Sherman, parked for the night near Mayerthorpe Airport, Mayerthorpe, Alberta. Photo taken Saturday evening.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Mayerthorpe Airport, Mayerthorpe, Alberta!

Where are they going next? Towards Grande Prairie, Alberta.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Houston, we have a problem...

A big problem.

The day started off as planned, with a scheduled 8:00am departure from the orphanage. We got on the toll road going south towards Arriaga, and it was a decent enough road, although fairly busy.

Great scenery too!

Here are some photos from the drive...







We left the toll road and entered the state of Oaxaca.

Police inspection point.

We had stopped for lunch at around 11:30, and at 12:00 noon we set off again with only about 90 kms (54 miles) to our planned destination.

A few minutes after the police checkpoint above, we were driving along at about 70 km/h, perhaps a little more, when there was a huge crash and Sherman began heading for the ditch. I corrected, and even though I had very little control I managed to keep Sherman on the section of paved shoulder at the side of the road. We ground to a stop.

As all this was happening, I said to Ruth "Houston, we have a problem"!

I had immediately radioed the group who was right behind me that something was seriously wrong. Nobody was hurt, but we were a little shaken up. 

I suspected I knew what the problem was just by the angle we were sitting, and what had happened to the steering. The right front lower ball joint had broken.

Sherman, sitting just a little crooked.

Sherman has had suspension problems before. Never while on the road, but twice in the past I have had the ball joints changed because they wear quickly. The last time was in 2011 at 71,000 miles, about 30,000 miles ago.

But when I had the inspection done when we left Ottawa, I was told the ball joints were fine. Now, that was 5,000 miles ago and quite a few potholes and bumpy roads.

Either way, there was no indication that there was a problem, until this.

Ouch. Sherman is broken. Oddly, from the quick inspection I did, there doesn't appear to be any other damage. We won't find out for sure until we get it up in the air to have a closer look.

Poor Sherman.

Rather than sit at the side of a busy road, we sent the group up to the gas station only a half a kilometer up the road where they could wait things out to see what was going to happen.

I got on the phone to Gabriel, the owner of the RV Caravan company. He called the local division of the Green Angels, and they said they were 20 to 30 minutes away. In the meantime, I called our Mexican Insurance provider. Maybe I had some kind of coverage for this? 

It turned out that the insurance company registered a claim, and sent an adjuster. This is the way things work in Mexico when you have an accident. You register your claim from the scene, and they send an adjuster to the scene immediately.

Then we waited.

Eventually, the Green Angel showed up (much later than 20 or 30 minutes) and he took me down to check out a local mechanic and towing service in nearby La Venta, but the tow trucks were too small, and the two mechanics said they didn't have time to come have a look. 

When I got back, the insurance guy was there. He said that it didn't make sense to follow up with the claim because we have a $1,000 deductible, and the repairs will be less than that.

However, we do have roadside assistance though our Mexico RV Insurance, and he would register a claim with them. He made the call, and gave all the info, and they said they would get back to me with a time that the tow truck would arrive.

We made arrangements with the Green Angel to take the group to their scheduled overnight stop 90 kms away.

The insurance adjuster left, and then we waited.

About an hour and a half later, the claims guy from the roadside assistance called me back to say they couldn't find a large enough tow truck through their regular channels. He said we would have to arrange our own towing, and send the bill in to get reimbursed up to $300 USD.

By this point in time, it was now already 5:15pm, exactly five hours from the time the incident happened.

Looks like this is where we're spending the night.

Oh well, gotta keep smiling!

We got back in touch with Gabriel and the Green Angels, and they have arranged a big tow truck to come here at 11:00am this morning. It is 8:30am as I write this. The cost will be 12,000 pesos ($825 CAD, $650 USD), and the insurance will reimburse us $300 USD.

We are now working on where it will be repaired. The nearest large center is Juchitan, about 30 kms (18 miles) away. I guess we will see.

Managed to get some sleep last night, despite the large trucks zooming by inches away from us. (Yes, we have roadside emergency flares set up outside). Then, it got windy at about 3:00am. You'll see from some of the photos above, that this is a wind farm area, and it's almost always windy here! Not the best place to break down. Had this happened on the toll road, our tow would have been covered as part of what we pay in toll fees here in Mexico is insurance. But on the other hand, had it happened on a twisty mountain road we might not be here to tell you about it!

Anyhow, here we sit. Today will obviously be another adventure!

The Mexico RV Caravan group is on their way to Oaxaca City, and hopefully we will meet up with them there.

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LED String Lights are on deal of the day today. These ones normally sell for $16...


