Final Week with Tiffin Motorhome Service in Red Bay


IMG_6182

Our site, # 18, between our new friends!

We’ve sure enjoyed our time in Red Bay, Alabama. We’ve had others tell us there isn’t much to do here, but it depends on what your definition is of fun!

We will agree there isn’t much in the way of entertainment, night life, or a great selection of restaurants or shopping. But for us, we love to cook our own meals, we only shop for what we really need and between Amazon.com and Walmart, we are kept stocked. We love the Lord’s creation, there is a lot of that here.

I just read a review of the play Les Misérables in our home town. The most famous quote from this iconic movie is, “And remember, the truth that once was spoken: To love another person is to see the face of God.” (Victor Hugo). We must admit, our belief system demands we love others. So we do love people, or at least try. Some are more lovable than others….but who couldn’t love all these lovely people! They have been so patient and kind. You never hear them lose patience with any of us, but yet, so many of us lose our patience with them.

What we have found here that we’ve never found before is a WEALTH of information from other Tiffin owners.  That has been refreshing.  And the people we are meeting has been energizing.  Everyone has a story, so talk about entertainment, just to hear some of the stories will keep you laughing or crying!

So back to our diary! We did have a technician install a hard-wired surge protector for us over the weekend. There are some jobs it’s easier and faster to “hire” out.

Monday, June 15, 2015  We got a break from the early morning assignments.  This day, we hade a 49 mile road trip one way for another “good will warranty” repair.  For about 3 years, Tiffin used plywood in the wet bay area, and we were one of the units that needed it replaced. Our appointment was at 10:30.

IMG_6111

Happy to head out at a “reasonable” hour!

Debbie finally got to ride as a passenger (the car is not set up to flat tow as of yet) and she loved the comfort of the passenger seat. And it was a gorgeous drive in the rolling foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

IMG_6110

Bill was so much more relaxed. No white knuckles today!

The location was at Kimbrough Automotive & A/C, 75 AL-157, Tuscambia, AL 35674, telephone 256-381-0797. The GPS can get you close but it won’t get you there for the last few miles. Another customer told us what to do but it didn’t make sense when we got close. So we called Kimbrough and they told us exactly what to do, but Bill didn’t hear the directions fast enough…..so he had to make his first U-turn! Now that was exciting but it put us back on the road in the opposite direction! So while we thought we’d be early, it was about 11:15 when we pulled in. They thought our appointment was at 1:30 so they were just happy to see us!  Here is a picture of what to do:

IMG_6123

Follow 157 to Moulton and Cullman where 20 & 72 split. THEN turn left immediately into Kimbrough.

They are remodeling the building so we sat in a brand new lounge that needs a bit more work. But the chair and couch were comfortable. It was about a three-hour repair. It is just amazing we are getting this work done under the “Good Will Warranty.” Bob Tiffin has a wonderful reputation. His quality of workmanship seems to be a dying art.

We arrived back at the Service Center too late to get any more work done. We still need a few little things and one more big job.  But we enjoyed the rest of the day.  Bill wiped down one side and the front of the coach.  Debbie was able to get in a long walk and visited with the neighbors. We know we will have another early morning so we didn’t stay out late.

IMG_6163

Bill’s hobby, polishing our new home!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015 – This day is crunch day! Time for our main slide floor to be replaced, so we arrived in Bay 47 at 7:00 am. We were never told how to prepare, but we heard we’d need to remove a few things. The technician helped us and then we went to the customer lounge until 11:30. Debbie walked by it to get a few pictures. It’s a bit unnerving seeing your motor home wide open! That is the back of our residential refrigerator. And the slide is laying on its side with the dirty looking canvas. The crane lifted it off. It would have been fun to watch it going on and off, but at least we saw how it came together on the factory tour!

IMG_6170

Our Coach with the main slide taken off.

We were told it would be done at 11:30, so we checked in with Shane, our original tech who ordered the parts for our washing machine and entrance light panel. His boss was standing there, so he arranged for it to be brought to his bay for the final touches. Oh how hopeful we are that we will be done today and can head to Virginia tomorrow. Our daughter checks on us regularly to see when she can expect us. Being 8 months pregnant and working full-time is not easy with a toddler. And we miss him!

