Letter 18
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Isuzu Trek Owners Infoletter #18

February, 2006

Isuzu Trek Rally is forming up at the National Trek Rally
Clark (clarkvg at charter.net) says: The National Rally is scheduled for the June 7-12. Its going to be at the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia, Missouri. www.trektalk.net has more info...

We currently do not subscribe to Trektalk so I have to rely on their website. If you thinks it's a good idea, mention in the newsletter that I'm facilitating the I-trek session(s) and have those interested contact me, or Al (trektalk) about topics and suggestions. I need to do some planning to determined how much time we will need at the Rally for topics. I want to get back to Al soon so if we want more than one session we can fit it into the schedule.

One idea I have for a topic is to revisit "Road Handling Problem and Solutions for the Isuzu Chassis".

 

There has been a lot of talk about shocks over the years on the Treks. The original owner of my '94 2840 (89,000 miles) added a leaf (spring) on each side on the front and air bags on the rear. The wandering, swaying, vibrating, and bouncing that I have read about doesn't exist in my unit as the others have described.  The shocks on mind have never been replaced and they seem to be working fine. I would like to ride in another Isuzu to experience the ride and then have a couple of others ride in mine and then discuss the differences(if any) as a topic.

 

Speedometer Cables

Clark also contributed: We are in the middle of replacing the speedometer cables and drive gear on our ‘94 2840 Isuzu. Our cables were very rusty. I would suggest that folks lube their cables.

Somehow they sent the wrong cables or they were redesigned. We ended up taking the cables to a shop and had them replace one of the ends with one from the old cables.

The cables and gear cost about $70 (wholesale). We bought the parts from a Isuzu Dealer.  We plan to finish installing the cables this week.

Cruise Control Troubleshooting and Repair

Editor Dale (daldr at aol.com) sez:

My cruise control quit working this summer after working normally for several years. Here is how I went about fixing it:

I sat down and read all the Isuzu Trek Owners Infoletters pertaining to the Trek cruise control.

I contacted Bill (or Terry) at Acme (800-552-2263 or 574-534-1516) to get them to fax me a set of troubleshooting instructions.

I visually checked for frayed wires at the steering column as this had been reported as a problem earlier by another Trek owner. I checked the cable from the servo at the throttle pedal for looseness. It was properly snug (checks to see if the cable is broken, has come loose from the servo or is improperly adjusted). Also, I noted that the vacuum light on the dash illuminated before engine start (tests the bulb and vacuum sensing system) and that light went out shortly after engine start and that the brakes worked normally (this tested to see if the vacuum source was normal, which is used by the cruise control as well as the brakes). Also check visually the vacuum hose going to the servo for cracks, etc.

Note that the speedometer needle works normally. (the speedometer cable from the transmission goes directly to the cruise control servo, then another cable from the servo goes to the speedometer, so this checks that both cables are OK and working normally).

An easy way to see if the unit is getting electrical power was the next check. With the ignition switch ‘on’ and the cruise control ‘on’, while Trish pushed and released the ‘set’ button, I checked for a ‘clicking’ sound at the servo (can-like device with two cables coming out the left (vehicle left) side, one cable coming out the back, vacuum hose coming out the right side, three wires coming out the top, a green (ground) wire attached to the frame or housing of the servo). The servo is located just inside the front access panel and about a foot left of center (vehicle left or your right) and below the level of the access panel door. The servo contains the ‘brains’ of the cruise control and a diaphragm across which vacuum works to activate the throttle cable. There are five or six small holes on the bottom side of the can to allow the non-vacuum side of the diaphragm to have access to atmospheric pressure. (I actually had a mechanic from a well recognized Isuzu repair facility in OR see one of those little holes and want to epoxy it closed, saying this was the cause of the problem. For a qualified mechanic who is supposed to understand pneumatics, this was an incredible brain fart!). If the clicking sound is heard, proceed to #6. If not, remove the two electrical plugs (three wires) on the servo and inspect for corrosion of the contacts, then clean and replace. Now try #5 again. If still no clicking is heard, locate the fuse case and check the fuse (hard to find – located separately, tied up somewhere near the steering column under the dash – it may be up so high under the dash that you need to remove the top of the dash panel to get to it and that’s easy to do – just take the four screws out of the panel sides and the top cover of the entire dashboard cover will rotate up. If its still not apparent where it is, see Ken Harmon’s description of where the components are in Infoletter #14).

