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Southeast (Gulf Coast), Texas, United States

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Socializing in Red Bay With Tiffin Owners

We arrived in Red Bay last Tuesday night and overnighted at Custom RV Inc, owned by Brannon Hutcheson and located in Vina, AL.  We were scheduled to be there at 7:00AM on Wednesday to begin what was estimated to be 2 days of work.

If you refer to the previous post, you can see our list of   repairs, and a discussion of the work that was done.  We had originally planned to get our front Panasonic TV replaced in Red Bay, but at that time we had also scheduled an appointment in Florida on this past Monday morning to get a set of our double-paned side window units repaired rather than replaced, and decided that we needed to leave last Friday to make that trip.

To keep on schedule to attend a rally that we signed up for in Okeechobee, FL, we went ahead and had the window unit ‘replaced’ at a higher cost in Red Bay, and cancelled the Florida shop work.

Therefore, when we finished up a day early, Patsy and I moved from Vina, to Red Bay into one of the Red Bay Self-Serve campground, a short 10 mile drive from Vina!!  Our plan was to rest a couple of days, and then begin the drive to our rally location on Friday or Saturday morning.

When we began this road trip, we were aware that one other RV couple(the Jennings) from our local Allegro RV camping club in Texas were going to be in Red Bay about the same time as us.  As it turned out, we both arrived last Tuesday night!! 

Along the way, we had read in the blog of another Club member (the Mills) who had been Branson, and they also were on their way back to Texas by way of Red Bay and they also arrived on Tuesday night.  On Wednesday, we drove to the Tiffin Service Center campground to talk to the Jennings, and found them talking to a fourth member of our Texas Allegro Club, the Smiths! 

By the end of the day on Thursday, we ran into three other RV couples that had participated in an RV rally that our “Texas Bluebonnet Allegro Club” had organized in Canton, Texas last April…. they were the Bucks, Shirleys, and Balls.  With us, that made eight(8) couples who knew each other and were friends. 

We enjoy these people, and Patsy convinced me to stay at this Red Bay campground for a week, and leave on the next Wednesday morning.  So, we stayed!

The Shirleys were in Red Bay to watch their brand new 2017 Allegro Bus being built, and the Balls had spent a couple of years managing the Tiffin Service Center campground, and were passing through on their way to St. Louis, MO, and getting some repairs to their rig.

We spent some time visiting in between repairs, and going to dinner as a group on most of the nights. On Wednesday night, the Mills, Balls, Jennings and Kings went to a Mexican Restaurant in Belmont, MS called Costa Oaxaquena.  The food was good, but I forgot to take pictures!

On Thursday night, six(6) of the couples went back to Mississippi (about 10 miles) to eat at Reeves Fish and Steak House in Golden MS.

Around the table from front left:  Geri Ball, Patsy King,

Seated left front and around the tableGeri Ball, Patsy King, Sandy Mills, Mike Mills, Hank Smith, Shirleen Smith, Diane Jennings, Chip Jennings, Linn Buck, Ray Buck, Richard King, and Art Ball.

On Friday morning I got a text from a fellow Tiffin owner and friend, Jimmy Campbell, who knew were were in Red Bay.  He lives nearby, and asked us to have lunch with him and his wife, Robin.  They live only about 70 miles from Red Bay.  We chose to meet at a local Piggly Wiggly store in Red Bay that has a buffet and dining room in the store.  Here’s a picture of Jimmy and Robin with Patsy and I at ‘The Pig’ restaurant……..……..


On Friday night, a group of six(6) couples traveled to Tupelo, MS to dine at a Japanese Hibachi restaurant, Mt Fuji Japanese Steakhouse.  The food was excellent, and the entertainment by the chef was equally enjoyable.


Seated left front and around the tablePatsy King, Sandy Mills, Diane Jennings, Chip Jennings, Richard King,and Mike Mills.

Pictures of the inside of the restaurant, The Chef preparing our meal, and the outside of the restaurant:


The family of four seated at our table were celebrating the birthday of the boy in the red shirt…….. and were unlucky enough to be seated at our table!!.


Saturday, found us all choosing to stay in our rigs, cleaning, straitening cabinets, and cleaning because of the weather.  It rained, sometimes heavy, most of the day. 

