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Old 10-11-2008, 01:23 PM   #1
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My wife, Michelle,and I would very much welcome some advice from you wise Newmar folks out there

Sometime during this next year, we intend to purchase new a 42/43' rear bath floorplan diesel pusher - which we will to drive East Coast to West Coast, do some touring along the way. and then live full time in the motorhome while we acquire some land and oversee the building of a new home there (probably in the Russian River Valley area, Sonoma County, Northern California). This could be a two year process.

A rear bath 42' Dutch Aire is on the shortlist of motorhomes that seem to fit our needs. Also on our radar screen (in alphabetical order not preference ranking) are the 42/43' rear bath versions of the: American Coach Allegiance, Beaver Contessa, Country Coach Inspire, Fleetwood Revolution, Holiday Rambler Scepter, Monaco Camelot, Newmar Dutch Aire, Tiffin Phaeton (and would be too a Tiffin Allegro Bus if they choose to come out with a rear bath plan).

We would be most grateful to hear from any of you (as briefly as you like) why you might consider Newmar the best choice to make, or equally why others on the list might be poor choices. As well as product and service matters, given the current state of the RV industry and prospectively the broader economy, we are also naturally concerned about the financial health and business stability of some of today's participants.

Many thanks for any input you can share with us.

Hugh & Michelle Dickinson
Currently Nantucket 'wash ashores'
2009 42/43' rear bath DP TBD
1965 RHD Morris Minor Traveller
Two English Springer Spaniels, One Maine Coon cat
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Old 10-11-2008, 01:23 PM   #2
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My wife, Michelle,and I would very much welcome some advice from you wise Newmar folks out there

Sometime during this next year, we intend to purchase new a 42/43' rear bath floorplan diesel pusher - which we will to drive East Coast to West Coast, do some touring along the way. and then live full time in the motorhome while we acquire some land and oversee the building of a new home there (probably in the Russian River Valley area, Sonoma County, Northern California). This could be a two year process.

A rear bath 42' Dutch Aire is on the shortlist of motorhomes that seem to fit our needs. Also on our radar screen (in alphabetical order not preference ranking) are the 42/43' rear bath versions of the: American Coach Allegiance, Beaver Contessa, Country Coach Inspire, Fleetwood Revolution, Holiday Rambler Scepter, Monaco Camelot, Newmar Dutch Aire, Tiffin Phaeton (and would be too a Tiffin Allegro Bus if they choose to come out with a rear bath plan).

We would be most grateful to hear from any of you (as briefly as you like) why you might consider Newmar the best choice to make, or equally why others on the list might be poor choices. As well as product and service matters, given the current state of the RV industry and prospectively the broader economy, we are also naturally concerned about the financial health and business stability of some of today's participants.

Many thanks for any input you can share with us.

Hugh & Michelle Dickinson
Currently Nantucket 'wash ashores'
2009 42/43' rear bath DP TBD
1965 RHD Morris Minor Traveller
Two English Springer Spaniels, One Maine Coon cat
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Old 10-11-2008, 04:00 PM   #3
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Hi Hugh, Welcome to the forum. I can't really speak for your other choices, but I certainly can in regards to Newmar. The Dutch Aire is a luxury coach. Newmar's products and services are tops. I just came from the factory after getting some service work done. Their service (Factory location) is unmatched in the industry. So, for both quality and service, you will have a problem finding a better coach, or for that matter, even equal.
Best luck in your choice.

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Old 10-12-2008, 10:25 AM   #4
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Hugh & Michelle,

Wow! You've got your work cut out for you. But what an exciting adventure!

Without commenting on each of the individual brands/models, one thing I would suggest you add to your list of "requirements" would be the ease/accessibility of service/support. Any coach, new/used, is going to need some TLC at some point.

Monaco & Country Coach may have an advantage for you, since their factories (and thus access to factory service, which is the best for ALL brands) are in Oregon.

Tiffin could be the most difficult, as I believe their dealer network is not quite as extensive as most (although I believe they may be the most lenient when it comes to authorizing non-approved service locations).

