Our air conditioner had been working on and off for a few months. Well, actually, it hasn’t been working well since it was brand-new three years ago. But, just like taking a car to get serviced, the on/off problem stopped as soon as it was at the RV service department. I think they stared it into submission.
Finally, it started making a huge clunking, grinding noise as soon as the fan was turned on. Didn’t even get to the compressor kicking in before we had to shut it off. My husband investigated and, yup, the wheel package blower (commonly called squirrel cage) was in several pieces and the motor shaft was spinning wildly out of tune. Thank you Dave Solberg for your sleuthing advice.
OK, we knew the problem and just needed to buy new parts for it. Well, there were no parts to be found. No new AC units, either, and we have an extended warranty! We called several dealers, RV repair shops and the manufacturer and found nothing in stock and nothing to order.
Used RV parts
Finally, one of the RV repair shops called back and said they had a relatively new Coleman Air Conditioner that had a bad compressor. They told us we could buy the used blower fan and motor. Guess that air conditioner is now toast.
Buying used parts from a broken air conditioner seemed risky. Perhaps it might be easier to just burn the money as to do the work to install the parts…
We gave up the search and bought the used parts. They actually looked a lot newer than what we had.
We installed them and they work better than ever!
What is happening to parts?
Short answer: Because of COVID, fewer parts were being produced. When parts were produced, international shipping couldn’t happen: Transportation avenues and shipping were delayed and, in some cases, non-existent. If a shipping container can’t find space on a vessel or even a vessel to transport, no parts or very few parts actually ship.
Much like the self-fulfilling toilet paper shortages that came about as a result of shortage fears, dealers and manufacturers anticipating a surge and/or delays, pre-ordered and sometimes ordered double. Ordering double won’t help if the parts can’t be manufactured or shipped, though…
Too rosy a picture from the RVIA?
The RVIA (Recreational Vehicle Industry Association) paints a rosy picture of meeting RV sales demands (up more than 75% in 2021) and supply chain issues.
“What our member companies have accomplished over the past year has been incredible,” said RV Industry Association President & CEO Craig Kirby. “They have continued to find solutions to meet the growing demand for RVs. The proof is in the numbers. Month after month, our members have built a record number of RVs, proving their ability to address and mitigate the various supply chain issues they have faced.
“The RV industry is not unique in having to face supply chain issues over the past year. Nearly every industry has significant supply chain issues brought on by the pandemic. But the RV industry is unique in its ability to succeed in the face of these challenges.”
For the hundreds of people waiting for their new RVs, air conditioners, furniture, door knobs or for the other hundreds waiting for a single part – the RV industry does not appear to be succeeding in the face of the challenges.