After receiving assurances from the Camping World salesman that the brakes had been checked out and deemed safe, the tires were safe and appropriately inflated and the fuel lines had been upgraded to handle the new ethanol enhanced fuels, I climbed in and headed out. It was already getting dark so I didn't get too far that first evening.
It was a good thing as I had to learn how to drive this 26 foot vehicle all by myself. The steering wheel was so loose that by the time I made it to the truck stop to spend the night, I was considering driving back to Camping World and trying to return it. After waking up the next morning and grabbing some 'food' from McDonalds, I decided to press on instead.
I continued eastward through New Mexico and started my drive through the top of Texas. It wasn't long before I was pulled over by the police. The trooper pointed out two things. First, the temporary tag that Camping World taped to the inside of the tinted rear window was not visible from the outside, and I was weaving all over the road so much from the loose steering that the trooper thought I was under the influence of something. He was nice about everything and was relieved to find out that I was completely sober. Unfortunately, he wasn't nice enough to let me off with just a warning. Oh well. It never occurred to me that the steering would become a bigger issue when I got into Oklahoma.
Do you know the musical Oklahoma? The title song describes Oklahoma as "where the winds come sweeping down the plains." Well these winds really blow. I was on my way to Tulsa, Ok, to meet some other GMC owners for dinner, but I had to traverse almost the entire state before I got there. This was the most nerve-wracking and dangerous part of my drive. I was driving 55 - 60 mph in a 26 foot vehicle with loose steering while many large 18-wheeler trucks were barrelling past me on the left with extremely strong gusts of wind coming from the right. This combination of conflicting forces on the GMC created a maelstrom of air flow around the vehicle. One moment I would fighting the displaced air from a truck on the left which would push me to the right, when the wind from the right would try and push me into the truck.
In my 50 years I have never been so scared behind the wheel in my life.
When I finally made it to Tulsa I had aged quite a bit. After having a nice dinner with the Tulsa GMC owners, I headed toward a nearby truck stop to spend the night.
Below is my first, post purchase post to the GMCNET forums. I wrote this while sitting at the truck-stop that night.
Good evening folks,
Well, as I posted last week, my wife and purchased a GMC from a dealer in New Mexico. I flew in on Friday morning to pick it up and begin the drive back.
There are good things and bad things to report.
The exterior is in good shape,
There was a lot of documentation stashed in the coach,
The tires are all under 5 years old (although the spare is 10),
The interior is in decent shape too.
Met some great folks here in Tulsa. Glyn, thank you and your friends for meeting me for dinner. I wasn't relishing another meal alone.
Unfortunately, while the dealer said that this coach slept 4 (which is what we wanted,) he neglected to actually verify that. it turns out that one of the previous owners changed the dinette seating to be ONLY dinette seating. The jack knife assembly had been removed. After an hour or so of debating, I took the coach anyway. It won't be too hard to rig up the dinette as a double.
The WORST thing is the steering. There is about 30-40 degrees of play in the steering wheel. This means that I am not steering the coach as much as I am guiding it. The steering wheel is in constant motion left to right as I try and keep it on track. The worst part, so far, was dealing with the cross-winds on the highway in Oklahoma (Where the winds Come Sweeping Down the Plains). I was struggling against the crosswinds coming from the right with the trucks passing on the left. Several times I found myself rocketing on the shoulder as I had to over-correct to avoid the trucks. All in all, those 2-3 hours aged me several years. I am going to be in St. Louis tomorrow, then the Columbus, OH area on Monday before getting to DC on Tuesday. If there are any experts on the steering system somewhere along the way, I would love to get some advice.
The brakes are a little soft. It wasn't until I was leaving that I found out that the dealer had topped off the brake cylinder and had not bled the brakes. Anyone have any thoughts on how long it would take to bleed them? My cars don't take long, but they have much shorter lines.
It appears that the washer fluid pump is shot.
Other than that, the coach appears to be a solid foundation for future work.
I will keep everyone posted.
to find out where all that gas was coming from.