See It All In A Thor?

Any thoughts on the quality of the Thor line? Post a question like that and expect answers like this:

I have a Thor and pull a pick up behind it. That way I can collect all of the parts that fall off it.

Or:

Sounds like a Thor is an excellent value. For the price you get 2 new hobbies.
1. You get the RV lifestyle.
2. You get a full time hobby fixing it as it falls apart.

Thor has a new video promotion. Seems pretty compelling. See it all in a 2021 Motorhome from Thor. Wait. Aren’t we still in 2020? Although I do agree that many will not see it all in 2020. Not in a Thor or any other coach.

I’ve never owned a Thor and I have spent very little time looking at their coaches. Thor did buy out Entegra and I do like those coaches.

Quality?

Why don’t we hear about the quality of a Thor from another Thor.

Such a great video.

A Broken Bed?

Do you have a power bed lift in your Newmar Dutch Star? Did it suddenly stop working? Did you call Newmar and then spend the next several hours trying to make the darn thing work only to find out that it was something very basic and very simple?

I hope this post helps you out if your power bed lift has stopped working.

We usually keep our king bed in an upright position during the day as it provides a bit more space in the bedroom. At night, we lower the lift to flatten the bed. It makes things a bit easier for sleeping.

Except two nights back the bed would not flatten. It remain locked in the upright position.

I spent the next several hours trying to get the bed to flatten. It was so frustrating. There is no documentation anywhere that I could find on how the power bed lift is wired and how it operates. No manual. No troubleshooting guide. Nothing.

I even came up empty on the usual social media sources. Perhaps we were the only ones to run into a power bed lift that stubbornly refused to flatten.

It appears as though there is no easy way to manually override the mechanism. It was locked and it was not going to move. Newmar support confirmed that wonderful feature with me the following day.

My first course of action was to check for a bad fuse. That proved to be an interesting exercise.

I do have all of the fuse panel schematics for our coach including the breakdown of most of the fuses in our bus. Newmar likes to keep its customers on their toes. There are all sorts of hidden fuses scattered about the motorcoach.

There are five fuse panels and each one contains dozens of fuses. Here is one of the schematics to give you a sense of the underlying complexity of the 12V system in the coach.

I keep a substantial number of spare 12V fuses on hand along with a fuse checker and a multimeter. I checked each and every one of the panels and I could not find anything labelled “Bed Power Lift” or similar.

I found out why there was no fuse for the power lift on any of my charts.

It is a hidden fuse. It is an undocumented fuse.

I did not find that out until after my call with Newmar.

It is a glass fuse nicely hidden by the awning motor control modules in our basement bay. You can just make it out under that little black box with the two white wires.

Dead end for me. Even if I had known about that fuse when I first began my troubleshooting it would not have made any difference. The fuse tested fine.

Newmar had no idea what to do about the problem. Perhaps it was a bad motor? They told me that they would do some digging to see if there was a way to flatten the bed without power and that they would get back to me.

They did call me back. And they told me that they had no idea how to resolve our issue. However, at that point in time, I had fixed the issue.

I had decided to get inside the bed casing where the motor and gearbox are situated to take a closer look and to check on the wiring connectors to the two power bed lift switches.

We had spoken with our service manager at our dealership and he had suggested that I check for any loose connections under the bed. It turns out that his hunch was bang on — thank you Paul! — but trying to get into that area was very difficult.

It took me the better part of an hour to get under the bed assembly and to check on the wiring. There were at least half a dozen connectors down there and one of them was loose.

More than loose. The black wire had become detached from the white wire in the cable pair probably due to the movement of the power bed lift.

It wasn’t easy to get in there to crimp the wire, re-twist the pair, and reinsert the connector cap. But once that was done, the power bed lift worked.

This short video walks you through the process of the repair.

Funny how six or seven hours of time can be condensed into a minute or so. I reported my findings back to Newmar support and perhaps they will be able to provide others with a bit more help in terms of potential troubleshooting for this issue.

