The Cleaver Rule

Here is a picture of our site at Swan Bay RV Resort, a nice park along the US side of the Thousand Islands near Alexandria Bay in New York State.

Site number 202. Arguably the best site in the park. Nice corner lot, right on the waterfront.

This was our view:

We paid about $150 Canadian per night at this sight. Definitely expensive however the Swan Bay RV Resort website makes the following claim:

Swan Bay Resort is the premier resort community designed with the discriminating traveler in mind. Residents and visitors of our luxury resort will enjoy: Resort-style pool; Exclusive marina access; Expansive river views seen from throughout the resort; Close proximity to the Canadian border and all that the 1000 Islands Region has to offer.

​Swan Bay Resort is your destination location for great times and luxurious living! Our gated community offers fantastic views of the St. Lawrence River, close proximity to all the attractions of the 1000 Islands Region, best-in-class amenities, and four-star service. This translates to some of the best guests and accommodations in the northeast.

So was it a premier resort? Almost.

Here is a shot of our site from the rear. To the right of our coach, in site number 201, was a travel trailer.

Looks okay though. Slideout on the service pedestal side and access door to the trailer on site 201’s patio side (outside the frame on the right).

It was a bit odd to see them pull in. Travel trailers are fine for back in sites and pull through sites. I was surprised that they were able to reserve this pull in site for their rig.

But pull in they did.

There wasn’t much room for their pickup truck to pull the trailer up onto the concrete pad and find a way to get the truck back out of the site. They managed. The grass was wet and soft. Lots of damage to the front of the site from the tires of their pickup truck.

The following evening at around 8pm there was quite the excitement on site number 201. A thunderstorm had entered the area and it was raining heavily. For roughly an hour or so, our neighbours proceeded to move their trailer out and reposition their rig as if they were now in a back in site. In the pouring rain. They seemed frantic.

Why did they decide to move their trailer at that moment?

And what did that mean to us?

For $150 Canadian a night, we were now sharing our patio with site number 201.

Apparently another travel trailer, also on a waterfront pull in site, had been told by management that they had to back in and use the patio opposite their entrance door side. They complained to management that the travel trailer in site number 201 had “pulled through” when they had been told that they could not do the same on their site.

Management then apparently told the folks in site number 201 that they had to reposition their trailer or leave the park.

Well, we were not all at happy about having to share our patio side. We asked management to request site number 201 use the patio opposite their entrance door so that we did not have to share our patio. They refused. We asked management to move us to another waterfront site alongside some other Class A vehicles. Management refused. We were told that all of the waterfront sites were booked (which was not the case).

Management did provide us credit for one night’s stay for the inconvenience. However, we were not looking for a discount. We had paid a premium price for a site with what we thought was a dedicated patio.

We spoke with the people in site number 201 about how we would go about sharing the patio and they assured us that they would be at another site for most of their stay. And sometimes they were.

As we checked out on the Friday, management told us that they had put in a new rule. They named it the Cleaver rule. Effective immediately, all of their pull in sites would be restricted to Class A, B and C motor coaches only.

I went on their site today and sure enough, the Cleaver rule is in effect. Their waterfront sites are now MOTOR COACH ONLY (their emphasis).

When we had booked the site, there was no mention that we might have to share a patio side with a neighbour. If that had been the case, we would have opted for a different site where we wouldn’t have to share the patio.

Other than this incident, our experience at Swan Bay was fine. Great waterfront views. Excellent Internet. Good services at the site. I would definitely go back and I would also book the same site assuming that we wouldn’t have to share the patio.

So Many Manuals, So Little Space

50 manuals. All in one place. All easy to find.

I guess that was the vision behind Newgle, Newmar’s knowledge base. I was hoping I could ditch the huge collection of manuals and just rely on Newgle. Unfortunately, Newgle was hit and miss for me. Some manuals were available. Some were not. Some links pointed to current content. Some did not. The user experience was, well, a bit dated. Good effort but not particularly well implemented.

I set about putting all of my core manuals online myself. A complete digital reference library for all of the systems in the coach.

I used Evernote and created a notebook titled Newmar Dutch Star Manuals. I scanned some of the content from paper. I copied some of the content from a few CDs in the Newmar folder. I downloaded some of the content from Newgle. And I downloaded other content directly from manufacturer websites.

Evernote includes all of the rich functionality that I need in a digital filing cabinet. I keep a local copy of the digital manuals on my laptop and I have a copy in the cloud. Very easy to tag and search notes.

No need to take up precious cargo space with a large collection of paper manuals.

I had moved to a paperless household system, with the exception of a handful of documents, several years ago. Evernote, along with the Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner, was my tool of choice then and it is today. Works well for this type of application.

Bubble

From the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association:

RV Shipments Surging in 2017 to Highest Level Ever Continued Growth Expected for 2018, a Record 9th Straight Year

The recreation vehicle (RV) industry’s shipments will reach 472,200 units in 2017, the highest annual total since the data has been collected, and a 9.6% increase from the number shipped last calendar year, announced Frank Hugelmeyer, President of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

According to a new forecast presented today by Hugelmeyer at RVIA’s Committee Week luncheon, RV shipments are expected to reach even greater heights in 2018, with wholesale production projected at 487,200 units.

