We are on the last legs of our 1500 mile fall trip which will end in St. Augustine Florida the third week of December. Karen and I are really looking forward to visiting our winter friends at Stagecoach RV Park in Florida. Maybe we will make it back to Texas for next winter.
Repairs have been completed to the rig with success and now we are parked for a full month! We have not stopped for more than two weeks since we left Florida in March of 2021. Hint – Mississippi in the fall and early winter is a wonderful place. Good people, reasonable prices and plenty to see.
We spent eight nights in Corinth Mississippi to tour the Civil War sites as well as to take a factory tour where our Vanleigh RV was built. We then moved 30 miles to the service center for suspension work located in Tishomingo which is in the extreme northeast corner of Mississippi. We are fans of the movie “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou” where there is a scene describing how someone can get paid to “sing into a can”. That place being Tishomingo. But after research, I discovered the movie was mostly filmed around Jackson Mississippi. Darn, we wanted to see the film locations.
Tour of Shiloh Tennessee Battlefield and Corinth Mississippi
General Grant was a washout when he first joined the army prior to the Civil War. Folks thought he was a drunk. He left the army, failed in business, then came back as the Civil War began. He was born in Ohio and had married a Missouri girl who’s family owned slaves which was another reason he was not at first very popular. He had success as a general well north of the Corinth area and would become second in command of the army in the west. His troops moved over the Tennessee River to a place called Pittsburg Landing located near a church building called Shiloh (actually in Tennessee). He was to stay in place until another Union army joined up with him to attack the nearby Confederates in April of 1862. Unfortunately a subordinate defied orders and contacted the enemy prematurely, thereby starting the Battle of Shiloh (a.k.a. Pittsburg Landing.) Grant’s army was understrength and facing annihilation. Especially as he was up against the Souths then most capable general – Albert Sidney Johnston. The President of the Confederacy. Jefferson Davis, was a Mississippian who before hiring Robert E. Lee felt Johnston was their best chance at success.
Grant held out at Shiloh the first day using a series of retreating movements back to the shore at Pittsburg Landing. This battle is where his partnership with General Sherman would develop. The second Union army arrived overnight to join Grant’s. Confederate General Albert Johnston was wounded and died. He was the highest ranking officer to die during the entire war. Beauregard took over command of the Confederates and held up overnight, wanting to take Grant out the next morning. He met a now reinforced Union army and had to retreat about 20 miles south to Corinth. Grant was again not that popular with Union commanders, having nearly been defeated. But President Lincoln took notice, saying he liked the man because he would fight. It’s interesting to note Grant and James Garfield fought at Shiloh and would become US Presidents.
Shortly after Shiloh, combined Union armies marched on Corinth Mississippi which held the only railroad that linked the west to the Atlantic Ocean within the Confederate states. Grant did not like taking and holding cities, believing it was better to draw the enemy army out and destroy it. If the enemy had no armies to fight, the war would end. Holding cities required too many troops.
As the Union army approached Corinth the confederate army was busy evacuating but had troops left in town and a battle at Corinth occurred. Grant would later have success at Vicksburg along the Mississippi. President Lincoln called him to Washington and gave him command of the entire Union army. General Sherman remained in the west where he became known for his march to the sea from Atlanta. Sherman was ruthless, believing war had to be as cruel as possible or it would go on forever. He convinced Grant they must destroy the resources used by the Confederacy. Sherman’s army then moved through Mississippi, as well as other places, destroying crops, transportation and buildings that might support the enemy army. Sherman’s troops would destroy the town of Quitman Mississippi where Karen and I are now parked. They burnt the hospital and a Methodist Church while in town which was typical and why Sherman is hated.
In its time, Shiloh was the largest battle fought in American history with casualties exceeding the combined totals of the American Revolution, War of 1812 and Mexican-American War. The battlefield is among the best preserved having been protected shortly after the war when troop movements were known by actual veterans involved in its establishment.
Governor Quitman of Mississippi wanted to succeed from the Union in the 1850’s. The state of Mississippi was not admitted back into the Union until about five years after the war and had been heavily occupied by northern armies until then. Outside the visitor’s center at Shiloh, in clear view, is a sign based on early 1900’s law warning of substantial punishment should anyone deface a monument. Just last year Mississippi changed it’s state flag to exclude Confederate markings. To mend ways, Mississippi built and maintains the Grant Presidential Library. We have lived in our RV for many weeks in Mississippi between 2020 and 2021 and rarely hear a citizen talk about the war. The grounds of the hospital burnt by Sherman’s army in Quitman is located in view of our campsite. Next to it are the graves of Confederate soldiers wounded at Shiloh and elsewhere, treated in that hospital curtesy of the State of Texas who built the hospital for its own wounded in this area.
Touring the war sites has been educational. Brushing up on the history of years prior to the war has added meaning to what I have seen here. Going back to study the Missouri Compromise, the Kansas Nebraska Act and stories of states being added to the the United States was important to understand. Seems businesses in the north were upset over unfair labor competition from the southern slave holding states. Seems as states came into the Union, for example after the Mexican-American War, and after the line had been drawn whereby states south of it could be slave states, played a role. Northerners for example wanted to gain an upper hand by changing the rules of the time as states came in, taking advantage of a building majority in Congress as each new state added congressman and senators who could vote.
