Cummins Prepares For A Downturn

This from the United Nations: Climate Change is the defining issue of our time and we are at a defining moment. From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale. Without drastic action today, adapting to these impacts in the future will be more difficult and costly.

This from Cummins: While we do anticipate a shift towards electrification in some markets over the coming years, diesel will be the primary source of energy in commercial vehicles for many years to come. Cummins will continue to lead the way in developing cleaner and more fuel-efficient diesel engines, such as the recently announced and industry leading 2020 ISX15 Efficiency Series, for the North American heavy-duty truck market, which is 5% more fuel efficient than its 2019 counterpart.

And from my financial advisor: This week the UN said greenhouses gases spew unabated, and we’ll all fry in eighty years. Global temps will spike over three degrees, and millions will become climate refugees. The economic destruction, political disruption and human misery will be legion. So why would you ever birth a child today? Action is desperately required. The deniers, Trumpers and pro-growth gang say the UN’s a criminal outfit full of globalists who wish to subjugate, tax, control and geld us. The climate change hoax is part of the agenda to create a one-world, borderless, pan-national reality serving the elites. It’s just weather. Resist. The debate is not going away. Meanwhile – agree or not – climate change is the dominant political issue.

Drastic action today or a shift in some markets over the coming years? I have no idea what to expect. The climate change alarmism seems excessive and overbearing. The response from governments, in the form of confiscatory taxation, seems ineffective as countries have made little progress in achieving international targets. Sticking our collective heads in the sand while we harm the environment is an inappropriate response to a global challenge.

In our retirement, we have dramatically reduced our carbon footprint even though our coach runs a Diesel engine, which, for most of the year, is idle.

But what will happen to the RV industry over the next few years? What will happen to the Diesel engine? Can the RV lifestyle, for those of us in Class A Diesel Pushers, be sustainable should drastic action in the form of punitive taxation and/or regulatory restrictions occur?

Difficult to predict the timing but I suspect some form of conflict will occur between those that embrace climate change as a defining issue and those that do not.

Cummins just announced that they will be laying off 2,000 people from their company. They currently employ about 62,000 people. They are taking this action as the company needs to do more to reduce costs. The downturn is happening at a sharper pace than expected.

During an analyst presentation last week, the Chief Operating Officer for Cummins, Tony Satterthwaite, made this observation: “Most of the markets in which we participate have either peaked or are on their way down. Demand has deteriorated even faster than expected, and we need to adjust to reduce costs.”

Cummins has launched a New Power business which includes existing electrification business as well as fuel cell and hydrogen production technologies. They seem to be preparing for a gradual market shift not a drastic one.

Change in how we use fossil fuels is coming. Whether it is drastic change or gradual change remains to be seen.

Network Redesign

Why is the Internet so bad? A question that I am asked many, many times in our travels. Yes, there are many parks where the underlying WiFi is indeed awful. But a number of parks have invested significantly in improving their WiFi service and yet it doesn’t seem to make much difference for many users.

Getting the best possible Internet does begin with the basics: a good external antenna, a good router and a wee bit of technical knowledge.

I had been running two systems in our coach: a Winegard ConnecT 2.0 and a Ubiquiti AirCube and NanoStation Loco M5. The Winegard provided cellular and 2.4 GHz data. The Ubiquiti provided 5 GHz data. Between the two systems, we were able to keep well connected to the Internet wherever we travelled.

We have over 30 devices in our coach that connect to the Internet and we routinely use several hundred Gigabytes of data a month. The Internet is very important to our lifestyle.

I can live with speeds as low as 7-10 Mbps but prefer to get as much speed and reliability as possible.

I had been planning the redesign of our network in the coach for a few months. Last week, I received all of the new equipment. The equipment will replace the Winegard and Ubiquiti platforms.

One network platform to rule them all.

The router is a Pepwave Max BR1 Mk II. The Pepwave is an advanced mobile router that provides cellular data and WiFi connectivity. The antenna is a Poynting 5-in-1 rooftop antenna. It will receive cellular, 2.4 and 5 GHz signals. I purchased these items from MobileMustHave Mobile Lifestyle Solutions.

In our coach, we have two cabinets for AV equipment. This is our front cabinet:

The cabinet from top to bottom:

Winegard satellite dish interface, Sony Blu-Ray player, Logitech Harmony Remote Hub (for our universal remote), Wally satellite dish receiver (we use Dish TV), video splitters for the two front LEDs, Pioneer AV receiver and an Apple TV.

I will have to rearrange the front cabinet to install the Pepwave router, a Sonos booster for our Sonos speaker systems and a network switch.

I have the Pepwave out in the coach right now along with one of the switches. I have to wait for the installer to come in and mount the rooftop antenna before I redo the front cabinet. Here is that equipment:

When we built the coach, I had Newmar run an Ethernet cable from the front AV cabinet to the rear AV cabinet located in our bedroom.

