2017 Breakdown in St. Louis I-70

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UPDATE: We got our $59.04 back from Good Sams Roadside Service after they told me there was a 15 mile tow limit and made me pay for the extra 9 miles to the mechanic.   I called later to speak with management because other folks on forums, and facebook were telling me there was no 15 mile limit.   Good Sams Roadside Assistance agreed that there was no such limit.   They asked me to fill out a reimbursement form and mail it in with the receipt and a letter of explanation.  2 weeks later we got a check.   Still not too happy about the confusion and having to fill out forms and use snail mail to get my money back, but it is better than NOT getting my money back.   They never explained why they left me stranded for 2 days with no offers other than wait until Monday.

towingWell,  in 4 years of traveling literally all over the country, we experienced our first breakdown on the side of I-70 in Wentzville  Missouri, just outside of St. Louis.  I will share our exciting experience in hopes that it will help prepare others.  Looking back on how everything worked out for good in spite of a bad situation, I am very thankful for the lessons learned and there are a million ways it could have been much worse.

My wife and I, along with our friends following with their fifth wheel behind us, were on our long journey back to Alabama from a wonderful 7 days at West Yellowstone Montana and this was our final day of the 5 day return trip.  We expected to be home on Saturday evening when suddenly a light came on indicating a serious voltage overload from the engine alternator putting 18 volts into our 12 volt engine batteries.   I immediately glanced in the mirrors and pulled over to the side of I-70 at exit 188.2 which happened to be at the bottom of the on-ramp to the interstate.   Traffic was heavy at 9:30 on that Saturday morning ( key-point is “Saturday Morning” ).

I always have tried to double and triple prepare for everything.  We have Good Sam Roadside assistance, and FMCA has a roadside help line, and our regular vehicle insurance has a towing option.   In the heat of the panic, with us and our friends both sitting on the side of the road, I immediately called the first number in my list of support options.   FMCA answered and assisted for about an hour and a half of mostly being on hold while they made calls.

FMCA told me a price to have it towed to the place of their choice would be 368 dollars, and I really had no options so I gave them my card number.   In about an hour, the tow company called to confirm the need for service, and asked what type vehicle it was.  It is a 27,000 pound diesel pusher 40 feet in length.    The towing company said that the address that FMCA had given them to tow it to was a neighborhood, not a business.   The tow company called the FMCA specified point of delivery to find that it was an individual that worked on trailer repair only and not motor homes.

WELL!   This started things all over, and FMCA finally said they had no other options, and no one would be able to help me on a Saturday / weekend.  It would have to wait until Monday.  I complained and said I can’t sit on the side of the interstate for 2 days waiting on support and moved on to my second option.

Good Sam’s RV Roadside assistance was my next option.   To make a long story shorter, after another couple of hours, they ended up telling me the same thing.  No one was willing to help me on a weekend.   By this time it is about 11:30 in the morning.

I took it on my own to try to idle the motor home to the next exit which was about 6 miles down which was fortunate enough to have a PILOT/Flying J.    After Idling down the interstate with flashers on and traffic blowing by, we made it safely without blowing anything up.   I parked immediately inside the parking lot, but didn’t notice that I was blocking the CAT Scales that the semi trucks were using to weigh.  The store announced that I needed to move and this turned out to be a blessing after all.   I went to the lady that was the day shift manager, and she was very understanding and helpful.   She let me know that there was a HUGE Camping World just down the road at exit 212.

So to keep from rambling, let me summarize that this was the saving grace that got me to the repair shop next to the Wentzville Camping World.   I called Camping World originally, and they could not work me in until Mid July  and this was June 24th.   They recommended Clarke Power Service right next door to them who they normally refer for overflow work.   Clarke Power Service had a 24 hour emergency number and they sent a tow truck, and repaired my motor home, and life is now back in balance with motor home fixed, and home.

In Summary:

*Clark Power Service, and their recommended Tow Truck service is number one in my book.  Very Professional office front end support and excellent technicians that went above and beyond to double check everything including fluids, and crank shaft reconnect ( had to be removed to tow ).

* Weekend day shift manager at Flying J on exit 188 on I-70 is a super-star that was friendly, helpful, and had a way of calming things down when she could see I was about to have a nervous breakdown.   She recommended the place that ultimately saved the day for me.

* Good Sam’s PLATINUM SERVICE reluctantly and begrudgingly paid for the first 15 miles of towing after I had found the tow service, and the repair shop that was willing to work on my motor home.  Their reluctance was based on the fact that it was “outside their network” of companies they were willing to work with.    I had to ask to speak to the CEO or whatever level of manager would be able to rectify my dissatisfaction with insurance that tells me I am not covered on weekends and holidays ( I am not happy with them ).   They don’t mention in their coverage that they only help on weekdays, and only for the first 15 miles.    KEEP IN MIND, We just left Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota where there is nothing for hundreds of miles,   15 miles wouldn’t have been very much help!!!!

* FMCA was going to send me to a back yard trailer repair in a neighborhood,  only thing that saved that disaster was the diligence of the tow truck company to call and check the delivery location before sending the truck to my breakdown spot.

* Last but not least is our friends who stayed with us to help through this entire ordeal when they could have and I even recommended that they drive on home.   I thank God we have friends that help calm us down, help us think through how to work this out, and the stayed around to make sure we all got home safely.

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