Tampa RV SuperShow Is A Go

We won’t be at the Tampa RV SuperShow this year. Surprised that they are still going to run it during a global pandemic. Will they attract the same crowds?

Florida government officials could possibly be in a state of denial about the severity of the pandemic:

Florida police raided the home of a former state coronavirus data scientist on Monday, escalating a feud between the state government and a data expert who has accused officials of trying to cover up the extent of the pandemic.

The data scientist, Rebekah Jones, was fired in May.

Rebekah Jones said in an email to CBS12 News that her removal was “not voluntary” and that she was removed from her position because she was ordered to censor some data, but refused to “manually change data to drum up support for the plan to reopen.”

And the latest COVID-19 stats from the Tampa Bay Times:

Florida added 9,592 coronavirus cases and 89 deaths Wednesday, bringing the total numbers of deaths since March to 19,716.

The state has reported about 9,315 cases and 101 deaths each day on average this week, according to the Florida Department of Health.

More than 1 million Floridians have been infected during the pandemic. Florida has the third-highest number of cases in the country. It trails behind Texas, with more than 1.2 million cases, and California with over 1.3 million cases.

No better time, I suppose, to run an event that usually attracts about 75,000 people. Keeping people six feet apart in a motorhome will be an interesting trick. I would expect long waits to walk through the coaches on display. Unless very few people show up. Which I doubt.

Up here in the frozen Great White North, we can’t legally gather more than 100 people at an organized outdoor event. Not that we would want to be outside for any length of time in the winter.

Same pandemic. Different rules.

Here is the press release on the RV SuperShow.

While the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) Board of Directors voted to cancel Industry Day at the 2021 Florida RV SuperShow set for next month, the five public days of the show will still take place as scheduled Jan. 13-17 at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa.

“We’ve had a number of exhibitors request extra time to set up,” said FRVTA Show Director Lesa Colvin. “Plus, the extra day will give us more time to get ready for the five pubic days. We will be instituting a lot of new measures to make sure the show is a clean and safe environment for the public as well as our exhibitors”.

Holding the show with COVID-19 prompted some changes for this year’s “Tampa Show.” Temperature checks will be done on all exhibitors and attendees. Masks will be required inside the buildings and RVs (Hillsborough County Mandate). Sanitizer and wash stations will be located throughout the show. Social distancing will be enforced and both supplier buildings and RVs will be sanitized nightly and cleaned on a regular basis during the show.

FRVTA Executive Director Dave Kelly said it was a tough decision to cancel Industry Day but the board did what they thought was the right thing. “I hope everyone can understand this is not a typical year, we are concentrating all of our efforts into holding the most successful public show we can. Any extra time we can have to make sure we are ready to welcome the public is appreciated this year.”

I suspect most of my friends in Florida will stay pretty close to their coaches for the most part and avoid the show.

From what I can tell, the Newmar Rally at the Tampa SuperShow is still a go. Except that there won’t be any Newmar service technicians in attendance. Can’t have the service techs getting infected.

As for the Newmar Kountry Klub folks decision to still run with the Tampa rally, well, they do ask you to sign a disclaimer:

All persons attending a Klub rally must agree to this disclaimer in order to participate. I/We agree, in consideration for being able to participate in the described Newmar Kountry Klub activity, to release and to indemnify and hold harmless Newmar Kountry Klub, its Directors and Officers and Newmar Corporation, its officers and employees, from all liability for injury or damages to my person or property, or the property of persons who accompany me to this activity. With knowledge of the type of risk or harm which might occur at such activity, I sign this release and indemnity as part of my application. All adult members & their guests must sign and in so doing, assume all responsibility for minors in their care.

How To Replace Lights In A Newmar Dutch Star

Let there be light. But what happens if your lights fail to light?

Let there be dark.

A common issue with Newmar coaches is the failure of the ceiling LED lights. We’ve been fortunate. We have yet to replace any of our ceiling lights. I should emphasize the word yet.

Some owners have had to replace all of their ceiling lights. Some owners have had to replace just a few.

I know it is just a matter of time before we have to replace those lights. Like many things in our coach, they were not built to last.

Removing the existing light is a bit of work. This video shows the process:

And this thread on the iRV2 forum gives a bit more detail.

There are many sources for the replacement lights. M4 comes up frequently as a good supplier of replacement lights. For our coach, we would probably go with this specific product.