On Sunday, the Jennings accompanied Patsy and I to the town of Florence, AL, about 60 miles to the North.  We needed some specific items for the Bus, and had a desire to eat at Rosie’s Mexican Cantina there………. but, being Sunday, it was closed. 

Using YELP, we found Legends Steakhouse!  It was a nice place to have a meal, and the food was good.  Here’s a picture in side the restaurant…


The Jennings at Legends Steakhouse enjoying lunch.

The following are pictures outside of “Legends”…….


Monday found us ‘hiding’ from the weather again.  This was more serious than Saturday.  The forecast was for heavy rains, lightening, 1/4 to 1/2 dollar sized hail, and tornadoes!!  One front moved through the area in the afternoon, and another about 11:00PM. 

There were enough sirens going off, and a lot of warnings on local TV’s.  When it was reported that a Sheriff’s Deputy had sighted a tornado on the ground in Belmont MS…….about 9 miles from Red Bay, Patsy decided that we were going to leave the Bus, and drive the 1/2 mile to the Tiffin campground and spend time in the concrete block owner’s waiting room!  Not a real shelter, but it did have enclosed restroom’s in the center of the building.

People came and went throughout the afternoon in the two waiting rooms, each with a TV tuned via DirecTV to local TV stations.  Here are some pictures………


The lady seated on the sofa with Patsy is Martha Shirley, who along with her husband, Larry, are in Red Bay to watch the build of their brand new 2017 Bus.

We were very lucky.  As the storm passed over us, we got a lot of heavy rain, and then we could hear hail on the roof, but, it was small and very light!!  Here’s a picture of the small amount the we got……


After the excitement of the storm threat passed, we invited the Shirley’s over to our Bus for a bowl of beef stew that Patsy had cooking all day in a Crock Pot.  The food was good, and the visit was just as good!  We took a picture of the Shirley’s before they called it a night, and headed to their rig.


On Tuesday, Patsy and I started getting the Bus ready to hit the road on Wednesday for Okeechobee, FL the site of the Tiffin Allegro Rally that we will be attending with Ronnie and Kathy Woods.  We will meet up with them at a point to be confirmed on Thursday morning….. probably at the Walmart at Marianna, FL.  We also began dumping tanks, taking on water, and washing a couple loads of clothes, including the sheets on our bed!

At 12:30PM, we had agreed to meet the Shirley’s at the Tiffin Paint ship in Belmont to check on the progress of their Bus, as it has been completed at the building shop and went to Belmont at noon today.  The Shirleys had not been to the paint shop yet, so we showed them around.

We found their Bus, and looked it over.


The above photos show:

!.  Patsy and I found their Bus at the entry to the Sanding Building

2.  The Shirley’s coming around the corner to see their Bus

3.  Larry posing in their ‘Mansion of a Bus’'

4.  Larry and Martha posing at the front inside of their Bus

5.  Patsy and the Shirley’s walking past their Bus to go back to Red Bay

Since Patsy and I will be leaving Wednesday morning, we decided to eat out one more time, and chose Costa Oaxaquena  Mexican restaurant, again!

This time, I took pictures………….


The restaurant was busy, and we had to occupy two six-person tables.

The above photos show:

!.  Patsy King, Sandy Mills, Mike Mills, Geri Ball and Art Ball

2.  I had to take two photos to show all six at the other table……… Larry Shirley, Chip and Diane Jennings, Ray and Linn Ray, and Martha Shirley

3.  Larry admiring his desert…….. a large serving of ice cream, chocolate syrup, and some large cinnamon strips.  It had a name, but I forgot it, but I did get a spoonful!!

As planned, Patsy and I got up about 7:30, and got on the road to Marianna FL about 9:00AM.  We were to meet Ronnie & Kathy Woods at the local Walmart to overnight, and leave Thursday Morning for the Tiffin Allegro  Rally at the Lake Okeechobee KOA in Florida.  We arrived in Marianna at 7:00PM, and Ronnie & Kathy about an hour and a half later.

More later from South Florida!!

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.

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.


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.

IMG_1948 (2)IMG_1960

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..


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!!


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………


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.


and another setting with just Rachel………


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……..


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…………….


…….And coming in after the final lap.


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

Rachel found hers………….


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.