Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Not Every Day Can Be Perfect .... This is a Bad Day

After our first experience as Walmart boon-dockers, we were ready for the trip from Bend to Burns, about 140  miles.  First, here are a few photos taken along the way - a sunshiny day with fluffy white clouds, a changing display every moment - a fine start to a great day.

First of all, Lacy and Lincoln are ready to go ... Eleanor is ready too but doesn't like having to share a seat so she's actually under it!  Here's the proof!

Eleanor had, in her other life, a lot of trauma.  I got her at the cat sanctuary in December 2012 and she's been very very shy and skittish.  She has decided that she loves me (hooray) and sleeps nestled up to my legs at night and visits me as I work on my laptop during the day; but she doesn't fraternize with Lincoln or Lacy other than to allow that they can be on the same bed at the same time.  I really don't think she even knows how to play; the closest she comes to engaging is to roll over on her back when I scratch her tummy.  It's been sad to see what abuse does to a cat; she had lived at the cat sanctuary for over a year and hadn't bonded with anybody.  I feel happy that she 'loves' me and that she's very slowly coming around.

 Lincoln, on the other hand, was taken to the cat sanctuary as a tiny kitten and had lots of loving there.  He's a very well-adjusted kitty and thinks he's probably more of a small dog than cat.  He's very interested in goings on outside the RV and loves to be outside when I allow it.

Within 5 or 6 minutes after I start the RV engine, Lincoln is over on my lap and doesn't move from that spot until the engine's off again.  He's one cool cat who loves Lacy, Eleanor and me and thinks the world is a wonderful place.

So we get started about 10:15 and have no problem getting on the right road to Burns (after yesterday's extra driving I want to be sure I've got it right).  I really enjoy this high desert scenery.  There are areas of no trees at all, which is a complete 180 from yesterday, when it appears that Oregon could supply the entire world with building lumber by the looks of the forests.  Highway 20 heads almost directly east of Bend to Burns with only one town along the way.  It's a blimp on the highway called 'Brothers.'  Nothing there!

The little white specks in the clear blue of the sky indicate that the windshield needs care.  This is pretty much what it looks like all along Highway 20; albeit, there are a few hills and rock formations from time to time and 2 pleasant rest areas ....

 Here we are parked at one fairly close to Burns, but the tail bone was getting tired and Lacy needed a visit to the Pet Area

There was a group from Idaho who were having a picnic at the rest area.  Check out the cars.  What a treat to walk around them and talk a little to the folks who've put so much TLC into these treasures of the past.

A couple of close-ups.  The car club group is returning to Idaho from an antique car rally

So we arrive in Burns and locate the RV Park.  I've had a little issue with Petunia when I make a 90 degree turn.  As I approached the RV park and started to turn in it happened again.  The wheels seem to lock in the turning position and the steering wheel darts left and right and there's a loud metal on metal clanking sound.  It's happened before a couple of times and the remedy is I pull over , jump out and straighten the Petunia's steering wheel and it ceases.  Well, this time I had to stop while I was still on the street and a guy pulled up behind me and said that the steering wheel needed to be locked.  I hadn't heard anything about that at the place that installed the tow bracket.  This guy volunteered and jumped in Petunia and steered as I turned into the park. It all worked out fine.  I thank him and he's off saying, "Have a great vacation."

After registering at the office I drive to my assigned site, park and unhitch Petunia.  When I try to start her - NOTHING Happens - NADA.  The battery's dead.  That's strange, it ran fine yesterday and I'd disconnected the battery in preparation for towing yesterday and hadn't unhitched her last night.  Well, I call my trusty AAA and a guy is out here in about 20 minutes to jump her.  NADA again.  He has no tools with him and finds that when the mechanism for disconnecting the battery was installed, the terminal doesn't fit tightly on the terminal post (not sure of this vocabulary).  Anyway, he called a service repair shop and towed Petunia into town, where she is as I write.  

Stuart, the gentleman at the repair shop, by his own admission,  knows nothing about Smart Cars.  He fixed the obvious problem of the loose connection, but she still won't start; now he thinks there might be something bad in the starter.  He calls Mercedes Benz in Bend; they aren't Smart Car certified, no help there.  So, Petunia stays in his shop tonight and  he'll call Mercedes Benz in El Dorado Hills, CA, where I bought her and hopefully they can shed some light on what's happening.

But, that wouldn't make for a BAD DAY - it'd be just a little negative.   There's more bad news but I'll save it for later 'cause I can't do anything about it now anyway.  The saga continues .....


  1. I hope it's nothing really, really bad. Maybe just need to work out the kinks. Both RV and smart car are new to you so there's bound to be some learned experiences. I have no idea about either to help.

  2. I hope it's nothing really, really bad. Maybe just need to work out the kinks. Both RV and smart car are new to you so there's bound to be some learned experiences. I have no idea about either to help.

  3. Hang in there Mary-Pat, things will get better. I don't agree with the locking the steering wheel thing, you need to allow the front wheels turn with you. However, it sounds like as you are turning, the steering wheeling is locking in the turned position. Don't know if that is happening, and what would cause it...if I find out anything I will email you about it. --Dave

  4. The steering wheel has to be unlocked so the wheels can go full left and right. What is happening is the steering wheel is locking after the wheels have turned and they can't turn either direction after that. That can cause serious damage.

    In the car's manual there should be specific step by step instructions on how to prep the car for towing including how to prevent the steering wheel from locking. Usually it is to put the ignition key in a certain position like ACC and the transmission in a certain position etc. etc. all in a specific sequence.


    1. Thanks Gary. I have read and reread the manual and am following all steps they recommend - no mention of steering wheel locked or unlocked. Anyway, with the current issue being 'not starting,' I'm not focusing on the towing issue right now. Fortunately I now have the service department at the Mercedes dealership where I bought it in contact with the local (Burns, Oregon) repair shop owner who's trying to figure out what's going on with that.
      I registered for the Smart Car forum this morning and am waiting to be approved so I can enter a question with explanations of what's happening and how to prevent / correct it. I appreciate your comment. Thanks

  5. Mary Pat there'a always something but I hope this is resolved soon (and not too expensively). In the meantime enjoy your day. I also have a rescued cat who runs and hides whenever someone comes to the door. I never heard her meow for over a year after she came to live with me. Now She's very vocal and attached to me.

    1. Thanks Dianna - I know there's hope. And, if Eleanor stays the way she is I'll love her anyway. I've just realized she loves to be held as I would a human baby, over my shoulder. She'll stay in that position, it seems, just as long as I want to hold her.

  6. www.smartcarofamerica.com/.../4086d1340222626-smart-car-tow-towin...‎

    The above website is a check list of how to tow a smart car. I don't know what's with the bungie cord on the steering wheel is for...it doesn't explain why you need to bungie cord the steering wheel. Maybe to keep it in position? Seems the wheels won't turn. Maybe should ask dealer about that. Lots of information on internet about smart cars. Hope this helps a little.

    1. Hi Rita:
      I registered for the Smart Car Forum this morning and am waiting to be approved so I can put my issue 'out there' for others to give me words of wisdom. As I mentioned above, the service manager where I bought it is now in touch with the repair shop here in Burns, Oregon. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it's a minor glitch that can be dealt with inexpensively - money-wise and time-wise.

  7. Just doing a search on smart car towng, and I have read the problem you're having happen to others.
    The bottom line is that towing a smart car is not recommended by Mercedes Benz.
    They recommend towing your Smarty on a trailer, with all wheels off the pavement.

    Hope this helps.