We have our coach in storage for the winter as we are stranded in Ontario due to COVID-19. I will probably wait until we have a fixture fail before dealing with the ceiling lights. I might do them all in one go which would be a pretty major project.

The Year Of The RV Continues

First snowfall arrived yesterday. Environment Canada was predicting several inches of accumulation and hazardous driving conditions. False alarm. We did receive a light coating of snow and it should all be gone by tomorrow as a bit of a warming trend arrives to this part of the country. By warm I mean somewhere in the 50s Fahrenheit or the low teens Celsius.

And Daylight Savings Time ended yesterday. The long dark days of winter combined with a pandemic may prove a bit challenging for the clipped wings of Canadian Snowbirds like myself. Not to mention a stock market that awaits the political chaos that may run wild as we brace for the unfolding drama of the U.S. election. That begins in earnest tomorrow evening although I expect the unexpected. MAGA, baby, more MAGA. Or a New World Order. One or the other.

Interest rates up here have reached a new low of 1.29 percent on a variable-rate mortgage. The rate of inflation will soon be higher. Free money. The result will be continued inflation of real estate which, in this neck of the woods, is completely unhinged.

Can you name the top ten cities in North America that have the most expensive real estate prices? Would it surprise you to learn that 5 of those 10 cities are in Canada: Toronto, Vancouver, Surrey, Coquitlam, Brampton?

Canadians pay the highest real estate prices in the world due to excessive government spending and low interest rates.

Canada has one of the highest unemployment rates. In Toronto that rate is almost 13 percent.

This level of real estate inflation is dangerous and it is definitely not normal.

Another thing that isn’t normal?

Newmar asking $1.3 million USD for a King Aire motorcoach. Yikes.

Let’s do a quick check on the Year of the RV.

The RVIA pushed out the latest numbers from September — October numbers won’t be out for a few more weeks — with all of the usual spin about the strong demand amidst the backdrop of COVID-19. People are literally pounding at the doors of RV dealerships: I WANT AN RV AND I WANT ONE NOW!!!

Not surprisingly, the Year of the RV seems to be big for folding camping trailers and van campers.

And some good numbers for travel trailers and 5th wheels.

But for Class A motorhomes? Down almost 32 percent from last year.

Seems to be a bit of a mixed bag for the industry. Better than expected for the cheap rigs (folding camping trailers and lower-cost travel trailers) and not great for the expensive rigs.

There will be some residual production for the balance of the year and October’s numbers should be interesting to review.

Hard to predict where things might go next year.

One would expect a global recession to hit hard.

Except in Canada. We like spending a lot for a little. Like this recent listing in Toronto. It did sell by the way. For about $200,000 over asking.

My, my.

Bottom Of The Barrel

Peeling and flaking fabric. I’ve read about this issue on various RV forums, blog posts and Facebook groups. I’ve done some research into why the synthetic fabrics used in our motorcoach will degrade over time. For some owners, the peeling and flaking happens quickly, within their one-year warranty. For other owners, the problem happens within the first few years of ownership.

Our furniture fabric is holding up well so far. Sadly it may look like this in the not too distant future.

When we had our coach built, we were told that Newmar was using redesigned Flexsteel furniture that featured Strada leather by Ultrafabrics.

Except that Strada leather is not leather at all.

Ultrafabrics describes Strada this way:

Strada is destined to become an instant classic. Delivering a timeless appeal with an enhanced texture to match, this notable style is an enduring polyurethane option at a value price point.

An enduring polyurethane option at a value price point.

There are numerous threads on the iRV2 Newmar Forum about Newmar furniture flaking and peeling. Here is how one owner expressed his frustration:

If I knew I was buying bottom of the barrel components I would have bought from a bottom of the barrel manufacturer.

The composition of the Strada fabric is 100 percent polyurethane surface and 55 percent viscose rayon and 45 percent polyester. Ultrafabrics claims 200,000 double rubs. This is significantly above the threshold for a heavy duty fabric.

Abrasion levels can lead to the faulty assumption that the fabric will be durable and that it will enjoy a lengthy life span. Abrasion resistance is only one component of durability as many Newmar owners are discovering.

Newmar, cost cutting in this area like so many other areas, deployed a fake leather product at a “value price point” that can degrade quickly. Recovering the fabric can be costly, usually in the range of several thousand dollars. I have read reports of Newmar covering the cost out of warranty for original owners with a certain class of coach.

