The Sun Bum

I came across this video clip on my YouTube feed. I believe it may have come from Jeff Krulik’s 1997 documentary: Ernest Borgnine On The Bus. The documentary chronicled the time Krulik spent in 1995 on tour with Borgnine as they drove across the Midwest in Borgnine’s 40-ft Prevost bus, The Sun Bum. He was clearly proud of his bus. Interesting to see how much has changed with motorcoaches over the years although the Prevost does hold up pretty well over time. Even with a “telephone” in the cockpit.

The Shakedown Trip

ShakedownTrip

The infamous shakedown trip.

That was one of the major objectives for taking our coach, the Castaway, out on an extended trip, to find any warranty issues with the coach.

The good news?

After putting almost 3,000 kms on the coach, we have only a few warranty items from the shakedown trip:

Exterior

  • Paint flaw on the driver’s side fuel tank cover
  • Missed silicone sealant under the passenger’s side mirror

Interior

  • Slight gap in a small section of tile grout (roughly half an inch)
  • Lift of a section of fabric trim on entrance door to master bedroom (about 10 inches of trim needs to be glued back into place)
  • Tile cracked under one of the recliners on the full wall slideout
  • Full wall slideout is not settling properly, out of level and requires adjustment
  • Kitchen sink is leaking

We will be taking the coach down to Newmar for a custom install of bedroom windows in the spring — we somehow missed that on our order — and perhaps we might have them address the warranty items then or we can work with our dealer on the warranty items before we put the coach into storage in the late September/early October timeframe.

We did have two other issues that occurred during our shakedown trip.

The Tire

It was unfortunate that we experienced a sidewall bulge on our first long trip with the coach. A sidewall bulge is an unsafe tire condition. Our dealer was very helpful in terms of how to best replace the tire and roadside assistance was clearly the most appropriate solution given our location. Our dealer worked with Coach-Net and they arranged for the service provider and covered the costs associated with sending a service provider out to our site in Petoskey, Michigan.

The service provider did not provide any warranty support and we are out of pocket $1,000 CAD to switch a new tire for another new tire. Lorraine is going to follow up with that service provider regarding warranty coverage and she will also follow up with our dealer. Hopefully we can get the tire covered under warranty.

The Engine Fault

We reached out to our dealer as soon as the engine warning indicator turned on. The dealer told us that we should be fine driving the coach on the yellow engine warning light. We also contacted Cummins as they are the warranty provider for the engine. They wanted me to run the diagnostic and identify the specific fault. The fault was SPN 3216 FMI 2 OC 1.

What I was told is that this fault code is set when the difference between the expected NOx ppm and the actual NOx ppm is greater than 200 ppm. The Cummins support person was concerned that this particular fault could lead to an engine shutdown.

I found out on the iRV2 forums that a number of Dutch Star owners have experienced this fault and, ultimately, the only fix is to update the software level in the engine. When we stopped at a Cummins dealer in Saginaw, Michigan, to resolve the issue, all they did was hook up a Dell laptop to the engine where they found the fault codes from when the coach had been built (they were never cleared) and the fault code that triggered the yellow engine warning light. They updated the engine software by connecting the laptop to a hidden port in the engine and once the update process was complete, the engine warning light was gone. The session at the Cummins dealer took less than 30 minutes.

Our coach was two versions back on the software. The technician was surprised that this had not been caught prior to delivery. Although the Cummins support person would not explicitly acknowledge the presence of a software bug, the technician in Saginaw told me that the initial sensitivity parameters set by the software needed to be “adjusted” to eliminate the fault and that could only be done by updating the software level.

Tomorrow I will share a few lessons that we learned in taking the coach out on a long distance trip across an international border.

Petoskey Motorcoach Resort Review

PetoskeyMotorCoachResort

First Impressions

We have not travelled far and wide so our first impressions are based on a handful of campgrounds. However, I know what I like and what I do not like. And Petoskey Motorcoach Resort? Lorraine and I loved this place. Not perfect but overall I would rate this park 9.5 out of 10.

