That was the RV week that was, August 24–30, 2019

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Here are your RV news highlights for the week of August 24-30, 2019.

We reported earlier about the $500,000 judgment issued against Winnebago in a defective RV lawsuit in Pennsylvania. On Tuesday (August 27), the judge in the case formally sanctioned the eight-member jury’s award to Heidi Hanreck and Raymond Andrarowski of Florida. The sanction came despite the sputtering complaints of Winnebago’s attorney, Matthew T. Pisano, who claimed in filings that the award was “grossly excessive,” and calling it a “punitive assessment” that “shocks the conscience.” He told the court that the award should never had exceeded the purchase value of the couple’s motorhome, which was said to be $130,460. If the award survives any potential appeal, it may well send a few shockwaves into the RV manufacturing industry.


Last week we reported on the evacuation of the Mat-Su RV Park in Alaska, due to the McKinley Fire. This week we report the sad news that most of the park was destroyed by the wildfire. Colin Jennings and his mother, the park owners, say they’ll rebuild. The park has been part of the family since 2007, and when the fire broke out, Colin wasn’t too worried. But when the wind shifted, he smelled trouble in the smoke and evacuated. A former park customer has given Colin a place to stay until he can find a spot at the park to reoccupy. A GoFundMe page has been established to help with the recovery.

If the latest predictions from The Farmer’s Almanac prove as true this winter as they did last, this is definitely the winter to become a snowbird, particularly for those east of the Rockies. Using terms like “freezing, frigid, and frosty” and “polar coaster,” the editors predict higher-than-normal precipitation and colder-than-normal temperatures for two-thirds of the country. The worst of it is projected for January. Live in the western third of the U.S.? Then expect near-normal rounds of precipitation and temperatures.

That was the RV week that was, August 24–30, 2019
Click to enlarge. Photo: Chelsea Powrie on castanet.net

A toad-car that caught fire and closed down a portion of Highway 97 near Penticton, British Columbia, may have also left the owner somewhat red-faced. The August 23 incident happened when the driver of a Class C motorhome spotted flames coming from his towed Mini Cooper. The driver tried unsuccessfully to kill the flames with a fire extinguisher, but did manage to get the car unhitched before any damage occurred to the motorhome. The cause? The RVer had failed to take the car out of gear before towing it.

California’s Joshua Tree National Park has reopened all previously closed campgrounds on Friday, ahead of the fall season. The park closes several campgrounds during the summer months to save on maintenance costs and help renew vegetation. Cottonwood, Indian Cove, Black Rock, Black Rock Equestrian and Jumbo Rocks campgrounds are now open through May 26, say park officials.

Thor Industries Inc., announced on Thursday a multiyear partnership with the National Forest Foundation, the official nonprofit partner of the U.S. Forest Service, to help Americans experience the outdoors. The National Forest Foundation will use Thor’s $2.7 million gift to improve recreation sites and campgrounds, and help to make them more sustainable — critical efforts to ensure families are able to camp and enjoy public lands for generations to come, the company said. 

Lawsuits filed against Tesla by both Walmart and Amazon over roof-top solar installation fires have dragged in yet another name: Amphenol Corporation. Earlier in August, Walmart sued Tesla, claiming fires at a half-dozen of its stores were the result of solar installations done by Tesla. Now Amazon says it, too, had a fire at one of its warehouses, and said Tesla’s solar system is to blame. A media publication, Business Insider, said Tesla was working to replace faulty connectors made by Amphenol Corporation – but did not clarify if the Amphenol connectors were associated with either the Walmart or Amazon fires. Amphenol says it doesn’t have any reason to believe its connectors were to blame in any fire.

U.S. shipments of recreational vehicles are expected to drop more sharply this year than previously projected as a slowing economy and a tariff-fueled surge in material costs bite into sales, according to an analysis done for the industry’s main trade group.

RV shipments have fallen sharply just before the last three U.S. recessions, so the decline has raised red flags for the economy.

