We Have Shades

I did not expect so much feedback on shades for our coach. And it was pretty evenly split. About half of our friends argued convincingly for Magne Shades, and about half for a snap-on style of shade.

I wanted to get Magne Shades. If we hadn’t been stranded due to awning issues back in Canada, then we would have ordered the Magne Shades and had them ready for when we started down for Florida. But that didn’t happen.

The front of our coach faces the sun all day. The heat gain is significant and we had little choice but to keep all of the interior shades down in an attempt to keep the coach at a reasonable temperature.

When I first touched base with Magne Shade, they told me that it would take a couple of months for the order to ship. We were expecting to be moving from site to site every month which made the timing difficult for us.

One of my friends made contact with Magne Shade and they reached back to me with an offer of an expedited shipment for a nominal cost.

Lorraine and I both decided that we needed to get a product up and running earlier. I thanked Magne Shade for trying to help. A very professional and customer oriented firm. I will definitely keep them in mind for our next coach.

We contacted RV Sun Shade and Gordon and Sheila were out to our site the following day.

The product is custom made for the coach. They spent roughly three hours measuring, cutting, fabricating and fitting the product for our coach.

And yes, they made a few holes. Five on the front. Four on the driver’s side and nine on the passenger’s side (we had two windows on the passenger side to cover).

We also ordered mirror and windshield protective covers.

We’ve had the shades up for the past week and they work as expected. The snaps are black and quite discrete when the shades are removed. The shades are very taut against the windows when fitted.

We can now keep all of the night shades up and there is no issue in keeping the coach cool. It affords us the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful views out our front window during the day.

Programming MCD Shades

Our MCD shades have had their fair share of ups and downs — sorry about the bad pun!

Newmar had issued a Technical Service Bulletin on the MCD shades and it reads as follows:

Newmar and MCD shade have determined that certain 2016 and 2017 Dutch Star coaches (all floorplans with remote-controlled power shades) and 2016 and 2017 Ventana coaches (4311 floorplan only) may experience remote-controlled power shade failures. MCD has created the attached troubleshooting instructions to diagnose the 14-channel remote and remote motors. If the original remote-controlled motor(s) have failed and currently need replacing, the motors and remote(s) will be replaced with a 15-channel remote, new remote control motors, and a two-channel bedroom remote. The driver side “Sway Shade” will also be replaced as a complete shade. Replace the bezel in the wall to ensure the proper fit of the new 15-channel remote.

Newmar included the coach numbers that were impacted by this TSB and our coach was not on the list despite us having numerous issues with the shades since we took delivery of our coach.

Right now all of the shades seem to be working however a few of them need to have their limits adjusted. As we are rolling with an archaic remote controller from 2007 — MCD has the word “innovations” in their business name so perhaps a clunky remote from before the era of the iPhone was innovative — the procedure to program the shades, in keeping with much of the technology in RVs, is not particularly user friendly.

I’m including the instructions here as I fear that MCD Innovations will drop the page that contains the instructions and I might not find them again on their website.

Directions to Link and Set Limits

If you do not have the two small holes drilled in the face of your 14-channel remote, the cover of the remote must be removed for Key 1 and Key 2 access.

  • Select the button on the 14 channel remote you want to link the shade with.
  • Start the motor by holding the learning button on the shade until it just starts beeping, then you should release the button.
  • Link with Key 2 on the Remote: While motor is beeping, press and hold Key 2 (left-hand button) to link remotely to the motor. A Chirp will be heard if successful. NOTE: In rare cases, Key 1 will marry the remote to the shade. Try this only after several attempts are made using Key 2 above with no results.
  • Program with Key 1 on the remote: Press and hold Key 1 (right-hand button) to get into the program mode. You will hear the motor Chirp.
  • Confirming the upper and lower limits: Lower the shade with the DOWN button and manually stop it by pressing the STOP button where you want the lower limit to be set. NOTE: You can bump the shade up or down (1/2” at a time) once you stop the initial movement of the shade as it first travels up or down. This allows you to accurately set the limit where you want the shade to stop. When you have the shade positioned properly, press Key 2 to confirm that limit. A Chirp should be heard.
    Using the UP button, move the shade to the upper stop position and manually stop the shade by pressing the STOP button. Bump the shade up or down to position it correctly and, again, press Key 2. You are now out of the programming mode.
  • Test the shade limits: start by pressing the DOWN button on the 14-channel remote and keep your finger near the STOP button. If the shade does not stop at the limit you set, stop it manually. If the shade stops at the limit properly, press the UP button and test the upper stop point. Again, Be sure to keep your finger near the stop button in case the limit is exceeded. If the upper and lower stop points work properly, you are done.
  • NOTE: If the shade goes UP when you push the DOWN button, you can easily change the direction of the motor by holding the STOP button for that shade and then pushing Key 1, together, until the motor Chirps. The motor should now be reversed. Test the shade to be sure it is correct.
  • If you need to Link the shade to the All Night or All Day button on a 14-channel remote, press the All Night/Day button on the remote. Hold the learning button on the shade you want to Link until it just starts to beep and release it. Press Key 2 on the 14-channel remote to Link to the remote. If the limits were set previously, those parameters are stored in the motor of the shade, so no more programming is necessary.

NOTE: If you need to clear a motor of all its limits, hold the learning button for that shade for three sets of a series of beeps. All previous limits will now be removed and you MUST manually stop the shade.

To unlink a shade for either the 2-channel or 14-channel remote: Hold learning button on the shade for 1 beep cycle only, you can then re-link to another button. The shade will un-link from all buttons (individual and all).

