Sunday, March 23, 2008
Finally got the Eleganza II hauled to the ranch :) I spotted the coach while helping a friend out that was looking at an MCI bus for sale by the Vision Quest organization here in Tucson. The Eleganza was in pretty sad shape with the rear glass broken out and 10 years of blowing sand and sun beating on it. A few of the side windows were losing their rubber trim, so some MORON decided to seal it with that nasty black roof tar!! The native Arizona pack rats had taken residence within, so basically it was pretty GROSS!! After making the organization an "offer they couldn't refuse", the task of getting it moved from point "A" to point "B" began.
First task was seeing if the airbags held air. Removed the lines and installed schrader valves. The portable air compressor I had brought was too small and there was no elec anywhere close. So on to the next task, getting the shifter into neutral. No keys anywhere to be found so a call to the mobile locksmith and $100 later, I had ignition and door keys :) I considered doing an LA car theft process but breaking the ignition lock would require I replace it eventually, so the $100 was a fair trade off.
Back with a larger air compressor. Bags held air but the driver side was out of alignment and the rubber had warped from years of sitting flat. Pass side refused to seal properly so the coach raised a bit, but not to full height. When the coach was parked some 10 years back, they had placed cinder blocks under it, so some heavy duty jacking was in order. With the blocks out, the coach settled onto the air suspension, with a noticeable list to the stern. Tires held air (barely).
With the transmission now in neutral and the frame out of the dirt, I attempted to pull it out of its resting place. The Vision Quest ranch is in the river bottoms of the Rillito river and the soils are very sandy. Yes, you're seeing where I'm headed (or not heading as the case may be). A few tugs with my 2 wheel drive Dodge V-10 pickup moved it about 5 feet before I lost traction. I had arranged for a 30' rollback to move the Eleganza the 33 miles to its new home but was worried that the tow truck may not be able to get to the coach. Tucson had experienced a rare spring rain a few days earlier and there was a large mud bog directly in the path of entrance and exit.
I was VERY fortunate to find one of the ranch hands onsite with his brand new Dodge 4X4
Cummins powered truck, and you know how guys are about proving their trucks can do anything!! I have to admit, it was a big task even for the 4X4 Dodge, but he pulled me out of the sandy soil, through the mud bog and onto the blacktop where the rollback could get to me easily :)
The air suspension was totally flat by this time and the tires were not happy about being rolled from their resting place. Another shot of air all around and we're ready for the rollback. Of course the first thing the driver tells me is, "The ass end of this thing will drag." Yep, I know that. Let's get it loaded. Cudos to the driver as he manuevered, blocked, and repositioned to minimize the rear end drag. The trailer hitch on the rear bore most of the drag and we were now loaded, chained, and ready for the road.
With the rear glass out and the top of the roof pod gone, I was entertained for the entire 33 mile trip to see what was going to "fly out" next. The ladder was also gone so I had no way of viewing the contents of the pod prior to departure. Let's just say that a LOT of dust blew out and only one unknown piece of trash hit the freeway :)
So now, the Eleganza II sits comfortably in it's new home next to a large shade tree to shield it a bit from the harsh AZ desert sun. Upon the first round of clean out, we discovered a cut piece of plexiglass for the rear window, a brand new alternator, and a huge hydraulic jack, oh and Barb found a rat chewed one dollar bill! The second round clean out will require the shop vac and hazmat suits...haha
Stay tuned !!!