Replaced Portions of our Suspension
While at the service center I had hoped to have the Roadmaster Comfort Ride System installed with slipper springs and shock absorbers. As I wrote in the last post, unfortunately they were not in stock. I got lucky. The supervisor at the repair center had a Morryde SRE 4000 equalizer system which he sold to me at about 1/3rd the original cost. We were even having trouble locating 3500 pound springs to replace the ones that went flat on our RV. Heavier springs could not be had or I might have just gone with 4000 pound springs and kept our original equalizers. We have towed the trailer just about 400 miles since the upgrades and can say for sure going over bridges are less bumpy. Karen thinks the overall ride is improved. I don’t have an opinion yet. I upgraded to heavy duty shackles and wet bolts. At the same time. The Morryde system came with a cross bar that extends between the two center hangers for stability and strengthening. Lippert had agreed to replace our old springs which the mechanic said were about ready to break. However Lippert wanted me to buy the springs first and pay for the labor to install. I was then to send the old springs in so they could test them and if they were found to be faulty, they would refund the expense. Tiffin (Vanleigh RV) really stepped up by taking springs off an axle at the factory and had them driven to the service center. They replaced the springs at no charge and said they would handle the warranty issue with Lippert. Thank you Shawn Cole of Tiffin for displaying the legendary service the company is known for!
I also had the tires rotated based on wear which meant moving the fronts to the backs. I had been watching wear on the inside tread of two tires so moved them accordingly so the other two tires will now wear the same. I’ll keep watching for wear and other things to make sure we don’t have an axel alignment issue or hangers that were welded slightly out of place when the chasey was built. I’ll probably get new tires in the next year of travel as I don’t ever want a break down on the road. First time in 14,000 miles or three years rotating.. I assume having the tires balanced might be a way to check for unseen tread separation so might have that done later although during my research I really found no value in balancing trailer tires unless its convenient. Might be wrong about that one?
As we had new springs installed I had pre-ordered some parts that were waiting when we arrived, which is a key to getting out of the service center sooner than later. It’s hard to diagnose the problems and pre-order the parts because you might not really know the problems until the mechanic gets started. If you ever take your RV in for repair, keep up on the status of the parts order. Customer Service at Vanleigh says dealerships not following up on parts, or forgetting to order them, can still be an issue. I’m not sure if it is still the case, but a few years ago one thing Grand Design RV was doing better than everyone is stocking parts just for repairs so they ship them out ASAP. That’s very uncommon in the industry. Heard one or more of the guys who started Grand Design, then sold to Winnebago, has left and started Alliance RV. You may recall the same guys started Keystone then sold that to Thor whom I’m sure wanted the Montana among other trailer designs. As a side note, getting RV parts when needed is harder because of the pandemic and the fact most parts are being installed into new trailers as the factories are up and running now. That added to the issue in shipping ports is not good for those that need a tiny part. We had to replace the entire toilet a few months ago because of specific parts shortages and the only thing we could get right then was a completely new toilet.
I’d read to always replace the U-bolts should they ever be removed, so that was done although the service center supervisor said that’s not necessary unless the old ones look warn. I had some extra heavy duty shackles as I had pre-ordered those but our MoRryde system already had some. So I gave the extras to a fellow RVer who among other things was at the service center to replace the shorter 2″ shackles with 3 1/8″ long per a recall. I did not have he heart to tell him to watch for the tires rubbing under the camper as he would loosing clearance height. The MoRryde SRE 4000 uses the shorter shackles and combined with our new springs we have much better clearance under the tires and the camper is towing more level when hitched to the truck, although it was only an inch high on the front before. I don’t think running nose high caused any of the springs to flatten, especially on the rear axle, in our case but that’s something to worry about if your trailer does not tow level. I did not have to adjust my hitch height as a result of the increased clearance. By the way, according to Vanleigh the minimum height between a tire and the bottom of the rig should be three inches or more. We were closer to two inches before the fixes.
Also had the breaks checked and bearings repacked, all looked good although I had one drum replaced which was temporarily fixed in Michigan when we had a delaying brake problem. I’ve considering having discs brakes installed but our truck/trailer combination is doing a good job stopping the rig with electric brakes. Sometimes, depending on road condition and temperatures, when we first get starting driving I’ll set the truck brake gain up one setting until they heat up and then drop the gain down. Generally they say to repack bearings between 11 and 13,000 miles with a majority of my resources telling me closer to 13,000. I suggest to inspect this all annually or at least raise the camper off the ground annually and try to spin the tires with the brakes on to make sure each is grabbing and that the bearings are properly secured. Do this also if you think the brakes are not stopping as well as they should. Raising the trailer off the ground, pull the emergency brake-away cable and try to spin each tire. Don’t forget to reset the brake-away cable….
We are currently in Quitman Mississippi at a wonderful wooded site on full hookups and pavement until Dec. 7th.