A real design flaw. There is no way to defeat the power bed lift short of full disassembly. Thank heavens I didn’t go down that path.

We now have a flat bed.

I did not have to sleep on the floor last night.

 

Dutch Star With Broken Windshield Wipers

A broken windshield wiper on your Newmar Dutch Star? It hasn’t happened to us. Not yet. But it will. The windshield wiper system on the Newmar Dutch Star is so poorly designed. The windshield wiper system on this coach is a safety hazard.

The root cause? The wiper arms are steel and the part that bolts to the motor post is steel but the insert that the arm tightens against is aluminum. The nut that holds it together can come loose and when that happens, the arm will rotate around the insert and the arm might snap off. Or you could get lucky and the arm will wrap itself around some part of your coach.

Like what happened to this person:

You can check on the arms to see if they are loose. If you happen to have a long torque wrench, you can bring the arms back to the proper torque which varies between models and year of manufacture. For our coach it is 65 foot-pounds.

I come across so many posts on social media from Dutch Star owners that run into this problem. And they often run into this problem multiple times. A recent example:

So frustrated! In Kimball, TN and the windshield wiper is broken again! 2017 Dutch Star. Rain all night and all day tomorrow in the forecast and the nearest place to fix it is 50 minutes away. Anyone have that problem with wipers coming over windshield into the driver’s mirror? This is the second time that we have been stranded like this on the side of the highway and we could have been killed. Might take a class action suit to wake them up? Limped without wipers to safe area finally.

It is not a question of whether the windshield wipers will fail but when. The arms will come loose. Best to check on them before heading out on the road.

From our own experience, we only use our windshield wipers when we absolutely have to use them. And that means avoiding travel in bad weather conditions and treating the windshield with a water repellant coating.

It is a bit of a project to clean and treat such a large windshield. Far more effort than required for an automotive windshield. If you are wanting to go all in with your windshield, do what Pan The Organizer does. He is a detailing machine.

There is always RainX. Less work. Easier to apply. And RainX seems to repel water better than the windshield wipers that Newmar installs on their coaches.

One Of Those Things

Donald Trump wants to buy one of those things. Comments from his news conference last Friday:

And they’re also driving. And they’re building the trailers. They’re building a lot of things. They’re driving. People are — people are driving. I may have to buy one of those things, drive around town. Maybe I’ll drive back to New York with our first lady in a trailer. What do they call that? [Unidentified attendees call out “A Double Wide” and “An RV”]

An RV, an RV. Well, you should know [looking at Mike Pence]. Indiana’s the capital of RVs. [Laughter] I think I’m going to buy an RV and travel in one in an RV with our first lady. I don’t think anybody would mind that.

Trump is more than a little familiar with trailers. From an event held at the White House in July of 2018, here is one shot of Trump with Matt Miller, president of Newmar.

And another as Trump exits the London Aire that Newmar had showcased at the White House event:

From the RVIA:

The White House hosted its 2nd Annual Made in America Product Showcase in Washington, D.C. on Monday, July 23, featuring an assortment of items made in the U.S.

The White House extended invitations to American-owned and operated companies from each of the 50 states and with the booming RV manufacturing industry in Indiana, an RV was the obvious choice to represent Indiana.

Nearly two weeks ago, Newmar Corporation was contacted by the White House with the request to participate at the upcoming event – something that took them by complete surprise.

“At first we were cautious thinking someone was trying to pull a prank on us,” said Newmar President Matt Miller. After verifying that the invitation was indeed a valid request, the team confirmed their participation and were “honored to attend.”

Looks like Newmar might have a potential sale. But Trump better act quickly.

RV travel and camping provides an appealing vacation option for American families according to recent Ipsos research examining consumer interest and planned actions on travel choices in light of the COVID-19 crisis. According to the research, 46 million Americans plan to take an RV trip in the next 12 months. This positive news for RV manufacturers, dealers and campgrounds reinforces what US dealers are already seeing at the retail level.