And in Canada...




48 comments:

  1. Oops,thats a big, glad you were able to keep Sherman under control. At least you were in you home and waiting for the tow truck. Good luck with a speedy repair. hope you can get back on the road again safely.

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    1. Yep, this was a big one but things have worked out and it could have been way worse. Yes, it is nice to have your home with you when you break down on the road.

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  2. Well, it's not like you were completely oblivious to the state of the front end and somehow were trying to just keep running with the originals. Once upon a time I had some serious 'loosey goosey' issues with a front end, and discovered when I went to have most of it replaced (ya, it was bad) that I was getting really close to having the same issue you just did. Dodged a huge bullet. Sadly, you took that one square on.
    Good luck.

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    1. Nope, we took great care making sure that everything was in ship-shape before we left on this trip. Unfortunately the Mexican roads can take their toll on vehicles, they aren't normally the smoothest roads around. ;-)

      We are at the mechanic's shop now and they have just started work on Sherman. Fingers crossed that it can be repaired in a timely manner and we can be back on the road shortly.

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  3. Oh dear! Hope your day goes as smoothly as possible.

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    1. It was a long day of waiting but we did finally get towed before dark so at least we aren't sleeping at the side of the road again and we should be able to get Sherman repaired this morning.

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  4. Ouch, that must have hurt. Glad you are safe and able to keep Sherman on the roadway. Hopefully things will go quickly and you will once again join your group.

    Be safe!!!Good luck.

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    1. It was a little scary to say the least, we were so happy that it happened on a flat straight stretch of road and not on the curvy mountain road that we were on only an hour and a half before.

      Sherman is being worked on as I type so fingers crossed he will be fixed up this morning.

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  5. Gee, it often seems that these things happen in an area with limited services:( Glad you both are safe and Sherman will get repaired:)

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    1. Actually the area was not very remote, it is just that there aren't lots of big tow trucks and the ones that were out there were busy.

      Sherman is being worked on as I type, so hopefully we will be back on the road today.

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  6. So glad you were able to maintain some kind of control to stay on the road. Could have been a lot worse. Count your lucky stars and keep smiling. As you say, it's just another adventure. Just not the one you planned. Good luck!

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    1. We were glad too! Good thing Kevin is a good driver and that we weren't going at a real fast speed or on the twisty mountain road that we were on only a couple of hours before.

      Yep, it is definitely an adventure! Life is never boring with us around. :-)

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  7. Oh boy! These things happen and the important thing is no one was hurt. Just hope it doesn't delay the group itinerary but these Mexican mechanics can do wonders! Good luck with the repairs. That seems like a large towing bill, $650 USA for 30 KM.

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    1. The tow truck has to drive 80 kms (50 miles) just to get here. These big tow trucks are not cheap.

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    2. Colin and Contessa had to call a tow truck years go for their motorhome, but they were in a city. They recited in one of their blogs that the tow truck showed up, but it was not a truck which was designed to handle their large motorhome and would have further damaged their home. The fellow had no idea as to what needed to be done to the motorhome before towing; if you remember, the motor is in the rear. Thank goodness Colin knew enough about the proper towing of his home that he "blew off" the first tow truck to show up.

      Hope you and Ruth do not need to wait long, and your insurance company provides you with a car for transportation while Sherman is being repaired. So glad that both of you are safe!

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    3. That is the problem, these guys don't tow motorhome everyday and don't know what type of truck is needed. In our case we sent them a picture with the size, and weight of Sherman but couldn't describe to them that Sherman's front end is fiberglass and can't take the weight of being hoisted up with the "bumper". Anyways they got things worked out and did a little improvising with a smaller tow truck and got safely towed to the repair shop.

      We don't need any car transportation, we are in or near town and can walk or take the bus. It shouldn't take them too long to repair Sherman and then we will hopefully be back on the road.

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  8. Geez, sorry about this kind of trouble, but as Jimmy says, things just happen, and as the RV gets older, things break. Sure hope you can get Sherman fixed soon and without shelling out too much CA$H. Good luck!

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    1. It was sometime that really just couldn't have been helped. We had the ball joints inspected in September before our trip and we were told that they were still good. Kevin always keeps on top of things with Sherman and we think we did everything we could before this trip to make sure we were in tip-top shape and at the time we were. Unfortunately Mexican roads aren't the smoothest and they finally to their toll on Sherman.

      The tow was very expensive but hopefully the repairs shouldn't be.

