Posts Tagged With: Coach

Lake Elsinore – RV Trip #3

Lake Park RV Resort - Lake Elsinore, CA

Lake Park RV Resort – Lake Elsinore, CA

I’m sitting on the couch in Redondo Beach, tired but happy. Laura and I just got through our third RV trip. This was another learning and shakedown trip. It was our longest to date – four days. I wish it could have been longer.

We tried out a couple of new facets of the RV lifestyle.

First, we decided to take our cat with us, as I mentioned in the last article. The Cat’s First Camping Trip

And second, we tried out our new membership in Passport America to get our nightly cost down to something a little more affordable.

This was not a “destination” trip, meaning that we didn’t go to a place that had lots of great sights and activities. We went instead to a Passport America park that had reasonable rates and was not unbearably hot in June.

The place we chose was Lake Park RV Resort and Lodge, which was one of two places that Passport America had listed on Lake Elsinore. We got two of our four nights for half price. The entire four nights cost just $105.

Lake Elsinore

Lake Elsinore

 

About the Lake

Lake Elsinore is in the Inland Empire, close to Temecula. It is the largest natural lake in Southern California. What does “natural” mean? Not man made. We didn’t build a dam and let water back up here. Lake Elsinore is in a natural basin. Water flows in from the San Jacinto River. Some work has been done over the years to keep the level of the lake stable via an outflow mechanism, but it basically remains a natural lake today.

My only prior experience at this lake was as a child, on an early boating trip with my family. I remember two things about this trip. Yards and yards of mud along the shore, and a mishap at the launching ramp that could have been a disaster. I don’t know what caused all the mud to be there, and there was no mud on this trip. The launching ramp incident was scary. My Mom was backing the boat down the launching ramp when the brakes in our ’64 Chrysler Newport gave out. The emergency brake was the only thing that stopped our car from rolling all the way into the water.

Old days of family boating. Not sure if this is Lake Elsinore or Lake San Antonio

Old days of family boating. Not sure if this is Lake Elsinore or Lake San Antonio

I remember reading about Lake Elsinore as a Jr High kid, mainly because of the famous dirt bike race that was held there from the mid 60s to the mid 70s. This race drew famous participants like Steve McQueen and Malcolm Smith. Honda named it’s first line of competition dirt bikes after this race….The CR250M Elsinore. In the mid-70s, violent outlaw bikers stared showing up to this event, causing so many problems that the City of Lake Elsinore had no choice but to shut it down. The event was brought back in 1996 and continues today, on a provisional basis.

Steve McQueen racing in the Lake Elsinore Grand Prix

About the RV Park

The campground turned out to be nice, but I would not call it a “Resort”. It’s a pretty large facility, and it does have some nice features.

There were the usual full hookup facilities for RVs on wide gravel spaces, with a mixture of 50 amp and 30 amp outlets that appeared to be randomly placed. There was sewer, water, and cable TV. Note long term “full timer” stuff next to us….storage lockers/sheds.

Hookups

Hookups

The Olympic sized swimming pool was nice. We used it a couple of times.

Swimming Pool

Swimming Pool

There are BBQ facilities by the pool with a large gazebo and tables. With all of the trees, it was fairly cool in here even during the heat of the day.

Gazebo and BBQ facilities by the pool.

Gazebo and BBQ facilities by the pool.

Two gazebos are next to the lake with tables and BBQs. This is a charming feature, but I didn’t see anybody using them. There was work being done in this area….note the bulldozer. They are spreading gravel on a large flat area towards the rear of this photo. Apparently this new area will be for RVs, but with no hookups.

Gazebo

Gazebo

There is a large grassy area across the road from the Pool, with rental “cabins” to the right.

Large grassy area. Cabins are off to right of picture.

Large grassy area. Cabins are off to right of picture. Note businesses across the Hwy. One is a Mini Mart.

Our dog enjoyed the grassy area.

Izzy on the grass, enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells.

Izzy on the grass, enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells.

The best spaces in the park overlook the lake, but all of those spaces contain park model trailers. Park models appear to be short single wide mobile homes. You can see one of them in the background of this shot.

Park Models can be seen facing Gazebos by the lake shore

Park Models can be seen facing Gazebos by the lake shore

It’s between 300 and 400 yards of walking to get from the regular RV area we were in to the lakeside.

There is no sandy beach……it’s basically dried dirt with rocks. Branches stick out of the water.

No beach....dried mud with bushes sticking out of the water. Wouldn't swim here.

No beach….dried mud with bushes sticking out of the water. Wouldn’t swim here.

Next to the Lake Park is a launching ramp and parking lot belonging to another facility. It was busy on Sunday but deserted during the week days.

Launching ramp next door

Launching ramp next door

This facility has many full time residents. I saw a lot of Class A motor homes and 5th Wheel trailers that didn’t look like they had been moved for many months. There was a bus conversion next to us, which had flat rear tires and bricks around the edges.