Do I Have To Be A Mechanic To Own An RV?

Do you have to be a mechanic to own an RV? It helps to have a mechanical mindset which, in my mind, means that you do not overreact to problems with your coach. There will be many problems, especially with a new coach, and the vast majority of them can be easily fixed. Except for things like a brand new coach catching fire.

To give you an idea, here are some of the issues we ran into with our coach over the past four years.

Leak under the kitchen sink. Easy fix.

Loose fabric trim. Easy fix.

Cracked floor tile. Required a trip to the dealer. Fixed under warranty.

MCD power shades. Never worked properly. After two years of taking it back to the dealer, we contacted MCD directly. Turns out there was a recall on the motors. Replaced at factory. They work fine now.

Winegard antennas. They all failed. Satellite and Over-the-Air Digital TV antennas. Defective motors. Both replaced under warranty although the satellite antenna was not an easy fix. I had to dismantle, ship and re-install that unit. Not fun.

Sofa bed. Broken latch. Required a trip to the dealer. Replaced under warranty. Incorrect mattress installed. We never use it so we have left it on our list of things to fix whenever we next get to the factory.

Bay doors. Newmar uses an odd plastic ring — it looks look a floral decorative element — on the retaining arm that cracks and breaks off over time. Easy fix. Annoying that they use such cheap parts in the coach.

Engine fault. Required a trip to a Cummins dealer. Easy fix for them. Engine firmware was out of date and required an update.

Defective front tire. Required roadside assistance. Replaced under warranty although it took almost six months for Michelin to finally settle the charge.

Loose lower body side panels. Newmar uses relatively small screws to retain the side body panels to the chassis of the coach. They come loose. Fortunately we caught it before the side panels could detach. Easy fix. Curious design.

Oasis hot water pumps. Not a straight forward fix. Defective pumps that ITR will not recall. Dealer replaced one. I replaced the other two. The newer designs seem to be holding up well. Having to spend upwards of $1,000 to replace defective pumps was annoying.

HWH levelling system. Required a trip to the dealer to replace a bad solenoid.

Magnum Inverter failure. Fortunately I was able to resolve with a simple circuit breaker reset. Easy fix. Just took most of a day to troubleshoot and resolve due to poor documentation. Required an RV mobile tech and a call to Magnum technical support.

Power bed. Stuck at an upright position. Newmar could not resolve over the phone. Service manager at dealer suggested a loose wire underneath the bed. Not an easy fix but it was a wire that had detached. I better appreciate sleeping on a flat bed. Such poor wiring practices in this coach.

Unintended awning deployment. This one stranded us for roughly six weeks. Awning randomly deployed while the service manager at our dealership was driving the coach into a service bay. Awning was crushed by the entrance wall. Took almost five weeks to get the parts delivered.

Latches, cabinet door arms. I keep stock of the replacement parts for our cabinet doors. These components are very poor quality and break frequently. Easy fix.

Flexsteel furniture. Power footrest stuck at an extended position. Repaired at factory.

Step cover. Travels out of track. Haven’t fixed that one yet.

Side radiator grill. Detached from coach. Easy fix.

Tank sensors. Basically useless in our model year. They misread frequently.

Multiple recalls:

467 RSB – Recall 16V 826: Power Steering Fluid Leak (potential fire hazard)
472 TSB – Slideout Motor Mounting Bolts (under-torqued).
483 RSB – Recall 17V 420: Driver Passenger Shade
486 TSB – MCD Remote Shade Motor Replacement
488 RSB – Recall 17V 497: Battery Cable May Rub Against Frame (another potential fire hazard)
493 PIB – Freightliner Lightbar: instrument panel odometer value may reset and not match the engine ECU odometer value

I came across this post on the Newmar Dutch Star Owners Facebook page:

Angela: your fun is just beginning.

I sometimes see people defending the poor quality of RVs by saying something along these lines: you are moving a house at highway speed and all that movement will cause problems.

Most of our issues had nothing to do with the coach moving and shaking down the road. Most of our issues were due to poor component quality. Most of Angela’s issues had nothing to do with the coach moving and shaking down the road. Her issues are due to poor component quality.

Pat’s comment says it all:

Comes with the territory, sadly. We’ve spent lots of time at Newmar (and other places) having issues fixed. Yes, it does help to know something about (and then some) about mechanics, plumbing, heating, AC and everything else.