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Southeast (Gulf Coast), Texas, United States

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Bus Repairs & Modifications in Red Bay

For readers (if there are any!!) who are unfamiliar with our brand of RV,Tiffin, the factory is in Red Bay, AL.  The company is super customer friendly, and they build a very good coach at a competitive price.

Buyers are welcome to come to the factory and walk along with their coach, and watch it being built.  You can go almost anywhere, unescorted, and look around.  You have to be cognizant of the hazards of being so close to the work, and stay out of the way of the employees.  The workers, however, are friendly, and don’t mind questions.

We watched our rig being built from beginning to end…… about a 2 week process including painting.  You can go to HERE see all of the posts.  If the link does not work, manually move back to the November 1, 2007 post, which is the first of the series of posts on our Bus build.

While in Red Bay during those early years, we found out about “After Hours Work”.  There were, and still are several Technicians, who were good at their jobs, and ambitious enough to work to repair or modify motorhomes after they got off work.

I met one of them, Brannon Hutcheson, who was very polite and a very good “natural craftsman”.  I watched him do some modifications at the Tiffin Service Center campground, and got to know him pretty well. 

He had a very good reputation among various Tiffin owners that I met at rallies and the campground.  One of the stories that I was told about Brannon was that Bob Tiffin, the founder and sole owner of Tiffin Motorhomes, used Brannon as his “go-to Technician”. 

Bob apparently appreciated Brannon’s talent.  When Bob had a customer of his ‘higher priced’ coaches, the Zephyr, he would send Brannon to the customers home with parts and tools.  If Brannon could not fix the problem there, he was authorized to bring it back to the factory and stay with it until he or someone else got it fixed.  Then, another driver would return it to the customer’s home. Mr. Tiffin is very customer-satisfaction focused, and he has built the companies reputation on it!!

The first modification that I had done on the Bus, was to have Brannon install a See-Level brand of tank level monitoring system on it in place of the “at the time” standard system that came on the Bus.  If you want more information on the level system comparisons and a discussion, click HERE.

If you want to see some of the details of our upgrade, click HERE.  The date on this blog is March 26, 2008.

While working on this modification, Brannon shared with me that he had thoughts about opening up his own shop, and working on his own full time.  Like anybody else considering a major job change, he had his concerns.  I was not the only customer that he talked with, and I think all of us told him that we thought it was a good idea, and supported it.  He shared that he had also discussed it with Bob Tiffin, and Bob supported it, and said that he might use his shop for overflow service business.  He made the decision to go ahead a short while later, and left Tiffin with Bob’s support and blessings. 

He no longer has concerns as he is usually booked up for 3 months in advance with appointments .  Here’s his business, Custom RV Inc., as it looks today……..

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Since he began his business, he has expanded his shop by two(2) additional bays, and added a parts store to the left of it.

Enough for reference information.  I want to get to the main reason for this visit to Red Bay.  As stated in an earlier post, after our winter trip to Florida, we needed to have our Inverter repaired or replaced, a ‘fogged’ dual pane side window replaced, and an Atwood leveling jack replaced.  With it’s poor performance, Patsy and I also decided it was time to replace our RV refrigerator with a new Residential refrigerator.  We had a few other minor problems that we had Brannon take care of.

On Tuesday night, we spent the night in from of his shop, where he has 50A electrical hookups and water set up between the bay doors.  We pulled into a bay a little before 7:30am.  By 10:30am, the refrigerator, Inverter swap out, and the side window had all been completed!!  That quick work can only be from very efficient workmanship….. and they left the Bus clean and the price was very fair.

Here are a few pictures of this work……..

The new ‘fridge’ was waiting on us in the shop…

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In preparation, the DS couch and the window behind it were removed to extricate the old and bring in the new refrigerators.  The window assembly over the dinette table was also removed for replacement………

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Outside, the forklift was set into place for removing the old and setting the new refrigerator in the Bus…..

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While waiting for Brannon to get set up outside, his helper, Jason, begins to remove the dinette window for replacement……

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The old fridge is loose and pulled out a little bit and waiting for removal……….

