The Best Laid Plans or… A Study in Murphy’s Law, RV Style

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Don and our salesman Jerry with our new Winnebago Scorpion and Bighorn

The RV

This goes out to all the folks that are planners. You do your                       Christmas shopping early, you prepare for storms, you file your taxes in February, and you try to make sure all the bases are covered so there are no surprises. Well if you’ve been doing that long enough, you’ve found that sometimes no matter how good the preparation, life has something else in store.

This also goes out to our fellow newbie RVers, who like us, make the assumption that a new trailer will be trouble free.  As in everything else, NEVER make an assumption.

So, flash back to August 3rd in the Montana RV dealership where we are signing our life away to own that gorgeous Winnebago Scorpion that you see in the picture, and are explaining to our salesman ( also in the picture ), that there are a few small changes that we would like to make. He is a wonderful man, who works very hard to take care of his customers, and he tells us that their service department can do anything, that they’re pricey, but highly skilled. So we leave the rig at the dealership assured that we are in great hands.

Same day, a few hours later, we have found the perfect tow vehicle, a Dodge Bighorn 3500 Diesel Dually, ( also in the picture ). It’s used, but with only 15, 000 miles it looked brand new, and the former owner had the tracking already installed for the fifth wheel hitch we needed to tow the trailer.  The sales manager, being very accommodating, said he would contact the former owner to see if he would be willing to sell the hitch portion, or if not, then he would find us one. Since he knew what type of trailer we were pulling, we again felt confident everything would work out perfectly. So back to Hawaii we went to plan the “move trip”.

The “move trip” was set up to get the rig ready for the 2016 summer Celebration Tour, and to move it from Montana, to winter storage in Oregon, where the summer trip will kick off.  We set the trip for the end of September to allow time for the dealership to complete the extra work we had requested, and to give the Dodge folks time to find the hitch. All in all over 7 weeks.

I sent the list of requested alterations of the trailer with the product links to the RV dealership shortly after we returned to Hawaii.               Because we are newbies and this is such a large rig, we wanted to make sure we had all the safety bells and whistles we could afford. So the first two items on the list were to install a backup camera system, and backup sensors for the trailer. We went with Rear View Safety’s 4 Camera System with a quad monitor that’s mounted in the tow vehicle. There are 2 side cameras, and 2 rear cameras. We were actually able to use only one of the backup cameras due to the limitations of a Toy Hauler, but I have to tell you, it’s awesome ! I can’t imagine trying to handle that beast without these. Side note for anyone thinking about this type of a system, the harness they sent only had 3 ports, so make sure you order a harness with 4 ports. The sensor system had 4 sensors that mounted along the lower back of the trailer and start beeping about 5′ from an object, and just like the ones on cars, the beeping gets louder as you get closer. Very handy !

The third item on the list will probably sound strange to most of you, but we wanted to have washlets ( mini bidets ) mounted to each            toilet. We bought one for our master bathroom when Don was going through his cancer treatments, and it was a lifesaver, so it was a must for extended living in the RV.  Also, the septic systems in RV’s tend to be very sensitive, so having something that will minimize the amount of toilet paper going into the system is a win win. After doing some research, I found a great little system that another RVer had used that was reasonably priced.

The fourth was a built in coffee pot. There isn’t a great deal of counter space in the unit, so having a coffee pot taking up such valuable space didn’t make sense, but a built in seemed the perfect choice, and it has an inline so you never have to fill the water tank, it’s automatic, woohoo.

Finally, there is a glass sliding door that separates the main cabin from the garage. This was Winnebago’s prototype unit, and for some reason they had the door moving left to right, making you squeeze through a smaller opening, ( on their later versions they changed it to a right to left ), so we asked to have it changed. One other benefit to doing that is it left a great space to make a pantry, which also was not included in this unit.

Through many Emails and phone calls, we finally got a price the last week of August for the labor portion of the work, and notification that it was scheduled for the 1st and 2nd of September.  Since we were not picking it up until the 28th, everything was great. As far as the hitch, we had good news there as well, the dealership had found a used one and was negotiating the price.

On September 1st, I got a call from the RV folks saying they weren’t comfortable installing the cameras or sensors, but had found a sound guy that would do it, and I could call him to make arrangements. The sound guy seemed very knowledgeable, but also very busy, as he couldn’t fit us in until the 23rd. Oh well, at least we were still within our time frame, but it also meant coordinating with the Dodge folks to get the truck over there ( with the hitch ), and the RV folks to get the trailer there.

By the 15th of September, we got word from the Dodge folks that they had successfully negotiated a good price on the hitch and it would be installed on the vehicle in time. I replied how thankful I was for all their help, and just making sure that it was strong enough to handle this rig. I didn’t hear back, so ” assumed ” all was well.

On the morning of the 22nd, I called both dealerships to verify the vehicles would be dropped off to the sound guy that day, and was happy to hear everything was on schedule. A few hours later, I got       ” the call “. The sound guy asked why the truck had been dropped off without the hitch. After a few seconds of confusion, I called the dealership to find out that the hitch they’d been negotiating to buy, was not strong enough to handle the trailer, and that they had ordered one, ( interestingly enough from our RV dealership ), but it hadn’t arrived yet, and they were hoping they’d have it in time for the sound guy to finish his work.

On the morning of the 23rd, I again got ” the call “. The camera                system that had originally been sent to the RV folks in mid August, and then delivered with the trailer, was missing 2 of the 4 cameras. Of everything on our list, this system was by far the most important, as it dealt directly with the safety of driving the rig, especially for a beginner. Fortunately, the company we bought it from, B & H Photo, was great, and overnighted a new system out literally, just in the nick of time, but still no hitch.

The last piece of this house of cards, was our driving lesson. We signed up for an RV Driving Course to cover the basics before we       ” hit the road “. This is by far the best advice we can give another newbie, it’s worth every penny. It was basically a 1 day course that covered a power point presentation and in the truck driving skills. The closest instructor that could accommodate our time frame was in Utah, so we had travel expenses, but he only charged his out of pocket costs. We had scheduled him for the 29th, the day after we got there, but as of the 25th, the hitch still had not arrived. He graciously allowed us to change our lesson to the 30th, after being assured that we would have the hitch on the truck by then.

The last work day before we flew out to Montana, I called the RV folks to make sure they had completed the washlet install, coffee pot install, and sliding door change, as these were the only items left on their list.  At that point, they had changed the door, but had not yet finished the other two. They assured me that it would be done and ready for pickup when we arrived on Monday.

On Sunday night, we boarded the plane to Montana knowing that we didn’t have a clue what we would find when we got there.

To be continued…..

Heather Spencer

Mission Positive Films

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