Also, check on the American Coach owner's forum (either here on iRV2 or over at Yahoo) and specifically ask about west coast service. Most west coast American Coach owners complain about the lack of access to quality service, so this could, again, be an issue for you during the 2 years full-timing while your house is built.

Happy shopping! I remember the excitement of being out looking for a new coach... and, if we didn't have our current coach completely bug free and completely the way we want it, we might be out there looking, too.
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Old 10-15-2008, 08:00 AM   #5
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Peter, John - my thanks to you both for your comments/advice. Newmar and Tiffin are probably at the top of our list. As far as Newmar goes, would either of you have a view of service availabilty/quality in Northern California. It is unlikely/rare that the coach would ever 'willingly' come back to the eastern half of the country after its pick up at the factory. Would that distance from the maker's 'home' be too much of a risk in your view?...Hugh
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Old 10-15-2008, 08:38 AM   #6
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No, in many cases after picking up at the factory a return trip is never necessary-as was the case for us. I would spend time(one to two weeks) in the near vicinity of the factory and then return to the factory for final repairs-as most issues do not show up until you are on the road. Yes we have had some issues but have been able to handle all of them ourselves except for the engine/chassis problems which can be handled most anywhere.

Relative to Tiffin vs Newmar-remember Tiffin is pretty much a "cookie cutter" coach whereas with Newmar you can order a coach designed to your specific needs. We made over 60 changes when ordering ours.
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Old 10-15-2008, 10:55 AM   #7
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Hugh D:
Peter, John - my thanks to you both for your comments/advice. Newmar and Tiffin are probably at the top of our list. As far as Newmar goes, would either of you have a view of service availabilty/quality in Northern California. It is unlikely/rare that the coach would ever 'willingly' come back to the eastern half of the country after its pick up at the factory. Would that distance from the maker's 'home' be too much of a risk in your view?...Hugh </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
Hugh,

We've never had any service performed in Northern California (or ANYWHERE in California, now that I think about it), so I can't give you any recommendations/warnings in that regard.

There are two things I would recommend you do:
<UL TYPE=SQUARE> <LI>Go to Newmar's Service Locator and find the service locations in northern CA or southern OR (no sales tax!). Then go to RV Service Reviews and look for those service locations to see if people have any feedback. I have found people's input there to be very accurate and valuable.
<LI>Call Newmar and ask them what the closest facility they recommend for warranty work in the vicinity of your new home. If one isn't close enough, ask them about the opportunity to take your coach to a non-authorized facility. They may not give you a complete answer... since authorizing a non-Newmar facility for warranty work would probably depend on WHAT work needed to be done (i.e. if it's a problem with your Norcold refrigerator, you'd have more options available than if it was a problem with woodwork or fiberglass or something else "Newmar-specific")[/list]As far as being "too far" from the coach maker's "home", I can tell you that I never gave it a moment's thought. We fulltime, and primarily spend our time in the Rockies and further west. So "factory service" has never really factored into our brand decision... and we've, honestly, never had a problem. We DID take the coach back to the factory for service once, because we happened to be going through the mid-west on our way to an East Coast tour. But we didn't HAVE to go... what Newmar did could easily have been handled at a dealer anywhere. We just wanted to "try it out". Now... the service experience at the factory was, without a doubt, the best we've ever had. Not only did they fix the items on our list, but handled the "new ones" that cropped up between scheduling the appointment and arriving, as well as handling some that THEY knew needed attention that we had never noticed. They were great.

It's funny that Newmar and Tiffin are the two brands you've narrowed it down to. If we were to replace our current (much beloved) coach, it would be one of those two brands, too. After our experience with our Mountain Aire, Newmar would be our go-to brand. But, if there wasn't a model that had the floorplan/features/price we were looking for, Tiffin would be our #2. We'd want to go to Red Bay, AL to see the Tiffin factory first, so we could compare the manufacturing quality of Tiffin to Newmar. We've done the Newmar factory tour several times, so we've got a good idea of the attention to detail Newmar has in its construction (which has definitely proven itself in the 3+ years of ownership... we've had very few problems, and most of them were components, not Newmar-specific, Newmar-built items).

