….AND we’re back!

When we decided to get serious about buying a Phaeton, we had to decide on a Tiffin dealer. We bought Rover through Lazydays in Tampa for a number of reasons, but we decided we would not buy from them again (great sales dept., terrible service dept.). Many folks have recommended Davis and Sherman dealers for their good prices and customer service. Doing research, Mike found that Marlin Ingram RV had also become highly recommended by many Tiffin owners. They had competitive prices, good customer service, AND offered good trade-in values for coaches. We wanted to sell Rover privately since it would be more lucrative than a trade-in but we were leery of all the scam stories that abound on the internet (seriously, the internet is the worst place to visit for a cynic-paranoid). So when we spoke with Rick at Ingram (months before we even ordered the new coach), he provided us with a trade-in value that would be good up until we bought the Phaeton BUT he also said that if we wanted to sell Rover to a private seller, he could do all the paperwork involved which would make things much easier for us.

Knowing that we had a firm trade-in offer, we decided to clean up Rover, take some pictures and videos, and put him up for sale. Mike put together a fancy “For Sale” page with photos, a video, and lots of details. But before we could even post Rover online, Facebook interfered: Susan and Ken on the Tiffin FB group were looking for a used 36LA to start full-timing. Another FB friend referred them to us and we started a conversation. Before we knew it, we had an offer on Rover! The best part was the flexibility of Susan and Ken. They were willing to wait a few months until we received our new rig and they would fly to Alabama to pick up Rover and drive it back home to Oregon.

They had bought airline tickets to dealership in Alabama based on when R2 was to be completed. Unfortunately due to the unexpected issues with our rear slide-out, our delivery was delayed by a week which means they were stuck in AL waiting for us. They were incredible and so patient during the whole process! They even came out one day to visit Rover in Red Bay while we were still waiting on R2. We were finally relieved when R2 was complete and we could complete the paperwork for R2 and Rover (I believe they were just as relieved/excited as we were!).

Susan and Ken are huge music fans (especially Beatles) and told us that Rover would be getting a name and sex change, Rover became Helen Wheels (Paul McCartney homage). We do keep in touch with them (and they have a black lab too) and so far Helen has been treating them really well! They love the full-time lifestyle and it’s fun to see their adventures.

Farewell Rover (Helen)!

After two days in R2 making sure everything was working ok, we were really ready to hit the road! The evening before, we decided to head to the dealership’s dump station so we could get an early start the next morning. We closed up all the slides, and then it happened: the problematic slide would come in most of the way, slow down for a fraction of a second, make a BANG sound, then come in the rest of the way. The dealer looked at the slide and decided they could not fix the problem and we would have to go back to Tiffin in Red Bay to get it fixed!

With no other choice, we packed everything up and our very first drive in R2 was back to the factory. Our salesman at Marlin Ingram called Tiffin right away to apprise them of the situation. Normally, after a coach is sold, any repairs are considered warranty work and are completed at the Tiffin service center. However, since this slide problem was an ongoing issue, Tiffin called us and told us to take R2 directly to the main plant the next morning. Apparently after the initial drive to the dealer, the slide must have settled a bit because when the slide was coming in, the back corner would drag on the floor and catch on the grout line between two floor tiles, then “jump” over the tile as it continued to close, causing the bang noise. Tiffin added a roller under the low side to guide it over the tiles and the slide was good to go. While we were frustrated at having to go back to Red bay, we were very happy how responsive Tiffin was to our problem and the quick resolution.

You’re not supposed to see a “sold” coach back at the factory!

