Platinum Award

Our motorcoach dealership, The Hitch House, was honoured by Newmar for achieving a Platinum Service Award. John Summat, Newmar’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing and Matt Utley, Newmar’s Vice President of Service Operations were both on hand for the event.

The Hitch House was kind enough to extend an invitation to Lorraine and I to join the event and we had a chance to meet and chat with both John and Matt.

It was interesting to hear their perspective on the Canadian market for Newmar. John described the past five years as soft for Newmar in Canada which would be in sharp contrast to the explosive sales results for the industry generally in the United States.

For Canadians, the combination of our devalued currency, high taxes on personal income and consumption and a smaller population all factor into the decision-making for such an expensive purchase. Sites are limited to a season which, in most parts of Canada, runs only from May to September. Although there are lots of options for camping in Canada, we do not have the same range of options that you would see in the United States. For example, I’m not aware of a single Class A resort in Canada.

I shared those perspectives with John. Not that he hadn’t reflected on those challenges for Canada but it must seem odd that in one country, sales have experienced nine years of growth and in Canada, flat.

If the Canadian government continues to mishandle economic files, I would not be surprised to see the country go into recession. Doubtful that high-end coaches will be flying off the shelves anytime soon.

Oh well. We had a chance to walk through a King Tire, a New Aire, a London Aire and a Mountain Aire. All wonderful coaches.

We even had cake.

At 11 in the morning.

Retirement. LoL.

Congratulations to the team at The Hitch House. They have been great to work with from our experience.

Well deserved award.

Out Of Service

Our coach and our toad.

10 hours on the road today to drop the coach to the dealer for service. They will have the coach for about 6 weeks after which we will take it back and move in for an extended stay — close to 8 months before we come off the road end of April 2019.

We pulled the coach out of storage yesterday at 11am. I wasn’t sure if it would start as it had been sitting there for just over a year.

Turned over like a charm.

Checked the tires and they were all at pressure. 110 psi on the front axle, 90 psi on the back two axles.

Circle check complete, we moved the coach out to a staging area at our church. Large parking lot and an available 30 amp power source.

Gave the coach a thorough clean on the inside.

Installed a Sonos surround sound in the bedroom. So much better than the Sony TV speakers.

Reactivated the Sirius XM radio. Programmed the GPS for the drive to the dealer. Enjoyed an hour or so of Netflix.

Then to sleep.

Up this morning at 4am.

I hate jet lag.

After an early breakfast, I spent some time cleaning the outside of the coach.

We left for the dealer at 9:30am and arrived to the service reception around 2:30pm. We tried to pick a window for driving through Toronto where the traffic would not be horrendous. Did not work. Toronto seems to be constantly congested.

Took about an hour to go through the various work order items with the service manager. We then faced the chaos of Toronto traffic to make our way back to Kingston.

Made it home by 8pm.

So tired right now.

My goal is to sleep in to at least 5am tomorrow.

Newmar Dutch Star Problems

I follow Mike’s blog, The Good, The Bad and the RV. He bought a brand new 2015 Newmar Dutch Star and only a year or so later he had traded it in for a 2016 Newmar Essex.

I’m not sure what motivated his decision to change coaches so quickly. He must have taken quite a hit on the depreciation cost of the Dutch Star even with a trade-in on a coach that was sitting on a dealer’s lot.

He did post about some of the issues he had in the first few months with the Dutch Star:

Our brand new Newmar Dutch Star had the following problems, which took months to fix:

  • The passenger seat had a spring poking out of it (this was noticed pre-purchase and the salesman assured us it was a simple seat replacement. It ended up taking 2 months because Newmar refused to replace the seat)
  • Both the mid and aft floor heat switches randomly turn off after being on a short time (sometimes as short as 30 seconds)
  • The Oasis burner turns on and off constantly, forever. The burner starts up, runs for 1 second, and then shuts off. 5-10 seconds later it repeats this…over and over until I turn the burner switch off.
  • The rear, drivers side leveler jack left a large puddle of hydraulic fluid when I last retracted it
  • The USB port in the dash is not working
  • The fresh water hose has developed blisters between the inner and outer layers and now leaks
  • The passenger sofa bottom fell off when putting the slide out and will not reattach
  • Windshield wiper fluid does not dispense when the button on the steering wheel is pressed
  • When playing DVD audio through the AV receiver (for surround sound), the sound cuts out
  • The sun shade on the passenger window no longer retracts
  • The night shade on the drivers window is coming down askew and sliding towards the front of the coach. It used to come down straight, but now, when unrolling, it ends up 3-4 inches away from where it started.
  • The front leveler jacks sound horrible when extending. Having owned this same system in another coach, this sound doesn’t seem normal.
  • The kitchen faucet is overly loose

Right after buying this unit, we took this coach on a two week trip. It then sat at the dealership for over 2 months! We then took it on a one month trip. Problems on the list still were not fixed so it went back to the dealer for almost another month. So the unit spent 3 of the first 5 months at the shop.

We have had our fair share of issues as well. This is our list.