Hope this helps. Best of luck in your search!
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Old 10-17-2008, 07:46 AM   #8
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I have used R-Mechanic in Livermore, Ca. since 2000 and have been very happy with them. They did most of my Newmar warranty work, and they are also Spartan authorized. They work primarily on highlines.

Now that there is no Northern California Newmar dealer, I would assume Newmar would authorize all warranty repair through them.

Leale's in San Jose has a good reputation as well.
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Old 10-17-2008, 01:17 PM   #9
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R mechanic in Livermore would be my 1st choice over any other facility in N Calif. A trip to the factory during the 1st year is not a bad idea...plqan it with other destinations in mind. They do a great job on your punch list plus, as in my case, find other items needing correction or adjustment. The trip for me when my coach was 7 months olod was a good thing to do.

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Old 10-17-2008, 01:52 PM   #10
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Many thanks, gentlemen, for all those West Coast service issue thoughts - that's really helpful....Hugh
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Old 10-25-2008, 05:26 AM   #11
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I know this is by no means scientific. However, I thought some of you who have viewed or contributed to this topic over the past two weeks might be interested to see a simple consolidated nose count of the number of positive and, in a few cases, negative comments posted on the Eve Community and Yahoo Groups regarding the various competitors/products my wife and I have under consideration:

American Coach (11 positive, 1 negative); Country Coach (13+, 0-); Fleetwood (3+, 2-); Monaco (7+, 0-); Newmar (6+, 1-), Tiffin (35+, 2-)

It is notable that Tiffin has a clear lead in owner 'votes', but maybe this just reflects the relative composition of the various owner groups. Don't know. Any comments or interpretation most welcome....Hugh
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Old 10-27-2008, 07:13 PM   #12
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I am new to this website and I own a Tiffin Phaeton. I am thinking about moving up to the Dutch Aire 4331. Tiffin is coming out in a month with a bath and half front kitchen. It will be about the same price as the Dutch Aire. If i was to rate Tiffins Warranty i would say there is not a company out there that can hold a candle to them. It does not matter where you are you can call Mr. Bob Tiffin and talk to him directly about your problems. Because of this an living about a 150 miles from the nearest Newmar dealer. I am a little concerned on gettin warranty work done.
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Old 10-27-2008, 10:44 PM   #13
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Hugh, for what it's worth we've always promoted Newmar, we have owned 3 since 2000. Our 03 and 06 both had fiberglass issues and caused major down time. I hate to see anyone have to go through everything we had to endure with sidewall replacements that have gone bad again....Newmar is great while you are under warranty and yes, you will more than likely have a difficult time finding any type of quality service anywhere except at the factory in Indiana. After we had sidewalls torn off and replaced on the 03, We were told that the 06 would not have any sidewall issues as they where using a different fiberglass. Well, sorry to say it's happening again... only this time we are out of warranty and Newmar won't do anything to help with it. So, for what it's worth, it's a big investment to have to worry about sidewalls checking and delaminating. Let alone the sickening feeling you get every time you look at it. Now there is suppose to be a different material being used for sidewalls on the 09's, but it sounds like the same song and dance we got on our 06. We think it may be a good idea to wait to see what happens with the new fiberglass. Good Luck and hope all goes well.

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Old 10-27-2008, 11:28 PM   #14
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Hugh D:
I know this is by no means scientific. However, I thought some of you who have viewed or contributed to this topic over the past two weeks might be interested to see a simple consolidated nose count of the number of positive and, in a few cases, negative comments posted on the Eve Community and Yahoo Groups regarding the various competitors/products my wife and I have under consideration:

American Coach (11 positive, 1 negative); Country Coach (13+, 0-); Fleetwood (3+, 2-); Monaco (7+, 0-); Newmar (6+, 1-), Tiffin (35+, 2-)

It is notable that Tiffin has a clear lead in owner 'votes', but maybe this just reflects the relative composition of the various owner groups. Don't know. Any comments or interpretation most welcome....Hugh </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
Hugh,

That is interesting. Scientific, or not.

