Wired

Miles and miles of wire. When Lorraine and I toured the Newmar factory last April, I gained an appreciation for just how much wire is used in a Class A motorhome.

Specifics were not provided to me but the estimate was several miles of wire gets routed through these large motorcoaches.

What I found out later on was that Canada requires a different wire. And that meant that Newmar had to build our coach to the CSA Z240 standard and not the NFPA 1192 standard.

Turns out that in the United States, manufacturers can use either U.S. listed wire or the Canadian CSA listed wire when building RVs. If the RV is destined for Canada, they must conform to the Canadian wire standard. As a result, U.S. manufacturers had to stock different wire types due to the difference in cost.

The Canadian wire is more expensive but not to worry. Newmar did not absorb that cost when we had our coach built. They simply passed the additional CSA costs over to us.

It was included as an option on our purchase list.

Except that item, 6D020 CSA Approval For Canadian Dealers, was not an option for Canadians. It was a mandatory expense.

Canada is the largest market for exporting RVs made in the United States. For the past several years, the RV Industry Association, the Canadian Recreational Vehicle Association and the RV Dealers Association of Canada have been trying to get the Canadian government to support synchronizing the U.S. and Canadian RV standards.

The CSA standard was finally updated last month to allow the use of either CSA listed or US listed wire. RV manufacturers will no longer have to stock two slightly different but equally safe wire in order to sell RVs into the Canadian market.

That makes it much easier for the two countries to do business although there is still one remaining technical difference between the two RV standards. When exporting to Canada, the RV must contain warning labels in French and English.

Vive la différence.

London Aire and Lemons

I love the London Aire. It is a beautiful coach and it sits a class above the entry level of Newmar’s luxury coaches. If you are going to buy into the luxury range of Newmar’s coaches, the London Aire is a compelling model.

A good friend of mine often tells me that it only costs a little more to go first class. In Canada, it can cost a lot more to go first class. A new London Aire would sell for north of $800,000 CAD once all of the discounts and taxes are factored into the final selling price. At that price point, one might expect a very high level of quality.

One might be disappointed.

You should get a good coach from Newmar with few issues but some of their coaches, for whatever reason, turn out to be rotten lemons.

I received a media release from Business Wire about a London Aire. The law firm of Markowitz Herbold just achieved an interesting court ruling. If you are not familiar with Markowitz Herbold, the home page of their website says it all:

From the media alert:

A Danger on the Road

In Roblin v. Newmar Corporation, the plaintiff sued Newmar under the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, the Oregon Lemon Law Act, the Oregon Consumer Warranty Act and the California Unfair Competition Law. The plaintiff alleged that their 2016 London Aire RV, purchased from Guaranty RV in Junction City, Oregon, had suffered numerous failures of its various systems, including the engine cooling system, the electrical system and the room extension slide-out system.

The RV’s flaws manifested in a pattern of repeated breakdowns, unsuccessful repair attempts and lengthy warranty service periods. The vehicle was presented to dealerships for repairs under various warranties approximately nine times between 2015 and 2017, and it was undriveable for more than 130 days.

The plaintiff also claimed that, during the sales process and in its corporate materials, Newmar emphasized a large service network populated with well-trained technicians, which became a significant selling point of the RV. However, personnel at the various authorized service centers, including service centers in both Oregon and California, continually demonstrated that they were not properly trained and lacked the expertise to provide the high level of service promised.

Newmar Laid Blame on Subcomponent Manufacturers

Roblin repeatedly attempted to obtain a refund from Newmar or have the RV replaced. Newmar and its agents declined to provide such remedies, placing responsibility on subcomponent manufacturers and arguing that the plaintiff did not meet all the conditions for repurchase under the Oregon Lemon Law.

Yes. Newmar often points to the subcomponent manufacturers. A problem with your engine? Call Cummins. A problem with the chassis? Call Spartan or Freightliner. A problem with your heating system? Call ITR. A problem with your inverter? Call Magnum.

I can understand why Newmar takes such an approach. Newmar basically assembles a motorcoach from a variety of supplier components.

The 2016 London Aire was purchased new from Guaranty RV in Oregon. The coach experienced multiple failures and it was literally unusable for over two years.

The owner made repeated attempts to obtain a refund or to have the coach replaced. Newmar declined, blaming subcomponent manufacturers for the issues.

The Judge in this case ruled against Newmar and held Newmar accountable for the issues that the owner had experienced. He ruled that under Oregon’s Lemon Law Act the end-manufacturer, not the subcomponent manufacturer(s), is responsible for recovery .

This decision protects an Oregon consumer from having to litigate against each subcomponent manufacturer and ensures that a final manufacturer, like Newmar, cannot contract around Oregon’s Lemon Law.

This interpretation of Oregon’s Lemon Law is consistent with recent decisions in other states.

