Friday, November 11, 2011

Finished in Red Bay

We’re Done! The short version: all the work is finished and we’ll be out of here tomorrow.

This picture shows the roof rails being replaced. The techs drove the motorhome into the work bay, after moving the outside mirror out of the way, so they could get it very close to the work platform. I’m glad I didn’t have that job!


They had to back it in to work on the passenger side, and we were locked in for about an hour when they did the first part of the job because the door was blocked by the platform. The tech climbed out through the window after backing in. The next day when they finished up that side, we decided to get out before getting trapped.


The total bill would have been over $7,000 if we’d had to pay for everything. Almost all the work was covered under warranty or good will, so we paid less than $600. 

Although there are definitely concerning problems with some of Tiffin’s motorhomes, we are very happy that they are still in business and they stand behind their products. Their philosophy for customer service is one I really admire. I’ve dealt with other RV manufacturers and have had some good and some bad experiences. This one was mostly good.

At the start of our ownership of the Phaeton I wholeheartedly recommended Tiffin’s motorhomes. Over the next 4 years, there have been a few times when I said it was hard to recommend a Tiffin product. My pendulum is now swinging back to the other side. While I might not go out on a limb to recommend them wholeheartedly to others, but I can say I’ll definitely consider another Tiffin motorhome if and when we get ready to buy another one in the future. And for others my advice is: check out what kind of service RV manufacturers provide by joining an owners forum. There are no perfect RVs, so you WILL be getting customer service.

Now that the motorhome is done, we’re also happy we got the car fixed, with a new windshield and sunroof, dings front and back repaired and painted, all for less than the estimate and during the same time frame.

Don chose a Jeep Wrangler as our rental car while our Honda CR-V was in the body shop. It had a rougher ride, and was tall enough that it was hard for me to climb into. It’s also only 2-wheel-drive – we thought all Jeeps were 4WD! I don’t think we’ll be buying a Jeep anytime soon (or ever).


Here are the two cars at the body shop where we transferred our stuff back to the CR-V and Don put the kayaks back on the roof racks. It was good to get our smooth-riding “Carrie” back, looking a lot prettier than she has for awhile! And we can see better out of the new windshield and sun roof.


As usual, Shadow enjoyed all the hours we spent in Tiffin’s customer lounge. He loved watching people and other dogs, getting lots of scratches behind the ears and occasionally “speaking” with the dogs.


Tomorrow we’re heading the wheels southeast toward Rainbow’s End (a 2-day trip through Vicksburg, MS), Escapees RV Club’s HQ, where we’ll link up with friends. Then we’ll go west to our lot in Benson, AZ. We haven’t made any plans for Thanksgiving or Christmas yet – they both seem far away although I know they’re not. We’re hoping to get together with Craig and Liz sometime soon, maybe for the holidays. In the meantime, we’ll be very happy to see Red Bay in our rearview window.

Finally, we are very thankful for all America’s veterans who have fought and continue to fight for the freedom we enjoy. On this Veteran’s Day, we salute you!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

More From Red Bay

Since I last wrote about our motorhome repairs, we’ve had 3 windows replaced, the Diamond Shield on the front replaced, and some structural reinforcement around the rear jacks. We are still on a waiting list for the roof cap rails to be replaced.

The windows are a minor thing that take very little time to replace. Tiffin recognizes there was a problem in their windows with moisture leaking into the air space between the double panes which causes them to fog up. So we think they are still covered even though they are out of warranty. These windows were replaced in less than an hour.

The Diamond Shield on our coach was determined to be ‘bad’ and needing replacement by Igor last year, and he said he’d put it on our record that it would be replaced at our convenience, under the 3-year warranty, because we didn’t have time to get it done then. Igor is no longer here, and Barry couldn’t find any such note on our record. Still, he did replace the bad parts at no charge.

First, the old film was removed by softening it with a heat gun and lots of patient pulling and pealing.


Next, the surface was cleaned with a solvent and prepared for the new film.


Chrome pieces were taped off and the new film was applied.



In discussing a leveling problem with a fellow Tiffin owner since our last Atwood jack was replaced, we were advised to talk with the jack experts a few bays down. David, one of the service techs, came by to check things out with us. When we described the problem, he immediately knew that we had a structural problem with the rear of the coach, where the floor is attached to the chassis frame. He put us on a list to get into his bay as soon as possible.

We thought, “Oh no, not another waiting list!” But we got a call the next day, went in right away and were finished in about 3 hours. It was strange to see our home-on-wheels up on lifts.


David showed me where the weaker structural members were being replaced by stronger ones, and where a second beam was being added behind each rear wheel. They also discovered that the right rear jack was placed in the wrong spot and was having to travel farther to level the coach, so it was repositioned correctly. All this work was covered under the 10-year structural warranty.

Now, the only remaining work to be done is the cap rails. Because we arrived for service without an appointment, those with appointments get serviced first. We hope to get in tomorrow or Thursday for this work.

In the meantime, we had a chance to meet Bob Tiffin, company founder.


We had a nice chat about what the company has done to eliminate the problems that we (and others) have experienced in their current production. He apologized that we’ve had to come to Red Bay and spend so much time waiting for service. He said they are considering adding another building with several more service bays and expressed how much they want to keep their customers happy. That has been the ‘mantra’ of this man since he founded the company almost 40 years ago, and is being continued by his family as they carry on running the business.

Of course, having to spend a month of our time in Red Bay can’t be reimbursed, but we understand the situation. And the fact remains that there are no perfect RVs. We just hope this kind of delay never happens again.

Yesterday we met a delightful couple, Mark and Chris. Their blog, Phaeton Place, is one I’ve followed for a couple of years. We were both in Red Bay a few weeks apart last year, but we managed to meet up this time. The four of us had dinner at Gill’s Grill and had a nice time getting to know each other.