There are three main “streets” that have RV spaces on either side. Here is a typical view. There were quite a few open spaces available.

Looking down one of the streets. Many long term guests here.

Looking down one of the streets. Many long term guests here. At the end of the road you can see the “Motel” rooms.

I would say there were 30-40 RVs at the park while we were there, but only about 10 of these appeared to be short term guests.

The spaces here are very good sized, with ample room to park a TOAD, leaving plenty of outside space to sit with a group of people. No fires are allowed in the spaces, though.

Large space

Large space – the tree marks the back of the space. I’m shooting the picture from an empty space that opens onto one of the other three streets.

The lake itself was larger than I expected. The water is like I remembered it from my earlier trip….brownish green. It looks a little muddy. I had planned to so some fishing, but never got around to it.

Another view of the lake. It's pretty large. Lots of room for boating

Another view of the lake. It’s pretty large. Lots of room for boating

Free wireless internet was available, and worked well most of the time. There were a couple of short periods where we couldn’t connect, but speed was good enough to upload pictures for the last article on this blog.

The people here are friendly. Almost everybody waves to you as they walk by, and we had a couple of short conversations with fellow dog walkers (dogs are such a great ice breaker).

This was the first trip where the coach was situated at the right angle to use the awning. This provided shade in the middle of the day….mid morning to early afternoon. From about 3:00 to about 5:00 the shade goes away, and the sun is too hot to be outside. After 5:00 it got really nice, because one of the many trees in the park shaded most of the passenger side of our coach. This was perfect….sitting outside in the gentle breeze, having some beer and listening to music. Very relaxing.

It's Post Time!

It’s Post Time!

The experiment with our cat Milhouse was a success. He was nervous at first, but by the end of the second day, he was into the swing of things. He liked sitting in the bedroom, on the little counter that has a window, watching the world go by. We will take him on our future trips.

Milhouse by the bedroom window

Milhouse by the bedroom window

We put the cat box in the shower, with a white plastic trash bag under it to insure no litter gets into the grey tank. It worked out really well, but you have to keep it scooped out all the time! The quarters are too close for a smelly cat box.

Cat box. These high sided boxes work really well.

Cat box. These high sided boxes work really well.

Laura and I spent a lot of time on writing projects during this trip, as we have on our other trips. I spent much of my time editing the first draft of a novel. Laura was working on writing exercises and blog posts. This is one of the things I like best about RVing so far. Being able to write in various locations is very appealing to me, and has been working out well so far.

Overall, I’m pleased with this trip, and would visit this RV Park again. It had a nice laid-back vibe. There wasn’t any loud partying going on, and the people were nice. Facilities were good. There are a couple of mini-markets and an ice cream place that are walking distance from the park, but they are across Hwy 74 (the Ortega Hwy), so you have to be careful crossing. There is a Jack in the Box next to the park that doesn’t require crossing the Hwy, which is nice.

Our coach is now at the dealer’s service department. We are getting the damage repaired that happened during the recent break-ins at our storage facility. We are also getting a couple of warranty fixes done. Our black tank drain valve is leaking a little bit, and the housing for our water filter is stuck so tight that I can’t get it off. So Curious George will be laid up for a couple of weeks.

Can’t wait to get her back, and go on another adventure!

Categories: Life on the Road | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Dockweiler State Beach…..RV Trip #2

 

Dockweiler from the sand.

Dockweiler from the sand.

Our second trip is over, and I’m sitting here in my condo only about 7 miles away from the Dockweiler RV Park, wishing it was still going.

To get back into it, I would have to drive 66 miles inland to pick up our coach from the storage yard, and then drive about 70 miles in the coach to get back to Dockweiler. Compared to a 300 mile driving day, it’s not too bad, but it’s still more than a hop, skip, and jump. Guess I’ll just have to stay home for now.

Dockweiler has some features that are hard to love.

It’s very close to LAX, and depending on wind patterns and the time of day, you might have noisy jets taking off right over your heads every few minutes. It can get loud enough to stop conversation.

You can just see the jet taking off from LAX in the upper left hand corner of the picture

You can just see the jet taking off from LAX – middle left.

 

Across the road, and visible from the RV Park, is Hyperion – LA’s oldest and largest sewage treatment plant.

Hyperion Sewage Treatment Plant

Hyperion Sewage Treatment Plant

 

Off shore, oil tankers tie up and connect to pipes that take crude oil into the Standard Oil Refinery, which is a mile or so south.

Tanker sitting offshore, off loading crude to the Standard Oil Refinery

Tanker sitting offshore, off loading crude to the Standard Oil Refinery

Cost is high – $65 per night for the row closest to the sand, $60 per night for the middle row, and $55 per night for the back row.

The park isn’t lushly landscaped and attractive, either. At first glance, the park just looks like a parking lot with hookups. It is long and skinny, with three rows of spaces. It’s not a tiny park….there are 118 spaces.

