Newmar at the Hershey RV Show

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Our first day at the Hershey RV show focused on coaches. The crowds were light and it made it easy to spend time on the models that we wanted to see.

Of course we wanted to spend time at the Newmar section of the show. And, much to our surprise, we bumped into John and Michelle from Newmar.

Not that we had ever met them before. No, we met them through this video:

We had watched this video dozens of times while we were waiting for our coach to be built and delivered. When we saw them in real life, it was almost as though we were meeting some old friends.

They were both very generous with their time and both really nice people genuinely interested in our ownership experience.

We also made some new friends in one of the Dutch Stars, Jake and Lydia, a wonderful couple from Pennsylvania. They own a 2015 Dutch Star and we began sharing a lot of stories about our ownership experience, the differences between Canadians and Americans, the American election as well as a number of other topics. Another couple joined in, Lynn and Debbie, and, before we knew it, a couple of hours had passed.

This was one of the highlights of our day. I’m not sure if we will connect again with Jake and Lydia, I hope that we do, and I am not sure if Lynn and Debbie elected to purchase a Dutch Star. I do know that great conversation with delightful people is an enriching experience.

Window Shopping at the Hershey RV Show

Our plan was to attend the Hershey RV show Friday and Saturday.

We arrived on Friday to a pretty quiet day at the show. We were there from 10am until about 7pm. Long day but we had a lot of fun.

I’ll spend a bit of time posting about our window shopping first. The Hershey RV was our opportunity to relook at a number of coaches and to see if we had any tinge of buyer’s remorse. The short answer? None whatsoever. Although there was one coach that was very tempting.

There are four coaches that compete very closely: Entegra, Tiffin, American Coach and Newmar. Sure, there are other coaches from Thor, Fleetwood and Winnebago, but realistically, those four coaches would be at the top of our shopping list if we were looking to buy this year.

Having lived in the Castaway since June and having run the coach on several long road trips, we have more than a bit of a feel for the Newmar product. We love it and if we were to make a purchase decision today, we would still go with the Newmar Dutch Star. It is a wonderful coach and the Newmar support has been terrific.

Entegra was a strong candidate for us last year. Going through the coaches at the show this year, I could see why. The Entegra products offer a lot for the dollar. Now, I could nitpick on a number of items with the Entegra coaches, which is true for all of these coaches as not one is perfect, but the main issue for us was the floorplan. We could not find a floorplan we really loved in a 40-foot coach in the Entegra line. I’m not sure what impact the Thor acquisition may have on the Entegra line. Most M&A activities are conducted to build scale and lower costs. I guess we will have to wait and see what, if anything, this acquisition might due to the Entegra customer base. What that acquisition concern us if we were buying this year? Hard to say.

For us, the Tiffin line was nice but not to our liking. Again primarily due to floorplans in a 40-foot coach. We had quickly ruled their products out of the running last year when we were going through our finalist list. The one and only dealer in Ontario, McPhail’s of Harriston, was a significant distance from our home. And then there was a lot of online feedback about required trips to Red Bay, Alabama to deal with warranty items.

As we went through the Entegra and Tiffin coaches, we were reassured in our decision to buy the Castaway from Newmar.

That said, the American Coach products were very impressive. We really liked the American Dream. Beautiful coach and a really nice floorplan albeit at 42 feet and just a wee bit more expensive than the Dutch Star. Okay, maybe a lot more expensive. Very nice coach.

Oh, and I did find my Basecamp at the show. Such a cool little travel trailer.

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Lots more to share about the Hershey RV show so stay tuned.

Mirrors

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Being able to work with the mirrors of our coach has been a bit of a learning experience. Seeing what is happening around the coach is critically important. It took me a bit of time to learn the best way to position and adjust our mirrors.

The mirror on the passenger side of our coach extends in front of our motorhome.

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Apparently, most coaches have this mirror set incorrectly.

The best way to check is to stand in front of the coach and look down the passenger side. The inside of the head of the mirror should look like it is just touching the coach. When it is set flush to the side of the coach, you get the best overall view. When we received our coach, our mirror was set in too far.

The mirror on the driver’s side of our coach is swung around to the back.

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A number of Dutch Star owners do not like this look. They think it lacks symmetry and some people have rotated the mirror forward. The driver’s side mirror is on a short arm so I am not sure how well it would truly balance the look of the coach. I also wonder whether the corner post would get in the way when positioning the mirror properly. I suspect that Newmar went with the short arm for a reason: to maximize visibility and to give the driver’s side a bit more maneuvering room.

