Sunday, October 6, 2013

Goodbye Newmar! Great Experience

Roger here.... (Big Chuck sends his regards.  He is napping right now)....  Now that our scheduled service is complete, we have moved to the Newmar overflow parking lot for the weekend (watching it rain) to open space for the new people coming in.  The opening photo of an Amish school with a grassy parking lot full of bicycles highlights the fact that we are still in Nappanee.  We are waiting for the weekend to end so that a local tire service (recommended by Newmar) can change a leaky valve stem on one of our tires.  Then we are outta here!  Dianne is going to talk about our visit to The Rentown Amish Country Store, but first I want to talk a bit about our recent Newmar Service experience:

In late July, while en route to Salt Lake City, I called the Newmar Service Department to set up an appointment.  We then submitted a laundry list of 13 items that we wanted to have completed.  One of those items included an extensive list of chassis maintenance tasks that we wanted to have done at the factory.  Our Mountain Aire has been remarkably problem-free, and we want to keep it that way.  An arrival date of September 30th was confirmed at that time.  After a few email exchanges, we received an estimate for the work and agreed to proceed so that parts could be ordered.  

On the first morning of our scheduled service, Byron, the representative who was overseeing and doing much of the work on our motor home, reviewed our requests.  During the discussion we actually added a couple more items.  Over the course of the week, Byron contacted us frequently regarding how we wanted him to proceed.  We got to know his boss, Leander, and the entire crew who worked on our rig on a first-name basis.  We quickly grew to trust them with our home.  It was apparent that this was going to be a first-rate experience.  

Big Chuck told you about the repairs to our automatic steps (much cheaper than the estimate), the awning, the lights in the bedroom, the off-track pocket door, etc.  I have a few photos of some of the outside improvements.

More than a year ago I clipped the rear end on a concrete post at a gas station.  The damage was noticeable if you walked by, but not horrible.  It was in the back, so most people did not see it.  At Retama Village (our winter home) we surrounded it with shrubs  :-).  However, it caused my stomach to churn every time I saw it.  Big Chuck showed you the initial repairs in the last post.  At that point the new trim had been added and the fiberglass on the bumper repaired.  All that remained to be done was a new paint job.  Looks pretty good, doesn't it?  One less thing to occupy my mind.


When we were on the west coast, I climbed up on the roof to do something (who knows what).  I immediately noticed that the paint along the curved area between the roof and the vertical walls was deteriorating.  The salty air on the Oregon coast and the baking  Texas sun probably accelerated the decline of the paint job. The entire perimeter of the roof line was affected.  It was pretty bad.  I knew that if this was not corrected in a timely manner, that the deterioration would spread to the visible surfaces.  That trip to the roof was the impetus for moving up the Newmar service to this fall instead of waiting until next summer (our original intention).  We are very pleased with the shiny new paint.  It was good to have this done at the factory where we knew the paint would match.

At some point during the last leg of this year's travels, we lost a hubcap cover.  I am sure it has a happy home  along a road somewhere in Colorado.  I am actually glad that the loss of the cover happened before our service appointment.  Less hassle for me.  Pretty shiny, huh?

For the past few years our headlights have become foggier and foggier.  One turned yellow.  One turned frosty white (not sure why they were different).  These ugly lights were very noticeable to me and to others (I am sure).  As I looked into replacing the covers, I learned that the headlights came as a unit.  I would have to replace the entire unit.  Last year I bought a restoration kit (chemicals and sanding).  It helped, but really made the ugliness only slightly less noticeable.  I cannot express how happy I am with the new headlights.  Whew, that looks SO MUCH better.  I think the light can actually now illuminate the road.

When all the work was completed, Byron came to our coach to review each item and the ensuing charges.  I won't reveal the total bill.  It was not cheap.  However, I am happy to report that it was $2000 less than the estimate.  In the future, if we ever need major work done, and the motor home is drivable, we will definitely return to the Newmar facility.  There is a reason for their excellent reputation.

After we paid our bill, we took the path across the street through the fields of Amish Acres.  To celebrate a successful venture, we decided to repeat the chicken dinner that we enjoyed when we first arrived.  We do not often eat fried foods;  however, we won't be back for a while so, what the hay!

Before turning this over to Dianne, I did want to say a few words about the factory tour that I took. It did not turn out to be what I expected.  (No pictures allowed).  I expected a Henry Ford type assembly line.  That does not happen here.  Since each of the coaches are only built if there is an order, there is a great deal of customization.  Most of the materials are cut at the point of installation - not precut.  The coaches are moved to different stations, but that move is done on air-filled pads that four to six workers actually push by hand!  The tires are not released until it is time to send the unit to the paint shop.  A large percentage of the workers are Amish -- you know, the people with the reputation for excellent and meticulous work.  Seeing the coaches built helped me realize the reason for the quality.  

By the way.  At this time Newmar produces four new coaches a day.  That number is being increased to five with possibilities of adding more in the future.  Newmar is hiring.  I must report, however, that there is a general concern that this boon may go away if the mess in Washington is not resolved soon.

Time to turn things over to Dianne.

Hi all, Dianne here.  All week long we've watched slim, trim Amish women (and men) riding all around town on bicycles and on the country roads leading to town.  Between 5:00 and 5:30 every morning (in the pitch dark) you can see tiny bicycle headlights on the country roads heading toward the Newmar factory.  I can only imagine what time they had to arise and leave home to make the trip by bicycle.   If you worked as hard as they do and used bicycles and feet to get around like they do, you might get by eating like they do!  I won't even describe the deliciousness of the cinnamon rolls we devoured from the Rise and Roll Bakery one morning while killing time in the car waiting for daylight.  We also checked out the Rentown Country Store, recommended to us by our main service guy, Byron. 
What a wonderland!  Delicious Amish cheese of every description, bulk foods and spices, baked goods, fresh orchard apples, and much more.  Here's what I came away with on our first trip

Almond butter, dried sour cherries, homemade cookies, honeycrisp apples, apple and vegetable crisps, dip mix, etc. etc., plus some very delicious cheese.  I have no willpower when it comes to sweets and pies, donuts, rolls, and homemade baked goods, so I need to get out of this town!!!

Tomorrow we're heading back to central Indiana to visit family and friends, then back north a week from today to drop off the motor home for the interior renovation.  Then we'll be "homeless" for another week and a half, this time with no access to the motor home at night.  Our friends Jay and Nancy have graciously offered to let us stay with them, so we are very lucky indeed!  Back to Roger....

The pet picture of the day was taken on the day that we packed for a night at the Amish Acres Inn. We were not able to sleep in the motor home during the painting process, so we threw clothes in a suitcase and crammed a lot of stuff into the car.  Big Chuck seemed to think that we bought him a cozy new bed.


Bill and Nancy said...

So glad to hear that your service and maintenance went so well. It is a pleasure when a company does what is expected or more!!

As for the Amish Country and the food... OMG... I just loved everything in the Amish Country, but certainly couldn't stay there very long;o))

Can't wait to see your finished interior renovations!!


Your rig sure looks good with the new paint job! I'm just down the road from you...Houdi and I are in Elkhart Campground tonight. Great countryside here and quaint with the Amish influence!
Mary and Houdi