Manufacturers of the trailers and motor homes, many clustered in and around Elkhart, Indiana, are now expected to ship 401,200 units this year, a 17.1% drop from 2018. The industry previously projected it would ship 453,200 units, which would have meant a more modest 5.4% annual decline. (see graphic: here)

Ford’s RV Refrigeration just announced it has launched a training program for RV owners and RV technicians. They can bring their RV to the business’ headquarters in Benton, Kentucky, and be trained in RV refrigerator diagnostics and repair on their refrigerator in a one day course. RV techs can bring an RV or be trained with FRVRTC refrigerators. The cost is $400 for the basic class or $800 for the advanced version. More.

A 78-year-old Naples, Maine, man, Joseph Boldiga, has had his RV travel plans cut short. Boldiga bought a motorhome in Alfred, Maine, and drove away from the seller. The problem is, the seller says Boldiga never made any payment on the rig, and all attempts to contact him were futile. Police spotted the RV in a rest area the next day and arrested him, charging him with felony theft.

RVers in British Columbia’s Thompson Nicola Regional District have formed a Facebook group, set up a petition, and are working toward drafting amendments to the local government’s regulations. What leads to the scurrying action? The group is concerned about a recent notice from the District, one that reminds residents that RVs cannot be used as permanent homes on rural lands. The District was quick to respond that they would only act on specific complaints, but the new group is concerned things could get tough, as many of the RV dwellers in the district have suffered financial setbacks due to mill closures. They point out it’s hardly a major act of insubordination – by their reckoning, there might be as many as one RV dweller in every 175 square miles.

Last April, Delaware State Police Financial Crimes Unit arrested a Laurel, Delaware, RV dealer on fraud-related charges. William G. Carey Jr., 57, of Salisbury, Maryland, is alleged to have taken used motorhomes and travel trailers on consignment then resold them without paying off the previous liens. Troopers say Carey would then submit falsified sales invoices to the banks and department of motor vehicles. Now it appears Carey is in deeper doo-doo: After being earlier released on bail, police swept him up again on August 23, charging him with organized crime and racketeering, all related to the earlier incidents.

Canadians doing the “snowbird thing” appear to be on the decline. January through March travel by Canadians to the U.S .was down 3 percent to six million border crossings, according to StatCan, a Canadian number-crunching firm. The numbers reflect visits to the U.S. by all Canadians, so just how the number of RVing Canadians was affected, if at all, is unclear.

A Middletown, Rhode Island, RV park appears to be headed for closure, and in its place will be residential housing. Meadowlark RV Park, a 10-acre site, was bought up earlier in August. The new owners have filed plans to combine it with a parcel they own next door, and will turn the whole spot into eight housing tracts, provided the city government agrees.

That was the RV week that was, August 24–30, 2019
Click to enlarge. Photo: John Bryant, Washington State Patrol

Washington’s Blewett Pass was shut down for several hours on Friday, August 23, to protect motorists from the potential of flying bullets. An RVer was driving a motorhome which suffered a breakdown and he pulled over, six miles north of the summit. Then fire broke out in the motorhome, threatening it and an attached utility trailer loaded with a quad. That wasn’t all that was loaded: Ammunition in the RV started blasting off, and the state patrol shut down the highway in both directions. The driver escaped unharmed, but the motorhome was demolished.

A Eureka, Missouri, KOA Campground employee is getting the credit for saving lives when a flash flood roared into the campground last Monday. One RVer was startled by loud banging on his door. When the unidentified woman employee warned him of flood waters, they were already up the steps of his rig. The RVer says other sleeping RVers might well have perished had it not been for the quick and timely warning.

That was the RV week that was, August 24–30, 2019
Photo: fundy atventures atv club

A Nova Scotian ATV riders club is burnt to a crisp, after someone torched a motorhome on the bridge the club built. Club members say the bridge near Kennetcook was fine on the night of August 24, but the next afternoon, the smoldering remains of the RV were blocking the now-damaged bridge. Police are investigating the matter, and reports suggest they were able to obtain at least a partial Vehicle Identification Number. Club members are disheartened by the senseless damage, and say the original $25,000 cost of the bridge will probably double to demolish and replace it.

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Donald N Wright

I do wish that more campgrounds had time limits on how long someone can stay in their park. Vacation is one thing, moving in to stay is another. Maybe Walmart should actually set up campgrounds with a one week maximum stay. I will suggest it to them.