Test drive the Trek, getting it up to 45 mph then hold down the ‘resume’ button for a full minute. If you feel pressure on the accelerator pedal like the cruise control is taking over, the problem is in the relay (about the size of a small matchbox with two red and two blue wires coming out of it, located somewhere near the steering wheel column, under the dash). If nothing happens (cruise control doesn’t try to take over), the problem MAY not be the relay. If the problem is the relay, you have two options: one, buy a new relay from ACME (this historically is a weak point in the system so you may want to consider option two which is to buy two relays from Radio Shack and accomplish Ken Harmon’s modification (Infoletter #14 ). Ken also described therein some other good reasons to replace the ACME relay. Get Ken or I to send you the schematic for the mod.

Accomplish the electrical testing found in the ACME troubleshooting document. This is easily done in less than 10 minutes and should eliminate or find any problem in the electrical system.

If the electrical system checks out OK, you have now eliminated problems with not having power, problems with the electrical system, problems with the speedometer cables, problems with the vacuum source. All that is left is the servo itself. This turned out to be my problem. $75-100 later, a new servo from ACME will show up at your door. Installing it is not difficult, but I recommend not removing the servo until you are immediately ready to install the new one, lest you forget exactly how you did it. Here is how: Remove both speedometer cables, being careful with the top one (goes to the speedometer gauge) as it has a small extension part at the servo end – don’t lose it. Remove the two wire plugs (three wires). Remove the vacuum hose at the servo. Remove the two nuts attaching the servo to its mounting bracket. Have someone inside the coach hold the accelerator pedal down or put a stick between the pedal and the front of the driver’s chair to accomplish the same thing, to give you enough slack to be able to pull the bell housing of the throttle cable (backside of the servo and held in place by the two nuts you just removed) away from the servo far enough to remove the pin that holds the cable to the servo. Now remove the servo from its bracket and rotate it so you can remove the ground (green) wire from the servo housing. Reverse the process to install the new one. If you are lucky, it will be good and will work, as mine did….and does!

 


RVA Jacks

Editor Dale: A while back the bong warning and red flashing light quit working on my RVA leveler jacks. They worked fine but the normal ‘down’ warning was missing. Since I was going to be in Escondido, CA (where RVA is located) in a few weeks, I called them and made an appointment. They found a broken wire in the left front wheel well and quickly had me on my way again. There have been many excellent reports on the service provided by this manufacturer, so I’ll add my thanks for a job well done on a fine product. Their website is www.rvajacks.com

The ‘Ken Harmon Section’

Ken (Kencathyha at aol.com) has been such a wonderful contributor to our knowledge base over the years of the Isuzu Trek Owners Infoletter, he almost needs his own section in the Infoletter. The following contributions, as usual, are well written, resourced and solved. Thank you, Ken. Here they are:

Blackwater Odors (Ken Harmon)
Soon after taking delivery of our Trek I found there were bad odors in the 
bathroom after driving in windy conditions or when trucks caused large puffs of
wind as they passed.  I suspected problems with the overfill tube in the 
side of the toilet bowl. Removing the toilet and investigating the design of the
overfill “J” trap tube in the base of the toilet, I noticed it did not have
much  of a low spot to hold water and keep odors from coming up from the
blackwater  tank.  The flapper valve on the end of the tube looked like it was
subject  to fouling and would not work reliably.  Relocating the “J” trap so it
had  a better low point helped somewhat but the water would still occasionally
blow  out of the trap and let the odor up into the toilet bowl.

I spoke with Thetford and they said they were removing the “J” traps from 
their newer designs so I plugged the tube on my mine. During the same 
troubleshooting operation I found a problem with the blackwater tank vent on the  roof
at the right rear corner of the coach.  The hole in the roof was more  than ½
inch larger than the pipe.  The gap between the pipe and the roof  allowed
vapors to reenter the coach and spread through the rear cap of the  coach.  This
problem was solved by installing window sealing putty (the  type that is like
chewing gum).

