Too Much Southern Hospitality

It’s been a while since we’ve posted but it’s taken us some time to recover from our stay in Red Bay, AL before we could relive the experience. Then we got caught up in celebrating the holidays with our family and blogging went out the window. So now I’ve finally buckled down and I’m ready to re-experience our adventures in Red Bay.

Our chassis and engine in the welding shop, about to receive basement frame welding

When we watched Rover being built three years ago, we only had 4 days to spare; that was enough time to see Rover go from a welded chassis to a functional motorhome but no time to see the paint, QA, and final repairs. This time we planned to watch the entire three-week build and follow the new coach to our dealership 200 miles away. We also had no RV last time, so we were driving in from Russellville (closest town with a hotel) every day to watch the progress. Since we had Rover now, we stayed in Red Bay at one of the many RV parks in town.

Tiffin has its own campground, free to owners either watching their build, or getting warranty work done. Since it is a couple miles away from the plant, we opted to stay at Downtown RV Park, right across the street from the plant. That way, we could easily walk back to our RV to grab lunch and take care of Opie, plus the RV park had a fenced backyard and open yard where dogs were welcome to play. About a week into our stay, we got new neighbors, Paul and Laura, with a fantastic golden retriever named Wyatt Burp (yes, his name is very apropos).

They were here for some regular maintenance on their Tiffin. They’ve been full-timing for over 9 years and still love it! Wyatt and Opie became best buds and had a playdate everyday (sometimes more than once). It’s great to watch dogs wrestling, tearing after one another, and just being goofy. Plus seeing Opie passed out for hours is definitely the icing on the cake. Friday night at Hometown Pizza with Paul and Laura fast became an enjoyable tradition for us. We really enjoyed their company, Opie really loved Wyatt, and sharing misery/happy stories is always lots of fun!

So many wires and pipes! Kathie takes a break in the cargo bay while waiting to enter the main factory.

When we were watching Rover’s build, we weren’t quite sure what we were seeing (being brand new to the world of RVs). While we took a lot of pictures, we didn’t know what was important and what wasn’t. This time, we knew what kinds of photos to take which is good since the Phaeton contains much more complicated wiring and more plumbing. While watching the build, we often muttered, “How in the world are we going to fix stuff if it breaks?!” since most of the wiring and plumbing is trapped between the floor and chassis. I’m SURE nothing will break. <grin>

Getting ready for base coat

Since we documented our experiences during Rover’s build, I’ll skip over that part to talk about the painting and rest of it. While people say nothing is quite as boring as watching paint dry, I found it to be quite riveting! Ok, not the drying part so much but the entire process of painting claimed my full attention.

Silver base coat complete; stripe masks being applied before next three colors

Tiffin puts on 3-4 coats of base paint, then place giant masking decals on the coach so they can add the next 3 colors in the right patterns and layers. When all is done, they peel off all the masks and underneath is the perfect paint scheme! After that it’s into the clear coat booth and the oven (twice each) to give it a shine.

Blue layer finished and masked; white being painted next

By this time, we finally came up with a name for our coach (with some help from friends). We loved the name Rover for so many reasons: ROVER = Ruthlessly Organized Vehicle for Exploratory Ramblings; NASA color scheme on our motorhome, Rover (def) – person who spends their time wandering, and lastly Rover is a good dog name. So we wanted to find another fitting name for our new rig.

Peeling back the masks to reveal the final paint pattern

We spent a lot of time looking at names of gods/goddesses of travel, NASA spacecraft names, and other ideas, but still couldn’t find anything that clicked so we just kept calling our new rig “Rover 2” as a temporary placeholder, until a friend of ours suggested “R2”.

Paint is finished, but it’s still missing something… the clear coat!

After the paint was completed, we realized R2 seemed even more appropriate since the colors are similar to our favorite little droid. So we officially named our new motorhome R2-LR (Rover 2 – Life Rebooted), R2 for short, as an homage to the best droid in the galaxy.

Wow, the clear coat makes a big difference!

The schedule we received from Tiffin stated our coach would be complete in 3 weeks but many folks were receiving theirs a few days early. We were hopeful that would be the case for us too. It would allow us to clean up Rover before his new owners came to pick him up at our dealer in AL. Alas, that was not to be. During the build, we noticed the back bedroom slide on the passenger slide wasn’t flush when closed. The front of the slide would stick out slightly while the back of the slide was tightly closed. When we pointed it out a few times, the response was the timing on the electric motor was off and would be fixed during final finish. Unfortunately with a crooked slide, Tiffin was unable to do a rain test (deluge the motorhome with water in every direction to look for leaks) since water would obviously leak into that slide. They postponed the rain test and sent us back to the main plant to get the motors re-timed properly.