My driver’s side mirror remains swung around to the back. The mirror is aligned in the same fashion as the passenger side mirror so that when I look at the mirror from the front, it looks as though it is just touching the coach.

With the mirror heads positioned properly, there are a few additional adjustments.

With the flat part of the mirror, I move it until I can just make out the side of the coach along the inside edge. I do not need to see very much of the side of the coach with my flat mirror. I adjust the flat part of the mirror so that I can see the horizon at about one quarter of the way down. I do not need to see a lot of sky when driving.

With the convex part of the mirror, I adjust it so that I can see out horizontally to the ground and the side of the coach.

I’m still learning how to drive confidently with the mirrors. I use them far more frequently that I would ever use the mirrors of a car. And that makes them far more important for driving safely.

What’s Next?

PlanningAhead

We are still 12-18 months before I retire and we can begin our travel adventures. That does not mean that we won’t be traveling before then. We have already planned a number of trips.

We will be heading down to the Hershey RV Show for a few days later in September. Looking forward to taking in North America’s largest RV show. We have booked an executive site at the Lancaster/New Holland KOA which is located about an hour’s drive from the RV show. I guess we should have booked the site a bit earlier.

Not sure what to expect at this KOA. Lots of very mixed reviews and some very highly charged comments about the owners. You can read the reviews here. I guess we will find out whether we love it, hate it or tolerate it.

A few weeks later, we will be heading out a bit closer to home. We will be spending some time at Shamadon Resort in Ayton, Ontario. Unlike the Lancaster/New Holland KOA, Shamadon gets stellar reviews. We’ll see how it compares to some of the other sites we have visited in Ontario. Should not be too hard to exceed the KOAs we have stayed at in our province.

Towards the middle of October, we will have to take our coach to our dealer to work on a few items and to prepare the coach for winter.

For 2017, we have a few trips already on the books. In April, we will be taking the coach to the Newmar factory in Nappanee, Indiana. We’ll spend a week. In May, after our son has finished his first year at university, we are planning to head down to Fort Wilderness at Walt Disney World. Our original plan was to start our travel adventures in our coach at Walt Disney World. Better late than never.

We are members of Newmar’s Kountry Klub and the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia, Missouri will be the site for the 2017 International Rally. The rally begins on Monday, October 2nd, and ends on Saturday, October 7th. They will have 600 sites that are 50 amp full hookup. We will register early for that trip and, possibly, begin our full-time travel adventures then. Either that, or the coach will go back into storage for another winter until the retirement date is a reality.

Not Enough Air

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We had to replace a bad tire on our travels to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan last month. That tire, located on the front driver’s side, now checks in at 101 PSI cold. The tire on the other side of the steer axle checks in at 110 PSI cold.

My sense of balance requires both tires to be at the same pressure: 110 PSI cold.

No problem. On our way to the Flying J a few nights back, we planned to check the pressures running hot and level the driver’s side to match the passenger’s side.

Only I did not have enough air from the air pump.

Frustrating really.

I took the air hose, connected it to the tire valve, and waited. Not long, probably 10 – 20 seconds. I had no idea how quickly the tire pressure would change but when I checked, it had not changed at all.

I spent a bit longer, perhaps a minute or so. Checked the tire pressure. And still no change.

I tried 5 minutes. No change in tire pressure.

I then went to the Flying J counter to settle the fuel and dumping charges and to ask them about the air pump. It was working except that 115 PSI was the max. And, as the heat had increased the tire pressure on the driver’s side from 101 PSI to 111 PSI, I was trying to get the tire up to 120 PSI to match the level on the passenger’s side.

With a 115 PSI air pump, that was not going to happen in my lifetime.

They told us to go into the trucker area and use those air pumps.

We made our way over to the trucker area. We are basically the same size as a big diesel bus so we were not entirely out of place. Just mostly out of place. There were at least a dozen lanes and every lane was full. We queued behind one tractor trailer. He pulled out of the lane and stopped about 50 feet or so in front of the pumps.

We pulled in and got to work on the front tire.

Same exact experience as before. Could not move the tire pressure north of 115 PSI.

Time to leave. Except for one little problem, the tractor trailer still stopped about 50 feet or so in front of us. No way out.

I had to do something that I did not really want to do, namely, back the coach out of the pump lane. Lorraine stepped out to spot and we figured out a way to retreat without impacting a truck.

I had no idea as to how to exit the trucker area. It took us another 5-10 minutes of roaming around to finally break free of the Flying J trucker area. I am very sure that I entertained a few truckers as we drove in random patterns around the parking area looking for a way out.

Getting our own air compressor has suddenly jumped to the top of the must have list for our motorcoach.