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………and it is out!IMG_4556

The old has been removed, and the new is going in………

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Before the new fridge could be put into the cabinet, some foam insulation, and other support boards had to be removed.  The new fridge ‘completely fills the area, but fortunately the trim and cabinet was a perfect fit for the new fridge!!

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While Jason was getting the refrigerator ‘cabinet’ ready for the new unit inside, Brannon was on the outside swapping out the inverter in a bay.  The inverters are very heavy, and they are mounted on the ‘ceiling’ of a storage bay………not a job for an older person!!

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After the Inverter swap out was finished, and the fridge cabinet readied for the new fridge, it was time for both of them to maneuver the new fridge into it’s home……..IMG_4573IMG_4574IMG_4575

After it was in the cabinet, except for about 4 inches, it was time to install the shelving and doors, as well as secure it with screws and trim……..

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……… and it was done, except for the handles!!

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Here are pictures of the completed install, including the re-stall of the couch…… a great job!!IMG_2054IMG_4588IMG_4591IMG_4593

As with everything else that Brannon has done for us, we are very pleased with the work that he and Jason did for us on this visit…….. and all in one “6-hour day”!

One other achievement during this visit, I had Nick Brewer, who still works full time with Tiffin, had told me that he would look at a problem I was having with watching two TV’s with a satellite system that only had one LNB to connect to the three satellites.  He got really busy with his ‘after hours’ work, and he had me to do some checking out myself, and we exchanged emails with pictures.  He found my problem, and talked me through the solution over the phone……. A free repair.  He’s another good guy that follows through on his commitments.

As a footnote to our granddaughters, Aubrey and Rachel, when the “Queen Bed Couch” was removed for this install, Grammie was not pleased with all the food crumbs, and other trash that we found under the couch!!!  On our next trip, you will probably be the targets of some of the same type of lectures that Poppaw often gets……….. and I can assure you that they won’t be found as funny as they seem to you when I get them!!!!!!!.

Matthew gets a pass on this, but only because the other couch, where he sleeps (and watches TV) was not unbolted and removed.  His time is coming!!!

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This will suffice as a summary of the “work” that we got in Red Bay, and the next post will cover our social activities while here.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Overview of Little Rock Visit with Rachel!

After meeting Rachel and her parents at their house, and dropping off the baby rocking crib and baby high chair at her house, we picked up Rachel and headed to the Bus.  That was on Thursday night, and the last day of school before Spring Break the next week.  We planned that she would stay with us until Monday afternoon, with frequent meetings with her parents at restaurants and other places.

After converting the one couch into a Queen-size sofa bed, she fixed up her bed and wanted a picture of it.  She did a good job.

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The next day, Patsy took her to a walk across the bridge from the RV Part to the Clinton Library area.  They just enjoyed the bridge and walkway.

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In the above photo, you can see the RV Park below the bridge.  In the following, you can see a closer picture of the park, with our Bus in the center of the photo mostly black, with our tow car parked in front of it..

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On Saturday morning, we met her Mom at a Walmart near their house, and her Girl Scout Troop sold cookies from 10:00am to 2:30pm.  They sold a lot of cookies, including several boxes to us!!

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Back at the Bus on Saturday night, we gave her a lot of trinkets that Kathy Woods and Patsy picked up at the Florida RV Show back in January.  She liked them especially the “flashing light” glasses………

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On Sunday night, we met her parents at a local Cracker Barrel restaurant, and here is her and Grammie right before we headed over there.

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and another setting with just Rachel………

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Since Patsy and I had to leave on Tuesday morning for Red Bay, AL for an early morning appointment on Wednesday morning,  we decided to have a small “Pre-Birthday” party for her.  We went to her parent’s house and she opened the baby doll that we gave to go with the crib and high chair.  Here she is opening it before we go out to eat……..

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After opening gifts, we went to a pizza/party place called “Playtime Pizza”.  The food buffet had different kinds of pizza that was very good with light and thin crispy crust, plus a large salad bar and other cooked foods.  There was also a dessert bar with ice cream cones, brownies, cobblers, etc.  It was a nice meal.  She chose to ride a race car with her Dad……… Getting ready to take off…………….

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…….And coming in after the final lap.

