Tuesday, December 7, 2021

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Getting started: The RV nightmare continues, and my first trip was no exception

It is Halloween, October 31st, and I am supposed to be in Oklahoma at my Harvest Hosts llama/alpaca farm enjoying those wonderful creatures. Instead, I am back in Asheville, NC, where I started. How did that happen?? Unfortunately, the RV nightmare continues.

As you might recall, I purchased a used 2015 Newmar Class A from a dealer. It had suspension problems, making it unsafe to drive. My local Ford dealer did a wonderful job diagnosing and fixing the problems – overinflated tires, a loose sway bar with broken brackets, and cracked and burnt front brake rotors. It also hadn’t been “lubed” for a very long time.

I brought it home to my unlevel driveway. I had gone to great lengths to try to level it with blocks, but since I was only loading up to leave in a few days, I elected to not extend both slides. These slides were functioning previously although the big slide seemed temperamental and would work intermittently. I chalked it up to not being perfectly level, but what did I know? Obviously nothing.

I loaded my beast: I set up the garage with kitty paraphernalia and shelves holding tools, supplies and bedding, stocked the kitchen, loaded the cabinets, and lastly the cats. Finally, I filled the fresh water tank with filtered water and checked other tank levels – all good. I admit to stuffing stuff in a bit haphazardly in my rush to get going.

Time to go!

Time to go. The small slide was brought in. I had upgraded my mattress and it was a tighter fit than the trashed one that came with the RV. I did not think it was a problem.

The RV was driving very well – the work done was effective: no more hitting the ceiling and loose steering. It wasn’t a smooth ride, but it was what I expected in an RV. A few things hit the floor because I didn’t secure them properly. I made a point to tighten up my pre-trip procedures.

Leaving Asheville for good! Or so I thought.

We arrived at our first park – Nashville Shores just outside of Nashville in Hermitage, a beautiful park on a lake with lovely pull-through sites. I plugged in using my Progressive EMS system and engaged my leveling system – it reads: “excess slope.” It is a relatively flat site, so I am now sure my leveling system is not working properly.

The problems begin…

I went to extend the slides. The bedroom slide, which I had brought in that morning, started its journey and then 1/3 of the way, stopped with a huge, violent “thump!” What the heck??!! The big slide with the kitchen and living room would not even engage! What the heck again???!!! I was sitting in a 40-foot RV that I couldn’t walk through without climbing over the bed. To top it all off, I was missing a cat. Talk about stress!

I made some calls and decided to return to Asheville the next morning, where I had made an appointment at RV Services on Tuesday (in four days). I was thankful for the time slot. They were slammed because it is peak leaf-peeping season in Western North Carolina, and there was a plethora of campers in town. I could not book a site but had to park in a parking lot of a friend’s business where I could plug in.

So here I sit – managing my crew and waiting for rescue. Fortunately, there’s a taco place down the street: Tacos make the world a better place. Woody, my 39-year-old parrot, agrees with me and demands I share my tacos with him. The cats can stick to cat food.

Woody in his travel cage eating tortillas

So I will admit that I swore a lot and vowed I was selling the RV and quitting the camping life forever. It is so difficult when you are traveling alone (I mean without another person or two) to help. This is not for the weak-hearted! And, I also admit, I have made the mistake of buying the RV and not testing it thoroughly before I set off on an important trip. After $3,000 for the chassis work and four new AGM deep cycle house batteries, I believed it safe to drive. I was prepared to fix little things when I got to California. I honestly thought the slides were working. Oh, and I did find the cat – he was under the bed. Whew.

Tacos to the rescue!

This morning I woke up with a bit brighter outlook and UFO (another cat) telling me it was time for breakfast. I know I have a lot to learn about RVing and  I am hopeful the slides can be fixed and I will be on my journey soon.

UFO, Tommy, Clara and Ditzy making it known it is time for breakfast.

I’ll keep y’all updated as I deal with this and make my way to California.

Read Dr. Karel’s last article – It’s a good precautionary tale for buyers. 

##RVT1025

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Lauri
10 days ago

This is awesome! The cats and parrot make this article, and life, better! I understand what you mean when you say it’s difficult without another human or two, but their sweet faces make it all worth it. Send pictures on your setup if you don’t mind. I’m three weeks away from setting up litterboxes in my rv, for ten cats. I like your idea of using the big storage containers (previous article). I plan to use a bread rack, tied to the hitches in my garage, and little ramps which I’m still not sure how to fabricate yet, for access to higher shelves and litterboxes. I keep a small, battery operated Bosch shop vac for litter pickup anyway, so it’s coming on board too. My rv has two queen size lofts. Hopefully I’ll be able to find someone to cut holes in the back of one loft area, so I can attach bridges, spanning 8 feet, to the second loft, across the garage. It’s really becoming a cat fifth wheel quickly. Look forward to reading more about your adventures with 🐈 😻 🐈‍⬛ 🐱

Me myself and I
28 days ago

Don’t give up! The pleasures of traveling in an RV are well worth it. If this specific RV does not work out for you definitely purchase another one. You have learned a lot with this particular camper; that and research will help you purchase a future RV that is in better shape. Good luck my friend!

