Mechanical,  projects,  RV Live with Nerds on the Road

Goodbye 1973 Dodge Brougham

So we sold the Brougham, well rather traded. It was a sad day but much less so knowing it was going to a good home. Many people looked at it, a couple older men who wanted to live in it in their yards while they worked on their houses, a couple who wanted it for a mobile kitchen but found no way to get a full size fridge inside. One girl had been living in a warehouse with some people and decided to try in an RV in her friend’s yard instead – but she didn’t even care if it ran and didn’t have much money. After that, a few kids showed up wanting to use it for their band’s tour bus, none of them knew anything about cars mechanically so it probably wouldn’t have worked out very well since he did still need some work before he’s really treated hard again.

When I got an email from Rus, the new owner, I was actually excited about the Brougham’s future for a change. He offered a trade straight up for a 700cc motorcycle which unfortunately I was too short to ride. He just so happened to have a smaller motorcycle, a 1981 cm200T Honda Twinstar. Much more my size, physical and engine wise. The bike was worth a bit less than the Brougham, so he made up for it by sending a list of other things we could have to make up the difference. We ended up choosing an awesome Les Paul guitar (which Rus threw in a free Epiphone amp). My new bike also came with a helmet, harley gas tank (I could get fabbed on if I waned) and some nice leather saddle bags. I’ve yet to ride it more than a few hundred yards sadly so far, partly because I have no license. but now that we are out of city limits, It needs a new battery and I want some new tires before I go on a longer trip. I’m also still getting to know the clutch, though figuring it out quickly. Me and Ross have had debates over whether or not I should be down-shifting all the way to 1st but 2nd sputters out several yards from when I actually want to stop the bike, and neutral would just stop too soon – I’ll get it.

We bought a ramp (into the back of the truck) and after a couple interesting loads, I think we’re getting the hang of it. Its really steep but since the bike is only 300lbs and there’s 2 of us. As long as I can get a good run, it wont fall over and crush me. We also figured out how to strap the bike in pretty quickly, stiff enough to where you shake the truck if you try to move the bike but only half shocks down to allow the bike cushion. If you wonder how we figure all this crap out, forums and youtube for everything, even for the brougham. There’s so many things we wouldn’t have known if now for other people posting about it online somewhere. When you really don’t have anyone to ask, or want a consensus, that the way to go.

Bike in truck

Rus was a good match for the Brougham because he both known about cars and fixing them and actually plans to use it – and in its natural environment, colder weather. The heater on that thing will keep anyone toasty, including people who just fell in frozen lakes if needed. For some places, when we were plugged in, we often just used a space heater and blankets, especially when we were sleeping – saved on propane and kept Chena from accidentally burning herself on the vents.

Of course, as always seems to happen when you buy a new car, he got home fine, 2 hours away in Mississippi, and on his next little jaunt, the alternator went out. We did get it used, as explained in a previous blog – it was a whole big  “stuck on Tonopah” ordeal, but we never had any problems with it so didn’t replace it for a newer one.  Other than that it seems he has had many of the same problems we did when we got the Brougham, figuring out the electrical system and fixing mechanical quirks. We mostly did the big priority things like shocks, rebuilding the carburetor, new started etc and he got stuck with the little things we didn’t get to yet, like fixing the parking break (yeah it seems like a priority but somehow hadn’t been haha), and patching up a rusty hole in the floor.

With the Brougham gone, we were finally able to plan our escape from New Orleans. After we bought a ramp for the motorcycle, we finished up our work week and tried to make a run for it Friday night. An attempt which took over 4 hours of packing and preparing (we did live there quite a while) – just to end up with us having to stay another night. We had the truck all hooked up, animals in the car enjoying the A/C and just as Ross came back from the bathroom and we were about to leave, the trailer lights stopped working. Another 2 hours, with the neighbors help, was spent trying to troubleshoot the problem. I sat in the car with the animals looking up wiring diagrams and fuse box configurations while Ross and the neighbour  tested all the connections between truck and trailer. The neighbour even pulled over his truck and hooked it up, which worked fine. We basically concluded that it must be a fuse or something on the truck side, and accepted out defeat. It was after 11pm and all the Walmart in town close at 11. The only other thing open would be a Walgreens,  gas stations and bars. no fuses till morning. We hooked up the electricity, put the slide-out back out and headed off to a Denny’s for a garden burger before bed. Both of us exhausted and Denny’s being the first meal of the day for us both, we actually got to bed before 3am and rose at 7:30 the next morning to walk over to the parts store and get our fuse.

The drive was good and towing turned out to be surprisingly easy and comfortable with our nice new hitch. We had been worried about taking wrong turns or getting out of tight places but Ross was able to do everything just fine. After about 200 miles we stopped and got tires for the trailer, an ordeal that took about 3 hours of our day looking for a place that could get us in. We bought the tires at Firestone and took them to a mobile mechanic (Took them TO a MOBILE mechanic hah). He seemed a little pissed off, maybe about the heat (which was making me sick and the animals drowsy in the car) and after he changed the tires on one side of the trailer, he would let the hydraulic jack drop the trailer like a ton of bricks with no regard for the things inside of it. Its no wonder half my shit was on the ground when we finally got to a park. He may have also been annoyed that I took his photo but he dropped the first side before I had even gotten my camera out. Oh well, nothing broke.

Tires for the trailer

The remaining drive to our semi planned destination kept us driving into the night. There were several parks along the way but this one was far from New Orleans and recommended by the neighbour who had helped us with the trailer lights. We kind of skipped over Mississippi, but we do have to come back this way, and did hang out in Gulf Port a couple times – so we didn’t completely miss out. We got into Oak Mountain Park around 10pm and had an interesting experience of trying to park the trailer in a spot for the first time.. in the dark. We are now about 4 feet too far to the left, giving us a less space out front than intended but a pretty good try given the circumstances.

Next blog will be photos from the park and more about how great this place is!

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