First, the warranty punch list after the first few months of operating the coach:

  • Kitchen Sink Leak: drain pipe leaks where drain meets down pipe immediately underneath the sink.
  • Loose Fabric Trim: fabric trim by pantry drawer leading into bedroom has come loose in a couple of areas.
  • Cracked Floor Tile: cracked floor tile driver side behind the recliner that is closest to the kitchen galley.
  • MCD Day/Night Shades: MCD Day/Night Shades over dining area appear to require reprogramming. Day shade inoperative over main dining area window and night shades over main dining area window and small dining area window out of synch.
  • Winegard Rayzar Digital TV Antenna: Unit is producing an E3 error during operation (motor movement error).
  • Sofa Bed Latch: Latch for inflating sofa bed doesn’t stay closed when inflating.
  • Passenger Side Basement Door: When door side slideout is open, first basement door rubs bottom of slideout (door out of alignment).
  • Front Wheel Vibration: At highway speed, roughly 100km and above, front exhibits a vibration that is characteristic of unbalanced wheels.
  • Driver Side Fuel Cover: Missing clearcoat
  • Engine fault light triggered by outdate engine firmware
  • Driver side tire bulge

We had a couple of recalls including the infamous “your coach could catch fire” recall:

  • 467 RSB – Recall 16V 826: Power Steering Fluid Leak (potential fire hazard)
  • 472 TSB – Slideout Motor Mounting Bolts (under-torqued). We heard loose mounting bolts on both front slideouts (Full Wall Slideout and Off Driver Slideout) while driving the coach.

And, since then, a few other items which have not been resolved yet:

  • Side radiator lower grill almost disconnected from body of coach
  • Oasis hot water heater pump failure
  • Full wall slideout uneven — literally rises up a quarter inch or so after slides are deployed
  • Levelling jack leaking hydraulic fluid

Along with a few more new recalls that will have to be resolved:

  • 483 RSB – Recall 17V 420: Driver Passenger Shade
  • 486 TSB – MCD Remote Shade Motor Replacement
  • 488 RSB – Recall 17V 497: Battery Cable May Rub Against Frame (another potential fire hazard)
  • 493 PIB – Freightliner Lightbar: instrument panel odometer value may reset and no match the engine ECU odometer value

Well. Quite the list for such an expensive coach.

And, like Mike, our coach has to go to the dealer for an extended stay. Typically 3 to 4 weeks. Which isn’t an issue now since I haven’t retired yet. But when we plan to be in the States for about 6 months of the year, I don’t want to have the coach sitting at some dealer for a month or two.

We certainly expected some issues with our new coach. And given Newmar’s reputation as being one of the better manufacturers, it does seem a bit troubling to run into so many issues after only a few thousand miles on the chassis.

We hope to run the coach for many more years.

I hope this list doesn’t get much longer.

Air Conditioner Drainage Problem

If you are having trouble with the runoff from your air conditioner spilling over the top of your Dutch Star, then this might help.

Ever since we purchased our Dutch Star, we have had an issue with the front air conditioner. It would spill water on each side of the front cap. On the driver’s side, the runoff from the air conditioner would drip over the windows and leave nasty water marks that were really difficult to remove. On the passenger side, the runoff from the air conditioner would drip down both sides of the door and leave really nasty water marks on the finish.

Whenever it rained, water would run down from the roof on the front cap and, yes, you guessed it, leave nasty water marks.

I had read that it was important to keep the roof of the coach clean to prevent streaking. After sealing the roof in July, the front windshield stayed clean after a rainfall. But it did not make sense to me that the runoff from the air conditioner would spill over the rain gutter on top of the coach. Surely there must be a drain?

When the folks from Superior Coach Detailing did the wash and wax, they told me that they would remove debris from the drain gutters on top of the coach and that should allow the runoff to drain properly.

Well, there was a bit more to the problem than cleaning out the drain gutters.

It turns out that the Dutch Star has four drains from the gutters on top of the coach. On our model, two of them are located on each side of the front cap and two of them come down on the passenger side of the rear cap.

This is what the drain looks like:

It consists of a drain tube that is roughly an inch or so in diameter. That drain tube terminates with a pinched rubber hose which you can see in the picture above. I guess they pinch that part of the drain to prevent critters from crawling up the drain pipe.

For whatever reason, my front drains were not only pinched but they were put at a right angle and inserted into the overhang of the bottom of the front cap. So, much like crimping a garden hose, nothing was draining out of the tubes. The drain tube would gradually fill up, the rain gutter would gradually fill up, and the runoff from the air conditioner would spill out over the sides of the coach leaving nasty water marks.

I crawled under the front cap and straightened out the down tubes. A significant amount of water was then released immediately. Perhaps I should not have been as close to the down tube when that happened. The water did not taste very good at all.

And now? No runoff from the air conditioner spilling out over the top of the coach. The runoff drains through the down tubes as it should.

I’ve been told to check the drains at the top of the coach for any debris that might interfere with channeling the water from the roof to the ground. That makes sense.

And I’ve been told to check the pinched rubber hose to ensure that water is flowing freely through the down tube. And that makes sense.

Some people will even use an air compressor to blow out the drain pipe to clear any potential blockages. I would be very careful with that procedure and use very low air pressure as the drain tubes do not look that robust.

And, of course, none of this will be found in any manual for the coach. Thankfully there are forums like iRV2 to find some insight.

Balanced

“How do you jack up the front of your coach?” he asked me.

“I don’t know.” was my reply.

I called Newmar’s customer service. They told me to put a couple of 2x4s underneath the levelling jacks and manually push down. That would lift the front wheels up and, from their point of view, the only way to remove the tire without potentially causing damage to the front suspension system.

When we had a front tire changed last year, this was not the approach used by roadside assistance. They lifted the coach on a crossbeam that has a rather large sign on it. The sign says not to use a jack.

Hopefully he did no long term damage to the front suspension system of the coach.

Roadside assistance told me that the replacement tire did not need balancing. Well, it did. I could tell by driving the coach that the new tire was out of balance. Especially at speeds of around 60mph.

And now? All balanced. Just in time for our 11-hour drive to Petoskey tomorrow.