I'm surprised that there were not more comments/input from Newmar owners. Of all of the forums that I participate in (which is just about all of them), the Newmar owners forums are some of the most active! So... here's my (obviously too-much-time-on-my-hands) input... hope it's not overload!

I am very positive about my Newmar. IF I was in the market for a new coach, Newmar would be at the top of my list, based on the excellent experience I have had with this coach, the overall fit-and-finish and quality of the product (three and a half years of fulltime living/traveling, and the coach still looks great and has no squeaks or rattles), Newmar's service and support (which, I admit, the 3 year warranty, which they no longer offer, was a huge factor in), and my overall respect for Newmar as a company. Second to Newmar would be both Tiffin and American Coach. I really like what I hear about Tiffin, and like the "bang-for-the-buck" their products offer. They seem to have a high quality product that is very reminiscent of my current Newmar coach. American Coach also seems to make a really great machine. Their owner community seems to be very tightly-knit, VERY loyal, and a lot of fun. American Coach is also the only manufacturer (that I am aware of) that actively participates in its owner's forum(s)... Justin Humphreys, Director of AC sales, e-mailed me directly when I had posted a question about custom-modifications available on American Coaches, providing some base level info as well as a contact name and number. I was impressed that they monitor the forum and respond so positively, and yet unobtrusively. Shows that they're on-the-ball. Other manufacturers may monitor the owners forums, but none that I know of actually participate like that. Before buying either a Tiffin OR an American Coach, though, I would tour their factories. I know how Newmar builds their coaches (I've been on the tour twice and I'm very impressed by it). I need to see how the other 2 do it to know if they are as meticulous.

Of course, whenever getting input from owners about their own brand of coach, I always take it with a grain of salt. After dropping hundreds of thousands of dollars on a purchase, they tend to want to believe it was the RIGHT decision! Can't blame them (and I suggest that you do the same with all of my blathering in this post... regardless of any assertions I may make regarding objectivity, I own a Newmar, so that colors my point of view). But the thing I find the most humorous is how every owner of just about every brand thinks that THEIR manufacturer provides the BEST support. Their factory service is the best. They think their manufacturer is the only one who provides free service at brand rallies (or the BEST service at rallies... or the most number of items serviced... you get the idea). Obviously this can't be true. They can't ALL be the best. The important point is, they ALL provide these things (again, that I know of).

So then, whose dealer network is the best? If you ask me... no one's! The biggest complaint I read about ALL brands is that service at dealers is a challenge. Regardless of the brand you choose, use the resources available to you to find the best dealer in your area. The rvservicereviews.com site is a great resource. It has helped us to find several Newmar service locations that have been very good... locations that we have specifically gone back to because the service was that good. And, to be fair, we have had very few BAD experiences. About the only one that sticks in my mind was the actual purchase experience (it's a very long story, but the gist of it is that I recommend staying away from Western Motorcoach in Lynnwood, WA). I read a lot about people complaining that they didn't get good service from a dealer while they were on the road, because they didn't buy from them. We have never experienced that situation. But, being full-timers, we have the leisure of being, well, more leisurely about our appointments. And, to Newmar's credit, we have never had a major system fail, or had any other major issues that left us stranded somewhere. Many of our service items have been minor things that, to be honest, we would have fixed ourselves if not for the 3 year warranty.