I am still waiting on the May shipment numbers from the RVIA. I am very curious to see whether some of these 46 million Americans have started to buy RVs. I’m even more curious to see whether Trump buys one.

Platt v. Winnebago

Pure joy. Legendary construction standards. You can read all about the amazing features of the 2016 Class B Winnebago Era in this brochure.

However, as most buyers of new RVs quickly find out, pure joy is fleeting and legendary construction standards are legendary for a reason.

The Platts, a couple from Colorado, purchased a Winnebago Era in 2016. The Era is a Class B motorhome built on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis. Back in 2016, it looked like this:

Not surprisingly, the Era had a number of annoying defects which included screens falling off the windows, inoperable furnace, inoperable GPS and a number of other issues. Pretty standard fare for most of us that own and operate RVs.

This was our initial warranty list of issues that we had to resolve after we picked up our coach back in 2016:

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

So many more items were added to our issues list over the following years. It comes with the experience of pure joy and legendary construction standards in the RV industry. The issues get resolved and we take them in stride. For some people, issues become pure agony. And others go to court.

The Platts brought their Winnebago to Camping World for service seven times to deal with warranty repairs. Apparently Camping World was unable to resolve all of the repair issues and the Platts scheduled an appointment with Winnebago in Forest City, Iowa.

For whatever reason, they decided that they would cancel the factory appointment and sue Winnebago under the Colorado Consumer Protection Act. Winnebago had told the couple that they would fix all of the outstanding defects at no cost. The Platts claimed that Winnebago had sufficient opportunity to correct the problems and had failed to do so. They lost faith in Winnebago.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit did not rule in favour of the Platts:

The Platts purchased a 2016 Winnebago Era RV on January 18, 2016. This purchase was subject to Winnebago’s New Vehicle Limited Warranty, which required the Platts to bring the RV for repairs to an authorized dealer and then, if those repairs were insufficient, to Winnebago itself before they could bring an action against Winnebago.

The RV suffered from a litany of defects and the Platts took it in for warranty repairs to Camping World of Golden, Colorado (Camping World), an authorized Winnebago dealership, on numerous occasions for numerous separate defects within the first seven and a half months of their ownership. When the Camping World repairs did not resolve the Platts’ issues with the RV, they scheduled an appointment for repairs with Winnebago in Forest City, Iowa, but they subsequently cancelled the appointment. Instead, they sued Winnebago for breach of express and implied warranties under both the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 2301–2312, and Colorado state law, and also for deceptive trade practices in violation of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act (CCPA), Colo. Rev. Stat. § 6-1-105.

Winnebago filed a motion for summary judgment which the district court granted, dismissing all of the Platts’ claims. The Platts appeal, and we affirm.

Winnebago did not violate consumer protection laws through its warranty with the Platts, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled yesterday. You can read the full case here.

“Winnebago did not breach the warranty because the Platts failed to provide it with an opportunity to perform repairs,” wrote Senior Judge Stephanie K. Seymour for the circuit panel.

Losing faith in a manufacturer is insufficient grounds to sue a company for failing to comply with a warranty.

The Platts did contend that the brochures describing the Era as “pure joy” with “legendary construction standards” were a deceptive marketing practice. Although the legendary bit is likely accurate. It all depends on how you interpret the word legendary.

Buyer’s remorse is a tough thing. However, even a little bit of online research will quickly help a buyer to understand the quality issues that impact the RV industry. If you know that you will experience issues, that it is normal to experience issues, that it is normal to take the RV back to the manufacturer to resolve warranty issues, then you will experience pure joy from time to time.

After the initial shakedown, which might take a few years, things are not so bad. You get used to the idea that something is always going wrong in an RV. You inevitably get pretty handy at fixing things. Or you pay someone else to fix them. And you move on.