Bought our LeSharo and drove it home…almost

On Saturday, we bought a LeSharo motorhome from a really nice guy in Sylmar, CA.

What is a LeSharo you ask?  Well, according to my wife, it’s the ugliest motorhome ever made.  I think that is perhaps a little harsh, but it certainly isn’t “beautiful” buy any stretch of the imagination.  Here’s a picture of one (not mine – this one looks much nicer):

Inside, it’s a marvel of space-saving ingenuity (click on images to zoom in):

One of the things that was important to me in this purchase was price, size, and mileage.  It had to be affordable, it had to be small and preferably fit into the parking structure at work (8’2″ clearance), and of course who wants to send more on gas than is absolutely necessary. This unit is 21 feet long, so it fits into a standard parking space, just like an oversized van.

So, we get on the road, stop at a little hole-in-the-wall coffee shop for some much needed nourishment, then head on down to Orange County.  I have noticed that some people post a lot about things that go wrong with their LeSharo, but ours was doing well.  Engine temp looked OK, and though the speedo doesn’t work, my GPS tells me my speed, so I have that covered.  All went well until driving up and down the hills on the 73 toll road.  Suddenly… bang, followed by this nasty machine-gun sounding rasping noise.  I pull over and shut it down (which too some doing, because frequently, you turn it off and remove the key, and the engine is still running!!)  After poking around in the really hot engine compartment, I found that the alternator was missing 1 of 2 bolts, and had rotated on the existing bolt so that the flanges near the belt beat against the side of the engine.  Voilla! My machine gun.  After waiting for things to cool down, and awaiting the arrival of some tools (well of course I didn’t bring tools WITH me, how silly!), I went to work.  I levered the alternator back into position, then Karen tried to tighten the bolt.  To no avail – it seemed stripped.  I knew there was a garage just down the highway, if I could only get it to limp there.

I rammed a screwdriver down the side from the top to prevent the alternator from swinging back and making contact with the engine.  It was really tough to get in there, so I figured it would hold.  Maybe.  I gingerly started the engine (no horrible noises), and drove slowly down the road again.  A really nice couple in a Rialta passed us, and pulled over to see if they could help.  The Rialta looks just like the LeSharo from the outside, but it’s the ‘next generation’ with a Volkswagen engine (instead of the Renault), and a few other upgrades.  It was very surreal to have another similar RV pull over, as you just don’t ever see these things on the road.

We made it to the garage, who couldn’t help us.  2 more garages later (with my trusty screwdriver still holding the engine together), we found one who was not only open, but willing to fix it.  The missing bolt, of course is no problem.  The existing stripped bolt might be difficult.  After poking around for a bit the mechanic determined that the bolt went through the bracket and screwed into a bushing (a fancy nut) on the back side.  Said bushing was in absentia.  So, we’ll have to wait until Monday for him to fabricate something.  While he’s at it, he said he will adjust the idle speed as it was so low that the idiot lights on the dash would all flash on and off.  Entertaining, but unnerving.

Oh yea, I stumbled on to the secret to removing the key without the engine continuing to run.  I found that if I increased the RPMs a bit, then turned it off, it would shut down normally.  For some reason, that doesn’t work when it’s doing it’s ultra-low idle thing.  Go figure.

So, it seems that we’re in good company with many out there who were unable to even get the vehicle home without some issue.  What on earth have we done?  Oh dear!