I have completed all of the new wiring in that rear cabinet. It looks like this:

There are three components in the rear cabinet: an Apple TV, a Playstation PS4 and a Synergy DS916 with 16 Terabytes of storage. There is also an IR extender to control the components in the cabinet with a Logitech Harmony universal remote. You can make out the eye of the IR extender at the top left side of the photo — it is the small black box with a green light.

All of the components are hardwired to a network switch. That switch will be connected to another switch in the forward AV cabinet and that switch which will be connected to the Pepwave.

The forward cabinet network switch will be hardwired to another Apple TV, a Sonos booster, our Wally satellite receiver, and our Pioneer receiver.

The rest of the devices in the coach will connect to the Pepwave over WiFi.

And the Pepwave will get data from at least three sources: WiFi as Wan over 2.4 GHz, WiFi as Wan over 5 GHz and cellular data.

I haven’t settled on a cellular provider as yet largely because we are currently achieving high-speed Internet on the existing WiFi source and I am not in a rush to implement the cellular portion of the new network.

I have done an initial systems test. I wired everything together to test all of the components. And everything worked as expected. Once the antenna has been installed, I will go to work on rewiring and reinstalling the components in the front AV cabinet.

I have the new router programmed to my liking and I am very impressed with the Pepwave router. I have decommissioned the Ubiquiti network and I will decommission the Winegard within another two weeks or so.

Even though I am waiting on the antenna to be installed, I have been using the new router with the paddle antennas.

Seems to be doing well so far.

Myriad Resort Rental Only

April Fools perhaps? This was one of the last emails I received from Myriad Luxury Motorcoach Resort, the same folks behind Mountain Falls Luxury Motorcoach Resort. It hit my mailbox on April 1, 2019:

12 SPOTS SOLD

Only 13 Priority Reservation Agreements remain. Call Suzanne to learn more about the advantages of the Priority Reservation Agreement. Here are a few highlights of being one of the first 25 lot owners:
– Be among the first to select your preferred lot
– Discounted price advantage only available to agreement holders
– Lot trade advantage
NEW ADVANTAGE: Guaranteed a lot to occupy while you build a coach villa on your lot in the 2019/2020 winter season.

Except nothing in life is guaranteed. I was speaking with my American buddy about this development last week. He told me that he had gone down to take a look at it and that there was nothing to see. He thought that the project had been abandoned.

A few days later and I received a bit of an odd email from Myriad:

The update, for whatever strange reason, was a tiny embedded graphic. It reads:

The developer of Myriad RV Resort has modified their project plan. Moving away from a phased approach, Myriad will be built out all at once. The completed project will open in 2021. Lots will be available FOR RENT. The completed Resort will open in 2021. There will be no lots FOR SALE. Myriad Luxury Motorcoach Resort…
– same reputable high end developer
– same resort vision with a new project plan
– open for renters in calendar year 2021

Something odd happened with this development. I had posted about Myriad last January. You can find that post over here.

This was the original overview.

Designed in the French West Indies Vernacular, Myriad is truly a one of a kind Motorcoach Resort unparalleled in its fine finish, attention to detail and warm luxurious design.

We spent the last 5 years planning this resort, leveraging our experience in developing the finest in luxury resort communities and understanding the wants and needs of the motorcoach enthusiast. With oversized lots, lush landscaping, and deluxe coach villas for entertaining and overnight guests, to the meticulously designed infrastructure, we’ve anticipated your future wants and needs. We took the time to get it right.

This was the original park plan with owner sites to the left and renters crowded into the upper right on very small lots.

This is the new plan:

I can’t tell if it is basically the same plan as their website is a total mess with outdated information including a page with rental rates for the 2018/2019 season. Their Facebook page isn’t much better I’m afraid.

If Myriad is truly a one of a kind Motorcoach Resort unparalleled in its fine finish, attention to detail and warm luxurious design, then they might want to improve their website and their communication.

I have no idea whether this park will ever get built but their messaging sure does comes across as an amateur effort.

Renewed

Renewed. Finding time to get through the material to rewrite my commercial driver’s licence proved challenging over the past few weeks. And, with our border crossing coming up this Friday, the time to renew the licence was quickly running out.

The Ontario government changed a lot of the rules for renewing a commercial driver’s licence. Renewal is no longer automatic. You must write and pass the knowledge tests at each renewal. In my case that included the Class D knowledge test, Road Signs and the Z (Air Brake) Knowledge Test.

The thresholds for the multiple choice questions on the knowledge tests? You must get 27 correct out of 30 for the Class D, 16 correct out of 20 for the Road Signs and 16 correct out of 20 for the Z (Air Brake).

My scores?

30/30, 19/20 and 20/20.

Yes, I did miss an answer. I missed one of the road sign tests. It was this sign:

The technical explanation for the above sign:

The Maximum Tonnes Sign (differentiated by truck type) must be used on bridges where the different maximum gross weight applies to single and combination vehicles. A structural assessment of the bridge is required prior to passing a by-law authorizing the weight restrictions.

I missed the wording in one of the answers, confusing “structure” with “bridge”.

