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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……..


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…


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………


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


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


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


………and it is out!IMG_4556

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


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!!


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!!



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……..


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


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!!!


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.

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