Friday, April 26, 2013

At The Factory

Airstream Factory, Jackson Center, Ohio

When we bought the Mary Joan III it didn't have solar panels or an electrical inverter. The Mary Joan II had both of these and Sarah and I have come to depend on them because it gives us the freedom to boondock for extended periods. We found that we could go for five days without the need to run the generator to recharge the batteries. With the panels we have just installed we should be able to extend that a few more days since these solar panels will provide 290 watts rather than the 160 watts that we had on Mary Joan II. The inverter allows us to use the coffee grinder, computer and cell phone battery chargers, television and vacuum cleaner.

We discovered a few problems that needed to be repaired under warranty. Most of them were minor but one was critical. Airstream has added a new feature on our trailer. In addition to the power receptacle near the rear of the trailer, they have placed a second one at the front to make it easier to run a generator mounted on the bed of the tow vehicle. This arrangement requires a circuit board and relay to detect which receptacle is being used and to send the power from that receptacle to the power distribution panel. That circuit board and relay failed soon after we bought the trailer leaving us with not 110 volt electricity. The minor issues were related to improperly calibrated holding and water tank sensors. These sensors let us know how full the tanks are.

We chose to come to the factory since it is on our way home from Kentucky and we can stay in our trailer each night after the workers have finished for the day. They pick up the trailer at 7 AM from the "Terra Port" and return it at 4 PM. They have a very comfortable lobby with free coffee and reliable WiFi. There is also a small parts and supplies store where I bought LED lights to replace some fluorescent and halogen light bulbs. These will help us conserve energy and make our new solar panels that much more useful.
In the Terra Port

Mary Joan II being taken inside

Mary Joan III in the work bay

While waiting for the work to be completed we work on the blog and edit pictures. We also meet other Airstream owners who are having work done on their trailers and motorhomes. Sarah and I enjoy meeting these very friendly and interesting people. They come from all parts of the United States and Canada and they all have wonderful stories to tell and hints, tips about RVing in general and Airstreams in particular.
Spacious and comfortable lounge area
Factory tours are given every day at 2 PM. The tour begins in the lobby and is directed by Don, a long time Airstream employee. We took the tour the first time we came to Jackson Center so we didn't go again. But, we enjoyed  listening to Don's introduction each day. While his talk was basically the same, he always changed it slightly and added minor details that we hadn't heard before.
This early Airstream was completely restored.
In the nearby town of New Bremen is the very interesting Bicycle Museum of America. Just 18 miles to the west, this quaint little town is worth the trip if you are having work done at the factory or just passing through this part of Ohio. On the recommendation of other Airstream owners who had gone we decided to make the short drive. We arrived at the museum just as it opened and at the same time as another couple. The four of us were the only visitors in the museum.  Jim was at the desk this morning. After playing an introductory video for us, he gave us a narrated tour of the museum making sure to highlight the most significant items in the museum. We spent two hours looking at all the bicycles and bicycle memorabilia and learning about the history and development of the bicycle. Not only were many of them technical marvesl, in many cases they were also works of art. Sarah's only disappointment was that there wasn't a bamboo bicycle in the exhibit.
Bicycle Museum of America
Jim gave us a wonderful tour
The 1,000,000th Shwinn came off the line in 1916
Beautifully executed wooden frame
c. 1890 Columbia Military Bicycle
Lock on the Miami & Erie Canal

Just outside the museum is a preserved piece of history. The Miami & Erie Canal passed through the center of New Bremen. Constructed between 1825 and 1845, the canal connected the Erie Canal to the Ohio River. In the center of town is a small park wherein there is a lock and portion of the canal that has been restored. It was interesting to read about how important the canal was and what economic benefits it brought to the town. 

Here is link to the town website with information about the canal.

We hope to have all of our repairs completed today and continue on our way home. We plan to stop in Cleveland to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Stay tuned.

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