Bad Pump, Bad Service

Two bad pumps? Or only one?

If you run an Oasis hot water system on a recent Newmar coach, you have probably run into a bad pump issue. Usually it involves losing your domestic hot water. A workaround is to engage the summer bypass loop, a hidden switch located on top of a panel near the Oasis burner. The downside when using the summer bypass loop is that the zone pumps run continuously which causes heat buildup in the coach and it could lead to additional pump failures. Assuming, of course, that your unit uses the old style pumps. ITR changed pump suppliers sometime over the past 18 months or so.

When our pump failed the first time, ITR was very helpful in trying to help us resolve the issue. Ultimately they sent us a new design pump to replace the faulty domestic hot water pump under warranty.

We asked our dealer to install the new pump. This was during our 6-week adventure of the punctured oil pan of our toad and the random deployment and destruction of our front awning.

Owning a coach can be such fun.

Since we were stranded for so long at the dealership, we naturally tried our hot water after the dealer had replaced the faulty pump.

No hot water.

I informed the service manager and he told me that they must have replaced the wrong pump. No worries though. They will replace it with the right one.

And they did. And we had hot water. And it was good.

Until the pump failed again last week.

I called ITR. I was not a particularly happy camper. What is the mean time between failure on your new pump design? Why am I needing to change out a pump after only a couple of months of use?

Reluctantly, I paid $300 USD for another new pump and $100 USD to overnight ship it to our location.

But something was nagging at me about this particular issue. I told Lorraine that I thought the dealer did not replace the pump that provides the hot water with the new design pump. I told Lorraine that I thought the dealer took the old design pump from the other loop and put it into the domestic hot water supply line.

That is exactly what they did.

This is a picture of the panel that holds the three pumps before we changed out the faulty pump that supplies domestic hot water.

You can see the faulty pump circled in red. That is the pump that was no longer providing domestic hot water. That pump design is known to be faulty. You can see the difference in design by the ribs in the centre of the old pump. The pump circled in blue is the new design. Visually, it is quite different from the old design pumps. That pump provides heat to zone 1 in our coach. The other pump, hidden by my hand, provides heat to zone 2 in our coach. We rarely use the zone 1 and zone 2 pumps as we have roof mounted heat pumps and in-floor radiant heat.

Our dealer had replaced the wrong pump. They put the new design pump on zone 1 (blue circle). When we told them that we still did not have hot water, they took the old design pump that they had removed from zone 1 and they put that pump on the domestic hot water loop (red circle). As the old design was faulty, it was simply a question of time before that old design pump would fail.

It failed.

We left the blue circle pump with the new design as is. We installed the new design pump that ITR had just shipped to us in the red circle.

We now have two new design pumps in that panel.

Annoyed that our dealer did not replace the correct pump. Annoyed that our dealer put an old pump into the domestic hot water loop, a pump that we use daily. Annoyed that it failed.

But very, very happy to have hot showers again.

Loose Bolts

Check those bolts. Tom had posted to this thread on the iRV2 forum concerning loose bolts on Newmar coaches:

While heading South on I-15 near Victorville, CA yesterday, we encountered sustained 30-40 mph cross winds with intermittent higher gusts. With one particular gust, it sounded like the roof of the coach was being ripped off. I pulled over and got out the ladder to inspect and determine what happened and whether anything was damaged. What I found was that the two side lag bolts on the front support that hold the driver’s side roof facade had backed out about halfway allowing the bottom part of the facade to vibrate and move in the strong crosswinds. When I finally got to the campground, I checked all the lag bolts supporting both facades (front and rear) and found that most were loose by at least an eighth or quarter turn. We are fortunate we stopped and fixed the problem before the wind actually ripped the facade off.

When I get back home I have some minor fiberglass repair work to do. I also intend to replace all the facade lag bolts with bolts, washers, and nylon lock nuts.

Here are Tom’s photos showing one of the offending bolts that had come loose:

When Tom writes about the facade on his coach, he is referring to the body panels located at the uppermost part of the coach. On my coach, there are two of these body panels on the driver’s side and they form a ridge line, roughly 8 inches high, at the very top. They run almost the entire length of the side of the coach. On the passenger side, the facades house the Girard awnings.

These body panels are secured by bolts. Bolts that can come loose.

We have had other bolts come loose on our coach. For whatever reason, Newmar secures the body panels that cover the wheel wells at the bottom of the coach and the side radiator grill with bolts. Bolts that will come loose.

After one trip, on the driver’s side, I noticed that the rear wheel body panel was very loose and it looked as though it had come off its mount. The bolt was still there, at the very bottom of the front part of the body panel, just clinging on for perhaps another turn or so. I suspect it would have fallen off on the next trip.

I then went around the entire coach and, sure enough, every single bolt that secured a body panel had come loose.

I was concerned by this finding. A loose body panel could easily be taken by a strong wind and stripped off the side of a coach. It could cause a serious accident.

Based on Tom’s experience, the top body panels could also by taken by a strong wind.

I will climb up on the roof to ensure that the bolts attaching the top body panels are secure before our trip to California.

There is a reason why I am on the iRV2 forums every day. Learning from the experiences of others can help make the ownership experience so much better. I have gleaned far more insight into the operation and maintenance of our coach from the iRV2 forums and other RVers than I have from Newmar’s documentation.

Today’s important lesson: if you run a Newmar Dutch Star, regularly check and secure all body panel lag bolts.

Bay Doors and Batteries

Aside from the somewhat frequent reprogramming of the MCD shades, I keep referring back to this post for help, the maintenance of the coach has been limited to the big detailing effort. I’ve almost finished claying and waxing the machine. It is a big job.

