Betsy robs our bank account! – Gaffney, SC

[Posted by Steve, Mona Liza got the day off]

This was our second journey to Gaffney, SC for Betsy’s annual chassis maintenance at the Freightliner facility.  Last year it was pretty much on our route as we headed north, and I was able to have the maintenance done while Mona Liza was in the Philippines visiting family.  This year we went quite a ways off our desired path, simply because the Freightliner Oasis Service and Training Center is so outstanding.  We don’t know what we’ll do next year when we’re out west and the maintenance comes due 😦

Gaffney Oasis Service Center
Oasis Service Centers are tailored to the needs of motorhome owners with Freightliner chassis and are generally considered to be a cut above the rest
Freightliner Service Center
This unassuming garage is considered by many to be one of the best Freightliner Service Centers in the country

How did Betsy rob our bank account?  Well, in addition to a full chassis maintenance it was also time for her to get new shoes – that’s right, 6 new tires!  After following John and Pam’s (Oh, the Places They Go!) experience getting tires here, we agreed it would be best to have the experts at Gaffney take care of it while we were “in the mood.” And when I checked our bank accounts a few days later, the money was gone!  Of course, folks reading this who own motorhomes and have replaced tires have experienced this same crime.  We all know it’s gonna happen, but WOW it hurts when it finally does!

I think all of us motorhome owners change our tires due to age, rather than mileage.  Our tires were pushing 7 years, and we’re not going to take any chances.  But, I have to say that seeing our old tire “carcasses” laying behind the Freightliner garage with all that good tread left on them just about made me cry.  Those “old” tires were 14-ply Michelin XZE’s, while the new ones are 16-ply XZE2’s, and Betsy is running down the road quite nicely now.

Another service we had done at Gaffney was a 4-corner weighing of the coach.  This is actually the third time we’ve had Betsy weighed, as we constantly try to pare down our weight.  But at the same time, new items and improvements have to go into the “heavier” column.  We’ve never been overweight, and this time we found that we have even more of a safety cushion due to the new 16-ply tires.  Mona Liza was so thrilled that she can now add some more clothes to her wardrobe – without me scaring her with stories that doing so could make all of the tires explode.  Drat, I can’t win!

Once again the guys at Freightliner in Gaffney did an excellent job in record time.  They assigned two mechanics to us, and completed the full chassis maintenance, tire balancing/mounting and weighing in one long day!

When I was here last year I attended Camp Freightliner.  I found it to be excellent, and apparently a lot of other folks agree, as it fills up many months in advance.  During the class, the instructor takes the students out back to drool over a complete chassis from the factory.  The one I saw last year was a bit dated, but while staying here this time I walked out back to discover a brand new, tag-axle chassis from the factory.  Well, I was blown away and ended up getting a sunburn by the time I finished looking at this piece of art!

A thing of beauty – a one month-old tag-axle chassis straight out of the factory just down the highway
Cummins engine and Allison transmission
A brand-new turbocharged Cummins ISL and Allison 3000 transmission – truly a thing of beauty!
Cummins engine and Allison transmission
I stood here like this for a long time, stunned by the mechanical wonders

We were able to spend a weekend in the Service Center parking lot with free 50-amp power, which helped to offset some of the pain from that robbery that Betsy had just pulled off.

RV parking at Gaffney Service Center
The lot behind the Service Center – free 50-amp power for customers, with fresh water and a dump station nearby

Things to do around Gaffney

While we were homeless during maintenance day, and then over the weekend, we checked out the area a bit.  We took the Freightliner Chassis Factory tour, which we found fascinating (this was my second time).  It’s a free tour that walks you right down the busy assembly lines and shows RV, school bus and UPS truck chassis being built from the very first frame rail to driving off the other end.  It’s hard to find information about it on the internet, but basically you show up at 10:15 on a weekday and they will take you on the tour after a brief safety video.  Cameras aren’t allowed – if they were you would see a lot of photos right here.  It’s well worth the stop, even if you don’t own an RV.

We also went to the nearby Cowpens National Battlefield park, mostly to get some walking exercise, but also to see the displays in the park.  It was originally pasture land, but is now preserved to tell the story of the 1781 Revolutionary War.  History buffs should try to catch this if in the area.

Mona Liza was able to enjoy some quality “outlet mall time” at the Gaffney Premium Outlets, happy in the knowledge that she could safely add a few more pounds of clothes to Betsy’s chassis!

Finally, if you have time and want to check out a cool vegetable/fruit stand in the area, Strawberry Hill USA is just a few miles up Hwy 11 from the Service Center.  It is part of the Cooley Farms and is open mid-April until the beginning of November.  We realize strawberries are only in season part of the year, but we must have hit it right because they were plentiful, along with other veggies and homemade canned goods. They also have a little cafe and ice cream shop right across the highway.

Strawberry Hill USA
We came at just the right time to see a major harvest in progress
Strawberry Hill USA
Strawberry fields forever!