 

You can see the three rows of spaces here. It goes pretty far back....118 spaces.

You can see the three rows of spaces here. It goes pretty far back….118 spaces.

This is a very popular park, especially in the summer. It fills up fast. Reservations are required. Why is that, with all of the problems?

Most of the bad features don’t actually impact you much. There is a breeze that normally blows from the ocean onto the shore. This usually insures that the smells from Hyperion, LAX, and Standard Oil don’t hang around in the RV park. The smells generally blow inland. You get nice clean ocean air.

The airplane noise can be bad, but it comes and goes, and after a while I don’t notice it very much. Laura doesn’t agree with me on this…..she thinks the noise is a really big problem.

The best part about this location is the bike path. Its about five steps from the first row of spaces at the park, separated by a low fence with openings about every 15 feet or so. This bike path is the famous “Strand”, which runs through Torrance Beach, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, El Porto, Playa Del Rey, Venice Beach, and Santa Monica Beach. The food, drink, and entertainment selection along the Strand is ENORMOUS. World class. Almost everybody I saw at this campground had bikes in order to take advantage of this.

The Strand. You can just see a bike entering the frame on the right.

The Strand. You can just see a bike entering the frame on the right.

The beach next to the RV Park is very nice also. If you like to body surf, it’s a very nice location. It’s also a good place to fish. There never seems to be many local surfers there. The location of the RV Park helps with that. Dockweiler is a very large beach. To the north of the guard shack is day parking ($6), and the “day use” part of the beach. That is where day visitors and surfers are. To the south of the guard shack is the RV park, but there is quite a bit of open ground between the day area and the RV area. Too far to lug surfboards and other beach equipment. The beach by the RV park isn’t legally restricted to RV’ers, but the topography keeps day users on the north side of the beach.

A nearly empty beach in SoCal...rare even in April.

A nearly empty beach in SoCal…rare even in April.

The first trip that we took in the new Georgetown 328 was a shakedown, at an RV Park that was only about 4 miles from the dealership and the storage yard. It was a great trip, but there was very little driving involved. This time we had more of a drive…about 70 miles one way. The driving was almost all freeway driving….you go about a mile from the storage yard to get to I-10. Then it’s over to the 605 freeway, and finally the 105 freeway. The 105 turns into Imperial Hwy. That road literally ends at the guard shack for Dockweiler State Beach, about a mile or two after the 105 ends.

Guard shack up on the hill, on the left side of photo. Note Strand cruiser.

Guard shack up on the hill, on the left side of photo. Note Strand cruiser – if this were mid May or later, you would probably see at least 5 bikes in this shot

Our adventure started on a Thursday. Before we left the storage lot, I wanted to check and adjust the tire pressure. The sticker in the coach says that the tires should be set at 92 PSI. I checked the front tires and the rear inside tires. They were all set at 80 PSI. The rear wheels have wheel covers on them; those make it impossible to check the pressure on the outside rear tires. You have to remove the wheel covers to do that, but the little tool provided to undo the nuts that hold the wheel covers on didn’t provide enough leverage. Crap. I used my air compressor to set the front wheels to 92 PSI, and left the rears alone, not wanting to have the dual wheels set at different PSI levels.

The drive down to the beach was easy. The new rig handled great!  I-10 is an older freeway with a lot of big rig traffic, so it was the roughest ride. Even with that, I was able to drive the rig with one hand on the wheel most of the time, although due to the PSI issue on the rear wheels, I tried to keep my speed under about 60 MPH. The 605 freeway is a lot smoother than I-10, and was a breeze to drive on. The best was the 105 freeway, though. That one was built in the 1980s, and it is as smooth as silk.

Dockweiler has a lot of little rules, and one of them is that you have to pay an extra $17 bucks to go in before the 1:00pm check in time. We were in no danger of getting there early, though. I had spent more time than expected trying to deal with the tire pressure issue. There was also more traffic on the roads than expected in a couple of spots. We pulled into the park a little after 3:00 pm.  There were three rigs in line ahead of me when I pulled into the check-in processing area.

Our spot was about halfway down the first block, in the middle isle. The spaces are angled but not pull through. They are generous in size, and easy to pull in to. I was able to pull our 34 foot rig in far enough to allow our car to be parked behind it.

Already pulled into our spot.

Already pulled into our spot.

The spaces are full hookup, with 50 amp and 30 amp service, fresh water, and sewer inputs. There is a picnic table for each space, and a simple BBQ. A strip of grass about 8 feet wide separates the middle spaces from the back spaces….this is a perfect place to walk your dog, but there are also special areas for dogs with waste bag dispensers, and two dog runs, which are in the sand and only big enough for one dog at a time. There is no cable TV, and no WiFi. Cellular reception and 3G/4G/LTE worked well on AT&T.

Here's a shot of the other end of the space, with the BBQ and table.

