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.

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 on the list. We have had 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).