We were able to stay in the coach while Shane and his assistant worked inside. The work was completed by 3:00. He said our paperwork would be completed in about 40 minutes, so we drove the coach back to our site and set up.  Debbie put a load of laundry on – but had trouble getting the washer to work.  Shane came over after giving a few suggestions via text message. But by then it was working.  Debbie is a happy camper!  About 40 minutes later, we went to get our final bill.  We were very nervous about how much all this work would cost…..But we were so HAPPY and amazed at how low the bill was. No wonder there is so much brand loyalty! The most expensive thing was the exhaust pipe. It was a miracle it hung on until we arrived here.

We went home ready to plan our trip to Virginia. We have to go through the mountains so need the best possible route.  The drive to Kimbrough was a great opportunity to practice riding in the hills and using the engine brake. And since we got up at 5:30, we were ready to relax for the evening. Actually, we were both too tired to try to take a walk. It is hard work hanging out while people work on your home!

While we were cooking dinner, we noticed the air conditioner didn’t seem to be working right. Debbie came up with lots of excuses/reasons. But Bill was concerned there was still an issue. It was one thing we had looked at – and they said it was in the sensors so they were replaced.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015  We woke at 5:30.  Bill didn’t sleep well, concerned about the A/Cs. He wanted to talk to a technician.  But Debbie said, “It’s time to go!” It felt like they were working to her. But Bill warned about “feelings.”  He said you need common sense. But nevertheless, we got ready to go. After trying to get the GPS set for our first location, Jasper, Tennessee, Bill started the coach up….and the front jacks would not retract. This was an issue we had looked at several times as it was a continuing problem since we bought it. Long story short, we spent the day waiting to get a call to bring the rig in for both the A/C and the jacks. And to not embarrass Debbie, she had to shake up a supervisor as we had not phone call by 2:00. So we had new jacks put on by 3:00 and now we have to spend another night to have the A/C looked at….will we ever leave Red Bay?

Thursday, June 18, 2015  We were up again at 5:30. We really want to leave but we would like to resolve the A/C issue. So we got ready and were ready for a phone call to be in Bay 7 by 7:00 am. But after a relaxing breakfast and time to think (and feel the A/C) we decided to leave and start heading east. So Bill went over to talk to the Shop Foreman. He said they were booked today anyway, so it would be another day. So our paperwork was processed and ready to us to settle this new bill with in 40 minutes.  Bill returned home to prepare to move. Debbie went to the Tiffin Parts Store (near the laundry room) to get one more thing. The prices there are sold at dealer cost! And then she checked out with the service cashier and then again at the Campground office. The stay this last night was gratis since the jacks were a “do over.” But the jacks cost as much as the new exhaust pipe. We know it was the right thing and we feel confident we will be good to go for another year.  We plan to return yearly for our annual service.

So off we headed to Jasper, Tennessee. We decided to make it an easy day to recover from the stress of the early service work and dealing with the same issues over and over.  To us, it wasn’t that big of  a deal as everyone is only human. We do feel we will be better customer’s next time.  So our next blog will be a bit entertaining as we share how this easy 3 1/2 hour trip turned into six and it was anything but easy! And one part fell off in the middle of a torrential rainstorm.  We heard there is a serious storm called “Bill” going across several states….so stay tuned!

Our final thoughts:  We have learned so much these past few weeks. Several things apply to owning a motor home and the full-time lifestyle – as well as coming to the Tiffin Service Center. First, you really need to be flexible. Patience is invaluable. And probably the best attribute is to have a sense of humor! But for us, it’s also all about our faith. That keeps us grounded and when we feel so helpless and out of sorts from things out of our control, we can just trust the Lord that He is in control and somehow, things will work out for the best!  We loved our time in Red Bay and can’t wait to return!

 

Tiffin Motor Homes, Allegro Service Center continued


Allegro Tiffin Service Center

Allegro Tiffin Service Center

We have learned a number of very valuable lessons while in Red Bay. And we’re finding out we have to write things down to remember them, so here is our short diary. We know we will be back here for our service annually, if possible, and don’t want to forget this experience.

