Don’t Let Overnight ParkingTurn Into “Camping”
I never thought I’d be writing one of these letters. But it seems that some members still have not gotten the word, and will ruin our welcome at various retailers, especially Wal-Mart. I recently encountered one FMCA member who undoubtedly hasn’t gotten the word. This member is pushing our luck and taking advantage of Wal-Mart’s generosity.
This person’s FMCA number was high, so I’ll assume he is a new member and hasn’t read your publication enough. When I encountered the coach, the member had his living room slideout open. That’s not at all necessary for sleeping. And he or she had even placed potted plants around the unit. This was in the middle of the day, in West Lebanon, New Hampshire.
I think we all have stated before that taking liberties like this could someday ruin it for all of us who appreciate a safe place to spend the night while traveling to a destination. There is no reason to be parked during the day with your slideouts open unless you are hanging out in a parking lot instead of paying your way in a campground.
I am not a full-timer, but in a good year I put in 150 nights in my coach. I stop in parking lots during the daylight hours only to stock up on supplies. I never extend a slideout in a parking lot, even to sleep when I do spend a night. I think we should remember there are probably more people out there who would rather not see us spend a safe night in their neighborhood than those who would. Let’s not press our luck.
Louis Boroff, F253475
South Woodstock, Vermont
Editor’s note: The FMCA Motorhome Parking Etiquette letter, which has appeared occasionally in this magazine, is available for reference online at FMCA.com. Members are urged to look over the etiquette guidelines again by visiting www.fmca.com/motorhomerights/information/parking.
Volunteer Opportunities In The Pacific Northwest
Volunteering at state parks is a rewarding experience and an opportunity to share your talents with the public and the rangers who manage the resources. The goal of the state parks is not only to provide recreational experiences, but also to create an environment of education and enrichment for this generation and the next. State park agencies in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon have created volunteer opportunities that match your abilities whether you would like to host, do interpretative presentations, or work with children in the Junior Ranger programs. What a wonderful way to see a new area of our great country while sharing your talents to provide enrichment for others. In return for your volunteer time, the parks provide you with a free campsite, most with full hookups. Whether you enjoy the mountains, beach, forest, or desert, there is a place for you in the Pacific Northwest.
For information about volunteer opportunities in Washington, Oregon, or Idaho, please send your name, address, and phone number to me and I will see that information is sent to you.
Tab Tabacek, F155438
Northwest State Parks Ambassador
5331 N.E. 31st St.
Renton, WA 98059
What’s A Traveler To Do?
“Did you buy it here?” That seems to be an important question among motorhome dealers when you need service.
On three different occasions I have contacted the manufacturer of my 2005 motorhome for warranty work. The manufacturer’s technical people have been extremely helpful in directing me to a warranty service center, once for a rear camera failure, once for a water leak, and the third time for a roof air conditioner blower failure. High marks to the manufacturer. Each time I was referred to a service location near me as I traveled. Low marks to the dealer service centers.
It seems that the RV industry does not understand that RVers spend a lot of time away from our home base and our selling dealer. The first question I was asked in all three instances was, “Did you purchase your unit from us?” Since the answer was negative in each case, as we were miles from home, I was immediately informed that the earliest service appointment was at least two months away. With the most recent problem, I was to call back in three months, as they were so “booked up” that they were not making appointments.
The servicing dealers are protecting their own customers, and don’t seem to understand the problems that their own customers experience if they’re traveling.
So, what’s the solution? Never have breakdowns away from home or fix it yourself? I repaired the water leak; replaced the rear camera monitor with a unit shipped from the manufacturer; and now I just remove the air conditioner cover and hand-start the blower every time we need cool air.
The real solution is having the manufacturers and dealer network be fairer to their future and existing customers in their scheduling of the “RV customer.” Two of the dealers who did not have time for me are now off my list of potential sources for a future upgrade to a larger unit. They do not seem to understand that you can buy an RV anywhere, and the reason we bought an RV in the first place was so that we could travel.
When discussing this problem with a dealer’s representative, I was informed that their local customers do get better service; it’s a selling feature and helps them fight competition from dealers in other areas. It’s a nearsighted point of view.
I do see some light on this issue, as I recently read an article about Monaco’s new exclusive dealer network. It appears, on the surface anyway, that it is a chance for Monaco customers to get a fairer shake on warranty service. I hope other manufacturers will follow up on this concept.
