Sunday, July 15, 2018

Trip to the Factory

Friday,  June 1st, 2018

I should have blogged this at it happened, but we were quite busy during this time, so this may be a little more concise posting of the events.

Last year when we were at the North American Heartland Owners Rally in Goshen, Indiana, we had Jim Fenner, Director of Service at Heartland, look a concern we had. Our front overhang was showing signs of movement at the wall juncture, so we wanted to have Heartland look at it and tell us if it was anything to e concerned about. Jim had his team come by with test equipment, and decided that yes, we need to bring it to the factory for assessment.

Since we 've been through this before with our previous rig, we were not concerned. We knew that Heartland would take good care of us. We decided wed make an appointment for next summer, since it's next to impossible for Tony to take 10 days off when school is going on.

Last fall, we made the appointment for June 4th, 2018.

Since I have started working full-time for a company in Cisco, that meant I could not go with Tony to Indiana. So, that also meant that I needed some kind of accommodations while our "home" was gone to Indiana. Recently, Tony's sister and her boyfriend decided to buy a used BigHorn. They offered to let us borrow it while Tony was on the road.

They brought the BigHorn up over Memorial Day weekend, and we spent the following week moving items over from our rig to theirs to lessen the load and clear out items for Heartland to do their work.

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So, on May 30,  we both moved into the Bighorn temporarily so we could finalize the prep of the Big Country and make for a quick departure (all hitched up and slides in the day before) on Friday, June 1.

Friday,  June 1, Tony headed out to Big Cabin, Oklahoma.

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He had no issues and made it to Cabin Diesel Services and RV Park, mid-afternoon. It was the first time staying at this park, and Tony said it was a no-frills park,  good location for a quick overnight stay.

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Saturday, June 2nd

Today, Tony headed to Terre Haute, Indiana. He again had a nice, uneventful drive. Along the way he stopped in Effingham and got the rig washed at the Blue Beacon, just so she'd look a little better.  He stayed at the Terre Haute KOA. Overnight, it rained, and knocked a bunch of tree pollen onto the roof and slideouts, so he had to get on top of the rig and brush them off before pulling in the slides.

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Sunday, June 3rd

He pulled in to Elkhart and went over to the Heartland Service Center, where he set up the rig and began unloading some things. Then he went to the Hotel and got checked in. He went back and gathered the rest of the items, so the rig was ready to go into the shop BRIGHT AND EARLY AT 6AM MONDAY.

Turns out, Terry and Carol H, also from Texas, were also here at the Service Center, finishing up their repairs. So, Tony stopped by their rig Sunday night, and they invited Tony to meet for breakfast Monday after dropping off the rig.

Monday, June 4th

Today, Tony got up early and headed over to the Heartland Service Center. He met with Heartland, and began the walkthrough process. They discussed all the items on our "list" and some things we wanted to see if they would do as well. Sadly, they are really busy and would not get to do anything that wasn't already scheduled to be done. Our "list" was really items that had been brought to Heartland's attention before our warranty was up, but had not been properly addressed or fixed since then. None of these were earth-shattering, they were just annoyances mostly, or items we could wait to have fixed right at the factory. They included a cracked fitting on our water tank, paint overspray on the front cap, a raised section on the roof underlayment, the AC ducting not distributing cool air very well, the Level-Up legs making some popping sounds and seemingly not holding level over time. And, of course, the flexing that was the main reason to bring the rig to the factory.

pics here.

After he was done checking in, he and Terry and Carol headed over to eat at the Golden Egg Pancake house. It was great food and great to visit with some long-time Heartland friends.

Tony said Heartland would get back to him after they took things apart and could have Lippert, the frame manufacturer, come and look at it. He didn't hear anything, so that evening he went by and checked on the rig. It was after hours, but he could see her in the bay with the front cap loosened and the front bulkhead removed.

pics here.

Tuesday, June 5th

Tuesday, the day was rainy and Tony hung around waiting to hear from Heartland. After a while, he went over to the Service Center and found that Lippert had done some corrective measures of adding some additional gussets to the frame where the pin box is located, and two additional large gussets near the landing gear.

After visiting with Heartland, he decided to go to Shipshewana and go eat at the Blue Gate restaurant, an Amish run restaurant. He had a great meal of fried chicken, and then enjoyed shopping a bit. He also visited Rise N' Roll in Middlebury, the famous donut shop that sells "Amish Crack", their Cinnamon Carmel Donuts. He managed to not buy anything!

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 He also visited Heritage Ridge Creamery and bought some Salsa Jack cheese. We loved this cheese last year when we went on the Amish Countryside tour, pre-National Rally.

Wednesday, June 6th

Today, Tony decided to tour the National New York Central Railroad Museum in Elkhart.  He really enjoyed seeing memorabilia from trains in this part of the country, a different perspective from others we've seen in the west.

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After the train museum, he again went over to the Service Center to check on things. Terry went over the things that had been done, and what was left to be done. He also talked to some of the techs that were working on various items. One said that the AC was performing as it should, but he explained that it wasn't the AC, but the ductwork and plenum where the AC attaches to the ducts that we were concerned about, so they agreed to scope the ducts.

Regarding the LevelUp, Heartland followed the Lippert protocol to replace a quart of hydraulic fluid with fork oil, and then said it was working correctly.

The front end was being reassembled.

The rear cap was looked at, and determined no issues with it.

After visiting with Heartland, Tony decided to take a tour of another Manufacturer, Grand Design. They are a young, independent manufacturer making a name for themselves in the RV industry. He went on the factory tour, and was not surprised that much of the construction was basically the same. However, their plant was newer, and much cleaner than Heartland, and it appeared they took a little more time during the construction process.

For dinner, Tony ate at Das Dutchman Essenhaus, another Amish run restaurant. He liked the Blue Gate a bit better.

Thursday, June, 7th

Today Tony went over to Heartland to check on the progress of the rig. They were working to relocate the new fresh tank so that hopefully we won't have the connection to the fresh water line to the pump crack again. They also mentioned they had scoped the ducts and fould nothing irregular. They added a "diverter" in one of the vents to help more air into the kitchen area.

They also fixed a window treatment that appeared to be crooked, stating that the cabinetry above it was overloaded and causing the problem. They resecured it.

They also repaired a small bubble in the wallpaper, where a Command Hook had pulled the paper away from the wall.

It appeared everything was moving forward, and he was assured that the rig would be ready to go in the morning.

Tony then headed to Bontragers , a large RV Surplus store in White Pigeon, Michigan, just over the state border from Elkhart. He looked around, but didn't find anything he couldn't live without.

After that, he went to locate some cheap fuel, and found it at the BP across from the Walmart on the west side of town.

He ate at Cracker Barrel, next to the hotel for dinner, and began getting ready to head back tomorrow.

Friday, June 8th

Friday morning, Tony anxiously awaited a call to tell him the rig was ready to go. He got the call from Heartland just before 10am, and headed over with the truck loaded with stuff. He had most of it in the cab, since rain was predicted that morning. 

When he arrived, he had to wait on Terry Hayes to do a walkthrough of all the things "official list" of repairs. However, there was caulking that wasn't completely finished. Tony had to wait for them to finish up, then they pulled it out of the bay and into one of their on-site RV sites. He proceeded to load the rig as quickly as possible, as storms were quickly approaching. 

While getting the rig hitched and ready to go, he discovered that in the front compartment, (where the work had been done), the lights were not working, and the rear camera did not work, either. He found a fuse sitting on top of the battery boxes. So, back to the Service Center he went, and asked them to evaluate it. They couldn't figure it out, so they asked Tony to pull it into the service bay. After a few techs were looking at it, they finally asked Tony to go wait in the lounge. He waited a few hours, with no word, and finally checked in and found they had fixed the issue, and went to lunch, failing to tell Tony it was ready! He finally pulled out about 1:30pm.

Tony stopped again at Terre Haute KOA for the night, and noticed the caulking was separating again where the wall meets the molding on the overhang. We're hoping its because it was not cured properly before departure.

Saturday, June 9th

This day, Tony headed back to Cabin, RV Park.  The rear view camera was cutting in and out due to a plug issue, and he drove in a heavy shower around St Louis, but had a fairly uneventful drive.

Sunday, June 10th

Today, I was excited that Tony was going to be home! However, I got a call about  10:30am, when Tony called to say he had an issue. Tony noticed that in a construction zone where the lanes narrow, the trailer seemed to be tracking oddly and he could see more of the side than normal. Since he was on the Will Rodgers Turnpike, he had to wait for a travel plaza to pull off and investigate. 

He discovered that the passenger side rear spring hanger bolt was missing, along with the 8 sided CorrectTrack cams. Luckily, we had an old bolt from a previous upgrade, and he was able to resecure the spring to the hangar, without too much issue, since he knew exactly what to do and how to do it. It took about an hour to complete the fix, and then eat lunch.

He headed down the road again, stopping periodically to check everything. He stopped in Ardmore, OK to get fuel about 3:30, and everything still looked OK, but we decided rather than travel all the way back home in the late afternoon/evening, we thought it would be best to go ahead and stop in Thackerville for the night. 

Tony arrived in Thackerville to stay at the WinStar Casino RV Park. unfortunately, he could only get a back in site. As he finished backing in, he heard a "clunk". He went to find out what was happening and discovered the driver's side rear spring hangar bolt had failed, and half the bolt, plus one CorrectTrack Cam, was laying on the ground! The other half and Cam were gone! So, fortunately, the backing may have actually brought the issue to light! 

However, he no longer had a spare part to use. He called me to explain the situation, and I worked to locate replacement parts. Being Sunday, we decided our only option was to order a full CorrectTrack kit, which would have the bolts and Cams necessary to complete the repairs properly to both sides of the rig. Thanks to Amazon, we could order and it would arrive on Tuesday at the RV Park, so that's what we did.

Tony stayed and did some relaxing, played a little and waited on parts until Tuesday afternoon.

Monday, June 13th

While Tony was waiting for parts, he spent some more time investigating the repair work done at Heartland. When he unhitched the truck, he discovered the caulking gap was now closed up, and wrinkling the graphics! This may mean there is still some flex going on there! He also discovered the  lap sealant on the roof was poorly applied, along with the caulk cleanup in various areas of the repair. We are both assuming someone at Heartland dropped the ball here, ut we'll look more closely and address it when Tony gets home.

Tuesday, June 12th

Finally, the parts arrived and he got to work. It arrived about 5:30pm. He was ready to go by 7:15pm, and decided to head back to home. We were both ready for this trip to be over! 

About 8:20pm, he stopped in at Bucee's in north Ft. Worth near the Texas Motor Speedway, and checked everything, then continued on, arriving about 10:30pm when he arrived back home. We got the rig set up and my stuff moved over. Whew! What an adventure.

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