We have made many new friends and learned many important things about operating our motor home, and how to maneuver the Tiffin Allegro Service Center.

This is a brief diary of the work performed:

May 19, 2015 – arrived from Walnut Creek RV Park, Troy, Alabama. Checked into Red Bay Self Service RV Park located at 717 4th Street Northwest, Red Bay, AL 35582 (telephone number 256-668-0526).  Went to the Allegro Service Center (which also has the Allegro RV Campground on campus) to sign in and gave them our list of “20 items” we needed to have repaired. We were told someone would come see us the next day to go over the list.  ADVICE:  Bring your VIN and odometer if you are “off site.”  We had to go retrieve them and was back before they closed at 7:30 pm. You are given a booklet, “Guest Guide,” with all the information you need to survive your time here. However, it looked like it contained TMI so we didn’t read it and later realized we needed it! For one, if you take the Tiffin Factory Tour, there is paper in the booklet to take to the tour hosts and have them fill it out. They will reward you with one free night of camping.

May 20, 2015 – at 8:00 am, Norris (a 40 year employee with Tiffin) knocked on our door to go over our “list” which at the time contained 20 items, but we added 3 things over night.  He was a real blessing to talk to as we were still overwhelmed from the trip to Red Bay the day before and maneuvering around the Self Service RV Park (we didn’t know what we were doing when we pulled in there) and checking in.  He put our minds at ease and assured us all will go smoothly. And it really did!  About 2 hours later, we had another Tiffin employee bring us a sheet to put in our window showing the three things we needed repaired under the 10 year “Good Will” warranty.  And finally about 1 pm, we had another technician come and talk further about our “list.” We were told it would be about 3 weeks before they could get to us. We said we would be gone two weeks and would leave the RV. He asked us to leave the ignition key and if things opened up, they would bring it over and start the work.

May 21, 2015 – June 7, 2015  We left our RV at the Red Bay Self Service RV Park, paying $300 total for 3 weeks with for full hook up. Normally, it’s $20/night, but you get a discount for longer term parking.  We drove up to Illinois to spend time with Bill’s mom, brother and his family. We had a great time, but were anxious to get our RV fixed up and back on the road.

On June 4, 2015, we got the phone call that they brought our unit over to the Service Center to begin looking it over.  Our Technician was named Shane (same as our son-in-law), so we liked him immediately! He talked to Bill for nearly 20 minutes going over the list again. We said we would be back there on June 7. He said good, bring our home to Bay 34 at 7 am. We are not early morning people….

Monday, June 8, 2015

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We pulled into Bay 34 at 7:03 am, yawn! It wasn’t easy, but we were so excited to start the work, we made it, but had an issue with one of the automatic jacks. And since we didn’t look at the “Guest Guide,” we weren’t sure where Bay 34 was! The provide a nice color map so you can see the best way to arrive at your bay.

Shane showed us the few minor things they had started to work on as well as an inspection to see if we needed these problems repaired: Cap Rails replaced, Tank Floors replaced (wet bay issue) and Slide Out Floors repaired. We do need them all fixed/repaired. And all would be done under the “Goodwill” program. This was the very reason we bought a Tiffin!  Bob Tiffin stands behind his product and gives a 10 year guarantee on the structure of his motor homes.  We spent the day hanging out inside our RV and even ate our breakfast while they worked.  We invited them to join us, but maybe if we had fresh donuts they would have had one or two! How nice we were allowed to not only be in the Bay, but inside our “home” to help oversee some of the smaller things we needed repaired.

BillIMG_6142 and I took turns “getting out and about” so I used my time to take a nice walk around the complex and into the neighborhood. I loved starting out by the cow pasture! This is a very diverse town….we also hear the roosters crow each morning.

The main issue this day was to figure out what was wrong with the washing machine, but there were so many items on our list, we were there all day, until 3:00 pm. The washing machine had bad intake values, so they were ordered. On the previous Thursday, Shane had also ordered a new panel for our light panel board as you enter the home. Bill talked to the factory rep about our “moldy-looking Diamond Shield, which was not a promising discussion.