Kronek
1 month ago

Unfortunately those that are mechanically challenged are at the mercy of those that are not. You probably run into similar problems often in your life. You may want to stick to Uber and airlines for your travel. Being mechanically inclined is developed in childhood ( maybe one is even born that way). I ran a sophisticated manufacturing facility and I can fix almost anything. I always tried to hire farmboys and US Navy vets because they can do likewise.

Me myself and I
28 days ago
Reply to  Kronek

A little arrogant aren’t you?

Bob P
25 days ago

No he’s just better than she! Lol

Rita
23 days ago
Reply to  Bob P

Better? How? Dr. Karel is a doctor. I don’t think Kronek is better than anyone, though he’s good at tooting his own horn. I would wager that Kronek is a little man, with a big ego and low self esteem, that enjoys putting women down.

Rita
23 days ago
Reply to  Kronek

Seriously Kronek? This woman is a Doctor; an educated woman. I think she’ll be able to handle anything that comes her way. Your comment was uncalled for.

DJ Garrison
1 month ago

The Internet has some really great RV A100 classes you can watch.
I’m sorry your learning about the secrets of RV’ing. It’s a world of interesting events, hard learned lessons, or a great story to tell to other RV’ers. You must find something funny in your issues or you will not enjoy the freedom.
We’ve been on the road for 12 years, 3 motor homes, 3 toads, and traveled coast to coast many times to clients.
Our RV’s were new from dealers. We have had random electrical issues including fires, slides outs, hydronic leaking, compartment doors without a way to secure them. A roof that pealed off in the desert. Imagine ropes traveling through your rv windows to hold the roof on from Dallas to Iowa in a 42ft $400k+ RV& you paid cash for it.3 weeks to get it fixed.
My point is new or used, stuff breaks, you need to prepare yourself for the “you got to be kidding” moments of the on-the-road fun and adventure.
Get a Good Repair Insurance policy. Happy Trails!

Karel Carnohan
1 month ago
Reply to  DJ Garrison

Wow. I can’t imagine a roof coming off a brand new coach! I will consider myself lucky nothing more serious has occurred. Thanks for your words of wisdom. I am not giving up.

Mak
1 month ago

Don’t depend on the dealer, make sure you have it checked out and that you have at least a 30 day waranty

Dave Seymour
1 month ago

Oh my! I have a 2016 Newmar that I bought in June. We love the floor plan….but I have been continuously fixing it since we bought it. I had to replace the bedroom slide motor because the bolts that hold it in place under the bed were loose and the motor housing cracked. The motor is proprietary to Newmar and cost $850. I didn’t say by putting the motor in myself but only because I have a brother that’s a mechanic and he helped me. Now the slide motor for the living room just broke. Dang this Newmar is not living up to their reputation. I also spent $$$ upgrading the suspension with the help of my brother. Good luck

Karel Carnohan
1 month ago
Reply to  Dave Seymour

This sounds horribly familiar. I plan to upgrade the suspension next year. I will try and find a good repair service in California. Perhaps a trip to Indiana to have Newmar refurbish the entire coach would be worth thinking about.

Bill
29 days ago
Reply to  Karel Carnohan

Going to the factory for service is a great idea. You might look for Newmar rallys and join Kountry Klub also to see what you can get closer to where you are travelling. We have taken our Dutch Stars (a 2000 and now a 2005) to Newmar and have been very happy with the service. Their prices are reasonable on slides and most of the house maintenance things. If you want remodeling, there are other options around Elkhart, many with former Newmar employees who are familiar with their units.

Donna Powell
1 month ago

We bought a gas 2006 National Seabreeze, 32′ motorhome with 2 slides. We took it home and discovered it was a rattle trap. Everything was sqeaking, rattling, bumping. The microwave plate flew out of the oven and smashed into a million pieces. The coach drove and handles fine but the noises are so annoying. We discovered the door was warped and was making a ruckus. We adjusted the latch and added new weatherstrip on the bottom half. It seemed to help. The plastics in the dash squeak so badly when the coach is in motion, it’s annoying. It sounds like the entire thing is falling apart on rougher roads.. Anyone have any thoughts? Thank you!

MltonlMlton
1 month ago
Reply to  Donna Powell

I’d like to give you good news but if it sounds like it’s falling apart it very well may be. It’s 15 years old. For everyone’s safety have it thoroughly inspected.

Bob P
25 days ago
Reply to  Donna Powell

We had a 2002 Newmar Mountain Aire that was great for the year of manufacture, yes they rattle and squeak. After all they are a medium duty truck especially if it is on a ford chassis so it’s not going to be quiet like a car. Everything inside is loose, the range grates rattle, the microwave turntable rattles, dish ware and eating utensils rattle. You can stop the rattles by insulating them with dish towels, paper towels etc. the squeaks can be eliminated by having someone riding with you and feeling around to find where the squeak is coming from then putting something between the rubbing parts or spraying a little silicone on it. Sometimes people expect too much out of a motorhome and think it’s like a nice quiet car, it ain’t. Now if you spend $500,000 on a diesel pusher the quality is better.