For the next four years or so the odor problem was solved but eventually it 
returned.  I traced the problem to the original Thetford Aqua-Magic 4  toilet.
It had developed a leak at the flange where the bowl and pedestal  are
sealed and assembled at the factory.  I tried to reseal it with no  success.  I
installed a new Aqua-Magic 4 and it solved the problem for the  next five years. 
Then the problem came back.

This time I drained and dried out the whole system, closed the bathroom  sink
drain and sealed it with duct tape, and taped over the sink overflow  drain. 
Then I  tested  it by hooking up the outlet of a shop  vacuum cleaner to the
sewer hose so I could blow a slight pressure through the  entire system and
let it exhaust out the open roof vent.   Using a  small strip of paper I
detected air movement behind the toilet.  I removed  the unit and tried to reseal
upper and lower halves with no luck.

When I went back to get another Aqua-Magic 4 I found they were no longer 
available.  I purchased the new Aqua-Magic 5 which was supposed to be a  direct
replacement.  The installation did require an extension of the water 
connection.  On my first trip the odor problem was very bad.  I  removed the unit while
on the road and discovered it needed a thicker seal  between the base of the
toilet and the floor. I was able to locate a thicker  aftermarket seal that
solved the seal problem - but the odor was still  bad.  When I got home I set up
my shop vac air test system and found air  movement behind the new toilet.  I
removed the toilet, fitted a seal to the  bottom flange, and put a slight
pressure inside the toilet.  With bubble  solution I found not one, not two, but
three separate leaks in the aft side of  the new toilet.  Back on the phone to
Thetford.

Thetford offered to replace the toilet but I was not interested in another 
unit from the same production run that could have all the same problems.  I 
upgraded to one of the new “Style Lite China Bowl” units with a much improved 
design.  The unit has been in use for several months with no hint of a 
problem.

Exhaust Manifold Cracks (Ken Harmon)
After my earlier problems with Isuzu exhaust manifold fasteners breaking 
(written up in the Infoletters), I tried to keep a close watch on the manifold 
attachments.  On a recent trip I thought I could hear a slight “ticking” 
sound similar to the original stud problem and leaking exhaust gasket. A quick 
inspection did not disclose any problems that I could see.

At the next maintenance interval I removed the turbocharger heat shield to 
repair a crack in the shield.  This would be the third repair on this 
particular item.  When the shield was on the bench I noticed a spot of  black soot on
the inside of the shield.  I inspected the area on the  exhaust manifold where
the soot could have originated and found a clean 3/4  inch-long crack in the
exhaust manifold.  The crack was very difficult to  see. The crack started at
the top center of the turbocharger mounting flange and  went inboard into the
exhaust manifold.

I scheduled the motorhome into the local Isuzu shop in Albuquerque to have 
the manifold replaced.  When the manifold was removed one large and two  small
cracks were found in the lower flange of the turbo mount.  If the  upper and
lower cracks had connected through the manifold I could have ended up  with a
two-piece manifold and a very large leak.

We have 155,000 miles on our rig now.  My advice is to check your  exhaust
manifold bolts frequently and the exhaust manifold carefully with  advancing
miles.  If you need service in the Albuquerque area, Big West  Isuzu Truck now
has an experienced Isuzu service technician: ask for Dan  Galbraith.

Air Conditioning Problem (Ken Harmon)
Traveling in hot weather this summer I began to notice poor air  conditioning
performance while traveling through cities with stop-and-go  traffic.  On the
highway it worked okay.  Investigating the problem I  found that the puller
fan (the one that sucks air through the condenser) was no  longer operating and
the fan blades would not move.  The condenser is right  behind the front
grill and the puller fan is attached to the back side of the  condenser.

Acme in Goshen, Indiana, suggested a couple of places in the area that  might
have part but none of them had the correct fan.  One source suggested  a
universal fan available from Car Quest and I looked at that unit.  It  costs quite
a bit less, and I would have tried to use it but the tools I had on  the road
were too limited to attempt to adapt that fan to the Trek.

