“It’s a good thing that you do your circle checks.”
So said Heidi, our service advisor at our dealer.
Being a bit of an OCD kinda guy, okay, a major OCD kinda guy, I walk around the coach almost every day. I check the tire pressures frequently regardless of whether the coach has been driven or parked.
As we have been enjoying our stay at the Petoskey Motorcoach Resort, I also start the day with a bit of detailing to keep the coach looking nice. I generally do a quick pass with my detailing spray on the areas of the coach I can reach without a ladder.
I was cleaning the wheels of the coach when I noticed something on the front driver’s side tire.
A bulge on the sidewall, roughly six inches long, half an inch wide and rising up from the sidewall about one eighth of an inch. A bulge like this could easily lead to a front tire blowout.
How serious is a front tire blowout? I think this video says it all.
Our dealer is working with Newmar and Michelin to see how we can get ourselves back home safe and sound.
We expected a few issues with our first major trip and we have so far uncovered two: a required software update for an engine control module and a bulge in one of our tires.
We should hear back from our dealer later today. Hopefully we can settle the tire issue on site.
Here are a few photos from our stay at the Petoskey Motorcoach Resort. I’m hoping that these pictures will give you a sense of the place, a treasure in the upper peninsula of Michigan.
This is one of my favourite shots so far, a shot of Bob’s 2016 Dutch Star. He has a 4369 which looks almost the same as our 4002 — just a tad longer as it is a 43-foot coach. I caught his coach just as he was leaving the resort.
There isn’t a bad site in the park. I really like this one, site 45, with a large area to the patio side of the coach.
The premium sites face the various water treatments of the park. We were originally booked into site 5 below. However, our neighbours, all the way from Houston, Texas, loved this park so much that they extended their stay for a month.
We had to make do with site 4.
Let’s take a bit of a tour around site 4. Starting with the view from the inside of the coach. All windows open and every sightline is a great sightline.
This is what we look at in front of our coach.
And from our patio side.
I have been doing quite a bit of photography and I take my laptop and my camera outside. This is what my office looks like for post-processing, email and blogging.
I could get very used to this life.
This is our home for the week at the Petoskey Motorcoach Resort.
This is a small park with about 70 or so sites — although it seems to be only two-thirds full right now. It is a very quiet and relaxing property.
The resort is beautifully maintained and the landscaping details remind me of a high-end private golf course.
We have been here for a few days now and we are getting a feel for this part of the Upper Peninsula in Michigan. So far, we are very impressed with the area. Lots to see and do.
I’ll post a few more details about the resort over the next few days.
What was that sound?
Was it the GPS?
Was it one of the iPhones?
It was the coach. Specifically, a warning sound from the dash, an amber engine warning light.
It came on during our drive from Port Huron, Michigan to Petoskey, Michigan. We had perhaps three hours of driving left before getting to our site.
But then this light. This yellow light with an outline of an engine. What to do?
We were on the Interstate and there was no safe place to pull over and stop the vehicle. And I really was not sure whether it was safe to drive the coach. Amber means proceed with caution. A red warning light would be far more serious. At least, that was my thinking.
We called Newmar and our dealer. And both returned our calls promptly. Unfortunately both provided different answers.
Our dealer told us that there wasn’t anything to worry about. Yellow warning lights come on and they come off. Nothing serious. Newmar told us to connect directly with Freightliner. Freightliner told us to pull over and run a diagnostic check. Well, we couldn’t do that on the Interstate and, to be candid, I would rather be stranded 1,000 or so kilometres from our house in Canada at a beautiful resort than on the side of I-75.
Freightliner reluctantly agreed that we could probably get to our destination without blowing up our engine. We could then run the diagnostics and plan next steps from the Petoskey Motorcoach Resort.
We ran the diagnostics check.
The specific code that came up on our engine diagnostic was: SPN 3216 FMI 2 OC 1.
I know. Helpful right?
The error code has something to do with the NOX sensors although I strongly suspect that it has a lot to do with a software bug in the Engine Control Module.
After a few calls between Freightliner and Cummins, I was advised to book an appointment at an authorized Cummins to get a software update for the engine.
It means having to stay an extra night in Petoskey as we couldn’t get an appointment until next Monday.
We were very glad to arrive safely at the resort. The engine did not blow up. We’ll see what happens on Monday.
We made it! From our home, across the U.S. border, to our first waypoint, Port Huron KOA.
