The Shakedown Cruise from Hell

Rain Bay St. Louis
Rain Bay St. Louis
Rain Milton, FL
Rain Milton, FL

We arrived on Saturday, January 2nd at Bentsen Palm RV Resort in Mission, TX.  It looks like a great place and I will talk about it more as we get further into our month-long stay here.  It was a long and difficult ride here from Houston.  It took about seven hours and it was cold and rainy the entire trip.  Fortunately, we only had a little traffic in McAllen as we got close to Bentsen Palms, but being at the end of the trip when I was tired made it worse.

It may be a little premature, but I think we may be on the shakedown cruise from hell, and we are gone from our home base for two months which makes getting things fixed more difficult.  There are only three Newmar dealers in Texas and none is close to us right now.  We can use a mobile RV tech, but that doesn’t always work out either as we found out in Ft. Myers.  I guess this experience is good, because we will have to deal with mechanical issues this way when full timing.

So, let’s begin our story.  On the first night we stopped in Bushnell, FL and I got a Heat Module Fault red light on the Oasis system that I just had Dick Gore look at for the fan issue.  They said they couldn’t find anything wrong.  I called Newmar after hours number and they said that they would have a mobile tech meet us in Ft. Myers once we arrived the next day.  Well when I arrived, I again tried to reset the Oasis heat and I was successful.  The red light went off and the system

Fluid Leaking onto pad
Fluid Leaking onto pad

seemed to work, but I decided I would call the call the mobile tech that Newmar had contacted and talk to him anyway.  When I got in touch with him and started to explain the issue, he said, “‘Oh, we don’t work on hydronic heat systems.”  I guess Newmar forgot to ask him that!  Not a big deal since the system is working. We spent the week in Ft. Myers with no additional issues.  As we were leaving Ft. Myers I noticed fluid leaking slowly from the front passenger side leveling jack.  Not a lot, but enough to cover the entire outside of the jack and pool on the base.  I figured it might be a loose or malfunctioning fitting but figured we could get to Milton, FL as it was Christmas weekend and no one would be available anyway.  We stopped in Lake City for the night at a Cracker Barrel and we deployed the slides but didn’t use the jacks.  We were really level in the lot and I didn’t want to take the chance of a jack problem there.  On Sunday we arrived at the KOA in Milton, FL and camped for the night.

First thing on Monday I called Newmar and explained the problem. They didn’t have any mobile techs on file for that area so they contacted the KOA and got the name of a guy the KOA uses – Billy’s RV Repair.  Now that’s a name that just oozes confidence in my mind.  Anyway, I was ok with it, but when Newmar contacted him he said that he was not going out on Monday because of tornado warnings and Tuesday was booked up.  So, in my mind, this guy is not working out, and I didn’t want to stay in Milton too long as we were to meet friends in Louisiana on Wednesday.  I contacted SWag- Scott Wagner from the irv2 forum who we were meeting in Louisiana on Wednesday and told him that we may have to cancel as I had the jack problem.  He suggested I just set up an appointment with his son Brooks who is a mobile RV tech in Houston and have him meet us on New Year’s Eve to fix the jack.  Since the jack seemed to be seepage as opposed to a severe leak, I agreed.  To shorten the story I had several back and forths with Newmar who didn’t want me to get it fixed in Texas because of a law regarding warranty work, but there were really no alternatives.  They tried Berryland Campers, a Newmar dealer in LA, but they were closed for the entire week and they had no other techs available so they finally agreed Texas would work but everything had to be approved prior to any work being done.  Oh, and Newmar employees leave early on New Years Eve and if its not approved before they leave, then it will have to wait till Monday, meaning we have to stay in Houston 3 extra days.  Fortunately, when they talked to Brooks Wagner, he convinced them to give him prior approval to tighten and/or change fittings on the jack.  Luckily, he had the parts and he diagnosed that the problem was one of the two from pics I had sent to him.

Brooks showed up on New Years Eve day after we arrived at the RV park and fixed the leak with only minor issues, as you would expect trying to fix anything in the field.  I learned a lot of additional information regarding Newmar service and how they operate.  Too much information for this post, but

King Aire Door Handle
King Aire Door Handle

valuable insight as to “ins and out” of dealing with these folks once you own your Newmar.  Not all bad, but an interesting culture.  I actually felt good about everything.  I also had him add a chrome door handle to match the other chrome around the door, mirrors and baggage door handles.  I guess the big deal here is that it is standard on the King Aire and can be added as an option on the Essex, but on no other model.  It can be purchased after the fact from Newmar service and installed for a little over $600.  Obviously they want to keep them exclusive.  Brooks has a line on the same ones Newmar uses, but sells and installs them much cheaper.  It was still more than I wanted to pay, but what to H**L.  Why not be one of the only Ventana owners with a King Aire door handle.

Then New Years Day arrived and it was chilly.  I had been using the heat pumps, but I decided it was a good time to try the Oasis furnace.  Temperature was in the high 40’s.  I turned on the furnace an the fans came on immediately.  They blew cold air and I thought in a minute or two it would warm up.  I waited 5 minutes, then ten and still no heat.  In fact, it never blew warm air.  Now the Oasis heat does not work at all.  Great!!  We do have hot water so that part does work.  I’m going to wait till we get to Mission, TX to call Newmar, but I doubt they have anyone in that area to fix it.  As long as we stay where we have electric or I run the generator we will have heat.  I don’t believe it will get below 40 so the heat pumps should work, so we may have to wait till our return trip to address this issue.

Then later in the day, I walked around to the full wall slide side and saw a water spot on the concrete.  When I looked above I saw 4 pipes with either conduit or foam wrapped pipes or hoses running through them.  One of the foam wrapped ones was wet and leaking water on the concrete.  I’m in the process of trying to determine where this pipe goes and why it is wet.

Stay Tuned….

2 thoughts on “The Shakedown Cruise from Hell”

  1. Billy’s RV Repair doesn’t exude confidence? I gotta think it’s better (slightly) than Billy Bob’s RV Repair. Or, maybe not.

    1. Billy may be great but I’m not quite ready to let him loose on our new RV. I would bet he has a brother named Billy Bob

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