Red Bay Makeover

Red Bay Makeover

Red Bay Makeover: Why go to Red Bay to remodel our RV? Why would we need to remodel our RV? Red Bay is the home of Tiffin Motorhomes. The people here have more experience with Tiffin Motorhomes than anywhere on earth. While here we performed our annual maintenance, fixed a few broken parts, and gave our interior a makeover. We did a full recarpet, installed a new refrigerator, and fixed a few exterior scratches. Our Red Bay makeover was kind of like a facelift, all the wrinkled parts were stretched out. We have updated and upgraded. More importantly, we also made some new friends and spent the week out at a lake.

New Carpet

Our carpet wasn’t bad (Tami disagreed more than me), but it wasn’t good (and I agree). Some of our friends with pets live with a lot more wear on their carpet than we had. Other friends dislike carpet so much that they wouldn’t ever have carpet in an RV. Our main throw rug was only three years old and although matted, the edges weren’t even worn out. We have carpet in our bedroom and along the edges of our slide-out room extensions. The carpet in the sides of our living room, under our dining room table, was really showing its age as was the carpet in the bedroom.

Our new carpet -- all the throw rugs were from carpet scraps left over from the bedroom.  This was a major part of our Red Bay makeover.
Our new carpet — all the throw rugs were from carpet scraps left over from the bedroom.

We purchased our new carpet and new refrigerator (more later) at Home Depot. I have to say that any thoughts of doing it myself quickly vanished given the complexity of the cuts, lack of tools, and lack of an open concrete floor to lay out the carpet for cutting. We needed a workspace that was about the same size as our RV. Plus the workspace needed to be out of the sun and had no chance of rain.

My rainy day project

Carpet in a motor home is found in odd places. We even had carpet under our kitchen and bathroom sinks and under the drawers in our cabinets. Why? I think that carpet is chosen for these areas because craftsmanship in these areas is, let us say, a little rushed. The carpet is also around the bed frame, inside the storage box under the bed, and over the engine box.

Under the kitchen sink, I removed the old carpet and replaced it with cedar closet lining.
Under the kitchen sink — I removed the old carpet and replaced it with cedar closet lining. I also did the same thing under the bathroom sink. I have to say my new cedar smells wonderful, compared to old carpet.

It would have taken me at least a week to carpet the bedroom. I would never have been able to carpet the front room. I don’t have a machine to put the edging on the carpet. This was a job for professionals. These professionals made the Red Bay makeover possible.

MS RV Solutions

MS RV Solutions isn’t in Red Bay, but rather just across the Mississippi border. So far, we have only spent a few days on the Alabama side of the border including one tornado scare. (You can find the story of our tornado scare in our previous post-Mississippi Storms.) Next week we will cross northern Alabama but for now, we are still in Mississippi.

MS RV Solutions, Daniel & Carl
MS RV Solutions, Daniel & Carl

The Tiffin manufacturing plant is about five miles from here. We have been camping in MS RV’s parking lot for about a week total. They have spent three entire days (one full day for carpet) inside their shop. Each morning they like to start work at sunrise and work hard non-stop until we pulled back out into the parking lot for the night. Only to repeat the same schedule for three days (Saturday included).

Measurements

We actually showed up at MS RV Solutions on Monday for measurements and then spent two nights in Red Bay getting a feel for the town. (Getting the feel for the town takes about ten minutes.) On Wednesday at about noon, we went back to the shop to make sure we were there for the warranty service inspector (if he arrived early more about that later). We spent our first night in front of the garage door ready to pull inside at first light. Our appointment was for full days on Thursday and Friday with a possible spillover on Saturday. MS RV Solutions was a real good choice for our Red Bay makeover. Carl and Daniel (owners) do all the work themselves and they take real pride in their work. Here is a link to MS RV Solutions Facebook page. MS-RV

On Thursday, before noon, the bedroom carpet on the floor was installed, our bed frame was in the living room with our mattress and our warranty inspector hadn’t shown up yet.

Under the bed

While the bed was out, I was able to take pictures of the slide mechanism that lives under the bed along with our sleep number pump for the mattress. I don’t know what parts do what things, but at least I have pictures. As for the sleep number pump, it has worked and not worked, frequently. We were hoping to repair the pump and the mattress air chamber on Tami’s side of the bed. Tami’s mattress has been losing air for a long time. This is where the warranty comes into part of the story.