Since we were back at Red Bay, we did head over to the service center to get a few more minor issues resolved. October is high season which means a swamped service center. Since new coaches get priority, we were able to get in after only waiting two days. The service center has a good reputation for repairing problems, but in our case, several of our repairs ended up causing additional issues! After adding foam tape to our front TV’s mount to stop some rattling, we found that the TV reported no signal from the DVD player. After replacing an electronic panel to troubleshoot a battery voltage issue, our front passenger-side slide no longer would close. And one of the electricians had shut off (and taped over) our Aqua-Hot water heater circuit breaker due to a misunderstanding about how the Aqua-Hot works. That night, we had no hot water and didn’t understand what the issue was, until Mike looked at the circuit panel and realize the circuit was off. Mike also re-seated the wires to the replaced electronics panel and our slide started working again. At this point we were tired and just wanted to leave… we didn’t want Tiffin to fix any other issues because we were afraid they might break something else! To be fair, the service center is usually good about fixing typical issues but when it’s something new or different (2018 Phaetons had some drastic changes), there is a learning curve and unfortunately we ended up being that learning curve. They did do a great job repairing our shower door which wouldn’t close straight, repaired a water leak in our mid bathroom, and replaced an air conditioner that vibrated loudly.

Lots and lots (and lots) of Tiffins waiting for service at the Service Center!

We decided that our remaining issues were minor and could be fixed another time. We packed up our stuff and left early the next morning. We were so anxious to leave Red Bay that we decided to push hard and make it back to DC in two days, starting with a 500 mile drive from Red Bay to southern Virginia. After six weeks in Alabama (almost all of it in Red Bay). I don’t think Mike and I have ever been so happy to leave a place! We arrived in Reston VA and got ourselves set up at Lake Fairfax County Park, our “home base” for visiting friends and family in the area.

Ahh, our first real campsite in R2.

Wait a sec… is that another Phaeton next to us? It is, and Sonya (and later, John) from Itinerant Life recognized R2 and came over to say “hi” to us. We love meeting fellow techie RV bloggers!


  1. Ed Bickford   •  

    Happy New Year! Glad to see you finally got settled in with your problems fixed. After two warranty visits this past year (the last in October as well) I understand why you left when you did. If you have to go back i would recommend Bay 49. Joel knows how to fix things right and explained a lot to me about how things work. From the pictures I see you have the stacked washer and dryer. That setup ws one of the reasons my wife wanted the 36UA over the 36LA when we bought last year. Like the name R2 (assuming it’s short for Rover 2) and love the fact that its a “D”iesel 2.

    • Kat   •     Author

      Happy New Year to you too! I didn’t know we could request a particular bay. Thanks for the recommendation, we will definitely try to get into 49 if we can in the spring. I thought I’d like the stacked washer/dryer, but I don’t use the dryer much (air dry most of our clothes) plus it doesn’t seem to get very hot (another item to add to our punch list).

  2. Julie Bennett   •  

    Happy New Year Kat and Mike and congrats on R2! Sorry to hear of the issues post delivery. Sadly this is not unusual for new RVs. If we were to ever buy a brand new RV, first thing we would do is make an appointment at the factory and plan a visit soon after, regardless of brand. It’s a hassle but even more of a hassle to keep dealing with issues and having trouble getting the coach in to get them fixed, and slide issues are the worst! Can only imagine how many choice words were dropped throughout this! And yes 6 weeks in Red Bay is a looooong time. Anyway glad you got things smoothed out. Getting a new model with a lot of changes from the previous year also adds to the bag of tricks. But happy you found a buyer for Rover and that you are continuing to love the RV life! Hope we get to cross paths someday. Happy 2018!

    • Kat   •     Author

      True, I know in general our list of fixes isn’t that bad (other than the slide) so we’re grateful about that. I think Tiffin is actually the only factory that allows you to follow your coach around and also has its own repair place so we love that. I think we were spoiled by Rover and how well he treated us. Definitely have some challenges with all the new fun stuff in R2 but the upgrades are totally worth it! Happy New Year and we really hope we can cross paths soon!

  3. Susan Simpson   •  

    All in all, quite a way to welcome R2 into the family … happy he is doing so well now !!! Stay away from sandy locations (and 4.2 mile BLM roads) and travel safely … Helen, Ken, Jazzy and I hope to cross paths with you all in 2018 !!! Happy New Year 🎉

    • Kat   •     Author

      LOL! I was impressed you were able to get Helen into that beach area. She looked great but after our experiences in the sand, I was afraid you all would get stuck! If you’re in Sedona and boondock, THAT is a tough long road to get into the good sites. :) I really hope we do cross paths and exchange some fun/horror stories!


