If you remember giggle-snorting over my 2018 compilation of Top 20 True Tales from the Laundromat, you are not alone. It has endured as one of my most popular posts, clinging to the top of the list like an acrylic sock to a fleece jacket.
And guess what. I’ve continued to collect these stories since then, and I’m giving you a quarter’s worth more — no scrounging for actual coins required!
One of many “You Do You” facets of RV life is that some folks go for the in-coach washer and dryer, and others don’t. Although we’ve got dedicated hookups for them in our bedroom closet, we opted against installing our own machines, and here’s why: We didn’t want to sacrifice the storage space, weight allowance, or power & water usage, when we can do our laundry elsewhere — in a facility that someone else has to maintain and repair.
Wondering about the cost comparison? Well, we’ve been on the road for 6+ years, paying to do laundry nearly every week. Sometimes a nearby friend offers up their machines, or we get free facilities as part of a workamping gig, but we still probably average about $6/week.
A new RV washer-dryer combo would have paid for itself by now, with enough green left over for new wardrobes for both of us. We do not care. The entertainment value alone is worth it to this girl, and since Tim only does laundry if he absolutely has to (like if I’ve recently given birth, or had cancer surgery, or happen to be located several hundred miles away), he does not get a vote. We like this system. It works for us. End of discussion.
But one more thing before I get to the final spin: you cannot force True Tales from the Laundromat. They must rise organically from the lint trap, and reveal themselves like a stain you forgot to pre-treat on your favorite hoodie.
So are you ready to get sudsy? I’m starting with the one and only heart-warming story, and then you should prepare for the load to become a little more… unbalanced.
Author’s note: Just like last time, these posts came from my personal Facebook account. I don’t think it’s plagiarism if I copy & paste my own work, but I thought I’d better explain myself to those of you who are thinking, “Hmmmm. I’m pretty sure I’ve read this before…”
A funny thing happened in March, on our way from San Antonio, TX, to Elkhart, IN, for a service appointment to take care of some welding issues on The Toad: the BFT is the one that failed us.
Not what we were expecting.
Our incredibly reliable, tough-as-nails, much adored 2012 Chevy Silverado 3500 dually sputtered and quickly died while we were driving on I-35 just south of Dallas — a mere 225 miles into our 1300-mile trip.
We are very thankful that despite the scariness of the incident, the travel gods were indeed watching over us.
We were on flat ground instead of a hill.
There were no vehicles riding too closely behind us.
We were not in a construction zone.
We had a wide shoulder to pull onto.
And I was smart enough to start veering toward that shoulder at the same time I was saying, “That didn’t sound right.”
Why did that turn out to be a smart move? Because we had mere seconds before the truck shut down. All power: gone. On an interstate.
To make a very long story a lot shorter, the problem turned out to be what is rather evocatively known as “grenading” of the fuel pump. Upon its death, it sent shards of metal through the entire fuel system, leaving us dead in the proverbial water.
As Tim described it “The critical part seemed to be the Bosch-built CP4.2 HPFP, the exact same pump used in the Ford F-series Light Duty diesel trucks. If you google ‘F350 CP4 failure,’ you’ll find plenty of discussion on the issue. Same if you google ‘Duramax LML CP4 failure.’”
Tim, who is not an industry expert by any means, but merely a consumer who’s always trying hard to get smarter, further surmised, “A major culprit appears to be the quality of diesel fuel in the U.S. (i.e., the mandated ultra-low sulfur blend plus other things), combined with what might be less than acceptable engineering by Ford and GM. Reportedly, Bosch has been saying for some time that the lubricity of the fuel needs to be higher for these pumps to last, and U.S. diesel fuel doesn’t meet these standards.”
What that meant for us was a $10,000 fuel system replacement (GM paid for part of it) that left us stranded for two weeks outside a really small Texas town. Middle of Nowhere was still a good 10 miles away. We were there so long we painted our RV’s interior!
And then, after the truck repair was complete, and we were finally sitting in Elkhart waiting for the work to be finished on The Toad, we realized that we needed to make a big decision: test our luck by keeping the BFT and its fresh new fuel system with the exact same type of pump that had gone spectacularly belly up, or upgrade to a truck that wouldn’t have that issue.
To make the second part of the story shorter as well, we knew we couldn’t live with the uncertainty of driving a truck that might croak again, any more than we could change the U.S. diesel fuel composition standards that were probably part of the cause.
The Silverado was our only vehicle, and it pulls the Bighorn, which is our only home. We couldn’t stomach the idea of going through a second catastrophic failure, or having it happen under far more hazardous circumstances than the first one.
We opted to upgrade.
Y’all say hello to our 2017 Dodge RAM 3500 dually, which we picked up at the end of May, just shy of 3 months after the Great Fuel Pump Grenading Incident of 2017.
For those who are wondering why we didn’t go with the 2017 Chevy Silverado, which does not have that same iffy fuel pump as the 2011-2016 diesel models, there were three factors that put the RAM on top.
Shorter turning radius for easier maneuvering
Larger payload and axle weight ratings for higher towing capacity
More competitive pricing for better value
We look forward to thousands and thousands of miles together.
Author’s note: A version of this post appears at Heartland RVs. It is printed here with permission.