Thursday, February 2, 2023

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Beware the damaging dips: Our motorhome got stuck. Really stuck.

Ouch! Our motorhome got stuck. Really stuck. It has taken me a while to recover enough to even write this sad story. And to all those who would never ever find themselves in this predicament… never say never! 30 years of RVing and not one mishap until now.

Motorhome photo credit Nanci Dixon
Our motorhome. Photo credit: Nanci Dixon

Simple turn

On our way to a campground near Olympic National Park in upper Washington state, we turned from Hwy. 101 to Lake Drive in Amanda Park. The turn was way too tight! S-c-r-a-p-e, then scrape more. I was screaming “STOP!” at my husband. We were scraping the front AND rear.

The dip was extreme. It finally stopped our entire motorhome. We were stranded.

The worst part was that we couldn’t even see the dip when we turned but it really snagged us. We couldn’t go forward and we couldn’t go back. Then we tried putting the jacks down and jack pads under the tires, but no luck.

We were tipped sideways so much that water was leaking out of the overflow. It was not fuel, as many onlookers nervously asked. And yes, the small store nearby emptied out with onlookers. It was much more exciting than watching a newbie back into a camping site!

Happens multiple times a year!

The postmistress stopped by and said three or four motorhomes a year get stuck on that dip and a tow truck lifts them in the middle to get out. We called AAA for a tow truck—no show. They did finally say they had no one that could work with an RV.

We had to take off our bikes and bike rack, tow car and the tow bar that was digging into the asphalt.

We went into the little store nearby and they said the same thing: RVs get stuck there a lot. Of course, that begs the question: Why not fix the dip or at least put up a warning sign? It leads to the government post office too! The asphalt was rife with scrapes. “Stuck there a lot” may relieve the embarrassment but it still didn’t get us unstuck.

Built a ramp

The campground owners down the hill came by to see if they could help. My husband asked for boards. He returned with lots of boards. I put the jacks down to raise the back end and they built a ramp of boards and jack pads. We let the jacks up and were able to back up enough to get uphill, but this caused the front end to start scraping. Built another ramp for the front tires and finally got free. At that point it was still no-show on the tow truck.

Ready to roll again… kind of

The next day my husband found self-tapping screws and pounded, screwed and glued everything back together enough to travel. I was in charge of gluing the tail lights. All the light covers had popped off! The front generator drawer support had totally pulled out of the fiberglass on one side but a few pounds with a hammer and prying it with a massive screwdriver got it closed.

Motorhome photo credit Nanci Dixon
Photo credit: Nanci Dixon
Photo credit: Nanci Dixon
Motorhome photo credit Nanci Dixon
Photo credit: Nanci Dixon

Finished the trip and made it to Arizona

Everything stayed together and we continued our trip back to our wintering grounds in Arizona. The only real issue was a brand-new bumping noise under the driver’s seat. Turns out the front generator cap support had torn away from the front cap. One support held and my husband wedged the generator drawer closed.

Learned a few lessons

  • STOP if you hear scraping! Don’t move any further.
  • Might have been okay if we had quickly disconnected the car while it was still on the highway, but with so many logging trucks whizzing by that may have caused a series of other problems.
  • AAA RV tow assistance may not show up… ever.
  • Self-tapping screws are great! They held everything together for 1,200 more miles.

The dip’s location

If you’re traveling near Lake Quinault in Washington, be aware of this dip. Here’s a Google Earth Satellite view of the area. The dip is at the turn of Highway 101 and Lake Drive N. If you see the Quinault Internet Cafe, look out!

The dip’s location is circled in red

Good news

The good news is that we have full coverage and zero deductible, but I can’t even imagine the rise in our insurance premiums next year. The other good news is that we are okay and didn’t have to spend months at a repair shop and could continue the trip. The best is to have a handy husband!

##RVT1081

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Karen
1 month ago

I pull a 13′ Scamp with a welded on door step. Unfortunately I’ve only used it a small handful of times. Every dip I came to, mostly in historic downtowns, the step caught on the dip. Needless to say, once I hammered it out, next dip bent it back again. Finally had it taken off after calling Scamp to verify it doesn’t hurt my warranty.

Bill
1 month ago

I did that twice with my 1996 CruiseMaster, both times in driveways at houses I was visiting. The Ford Chassis and GeorgieBoy body were strong enough to hold the weight of the rig with the rear wheels off the ground, I put the jacks down, put boards under the wheels, put the jacks up, moved an inch, and repeated several dozen times and i was back on the road with no damage. I carried two eight foot 2x12s to use as wheelchair ramps for one of my cousins.

