Saturday, February 17, 2007

Sunset at Sunset

We are at the Sunset campground in Death Valley National Park (map). This is our first time in this spot, since our preferred digs over at the Furnace Creek campground were sold out for the holiday weekend. It is essentially a large dirt lot, with paved roadways and some concrete parking bumpers to delineate the "spaces." We took a nice end space close to the main road, for easy access across the street to Furnace Creek Ranch, where our friends are staying.

We arrived here Thursday, and had a nice quiet dinner at the Furnace Creek Inn. We rode the little scooter up the hill, and the best it could do with both of us aboard was about 25 or so. But we hit 40 on the way back down!

Our plan was to host a dinner here for everyone tonight, but it turns out several people were planning to ride over to Death Valley Junction to take in the show at the Amargosa Opera House. So by consensus of the group, we did dinner here last night instead. Louise made a big pot of pasta and a large salad, and I made a cherry sauce for the store-bought cheescake we had for dessert. Our friends Dale and Joan brought some flank steak and veggies to grill as well, but the regulations in this campground precluded them from using the Weber they brought with them. Dale was able to squeeze everything on to our little gas grill by staging it in waves, so all worked out in the end.

Dinner was quite tasty, and folks hung around chatting for a good hour or so afterwards. We seemed to end up with all the leftovers (including most of the beer we bought -- not sure how that happened), and cleaning everything up took the better part of another hour. Looks like we're set for dinner now for another week (thanks, Dale and Joan!).

We may try to catch the show ourselves tonight, if there are still tickets left. And tomorrow night we have a group reservation for dinner at the Inn again. We're planning on staying in this spot until Tuesday morning, when we will head over to Bakersfield, where I hope to have the engine ECM looked at again.

Speaking of the ongoing problems, we have once again cracked our lower windshield, a much more pressing matter than the upper one since we are behind it while driving. Ironically, we would not be dealing with a full crack and a windshield replacement right now, had it not been for the insurance policy on it. Allow me to explain:

As you may recall, Tuesday morning found us at Government Wash in the Lake Mead Recreation Area. Tuesday afternoon, we drove from there to Las Vegas, by way of Lake Mead Boulevard, state route 147. This road is well paved, with a limit of 55mph, and a few patches of construction. Apparently, 55 was not fast enough for some folks, and we were passed regularly by a variety of vehicles. Well, at some point a full-size pickup truck whizzed past us and we heard a thwack like a rock striking the glass, but we didn't see it fly or hit. In fact, to Louise, it sounded like it maybe hit the plastic bodywork below the glass. Absolutely no damage was visible from inside the cockpit.

When we stopped for the night in Las Vegas, we looked over the windshield from the outside, but did not see anything unusual. Perhaps it was the lighting condition at that time. The next day, though, we saw a clear "volcano" chip, less than dime-sized, at the very top of the windshield, where it would not be visible from the inside.

We immediately called the insurance carrier that underwrites our glass policy, which came with the fancy Diamon-Fusion coating we bought for the windshield back in August of '05. I explained very carefully to the call-taker that the windshield was hard to replace, and that we really, really wanted them to get the chip filled right away, to keep it from spreading. My pleas were completely lost on her: she repeated the corporate mantra that it takes 24 to 48 hours for them to respond to a glass repair. Now mind you, we were in Las Vegas in the middle of the day in the middle of the work week. We could easily have just driven over to any convenient glass repair and had this done. But we can do nothing until they approve it, and they have a process to follow.

After reminding the call-taker of the urgency, I informed her that we would be heading to Pahrump, and perhaps they could get someone to look at it there without further delay.

We drove to Pahrump without incident, and when we retired on Wednesday night, the chip was stable and still the size of a dime. I had not heard anything further from the insurer, Nations Auto Club, or their glass contractor, Safelite. Too bad, really, because once again, we could simply have had this chip filled in Pahrump on Wednesday. Of course, we awoke Thursday morning to an 11" long crack, emanating from what had been a small chip just the day before.

I called Nations back and informed them of the further damage, and that they now needed to get a new windshield on order. Of course, these folks haven't the first clue what this is going to involve -- in their minds, we're just going to drive in to a Safelite facility, and they are going to order a stock piece of aftermarket glass from a catalog, and just pop it on in. I spent an hour Thursday afternoon trying to explain the glass replacement process on a German-built Neoplan to various Nations and Safelite people. They are still clueless. Nevertheless, they finally got off their duffs long enough to send us over to Action Auto Glass in Pahrump (gee, why couldn't they do that one day sooner?) to have it looked at. (They will not authorize a replacement until a glass repair professional has said it is irreparable.)

Now it is hurry-up-and-wait, with the crack growing longer all the while. When they finally figure out how much the glass will cost, they will need to get several layers of management involved -- and they still won't understand that automotive glass shops can't do this work (after all, it was two different automotive glass shops that screwed up the installation of our upstairs glass, which now needs to be replaced due to improper installation techniques).

Back when we bought the Diamon-Fusion coating, before we knew they were just going to turn around and buy a third-party insurance policy, we had very carefully explained to the salesman what would be involved should the windshield ever break. He acknowledged everything we told him, and was insistent that we would have no problem with any claims under the warranty. So we shall see now how well they respond.

In the meantime, the coach will be laid up for a month anyway while we are cruising South America. Fortuitous, since the glass will likely have to come from Germany, typically a two- to three-month lead time. We'll also need to find someone who can install it, which will be tricky. If we can swing it, we will try to line this up to coincide with the upper windshield replacement, somewhere around Nashville.

On Tuesday, I will start calling around again to make sure the wheels are in motion.

1 comment:

  1. Sean,

    Check with Neopart they may have one instock. It took Charlies Autoglass in FT Lauderdale three windshields to get the lower properly replaced in my 91 space liner. During the ordeal Neopart said they were going to try to stock a couple of spares. Good Luck
    Also I found a local (Pompano Beach FL) shop that has a laser alignment machine that has all of the specs for the Neoplans.

    Steve Siems
    Reply to


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