The bane of every motor home owner is maintenance. I'm a relatively handy guy and can handle lots of simple things but over time there are problems that occur that are better done by someone with more knowledge and experience than I can muster. As I've aged, the line that separates what I want to do and what I will pay someone else to do has moved. Part of that is wisdom, simply learning that my fix may not be the best way to repair something. Another thing that moves the line is my physical abilities. In my youth, strong and agile, I could lift things, bend around and under to get to places that my body now says are simply out of reach. Another thing moving the line is financial resources. When I was churchmouse poor I did all kinds of maintenance on my vehicles. Today I'd rather lift my wallet than lift a tire.
Over the time we've owned our motor home, we've come to rely on a variety of shops for repair. One repair shop we have always used for the particularly tough problems is the factory service center. Originally, our manufacturer, Monaco operated a factory service center in Coburg, Oregon where their primary manufacturing facility was located. When you purchased a Monaco motor home you were invited to visit the factory service center to get the initial bugs out of the motor home. This served two purposes, it fixed problems for the customer and also gave the factory personnel feedback on things that were getting out the factory door in need of immediate repair. We returned within the first year of ownership and had a number of small items fixed. Later we would be invited to return and repairs were done at a much reduced rate or sometimes were complementary. We were also able to get service at Monaco "Come Home" rallies. The factory would shut down for the week and the company would bring the techs, a supply trailer and a fleet of rented golf carts to the rally. Each coach owner could put two things on a repair list and they would be done for the cost of parts. Such service went on for years but ended with the bankruptcy of Monaco in 2009.
That is history. Monaco was taken out of bankruptcy by Navistar and operated under their corporate structure for several years. Today Monaco is part of the Allied Recreation Group (ARG). The ARG group includes Fleetwood, American Coach, Monaco and Holiday Rambler. The factory in Coburg is closed but the factory service center is still in operation in Coburg. There is also a factory service center in Indiana where the current factory is located in Decatur. Both facilities are doing warranty work and other repair work on the entire ARG line of vehicles. The factory service centers draw upon the technical people who were building the coaches. They know the coaches better than any general technician could.
Our motor home is now 11 years old and we are once again at the factory service center in Oregon. We arrived on Monday evening and parked as directed in a vacant parking space. There is 30/50A power at the parking spot and also water. A dump station is available on site. Our motor home is picked up at 7:30 each morning and returned about 4:00 each afternoon. We arrived with a list of items ranging from a complete DC lighting circuit which was inoperative and a large power awning that wouldn't retract to an arm that broke off the drivers chair. There was a compartment door that wouldn't lock, another that wouldn't open. The auto-gen start function of the inverter wasn't working properly and the ABS light on the dash remained lit all the time indicating that the ABS function wasn't operating properly. I've been saving up, there were 17 items on the list.
One by one our tech, Mike, has been working through the list and fixing or repairing each of our problems. It is now Friday morning and the last items on the list are being addressed. I've been called to the coach several times to consult on work in progress. I've seen more wires dangling and cabinets disassembled than I would ever have done. The DC circuit was a short which required replacing a wire to resolve the problem. Finding it was the reason for disassembling all the cabinets and fixtures. Mike consulted with the electronics guru to get the auto-gen start working again. He turned the broken chair arm over to the welding shop after disassembling the arm mounting hardware. We're going to drive away with everything working! I consider that a really successful repair trip. We've spent most of the week here but when everything is done we've reached our goal.
There have been a dozen coaches worked on during this period of time and another half dozen from dealers that are being worked on as time permits. Some jobs are small, others really big. One couple had their full wall slide out removed so repairs could be done to the system that moves it in and out. We have visited with many of the people who are having repairs made and shared many stories of our travels. By Friday morning, most people have departed, we are among the few remaining. Next week a new group of coaches will arrive and a new set of problems will be solved.
If you own a coach in the Allied Recreation Group you should take advantage of this excellent resource for keeping your coach in top operating condition. You can make an appointment at either facility by calling the following numbers. For Monaco and Holiday Rambler, contact 877-466-6226, American Coach contact 800-435-7345, Fleetwood contact 800-322-8216. Appointments normally are made months in advance but in emergencies they may be able to address specific problems on shorter notice. We made our reservation in July for this appointment in September.