We did sign up for this. It’s no secret that RV life is full of occurrences which can reroute a trip or alter well-laid plans at any given time. It’s part of the excitement and adventure. When the motorhome has issues, it puts a major kink in things. We love our rolling home and she started getting a bit sick a few months ago. Mike tried to keep her together by repairing some of the smaller issues himself, but Margie (our nickname for the rig–dubbed Margaritaville by our Florida camping friends before full-timing) started to need some major attention.
While in Missouri, the kitchen slide made a horrible crunching, grinding, screeching sound and stopped working. We called a mobile RV guy to come take a look, and he thought it was the motor. The motor was replaced, but the slide still didn’t work correctly. There were issues with the tracking. After discussion, Mike and I decided to take Margie for repair where she was born–at Thor Motor Coach in Elkhart, Indiana.
We had several things we wanted fixed by the factory, so we made the initial call to Thor and were informed the waiting list was actually months–not weeks or days. It was April and our tentative schedule date was September 1 and they would call if there were any cancellations. We adjusted our summer schedule to include the Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois area (Mike affectionately dubbed it Milli-Ana-Ho) so we would be close if Thor called us in early. As our scheduled appointment loomed closer, Mike called Thor for details of where to arrive, etc., only to be told we were not on their list. After escalating the issue with management, who supposedly tried to sort it all out, Mike was told their scheduler said Mike was noncommittal about the appointment date (an out-and-out lie) so they took us off the schedule. After Mike explained we had been in the area for months precisely for this repair, Thor stated they still could not get us into the repair facility for another few months. As an alternate solution, they recommended a small family-owned company in Elkhart (Charger Enterprises) that could work us in and do the repairs with needed parts provided by Thor.
After reading glowing reviews on Charger, we gave them a call and were encouraged by their confidence in making the repairs. They put us on the schedule for the next week and allowed us to stay on their lot with partial hookups while they performed diagnostics. Three days later, they had a comprehensive list of needed repairs, parts required to make said repairs, and let us know we were on a wait-until-the-parts-come-in-from-Thor basis. We returned to a local campground and waited a week.
And waited another week.
Low and behold, while staying at the campground, the rig slowly became more and more unlevel. The hydraulics system for the jacks had failed, which made the slide on the other side of the rig (also hydraulic) quit working. We were stranded with two nonworking slides and jacks which couldn’t be retracted. Mike, who is like a dog with a bone when presented with a problem needing a working solution, figured out how to retract both the jacks and the slide manually.
Mike was calm about the new problem. He stated he’d call the repair facility Monday morning and check the status of the existing awaited-for parts and have them order the new hydraulic parts needed for the additional problem. I’m not so nice. I’ve been over the waiting for quite some time. “Hell no. Let’s go sit in the freakin’ parking lot. If they see us out their front door while we go in and out of their office area fifty times a day, it might hurry things along.”
That’s how we ended up partially boondocking using Charger’s electric and water hookups in Elkhart, Indiana–literally outside their front door. They were amazing and got us in the bay first thing the next morning. Their guys immediately fixed the hydraulic issue causing the slide and jacks to fail. In the subsequent days, they’ve had us in the bay off and on as parts dwindled in from Thor. Of course, that meant Mike was working from the truck on those days.
We are again in a waiting pattern for the final and most serious repair, but still parked in their lot like squatters refusing to leave. We’ve got all the extraneous issues fixed and in excellent working order. However, the kitchen slide is rather major. Thor originally designed the mechanism with two supports without taking into consideration there is a residential refrigerator included in the space, so the slide supports notoriously fail. Their solution to the problem is to build a new support system, which requires the technicians to take the slide out and put in the new buffed-up support system. It’s not a simple task and the repair guys are ready to work on it.
IF ONLY THEY HAD THE FREAKIN’ PART! Yes, I blog shouted with my ALL CAPS (but refrained from cursing, which I definitely do in my head). To be honest, I’M LOSING MY SH*T. I can gripe about the RV industry and how they don’t take pride in their work by building things right the first time. I can rant about awful customer service at Thor and apparently not caring about their company’s reputation. I can go on and on about how we should get the quality we pay for–the rig definitely wasn’t cheap but we’re finding out the build was. I could go on, but it’s useless. Instead, we sit in the repair facility lot and wait.
The problem is not Charger Enterprises. This company has been WONDERFUL to work with every step of the way. The part has been on order for five weeks–through Thor (who, as I stated in the beginning, dropped the ball and whose slide support design is a major fail). Thor ordered the part to be built by Lippert, and they keep giving us bogus shipping dates. To demonstrate how ludicrous the shipping situation is–Lippert is one mile away from Thor and Thor is a quarter a mile from where we currently wait.
AND WAIT (sadly, I can’t capitalize this enough).
We are supposed to be at NomadFest in Texas mid-October to attend the premier of RV Nomads movie. We paid as VIPs to support the movie and have been looking forward to it for months. As the time keeps ticking, our chances for making it there dwindle.
As for today, it’s the same as yesterday and the day before and the day before that. Tomorrow and the day after will probably be the same as today and yesterday. All I know is I need to get out this Groundhog movie-like hell and get on the road.
The purpose of this rant? It’s definitely not to detour anyone wanting to live this lifestyle. We did know from the get-go that repairs are a way of life when your home is on wheels and travels frequently. The reality of it, though, is frustrating and exhausting. It’s real and it sucks.
The silver lining? When the slide finally does get fixed, we are good to go for a while. Unless we have a flat tire. Or something falls off. Or…. You get the picture. I’m just so thankful the adventures outweigh the repair frustration.
Wish us luck. In the meantime, safe travels to you.
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