We must mention a restaurant that Pam suggested we check out while here.  It’s called the Carolina Cafe, and it’s a small restaurant a few miles north of the Service Center.  One of our “parking lot neighbors” told us she had just enjoyed one of the best steaks of her life at this place.  I was a bit skeptical about that, but we had no dinner plans that night so we went.  I’ll tell you what, we both agreed this was indeed one of the best steaks we’ve ever had.  Who would know this little place in Gaffney could be so excellent?  We recommend that you arrive at least 20 minutes before they open.  There will already be a line, but you’ll get right in.  If you wait any longer you’ll be waiting an hour or more – it’s that good!




  1. New tires are tough on the budget but sure add a layer of confidence traveling down the road. I’m all for ML adding some clothes and some new shoes to Betsy’s weight….oh, and let’s not forget a new purse LOL.

  2. We’re getting 4 new tires thus year (did front 2 last year) so I feel your pain! There are lots of good freightliner service centers out west so fear not.


  3. Steve, John is wondering if you went with Broad River Tire for your tires. It was such a SC experience for us!!! We sure wouldn’t have done it if Pat, in the office, hadn’t recommended them. Sure is an ouch, though, but glad MonaLiza is able to shop again:)

    Glad you had a nice meal at the Carolina Cafe. I love their dinner salad. I think it is one of the best I’ve ever had. They make great soups, too. Can’t say we’ve ever had a bad meal.

    We’ll be looking for that Freightliner place out west next year, as well!

    • We actually found the best price for our tires with Kevin at Clark Tires, also recommended by Pat. He was great about getting them there early on Friday so we could have them mounted that day instead of waiting until Monday. Hope you and John are doing well! ~Steve

  4. Steve-If you are in Oregon I can recommend Oregon Motorcoach center and Carrier & Sons in Eugene and CoachMasters in Bend. We’ve been to all. Just a reality in a roving earthquake! We feel your financial pain as well as we just put on the Bus Koat for the roof, along with tons of improvements. New shoes are a must for these big girls!

  5. Regardless of what Freightliner says … that Oasis Centers are focused on RVers … that’s not always the case … as we found out in Beaumont, TX. The Coachcare in Houston, on the other hand, we can recommend … after our experience earlier this year on another service call, we’ll be taking Phae back there when we return to the US to get the annual service done.

  6. I really enjoyed this post… We have gone through Gaffney many times and will look for the Carolina Cafe next time. It sounds like you hit the strawberry farm at peak time… what a wonderful stop! I hope you tried the ice cream… we went to a strawberry farm in Georgia last year that sold fresh strawberry ice cream and it was the best ice cream I have ever had. (and this is from a chocolate lover!!)

  7. Great post! Loved the pictures of the chassis. Agree, truly a thing of beauty! But I’m a guy….LOL.

  8. You really need to own an RV before you can get excited about stopovers in places like that. Not to mention views of chassis! We’re a breed apart!

  9. WOW…you had your tires for seven years! That is forever according to Paul. He always read where they should be changed every four years and that is exactly what we did when we had the Phaeton. Me thinks you were on borrowed time.

    Glad you had great service again. We were there twice with the motorhome and had great service also. Really nice people.

    • Oh, we were told 6-7 years. I was shooting for changing at six but really wanted to make it back to Gaffney so ran a few months over. I also inspected the tires often and never saw any of the telltale crazing of the rubber. I’ve seen people go 10 years, and that’s really scary! ~Steve

  10. You sound just like Terry when it comes to me shopping. He would really like me to remove an equal number of items for each one I bring in. 🙂

  11. Well I can’t say I’d ever call a chassis a work of art, but what do I know. Glad Betsy didn’t empty your bank account and you still had some funds for those strawberries and delicious dinner. We definitely know the pain of new tires. I’d sure like to find some for Winnona that would fix her weight problems.

  12. another recommendation for annual maintenance out west is Albuquerque Freightliner just west of town – they did great work on ours and operate on a first come first served so no appts necessary

    • The “no appts necessary” would sure have come in handy in Gaffney – we ended up stalling our travels a couple of weeks just waiting for them to clear their huge backlog. Not that we didn’t have a lot of fun while we were waiting! Thanks for the recommendation! ~Steve

  13. I would love some of those fresh strawberries…yummy!
    We had to do the tire thing last year…ouch! But so worth it for the peace of mind!
    Safe travels you two!

  14. Wow, those are such huge buckets of strawberries! New tyres are a great expense, but as you say, one shouldn’t ever take risks. You look as excited over the “turbocharged Cummins ISL and Allison 3000 transmission”, as I would be with the outlet mall. 🙂

  15. Glad all your maintenance is done — that chassis did look impressive, Steve, and that’s not something I would ordinarily notice. 🙂 And MonaLiza, I’m so happy you can now carry more clothes and lots of strawberries!!

  16. I love hearing all the networking, connections that you, RV’ers, are suggesting, recommending each other. So awesome to hear. And what’s even more awesome is reading some of Steve’s words from time to time. I really, really love it! – “Well, I was blown away and ended up getting a sunburn by the time I finished looking at this piece of art!” – What’s not to love, eh. 😀

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