Here’s a shot of the other end of the space, with the BBQ, table, and grass strip.

There are two bathroom/shower facilities for the RV Park, on either end, plus a public rest room to service travelers on the Strand. The RV Park facilities have a keypad entry. You get the code as part of the check-in process. The public restroom is always open, and not nearly as clean as the RV park restrooms.

Planting is pretty simple…..a few palm trees and shrubs, along with the grass. No shade trees.

Palm Trees on the grass between the middle and back rows.

Palm Trees on the grass between the middle and back rows.

After getting set up at the park, Laura and I were both pretty beat. Time to have a drink and relax. Then I spent a little time in the late afternoon trying my hand at surf fishing, but it was a tad too windy to get my bait out far enough. There was a family trying their hand at the time I was out there. Nobody was having much luck, but I’ve fished around here quite a bit over the years, and have had good luck many times in the past. The fish are there more often than not.

 

Fishing in the surf

Fishing in the surf

After a while, it was time to get back to the coach. I picked up my tackle and headed back in. The water is about 100 yards from the park at high tide.

Getting ready to head in for the evening.

Getting ready to head in for the evening.

Laura made some of her famous Melange for dinner….eggs, peppers, onions, potatoes, cheese, and sour cream, topped with a little hot sauce. Then we turned on the TV. There is good HD reception over the antenna for Channels 2 and 7, and also PBS and a few other stations. Thursday night is an ABC night for us, so using the antenna was perfect.

The next day (Friday) was busy. We came to a close RV Park for a couple of reasons. One reason was stocking…..being close to home and the stores that we frequent is helpful. We also wanted to have a small get together at the coach, to show it to the family. They all live within about ten miles of Dockweiler. The party was planned for Saturday. Friday was stocking day. We did some shopping at Walmart in Torrance, and also brought some items to the coach from home.

The weather was nice on Friday. I did some more fishing in the morning, and had better luck getting my bait out to where the fish should be. I got one good strike, but that was it. Skunked again.

Laura and I did have fun walking the dog around, and exploring the park. Here are a few pictures from our walks. You can see the clouds rolling in on some of these shots.

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Later in the day, Aaron, Jennie, and Elliot (my son, his wife, and daughter) paid us a visit, and we had a really nice time. While they were there, the wind started to pick up. About twenty minutes after they left, we got hit with a fairly heavy rainstorm that lasted the rest of the evening. The wind was strong enough to rock the coach all night, even through we had our leveling jacks down. This storm was a good test of our new rig….no leaks that we could find.

Come Saturday morning, the rain was gone, but the wind was not. It was blowing really hard…..way too hard to do any fishing, or even much walking. That was OK, because we needed to prepare for our party. The big job was getting the chili going in the crock pot.

Cutting the green peppers.

Cutting the green peppers.

Chili in the crock pot, cooking.

Chili in the crock pot, cooking.

The party was a success, even though it was too cold and windy to be outside of the coach. The family seemed to enjoy it quite a lot, and Elliot was a joy, giving plenty of attention to everybody there. We had four generations of the family all in the coach at the same time…..Great Grandparents, Grandparents, Parents, and child. Three of my four sons were there…..it was so nice to see everybody. Our dog was nervous, but she was well behaved most of the time. Laura’s friend Lani showed up too, and brought some Chocolate Wine.

After the party, Laura drove her mom and my parents home, and then we cleaned up the coach. We had a nice quiet night after that, except for some raucous partying going on here and there around the park. It was still windy and cold outside, but since there was no rain this night, people seemed to be making up for the rained-out parties of the prior night.

Sunday morning was beautiful. The wind was gone, and we had sunshine and clean air. Checkout time is noon, and we had a lot of work to get done, so it was a busy time.

Back to the wheel covers and tire pressure. I put some questions about my problem onto the Forest River Forum, Georgetown section. I got a lot of great responses. I wasn’t the only person who couldn’t get the retaining nuts loose with the special tool provided by Forest River. The suggestion was to use a breaker bar and socket with extension. I had those at home, and picked them up during one of our supply runs. That did the trick….I got the wheel covers off, and was able to check and adjust the PSI on the rear tires. Now all tires are set at 92 PSI.

We had the coach ready to go at about 11:58, and left for the long drive back to the Storage Yard. I was able to keep the speed up at 65-70 MPH during most of the trip, now that the tire pressure was correct. The increased PSI made for a harder ride, but handling was more positive. The drive went well, and it was easy to get the coach pulled back into our storage spot and buttoned up.

I think our second RV trip was a great success. The coach worked flawlessly. I keep wondering when all of the defects are going to show up. I haven’t run into anything yet that would require a trip back to the dealer for warranty service. There are a few small issues. The door is a little hard to close. Some screws on the handle were loose. I tightened those, which helped, but I think I need to adjust the door jamb to align better. I think the grey water tank valve leaks a little bit, too. When I removed the cap over the dump pipe, some grey water came out. Good thing I was wearing my rubber gloves! But that was it…..no other problems.