The technicians installed an air duct in the closet; figured out the dryer had a 15 amp circuit breaker instead of a 25 amp (now we know why it kept “popping”); put in new sensors in the thermostats; put on new wiper blades; fixed water filter cover in the refrigerator; tried to fix the electric steps; attempted to fix the latching system on the bay doors. They scheduled work for a new navigation system, to add Maxx air covers, and switch our satellite system from Dish to Direct TV. We were exhausted at the end of the day!

Bay 40

Day 2, Bay # 40 Going up on lifts

Tuesday, June 9, 2015 – We’ve now learned the routine is to get a phone call by about 3 pm the day before and you are told to arrive at a certain bay by 7:00 am the next day. As we said, we are not morning people and try to not have any early morning appointments….  We were hoping all our work will be done in a few days…. This day was to fix the jacks that weren’t leveling. We were starting to have problems with the air bags filling up, but they couldn’t find that problem. But they discovered our exhaust pipe was about to fall off, repaired the muffler strap and replaced our two exhaust tips. This was a short day in the bay.

Since we couldn’t stay in the coach, this was the perfect time to take the Tiffin Factory Tour, from 9:15 to 11:00. We really enjoyed it and will write a separate blog about it. We got a phone call as the tour was ending (at 11:00 am) that our rig was finished in this bay. There was no more work scheduled for the day, so we went to Bay Diesel to see about getting them to service the diesel engine. They were booked.

Tiffin Factory Tour

Allegro Visitor’s Center

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Bay 17

Bay 17 – Cap rails being replaced

Time for our first “good will” warranty work, to have our cap rails replaced. These rails finish off the roof panels and join the walls and roof together.  This would be an all day job and we couldn’t remain inside the rig, or even in the bay. So off to take a hike! We went to Tishomingo State Park, near Belmont, MS and enjoyed a wonderful 4.16 mile hike that took 1 1/2 hours! It is right off the Natchez Trace Parkway, which was on our motorcycle bucket list to ride. Oh well, we are getting over that chapter in our lives and are enjoying our motor home adventures!

We are also enjoying getting to know the technicians that work hard to do the best possible job. They are carefully screened before they are hired.  This day, we had a veteran from the Army working on our rig. He service two tours in Afghanistan. What a privilege to meet him!

We had a change of heart about the Diamond Shield. We looked at other products, but decided to go with what Tiffin had been using. So the Diamond Shield Representative came by our camp ground and removed our moldy product. We were fortunate as it came off without any damage to the paint. We think part of the reason was it had been sitting in the hot sun.

Thursday, June 11, 2015 

Bay 32

Bay 32

Wanda is the woman to get to know. She arranges all the Bay assignments and keeps the Service Department busy.  We got to know her because we kept having so many issues. And we were VERY glad we were here to get all these problems resolved.  We also let her know our very pregnant daughter has been patiently waiting for this process to be over so we can head to Virginia and help her out.  So we are doing all we can to help keep the service moving along, without being obnoxious….Wanda  saw we were staying “off site” so she suggested we move onto the Allegro Campground, which is where the Bays are. So we moved over!

Our next work assignment was to report to Bay 32. We hoped to figure out why our hydraulic system was not working properly. When we start the motor home up for the day, there is an “air leaking” sound and it takes longer than it should for the air bags to full up. What an education we are getting about owning a motor home! So we reported to Bay 32. We had hoped the parts would also be in as this bay was set up to finish the washing machine and install the light switches panel as well. But that wasn’t going to happen. They thought it needed a new valve. In essence, nothing else was accomplished.

So off we went to Bay Diesel & A/C, Inc., 1127 4th Street Northeast, Red Bay, telephone: 256-356-8803, to get the engine and generator serviced. They were booked but said if we just dropped it off for the day, they would get it done. That worked for us as we wanted to see the Red Bay Museum. It opened at 1:30 and we were done by 2:30. We thought we would get a phone call from Bay Diesel when they were done. We decided to go sit in the Service Center Lounge and wait – it’s so interesting talking to others who are also having service done. We have made some new friends and the environment is perfect! But by 4:00 pm, we decided we would just go to Bay Diesel as they certainly would be done soon. Long story short, we arrived to see our motor home locked up behind the gates and no one around. We called the telephone numbers on the business card – no answer.