I ordered a replacement fan from Acme; Part No. 430-384, “fan assembly 14 
pull through”.  The mounting tabs for the fan are P/N 4100651, “mounting  tab
90 degree”, 4 each required.  The condenser mounting hardware kit is  P/N
250-280.  Replacing the fan was no problem with the front grill  removed.  Be sure
to check the new fan to verify that it is pulling air; if  not, switch the
wires to change the fan rotation.

After buying our coach it took me a long time to realize how the  push-button
heat and air conditioning switches work.  When you need air  conditioning you
just push the button for the air source and distribution you  want.  When you
pull the button out it deactivates the air conditioning  system, including
the puller fan, but it still allows air to flow the way you  want it to. 
Pressing the defrost button gives you air conditioned cold air  on the windshield. 
To get heat, pull the defrost button out to turn the  air conditioning system
off (including the puller fan) and then move the heat  lever to warm. I think
I drove through a couple of ice storms picking up a lot  of ice on the
windshield before I figured this  out.

Roof Maintenance (Ken Harmon)

(Editor’s note: See also the same topic by jfigueras, below)
Inspecting the roof I noticed numerous small cracks, less than 1/16 inch,  in
the fiberglass roof mat.  In addition there was a fine white powder and 
exposed glass fibers starting to appear on the surface.  I think the powder  was
gel coat that had deteriorated in the sun, exposing the glass fibers.

I started looking for some type of surface treatment to stop the 
deterioration.  For some reason the Monaco reps that I had spoken with  earlier did not
recommend the “snow white” roof treatments I have seen in the  local hardware
store.  I began to look into deck paints used on fiberglass  boats.

The product I used was Blue Water Mega Gloss 8701 white paint from Blue 
Water Marine Paint,
1999 Elizabeth Street, North Brunswick, NJ, 08902,  (800)628-8422.  I used
their recommended primer and thinner.  To  remove the loose fibers and gel coat
powder, I used a wire brush mounted on a  push broom handle to scrub the rough
surface of the fiberglass roof mat.  I  used water to facilitate the
brushwork and carry away the dirt, powder, and  fibers.

After masking the roof I used regular enamel paint rollers to put down the 
primer and paint.  I did not remove any equipment from the roof, just wire 
brushed as far as I could under and around things and then used a paint brush to 
get back under things as far as I could.

Engine Warm-up Shakes (Ken Harmon)
Over time I began to notice increased engine roughness during the warm-up 
cycle on cold morning starts.  The problem became very pronounced, with the 
engine rolling in the mounts and lots of white smoke (unburned fuel) out of the 
exhaust.  The next time I had the motorhome in the shop I had the injector 
nozzles cleaned and flow checked.  All nozzles were okay but I continued to 
have the problem.  The engine would start and run perfectly for about 3  seconds.
Then it would gradually get rougher until it shook and rolled  very hard,
and then quit.

Troubleshooting information from my local dealer and FMI in Portland 
suggested things like a bad injector pump, air leaking into gascolator, exhaust 
brake closing too far, and several other things.  I had already started  looking
at the glow plugs, the #1 and #2 glow plug relay circuits, and the  induction
air heater circuit.

Fortunately, during one of my early troubleshooting sequences I happened to 
shut the engine off, turn the key back on to the accessory position, and cycle
the engine warm-up switch. With little background noise in the area I could
hear  a  “sucking” sound coming from someplace on the right side of the
engine.  Checking the service manual I found there are two vacuum-operated servos
on the  fuel injector pump.  The Fast Idle Actuator is used to increase engine
rpm  during the warm-up cycle.  The actuator is mounted horizontally on top of
the fuel injector pump; look for it a few inches below and slightly forward
of  the fuel filter canister.  

When I checked the hose connection to the Fast Idle Actuator, the hose fell 
off in my hand.  It was cracked and crispy on the end.  Looking at the  other
end of the hose I could see that it was cracked where it attached to the 
solenoid valve mounted on the frame rail.  After replacing the hose, the  engine
start and warm up is noticeably improved, with a definite engine rpm  increase
when the warm-up switch is cycled on and off with a cold engine.    

