Our coach is an amazing creature which provides us with mega comfort. No matter where we explore in the U.S., we always come home to our comfy pillow and pick up where we left off in our novel or watch something on one of our satellite TVs. No more hotels for us. We LOVE this lifestyle and we love our coach.
But when our coach has a hiccup, solving the problem can be a real adventure. Anyone who has a coach knows that there is always a list of things to be looked at or repaired. Early on, most of our issues were “How in the world does this widget work?”
Let’s face it, this is a complex machine. A house that rolls down the bumpy road. Someone once said that if 80% of the stuff works 80% of the time, be happy. That’s the approach we take. We fix what we can and live with things that aren’t perfect until we get back to the factory for maintenance once a year. But sometimes something really important requires that you change your plans and get it fixed — stat!
Uh Oh. Big Problem!
In February we had such an issue. Our furnace went out. Not good when you’re wintering in the Pacific Northwest! Our furnace is an Aquahot system. The Aquahot circulates hot liquid to provide:
- heat to each of five zones (front, middle, bedroom, bathroom and basement of the coach)
- Engine pre-heat
- Continuous hot water for ultra-hot, endless showers
The Aquahot can use either electricity (from our generator or a 50-amp service pole) or diesel (from our 238 gallon fuel tank), or both to heat the water. It’s a complex, whiz-bang system that we absolutely love. But after 12 years, she had sprung a leak and the Aquahot factory told me — “gotta replace it.”
So we patched her up as best we could and headed to the factory to have the furnace replaced. One thing we have come to realize is that, although it is never convenient to go to the Newell factory in Miami, Oklahoma, it’s where she was born. And those folks are the only ones on God’s green earth who really know how to fix her and provide the right maintenance. Since Newell only makes 24 custom coaches each year, no other maintenance shop has seen enough of them to really know what they’re doing. And the longer a shop takes to figure out this beast, the more we pay for their service. It seems that anything we have ever had done to our coach by someone other than Newell, had to be undone and redone by the Newell factory. And the factory hourly rate is lower than most other service shops we’ve been to. So I think we have finally learned our lesson. We go to the factory. It’s cheaper. They provide better customer service, and they’re much faster because they know what they’re doing.
Time to haul rear!
Up until now, we’ve not had a reason to drive hard. We typically get on the road by 10am and off by 3pm, with a lunch in between. Why hurry? But in this case, who wants to lally-gag across Wyoming in the wintertime? It was darn cold and we had furnace issues. So we covered 2,400 miles in four days. We can really haul when we need to!
It was actually a fun trip. Quite an adventure. Our big concern was Wyoming, land of the big winds and snow. And, true to form, we had to stop in western Wyoming for the night at a truck stop (Little America) because I-80 was closed across Wyoming. First thing in the morning I checked and I-80 was open again, so off we rolled, passing trucks that had skidded off the road from the prior storm.
Driving all day is really pleasant as we roll along and listen to our books on tape (We borrow audiobooks from all the libraries we belong to in Maine, Florida, and Washington.). Each morning we were up with the sunrise and we would find a place to stay the night before the sun set at a casino, Walmart, rest area or a truck stop.
We actually enjoy our visits to the Newell factory. They must have close to 30 service bays. It’s quite a site to see 20 or 30 of these big beasts lined up in the service bays.
As a Newell owner, you are free to walk around the service bay, climb in your coach while they work, watch them work on your coach, ask questions, and inspect what they do as they work. After three years of owning our coach, we now know these Newell technicians. And they know us and the coach. They even remember the first owner of the coach (We are the second owners.). Our electrician helped build our coach 13 years ago. The technicians are the best Newell has, having worked in the factory for a decade or two before they are hand-selected to work in the service area. I think they must select them not only for their technical knowledge, but also for their ability to work well with customers. Amazing customer service!
Newell recently completed construction on a new factory, which replaces the old one. So we got a tour of the new factory. It’s mind-bending to see a coach go from the early stages of creation, to the ugly guts-hanging-out almost-done stage, to the finished gleaming product.
The list price on a 2017 Newell is just shy of $2 million (and they always sell for list here). Wendy and I just smile at each other when we consider that we get the same level of service for our 2004 coach as the owner of a $2 million dollar 2017 coach. Sweet deal!
Everything works now!
We arrived at the factory with our gripe list. We always keep a list of issues so we don’t forget anything at our annual factory visit. Topping our list was to replace our Aquahot. Here’s our newly installed Aquahot.
This adventuring thing is not for the faint of heart. It can lighten your pocket book in a big hurry. There is a reason we call her Zane. Because you have to be “in Zane” to roll down the road in this castle on wheels. But we are happy and off on new adventures, nice and snugly-warm as we see new wonders from our coach.