Peggy Coffey
1 month ago

Its so sad that you have had all that trouble. We have camped since our kids were little and decided to fulltime 20 years ago. It gave us time to find out what we wanted and needed. We did lots of research so we weren’t blindsided by everything. We have now been fulltiming 4 years and while it can be stressful at times, we see newbies who create their own problems. Not knowing anything about their rv or rving in general is stupid and dangerous to them and other rvers. There’s an amazing thing called the internet that has everything you would want to know about rving.

Ron Yanuszewski
1 month ago
Reply to  Peggy Coffey

What does this have to do with motor homes falling apart? Blaming the customer?

Suru
1 month ago

So sorry all this is happening to you. RVing can be stressful and hard even when everything in the RV works. Hang in there and hopefully you are having all those inevitable bad days now and it will be smooth sailing soon.

american cupcake
1 month ago

good luck with it all..

Neal Davis
1 month ago

We have a Boondockers Welcome site (Davis Farm) on the NE side of Chattanooga, and a few miles from I-75. In the event you travel our way as a destination or en-route somewhere, we would welcome the opportunity to host you. We often have the site closed, but send us a message and we’ll open it for you should you want. I wish you well as you deal with the problems that arise. Sadly, you seem the victim of deferred maintenance by previous owner(s).

Karel Carnohan
1 month ago
Reply to  Neal Davis

Thank you! Yes I believe this RV a victim of neglect and unfortunately dealerships don’t have huge incentives to thoroughly test, inspect and fix the problems. Next time I buy, I will hire an independent inspector as many have suggested.

William Dougherty
1 month ago

Obviously, we wish you the best of luck solving those issues. First, whenever making a purchase of this magnitude, especially when you are not familiar with the product, hire a tech to inspect the rig before purchase – it’s also a great way to learn about what you might be getting into. Second, take a few practice trips before going on a long road trip. The operation of such an intricate piece of machinery is not to be taken lightly – this is nothing like owning and operating a car.

We’ve owned several RVs over the past 20 years and have been full time for the last 6 years. We see so many people who don’t take the whole RV experience seriously. It is not like hopping into a car and driving to a hotel – it can be stressful and even dangerous, if one is not careful and patient. It’s not for everyone, and it shouldn’t be, but it can be a wonderful, fulfilling experience.

Michael Shimer
1 month ago

We feel really bad for you! We’re on our third used RV, all bought from dealerships. There are always little problems with used RVs but you seem to have found one with a lot of big ones, sadly. And a 2015 really isn’t that old. Our first was a remodeled 2002 Fleetwood Bounder 39R, well maintained and low mileage. We lived in that full time for a year and then the pandemic hit, as well as the inverter burned up which was a bit costly to replace. This year we decided to hit the trails again and bought a 2012 Itasca Sunstar 26P, which was a huge downsize for us but it was in great shape and had really low miles. We took that RV from Florida to Maine this summer, but decided to trade that one in on a larger RV when we returned to Florida. So now we’re in a 2017 Forest River FR3 32DS, also heading to California. Bottom line: do a cost benefit analysis with your unit and decide whether to push through or cut bait, but don’t give up! Also check out Thousand Trails 😉 #trailblazingtravels

Karel Carnohan
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Shimer

Good advice. I am going to research Newmar’s ability to refurbish. If too expensive, I may cut bait. We shall see. Thank you

Donald N Wright
1 month ago

Slides ? I asked the Technicians at Coach Specialties what they thought about slides. One told me he put his daughters through college fixing slides on RV’s.

Karel Carnohan
1 month ago

Yes! I agree with Tony, our RV reviewer about slides – I would rather not have any slides and a murphy bed. Unfortunately, I need a floor plan with more space right now. My next rig will have no slides.

Janine Joyner
1 month ago

Slides

Gary
1 month ago

After reading some pets vs slide-out horror stories, I cannot stress enough that knowing where all your pets are during slide-out operations is essential. When we adopted a small dog, I stuck a “Where is the dog?” label under the switches and it makes us pause to double-check.

Karel Carnohan
1 month ago
Reply to  Gary

Yup. My cats are counted and I verbally warn them about the slide moving – they are actually learning to clear out. I move it in little bits while warning.

Judy G
1 month ago

Oh, no, don’t give up the RV lifestyle. Just me and my big dog traveled alone for 12 years and managed all ‘pickle’ situations that came our way. I’ll admit there were a few good-hearted people along the way who helped out, but that’s part of the joy of the adventure.

Karel Carnohan
1 month ago
Reply to  Judy G

Great people on the road! I think this is what I love most about traveling and camping. I am not giving up yet. Thank you.