Maiden Voyage

Our first trip in Val, we drove to Portland, Oregon, for a school tourney for Ann. It was within a week of us bringing the RV home in early February. 

We had sold the Airstream that same week, and had just moved everything into the new motorhome, but we were still learning our way around and figuring out where to put everything to maximize the space (we are still figuring it out).  

We set off, putting Val to the test. In typical Pacific Northwest late-winter fashion, we were set for a rainy weekend. Somewhere on I-5 we drove into a large rainstorm and used the wipers for the first time.

We had only tested them once the day we bought the RV to make sure they worked by switching them on and off on the lowest setting, but it was a sunny day and didn’t put them through a real rain test. As it started raining harder and harder on the interstate, Charlie switched the wipers from low to medium speed with no issues. But before long, we got to a point it where it was raining so hard he had to switch the wipers on high to keep up with the downpour.

“DID YOU SEE THAT?” Charlie said. The driver-side wiper had gone up and stayed stuck in vertical position along the outside edge of the windshield, while the passenger-side wiper spun about 270º around and stayed stuck in a downward position.

The rain continued to blast the windshield while we were doing 50mph with no visible place to pull over – not that we could see anyway. Being in a Class A, sticking our arms out the window to wipe manually was not an option like Charlie used to do in his old Toyota FJ40. Meanwhile, the passenger-side wiper tweaked like a tween on one too many energy drinks, while the driver-side wiper occasionally fluttered but never moved beyond a half inch from its stuck position. 

We finally found a safe place to pull over. We got out and was able to lower the driver-side wiper back into position but the passenger side stayed stuck pointing down. With a little more pressure, Charlie was able to rotate the wiper clockwise back into its normal resting position, and away we went. 

We suspected the wipers would again get stuck if we attempted to use them on high so we drove with them on low where they would continually come close to doing another pirouette and get stuck again. 

Sure enough it happened. The driver-side wiper got stuck in vertical position and this time, the passenger-side wiper stopped diagonally across the field of vision. After a few more stops of readjusting the wipers, we just said forget it – it was better to get there before dark, so we just took it slow. 

Once we arrived at our destination, Charlie hit the Interwebs trying to find if others with a similar make/model had experienced the same issue. Indeed this was a problem, and after searching further, we found that Thor had actually recalled the system on wipers that were several years older, up until the year of our manufacture. 

(We contacted Thor to see if there was any chance ours could be repaired under recall, and after several months of emails sent, voicemails left with no response, finally, we received an email saying no, explaining that our RV was not covered under the recall, that it only covers the tightening of one single nut in the whole system, but they still encouraged us to take it to the dealer to have it checked out.)

In the meantime, we had to brainstorm quick fixes to keep the wipers from one day spinning so hard, centrifugal forces would cause it to fly clear off the RV and hit another car causing a 20-car pileup (worst case scenario). Charlie said to me, “Do you know those suction cup hooks we use in our bathroom at home? What if we used one of those on the windshield?” So we took the suction cup hook and placed it on the windshield, positioned in a spot that would stop the passenger-side wiper from dropping below the bottom of the windshield. 

To test it, Charlie sprayed the windshield down with water, turned on the wipers, and checked the position of the suction cup. He did this several times, and once he felt it was in the right spot, he put the wipers on high and to his delight, it worked. 

And you almost can’t even tell it is there (when you’re driving down the highway).

We will have find a long-term fix for this, but for now, we’ve got a few backup hooks, and the weather app.

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