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A Broken Bed?

Do you have a power bed lift in your Newmar Dutch Star? Did it suddenly stop working? Did you call Newmar and then spend the next several hours trying to make the darn thing work only to find out that it was something very basic and very simple?

I hope this post helps you out if your power bed lift has stopped working.

We usually keep our king bed in an upright position during the day as it provides a bit more space in the bedroom. At night, we lower the lift to flatten the bed. It makes things a bit easier for sleeping.

Except two nights back the bed would not flatten. It remain locked in the upright position.

I spent the next several hours trying to get the bed to flatten. It was so frustrating. There is no documentation anywhere that I could find on how the power bed lift is wired and how it operates. No manual. No troubleshooting guide. Nothing.

I even came up empty on the usual social media sources. Perhaps we were the only ones to run into a power bed lift that stubbornly refused to flatten.

It appears as though there is no easy way to manually override the mechanism. It was locked and it was not going to move. Newmar support confirmed that wonderful feature with me the following day.

My first course of action was to check for a bad fuse. That proved to be an interesting exercise.

I do have all of the fuse panel schematics for our coach including the breakdown of most of the fuses in our bus. Newmar likes to keep its customers on their toes. There are all sorts of hidden fuses scattered about the motorcoach.

There are five fuse panels and each one contains dozens of fuses. Here is one of the schematics to give you a sense of the underlying complexity of the 12V system in the coach.

I keep a substantial number of spare 12V fuses on hand along with a fuse checker and a multimeter. I checked each and every one of the panels and I could not find anything labelled “Bed Power Lift” or similar.

I found out why there was no fuse for the power lift on any of my charts.

It is a hidden fuse. It is an undocumented fuse.

I did not find that out until after my call with Newmar.

It is a glass fuse nicely hidden by the awning motor control modules in our basement bay. You can just make it out under that little black box with the two white wires.

Dead end for me. Even if I had known about that fuse when I first began my troubleshooting it would not have made any difference. The fuse tested fine.

Newmar had no idea what to do about the problem. Perhaps it was a bad motor? They told me that they would do some digging to see if there was a way to flatten the bed without power and that they would get back to me.

They did call me back. And they told me that they had no idea how to resolve our issue. However, at that point in time, I had fixed the issue.

I had decided to get inside the bed casing where the motor and gearbox are situated to take a closer look and to check on the wiring connectors to the two power bed lift switches.

We had spoken with our service manager at our dealership and he had suggested that I check for any loose connections under the bed. It turns out that his hunch was bang on — thank you Paul! — but trying to get into that area was very difficult.

It took me the better part of an hour to get under the bed assembly and to check on the wiring. There were at least half a dozen connectors down there and one of them was loose.

More than loose. The black wire had become detached from the white wire in the cable pair probably due to the movement of the power bed lift.

It wasn’t easy to get in there to crimp the wire, re-twist the pair, and reinsert the connector cap. But once that was done, the power bed lift worked.

This short video walks you through the process of the repair.

Funny how six or seven hours of time can be condensed into a minute or so. I reported my findings back to Newmar support and perhaps they will be able to provide others with a bit more help in terms of potential troubleshooting for this issue.

A real design flaw. There is no way to defeat the power bed lift short of full disassembly. Thank heavens I didn’t go down that path.

We now have a flat bed.

I did not have to sleep on the floor last night.

 

2020 Newmar Dutch Star

Until now, there was no video evidence of the new 2020 Dutch Star models. I kept searching though.

Newmar has updated their website with all of their 2020 models including the Dutch Star. You can find the details on the Dutch Star from Newmar over here.

On the web I found two videos. One from Chris Anderson at Mount Comfort RV. Chris was out first. He walks us through a 2020 Dutch Star 3709. We find our 40-foot model to be a bit small for our liking. I don’t think we could fit into a 37-foot model but it looks well designed with a king-sized bed and a bath and a half floor plan.

The only other video I have found so far is in Spanish. Jorge Martinez of North Trail RV walks us through a 2020 Dutch Star 4369, the most popular floor plan from Newmar. Jorge published his YouTube video a day after Chris. A runner-up prize only.

I expect to see a few more videos coming out soon as the 2020s are now being delivered to dealers.

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.

Dutch Star Entertainment Cabinet

From that to this:

If there was one area of our coach that was a constant source of frustration, it was our entertainment cabinet in the Newmar Dutch Star.

It was a mess. Once I added a few additional components, like a satellite receiver, Apple TV, a Logitech Harmony Hub and a couple of cooling fans, I had an equipment stack that was literally one piece of equipment heaped one on top of another stuffed into the cabinet.

Every time we hit a bump in the road, clang! Equipment jumped up and down.

Although the two cooling fans were relatively large, they could not keep up with the heat as the fans had no room to operate.

And why all of this trouble?

No shelves.

I’m not sure why Newmar made the cabinet so useless for audio visual equipment. The cable routing was inordinately complex, solely to allow the option of having two independent programming feeds to the two TV sets in the front of the coach. And yet, only one sound source for the AV receiver.

I finally got around to changing all of that this past weekend.

The first task was to empty the cabinet of all the equipment. That included the Winegard Satellite Antenna Controller, Sony Blu-Ray Player, Logitech Harmony Remote Hub, Bell Expressvu Satellite TV Receiver, two 1×4 HDMI splitters, an Apple TV, a Sony AV Receiver and two cooling fans.

What was left behind was a huge mess of cabling.

I simplified the wiring dramatically by opting for one HDMI source coming from the receiver and splitting that source to the two TV sets. Each TV set playing back the same content. All I needed to put back into the cabinet was one 1 input, 4 output HDMI splitter, not two.

There were 6 HDMI cables in the cabinet. All I needed were 2 — one to feed each TV set — and the other 4 were pushed back behind the wall. I can always pull them back if I ever need them (2 of them were to send output to the exterior TV set in the basement bay which we did not install on our coach).

The rest of the wiring was to feed the AV receiver. I replaced the Sony that came with the coach. In its place is a Pioneer slimline receiver. Not as powerful in terms of pure wattage but a better sounding unit with vastly better setup protocols for doing the on-screen programming to tune speakers and subwoofer.

I had replaced the stock subwoofer that came with the coach. It was stuck inside a kitchen cabinet and sounded awful. I picked up a small but mighty sub that fits nicely behind one of our recliners. Sounds awesome in the coach.

I had a friend build two nice shelves for the coach. I was able to place all of the equipment neatly in place with a vastly simplified cable plant.

The two cooling fans are now mounted on the outside of the cabinet grill. They pull the hot air out of the cabinet far more effectively than before. So much so that I will add a temperature probe as the fans no longer need to run continuously except, obviously, when heat conditions warrant the cooling.

All of the gear is velcro’d to the shelves so no more flying equipment when driving the coach.

And, everything is neat and tidy in the cabinet.  The Pioneer receiver and Apple TV are both wired via ethernet to the back entertainment cabinet in the bedroom which is where I have a router and a NAS installed.

Very pleased with how it all turned out.

Newmar Recall 2016-559

A brand new 2016 Dutch Star 4369 caught fire last September. And now we know why:

Fortunately we have had our coach in storage since October. Newmar had an erroneous postal code for our address and we only just received the notice in the mail last week roughly 6 weeks after the date of the recall notice.

Thank heavens we were not traveling south with the coach this year. Despite the number of “coulds” in the recall notice above, a coach did catch fire. If we were snowbirds, we would have been on the road extensively during the latter part of 2016. Our coach could have caught fire.

We have booked our service appointment for when we take the coach out of storage in April.

I am a wee bit concerned about the 4-hour drive to the dealer from the storage facility. We are going to check with Newmar and Freightliner to confirm if the coach is safe to drive that distance with this defect.