Shipments totaled 120,866 in the first quarter of 2017, an increase of 11.7% from 2016. This represented the highest shipment rate of any quarter since 1981, with the monthly totals rising throughout the quarter for all types of RVs. The quarterly gains were widespread, with type B and C motorhomes up by more than 30% from the previous year, and conventional and fifth-wheel travel trailers up by 10%. Shipments of folding camping trailers and truck campers fell 10% from 2016.

“Our industry is in an era of unprecedented growth,” said Hugelmeyer. “We are poised to record an eighth consecutive year of shipment gains, mainly due to product innovations that appeal to retiring baby-boomers as well as younger buyers. The recession is in the rearview mirror. This is a new era for the RV industry.”

Obviously I am encouraged to see so much growth in the RV industry.

But is it a good thing?

RV Daily Report has started an OpEd series by Greg Gerber titled the RV Industry Death Spiral:

I have come to realize the RV industry is in a death spiral.

The current business model is simply unsustainable and the professionals working in the industry either:

  • Know what’s going on, are in denial, and remain hopeful the problems will simply fix themselves.
  • Don’t want to know what’s going on and keep their heads firmly planted in the sand ignoring many very obvious signs.
  • Are aware of the problem, know it won’t end well, but are simply choosing to ride the wave as long as they can.

Greg Gerber, having covered the industry since 2000, makes the following point about the death spiral:

Consumers are frustrated beyond words over product quality and customer service. Every single day I hear about another issue involving a new or experienced RVer. RV owners are seething over the finger-pointing response they receive when attempting to get problems addressed.

Well, our experience with Newmar has been great. Excellent customer service from the company and excellent customer service from our dealer. We are not frustrated beyond words over product quality and customer service. That said, there is obviously a gap in terms of the level of quality of a high-end BMW at $100,000 against a Newmar Dutch Star at nearly $500,000 (Canadian) against say a Prevost coach at nearly $3 million (Canadian). Overall, we are fine with the level of quality against the cost. We love our coach and we expect to get many years of enjoyment from operating our coach.

Perhaps a better context is the expectation a consumer brings into the discussion. The inevitable tradeoff between cost and quality. A cheaper RV is going to trade cost against quality. There really isn’t much choice.

Greg does make an excellent observation about the industry:

… two firms control about 72 percent of the entire RV market. With Thor’s acquisition of Jayco last Friday, that number is now up to 83 percent.

Concentration of the manufacturing to a limited number of firms is rarely good for consumers. Inevitably, an oligopoly or a de facto monopoly will seek to maximize profits usually at the expense of the consumer. Innovation, product quality, customer service all become secondary considerations when there is such a lack of competition.

I hope Newmar continues to remain a viable, independent company.

Big Rig Map

I came across this big rig map during one of my searches on Google. Pretty cool interactive map and should prove helpful when we are travelling stateside.

I was looking for a Class A only site in Canada similar to the ones like this one.

I haven’t found any. I’m beginning to think that they do not exist in our country.

Warranty Service

Our coach came out of storage last week and we took the Castaway over the the dealer for some scheduled service and warranty items.

This was our list:

Warranty Items

1. Kitchen Sink Leak: drain pipe leaks where drain meets down pipe immediately underneath the sink.
2. Loose Fabric Trim: fabric trim by pantry drawer leading into bedroom has come loose in a couple of areas.
3. Cracked Floor Tile: cracked floor tile driver side behind the recliner that is closest to the kitchen galley.
4. 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.
5. Winegard Rayzar Digital TV Antenna: Unit is producing an E3 error during operation (motor movement error).
6. Sofa Bed Latch: Latch for inflating sofa bed doesn’t stay closed when inflating.
7. Passenger Side Basement Door: When door side slideout is open, first basement door rubs bottom of slideout (door out of alignment).
8. Front Wheel Vibration: At highway speed, roughly 100km and above, front exhibits a vibration that is characteristic of unbalanced wheels.
9. Driver Side Fuel Cover: Missing clearcoat?

Technical Service Bulletins

1. 467 RSB – Recall 16V 826: Power Steering Fluid Leak (potential fire hazard)
2. 472 TSB – Slideout Motor Mounting Bolts (under-torqued). We hear loose mounting bolts on both front slideouts (Full Wall Slideout and Off Driver Slideout) while driving the coach.

Other

1. Trim Edge: Trim Edge popped off door side woodwork. Small piece of trim was placed beside the passenger seat in front of coach.
2. Service of Coach: As required (fluid levels, lubrication, etc).
3. Coach Detailing

The service team at the Hitch House has been hard at work on the coach. We received some good news with respect to the potential fire hazard recall item. Freightliner inspected the coach and our build was fine. We did not have the issue and no remediation work was required.

Given the overall complexity of the coach, we are pleased that we have not experienced a substantial number of issues after our first year of ownership.

One negative though. The detailing team is backlogged and unable to work on our coach.

I will have to do the detailing work myself, which I had done last year. Very time consuming.

I ordered some new product from McKee’s. Lots of positive press on their RV specific products. Once the coach comes home, I will be hard at work detailing the Castaway for the 2017 touring season.