Can’t wait to get back out there. We are probably looking at mid-May for the next trip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Life on the Road | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Pre-Trip Jitters and Excitement

We are getting ready to embark on our second trip in the Georgetown……or Curious George as Laura has named it.

We are going to Dockweiler State Beach for a few days. This will be the first significant drive we will take….it’s about 60 miles one way from the storage facility. It’s only about 5 miles from our “sticks and bricks” house, so we can spend some time stocking, and also have the family over for a small get together. It’s close enough that we don’t have to ask one of the kids to feed the cats….we’ll just drop by home and do it ourselves.

All the jitters are there. Will the batteries be dead after the coach sat for almost a month? Will I run into problems checking tire pressure, oil, and other things before leaving? How will the drive be? Will anything go wrong? How will hosting a party out of the coach work?

Reading forums about the Georgetown line also gives me the jitters. I have read about problems with the awning, problems with the bedroom doors, problems with the steps in front of the door, and other issues. Is our coach going to fall victim to any of those problems? It seemed really solid on our first trip, but we didn’t create much wear and tear in such a short time.

There is also the excitement. Our first trip was only a couple of nights, and it was mainly a shakedown trip, although we had a good time talking to the nice folks there.This destination is more interesting than the first trip. We will be right on the beach, not in an industrial area next to a landfill in the Inland Empire. This trip will be three nights….not much longer than the first trip, but enough time to enjoy the beach, do a little surf fishing, do a little writing, and just exist in our new home away from home. I’m really excited about that. There will still be some shakedown involved, but that won’t be the main focus of the trip this time.

I’m a “check lists” person, and have already been working through items. This afternoon will be busy for both Laura and me. Packing, loading the car, grocery shopping, loading the ice chest, charging up electronics, precooking meat for chili. We’ll be tired by the end of the day, which will hopefully help us to get a good night’s sleep.

So Curious George gets its first outing with the new name. Wish us luck!

 

Categories: Life on the Road | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

RV PDI

 

IMG_1374

The week of March 17th was really long. We bought our new Georgetown 328 on the preceding Saturday, but needed to get finances, insurance, and storage arranged before we picked her up. We scheduled our PDI (Pre Delivery Inspection) for Monday, March 24th, 9 days after the date of purchase. The dealership was fine with that, because it gave them plenty of time to get the unit ready to go. The business person who did our paperwork suggested that we could do a shakedown trip with a couple of comp nights at a local RV Park, and we took them up on that.

That long week was a mixture of excitement and apprehension. All of our prep work went really easily. Finances were no problem at all, and we had everything we needed in place by Tuesday morning.

Laura and I had already done quite a bit of research on storage back in December, and targeted the Colton/Bloomington/Redlands area due to the low cost of covered and indoor storage. It would be nice to have the coach closer, but paying 300 bucks a month for outside storage didn’t appeal to me at all. Having the coach way out in the eastern boonies isn’t bad for an escape point either…that way we are doing all of the nastiest city driving in a small Honda Accord instead of a large Motor Home. One other great thing….the dealership is about 3 miles from the storage yard, so it will be easy to get over there for maintenance or warranty work.

We did some quick research on the insurance that the dealership offered us. It was exactly what we needed for a good price, so we told them to go ahead and set it up. Bottom line, we had everything in place by mid week.

The apprehension I was feeling was due mainly to RV forum posts I have read over the last year about new RV quality problems. There were also a lot of posts about dealerships that tend to be less than helpful – including some posts about the dealership that we bought our coach from. There’s lots of negative stuff out there. You read story after story of a long list of defects, repairs that keep your new baby in the shop for weeks at a time, and dealers who are not responsive. All of this made me pretty paranoid. Of all the major dealers in our area, there were less negative stories out there about our dealer, and since this dealer is also the largest, I figured that was a good sign.

I created a check list of things to look at during the PDI. It had 100 items on it! I cobbled it together from some check list examples available on the internet, and things we saw while we were sitting in the coach as sale paperwork was being done. I also put together a “PDI” kit – with a flashlight, a digital multi-meter, a DVD, a CD, and a few other items that could be used for testing various items. I put those in one of those reusable grocery bags, so I could carry it into the coach easily.

Concerns that I had specifically about this unit were as follows:

  1. Missing CD/DVD/Stereo Player head – it’s removable like many car stereo units.

  2. Nasty looking black spot on the carpet right behind the motor compartment cover, between the driver and passenger seats.

