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:
- Missing CD/DVD/Stereo Player head – it’s removable like many car stereo units.
Nasty looking black spot on the carpet right behind the motor compartment cover, between the driver and passenger seats.
Missing microwave turntable plate
No manuals in coach – most dealerships we went to had manuals already there.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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
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.
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
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.
The controls for the leveling jacks are up front too.
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
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.
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
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……..