April 12, 2010

RV repair requires finding a transplant donor - guitar to toilet

ARROYO SECO, Mexico, Jalisco - Living in Mexico reminds me soooo much of living on our 48-foot sailboat Sabbatical.

When things broke on the boat, you didn't call someone, you fixed it yourself. And you didn't rush off to the store to buy parts, you fabricated with whatever you had on hand.

As a sage once said:
"If all solutions are temporary, 
why not use duct tape in the first place?"

The patient
The patient needing the transplant

The problem was actually quite simple. The toilet our RV (the Grey Goose Express II) wouldn't flush. Yes, the bowl would fill with water (and other substances not to be mentioned here). But a push on the pedal to flush left the bowl full.

Santa Crappo! (Quite literally)

I put off the repair for three days, blaming it on the beautiful weather and the two-days of the surfing  contest at Playa Grande. The toilet sat unused inside the bathroom of the trailer, a silent reminder that I had a nasty job to do that I really wanted to avoid. As in avoid until next winter when I came back.

But this morning there was no putting it off. Getting up in the night and walking across the compound in the dark, wearing flip-flops was getting old fast for both myself and the Admiral. Especially the Admiral. (Can you say scorpion?)

The offending wire
The problem revealed

RV toilets are not exactly easy to work on. And because they are mostly plastic, there's no using brute force - when it seems like it would be a lot easier. So for an hour, I unscrewed and dismantled quite carefully until I had the entire assembly in pieces.

(Yes, I soaked the entire toilet in Fabuloso cleaner for about a good half-hour before I even started.)

Once apart, it was obvious - the wire to the flush pedal was broken off. And without it, no flushing was going to occur.

In the U.S., at that point, I would have probably headed down to Camperworld or some such big box store, slapped down my American Express card and bought a entire new unit, right out of the box.

But I live in Mexico and I have learned from my neighbors that you don't go to the store everytime you have a problem like this. You fix it. Great idea! But where in the ^*&%**(^&)$%#^# would I find a 18-inch piece of thin wire that could be fed through a tiny channel and tied off on both ends?

Then I heard the music on the radio.

The string donor
The wire donor

Three weeks ago in Puerto Vallarta, I bought a new set of guitar strings. The old strings were tired - very tired - and needed to be replaced, our amiga Myranda told me. And so the strings were lurking in the back of my mind when I was thinking of what kind of thin wire I might have to effect a cruiser/Mexican repair.

And because I hadn't ever gotten around to actually replacing the strings, I went right to the guitar, plucked a worn out B string off, and installed it.

With luck, the B string from the guitar will now live a long life. I would prefer not to have to do that job again.

But if I do, well, I have five more strings waiting...

String donor recipient
The donor recipient on the recovery patio

No comments: