This is turning into a kind of out-of-body experience for us.
Usually, the tempo at Red Bay is best summed up as “Hurry up and wait”. Hurry to get here before Sunday. Wait days or more to get into a service bay. Watch Tiffin technicians hurry up to get through your main portion of your list. Wait days for the next specialty bay to open up. Watch Tiffin technicians address your bay-specific needs. Wait days for next specialty bay. Lather-rinse-repeat.
In the past, people have spent 5 weeks or more here, depending on length of their list and severity of their problems.
We weren't prepared for “Hurry up and move”.
Don't get me wrong; I'm all for being swept through the usual waters of the Tiffin Service Center at a more rapid pace, but this visit is turning out to be a bit surreal. We expected we'd need a Full Service Bay for a few days, a Mechanical bay and some work in Paint. Normally, this would translate into a 4 day wait for the first bay, another 2-4 day wait for the second, and we had heard that Paint was so backed up due to a rash of bad Tiffin drivers who needed damage repair that they were a 2-3 week wait time.
Our time frame has looked like this:
Total wait time for 3 bays, not including weekends, is 3 days.
The work here has been acceptable this trip, but not exceptional – except for paint. The back of my big slide now drops down all the way into it's slot when opened, but it's marking up our replacement floor tiles in areas it never did before. Our mysterious thump / thud which occurs when someone goes from the drivers side to the passenger side when jacks are down and slides are extended seemed to have been fixed for a day, but has come back. It was thought that a jack clamp needed to be secured, but either it appears the fix wasn't permanent, or there's something else happening towards the rear of the coach.
So it's back for round 2 to fix the fixes – except for paint.
Every now and again, you find someone in the service industry who is an absolute craftsman. Someone who takes so much pride in their work that they go above and beyond expectations because it's just what they do. We experienced this during our last visit with David and Dave in Bay 4, who were meticulous in their approach to making sure everything was right before returning our coach back to us. This trip our award for exceptional customer service goes out to Cole in Paint Bay 19.
A dimple about the size of a softball had reappeared after a repair last November which had a 50/50 chance of success. Normally, this could have been rushed through in about 2 days, but Cole wanted this one done right this time. Off comes the Diamond Shield, patch the spots where paint has been removed, do a beautiful job in filling the dimple to where you swear it was part of the original fiberglass, tape and cover it off so that not a molecule of paint might travel where it shouldn't go, feather the areas above where the original paint needs to match, and finish it off with a beautiful coat of paint, and two of clear coat.
It's always great to see the front portion of our home look even better than it did when it first came out of the factory. That's how great a job Cole did. Even Brandon, the Diamond Shield guy, was impressed. He checks the area being fixed to see if it has cured long enough before installing his product over it. If too “soft”, it's not ready. After almost 4 days of curing, our area still had soft spots, which means the coat of paint is substantial and not minimal. Good thing we still had more work to do, or we'd be waiting here just for his Diamond Shield installation.
So here's where the self-inflicted delay comes in.
While we had good service in Bay 34, there were new things that developed and some old problems which popped back up. Knowing how good Dave in Bay 4 was, we decided to request his bay for the remainder of our regular work (with mechanical and Diamond Shield still to come). Little did we know Dave had just inherited a diesel Bus that had a list of significant problems which needed to be addressed. In addition, our friend Tom across the way had Dave earlier in his stay, and wanted him to fix a couple of things that weren't quite right, and was now ahead of us in line.
The Bus work took over a week. Tom's took another day. And the way Tiffin works, you have to finish your regular bay work before you can get into a specialty bay like mechanical, so we couldn't get our jack work addressed during the wait time for Bay 4.
Ultimately, the wait was worth it, because Dave found a creak in our floor that had been driving Barbara crazy for months. A shim fixed that. While he was working on the floor he found a bolt loose on our main slide, and tightened that up before something really bad could happen. That's why we had requested Dave in Bay 4 for our final work. He's that thorough.
Diamond Shield was installed on the Friday just before we celebrated our 4th week in Red Bay, and mechanical is still in question. I sometimes think they're trying to avoid bringing us back in, because I don't think they've seen this problem before and are not sure how to proceed with an alternative to their earlier “fix”. Time (hopefully not too long) will tell.
Meanwhile the socializing has started to get to pre-COVID levels; something we haven't experienced much in the past 6 months. Let's face it; anybody who has spent time in Red Bay has pretty much quarantined themselves for at least a week or two, and due to waiting in place for the much anticipated call to a bay, we haven't moved much. Finally got to meet my Facebook buddy and fellow Tiffin owner Mike after swapping comments for over a year. Great guy, fellow escapee from Massachusetts, and fun to be around. We found new friends in Tom and Carmen, and Damon and Kathy, who were both escaping Red Bay after their multi-week stays, and with new friends Roy and Sarah and Gino and Susan, spent a wonderful night swapping stories and contact information the way life intended us to do. Shaking hands. High-fiving a great comment. Not yelling across the street to each other in fear. I suspect that many of the naysayers in the media will be wrong when it comes to the “new normal” way of living post-COVID, at least when it comes to us RVers.
But for us, we are still in the clutches of Red Bay.
We're Dave and Barbara Richard, and we're living the ultimate retirement experience - traveling the U.S. and Canada in style in a Tiffin Open Road 36LA Class A motor home, playing golf and stopping at every weird and wacky roadside attraction we can find.