The slide-out motor, under our bed. The first time I have seen this and hopefully the last time I need to see this.
The slide-out motor, under our bed. The first time I have seen this and hopefully the last time I need to see this.

Warranty

When we purchased the RV, the previous owners purchased a warranty that transferred to us after purchase. This was a major selling point for the RV. We used the warranty last April when our air conditioner failed. Thankfully we got it replaced in Las Vegas (quickly) before Las Vegas got hot. We are also very thankful to find an air conditioner in April 2020 because the virus interrupted supplies (including RV air conditioners) and parts availability throughout the country. Air conditioners are still hard to get in March 2021.

This time the warranty company wanted to do an inspection before the repairs were made. The warranty company was called on Tuesday morning and promised that we would have an inspector by Thursday at noon. Of course, you know where this is going, the warranty inspector didn’t show up. So I was on the phone with the warranty company because without the inspection we couldn’t proceed with any of the repairs.

I have to admit I like the coverage of a warranty but I don’t like the warranty company’s methods and I especially don’t like paying for the privilege of fighting with a warranty company over repairs and who is going to pay. Rather than turning my happy/glad post into a rant, I will forget the burr under my saddle for now and perhaps put that into a different post. It is enough information on this subject just to say that the inspector didn’t show up until Friday.

Repairs

We had lots of questions and a few parts that didn’t work. Most of the repairs were based on things that wear out over time. This includes all our window awnings. We now have new fabric on all the awnings. Our TV antenna quit working about six months ago and so it was replaced with a new one. Unfortunately, we were not able to get our main awning replaced with the same fabric as our smaller awnings because the fabric is not in stock. We want all the awnings to match so this is going to be an issue this summer. The very top edge of this awning is starting to fray from sitting in the sun. It is going to be a challenge to get our old awning to remain intact all summer. You might say that is a work still pending item in Red Bay makeover.

New Toys

The big new item I have is now a second storage tray. This tray is in the storage compartments below the RV and slides out either side to enable easy access to all the stuff we carry. I wrote a post when we eliminated our storage locker and I mentioned that we still have lots of stuff. Here is a link to that post. Dealing with stuff (Kathy found it humorous.) While visiting Costco in New Orleans, I got some boxes that really make my life easier. The sliding slide tray and these black boxes (in the picture) really have made an improvement on my back pain. My new storage tray and boxes are a wonderful part of my Red Bay makeover.

My old slide tray (the new one looks almost identical) with my new storage crates from Costco.
My old slide tray (the new one looks almost identical) with my new storage crates from Costco.

Flying Refrigerator

How do you replace an RV refrigerator? You have to fly it through the window. There are three windows in our RV that will fit a refrigerator. The front window, the driver’s side window, and the emergency egress window. For us, the pick was obviously the emergency egress window as it needed to be fixed anyway because moisture was between the double pane glass. So this window was coming out anyway to be repaired. Both Tami and I agreed that our 2008 refrigerator had seen better days and a new one was in order. We are very happy with our new one and was a major part of our Red Bay makeover.

Our new refrigerator.
Our new refrigerator.

Flying RVs

This one wasn’t for repairs, but rather our annual oil change and other maintenance. I have almost always done my own oil changes but #1 there were lots of stuff I don’t know how to do (and still don’t know how to do) and #2, what would I do with five gallons of oil. Besides that, we don’t have all the maintenance records for the RV (or don’t know what we are missing) so we did lots of stuff, just so we would know that it was done. This included changing the air dryer. When I purchased my RV I didn’t even know what the air dryer did or that we had one (it drys the air for the pneumatic suspension and brakes). Anyway, we had to fly the RV to get all this work done. Our greasy maintenance items are not a glamorous part of our Red Bay makeover.

Our flying RV during our Red Bay makeover.
Our flying RV during our Red Bay makeover.