Do you feel a draft?

In most cases, retiming the motors would fix the crooked slide but not for us (we like being special). The slide experts started to investigate further. They pulled out the plenum (the channel for all the wires/plumbing that enter the slide) to see if that was preventing the front end from closing properly. They replaced the rails and motors, and even added another steel roller to support the slide. Unfortunately the more Tiffin messed with the slide, the worse it got. By the end of day 3, the Tiffin folks were stumped and the slide was in pretty bad shape. The plant manager made the call to pull out the entire slide and replace it with a new one. Tiffin would build an entire new slide box, transfer all the furniture, wires, and plumbing and install the new box into R2 – all in one day! We were doubtful but by the end of day 4, R2 had a new functioning (albeit non-painted) back slide. That meant taking R2 back to the paint factory to get the slide painted to match the rest of the rig.

No one will notice that our slide’s been replaced… will they?

For Tiffin to complete 13 units/day, they have to stick with a very strict schedule. Unfortunately that means problematic rigs like ours fall off the production schedule and any work done on R2 has to be squeezed into overtime or spare spaces. Thankfully the paint plant manager understood our frustration and did everything to speed along the paint and QA process on R2, managing to finish the work within 3 days. Tiffin finally finished all the work and R2 was ready to ship to our dealer (albeit a week late).

Painting the new slide

We packed up all our things, said good-bye to our fabulous neighbors Paul, Laura, and Wyatt and chased R2 to the dealership in Montgomery.

Opie vs. Wyatt


  1. DebbieM   •  

    Love the colors! Fun new times coming!

    • Kat   •     Author

      Thanks! We love the new coach so far. We’re in the DC area for now and the heated floors are currently the best feature yet. :)

  2. Kent   •  

    Kat is that the norm NASA paint,or did you alter the colors? Beautiful coach. Will be in Red Bay next week watching my 40IH being build.

    • Kat   •     Author

      Hi Kent,
      The new rig is the White Mahogany scheme with the blue instead of the red garnet. The NASA scheme is what our old rig had so we wanted something with a little more color this time. Ohh, watching the build is pretty awesome, have a great time. We do love our 40IH so far, I hope you love yours too!

  3. Pete Mac   •  

    Hi Kat – can you share what that custom paint option cost you? Was it extra to paint the slide sides too, or is Tiffin now including the side paint on the IH? We’ll be ordering ours in January – love your colors and promise we will not copy! ;-)

    • Kat   •     Author

      Hi Pete,
      I believe MSRP is about $900/custom color change (but you should be able to get a discount off that price from your dealer). For Phaeton, you do have to pay extra for the painted slides. MSRP is about $2800 to paint all 4 sides (again, talk to your dealer about a discount off that cost). You also have the option of doing an after-market paint job if you’re near Red Bay after you pick up your coach. I think after-market guys charge around $1500?

      Have fun with your IH colors! What changes are you thinking about?

      • Pete Mac   •  

        Thank you Kat. We do plan on watching the build, and would be more comfortable with the Tiffin paint shop being responsible for the whole job – fewer problems later on.
        We also like the gray upper of the White Mahogany and are leaning towards a dark/forest/earthy green instead of the maroon. Did you sit with the paint shop guys selecting your blue, and if so, when did you do this before or during the build?

        Cheers – Pete

        • Kat   •     Author

          Yes, if you are going to be at Red Bay, stop by the Belmont paint factory. In the office, talk to Melissa and she can mock up various paint color schemes for you. They can only do paint color changes with other colors in stock. I don’t believe they have a dark green, only a teal color for green. You can change the paint scheme up to a day before the coach makes it into the paint shop, so you’ll have some time once you’re at the factory.

  4. David Fowler   •  

    Glad to see you guys are moving up to a Phaeton. We did that two years ago and love the coach. We have a 40 QBH and have put about 16,000 miles on her in two years. And we aren’t full timing. We took pictures of your paint job for you when our 36LA was being built and met you at the IRV2 rally in Myrtle Beach. Enjoy R2 and many happy miles
    Dave and Jan Fowler

    • Kat   •     Author

      Wow, sounds like you two have been busy in your Phaeton with 16,000 miles! I do remember you in Myrtle Beach, you two showed us around town! It was great to meet with you and hopefully our paths can cross again soon.

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