway is a busy road, and there is construction going on in front of the campground. The only open site in the back of the campground was a back-in site in the last row. We weren't real crazy about the cement block wall behind the back row of sites separating the campground from the mobile home park behind, but we had had enough traffic noise and backup beepers at Yucca Valley so we took the site in the back row. We don't know if it was really any quieter or not because the highs were in the 90s and 100s and the lows were in the 70s, so we ran the air 24 hours a day while we were there.
As soon as we got set up, and while Paul was outside examining the loose parts, Margery got busy online looking for RV dealers nearby who might have a replacement base plate. There is a Camping World about 10 miles down the road in Henderson, NV, but they don't carry Blue Ox products. Blue Ox is the brand tow bar we have, and it was the brand of our old base plate. Margery found an RV dealer about half a mile up the road whose web page said they carried Blue Ox so we hopped into the car and drove to the dealer.
Not only did Findlay RV carry Blue Ox base plates, they had one to fit our car in stock, and they could install it the following day. Paul headed up to Findlay first thing in the morning, and got the base plate installed. Afterward, back at the motor home Paul worked on re-assembling the parts of the fascia. Having a site in the back row worked out well because it enabled us to pull the car in head first and work on it more discretely than if we had a pull-through site. All the original wiring on the car was OK, but the plug and the wires that connect the car lights to the motor home lights for use while towing were ripped off. Paul spent the afternoon tracing and splicing wires.
The next morning while it was cool, Paul put the fascia back on the car. Everything has to line up just right to get it to fit back together, and it's hard to see what's going on if things aren't going together right, especially when some of the tabs are missing or bent.
The passenger side finally went together.
On to the driver's side.
In the end, it was almost as good as new. There are a few scrapes on the black air dam that can hardly be seen because they're way at the bottom, and there are some scuffs on the paint that Paul will be able to buff out. Some of the black marks on the paint that look like scrapes in the above photos were actually splattered bugs, so it really isn't bad at all once Paul got everything put back together and cleaned up.
Our fabric tow shield helped cushion the fascia from getting too many scrapes when it hit the pavement. In the process, the tow shield suffered a few scrapes of its own, and the bungee cord that runs around the perimeter to keep it taut broke in two places. We have a little fabric left from when we made the new tow shield last winter while in Florida, so Margery will get out her trusty Singer Featherweight sewing machine sometime soon to sew in a patch. In the meantime, Paul spliced in a new piece of bungee cord. Fortunately, we had some of that left over, too.
Getting the new base plate installed, putting the car back together, fixing the tow shield and doing the wiring took the better part of two days. With all that work done, it was finally time for some fun so stay tuned.