Thursday, June 9, 2005

Our DataStorm is fixed! Hooray!

Actually, fixed does not quite describe today's experience. It's more like we have an entirely new dish.

Arthur Wilson, the MotoSat tech support wizard who has been helping me by phone, came out to the coach this morning, and together we removed the dish from its mounting rails. We loaded it onto a waiting forklift and they whisked it into the factory. There, it was completely rebuilt. They installed new gears and motors for all three axes, a new circuit board (known as the Upper Control Board, or UCB), some new wiring, and even added the trademark blue LED's that wash the dish in blue at night. Cosmetically, they also replaced the missing "D" on the dish (we have had an "ataStorm" since we got the thing). About the only original components are the reflector, transceiver, arm, and the moving frame of the mount.

They had the whole thing ready to go by around 1:00, and we bolted it back on. Unfortunately, we had some issues with communication between the positioner down in the coach, and the UCB. Three UCB's and three hours later, all was finally working, and, with nothing more than a handshake, we were cleared to depart.

I have to say that I am impressed with MotoSat's commitment to customer service. I should note here that Arthur is apparently one of only two tech support people who are handling the entire installed base, so they are streched pretty thin. Nevertheless he remained doggedly devoted to getting us fixed and back on the road. Much of the time he was working with us, he was simultaneously handling another support call on his cell phone, which he wisely was using with a headset. Periodically he would ask for something to be done (e.g. "stow the dish") and I and whoever he had on the other end of the phone would have to figure out to which one of us he was talking ("no, no, I didn't mean for you to stow the dish -- I was talking to someone else).

In any case, we are really happy with the final resolution of this situation, and many kudos to Arthur and MotoSat for taking care of us. We will be switching our monthly service over to MotoSat in October when our one-year contract with Ground Control runs out.

One consequence of the extra three hour UCB-swapping extravaganza was that Opal had to miss her 5:15 follow-up appointment with the vet in Provo. So we called the vet and rescheduled for tomorrow morning.

We drove down to Provo (in commute traffic, bleah), had a nice dinner at Olive Garden, and proceeded to the Provo Elks lodge, which, our directory told us, has several nice RV spots with hookups, and plenty of dry camping in the parking lot. When we arrived at the lodge, however, we found it shuttered and surrounded by a construction fence. They are undertaking major renovations, and the parking lot is closed (although the lodge is operating out of a small trailer on the grounds).

So we find ourselves, tonight, parked at a Sam's Club (map), which is, conveniently, right across the street from the Elks. Another night, another parking lot.

Lest any of our erstwhile readers gets the impression that all is now well aboard Odyssey, remember that every solved problem is replaced by a new, yet-to-be-solved problem, according to Hornor's third corollary to Murphy's Law.

At some point today, Jim Pendleton, president of MotoSat, came over to chat and check on things. We got to talking about coaches (he has a 45' Newell), and I offered him a tour of Odyssey. During the walkaround portion, I detected the odor of propane when I opened the compartment.

After wrapping up the tour and our chat, I got out the spray bottle of soap solution and started hunting down the leak. It turned out to be in the worst possible place: between the regulator and the shut-off solenoid. It's location ahead of the solenoid means the only way to stop the leak is to close off the valves on both cylinders. A quick fix is out of the question -- the gas line from the regulator, through the solenoid, and beyond into the innards of the coach is all hard pipe. To tighten the leaking fitting (at the junction of a nipple and an elbow) would require removing the entire regulator assembly, which first requires removal of the sewer hose storage.

We will live with turning the tanks on and off every time we need them until we get back to Infinity in July. Some work needed to be done in this area anyway, since the sewer hose storage tube inadvertently got installed in such a way as to prevent operation of the change-over lever on the two-cylinder regulator. Of course, we did not realize this until two or three months into our voyage, when we needed to use it.

Tomorrow we will head south on US 189 toward the north rim of the Grand Canyon, just as soon as we are done at the vet.

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