Johnny Free Bird
1 month ago

Hi Nancy and Sir, do not be sad; we all are travelers and overlanders; these situations are part of our tale, we have Happy stories and learning stories, yours is one to learn; both prepare us for the journey of life! Do not worry… Keep Traveling

Spike
1 month ago

No skid bars on the back of the coach? Mine has two heavy duty skid bars to prevent damage. Those may hang up in such a situation, but the coach isn’t going to have the back cap ripped off. You are lucky your transmission didn’t get damaged.

Personally, if I heard anything out of the ordinary, much less loud and prolonged scraping, I’d stop and get out to check! Continuing to move is asking for a lot of trouble.

Barz
1 month ago

Sorry you had to go through all of that….it hurts even more with a beautiful coach such as yours. Whenever we encounter such terrain, obviously at a crawl…I have the co-pilot get out and advise me as to clearances. This applies to trees, etc.

John Koenig
1 month ago

Tail drag has happened to me. My 2015 Dynamax DX3-37RB has 13′ of coach aft of the rear axle. When the front wheels go up a couple of inches, the rear drops significantly (vertical tail swing). Dynamax made the rear panel one piece so, if any of the bottom catches, the ENTIRE back cap can be destroyed. Had Dynamax made the back cap in two sections, only the bottom piece would be damaged. Just another example of the people who design RVs, never actually use what they design.

CeeCee
1 month ago

Before we ever owned a MH, we saw a big rig get badly stuck coming down a steep hill to (not while on) 101 in Depoe Bay, OR. The rig’s rear wheels were at least a foot above the pavement. It was resting on its tail. However, unlike in your situation, the driver should have been able to see that that hill was trouble. We once got stuck in the lot of The Logger restaurant in Knappa, OR, but were able to unhitch and ease out with only a little damage. Owner said it had happened before and he should put up a sign. (He hasn’t.) Thanks for the warning!! We recommend the restaurant, but don’t park in the lot!

DW/ND
1 month ago

Sorry to read of your incident Nanci. Seeing that back section and tail lite assy just sent a shiver up my back Glad your husband is obviously very capable at figuring out how to get out this mess and make repairs if only temporary. Is this a private road or a public hiway? Someone should be held responsible for not at least posting a warning sign! It appears to be either a quirk of nature or a designed drainage ditch or gutter system. Glad you were able to continue your trip.

Tami
1 month ago

Oh my! Scary business for sure. We have a 40 footer, but have been lucky enough to have avoided anything like this. (Knock on wood!) I’m happy you made it out safe and sound. Also another lesson learned about tow trucks!

Jon Wagman
1 month ago
Reply to  Tami

I had similar DIP problem,nowhere as bad as these folks. Went to a truck spring garage and had extra leaves built into the spring system.It hasn’t been a problem since.

Michael
1 month ago

We had a similar, though not as bad, experience, also in Washington. Our coach has a tag axle. We pulled into a dirt parking lot that had a pretty severe dip. The front wheels were on the ground and the tag wheels were on the ground. The drive wheels were in the dip and in the air. Raising the tag wheels got a little bit of bite on the drive wheels, but not enough to get out of the dip.

I somehow managed to rock back and forth enough to get out. It was more than 5 minutes of stuck.

Ken
1 month ago

I feel your pain and embarrassment. Nearly the same thing happened to us in 2014, our maiden voyage with a new to us motorhome, Weekend shakedown trip. Happened in Plymouth, CA where now a roundabout is on State Route 49. We did not suffer nearly the damage the Dixon’s did, just a few bent supports underneath. The towing company finally arrived from Sacramento and with the use of timbers from bystanders was able to free us. Once up in the air on timbers the tow truck driver attached a heavy cable across Highway 16, stopped traffic and I was able to back out (with assistance) onto the highway and scraped the front under carriage a bit. We were on our way after 4 hours plus. I never saw an invoice, a questionnaire or increase in premiums (that I remember).
BTW. I often thought of stopping for pizza there in Quinault. Usually on the way home from Pacific Beach, WA. Thank you for the the story and warning.
Enjoying Arizona like you!

Roger Christianson
1 month ago

Happy to hear that everything turned out OK in the end. There definitely needs to be some some of signage to warn people about the dip in the road, similar to those signs you see at RR crossing to warn large truck of the “hump” in the road. By chance, is the other entrance by the pizza shop any better for RVs?

Nanci
1 month ago

It certainly could have been better. Too bad the GPS didn’t say turn by the pizza shop! We would have had to disconnect the car to make the turn and avoid the dip but the car wouldn’t have been on the highway.

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