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Campanda

An AirBnB for RVs?

Michelin backs motorhome and campervan rental marketplace Campanda:

Berlin startup Campanda, which offers an online booking site for Recreational Vehicles (that’s motorhomes, caravans and campervans, to you and me), has raised €10 million in Series B funding. Leading the round is Michelin Travel Partner, the subsidiary of tyre manufacturer Michelin.

I’m not too fussy about Michelin — it took them far too long to resolve our simple tire warranty issue — however it was not a bad idea for them to jump in early on the sharing economy. Campanda is a small company, roughly 45 employees, with an inventory of about 25,000 RVs. Looks to me like they are primarily focused on dealers as only about 1,000 private owners rent on their service (you can list your own RV if you like the idea of renting it out to someone). We wouldn’t do it but the concept of renting motorhome is not new. For most people, an RV hangs around, unused, for much of the year. Delivering a rental service, with a bit of the sharing economy thrown in for good measure, through a digital business model is interesting although I wonder how successful Campanda will be over time.

I took a look at some of the Class A rentals. Prices ranged from about $100 a night to over $500 a night for this Coachmen.

Tired

Michelin, you sure take your time. And it shows.

Way back in August, we had to replace an almost new tire on our coach. You can read about our experience changing out the tire here. And this was when we first knew we had a problem here. Very important to do comprehensive circles before and after every drive.

We had a lot of issues getting the Michelin warranty honoured. Here we are in November, and all we know right now is that the cheque is finally in the mail.

Why did it take so long?

Michelin.

I’m convinced that they were hoping we would just give up.

It started with us trusting the tire company that serviced our coach to do support the warranty inspection. We had the tire changed at our site from a dealer based out of Saginaw. We had no place to put it and so we left it with the dealer. We called them after we got back to Canada and they told us that they would arrange to have the Michelin rep stop by to look at the tire and confirm the warranty coverage.

Which they did. In early August.

And now, over three months later, we finally received confirmation that Michelin has cut the warranty cheque.

We were calling them every few weeks. First it was to see if they were going to cover the tire. That dance took several weeks to resolve. When they finally told us that the tire would be covered, they instructed us to fax them an invoice. Which we did.

And when we sent them the fax they would call us back to say that the fax was unreadable.

After several weeks of faxes that were consistently unreadable, we asked Michelin if we could just email them the invoice. Apparently Michelin does not have an email system. At least not in the customer service area. We could only send a fax.

We had the tire dealer in Saginaw fax them as we were convinced that Michelin was simply stalling us.

Our final call with them was quite assertive. We wanted them to honour their warranty.

And they finally did. Maybe.

I’ll believe it once I see the cheque.

Two Tired

Tire1

Well, I hope the second new tire will be covered under warranty otherwise it will be an expensive first long trip with the Castaway.

There was no doubt that parts of the I-75 in Michigan were in horrible condition and it could well have been a pothole that caused the sidewall bulge. Whatever the cause, we had no choice but to get the tire replaced.

Trying to get the tire replaced proved challenging. Lots of phone calls between ourselves, our dealer, Newmar, Michelin, assorted Michelin dealers in Michigan and, finally, our roadside assistance service, Coach-Net. Coach-Net got the job done and covered the cost of sending a repair truck right to our campsite.

With a tire on the back of the truck, Steve, our tire repair guy, got ready to work. First, all of the power tools.

Tire2

His first task was to position the tire jack. We did not have to pull our own jacks up and we did not have to bring our slides in. Nor did we have to unhook our services.

Tire3

Steve made the job look easy, way too easy. That tire and wheel weighs in excess of 100 pounds or more.

Tire4

For sure we would not get very far with this setup.

Tire5

Steve deflated and then removed the original tire from the wheel and mounted the new tire on the wheel all within about 10 minutes. He was even thoughtful enough to inflate the new tire.

Tire6

Then it was simply a matter of repositioning the wheel and making it secure.

Tire7

And now we have a coach that we can drive again. I sure hope we don’t have another event on the I-75 going home. I may complain from time to time about the highways in Ontario but they are as smooth as glass when compared to sections of the I-75 in Michigan.

Tire8

With the tire replaced, we can begin our journey back home. Bright and early tomorrow morning. Our first stop will be the Cummins dealer in Saginaw to get a software update for our Engine Control Module. From there, we will stopover at the Port Huron KOA before making our way home on Wednesday.

Battle of the Bulge

RWC_4094

“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.

TireBulge2

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.

Such excitement.

We should hear back from our dealer later today. Hopefully we can settle the tire issue on site.

CAT Scale

Weights

As we made our way on our first excursion with the Castaway, we decided to make a stop at KAL Tire to check our air pressure and then over to a local CAT Scale to weigh our coach.

Perhaps we should have done this the other way around, weigh the coach first and then adjust the air pressure. I have to tell you though, that I am finding the advice on tires and tire pressure to be quite divergent.

Newmar, the manufacturer of our coach, has their own weights and recommended tire pressures which they affix to a sticker near the captain’s chair.

NewmarWeights

The steer axle is 15,400 pounds and the drive axle is 30,000 pounds. They recommend a cold inflation pressure of 120 psi for the front, 90 psi for the duallys and 85 psi for the rear,

Of course, those weights represent the Gross Axle Weight Rating, or the maximum distributed weight, the axles of the coach can support. We do not intend to max out the load on the Castaway.

Our dealer had inflated our tires just prior to the delivery. We were told to keep them at 110 psi for the front and 90 psi for the tag.

Taking them to KAL Tire, they recommended 120 psi all around.

And the tables at Michelin Tire have a different set of pressures yet again based on how much the coach weighs.

In our case we have a steer axle of 14,160 pounds or roughly 7,000 pounds of load per axle end. Michelin recommends 105 psi for the front tires.

As our drive axle weight is combined, it is not possible to get a direct load from the Michelin site. That said, they do recommend 80 psi for the duallys and for the rear.

Very confusing.

We drove down to our campsite in the Thousand Islands with the tire pressure as set by KAL tires. The Castaway rode very well. That said, I am going to place a call directly into Newmar. We’ll see if we get any further clarification on how much air is too much, or too little.