The drive was almost six hours and trouble free. We stopped for fuel at the Flying J in Napanee, Ontario. Another stop for lunch at a service centre near Cambridge, Ontario. And then customs.
How I worried about customs.
This was our first time crossing the border with a motorhome. The first time crossing the border with our dog. I prepared all sorts of documents including the vaccination certificate for our golden retriever, reservation confirmations, and various proof of residency documents — just in case.
All we got? Three questions: how many people in the vehicle, where are you from, and do you have any groceries.
That was it. About a minute and we were on our way.
Our first overnight stop was at the Port Huron KOA.
The entrance into the park looks calm in this picture largely because I took the shot at around 9:00pm. When we arrived at around 5:00pm, it was very chaotic. People and RVs everywhere. This was one very busy KOA.
We had a super site for the evening.
The site looks quite large and it is. For a KOA. We had neighbours very tight to the driver’s side of the coach.
Because this park is very large and very busy it is not very peaceful. Lots of activity. For us, however, we were looking forward to Petoskey where we knew it would be a different style of camping. Petoskey would be glamping.
That said, we had a wonderful evening by the coach enjoying the long summer evening with a pizza and a fire.
Our travels will take us to Petoskey and I will fill you in on our journey tomorrow.
Here are a few more pictures from our stopover.
We head out on our first real road trip with the Castaway early Saturday morning. The excitement is building as we get ready to cast off. Ok, I know. That was a pretty bad pun.
We built our packing list for the trip and we have been refining it as we go. It has helped us to get the coach prepared for departure.
We expect to cross the border early afternoon on the Saturday. We will be spending one night at the Port Huron KOA before making our way to our final destination which is the Petoskey Motorcoach Resort in the upper peninsula of Michigan.
Although we are still very much newbies, we have learned to call ahead at the campgrounds to make sure our rig will fit.
We will have no issues at Petoskey. Their sites are very large and designed specifically for big rigs.
KOA sites? Well, let’s just say the ones we have used so far have turned out to be really tight for our coach.
Initially, our booking at the Port Huron KOA on the way up to Petoskey was a large super site. But then we changed our dates and we were assigned to a much smaller back-in site. We asked to be placed on a waiting list for an upgraded site. We called them up last night and success. We are back on a large super site, site 38.
On the way back, we are assigned a pull through site at the Port Huron KOA which looks to be fine for our coach. But, we will check that site out on our way up to Petoskey to make sure.
This will be our first border crossing with our coach and with our dog. Hopefully it all goes well.
Two more sleeps.
Note to self: always check clearance.
We’ve had our coach for a few months now. And we have been living in it for the most part. We have taken the Castaway out for a few trial runs, one weekend trip and one overnight trip. Later this week, we take the Castaway out for a much longer run.
This is all part of the breaking in period.
We expect things to go wrong with the coach. We expect to keep a list of things that have gone wrong and to get them fixed.
What has been our experience so far with the Newmar Dutch Star? Excellent.
Here is what we have found so far that needs to be addressed under warranty.
- Paint flaw on the driver’s side fuel tank cover
- Missed silicone sealant under the passenger’s side mirror
- 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 full wall slideout
And that is it so far.
We did have to repair a kitchen latch. We were a bit forceful in testing out a storage bin for one of the kitchen drawers and managed to break the upper latch mechanism. We ordered the part and I installed it last night. Easy fix.
We will be heading down to Nappanee in the spring to have the coach serviced and to make a change.
We decided that we missed something when we built the coach and Newmar is going to help us out for a small amount of money. What did we miss? Windows in our bedroom slideout. The bedroom slideout on the passenger’s side of the coach is currently windowless. Why? Well, it had something to do with the style of bed that we ordered. We ordered a bed that inclines and retracts. No one had told us that this feature would drop the two windows in the bedroom.
We’ve decided that the two windows are important to us and Newmar will fit them back into our coach. The bed won’t incline and retract which is fine. That part we won’t miss. We are missing the windows.
It will take roughly 12 hours of labour to install the windows so we will need to be at the factory for a couple of days. By then we will be close to the one year anniversary for the coach and we may as well get it serviced and deal with any warranty items at the same time.
I received the estimate from Newmar a few days back for installing the windows. I will sign off on the estimate and we will book a date to get the job done next year. I will also bring along any warranty items that need to be addressed although the list so far is pretty small. Hopefully the list stays that way.