Dutch Star Entertainment Cabinet

From that to this:

If there was one area of our coach that was a constant source of frustration, it was our entertainment cabinet in the Newmar Dutch Star.

It was a mess. Once I added a few additional components, like a satellite receiver, Apple TV, a Logitech Harmony Hub and a couple of cooling fans, I had an equipment stack that was literally one piece of equipment heaped one on top of another stuffed into the cabinet.

Every time we hit a bump in the road, clang! Equipment jumped up and down.

Although the two cooling fans were relatively large, they could not keep up with the heat as the fans had no room to operate.

And why all of this trouble?

No shelves.

I’m not sure why Newmar made the cabinet so useless for audio visual equipment. The cable routing was inordinately complex, solely to allow the option of having two independent programming feeds to the two TV sets in the front of the coach. And yet, only one sound source for the AV receiver.

I finally got around to changing all of that this past weekend.

The first task was to empty the cabinet of all the equipment. That included the Winegard Satellite Antenna Controller, Sony Blu-Ray Player, Logitech Harmony Remote Hub, Bell Expressvu Satellite TV Receiver, two 1×4 HDMI splitters, an Apple TV, a Sony AV Receiver and two cooling fans.

What was left behind was a huge mess of cabling.

I simplified the wiring dramatically by opting for one HDMI source coming from the receiver and splitting that source to the two TV sets. Each TV set playing back the same content. All I needed to put back into the cabinet was one 1 input, 4 output HDMI splitter, not two.

There were 6 HDMI cables in the cabinet. All I needed were 2 — one to feed each TV set — and the other 4 were pushed back behind the wall. I can always pull them back if I ever need them (2 of them were to send output to the exterior TV set in the basement bay which we did not install on our coach).

The rest of the wiring was to feed the AV receiver. I replaced the Sony that came with the coach. In its place is a Pioneer slimline receiver. Not as powerful in terms of pure wattage but a better sounding unit with vastly better setup protocols for doing the on-screen programming to tune speakers and subwoofer.

I had replaced the stock subwoofer that came with the coach. It was stuck inside a kitchen cabinet and sounded awful. I picked up a small but mighty sub that fits nicely behind one of our recliners. Sounds awesome in the coach.

I had a friend build two nice shelves for the coach. I was able to place all of the equipment neatly in place with a vastly simplified cable plant.

The two cooling fans are now mounted on the outside of the cabinet grill. They pull the hot air out of the cabinet far more effectively than before. So much so that I will add a temperature probe as the fans no longer need to run continuously except, obviously, when heat conditions warrant the cooling.

All of the gear is velcro’d to the shelves so no more flying equipment when driving the coach.

And, everything is neat and tidy in the cabinet.  The Pioneer receiver and Apple TV are both wired via ethernet to the back entertainment cabinet in the bedroom which is where I have a router and a NAS installed.

Very pleased with how it all turned out.

The Outpost

Not really.

The dealer for our coach, the Hitch House, is located in Barrie, Ontario and, while the city itself is well north of Toronto, it seems to be firmly in the grasp of the Greater Toronto Region. It is a tough drive through some of the most heavily congested roads in all of Canada.

We dropped the coach off last weekend and it will be with the dealer for about three weeks. We will pick the coach up sometime during the week of May 7th.

We have a few outings planned in May including our very first Newmar Kountry Klub outing with the Muskoka Ramblers. The rally will be held May 26-28 at the Milton Heights Campground.

Looking forward to getting our coach back home though. Here is where we left the Castaway.

Newmar Recall 2016-559

A brand new 2016 Dutch Star 4369 caught fire last September. And now we know why:

Fortunately we have had our coach in storage since October. Newmar had an erroneous postal code for our address and we only just received the notice in the mail last week roughly 6 weeks after the date of the recall notice.

Thank heavens we were not traveling south with the coach this year. Despite the number of “coulds” in the recall notice above, a coach did catch fire. If we were snowbirds, we would have been on the road extensively during the latter part of 2016. Our coach could have caught fire.

We have booked our service appointment for when we take the coach out of storage in April.

I am a wee bit concerned about the 4-hour drive to the dealer from the storage facility. We are going to check with Newmar and Freightliner to confirm if the coach is safe to drive that distance with this defect.