    Congratulations on R2 and working through your “new” issues. We bought our 36LA a few weeks after you got your and have followed your adventures. We do not full time as you but are leaving Missouri and single didgit temp and heading to Florida for the rest of the winter. Happy New Year and safe traveles.

    • Kat   •     Author

      Thanks! We loved our 36LA but the Phaeton really has some nice upgrades. Seems like a good idea to get out of the cold but then again Florida has been so chilly recently! We’ll be traveling around Florida for the winter, if we’re near your area, we’d love to meet up and say hi!

  5. DebbieM   •  

    Love the new rig! Enjoy your time with family and friends. Happy New Year to you both and Opie!

    • Kat   •     Author

      Thanks! Happy New Year to you and Steve! Hopefully we’ll cross paths in 2018 or 2019!

  6. Bill Cooper   •  

    Kat, I read your comment that your stackable dryer was not working very well. I know you had a combo unit in Rover. If you had a choice, would you prefer the combo or the stackable units? We are looking at a new 36LA and they have the stackable units, but it takes up much of the bathroom. If we custom order we may still be able to get the combo unit that fits under the counter. Thoughts?

    We are really enjoying reading your blog. Thanks for taking the time!!

    • Kat   •     Author

      Hi Bill,
      I would definitely do the combo again, especially in the 36LA. The extra space in the 36LA is a must and we don’t use the dryer much to begin with. I air-dry all our clothes (helps extend the longevity of the clothes) and only use the dryer for our sheets and towels. I would wash all the sheets, then dry them one at a time, so 20 min cycles worked great to get them all dry. The only issue I had with the combo was the lack of a lint dryer. Splendide claims the lint goes out with the water but we did have to occasionally use a leaf blower to blow out the extra lint around the combo unit.

      Honestly, if I had the choice in our new rig, I’d get a combo and use the extra space as a linen closet!

  7. Dave   •  

    Hi Guys! Love the look of your 40IH. We are in the process of ordering one now. If you don’t mind me asking, did you select the Sterling decor and brown sugar furniture? Our closest dealer is 6 hours away, tough to decide on colors from pictures we’re finding, your pictures are great.

    • Kat   •     Author

      Hi Dave! We did get the sterling interior, brown sugar leather, and mocha cabinets. We love the combination, is that what you’re looking at? It’s definitely dark though. Congrats and I’ve love to hear which color combo you ended up with.

      • Dave   •  

        Hi Kat – thanks for responding! We like both the sterling and cedar interiors and both the brown sugar and the Bailey (whiter leather). Completely hooked on the mocha cabinets, it’s an elegant look. How do you think the Bailey would look with the mocha?

        Thanks for the feedback, tough decision!

        • Kat   •     Author

          I think the white leather would look amazing with the mocha cabinets, it would make quite a contrast! We stay away from light color furniture. Since we full-time, we use our couches a lot which means they would get grimy quickly. Plus Opie is allowed on all the furniture so again dirt would easily attract to white surfaces.

          • Dave   •  

            Thanks Kat! No pets for us, although maybe some day we’ll have a pup again. We’ll be FT as well for at least a year than reverse snowbirds for 6months a year. The issue of getting grimy is one to consider!

  8. Bill Cooper   •  

    Hi Kat, one other question. On your 36LA did you find the 2 AC units kept your rig cool? We are going to fulltime in a 36LA and wanted to make sure the units were sufficient. Also, do you recommend the heat pump option or does that impact the cooling capability?

    Thanks Kat. We really appreciate your feedback. Its great to read your blog.

    • Kat   •     Author

      Hi Bill, the AC units did a good job keeping us cool. The rough rule of thumb seems the AC units can keep the rig about 20-30 degrees cooler than outside temps. It’s a lot tougher in hot weather and/or full sun. But overall they did a great job.

      Definitely upgrade to the heat pump option. I think the newer 36LA has the option for two heat pumps (we only had one). If you’re on electric, it’s a great way to keep warm (over 40 degrees) without using your propane. It has no impact on the cooling capability of the AC.

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