Vehicles and homes both require regular maintenance and repairs. Todays RV’s combine a home with all the features of a stick built home on top of a large vehicle. Add in the complexity of entire sections of the RV that move out when parked and pull back in to travel down the road. On top of the complications of a home on top of vehicle, it gets shaken up like an earthquake every time it is moved from one place to another.
Everyone that owns an RV needs to find a place to get their RV worked on. Well for owners of Tiffin RVs a frequent location is Red Bay, Alabama. Red Bay has two primary industries – the Tiffin Motorhome Company and Sunshine Mills (makers of pet food and treats). Tiffin maintains a large parts and repair facility that can address most issues.
There are two ways of getting service at Tiffin in Red Bay – you can make an appointment or just show up and wait for an opening. Depending on the time of year, for example when the snow birds head to or from the south, showing up without an appointment can mean waiting a few weeks or more to get in. We knew we had a few things to be addressed and would be in area during the middle of the snow bird migration, so we decided to make an appointment.
Our Red Bay Experience started with the making of the appointment. Tiffin makes a limited number of appointments each quarter and they go very quickly. Four times a year Tiffin opens the appointment flood gate right after midnight two months before the quarter. The process is to call in right after midnight and leave a message. Tiffin then returns the calls in the order they got them and schedules appointments until they are all taken. They know it is a crazy time they start calling people back soon after midnight. Red Bay is in the Central Time zone and we were in the Eastern Time zone, we had to wait until 1:00am to call. Of course the line was busy – Leslie and I each started hitting redial and we got thru to leave our message about five minutes after the hour. Since we knew they would start to return calls – we stayed awake. We were ready to give up and get some sleep about 4:30am when the phone rang. It was Tiffin – we were number 48 in line. We wanted an appointment around the 17th or 18th but the whole week was already taken so we got a Friday Oct. 14th appointment.
The repair facility at Tiffin does not deal with issues, such as engine, generator, and transmission oil changes. Since our RV is part vehicle we made an appointment for engine, transmission, chassis, and generator service once we got settled in the repair facility campground. Our vehicle is not like the average car – it weighs about 17 tons, takes about 2.5 gallons of oil but they still put it up on a lift to do the work.
There is not a lot to do in or around Red Bay so people talk to each other about the fact there is not much to do around Red Bay, the fact there are very few restaurants in and around Red Bay, how long they have been here (some for five weeks now) and what is wrong with their coach.
When waiting for your RV to get in for service, hearing about rotten wet bay floors, fiberglass on roof rails that crack, plywood floors in slides that delaminate, ceilings that sag, etc., causes additional stress. Walking up and down watching front and rear caps being replaced, slides being removed, slide floors being replaced, roof rails being cut out of coaches and entire skins being replaced also add to the stress while waiting for ones RV to go under the knife.
You need to show up the day before the appointment to get all the paper work in order so we needed to be here on Oct. 13th. Due to our lack of hot water we got to Red Bay on Wednesday the 5th, hopping they could get it fixed before our appointment time. We then got to understand more of the Red Bay Experience – waiting. They got us in after the weekend to repair the broken water hose. At first they had no idea how to get to where they needed at first, but soon figured out they had to cut a new access panel through the vanity in the bathroom and then run a new hose from there thru the slide and reconnect it to the hard line under couch. A great way to start our repairs at Red Bay – with a saw.
Once the water hose was repaired it was back to waiting until our appointment time came around for the rest of the repairs. Our repairs started on Friday the 14th, the first day they fixed our slide that was making a loud noise when we pulled it back in. It turns out the center of the slide celling dropped down a bit and was getting stuck under the sidewall and would ‘POP’ when it came back in. They had to jack up the front edge and attach it higher (you can see the wood that is pushing up the center in the picture below).
The repairs continued for a couple of hours on Monday. When they started our repairs we would told that our RV has the ‘roof rail’ problem. The roofs on Tiffin motorhomes are molded fiberglass. The rails are the curved part of the roof that comes around and connects with the sidewalls. There have been problems with stress cracks developing that can leak if they get big enough. Tiffin has been cutting the rails out and replaces them with molded aluminum. Tuesday our RV went under the saw to have the rails replaced.
The picture in the upper left shows some of the stress cracks, the upper right shows the roof with the rails removed. The lower left shows the forming of a 40 foot long aluminum rail. The lower right is the installed rail before caucking and painting.
Today we got the rails painted – a whole day process – more waiting.
We have one item left on the list – replacing a window that has condensation between the panes. If that gets done early enough we get to pay our bill and leave after living the Red Bay Experience for a couple of weeks.