Not yet determined in this case is the dollar amount to be awarded. A decision is expected soon.

In Canada, there are no Lemon Laws to protect consumers.

Buying expensive RVs can be risky.

Watch Those Wipers

I keep a list of things to check on the coach. Things like loose body panels, loose slideout motor mounting bolts, loose bolts pretty much everywhere around the coach. I’m adding a few more loose bolts to check.

The bolts that secure the windshield wipers.

I’ve posted before about the questionable design choices in Class A motorcoaches. In many cases, subsystems within coaches are needlessly complex due to poor design, poor systems integration and poor ergonomics.

A case in point is the lowly windshield wiper system.

Most drivers have figured out how to use the windshield wipers in a car. They are generally situated on a control arm below the steering wheel.

Here is an example:

A lot of functionality packed into a small control module but generally straightforward to use. There is a definite on and off mechanism, some form of intermittent speed control, and a pull to spray windshield wash. Some car makers are even thoughtful enough to include an automatic function that will control the wipers when the sensor detects rain.

Most Class A coaches ignore the automotive approach. The windshield controls are typically embedded in the steering wheel.

Like this one on our coach:

There is an OFF button but how do you turn the windshield wipers on? See that embedded section marked HI/LO? Give that one a try.

It will engage the windshield wipers. There is a trick. Stopping the blades to rest at the bottom of the windshield. Aside from the fact that the windshield wipers do a very poor job of clearing the rain, they will often not return to the bottom of the windshield. You have to time the pressing of the OFF button just so. Perhaps the blades will rest at the bottom of the windshield. Perhaps they will stop in the middle of the windshield. You just never know where they might land when you press the OFF button.

I’m not sure how these coach builders get away with delivering such a poor system.

An added feature of this system is that the wiper arms can break (photo from an owner of a Dutch Star):

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.

From this thread on the iRV2 forum I found out that the arms have a torque specification and I have now added this to my list of things to check. Here is an excerpt from that thread posted by an owner of a 2017 Dutch Star:

The passenger side wiper arm came loose while driving in the rain last week (and parked itself around the windshield pillar around the mirror).

I talked to both Newmar and Diesel Equipment about the problem and proper torque seemed to be the consensus. I got a diagram from Newmar Customer Service with the proper torque settings for the bolts. You can also get this from Diesel Equipment if you have the “kit” number for your particular wipers. It is on the wiper motor.

The torque for ours is 65 ft-lbs, which was hard to do with a normal socket wrench on the side of the road, but easy with long torque wrench. Both of mine were loose, so this is just another thing to add to the periodic maintenance check list.

Why-Fi Wi-Fi?

In most RV parks, the Wi-Fi service is barely usable. Even when you pay a lot of money to stay at a high-end RV resort, the Wi-Fi service can often be pretty poor.

A frequent question I get from my fellow RVers: what can I do to get better Wi-Fi?

One answer is to get an external antenna and connect it to a router. That requires a lengthy and technical post, one that I might do in the future, but the single best way to improve the Wi-Fi signal coming into your coach is to use an external antenna. Even if you are lucky enough to pull in a strong Wi-Fi signal with a good quality antenna, you may still be disappointed in the park’s Internet service.

I’m a heavy Internet user. I have 30 devices in my coach that connect to the Internet: computers, tablets, smartphones, smart TVs, Apple TVs, Sonos speakers, Playstations, Network-attached Storage, GPS, etc.

I can easily use 200 GB to 300 GB of data a month.

I do not rely on the Wi-Fi service at most RV parks. And here is why. I have only been to a few RV resorts where the Wi-Fi service is robust. At Hearthside Grove we enjoyed 60 Mbps unlimited and uncensored high-speed Internet over Wi-Fi. At Desert Shores, we enjoyed 20 Mbps unlimited and uncensored high-speed Internet over Wi-Fi. At Swan Bay Resort, we enjoyed 10 Mbps unlimited and uncensored high-speed Internet over Wi-Fi. Even at our summer site near Toronto, Ontario, we enjoy unlimited and uncensored Internet over Wi-Fi although that park manages the bandwidth and limits it to 7 Mbps per connected device.

Many high-end RV resorts, despite charging a premium rate, have yet to improve their Wi-Fi service. They issue statements that should really be titled this way: we provide a Wi-Fi service but it ain’t great.

Here is part of the statement from Hilton Head Island Motorcoach Resort:

Hilton Head Island Motorcoach Resort (HHIMR) Wireless Wi-Fi Service Expectations

Wi-Fi service is intended to provide casual use wireless networking for all owners, staff and guests to HHIMR. There are many challenges to delivering this service over a large forested area to individuals in steel enclosed motorhomes.