The second vacuum-operated item on the fuel injector pump is the Aneroid 
Compensator, shown under the title “Fuel Low Cut Function” in the service 
manual.  When I looked at this device I found that the vacuum hose was not  even
connected.  To find the Aneroid Compensator, look for the round device  on the
very back end of the injector pump.  I installed a new hose connecting the
Aneroid Compensator and the controlling solenoid mounted on the frame (in a very
difficult location).  According to the manual this device  “reduces the
amount of heat developed by combustion” by cutting the  fuel flow to the engine by
5% when the coolant temperature reaches 208 degrees  F.

In light of the discussions about power boosting the Isuzu engine I think it
is interesting a device was installed to limit the top end fuel flow (heat) 
delivered to the engine.

Roof Repair: another approach

Joanne Figueras (j.figueras at verizon.net ) contributes: Last fall we discovered water stains on the driver’s side ceiling; they extended from the bed inset (no leak over the bed, thank goodness) back to the refrigerator and over to the AC. I pulled the speakers and AC cover and felt inside the ceiling as far as I could reach, but didn’t discover anything. The wood framework for the AC didn’t show any evidence of water, and the gasket looked OK, but I tightened the bolts anyway. I then went onto the roof and found some loose caulk around a screw holding a solar panel (which is in front of the AC), and I saw many tiny cracks in the fiberglass. We had the roof painted about 5 years ago, and the cracks are definitely into the glass and not just the paint. I can’t tell how deep, but if water puddled over them it’s possible that it got through. All the seams are firmly covered with cloth-backed Eternabond and look tight.

We moved a dehumidifier into the RV and waited. No more stains in spite of more rain. We decided it might have been just the driving rain of the northeaster that caused the leak. I moved the RV to a different off-level location, and after more rain found more ceiling stains—this time over the door. Apparently water had run across to the other side. I pulled the light and other speaker to help dry inside the ceiling, and we covered the rig with a tarp—which we should have done originally.

That’s where it now stands. I read RV posts about sealing roofs, including Ken’s using Blue Water Mega Gloss, and I’ve talked with several companies about their products, and as of now I’m planning to use Liquid Roof, an EPDM rubber coating (www.epdmcoatings.com). By the time I decided on the product, it was too cold here on Cape Cod for it to cure—needs 55 degrees for several days. I will remove the AC and 4 solar panels, prepare the surface, coat, let cure till it’s walkable (about 4 days), and then replace the stuff. I’ll be able to refrigerate Liquid Roof for use over the solar panel bracket screws after I replace the panels. Cost of materials (4 gallons of product) will be about $300.

This is the plan. We considered driving south or west to do the work, but since we’re having a very pleasant winter here, and since the logistics of carrying ladders and other tools are daunting, we’ll probably just wait for spring. Comments welcome!

CO Detector Failure

(Also from Joann Figuras): Our original CO detector started beeping about once a minute last fall, and nothing made it quit. The best-price replacement I’ve found (for a good one) is the CCI flush-mount model, available for $65 from rvshop.com. The next cheapest price for the same) model is $99 on sale at pplmotorhomes.com.

 

Alternator Failure far into the Boondocks: A Quick Fix

Editor Dale says: Three hundred miles south of the border in Mexico, on a remote beach I found out the alternator had quit some miles back when I tried to shut off the engine and it wouldn’t shut off. Moments later, it shut off by itself. After the appropriate “Oh-oh”, I tried to restart the engine but it wouldn’t crank. The battery voltage was very low. The engine started using the ‘boost’ switch that brings the house batteries on line to start the engine so we could move to our overnite spot, a long way from anywhere. Curiously, the ‘battery’ warning light never came on. We had been running that day with headlights on. We were two days driving from our destination for the winter.

Our problem was that neither the generator nor the inverter (that charges the house batteries) provides a charge for the chassis batteries. I ran a 10 gauge wire I had in my tool kit between the positive terminals of the house and chassis batteries, then ran the generator for an hour that evening and again in the morning. The engine started normally, and we drove for 2 hours (lights off this time) before the monitor showed the house (and chassis) batteries to be significantly discharged. Then we ran the generator (while continuing on our way) for 45 minutes, after which we could drive another two hours before needing the generator again. We were able to continue with this scheme to our destination.