A little bit about our expectations. We don’t mind paying more for a nice experience. This resort is on the expensive side of the ledger. If you are looking for a low cost site, this park is not for you. We paid $85 per night to stay here. We also enjoy a clean and calm environment with lots of space. This park is really not designed for kids. Yes, it has a swimming pool and a tennis court but it was clearly designed for, ahem, older folk. There is not much here for children. If you enjoy a quiet experience with some Class A coaches to keep you company, this place is for you.

No picnic tables. No fire pits. Petoskey is generally a more upscale park than most.

Getting into the Park

The Petoskey Motorcoach Resort is located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We had a long drive to Petoskey from our home in Canada and we took exit 290 from I-75. There were several hours of very rough roads on the Interstate but otherwise a very straightforward drive to the exit. The path to Petoskey will take you through some narrow winding roads in town and there can be a lot of traffic. This part of the drive kept me alert. US-131 to US-31 are the roads that you have to use to get to Petoskey. Heights were fine all along the way to the resort.

Pulling into the resort you will find a wide boulevard and an entrance that was clearly designed for big rigs. The office check-in was quick. They knew we were coming and they had our package ready for us. The package contained our passcode for the security gates, rules and regulations of the park and tourism brochures.

Sites

You will have two choices depending on the type of site you select: pull-in or back-in. The pull-ins, like the one we had, are the most expensive in the park. The pull-in sites are 1-24 and 66-73. That said, I would have been happy with most any of the sites on this resort. We wanted to be away from the clubhouse and away from the sites that backed on to US-31. We had site 4. The yellow sites, 1-16 are all nice. I also liked the purple sites, 45, 48-50, 55-57.

PetoskeyMap

Pros

Very quiet park catering more to Class A coaches and older couples
Beautifully landscaped with a high-end, private golf club feel
Generous lot size and expansive views

Cons

Not very many coaches on site and this may be why they recently opened the park up to RVs of all types
Odd mix of primarily Class As with a few fifth wheels and travel trailers — odd because the demographics of the park do not mix well. Most of the people we spoke with wanted a quiet, upscale experience and not a busy KOA experience.

We loved our time at Petoskey and we would definitely go back.

Castaway Release 2.0

ECMUpdate

Our yellow engine warning light has disappeared. Why? Because the coach needed a software update. Turns out our engine was two releases backdated. A new software patch resolved the isolated engine fault.

Our first shakedown trip identified a few minor issues although one was costly — a new tire. The engine control module software update was performed under warranty at no cost.

We have made it to the U.S. Border and we are staying overnight at the Port Huron KOA. We will be back home tomorrow.

Two Tired

Tire1

Well, I hope the second new tire will be covered under warranty otherwise it will be an expensive first long trip with the Castaway.

There was no doubt that parts of the I-75 in Michigan were in horrible condition and it could well have been a pothole that caused the sidewall bulge. Whatever the cause, we had no choice but to get the tire replaced.

Trying to get the tire replaced proved challenging. Lots of phone calls between ourselves, our dealer, Newmar, Michelin, assorted Michelin dealers in Michigan and, finally, our roadside assistance service, Coach-Net. Coach-Net got the job done and covered the cost of sending a repair truck right to our campsite.

With a tire on the back of the truck, Steve, our tire repair guy, got ready to work. First, all of the power tools.

Tire2

His first task was to position the tire jack. We did not have to pull our own jacks up and we did not have to bring our slides in. Nor did we have to unhook our services.

Tire3

Steve made the job look easy, way too easy. That tire and wheel weighs in excess of 100 pounds or more.

Tire4

For sure we would not get very far with this setup.

Tire5

Steve deflated and then removed the original tire from the wheel and mounted the new tire on the wheel all within about 10 minutes. He was even thoughtful enough to inflate the new tire.

Tire6

Then it was simply a matter of repositioning the wheel and making it secure.

Tire7

And now we have a coach that we can drive again. I sure hope we don’t have another event on the I-75 going home. I may complain from time to time about the highways in Ontario but they are as smooth as glass when compared to sections of the I-75 in Michigan.

Tire8

With the tire replaced, we can begin our journey back home. Bright and early tomorrow morning. Our first stop will be the Cummins dealer in Saginaw to get a software update for our Engine Control Module. From there, we will stopover at the Port Huron KOA before making our way home on Wednesday.