Bay Diesel

Locked in at Bay Diesel

We panicked a little….this is our home, our dinner was in the refrigerator and it was where we planned to sleep for the night. We called Tiffin for some help, but they didn’t have any other phone number. So we decided to try to find the police station and ask for their help….after all, this is a small town. We saw a police officer on the way there and he helped us out. We got a hold of the owner and he sent an employee to let our motor home out! He said just come settle our bill the next day. We sure love this little town and were very pleased with the work done at Bay Diesel!

Friday, June 12, 2015 – 

Diamond Shield Bay

Diamond Shield Bay

Today we hoped to get the Diamond Shield (Bay 44) installed in the morning and then go to the Muscle Shoals location at 12:30 to have our wet bay floor replaced. But we got a phone call to report to Bay 40 to have our hydraulic system repaired.  We actually had a hard time getting the motor home aired up to drive the short distance, and it was noted as a priority to repair. Fortunately, Diamond Shield could hold off for a short time. In the end, it took until the end of the day for Diamond Shield to be put on and it was discovered the hydraulic issue was a computer programming problem. It was allegedly fixed while in Bay 44. We later learned they were not able to fix it via the computer program. ;-{

We took the weekend off, sort of, and were able to enjoy the area. So stay tuned to see if we ever get everything fixed and finished…..our daughter is checking on our progress every day!

Here’s a few photos of the Allegro Campground, located right at the Service Center. Note the blue sky and it is HOT and dusty. Otherwise, for the price (free if you have a new one, $10/if you are having warranty work, and $20/night for older out of warranty homes.  There are about 90 full hook-ups but some have to just have electricity or even boondock. It was fully packed last night.  There’s no doubt, it’s so convenient. And social. We are learning so much from experienced owners.

I think it’s time to stop this very boring blog and move on to a blog about the fun we have also been having! This week was exhausting, harder than when we actually worked our 40 hour work weeks! We did do a few fun things, but the stress of getting the bay’s assigned and trying to make sure everything was done properly hampered too much fun! But all in all, we have loved meeting so many fine people who work at Tiffin and do their best to provide quality motor homes!

 

Learning to drive our new motor home


TestDrive

The test drive!

Red Bay, Alabama is the home of Tiffin Motorhomes. Every owner seems to try to visit at least once in their RVs lifetime. It’s hard to believe we are here, now (May 19, 2015).

After years of dreaming of owning a Class A Motorhome, Bill finally talked Debbie into owning one.  Actually, it didn’t take much after living in our 30′ Xlite Cougar 5th wheel for nearly two years. It actually suited us and we hated to trade up as it was so easy to maneuver and we found out we could get into any Florida State Park we wanted.  That was a huge goal for us, to start staying in state and national parks.

For whatever reason, it took until this past March to finally try the state parks. And we were hooked. But then, we also realized we needed a little more comfort (king sized bed for his 6’2″ length – how did he sleep in a short queen bed for so long?); wanted a bigger refrigerator since we eat most meals at home; and finally, wanted a washer and dryer.  Having our own will help us manage our time better.  Generally we are on the go once we get settled in our site. Of an evening, is when laundry can easily be done.  It’s no fun being out in the dark with the bugs, or if there are only one or two washers/dryers, it can be very hard to do.  We love this lifestyle and have learned to go with the flow so I (Debbie) made the best of it!

Bill has driven about anything a non CDL driver can drive. He was a Snap-on Tool Dealer for a few years, so he regularly drove that big rig. He drove my step dad’s Class A once a short distance. He was not intimidated. But Debbie on the other hand, said if he wants her to help drive, her limit was an arbitrary 35′ model.