  3. Missing microwave turntable plate

  4. No manuals in coach – most dealerships we went to had manuals already there.

  5. Screen on window above kitchen counter either misaligned or broken.

I had also read mixed reviews on the residential refrigerator/battery/inverter set up, and tried to find that equipment while we were in the coach. No luck. I was concerned for a reason. There was a long thread on one of the RV Forums about somebody who had picked up this exact model Georgetown last year. The refrigerator wouldn’t run on batteries, with the coach engine running or not. It would only run on shore power or the generator. He discovered that the factory had left off the inverter! This guy was pretty handy and didn’t want to wait around for service at the dealer, so he had Forest River send him the inverter and installation kit. I don’t blame him there….why didn’t the dealer notice something as major as this? It took this guy less than an hour to install the inverter. No problems after that, according to him.

The tension built as Laura and I drove the 60 miles or so from our house to the dealership in Colton. I decided that the best thing to do was let the tech run through the normal PDI presentation first, and then use my checklist to remind me of things that weren’t covered.

I was a little worried about having the dog with us too…..I wanted both Laura and I to be able to pay attention during the PDI. I was afraid that the dog would get nervous and be a problem for us. As it turned out, she was perfect. No trouble at all. We had her with us because we were going from the dealership straight to the campground for our shakedown.

Right before we left home, I got a call from or salesman, Matt. He said that he had to be in Fountain Valley for another PDI, and he was going to turn ours over to another person at the dealership named Stephanie. That made me a little nervous too. And to top it off, we underestimated the traffic, and were running about 15 minutes late. Laura called Stephanie from the car and let her know we were running late, and she said she’d be watching for us.

The dealership is part of an RV “Mall” in Colton. The three biggest dealers in So Cal were on that street, along with some other RV related businesses. Our dealer was second on the street. We pulled into the parking lot, gathered up the PDI kit and the dog, and started walking towards the entrance. Stephanie was out there next to a golf cart, and waved to us (do we look like your typical RV buyers?) We walked over to her and introduced ourselves, and then piled into the golf cart for the ride out to our coach. Stephanie was a riot – very bubbly. She and Laura hit it off right away. I was still a bundle of nerves, so I didn’t join in the joking around too much.

By the way, this dealership is pretty big. It was nice not to have to walk over to the PDI staging area.

When we arrived at our coach, it was parked front out, and there was a red carpet along the passenger side! Kinda cheesy but fun.

Red Carpet with goodie box.

Red Carpet with goody box.

The tech who was assigned for our PDI was sitting in the coach watching the TV. The awning was out, and there was a big box of goodies by the door. When he saw us walk up, he came out of the coach and introduced himself. He was a little bit older than Laura and I, and had that So Cal “drawl” that is part country, part hippy, and part surfer dude. The tech is an RV’er himself, and a former teamster who drove truck for many years. He had a easy charming way about him, and it was pretty obvious that he enjoyed what he was doing.

We started on the outside of the coach, at the front passenger side wheel, and worked our way to the back, and then up the drivers side, and to the front. The tech did a great job on this, explaining each item and compartment. The dual house batteries and inverter were both on the passenger side – and it’s no wonder that I didn’t recognize them. Forest River puts a black fiberboard sheet in front of sensitive stuff like the inverter, water pump, and hydraulics for the leveling jacks. There are two white round screw in covers in the fiberboard, about 5 inches in diameter, that can be unscrewed to allow access. If you just open the compartments, which look like storage compartments while closed, you only see the fiberboard and the round access covers, and they aren’t labeled. The tech showed us how the entire panels could be removed should any serious work need to be done to the components behind them. Then he laughed and said if he ever had to take them off he’d probably never put them back on. I actually like the extra protection, personally.

Cover over inverter with access holes.

Cover over inverter with access holes.

 

As we got to the back, Laura noticed that something didn’t look right with the 7 pin trailer connector mounted to the tow bar. Sure enough, it was broken. The tech made note of it, and arranged for it to be repaired. According to the forums, this happens all the time on 2013-2014 Georgetown 351s and 328s. The metal retainer for the connector is on the bottom of the tow bar, and if you are pulling into or out of a steep driveway (like many gas stations have) it takes a beating. Good catch by Laura on this one! One of the posters on a forum thread about this said he was going to have the bracket moved from the bottom to the top of the tow bar. That would solve the problem. I might even just take the connector out of that holder and zip tie it to the top…..we’ll see. I don’t want to have to pay to have that connector replaced when it gets nailed again, and I don’t want it getting broken while we are towing, either.

The bent 7-pin connector housing. The plastic part of the connector is actually broken, but you can't see that here.

The bent 7-pin connector housing. The plastic part of the connector is actually broken, but you can’t see that here.

 

On the drivers side, we started with the 50 amp electrical service, which was plugged into a pedestal already. He showed us the auto switch that changed the coach over from shore power to generator and back again, and also the converter, which allows the shore power to charge the coach and chassis batteries.