We had a few issues with some of our bay doors and with our batteries.

This bay door required outside help.

What happened? Well, take a look at this little bit of plastic.

It was a plastic spacer that was used for the bay door mechanism below. A very odd choice of material for a spacer. It shattered and the bay door fell about a quarter inch or so out of alignment.

I couldn’t tell from the mechanism where the spacer needed to be inserted on this bay door.

And I did not have the spacers for this door. I wasn’t sure how to disassemble the mechanism to make the repair.

I found only one other bay door in our coach with this same plastic spacer. It was on the opposite side. Both of the bay doors provide access to the main slideout tray. Looks like Newmar needed a bit more distance to allow the doors to align properly. You can make out the white spacer below. It looks like a set of white petals between the u-bracket of the arm and the bracket that is attached to the sidewall of the bay.

There was also the battery bay that needed some attention.

I called a friend for help. Two of them. Bobby and Lance.

They were able to quickly deal with the broken spacer on the bay door. And they were also able to deal with the corrosion in our battery bay.

The battery bay went from this:

To this:

B&L Service used a chemical product to provide corrosion resistance to the terminals. You can see the reddish tint on the terminal posts. It was a quick job and reasonably priced. I had maintained the water levels in the batteries so they were all fine. I did not have any issues with the batteries maintaining their charge.

I need to invest in a few tools and chemicals to deal with the battery bay myself in the future.

Lance, of B&L Service, told me that coaches are just like boats. The maintenance tasks are unending. The most common repairs for them include air conditioning units and toilets.

The final bay door that was causing me some trouble was this one.

Whenever we opened this door, it would stutter as it moved along its track.

A bit of lubrication to the travel rods and hinges solved that issue. I did not need any help for that job.

As we are sitting in the same spot for a few months, I will need to exercise the generator and do some other lubrication and tightening of bolts. Otherwise, the systems in the coach are all stable and operational.

For now.

Entegra Problems

We almost purchased an Entegra. It was one of three manufacturers that we seriously considered for our new coach back in 2015. The other two? Newmar and Tiffin. We went with Newmar and, despite a number of issues, we are fine with our decision.

Entegra had a good reputation prior to being acquired by Thor. And there were concerns that the acquisition would have a negative impact on Entegra.

Thor’s stock has been on quite a roll lately.

Thor’s quarterly revenue fell over 21 percent from last year. The stock took a big tumble last week after Thor released poor fiscal first-quarter results. RV sales had a 24 percent drop.

I caught an interview that Thor’s CEO, Bob Martin, did with Jim Cramer where he blamed rising tariffs on Aluminum and Steel for the negative impact on earnings.

To counteract the rising costs of production, Martin intended to cut raw costs and de-content its higher end motorcoaches. De-content means taking ancillary products and features out of these coaches. Less is more.

So what does this mean for Entegra owners?

This thread on the IRV2 forum, Has Thor changed Entegra, highlights the dilemma facing buyers of new coaches. Good product? Good service?

I suspect for most buyers, a purchase that begins to close in on half a million, can influence your opinion in one of two ways: I made a good decision or I made a bad decision. And the reason is simple enough. All of these coaches will have issues. All of them. And when you have a lot of issues, you begin to question your decision.

I am of the view that anyone looking to purchase a coach from Entegra, Newmar or Tiffin, should expect to have issues and should expect to have mixed results in terms of how the issues get resolved. This is part of the ownership experience.

I follow Glenn and Julia over at Our Great Escape. And they posted their experience here. They have a pretty harsh bottom line:

Shame on you Entegra, Bontrager stood up in front of an audience of 100 people who were Entegra owners at the 2016 Springfest and told everyone that you had always been a family business and would always be a family business with family values bla bla bla and then 3 months down the road sold out to Thor Industries. You then through Tadd Jenkins (the then president of Entegra coach) tried to calm the worried owners and told us that there would be absolutely no change apart from the name above the door, everything else will remain the same, same management team etc etc. Tadd was then pushed out closely followed by Chuck Lasley who took over from Tadd and a few other key people. This is a direct quote from Derek Bontrager :

“The day we stop listening to our customers is the day our demise begins and no one understands that better than we do.”

JOKE!

Are they listening??? Do they lie to their owners? You answer the question. I know the answer!

This is their YouTube video that describes their experience picking up their coach after servicing. Sadly, their experience is not unique.

Security Lights

Security lights. We have two of them. One on either side of our coach. Located midship and fairly high.

As we have our jacks down for a couple of months, I thought it would be nice to turn the patio side security light on. To provide some extra lighting at night and to help us find our way back into our coach when we return from an evening walk with our dog.

Went to the control cabinet to turn the security light on last night.

No light.

By the way, do you ever do this? When something doesn’t work, do you try the same thing over again? Several times? Just to make sure?

I did. Light must work.

No light.

I went back and forth from inside the coach to outside the coach several times to confirm the obvious.

No light.

I tried the driver side security light.

It worked.

I went back to the fuse box — the security lights run off of 12V power. The 20amp fuse for the security lights was fine.

The bulb must have failed. How could an LED light fail so soon?

Answer: it wouldn’t.

The security lights are not LED.

A quick snap from my iPhone and you might make out the outline of a light bulb in the security light.

Definitely not an LED bulb. Surprising.

The bulb is a basic 1156 light bulb which is still a common light bulb in the automotive industry.

I ordered a set of 1156 LED light bulbs which will fit into the existing sockets.

To replace the security lights is fairly straightforward. The lens cover is removed by squeezing the top and bottom of the cover and pinching it out of its holder. And the 1156 LED bulb goes in. Snap the cover back on and, assuming I get the polarity correct, there should be light.