Upon inspection, the alternator appeared to have oil stains on its underside, so I assumed the alternator and regulator (which is internal in the alternator) were ruined because of Al Readdy’s report in the last Infoletter, so I ordered a new rebuilt unit from an Oregon Isuzu truck dealer and a friend brought it down a month later, along with a new charge relay that should be replaced whenever there is an alternator failure.

We removed the left front tire to gain access to the alternator. That, in itself was a learning experience. We thought we would never get the lug nuts off until we found out that the lugs on the left side of the Trek are left-hand thread! Once we could see the left side of the alternator, it appeared we were in luck! We discovered that the positive (output) wire terminal had cracked and the wire was not well connected to the post on the alternator. After repair, alternator function was normal. The oil on the bottom of the alternator was due to a very minimal seep. Possibly, the battery light did not come on because a small, possibly intermittent current was able to get through the badly cracked terminal. It is comforting to know that one can carry on, at least during daylight hours, in their Trek, with the use of a simple wire between the positive terminals of the house and chassis batteries.

EMB Rack attachments again

John (cvrwy at highstream.net) has listed his fix to keep the EMB rack alignment proper so the gears don’t jump notches when the bed is raised or lowered: A month or so ago, I posted a story to the TrekTracks MSN group on the faults of the method of anchoring the original EMB gear/rack to the wall of a coach. I pointed out to the group that as the EMB motor turns the gears there not only is an up/down force that moves the bed but there is also a force that tries to push the rack away from the gear.

The main point that I made to the group is that the aluminum frame of our coaches does not lend itself as an excellent base for the EMB rack. Aluminum is soft compared to the steel rack attachment bolts and the bolts tend to tear the thread in the aluminum frame if you torque the bolts too much to get some rigidity. The bottom line is that from the very beginning the rack cannot be rigidly anchored to the wall. When operating the EMB, the racks do tend to get pushed away from the gears which leads to the tooth "skipping" that is sometimes encountered

I seem to remember that one of the group members used long carriage bolts that went completely though the side wall in order to keep the rack rigid. An excellent fix, but I didn't like the idea of the carriage bolt head being visible on the outside of the coach.

Of all the methods I thought of to keep the racks rigid, my current fix was the least obtrusive, at least to us. I merely inserted a horizontal 3/8 diameter steel rod running front to back between the two racks at the level of the bottom of the valance, to keep the racks from moving away from the gears. Only one 3/8 clearance hole needs to be drilled on each rack. No disassembly of any part of the EMB needs to be done. The rod's length is adjustable to allow for the correct spacing of the two racks and for it's installation.

The length of the rod is the distance between the racks plus about 1/2 inch. I threaded both ends of the rod and then painted it black. On one end, the length of the thread is just long enough to jam a regular nut against the end of the thread and have about 1/4 inch of the rod extend beyond the nut, or about 1/2 inch of thread. I locked this nut further with Locktight. On the other end, I threaded the rod about 1-1/2 inches long so that I could thread the nut far enough down the rod so I could insert the rod between the racks. Once the rod was inserted, I snugged this nut up against the rack to hold it and the rod in position. I used a nylon insert locknut on this second end.

I used the steel spacer rod because the 3/4 inch square backup tube welded to the rack lent itself to this method. I would be a bit reluctant to use this method if I did not have the steel tube backup. I understand that some Treks do not have this backup tube on their racks.

Since I installed the rods, we haven't had a hint of the EMB wanting to skip a tooth. So far and hopefully for the future, all is well.

Alaska: The Inside Passage by Trek

Linda Dahle (lindadahle at bdumail.com) provides this great writeup for those of us who are thinking about doing the Inside Passage by Trek:

I was prepared that Alaska would be stunning, I was not prepared for the thrill of the inside passage. I am delighted to try and share my experience with you, and hope you will make the trip yourself one day. I had started making plans in February for a travel time of Memorial Weekend. The Milepost magazine was the first thing, what an excellent book and probably paid for itself by keeping me from backtracking or missing turns. There are free coupon books and advertisement flyers along the way with maps and so forth but I was still glad I bought the Milepost.

. The Alaska Ferry System has an excellent web site, www.FerryAlaska.com, I used it to plan my stops and get an idea on cost as well as amenities on board. When it came time to firm reservations and purchasing my ticket, I was overwhelmed by all the choices. I got ideas talking with others and thebest was to use a travel agent who was Alaskan to plan my ferry schedule. I highly recommend Bonnie.  