 

50 Amp cable coming out of the back of the coach. The converter and auto transfer switch are in here.

50 Amp cable coming out of the back of the coach. The converter and auto transfer switch are in here.

 

Next was the water and sewage compartment. This was pretty typical, but unlike most coaches I’ve seen, the holding tank outlet comes under the coach, rather than terminating inside the compartment. I think I like that better, because if there is an “oops” it’s not going to dump waste inside your compartment. The compartment door can be locked after all the connections are made. Good thing. I’ve read about a prank that teenagers like to do with the sewage systems. If the cap is still on the sewage outlet, they open the black tank valve. The guess what happens when the owner opens that cap to attach the sewer hose! I’ll be sure lock our compartment, to avoid karma for all of the outhouses that my friends and I pushed over when we were 16-17……..

 

Water and Sewage

Water and Sewage

 

Here’s where we noticed the second problem. There is a housing for a water filter in this compartment that is supposed to come with a removal tool. They put the wrong tool in, and it didn’t fit. We were provided with a correct tool, but I didn’t get to try it out until after we were at the camp ground. I tried to use the tool, and still couldn’t get the housing off…..it’s a little too tight, although after reading the instructions, I think I know why I was having trouble. More on that in another post.

 

Filter Housing wrench too big!

Filter Housing wrench too big!

 

Past that were some more storage compartments, and then the generator. The tech removed the cover and showed us where the oil fill, check, and drain was, and how to start the generator from there. He mentioned that it can also be started from inside the coach.

5.5 Generator with cover removed.

5.5 Generator with cover removed.

 

Next was the propane tank – he showed us the shutoff and fill valves, and told us that it was full. He mentioned that the gas tank was full as well.

Propane Tank

Propane Tank

Around front, we opened up the engine compartment and he showed us where the dip sticks, fluid fills, and filters were. It’s going to be interesting trying to pour oil into this…not a lot of room.

Engine compartment

Engine compartment

I took a look under the coach in several spots. Very nicely painted structure down there. Wire and tubing bundles were all fastened against the frame – nothing dangling or loose that I could see anywhere.

We entered the coach and then worked from the passenger seat back, around the back, and up to the driver’s seat. The first things I looked for as we were starting were the problem items I listed. CD/DVD/Radio head unit was installed. The black spot on the carpet was cleaned – I couldn’t even tell where that was. The screen on the window over the kitchen counter was fixed. There was a big pile of manuals on the dinette table. The microwave turntable plate was still missing, but Stephanie mentioned that they found one and would have it at the coach before we left. All of this made me feel very much at ease.

 

Missing Microwave turntable. We got one before we left. Nice Microwave - house sized.

Missing Microwave turntable. We got one before we left. Nice Microwave – house sized.

 

The inside demo went just as well as the outside demo. The tech ran us through each system in detail. Right after the Microwave was the stove. He uncovered it and showed us how to light a burner.

 

Stove Burner demo

Stove Burner demo

This coach has an oven in it as well. We were happy about that….hard to cook a pizza in a convection microwave. This is the only thing in the coach that has a pilot light. The tech suggested that we light the pilot right before we are going to use the oven, and then turn if off afterward. That will keep us from wasting a lot of propane, and it’s safer too. It’s easy to light with one of those long fireplace lighters, which was included in our goody box.

Oven....pilot light underneath the sheet metal shelf.

Oven….pilot light underneath the sheet metal shelf.

Next was the sink – and hot water/water pump test. The coach didn’t have city water attached, so the water was being pumped out of the fresh water tank.

Hot Water!

Hot Water!

 

Next was the refrigerator. The tech cracked me up when he was talking about the residential refrigerator. Apparently he’s got one in his coach too, and he loves it. He said “This will only take a couple of hours to get cold. No need to wait a long time to load it. Just fill it right up and boogie.”

Fridge demo

Fridge demo

We love the freezer in this thing. It’s huge! This unit also has water and cubed or crushed ice in the door, just like at home.

Freezer. It probably holds more than the one we have at home.

Freezer. It probably holds more than the one we have at home.

There are two thermostats in the coach. One controls the air conditioner and furnace in the front half of the coach, and the other controls the units for the bedroom area. It’s easier to use than the unit that was in the rental.

Thermostat for the front part of the coach. The bedroom unit is exactly the same

Thermostat for the front part of the coach. The bedroom unit is exactly the same

There is a command center in the hallway just before you enter the bedroom. It has the buttons for the slide outs, also the water pump, the water heater, and a system called Arctic Pad which will heat the holding tanks if it’s really cold out. There are also level indicators for battery charge, holding tank levels for fresh, grey, and black tanks, and propane level. Everything appears to be working.

Command Center

Command Center

 

The couch in the salon is a convertable, very similar to a home model. It works the same way. Queen bed. It can be made and stowed, which is nice. A lot of the coaches have either jack knife sofas or air mattresses. Sorry about the grainy picture – it was the best I got. Probably was moving around too much.