Loron H. Holden, F361090
Mid-Entry Versus Front-Entry On Diesel Coaches
I have not seen any discussion about this topic, and am interested in the response I may receive from others about it.
Over the past couple of years, I have been to many RV shows, and have viewed many type A coach designs on the Internet. It appears that very few manufacturers are offering the option of the mid-coach entry on a diesel frame. I finally ordered a new 40-foot Rexhall two years ago and took the mid-entry option as well as the driver’s-side door.
Compared to other coaches that we frequently visit, we really prefer the mid-entry, for several reasons. One is the convenience of carting groceries into the coach, as the kitchen is real close, and for running into the coach to get a drink from the refrigerator, rather than tracking through half of the coach. Another is safety. In case of a fire, we feel we have a much better chance to escape from the central exit. The additional driver’s-side door means we have three exits, when including the emergency windows.
It’s also drier. When it’s raining, the doorway is under the main awning, keeping us and the entry dry. We don’t need an auxiliary awning just for the door.
I think that more manufacturers should offer this option. If more RV buyers asked for this, do you think they might incorporate this design in future coaches?
Barry Martin, F316109
Bancroft, Ontario, Canada
Roadmaster’s Top-Notch Service
This will be no surprise to others who own or have used Roadmaster tow bars or their other products. My first Roadmaster product was the Stowmaster tow bar. Currently I am using the Roadmaster Falcon All-Terrain tow bar. I have found this tow bar to be excellent in every respect.
I recently had a minor problem with one of the arms not sliding in and out freely. Upon inspection, I believe that debris of some sort became wedged between the shaft and the working arm, causing it to be restricted. Problems with road debris are not uncommon here in the Northeast. Having no success on my own in resolving this issue, I called Roadmaster technical service and spoke to Jodie. To make a long story short, Jodie was courteous and patient with my tale of woe, and of direct help in resolving my tow bar problem.
At a number of FMCA rallies that I have attended during the past two years, I’ve also found the Roadmaster representatives to render top-notch service and advice. Roadmaster Inc. is an outstanding company and one that stands behind its products.
I truly appreciate the respect and care the company extends to its customers, and for not forgetting the customer after the sale. I extend a tip of the hat to Roadmaster and to Jodie in technical service.
Tony DeFurio, F150633
Service After The Sale
In March 2004 we bought a waste tank pump from a representative of RV Sani-Con while at FMCA’s international convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We have been very happy with the convenience of the device, so much so that I seldom get to dump the tanks — my wife loves to do it.
After about eight months, it started shutting down before it got through emptying the tanks. It would start again in a few minutes. We lived with this for several months until we got to the Monaco pre-rally in Georgia this past March. I contacted the RV Sani-Con representative there and he told me that they had problems with some of the temperature sensors on the motor. He took my name and address and had the company send me a new pump/motor via UPS at no cost to me. I was very impressed with the way they stood behind their product.
I installed the new pump and all was fine for about six months; then the motor seized. I called RV Sani-Con again and explained the new problem. Once again they exceeded my expectations. Within two days I received a new pump via UPS.
I highly recommend RV Sani-Con for the convenience of their product and especially for the excellent support they cheerfully provide.
Curtis Rose, F292213
Kind Mechanics Keep A Clean Coach
I never in my life thought I would be writing about a breakdown and the best service anyone could receive. On a trip to St. Joseph, Missouri, we had about 100 miles to go when the alternator light came on. We called Freightliner and they recommended a shop in St. Joseph. We called the shop and were told there was a two-week wait for service.
We then called Dean Machinery Co. (816-233-2516), which is listed as a Caterpillar dealer. What an amazing surprise. We talked to Matt and he said he could service the coach the next day. All the fears came to mind: grease all over the bedroom and carpet, and having to get the seats cleaned from these service personnel driving our coach. We dropped off the coach and all night we couldn’t sleep, thinking of our “home” being abused by mechanics who usually work on big trucks and have no idea they are in someone’s home.
The next day we arrived at Dean’s as Matt was backing the coach into a parking spot. As he got out of the coach, he removed some surgical slippers from his tennis shoes (no work boots). The driver’s seat was covered by plastic and the floorboards had several papers on them. When we walked into the bedroom, we got the biggest surprise of all: It was perfectly clean. No grease or dirt spots anywhere.
