[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 😦
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!
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.
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.
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!
Next up: Back on the road in travel mode!