Fortunately the renewal is now in effect for five years. I do not have to worry about learning all of this truck stuff again for a little while.

Almost two thirds of the content for the Class D knowledge test had no relevance to the operation of a motorhome. I’m going to petition the Ministry of Transportation to consider a Class D restricted licence for people operating motorhomes and to eliminate the content that is specific to commercial truckers.

There is a precedent in our province: the Class A restricted licence.

Before 2008, RVers, horse trailer haulers and anyone else with a trailer over 4,600 kg or 10,000 lbs, were required to get a full Class A licence.

Ontario Licence offices would insist that the applicable road tests be conducted in Tractor Trailer rigs. Impractical and impossible for most of those drivers. And much of the content in the knowledge tests had little or no relevance to people hauling trailers for non-commercial reasons.

The Class A Restricted licence allows you to pull a trailer over 4,600 kg with the following restrictions:

  • You may not drive full size tractor-trailers
  • You may not drive a motor vehicle pulling double trailers
  • You may not drive a motor vehicle pulling a trailer with air-brakes unless you have a Z (Air Brake) endorsement
  • You may not give driver instruction to another person on a vehicle requiring full Class A privileges

All Class A requirements are still applicable such as medicals and the knowledge tests to get and keep up a Restricted Class A license.

The only reason we can operate our coach with a Class D commercial licence as opposed to a Class A restricted licence is that we tow a vehicle that is below 4,600 kg.

If we lived in another province, like British Columbia, we could operate our coach on a regular general licence with an air brake endorsement. The rules for licensing differ from province to province and state to state.

The final tally to keep my commercial driver’s licence going was about $250 for the medical, vision and knowledge tests.

I am now renewed.

Until next time.

One RV and Home Free

Another keynote done. My friends at the Hitch House had me back again to speak at their fall event on Saturday. Six hours of driving for the two-hour segment. And probably close to three days of prep work. But I do enjoy the process of creating and delivering a presentation.

I’ve pulled a few of the slides from the deck (I had 76 slides in total).

Always start a presentation with a catchy image and title as it will set a great tone for your story. This was the title slide.

An audience wants to connect with the speaker at a personal level. I like to share a few personal details to let the audience know that we are all in this together — trying to live life as best we can.

Spoke at length about our decision to sell our home and to travel full-time in our motorcoach. This was our house. We lived in the country on 7 acres. We had about 5,200 square feet of living space and almost 2,000 square feet between the two garages. We went from all that space to about 450 square feet in our coach. Quite the change.

This was the senior executive team from my corporate life. I’m the guy in the suit on the far right. I held senior technology roles in several of Canada’s largest financial services company over the past 35 years. I spent the last ten years of my career as the Chief Information Officer for this company. And I started to sense that it was time to consider retirement.

It was this book, Younger Next Year, that made me think about retirement. Coincidently, I had just turned sixty.

I took this shot in the Great Smoky Mountains. Sink Falls. A waterfall with someone going over the edge. That sound, the sound of the waterfall, the sound of mortality, was far more present in my life back when I was working. It still is today.

Inspiration to retire came from a variety of sources including Nikki and Jason Wynne. This was their advice to me.

We had started looking at coaches way back. In 2006. I still have the brochure on the Newmar Dutch Star from that year. It took ten years before we finally got one. This was definitely a process for us and it did not happen overnight.

To get to one RV we had a decision framework with a few major considerations.

Money

How much were we prepared to spend on this lifestyle? Not just the initial purchase but for life on the road.

Lifestyle

Weekender? Vacationer? Part-time (extended)? Full-time? What lifestyle would we take on? That lifestyle will have an influence on what type of RV we might consider.

Type

Based on budget and desired lifestyle, the type of RV is another decision factor. We always wanted a Class A although I’ve often debated about jumping into a Prevost conversion.

Brand

Which brand should we buy? The RV industry is highly consolidated with three companies holding almost 90 percent of the market (Thor, Forest River and Winnebago). All of them build their products using parts from a small number of suppliers. There is not as much differentiation between the brands if buying new as some might argue. All RVs will have issues. It comes with the lifestyle.

I did point out that there has been quite a drop in inventory. The RV industry shipped 487,893 units in 2018. The forecast is for 344,790 units in 2019. That is a drop of over 140,000 units.

New or Used

We bought new. If we were to do this again, we would buy gently used but here are the pros and cons.

 

Floorplan

What floorplan will work for us during this stage of our retirement? We had a few non-negotiable items for our coach: Class A at least 40-feet in length and equipped with two washrooms and a king-size bed. This is the floorpan of our current coach.

There was a lot more content shared in the session. Lots of audience interaction and I really enjoyed the time. I closed with another quote from Younger Next Year. The rest of our life can be great. We think it is awesome right now!

 

In a couple of weeks we arrive to our site in Florida. Good friends, sun, warmth and palm trees. Life doesn’t get much better than this. I shared this item with the audience. Lorraine and Tabby enjoying an amazing sunset view from the front of our coach.

And, after a couple of hours, the session was done. I slept well that night.