We recently took a “new to us” trailer. It’s smaller than our main rig and better suited for bouncing around boondocks. One of the first tasks was to replace the light bulbs with LEDs for greater efficiency. Of the ten requiring special attention, eight were edited “out of step with the world”. Cockeyed ceiling lights? If you’re the type of person who can’t stand a crooked photo frame, you’ll go crazy inside this platform. In our mind, if there are cheesy ceiling lights, what else is awkward?
“Built by so and so”
If it is true that a twisted ceiling light does not affect the operational stability of the RV, it makes us wonder. The rig in question is an old R-Vision trailer. Who manufactures R-Vision? In case we missed it, the seller, who bought the rig new, was quick to boast: “You know, that trailer was built by Monaco!
Yes, Monaco has a reputation among many caravanners for its “quality”. But if you look at the ceiling and the light fixture doesn’t line up with the air conditioner a few inches away, you start to wonder about the hidden stuff. And if “quality” RV manufacturers can install naughty ceiling lights, what happens to quality control in low-end rigs?
Quality improvement in newer units?
Well, that was all years ago, wasn’t it? What about recently produced units? Maybe the quality control is better there? A few months ago, we received a “dialogue” letter from a reader, Janet K. She kicked off her missive with this ditty: “If the airline industry had the history of the RV industry, we would all be driving, taking trains, or taking ships!
His brand new Grand Design was a pride and a joy. Grand Design, another brand with a good reputation. But that’s not the case for new owner, Janet, with her fresh-off-the-line platform that has “two windows that take an act of Congress to open!” Again, this is not a ‘leave it in the yard’ issue but certainly something that calls into question the integrity of the final vetting team. For Janet, a full-time employee, it’s a great irritation. To add insult to injury, she was told that it would take the dealership at least a month to assess and fix said problem. A month for a sticky window? Wondering how long it would take to realign the cockey dome lights?
Free additional features and modified laws of physics
Of course, not all issues that fall out of line are mere irritants. We received a phone call from a friend who sold his business and house. He was going to retire to a simpler RV lifestyle and he bought a new Tiffin fifth wheel. He had had a Tiffin before and was so impressed with the quality. This time, the RV maker had included a feature it had never ordered.
“Hi, Russ. Did you know my new Tiffin has a hot tub?” He asked. One morning he opened the basement door to get a stashed item. hot water pool. Obviously a hot water line had separated and was filling the compartment with abundant water. The dealer, of course, was just too busy to do anything about it , so Ron, a hands-on guy, set to work solving the problem himself.
Later that week we received another call. “Hey, guys,” he said. “Did you know that in Tiffins the water rises?” Yes, the crafty motorhome builder had the laws of physics turned on its ear. Or so it would seem. While crawling into the basement storage unit, Ron encountered a gray water pipe that ran from one end of the platform to another section, and from there to the gray water tank. Sure enough, that long series of plastic plumbing, designed to carry yuck water to the reservoir, was uphill.
Ceiling Lights Cockeyed the Least of Our Worries
Three different brands. As we say in Spanish, very different problems. All three from manufacturers with supposedly “stellar” reputations. Of course, they are not the only ones concerned. Not a week goes by, if you were to look through the RVtravel.com email file you would find a lot of complaints – and some of them much more different than just a grouse – about RVs from bad quality.
Cockeyed ceiling lights are the least of the worries of RVers across the country. The laissez-faire attitude of RV manufacturers towards quality control seems endemic. This goes hand in hand with the attitude they have towards selling an RV. “Buy it or not, it doesn’t matter. There are many people queuing with their wallets open. And in many cases, these people will be waiting a long time between dropping off their dough and delivering it. In some cases, a few years.
But as grandma used to say, “the hens will come home to roost”. Statistics coming from RV-land show a real slowdown in production as RVs hold their wallets tighter. A manufacturer this week closed a line, laying off more than 400 workers. Used RV sales statistics show a similar trend.
Could it be for Elkhart, Indiana, as it was in Seattle decades ago when giant aircraft manufacturer, Boeing, gasped? More than one billboard along the freeway read, “Will the last person leaving Seattle turn off the lights?” Maybe in this case it will read: “Turn off the puffy lights.”