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  9. Yep things break and happen with older vehicles...just like us haha. Anyway, you're on the road to recovering without anyone getting hurt...a very good thing. I too am having lower ball joint problems and going to get estimates today. Hope it's not to hard on my pocket book :-) BTW I love the scenic road you traveled and the boat tour was awesome. Good luck and safe travels.

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    1. Yes they do, but they also happen to new vehicles. We did everything that we could before this trip to make sure we were mechanically sound but as you say, things happen.

      Hopefully the repair will go quickly and be easy on the pocketbook but the tow sure wasn't!

      The scenery in Mexico is fantastic, just like most other countries we have visited.

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  10. Replies
    1. Yep! We are thankful that all in all everything is good!

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  11. Well, you handled the RV and managed to come to a safe stop. May all go well with the repairs!

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    1. Kevin did an amazing job keeping Sherman on the road and upright, not sure what might have happened otherwise.

      They are working away on Sherman right at this moment. Hopefully we will be back on the road today.

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  12. Wow! Glad you're both safe. Albeit, rattled a bit. Kevin, my husband said the same thing...that it seems like an unreasonable amount for the tow. But glad you're safe.

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    1. More than I thought it would be too, but he has to drive 80 kms (50 miles) just to get here. I knew it would not be cheap.

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  13. What a place to break down. Hope all goes well and Sherman is back on the road in short order.

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    1. It actually wasn't a bad place to break down actually, there could have been much worse places. At least this road had wide shoulders, many roads do not and they have quite a drop from the road itself to the ground at the side so all things considered it was actually a good place to breakdown. Just a shame that it was such a busy road.

      They are working on Sherman right now, so our fingers are crossed that we can be back on the road today.

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  14. My heart breaks for you in this scary, unknown problem solving situation. Good luck to you.

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    1. Thanks Kay! Everything is good now and they are working on Sherman so hopefully we will be back up and running in no time.

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  15. Oh we are so sorry for your breakdown. I was so nervous just reading about it. We have broken down on a very busy highway but didn't have to spend the night. That had to be scary. We hope all goes well today, and you can get the repair done very quickly. Praying for your safety.

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    1. We were a little nervous ourselves but at least it happened an a nice flat straight stretch of road.

      Yeah, it wasn't fun spending the night at the side of the road, I was nervous that we might get rear ended by a truck or something but we did have emergency lights set up behind us that let people know we were there so I am sure that helped a lot. It was a noisy night though!

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  16. Glad to hear that neither of you were hurt! That's really all that matters.

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    1. Yep, that is all that matters! :-)

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  17. Sorry to hear of the problems with Sherman but glad you both are ok. Hopefully you will get Sherman fixed and on your way again soon.

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    1. Things happen and you just learn t go with the flow. Thankfully we weren't hurt and no major damage to Sherman so all is good. We just need to get him fixed up and that is what is happening right now. Hopefully we will be back on the road today.

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  18. So glad it wasn’t worse. Hope you are soon back on the road again.

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    1. So are we! Hopefully we will be back on the road today. :-)

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  19. I was worried when I heard you had to sleep on the side of the road in Sherman. Sending good vibes your way. Keep us posted.

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    1. I was a little nervous too, not about bad guys but about being rear ended by a big truck at night. We did have emergency lights set up behind Sherman to warn people that we were there at the side of the road and they were nice and bright so I am sure that helped a lot. Thanks for the good vibes, I am sure they are helping us! :-)

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    2. Thank goodness for those emergency lights. I would have been terrified of the same thing -- someone plowing into us on the highway at night. So glad you're safe and sound! Better in a repair shop than on the side of the road. Do you carry emergency lights with you, or did the Green Angels provide them?

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    3. Those emergency lights worked great, not so much in the day light though. We were also glad to be at the shop for the night and not still out on the road for a second night.

      We had the lights on board they were in a box that is from the caravan company that included come common spare RV parts and a few other things.

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  20. i know you have everything under control but I´m here if you need something.

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    1. Thanks a lot Chris, we appreciate that!

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  21. Bummer! Good driving Kevin!!! Kept him on the pavement! Hope it's fixed in a jiffy .

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    1. Yep, definitely a bummer but we are going with the flow. Everything is good now. Kevin did a great job keeping control of Sherman and keeping us upright and out of the ditch. :-)

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  22. Looks like “Lady Luck” is on your side! Thank God you are safe and Sherman will be back on the road in a jiffy!

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    1. I guess we did! Kevin kept saying I guess it wasn't our time!

      It is going to take more than a jiffy to get Sherman back on the road though. We have to wait for them to get the part which will hopefully be Tuesday or Wednesday.

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