Convertible sofa extended partway out

Convertible sofa extended partway out

Here’s the “missing” radio/CD/DVD player. It’s wired to the salon TV, and also the surround sound system. We tested it with a DVD and a CD. Works good, but you have to read the manual! Things like turning on the sub-woofer aren’t very intuitive. Speakers aren’t great quality, but not terrible. The Newmar we looked at had a lot better sound system, but that coach cost about 30K more than this one. I’ll keep the extra money!

Radio/CD/DVD player. It comes with a small remote.

Radio/CD/DVD player. It comes with a small remote.

The controls for the leveling jacks are up front too.

Controls for leveling jacks

Controls for leveling jacks

 

There is a rear view camera display on the dash. It also shows the side views when you activate the turn signals. Using this will take some getting used to, and I can’t see it well when I’ve got my polarized sunglasses on. Good display quality…and it’s got a lot of options. I’ll need to read the manual on this thing.

 

Rear view camera display

Rear view camera display

 

There is a front pull down bunk in this coach. I like it because it’s manual. Most coaches have electric bunks up here, and they tend to fail. I doubt we will use this much until we have grandkids that are a little bigger. It’s rated for 200 pounds, so only smaller adults can be up there. A ladder came with the coach for this. It’s stored in the large compartment in the back.

Front bunk

Front bunk

 

This coach doesn’t have curtains for the windshield and side windows – it has roller shades. The front one is powered, and will only come part way down when the engine ignition switch is on so it can double as a sun visor.

Front shade part way down

Front shade part way down

The side shades are manual pull down, and look just like the front shade. You could pull them part way down to act as sun visors too…..they are easy to reach from the driver and passenger seats. I like this a lot better than the mini blinds that were in the rental coach.

We tried out everything. I didn’t see anything wrong….all the systems worked. Air conditioners, fans, furnace, stove, microwave, fridge, Radio/DVD player, TVs. I was surprised at the picture quality on the TV off of the antenna. The HD came through really well, and looked just great.

After we got all the way through the inside of the coach, he took us back out and showed us the contents of the “goody” box. There was a lot of stuff in there. A fresh water hose, a sewer hose, pressure regulator, chemicals for the toilet, a nice offset truck air gauge, a long lighter for the oven, and a nice little mechanic’s tool kit. After we looked at that, he said that we had a $25 dollar gift certificate coming, and he suggested a couple of things we should buy in the dealer’s store. He said the sewer hose in the goody box is lousy, and suggested that we get a better one in the store. He also suggested that we buy a 30 amp to 50 amp adapter, since there are a lot of parks that only have 30 amp. We thought those were both great suggestions, so we went over to the store and picked those two things up. While we were at the store, the tech talked to one of the mechanics about the broken 7 pin connector.

When we were done in the store, we went back to the main office in the golf cart. Laura and I finished off the remaining paperwork and gave them cashiers checks for the down payment, and a check for the insurance. With that, we were basically done. We went back to the coach.

As we arrived, the mechanic was busy putting on the new 7 pin connector, and he said that somebody was bringing over the missing microwave turntable and the correct removal tool for the water filter housing. They both showed up within a few minutes.

The tech came back, and walked me through buttoning up the coach to get it ready to drive. We put in the awning, moved the slides in, retracted the jacks, unplugged the 50 amp cable, and stowed what needed to be stowed.

All in all, this was a great PDI, with the only defect we found fixed before we left. I was extremely pleased with the service at the dealership. I guess I could mention their name now – it was Mike Thompson’s RV. One thing I forgot to mention – I took video of the entire PDI with my iPAD. Most of the pictures in this article are screen captures of that video.

Now it was time to drive off to the campground. I punched the address into my iPHONE. I also had a printout of a Google Maps page that the finance person gave me, but I’ve gotten to where I don’t like trying to read those printouts while driving, especially when I’m driving something new. So I used the iPHONE GPS, and put the phone in my shirt pocket so I could hear Siri talking to me.

Laura and the dog were taken back to the car in a golf cart (Stephanie took care of this)….I was going to meet Laura out on the street in front of the dealership.

So now it’s the moment of truth. I closed the door of the coach, making sure that I could hear the steps retract. Then I sat in the driver’s seat and fired up the engine. I didn’t have to back up, so the drive out to the street wasn’t too bad. There was a travel trailer parked in the roadway. There was enough room to squeeze by, but it felt a little tight. I made it out just fine, and made a right turn on the road. Laura was out there waiting. The drive to the park was easy….get onto the 215 freeway, and go about one mile up the road (I think it was about two offramps down the road). The coach handled great, and felt like it had more pep than the Fleetwood Flair that we rented back in November. It seemed to handle very well….I was in-between trucks a couple of times, and felt plenty stable as their air pushed on the coach.

I’ll cover the arrival and set up at the campground in another post.

Bottom line, I’m very pleased with the quality of the coach (so far) and the service at Mike Thompson’s RV. I think I’ll go over to Yelp and put some good words out there.

To be continued……..

Categories: The Hunt for the Wild RV | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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