Bonnie Johnson
Assistant Manager
The Travel Connection
PO Box 645
Haines, Alaska 99827
800 572-8006 

She planned my trip so that I wasn’t getting on and off in the middle of the night. I had decided to take my Trek off at each town and stay 2 to 3 days. I had thought of this as a once in a life-time trip and I was going to see everything. She knew that I would want a cabin one the first leg from Bellingham, WA to Ketchican AK. It’s 30 hours and one full night. There are showers available without a cabin but sleeping on the floor in the movie lounge or in a lawn chair on the outside deck for overnight wasn’t me. We did plenty of that on the other legs of the trip. The cabin was $300.

We sat on the top bunks part of the time and watched for FINS going by, That was a blast. Up in the forward observation lounge we met so many other binocular clad adventurers to hang out with and the view was.....unreal.

Many of us had books along, few were read. The water, the land, it was so close, just a stones throw away. Each bend had something, a whale, of course, but waterfalls and icebergs and glaciers and eagles ............wow. And then the towns, each one is so different from the others, with different history and flavor. We joined the American Legion for Memorial Day pancakes and ceremony, another place we played bingo with all 13 native women regulars. Sitka, wow it’s Russian. Our ferry was part of a rescue of a shipwrecked man. I loved it. At each town we drove to the end of the passable roads. We camped for $7 or $10 at state campgrounds and some places parked in the ferry parking lot overnight. On the last leg from Juneau to Haines we were on the 2 day old "fast ferry".

The trip from Bellingham to Haines was 15 days total. And the total cost was $2,300, that included one adult, 28 foot motorhome, one cabin for first leg, 2 pets. At each stop there were up to 6 cruise ships worth of people. They would be there in the mornings and depart between 2 and 4 pm. They did not interfere with our trip since we had theTrek and could get further than 6 blocks from the pier. I would not take a regular cruise on the inside passage for a couple of reasons. They cannot go through a good portion of the passage so they are cruising on the "outside", where the seas can be rough and the view a ways off. Also they are always in a crowd. The cruise ships also own or are affiliated with most of the close in gift shops. We were able to get to the locally owned shops. Juneau was a night mare of people, luckily we had come in during the afternoon and seen some of it before it was invaded the next morning with 6 ships. And then we escaped to the most perfect bay 16 miles to the end of the road.

Things of note: I had my 2 pets seen in WA for the ferry paperwork, it wasn’t within 14 days of departure and I was lucky they let us on. There was a one time $50 fee for the pets. Several times a day there is a car call were you are allowed on the car deck to feed and exercise your animal and "walk"

them. Propane tanks are sealed off, I put a block of ice in the freezer and the fridge, it worked great. Don’t take a lot of food. You will be able to get what you need. Someone convinced me not to take my car along and they were so right. It has to be driven on the ferry separately and if they drive it on they charge extra. I would have never used it and it would have been in the way. I took a shotgun and was glad I did, no handguns allowed in Canada and I was driving back through BC. I did pay $50 for a one year gun permit in Canada. I didn’t use it but having it along was reassuring. I regret not buying more seafood in Petersburg, I was thinking it would be available all along and it wasn’t. We got off at Haines to drive to Anchorage, WE SHOULD HAVE LEFT THE TREK THERE AND WALKED BACK ON THE FERRY TO SKAGWAY FOR A FEW HOURS, instead it was a long swing out of my way to stop there on the way driving through BC and could have been easily seen in a day. Although I did get to Skagway on Labor Day weekend with the last cruise ships of the season and the $42 shirts I had admired all summer were half price, that was nice. I took a sightseeing flight out of Skagway over Glacier Bay......wow, I shutter to think I almost didn’t. The price was about $120, I paid $200 for a flight at Mount McKinley and both were the best money I spent.

I was fortunate enough to have the entire summer in Alaska, I know most people don’t have that much time, I am so lucky. I had my cousin along for the inside passage and she had been to Alaska 6 times and LOVES THE INSIDE PASSAGE THE MOST. And now so do I.