We certainly would tell everyone to stop at Dean’s when in the St. Joseph, Missouri, area. Superior service, quick service, clean service, and the cost was reasonable for the repairs we had completed there. Dean’s also has service centers in Kansas City, Missouri; Chillicothe, Missouri; and Sedalia, Missouri.
Michael & Jill Rossi, F292654
I was in Little Rock, Arkansas, recently when my motorhome’s engine failed, right at exit 148 on Interstate 40 eastbound. It occurred during rush hour, and I was blocking a two-lane roadway. The responding police and fire personnel from North Little Rock emergency stations were as courteous and great as one could hope to have in a time of high stress.
The tow truck from Brother’s Wrecker service took my coach to United Engines LLC, a Detroit Diesel-Allison service center. The next morning John and George placed my needs ahead of their own truck customers so that we were serviced and on our way within three hours. What started out as a nightmare became nothing more than a loss of a day.
If you have a diesel coach and are in the Little Rock area, United Engines (501-562-5565) has very helpful people.
Stephen Rice, F277906
Flat Rock, North Carolina
We are writing to inform FMCA members from Canada and the United States about a dealership on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, that gives extraordinary service to its customers. We purchased a Damon Daybreak motorhome and after just one week we decided we wanted a larger one, with two slideouts instead of one.
We had not used the coach and they gladly took it back, ordered one for us with the two slideouts, making any desired changes, and we did not lose any money. Their prices and services are excellent; the staff bends over backward to please; and their word is gold. The dealer is Sunwest RV Centre, 2800 Cliffe Ave., Courtenay, BC, Canada V9N 2L7; (800) 663-5596, (250) 338-5355.
Grant & Joan Calnan, F134175
Union Bay, British Columbia, Canada
Brakes Fixed In Yuma
We are writing to tell of the wonderful service we received soon after we arrived in Yuma, Arizona. We knew we were having problems with our towed pickup truck as we were traveling south, but figured that we could take care of it once we landed at our destination.
We discovered powder on the rim of the tire; oil that had been leaking onto the brake shoes, thus ruining them; and a rotor that was out of round. Where do you go if you don’t know anyone in the area? We usually do our own work, but we weren’t home to do so.
We went to the phone book, and that does not always prove to be good. However, this time it was a very good choice: Arizona Auto Clinic Inc. (1001 S. Fourth Ave.). It is a certified NAPA service center. The technicians who did the work were David Perea and Oscar Rodriguez. The shop foreman, Jesus Rodriguez, oversaw all of the work, and every part was new and guaranteed.
We just want others to know that if they are ever in need of any brake work on their vehicles, don’t hesitate to call these guys, as they are the very best and their care and concern is superior.
Mike & Marva Jo Vance, F314646
Electrical Trouble Fixed With No Fuss
My wife, Lois, and I left our home in Texarkana, Arkansas, for a 16-day trip in our motorhome. We visited Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri. Everything on the trip was fine until we stayed at a park in Muscatine, in southeastern Iowa. As we hooked up at the park late one afternoon, we discovered that our electrical system didn’t work with the 30-amp hookup at the park. No 50-amp service was available, so we stayed the night and operated on our inverter. The next day we headed south to Missouri and west to Kansas City with plans to stop at an RV place to seek repairs. We knew that with an out-of-state license, we could be at someone’s mercy if we did not find a trustworthy spot.
Three miles south of Palmyra, Missouri, we found a dealership near the junction of U.S. 61 and U.S. 24. We pulled into American RV and crossed our fingers. Two very nice gentlemen came to our coach, and we explained our problem to them. They told us to unhook our towed car and back up to their electrical plug. They tested our 50-amp connection, and it worked fine. After testing our 30-amp connection, they said our pigtail was faulty. Needless to say, we were very relieved that the expense would be minimal. Boy, was it! They charged us nothing for their labor, and $16.95 for the new pigtail. (Cheaper than the one we had.) Not only that, they helped us hook our towed car back up as we were leaving.
If any of your readers are ever around Palmyra, Missouri, and have a problem, we certainly encourage them to visit the good folks at American RV (888-807-3031, 573-769-6560).
Johnny Toombs, F348950