My intention was to write a post regarding our trip on the Rio Grande and to South Padre Island, but I decided to write about a recent incident that has contributed to our RV learning experience. The report on the Rio Grande and South Padre Island will come later. The weather report for yesterday, January 16th, was for gusty winds as a front moved through. We didn’t think too much about it as wind has not been a real problem other than I hate to drive in anything too gusty as it makes for a long, tiring day. Even with a tag axle and Newmar’s ‘Comfort Drive’ you really need to concentrate on what you are doing behind the wheel in gusty winds. Not the most fun.
Well, yesterday morning started off warm with only light winds, but by mid morning the wind had picked up significantly. It wasn’t a problem for us as I had made sure that all the awnings were in and secured along with other items on the patio. However, by midday the wind was close to 30 mph with gusts above 40 mph. We were angled such that the full wall slide topper (a topper is a canvas awning that covers the slide to keep rain, sun and debris off) was taking a beating. It is designed with a roller spring mechanism that has additional canvas that allows the topper to expand and billow in stiff breezes without causing damage. The wind seemed to be from the perfect direction to sail right through through the topper causing a whipping action as it exited the other end. The wind was strong enough that the roller mechanism was at its full extension and pulling hard on the connection between the canvas and roller. With some of the gusts, the the roller would snap to it’s maximum length and then back when the wind subsided. Inside the coach all we could hear was the topper snapping as it would expand and contract with the wind. Not having had toppers before I didn’t know how much wind they could withstand, so I decided to see if I could find some information online. None of the topper manufacturer sites really gave any guidance so I went to the forums. Of course, the recommendations ranged from pull the slide in at the first sign of wind to “My toppers have survived a hurricane without a problem”. So we decided that since the topper was taking a beating and the forecast was for the wind to continue for several more hours, the prudent thing to do was to bring in the full wall slide.
Now bringing in the slide isn’t as easy as pushing a button. First, the jacks have to be stored as the air bags need to be inflated before bringing in the slide and the jacks can’t be down to air up the bags. Now to air up the bags, you have to start the engine so that the compressor will work. Once this is done you need to put the floor protectors under the rollers so that the porcelain tile is not damaged. Then, finally you can bring in the slide.
We also pulled in the bedroom slide, but left the dining room slide out to give us some room as we were going to be in this configuration for several hours. We kept the bags aired up and didn’t put the jacks down as we had two slides in. I’m not sure that this was the right way to do it, but I didn’t want to go through the whole air down, jack down, jack up, air up procedure when we wanted to put the slides out again. It did allow the coach to really rock in the wind when it was gusting. I’m always amazed at the power of the wind. I have to say that we felt much better after we pulled the slide in. The wind continued for several more hours with numerous gusts. Who knows what would have happened had we not pulled the slide in. Even if nothing happened, I would have been a basket case worrying about it for several hours. We’re learning something new every day!!
Next, the attack of the bumble bees…. Stay Tuned!