After looking at many motorhomes and more importantly, talking to owners, we settled on a few brands we would consider. We decided we had to buy used as we didn’t want to pay top dollar and see it loose $10,000s as you drove it off the lot. Since Bill is very handy, we felt we could handle a few issues. And then, even brand new ones come with issues.  In the running were the brands: Tiffin, Newmar, and Fleetwood. But the model we liked the most, the Tiffin Phaeton 40′ QTH seemed to have everything we really wanted at the price point we were willing to pay.  It recently has also been the most popular selling model for two years running. So long story short, the day after we sold our 5th wheel, we got busy searching for ours and found it the next day. Not that we hadn’t already been searching….for months actually. But until we sold ours, anything we found was simply enjoyed as “window shopping.”

Cloudy

Driving away from the owner’s home.

We detailed the drama up to the actual purchase here. And there was drama until we drove it away from the seller. That is a very sad story and one we will regret to our dying day, unless we can reconcile with the seller. Let us suffice it to say, buying and selling a home is very stressful on all accounts. And at our ages…we all have aging parents, new grand babies and our own health concerns thrown into the mix.

So finally on May 14, after a tense seven days of waiting for the financing to be finalized (we will never recommend Essex Credit, a division of Bank of the West as a place to go for full timers who do not own a home), also buying a new car, and visiting Debbie’s mom for a surprise Mother’s Day weekend (and her dear husband we both love as our “step-dad” – he’s in the battle for his life), we drove away in our new motor home.

Bill did test drive it for about 20 miles and they gave us a few briefings which were more than generous, but we didn’t have that final briefing like how do you turn on the navigation system, how do you work cruise control, and to check to make sure the washer/dryer worked. It was represented to us that everything worked. The only issue was the dreaded “diamond shield” that has made many an elegant coach look old and ready for the dump. Fortunately, it wasn’t as bad as we have seen and Bill feels confident he’ll get it off, buff it up and it will look as good as they day it went out in the world “for sale.”

We just drove a few miles to a campground near the seller’s home. Everything seemed to work ok on the way there, but there wasn’t any challenge, like rain. As we settled in, we began to discover a few things didn’t work, such as the washing machine. And our list began to grow and by the time we arrived here, we had 19 things on the list!

We had decided we were going to take it back to the factory for a good going over (to make sure any recall matters had been taken care of).  Our travel plans included going to see Bill’s mom, brother and family in Illinois by May 21, 2015 (so we felt the clock ticking daily). Red Bay is only a five & 1/2 hour drive from their home, so we planned to take it there, check in (there is a 4 to 6 week wait and it’s first come first serve), drop it off in a nearby campground while we wait our “turn.”

Storm

Storm near Birmingham, AL

As many other full – timers, we all seem to say we prefer only going about 200 to 250 miles for an ideal travel day. We plotted it out, first stop Suwannee River State Park, Live Oak, FL (243 miles) and then to Walnut Creek RV Park, Troy Alabama (223 miles) and then to Red Bay (261 miles) for a total of 721 miles. This seemed reasonable. What we hadn’t counted on was the heavy traffic, the GPS not working in the Rig (Bill was spoiled with the fabulous navigation system in our Ford Truck) and then rain….and the wipers not working properly!  Bill said this entire trip has been a “white knuckle” experience. So much for me (Debbie) ever wanting to drive it!

The next blog will tell about what to do once you arrive in Red Bay and how this experience is. We’ve heard great stories about it….but just from our initial arrival here, there is a lot you don’t know until you get here. And it seems like no one wants to tell you about it! Let’s just say, it’s been an adventure of it’s own!

Here are our reviews on the Campendium RV Park Reviews of the parks we stayed in as we learned to drive, with Debbie following in our new car, with a photo of each site:

Site 40

Sonrise Palms Christian Rally & RV Park – Had to back in. The owner helped and gave us some good tips

Sonrise Palms Christian Rally & RV Park

Site9

Suwannee River State Park – a bit of a challenge to back in but we did it!

 

IMG_5410

Walnut Creek RV Park – third time is a charm. Easy pull through site!

Walnut Creek RV Park

So this scripture can illustrate how our trip went….There were moments of little faith, but in the end, it worked out!

 “He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’ “ 

Matthew 17:20

Up next, a series on what Red Bay is all about for Tiffin Owners!