Homecoming in Jackson Center

 A few years ago Airstream ran “Homecoming” events here in Jackson Center OH on the grounds of the Airstream factory.   Those Homecomings have ceased — victims of economics — but every time we come here I feel like we’ve come back to home in a way.   This is where our Airstream was born in 2005.   Since we first took ownership of it, the trailer has touched the shores of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, climbed the Continental Divide in both the US and Canada, and roamed from the Florida Keys to Vancouver … and every year we bring it back here to the place where it all began.

The guys in the service center here at Airstream see trailers come in from every corner of the continent, each one displaying little hints of the thousands of miles of travel it has seen.   Ours is no exception.   They’ve fixed damage from the wheel that came off in Idaho, the trim that I scraped off near Quartzsite, and the TV antenna I mangled in Tucson.   I think the guys in the Service Center like seeing trailers with some bumps and bruises to show that the product really does get used in all sorts of circumstances, just the way that they are designed to be.

We came here for an axle alignment, but my list has grown a little longer since.   Last night we had a long steady rain and we noticed a little bit of a leak near the bathroom vent.   I’m also wondering if I should have the wheels pulled for a disk brake check.   Probably will.   That will mean I have to stop three times along the highway as we depart, to re-torque the lug nuts, but that’s far better than running the brake pads too thin.   We’ve had problems in the past with the calipers seizing, so at the very least I’d like to know that they are all operating as designed.

It also feels a little like home because of the greeting we get now.   Just after we arrived, I snuck into Dave Schumann’s office to catch up on things with him, and people kept dropping by.   Each one said the same thing, “I didn’t know you were here!” and I got a big genuine smile from all of them.   I don’t see most of these folks more than once a year, so it felt nice that they remembered me.   Several people also asked about Eleanor and Emma, who were at that moment off in downtown Jackson Center getting some laundry done.   Airstream is a small company with a family feel to it, and so it is easy to get to know and like all of the people who work here.

Dave commented on the axle problem cautiously. Until the trailer is examined, we don’t know for sure that the alignment is at fault, but it seems like the only possibility.   We talked about the typical causes of mis-alignment and some more radical theories, but came to no definite conclusions.

On the way over here, I inadvertently tested the limits of the GL320’s fuel capacity.   I was not paying careful attention to our fuel status until we hit 1/4 tank, and at that point we were in a part of Ohio where cornfields are plentiful and towns with fuel pumps are not.   The first place we found did not sell diesel, and we ended up in Kenton OH with the fuel gauge at the “E” mark.   The computer had ceased estimating our remaining driving range about ten miles earlier.   I know that running a diesel out of fuel can be extremely problematic, and it was a sweaty drive the last few miles.   We pumped 27.1 gallons into a tank that is specified to take 26.4 gallons plus a 3.4 gallon reserve.   That was way too close for towing purposes, but at least now I know what we can get away with.

Tomorrow morning at 7 a.m the John Deere tractor will arrive to tow our trailer into the service bays, so we’ve prepped most of the trailer tonight. It will be a typical service center start to the day, tumble out of bed, quickly pack the last few things and disconnect the utilities, and then stand by while the crew gets to work.   We’re planning to stay at Airstream through the lunch hour, and “if all goes well” we will head out in the afternoon for the Grand Rapids MI area.