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.

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).

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.

Girard Awnings Again

Our little saga with the Girard awnings continues.

I’ll share with you one issue that we had to resolve and it led me to conclude that the random deployment issue may not be a grounding or wiring issue. Working on this issue highlighted an interesting finding. The Girard awnings are controlled by RF, specifically 433.92 MHz. This is a very common band used widely and subject to interference. You can read all about this regulated band at the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations.

Could the random deployment issue be due to RF interference?

On then, to one of our issues with our Girard awnings — I’ll save issue two for tomorrow.

Pictured above is the only way we have to control our awnings right now. I had never used this remote before the random deployment of the Girard awning.

There is a second controller located in one of our cabinets. That is the one we always used only now it doesn’t work. The only way we are able to control the awnings is with the small handheld remote.

At first I thought that the wall switch was hard-wired to the motor control module in the basement of our coach and that the dealer had not reconnected the wiring to the wall switch.

Not the case. We have a 5-channel wall switch, model 98GC661B. It operates on RF and it needs to be paired with the motor control modules. We have two motor control modules, one for each awning. And they are both the same model: GC274B.

I guess the dealer forgot to pair the wall switch to the motor control modules.

Girard was kind enough to help me understand that for our motor control module each step in the following process must be executed within 10 seconds of the previous one or the module will revert to factory settings.

It makes the process a two-person job. One inside the coach at the wall switch with a walkie-talkie or some other form of communication device and the other at the bay with the motor control modules.

First things first.

Ensure that the motor control modules are plugged into the 110v outlets and that there is power to the modules. For some strange reason, red lights indicate that the unit is powered and operational.

Remove the lids of the motor control modules pressing the lid release tabs on the top and bottom.

Press the program button on the motor control module. The green LED should start blinking.

Press the stop button on the motor control module. It is the centre button on the top of the unit. The green LED should now be solid.

Ask your helper to selected the desired channel on the wall switch. This is done by pressing the “CH” key until the desired single channel is highlighted. The wall switch LED is not all that easy to read and it is important to find a single channel as there will be an all-channel option at some point when pressing the “CH” button repeatedly.

Ask your helper to press the “IN” button on the wall switch. The green LED on the motor control module should turn off.

At this point, pairing should be complete. Press the OUT, STOP and IN buttons alternately on the wall switch to confirm pairing.

Repeat the process for the second motor control module and use a different single channel as that will allow for independent control of the two awnings. The wall switch does allow an all-channel mode to group the two awnings.

What else is amiss with our awnings?

More on our ongoing saga with Girard awnings tomorrow.