Newmar Recall Notice

Photo by Josh Reyes, Daily Press.

We follow several Newmar groups online. One of them being a Facebook group for Newmar motorhome owners. A member shared her story about a fire on their 2016 Newmar Dutch Star 4369. Based on her incident, many of us were concerned that the 2016 Dutch Star might have an engineering fault that could lead to a fire. And we were right to be concerned.

Here is the recall notice:

Newmar is recalling certain 2016-2017 Dutch Star and Ventana motorhomes manufactured January 22, 2016, to November 7, 2016, equipped with Cummins ISL engines. These vehicles, built on a Freightliner chassis, have a power steering hose that may be routed incorrectly, and, as a result, the hose may rub against the power stud on the starter motor, possibly causing electrical arcing and a power steering fluid leak.

Electrical arcing in the presence of leaking power steering fluid can increase the risk of a fire.

Newmar will notify owners, and Freightliner dealers will reroute the power steering hose for proper clearance, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin January 8, 2017. Owners may contact Freightliner customer service at 1-800-547-0712 or Newmar customer service at 1-800-731-8300. Newmar’s number for this recall is 16V 809.

I contacted my dealer and the Canadian rep for Newmar. Neither one had heard about the recall although they were very prompt in following up. I received the following from my dealer:

You have a great safety net looking after you and your coach. I have checked with both Newmar, and Freightliner concerning the issue that your friend had in regards to his Dutch Star.

I spoke with Freightliner, and the representative coincidentally had just finished speaking with Karl at Newmar. My understanding is that he will be contacting you by phone shortly.

Currently, Freightliner is determining the affected chassis serial numbers. If your coach falls into this serial number range you will most definitely receive a letter by mail from Freightliner and/or Newmar.

I also heard back from directly from Newmar. This recall campaign will begin early January. We’ll find out then if we have a potential fire hazard in our coach.

We continue to be impressed with the customer support that we have received with our coach. I have a bit of a concern with the potential for an engine fire as considerable heat is generated in that part of the coach. I am considering an engine fire suppressant system for the Castaway if just for the peace of mind.

Six Months

We purchased the coach in October of 2015 so it has been a bit longer than six months. We took delivery of the Castaway in June of 2016.

She currently sits in a climate controlled storage facility not too far from home. We miss her. But, before we know it, April will soon be here and we will be back on the road with the Castaway.

Our experience with our Newmar Dutch Star has been terrific. Not surprisingly, I gave Newmar excellent ratings.

Were there some areas for improvement?

Our warranty issues have been very minor. We actually expected more issues with a new coach. And perhaps more will come next year. So far, so good.

The misses are listed here just to remind me that there is always something to deal with when travelling and living out of a motorhome.

Engine firmware update

This one should have been caught prior to delivery. I should have asked the dealer if the engine firmware was current. It would have saved us some time and money. We found out about the firmware issue only after an engine warning light came roughly 1,500 kilometers from home. We had to lengthen our stay and find a dealer where the update could be applied. Nothing too serious but I had developed a comprehensive checklist for delivery and I did not even think about the firmware level on the Cummins engine.

Michelin tire warranty

The cheque is in the mail. Or so I have been told. We have been waiting since August to be compensated for a brand new tire that failed after a few thousand kilometers. Michelin may make a decent tire but they are not very good with their warranty program.

Potential fire hazard

Now, don’t get the wrong idea. I will post on this particular issue in more detail later this week. There are some Newmar Dutch Star coaches that are at possible risk of an engine compartment fire. We have been in contact with our dealer and with Newmar over a recall notice that will be coming out sometime in January of 2017. I keep very current on all things related to our coach and I found out about the potential recall notice before the dealer and before the Canadian Newmar rep. We will wait to see if our coach is impacted. We may not be. The point being that it is very important for us to regularly check-in on the Technical Service Bulletins and other safety notices related to our coach.

Locked in

We were locked in our coach when we stopped to refuel. We never thought that the sequence of unlocking the entry door mattered. However, we found out that if you attempt to open the door while it is still locked, well, you could find yourself stuck in your coach.

Our interactions with Newmar have been terrific. Their customer service has been outstanding. It has been over a year since we ordered the coach and six months since we took delivery.

We love the Castaway. We are thrilled with our motorhome and with the company that made it.