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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.

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.

Checklist

20131005_disney_018

We are heading out tomorrow to pick up our new coach. We will be at the Hitch House for two days. I expect that the process will be a touch overwhelming.

There will be lots of paperwork and lots of information to process. The technician will be spending quite a bit of time with us to go through the operations of the coach. We will be living in the coach for a few days before we bring our motorhome, the Castaway, home. And we have to complete a thorough inspection of the coach.

We have our own checklist thanks to Norm and Ellen over at the iRV2 forum. You can download a copy of it here.

Their checklist is very comprehensive and it will help us identify any initial delivery issues with the coach.

Lorraine and I are also planning an initial trip with the coach later this summer to shake it down and to see if there are any other issues that need to be addressed.

We are quite realistic about what to expect: there will be issues. This was true when we bought our first home. This was true when we built our first home. This will be true with our new coach.

We went with the Hitch House and Newmar because both companies have great reputations for customer service. Although it is a couple of hours drive to the Hitch House, I am hoping that we can capture all of the initial issues with the coach, review it with them beforehand and bring the coach out to get them addressed all at one time as opposed to making several trips back and forth.

We will report on our initial experiences over the next few days.

Should be fun.

Canada, Eh?

Parliament Buildings Ottawa

When we returned to Canada from the Hershey RV Show in October of 2015, we came back with thousands of pages of brochures, guidebooks, and magazines. In a word, the show was a bit overwhelming. So much to think about and so much to process.

Our main objective was to decide on a new motorhome. We had already narrowed down our field of choices based on Class A Diesel Pushers. And we had already narrowed down to the following manufacturers: Newmar, Entegra, Tiffin.

Lots of research followed. I went to all of the manufacturer sites. I went to all of the major Internet forums and followed as many threads as possible on ownership experiences with these particular brands. I went through hundreds of videos on YouTube. I downloaded manuals and brochures. Over a period of a few months, I took in a lot of material about RVs.

Granted, this was not the first time we had looked at RVs. We had come very close to purchasing a Newmar Dutch Star back in 2006. It looked like this one:

2006DutchStar

In all of our research, we kept coming back to Newmar. No company is perfect and certainly no motorhome is perfect. Newmar has built a terrific reputation in the market. Lorraine and I particularly admired Newmar’s corporate principles:

At Newmar, we believe that a motor coach is more than just a vehicle. It should be a dream come true. A passport to countless hours of fun with your family and friends. A road to a lifetime of cherished memories and new discoveries.

For over 40 years, we’ve applied our Christian principles to the creation of motor coaches that have enhanced the lifestyle of people all over the world. And we’ll continue to do that for countless generations to come. It’s why we take pride in every rivet, every weld, every mechanical function and aesthetic of design.

Part of our research was to determine how we would get to a fair deal price on a motorhome in Canada. At the Hershey RV Show, there were all sorts of deals to be made.

Depending on the coach and dealer, 25 – 30 percent off list seemed to be in the range for a new motorhome.

Being Canadian gets complicated though. You have to start from the US list price converted to Canadian dollars, a much higher amount. The Canadian currency floats which means that a deal price is subject to the volatility of the currency markets. The Canadian dollar was in a bit of a free fall during the latter part of 2015. And every penny drop in the value of the Canadian dollar added a significant amount to the overall cost of the coach. A deal might need a right of refusal based on currency volatility. And, of course, we pay taxes. Thirteen percent on the deal price. Ouch.

The Canadian dollar was trading closer to 80 cents at the time we did our deal. Many pundits were predicting a 60 cent dollar within a few months. That did not happen and the Canadian dollar today is almost at the same level as it was last October. At the time we were really concerned that we might see a steep drop in the value of the Canadian dollar. We decided that we should do a deal sooner rather than run the risk of a decline in our currency.

We wanted to buy in Canada. This is where we live and we wanted to support our Canadian businesses. Although there were some great deals to be had at the Hershey RV Show, we intended to shop Canadian.

We headed out to the Toronto Fall RV Show in October of 2015. Most of the major dealers were there and we were able to spend time talking with a few of them about their coaches. We also made several stops at dealers in and around the Toronto area. We probably logged close to a thousand kilometres of driving over those two days to look at different coaches and to get a feel for the calibre of the various dealers.

We knew when we went to the Hitch House that we had found a good dealer. It helped that Newmar also had their Canadian manager on site for our visit. We spent most of the day at the Hitch House and, shock of all shocks, we decided to put an offer down on a new Dutch Star 4002 then and there.

We were now committed to our future dream. At least from a financial perspective.

This was our production report when our order went to the factory in November:

Production Order

Here we were, in late October, making decisions about our future. The first of many decisions.