Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Back in Sumner

We are at Infinity Coach, in Sumner, Washington (map).

We arrived here Sunday evening, just in time to catch Bob Lewis for a couple of beers before he and Shirley flew back down to Mexico, where they are wintering in their Prevost. We were hoping to catch up with them there, but that is looking less and less likely as the amount of time we have before our annual Presidents Day commitment in Death Valley dwindles. (We're still hoping to get to Mexico, but likely not as far south as they are staying.)

We came here principally to change out the inverter, which is a story unto itself that I will relate in just a moment. We thought that we'd also have them look at a few other things while we were here, including the ever-present but ever-changing leaks. Well, our timing could not have been better -- Monday morning, as I was opening up the tool drawer to get out my cordless driver-drill, I noticed that several of the rivets on our "belly band" had come loose, and the band along with the skin above it was bowed out about 3/4 of an inch. A situation which was (1) ugly, (2) in need of immediate repair and (3) the sort of thing where Infinity is really our vendor of choice.

While I crawled into the tunnel to get going on the inverter, Danny set to work on the belly band. (In hindsight, I am sorry I did not snap a photo of the damage, as it is hard to explain here.) As we all suspected, the rivets had corroded out due to water intrusion, which led Danny to hunt around for the point of ingress. What he found was disturbing: one of the exit windows was pulling away from the coach body at the window frame. In addition to leading to the rivet problem, this was probably also responsible for some of the leakage we've had above that window.

They pried out most of the old sealant, re-caulked the joints, pushed the window fame back into place, and shot a couple of screws into it for good measure. Fortunately, all the paint work around the window frames (and the belly band) is black, and so by using black sealant it's hard to tell anything was even disturbed. After dealing with the implicated window, they went around and checked each of the other three exit windows, sealing things up as needed.

The inverter removal took me an entire day. When it was originally mounted, the tunnel was unfinished and untrimmed, and getting it out after the fact was a chore. It turned out that my own tool collection was inadequate -- I needed a 1/4" ratchet extension almost precisely 7.5" long. I was able to borrow some tools from the guys -- their 8" extension was too long, but putting a 6" and a 2" together yielded 7.75" which was perfect. (When the Cornwell truck gets here tomorrow, I'm going to buy myself those two extensions.)

Once I got the impossible-to-reach nuts off the studs I was able to slide the unit a couple of inches back, which allowed me to undo the connections. And then there I was, in the tunnel, with the inverter loose and precariously balanced on a ledge. I ended up kind of bench-pressing it down onto my chest, where I thought I would be able to worry it down towards my feet and get it out of the tunnel. No way -- I'm not a spring chicken, and although I can fairly easily press the 105 lbs., that was too much weight for such a small footprint on my chest. Ugh -- I ended up bench-pressing it back up onto the ledge, shimmying myself back out of the tunnel while holding it in place with my arm, and then letting it slide down the wheel well onto the tunnel floor.

Louise and I managed to wrestle it the rest of the way out of the bus. After which she mandated that we were paying Infinity to send two much younger guys out to lift the new one into place, and I can't really say she was wrong. With the replacement inverter perched back up on the ledge and supported by a stack of DeLorme Atlas/Gazetteers, I began the painstaking job of reattaching the myriad wires (four for the generator autostart plus nine for the control relays, followed by seven #6's for the main AC power connections) and cables. (Painstaking, in this context, means "involving much swearing.") I slid it into place and secured it via only one of the ten mounting studs for testing.

After going through the fairly lengthy first-time power-up sequence, followed by a couple of key programming steps, all while still crouching in the tunnel, we arrived at the moment of truth. We connected the remote panel and, voilĂ  -- the exact same problem was still with us. Cr@p.

Of course, my next step was to then put the new remote on as well, the one Jim had overnighted to me down in Portland. That led, at last, to success. I have to say I reached an emotional low point right at that moment, wherein I started doubting whether I had properly followed all the right steps to install and test the new remote down in Portland. I mean, with installing the new remote being the final action that cured the problem, I had to wonder why installing the new remote last week did not succeed.

Oh well. Nothing that half a bottle of wine with dinner couldn't cure, and, besides, the installation of the new inverter, while grueling, was unequivocally a success. Once I had the remote working I could go through the rest of the menus in relative comfort and get all the programming done, and reconnect the autostart back at the generator. I did notice that the newer software only lets me set the charge rate up to 33 AC amps, whereas my older unit let me go to 35 amps.

There did not seem to be any other differences in the menus, although the newer unit has eliminated, umm, any "trace" of the old Trace Engineering branding, and even the UL listing information seems to be downsized. Annoyingly, they have also gone to galvanized hex-head case screws, versus the old stainless pan-head ones. I can see myself getting my clothing snagged, or worse, on the protruding hex heads as I rummage around in the tunnel (plus it just looks, well, cheaper).

I am looking forward to hearing what Xantrex finds when they refurbish the unit. (Other than the inevitable "Here's your problem -- it's jammed full of dog fur.")

Today they are finishing up the replacement of a couple of tiles at the top of the stairs, the final trim project still left over from the installation of our new flooring back in June. Tomorrow they will roll us back into the shop for a last go-round on sealing up the rest of the window leaks and a much-needed and very overdue adjustment on our awnings. I expect we will be done tomorrow and on the road heading south Friday.


  1. Hey guys! Drop us a note at

    Annette and Robert

  2. Welcome back to Washington for a couple of days, sorry about all the rain while your here.


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