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There were also lots of games of chance………IMG_2014IMG_2017IMG_2019IMG_2022

Rachel found hers………….

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We had a great time with Rachel and her parents.  As planned, we left at 9:00am on Tuesday morning, and arrived at Custom RV Inc. at 4:00pm.  With hookups at the shop, we over-nighted there for our 7:00am appointment.

More on the RV work in the next post.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Travel to Little Rock–First Leg of Trip

Our ultimate goal of this trip is to attend the Tiffin Allegro Club Rally in Lake Okeechobee in Florida, which is scheduled for 03Apr—06Apr.  We are attending with Ronnie and Kathy Woods, the couple that we traveled to Florida with in January and February……… AKA, the unlucky couple!!  We have reservations at the KOA one day early, and will check in on Saturday, 02Apr2017.

We left on last Wednesday, and our plan is to be in Little Rock, AR to visit our granddaughter, Rachel, and her parents from Thursday night until next Tuesday morning. Rachel will celebrate her 6th birthday on Wednesday, but we have to be at Custom RV Inc. in Red Bay, AL at 7:00am that day to begin our two-day appointment.  We will have a private birthday celebration on Monday night, at the location of her choice!

We expect to wind up the work in Red Bay, and leave Friday afternoon or Saturday morning, and head for Florida. 

The Woods have some business to take care of in Vidor, TX, and won’t head out until about the last day of March.  We will find a place along both our routes to meet up and drive to the rally site together.

We planned our route to Little Rock to include the town of Round Top, TX along our route.  Fifteen years ago, this area was beginning to be a big deal for antique sales.  Now, it is really big, and we had an email inviting us to the Spring 2017 Show, including seeing the opening of a Paul Michael’s Market.

We stopped only at the Paul Michael’s Market Hill to look around because we were a couple of days ahead of the opening of the big show………. the others were just setting up.  I now know where the stuff that I sit out at the curb on the weekend goes!!  What some people call an antique, others throw away as junk!!  Here’s some pictures that I took………

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After leaving Round Top, we drove until 6:00pm and arrived in Marshall, TX where we overnighted on the local Walmart parking lot.

On Thursday, we drove the rest of the way to Little Rock, and got checked into the Downtown Riverside RV Park, our favorite when visiting Little Rock.  We will be here until Tuesday morning, mainly visiting with Rachel!!

Rachel started her Spring Break when school let out on Thursday and has all next week off.  Hopefully, most of that time will be spent with us, and sleeping overnight in the Bus.

When Patsy was Rachel’s age, her dad, a carpenter, made her a rocking baby crib.  That was about 1953.  When our daughter, Deanne was about the same age, it was given to her, and a small high chair was made to match it.  Here’s a Christmas picture at Patsy’s parents’ home showing the crib under the tree for Deanne.  The original photo was one of the ‘self-developing’ Polaroid's, and I was somewhat able to clean up the “purple haze” with the picture utilities.that came on my computer

Baby Crib at Christmas

On this trip, we brought the crib and high chair with us to hand down to Rachel.  We had it in the kid’s play room in our home, and our other granddaughter, Aubrey, my son’s daughter, who is soon to be 12 played with it, as did Rachel when she played on visits to us in Texas.  Aubrey understood that it had been her mothers, and now it is Rachel’s!

After we rested up, and Rachel was home from school, we drove to her parent’s house to pick her up.  Here’s a picture when we showed the ‘furniture’ to her in the back seat of our CRV, which we tow behind the Bus.

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We visited a while, and made plans with her parents for the weekend, and then headed over to the RV park with Rachel. 

At the Bus, we gave her a green shirt from her parents for Friday, St. Patrick’s Day!  The last time we were in Little Rock, we took her to see the movie, Trolls, and we bought her a DVD of the movie, which recently was put out for sale, and a stuffed Valentine’s Day bear…….. all of which she liked!!

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This post will get us through Thursday night, and the next post will begin on Friday!  Be warned…….. there will be more pictures of Rachel.  She is growing up to be a very nice and polite young girl and a real pleasure to be around.  She has also figured out that her Grammie and Poppaw are a soft touch, and will get her ALMOST  anything that she wants!

Later,