Thursday, June 17, 2010


As Rod said in a comment on an earlier post, “I would have never guessed there would be so much to do in Western Penn”.  We agree! 

Recreation of flood debris on the back wall of the museum - notice the leg and foot in the center. Besides our visits to the Flight 93 Memorial site in Shanksville and the Frank Lloyd Wright homes (described in my last two posts), we spent an afternoon in Johnstown, Pennsylvania at the Johnstown Flood Museum.  On May 31, 1889, the neglected South Fork Dam, 14 miles upstream of Johnstown, failed under a torrential rainfall (read the interesting story by clicking on the link above). 

The resulting flood caused the largest loss of civilian lives in the U.S. up until that time, 2,209 people (surpassed by the Galveston Hurricane in 1900 with over 8.000 lives lost).  Both the museum (in Johnstown) and the National Park Service Memorial (at the dam site) were interesting, but if you have time to visit just one site, the Museum is the one.  Their 26-minute documentary film won an Academy Award and is far superior to the lame melodrama shown at the NPS visitor center!

After Jackie and I discovered the appealing little town of Ohiopyle during our explorations of the Wright houses, we went back on Monday with Odel and Buddy.  The town of Ohiopyle is adjacent to (surrounded by) a state park of the same name, known for the Class I-IV whitewater rafting on the Youghiogheny River.  Where parking lots were packed full on Sunday, we found plenty of parking and few hikers on Monday.  It was a great day for hiking and the company couldn’t have been better!

River Rafters 3 friends watching the rafters far below. Jackie and Laure at the falls.

Rafters enjoying the whitewater.

Friends enjoying the rafters.

Jackie, Laurie, and the falls.

Fast forward to today, Thursday, time to move on after 8 fun days exploring the Highlands.  Our drive was short and (mostly) easy.  When we arrived and I turned on the water pump, we noticed water spewing from the pressure relief valve on our hot water heater (outside, fortunately).  Uh-oh. 

After a consultation with the helpful campground owner – who called an RV supply store for us and located a new pressure relief valve – we were on our way.  Back home an hour later, Odel installed the new valve (I know!  I know!  Can you believe it??  He is turning into a major DIY’er) and we turned on the pump.  AACK!  The new valve acted just like the old one, spewing water all over the side of the motorhome. 

Peaceful Youghiogheny River scene Hmmmmm.  To the computers!  A message thread on the Escapees forum described the exact problem, with an important clue… it only happened when the writer was using their water pump.  Blink! The light went on!  We hooked up to the water faucet, and the spewing stopped.

A “temperature and pressure relief valve” opens, releasing water, in one of two conditions: either the water temperature reaches 210 degrees (which we KNEW was not the case) or the pressure reaches 150 pounds (which we never dreamed was the case, running our water pump).  Apparently our water pump is malfunctioning (again!), running at too high a pressure. 

By the time we had driven to the RV supply store, installed the new valve, and figured all of this out, it was after 7 pm; we were tired of working on it, and hungry.  Odel fired up the grill, I nuked some fresh corn on the cob, and dinner was soon on the table. 

Tomorrow we’ll tackle the water pump problem.  Meanwhile, we’re an a wide open, mountain top campground we know we will enjoy, have just watched a beautiful sunset, and are ready to enjoy a restful evening.  All is well.


  1. 14 years ago, the day after I met my soon to be wife, we were standing on the top of the Ohiopyle falls when she lost a shoe and went diving after it, almost going over the falls. Fond Memories of that place... Oh and she destroyed the brakes on her car going down the big hill into the valley... LOL

    It is much more scenic than I would have ever imagined. Are you going through Pittsburgh? It is much prettier than in that movie Flashdance... haha.

  2. Water pump may certainly be the actual cause of the over-pressure, but wait. Does your rig have a pressure tank (AKA an Accumulator Tank)? These tanks usually have an air bladder inside which provides a cushion from the hydro-shock of the pump activating and allows for the draw down of a gallon or two before the pump comes on. When the tank fails, it fills completely with water. Signs and symptoms of a failed tank include the pump coming on as soon as you open the faucet and shutting off as soon as the faucet is closed; pressure relief valves opening and discharging whenever the pump is operating, burst pipe joints and leaking hose clamp joints (due to the over-pressure).

    So. If you have a tank, anticipate its replacement -- or at least a re-pressurization (refill with air). No tank and the water pump is a direct connect to your fresh water system, expect to replace the pump or pay someone technically able to rebuild the innards - the pressure relief port in the pump is plugged with foreign material or has a serious build-up of minerals.

    Best of luck with it. Save the old pressure relief valve as a spare.

  3. Hi, Wil, and thanks for your knowledgeable comment. We don't have an accumulator tank, so that is not the problem.

    We bought a top-of-the-line Shurflo variable speed 5.7 gal per minute pump several years ago. Shurflo has had to replace it abour four times - this time being number 5. We got so used to them malfunctioning within a year (this one is 6 months old) that we set up a pump "rotation". Odel took the over-pressure pump off this morning, and re-attached the standby pump.

    Shurflo is so used to dealing with the problems with these pumps that they don't even have you send the pump back any longer - just send the sticker off the pump that has the serial number on it, and they send a new one. Pathetic, but it works for us. We're sending the sticker in, and will have the new pump shipped to an address down the road.

    Until then, we'll use city water as frequently as we can.

  4. Wow. .what a bugger to have Sureflo having to keep replacing the pump. You think by now they would figure out what is wrong with that particular design on that model and take care of it! Glad you have an extra pump on board to put in it's place. That is something I think we should do too. Might not get a Sureflo though... LOL

    Karen and Steve
    (Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard