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Cargo ships can’t unload, so keep waiting for that new RV or its parts for repairs

We are now nearly 18 months since the unofficial start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it looks like we are still a very long way from reattaching all of the links in the long, broken supply chain.

Last week, the queue of container ships waiting to enter the harbors in Los Angeles and Long Beach hit an all-time high of 65 huge vessels. The real killer is that they will have to wait out there, within sight of shore, an average of nearly nine days before they are allowed to off-load their precious cargo.

That means you’ve still got a long wait in store for that missing RV toilet flush pedal, air conditioner fan, or whatever else you need to keep your rig rolling for the rest of 2021 and into 2022.

Transit times have increased by 30 days

Here’s an even more daunting statistic. The average transit time for a container ship between China and the U.S. is now 71 days. Just two years ago, in pre-pandemic 2019, the trip took an average of 40 days.

The California ports hold the distinction of being the busiest ports in America, being the gateway for all of those Asian imports we apparently must have to build or repair an RV.

The crux of the problem is that the ports have a labor shortage. There simply aren’t enough trained workers to unload the ships in a timely manner. Plus, once a ship is unloaded, there usually aren’t enough available trucks and drivers to haul it away. (Hint: It might not be too early to get started on your Christmas shopping if your gifts are coming from Asia.)

How are RV manufacturers faring?

The “Big Three” RV manufacturers (Forest River, THOR Industries and Winnebago) are all still reporting huge backlogs of unfulfilled orders, and RV dealers continue to loudly complain of low lot inventories and parts shortages.

It isn’t much different in the motorsports industry, which is also suffering from low dealer inventories of motorcycles, snowmobiles, and ATVs. As one motorcycle dealer recently commented, “You can build 99 percent of a motorcycle, but if you’re missing the two bolts that keep the handlebars on, you really can’t ship it out.”

We know that there are an awful lot of our readers out there who are waiting less and less patiently to receive either a brand-new rig or just get the replacement parts they need to keep their beloved RV rolling. We also know it can’t be easy for dealers or repair shops, either, as they face unprecedented supply chain challenges.

What’s your experience been?

Let us know in the comments below what your RV purchase experience has been like since the supply chain broke in the spring of 2020.

##RVT1019b

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Jim
25 days ago

The original post instruction was, “Let us know in the comments below what your RV purchase experience has been like since the supply chain broke in the spring of 2020.”

For the ****** who got off topic, you ruined it for the rest of us – as usual.

Personally, I haven’t noticed a shortage because I haven’t had to purchase any parts and my rig is old but keeps going. I hope it holds together if this shortage is as broad as suggested. But, we’ll deal with whatever comes down the pike. Just like always.

Tommy Molnar
26 days ago

MY question is, how do these container ships stay upright???

Lee
27 days ago

I’ve been waiting since August for the upper ball joint on my rig. First date was 9/17, now it is a maybe on late October or early November. We’ll see. Thank the Lord we have a place to stay but it could be worse!

James D Scott
27 days ago

Well, there are alternate sources for parts such as Amazon, eTrailer, etc… that gets shipped right to your door via USPS or delivery drivers.

Goldie
28 days ago

It’s not just parts. We ordered, and paid for, a new dining room set last December. Still no sign of our furniture. The company has offered a refund but there isn’t a comparable set available any longer at twice the price. If it is in stock or made in the USA the prices have more than doubled in the last year. And when I asked about the possibility of getting a floor model I was told “We don’t sell floor models because our stores would be empty and we wouldn’t have anything to sell.” Update…you don’t have anything to sell now!

Chris Zimmerer
28 days ago

Bought a new rv in May 2021. Awning broke in June. Had to wait until end of July to get appointment at dealer cause they are short handed. Now have to wait for new awning parts till Nov or December or more for parts to arrive.

Linda
21 days ago
Reply to  Chris Zimmerer

We are in the same boat. Parts were ordered in early May for our broken awning on our new 2021 trailer that we used once…still waiting!

John Ramares
28 days ago

I have a 2008 Foretravel Nimbus
(40′ Diesel Pusher with lifting tag axle) in better than showroom condition. (Fully Upgraded throughout)
Is this the right time to sell to a high end buyer? We both could be very happy campers.
Thank you in advance for your advice,
John

Lindalee
28 days ago
Reply to  John Ramares

John, you might just “put it out there” (online) with a for sale sign and see what kind of results you get! If good, then put it with a registered dealer (off-line OR online) and sell it!

Just my two cents!

Ken Mercier PAC Crane technician ILA Local #333
28 days ago

Very interesting 65 huge vessels waiting to get off loaded at California ports waiting as long as nine (9) days. Since the wait is nine (9) days they should set their sites on the East Coast especially The Port of Baltimore where I am one (1) of the forty (40) technicians that maintain the eleven (11) soon to be fifteen (15) super post Panamax ship to shore cranes and twenty two (22) RTG’s that get the trucks in and out by record numbers. Our docks could use those container ships so we can get more vessel orders. Not to mention ALL those items and parts you are waiting for will get the destination A LOT faster since Baltimore is further inland with interstate 95, 695, 70 CSX all within 10 minutes most right next or in the Port. Ports America Chesapeake Bayard Hogans will gladly assist directing shipping line to one of our four (4) Berths. We are no where near the size of West Coast ports but we make that up in time, the vessel turnaround time at the Baltimore Port is counted by hours

Pamela D VanCleave
27 days ago

What a great idea! All those months roving out in the ocean could be used to get over to another port. Surely you aren’t the first to bring this up? Probably some political reason not to unload effeciently

Norman Jones
27 days ago

Totally agree with you there.

Uncle Swags
25 days ago

Sounds like the California unions have a lot more clout than the East Coast. Too bad Baltimore has become unlivable.

Ernie Powell
28 days ago

Called a lot of places to get an 22.5 8 lug rim for our tiffin class A Junk yard said they don’t have it either. Crack in the rim and weld keeps splitting more . Now what do we do now??

Del W
28 days ago

Pogo said it best “We have met the enemy and he is us”. As long as we continue to only look for the cheapest we get what we deserve. As long as our officials make it easier for a company to ship jobs out of the country we get what we deserve. As long as the rules allow a product to be labeled made in America when it contains foreign items in it without disclosing that fact we are the problem.
Pogo was right.

KellyR
28 days ago
Reply to  Del W

Agree

Lindalee
28 days ago
Reply to  KellyR

Third agree!

Tommy Molnar
26 days ago
Reply to  Lindalee

Fourth agree.

Mike Schwab
22 days ago
Reply to  Del W

Roger and Me (1989) – Michael Moore. About GM sending car assembly jobs to Mexico in chase of lower wages, and the impact on Flint MI.

Sharon L Boehmer
28 days ago

We need to stop blaming this administration or that administration and start looking at ourselves. WE DID THIS. Our cars, TV’s, and yes, our RV’s might be assembled in the US, but it is out of parts made somewhere else. Why? Because we truly don’t want to pay the price for something 100% made in the US. How many of us can say they don’t shop at Walmart, Sam’s, Costco or Amazon? Our second problem is our workforce. We live in a “what’s in it for me” society and I have been watching it become this way for 30 years. Why would anyone want a job that was physically hard, outside in the weather or inside in a hot, dirty environment, when they can sit in a cushy air conditioned office looking at a computer all day? Think about this…there are countries in Asia that can manufacture all these parts in hot, dirty factories, and get them all loaded, outside in all kinds of weather, onto these ships and get them over here, but we can’t get them unloaded when they get here. Why is that?

chris
28 days ago

I frequent a couple RV boards. Time and time again all I hear is people saying this product is “overpriced” or “you’re paying for a name.” Often it’s about generators, It’s always some conspiracy, it’s never about quality. People simply do not want to pay for quality. I’ve seen this my entire life.

Bob M
28 days ago
Reply to  chris

I’d rather pay more for quality parts that work on an RV than the cheap junk they’re using.

Jim W
28 days ago

The labor shortage has hit the RV manufacturers and dealer service departments too.
It’s a little surprising US companies have not stepped up to build the necessary parts. I was surprised when a new Ford F-350, ordered in February, showed up at the dealer. Even more surprising was the trailer customer installable camera and TPMS kit, all part boxes showed Made In USA.

Last edited 28 days ago by Jim W
Ozzie
28 days ago

Ordered awning motor in Feb and received it in July, and it cost WAY too much.