Distinguished Visitors

At the top of this post is a picture of us and Bob Tiffin holding one of our kitchen cabinet doors. Why? Bob signed the back of the cabinet door from him and Judy. I had only one other experience with Bob during our three years of full-time travel. On our previous 2013 RV, Bob called a shop prior to our arrival. We had a problem with some broken welds holding the house above the RV frame (important) and Bob told the shop to “just fix it.” Here is a post when we stayed in Oregon during that repair. Sisters, LaPine & Bend

Tamolitch Falls, Blue Pool on the McKenzie River, This picture has nothing to do with our Red Bay makeover.
Tamolitch Falls, Blue Pool on the McKenzie River

When we were at Sisters I took one of my favorite pictures of the Blue Pool so I had to include it even though it has nothing to do with our current article. Here is a link to that post. Tamolitch Falls, Blue Pool

Back to the subject

Anyway back to the story of our visit by Bob (and his grandson, Brock). Bob stopped by after lunch to see how our 2008 Tiffin was wired with 900 amp hours of lithium batteries and 1800 watts of solar. Bob said that he had heard of some RVs having ten solar panels but thought 18 was a bit on the large side. I would be willing to tell them how they could max out the solar on production models, but I don’t think they want to hear it from me. What I could learn from them is how to automate the tilting of my panels; that would be sweet.

After Bob left I got a phone call from the publisher of the Tiffin magazine who wants to do a story about how we taught our luxury RV to be an off-grid camper. Bob didn’t let on during the meeting, but I guess he was impressed. One of the questions was about our solar/battery-operated air conditioners and another one was how well the panels work during cloudy weather.

Tornado Friends

When I found that some people I watched on Youtube were at the same tornado shelter, for the same tornado as we were, I had to reach out and make contact with Tom and Stacie. I am very glad to have met them. We went to the storm shelter and were sitting in the parking lot, while Tom and Stacie were inside the storm shelter waiting for the all-clear. Evidently, they got there before us and stayed longer than we did so and we never saw them or their Jeep. I didn’t know they were there until watching their Youtube video discussing the same tornado. Here is a link to their Youtube video. Tornado Warning

Tom and Stacie of RV Texas Y'all
Tom and Stacie of RV Texas Y’all

Tom and Stacie are comparing notes with us about solar, batteries, where to go, and what to see. They have been RVing full-time for three years. I am looking forward to future conversations. Their Youtube channel is RV Texas y’all. They are just as open, enthusiastic, and outgoing in person as they are on Youtube. As they say, “you get what you get.” We immediately noticed the very nice kayaks on their Jeep and perhaps we can get on the water with them soon.

This is the first time we have met, even though we have been in two places, with them at the same time — and we have mutual friends. Tom and Stacie met John and Brenda Nedjedlo at Teddy Roosevelt National Park. Here is a link to John and Brenda’s blog — just because I can. GeoAstroRV

Other RVers like us (perhaps not really like us)

This isn’t the first time we have met “public” figures and knew them (and they didn’t know us). I hear that Supreme Court Justice Thomas wanders RV campgrounds and even stays overnight at Walmarts. How was that for name-dropping? That should spike some google search results (ha-ha). We haven’t met Supreme Court Justice Thomas; still, it could happen.

7 thoughts on “Red Bay Makeover”

  1. That’s so cool that you got to meet Mr. Tiffin AND your solar project is going to be featured in the magazine! What an awesome way to show off your hard work and maybe inspire some other folks to think beyond the plug. Your renovations look great and it definitely makes good sense to go to the source for work like that. Glad to hear it all worked out. As for Justice Thomas, there was a 60 Minutes story about him and his motorhome maybe 10 or 15 years back? I’m not sure if it’s on Youtube now, but if it is, it’s worth a watch. Interesting stuff.

  2. Wow! You guys definitely did some upgrades. We are going to have to stop in at “Tiffin”, Alabama just to see the legendary RV community. I’m glad you had a chance to meet Tom and Stacie, RV Texas y’all. We only spoke with them shortly. However, they seemed like such nice (fellow) Texans. 🙂

  3. Tiffin should listen to you pertaining to doing a good setup for solar. The results of your two solar conversions on your RVs are proof that you really have this down to a science.

    They make a great RV but honestly, they really need to up their game concerning both batteries and solar. Lithium batteries should be in every RV Tiffin sends out the door… minimum.

    If they want happy customers, they need to control the end product and not let RV dealers tinker with their good work.

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