Our Secret Entry Code

It wasn’t hard to break the code to our door. Until yesterday.

From the factory, all of the TriMark e-Ask Keyless Entry systems, found on most high-end coaches, use the same two codes: 1-2-3-4-4 to unlock the door and 4-4-4-4-4 to add new codes to unlock the door.

We were told to read the manual to change our keyless entry system.

And I did.

The process, in a word, was awful. I mean, what was this company thinking?

Here it is. Straight from the manual.

Sorry, what was that? Take apart the side of your coach and find an unidentified wiring harness to short a bunch of wires? With a paper clip?

There are times when I think that the suppliers to the RV industry are completely clueless. And this would be one example.

This was such a ridiculous process that I just lived with the default codes. The likelihood that someone would use them was remote and, if someone really wanted to break into the coach, a brute force method would likely be the approach.

I suspect a number of owners do the same though I am reluctant to conduct an experiment in the field to confirm my suspicions.

However.

It kept nagging at me. Deep in the back of my mind. I am highly technical. And I should be able to change our authority and access codes to our entry door.

I did some more digging and it turns out that the manual is simply incorrect. There is a much easier way to change the code to our keyless entry system.

There is a button.

Can you see it?

In our coach, it is located towards the very bottom of our steering column on the driver’s side — left and towards the back of the column as you look out the front of the coach. Never noticed it before. It is unmarked and undocumented in the manual. I had to crawl down with a flashlight to find it.

With the ignition on accessory, pressing the button will initiate the sequence of changing codes.

How exactly we got it to start working is still a bit of a mystery. We pressed the button several times and then, at some point, it initiated the process to put in the new code.

I waited for some beeps at the entry door lock handle after Lorraine had pressed the unmarked button a few times. Then I entered a new 5-digit code (the code must be 5 digits long). Waited for the chirps after the last digit of the new code had been entered. Entered the new code again. Waited for some more chirps. And then tested the door.

Success. The keyless entry door has a new code.

Shades

Shades or no shades?

Our coach is equipped with interior MCD shades, day and night. They are all motorized and controlled by this old-style remote control.

With the sun and heat, we have had little choice but to keep both night and day shades closed from about 9am until roughly 5pm. Even then, our air conditioners have been working overtime to keep the interior of the coach comfortable.

I have been looking into exterior shades for the outside front of the coach. Sunglasses, if you like, for our motorhome.

There are two models: one that is magnetic and one that clips on.

The magnetic ones look like this (although I think my friend forgot to link one of the magnets at the top right side of his windshield):

Magnets on the inside of the windshield connect with the magnets on the shades. Easy to install and no holes in the coach.

The shades that snap on look like this.

And like this.

Snaps are drilled into the outside of the coach and the shades are more challenging to install. You need a ladder and you have to snap them into place.

Both types of shades work well. They reduce the heat gain by trapping the light before it has entered the coach.

Magna Shade is the leader for magnetic sunshades. They are currently backlogged and it would take about two months to get the product making it challenging for us as we are on the move every month.

There is a local provider for snap-on sunshades that will come directly to our coach and custom manufacture the shades on our site. The company is called RV Sunshade. They could put it on our coach this week.

The cost is about the same for both. The online forums almost universally support magnetic shades. One of our friends here at Myakka just installed the snap-on sunshades. He prefers them as they provide a better fit and they do not add clutter to his windshield. And another of our friends here at Myakka has a Magna Shade sunshade. He would never put holes into his coach and prefers the ease of putting them up on his coach.

Decisions, decisions.

Girard Awning Install

See any differences between the front awning on the left and the front awning on the right?

The one on the left has an awning that was not inserted properly into the guide rail which is why the awning edge is not taut. You can see how taut the edge line is on the right awning.

The lights on the left awning, aside from being a totally different colour and spacing, end almost a foot before the edge. On the right, the lights are uniform, evenly and tightly spaced and end at the edge.

The lights on the left awning are twisted in the lighting rail which is why you can see some lights that are bright and others that appear dim. The lights on the right are consistent as they are not twisted in the lighting rail.

This photo gives you a better sense as to the lighting issue.

There is no way that these lights on the left match the factory lights. They are not even close. One side has a blue colourcast and the lights are loosely spaced and the other side has a white colourcast and the lights are tightly spaced. The lights on the left are twisted in the track which means they point in different directions which gives an unpleasant lighting spread across the coach.

Oh, and the LED strand is too short for the awning on the left. Which is ironic as Girard shipped a replacement awning that was too long and had to be cut back.

To sum up.

Girard awnings can randomly deploy and when they do a random deployment may cause significant damage to your awning. In our case, the dealer experienced the random deployment as they brought our coach into service. The front awning received severe damage and it had to be replaced.

Girard shipped us replacement parts that did not fit and had to be cut to size and they provided replacement lighting that was incompatible with our coach.

It took over six weeks to resolve the issue. We spent almost four weeks stranded at the dealer waiting to find out how this issue was going to be resolved. When Girard, Newmar and the dealer finally agreed on how the issue would be resolved, it took over two weeks to get the parts shipped to the dealer.

We found out about the lighting issue about two hours before we had to leave for our trip south. At that point, I was not going to wait any longer. The dealer did all that they could do and it was not their fault that Girard shipped the incorrect lighting strand.

At least we have awnings that we can use and we can get the lighting resolved later.

The awnings could still randomly deploy. I make sure to unplug them from the 110v outlets before travelling with the coach.