Off topic, I’m really tired of people blaming their representatives for overseas manufacturing. They don’t make decisions where a company will build products (thank goodness), those decisions are made by owners and corporations looking for maximum profits. Stop blaming lawmakers for problems big businesses create. Lord knows we have plenty of other things to blame on lawmakers.

/rant.

Tom
28 days ago
Reply to  Ozzie

Stop and think for a moment, Who makes the tax laws that drive many manufacturers to move their plants overseas?

Del W
28 days ago
Reply to  Ozzie

But they are the problem. They make the tax laws which allow the profit shift without paying US taxes. They allow the import of products through tariff laws that undercut on shore products.

Charlie Sullivan
28 days ago
Reply to  Ozzie

Stop blaming lawmakers…are you serious? Who do you think gave us NAFTA?

Dennis
28 days ago

NAFTA is not your problem, look a little further west toward China.

Kris
27 days ago
Reply to  Dennis

Thanks to our past leader with his Great trade war which started it all ☺️

CLeeNick
28 days ago

Thinking people have been warning of situations like this for decades. US dependence upon offshore production (less delicately known as “slave/cheap labor”), is the reason for this bottleneck. Whether it be a pandemic, economic, social, or other diplomatic conflict, or a “hot war”, relying on manufacturing outside the United States puts the entire USA at risk of coming to a standstill whenever the “wind”, either literally or figuratively, blows in the wrong direction.

I’ve said for decades that there is no constitutional right to cheap imported products, whether it be for RV’s or anything else. If the USA is to survive without potential upheaval/turmoil caused by shortages of what we need, Americans must learn to accept reasonable prices for products made right here in the good ol’ USA.

Jim W
28 days ago
Reply to  CLeeNick

The “Just In Time” inventory models most companies adopted over the past 20+ years, has greatly contributed to the spike in shortages and long recovery times.

Marc Stauffer
28 days ago

For me not only are parts and products on backorder, order fulfillment on in-stock items and shipping times have doubled. Reminds me of when I was a kid in the 60’s and 70’s and you ordered out of a catalog by mail. We have also experienced businesses that we have ordered from in the past closing their facilities due to the inability to wait for their inventory. COVID fears, labor shortages, untrained workforce in skilled labor areas, higher costs of fuel and raw materials, green energy mandates, antiquated infrastructure, and poor government response have all come together to create a mess that will take a long time to unravel.

John Macatee
28 days ago

Perhaps the “brainless” elected representatives could better themselves by actually representing the people and bring back manufacturing FROM communist china.

chris
28 days ago
Reply to  John Macatee

Then we’ll need even more workers.

Pamela D VanCleave
27 days ago
Reply to  chris

Plenty of illegals pouring in to remedy this labor shortage.

Carol Storts
28 days ago

My question is why aren’t there enough employees to unload? Is unloading the root cause of the problem and why? Good article but thin on reasoning.

Crowman
28 days ago

The lack of workers here seems to be the problem at our ports. The old guys when the ****** Flu hit retired but the problem is a lack of young workers wanting to take their jobs.The towns I’ve traveled through have help wanted signs in about every other business with no takers even though they start out at $15.00 an hour.

Mike Rutkowski
28 days ago
Reply to  Crowman

$15.00 per hour is a joke. Think if you have to make a car or house payment and then food if you have kids it’s impossible America needs to pay $30 a hour.
That $15 was good money 40 years ago. Could you make it on $15 a hour today

Pamela D VanCleave
27 days ago
Reply to  Mike Rutkowski

Oh please I make 12.00 an hour still pay my modest house note and have a paid for van. I am not rich but I can make ends meet. People could not keep a business open paying 30.00 an hour!

Tommy Molnar
26 days ago

Spot on, Pamela.

The Lazy Q
28 days ago

The crux of the problem is not labor shortages, that is one of the results as is off shore manufacturing. Come on people wake up. Y’all darn well know that, past and present, our government representatives that have and continue to be voted in ARE THE PROBLEM. Yet they continue to be re-elected, they continue to fail us and we continue to fail our current and future future generations. So the actual crux of the problem is us, the voters. Supposedly we can change it LOL.

Vince Sadowski
28 days ago

I have a 20 year old Southwind without anything fancy and I haven’t needed a thing even though I traveled all summer in it.

Drew
28 days ago
Reply to  Vince Sadowski

Same for my ’08 Winnebago.