HHIMR wireless clients can expect a good experience for low to medium bandwidth applications in areas with low to medium user populations. These activities include web browsing, checking email, chat, printing, etc.

High bandwidth applications like streaming video or large network downloads will also decrease the speed and responsiveness of the network for all users in an area. For this reason, HHIMR will monitor and may restrict usage.

And here is part of the statement from where we are staying right now at Myakka River Motorcoach Resort:

Myakka River Motorcoach Resort (MRMR) Wireless Wi-Fi Service Expectations

Wi-Fi service is intended to provide casual use wireless networking for all owners, staff and guests to MRMR. There are many challenges to delivering this service over a large area to individuals in steel enclosed motor coaches.

MRMR wireless clients can expect a good experience for low to medium bandwidth applications in areas with low to medium user populations. These activities include web browsing, checking email, chat, printing, etc.

High bandwidth applications like streaming video or large network downloads will also decrease the speed and responsiveness of the network for all users in an area. For this reason, MRMR will monitor and may restrict usage.

Hmmm. Looks like someone did a cut and paste as the full statements from the two resorts are basically identical. I’ve seen very similar copy from other RV parks as well.

Myakka censors Internet usage and blocks several popular sites like YouTube, Apple, and Netflix.

Some of the RV resorts are improving their Internet service. For example, RiverBend just updated their Internet service by putting a fibre fed wireless network to each site. I met with Golden Palms Motorcoach Resort at the RV SuperShow and they were implementing a similar system: high-speed fibre to each pedestal and, from the pedestal, wireless to the coach. Unlimited high-speed Internet.

We have an International, unlimited, no throttling cellular data plan. Performance can vary depending on the tower and the congestion but we usually see 25 to 50 Mbps in most areas where we travel. And I don’t have to worry about security issues, blocked websites, monitoring of my Internet usage, dead access points or other “best effort” Wi-Fi service limitations.

Cellular data is really the better option for heavy Internet users that are mobile. Assuming, of course, that you can find a truly unlimited and no throttling data plan and that you have decent cellular coverage. Our data plan is expensive whereas park Wi-Fi is generally offered as a “free” service. As with many things in life, you get what you pay for.

Soon we will have low earth orbit satellite services from companies like OneWeb and Starlink that will hopefully provide a far more robust high-speed Internet than park Wi-Fi and cellular. Perfect for the mobile user.

Time To Go

Whenever a guest tells me that it is time to go, I always worry about having the discussion. If you own a motorhome, you know exactly what I am talking about.

Flight attendants have a similar routine, carefully explaining to their passengers how to secure themselves in a seat almost as if no one has ever used a seatbelt before. Is it really necessary to demonstrate how to operate a seat belt? Airplane seatbelts operate differently from car seatbelts. In the event of an aircraft accident, post-accident studies have shown that passengers will often try to release their seatbelt as if they were in a car, by reaching for a non-existent release button. Hence the pre-flight walkthrough.

We have to do something similar in our coach.

You can’t just go when it is time to go. You need a pre-flight walkthrough.

Why?

Because RV toilets are not like other toilets. They are different.

And, since they are RV toilets, well, they will develop issues like most other equipment in a coach. Someone told me that it is due to the MTBOSM (Mean Time Between Oh Crap Moments — or something like that). MTBOSM fully applies to the latest issue in our coach.

Yesterday, someone found that it was time to go. After the time to go had passed and went, the RV toilet would not flush.

The main difference between an RV toilet and a residential toilet is the electronic flush. There is a button that needs to be pressed to activate the flush. There is no flush handle. If the button is pressed for too long then it will change how the toilet flushes. Even finding the flush button on the panel can be challenging. The RV industry likes to create panels for operating toilets that no reasonable human being would understand without an instruction guide.

Take a look at the panel in our coach:

What on earth is up with that design?

An instruction guide? Of course.

In the Dometic operating manual, which you can download here, they do not tell you how to flush the toilet. I mean, why would you? The panel is self-explanatory.

Nonetheless, we provide an overview on how to operate the toilets in our coach any time we have a guest that needs to go. Even then, there are often issues with the process.

In this case, the toilet would not flush.

I tried to resolve the issue by pressing the flush button again. All that did was add more water to the bowl.

The problem required a different approach.

Our toilets are macerating toilets. That design is also different from a residential toilet. That design means you have to be very careful about what goes down the hatch, as it were. Even using too much toilet paper may create an issue.

The toilet would not flush yesterday because there was a clog due to the volume of toilet paper.

If you search google about how to deal with an RV toilet that will not flush, you will find a wide spectrum of potential solutions including the removal of the toilet to gain access to the macerator pump.

Fortunately, we were able to dislodge the clog — I won’t go into detail here — without removing the toilet. This restored the functionality of the toilet.

Just one of those MTBOSMs that can happen in a coach.