So... over the years, what I have tried to glean from all of the various discussion groups is an idea of the types of problems that come up for each brand. Are they cosmetic issues? Component issues (Norcold, Dometic, Carefree of Colorado, etc)? Design flaws? Engineering flaws? Etc. From several years of "lurking" on all sorts of forums, I can say that they ALL have problems. For instance, several brands have been "bitten" by fiberglass issues... from Alpha Leisure all the way "up" to Country Coach (I don't necessarily consider Country Coach to be "top-of-the-line", but they do claim to build "The World's Finest", so I thought it appropriate, LOL). And several in between. Newmar included. American Coach seems to have been the most pro-active in dealing with it, really stepping up to the plate and actually performing complete sidewall replacements on a lot of coaches. Considering the expense they must be incurring to do this, I was VERY impressed by their dedication to customer satisfaction. Really makes you think. Newmar repaired quite a few coaches, but I think they may have determined their problem to be mostly cosmetic, and I THINK they've stopped (don't quote me here... I haven't paid close enough attention). Country Coach hasn't done anything... they're waiting for a court decision in a case with the fiberglass manufacturer. From what I have gleaned from their discussion forum, though, there are a number of owners who have been displeased with the lack of communication coming from them on this topic. Monaco seems to have stopped discussing it at all and is doing nothing. Alpha Leisure is no longer around... although I don't believe the fiberglass issue was a significant factor. I know that Newmar has changed fiberglass manufacturers and is using a new product that they say is impervious (?) to the problem. Same with American Coach. The others, I'm not sure about.

Overall, here's my rundown (others are certainly free to agree/disagree) of what I have seen regarding the types of issues encountered, by brand:

Newmar: primarily component-related issues these days. They HAD problems with fiberglass (spider cracks appearing on dark-colored painted areas), which should now be resolved (i.e. new coaches shouldn't have the problem). They HAD problems with rough ride on a couple of model years of Dutch Stars... I haven't heard any new Dutch Star owners complain of this, as they've increased the size of the tires so they can run at lower pressure and have beefed up the axles on the new models. As a whole, I feel that Newmar does an excellent job designing and engineering their coaches. They've been in the business a long time and have been one of the larger players for quite some time... so they've worked out the "kinks" that other, smaller players seem to still stumble on. When there is a problem, they seem to really stand behind the product. They are privately owned and only make coaches to order (so shouldn't have a lot of, if any, outstanding debt)... so they should weather the economic troubles and come out the other end, fighting!

American Coach: same component-related issues. Fiberglass micro-cracking/checking, which they are actively dealing with for current owners and which should be resolved on new coaches. There is currently a concern about over-weight issues on the front-axle of full-wall-slide, full-tile coaches. Not all models, but it's something to be on the lookout for. So far, they have not stepped up as well on this as they did with the sidewalls... they don't seem to be recognizing it for the problem it truly is. I'm sure they will, eventually, have a resolution, but in the meantime, several owners have upgraded their aluminum wheels and their tires at their own expense, in order to be able to carry the weight their CCC should allow them to carry. I think American Coach makes a great product, but I have some concerns about Fleetwood's long-term financial stability. If anything dire were to happen to Fleetwood, I would hope they could salvage (or carve out) AC, as they are profitable. Only time will tell.

Country Coach: I read a lot about problems with slides... hydraulic hoses leaking, slides creeping out after closing, etc. There was a period of time where they had some serious issues with radiators... bad cores leaking at very early ages as well as an under-performing design that resulted in over-heating (CAT engines, I believe). They manufacture their own chassis... which can be considered a plus, since there's only one company to deal with. THEY will tell you that it allows them to design the chassis specifically for the coach, unlike the "modified truck chassis" of Spartan or Freightliner (marketing hype... Spartan and Freightliner chassis are NOT just modifications of a truck chassis... they are custom-designed for the motorhome industry). But in touring their factory, I wasn't that impressed. Can't put my finger on why (maybe I had a bad tour guide), but I didn't come away thinking "SHEESH... Country Coach really builds a stellar machine." I came away thinking "Newmar does so many things better... I don't see why an equivalent Country Coach is so much more expensive!" I'm not sure of Country Coach's long-term financial stability. They were having troubles when under National RV's wing, but Bob Lee and his partners seem to have rectified that. I guess only time will tell on this one.

Monaco: same old same old when it comes to component issues. I question the rigidity of some of the lower-level coaches (Camelot and down)... I don't think their chassis construction is rigid enough because there are STILL a fair number of issues with windshields popping out. I would think that a manufacturer that makes their own chassis would know better and would have prepared for that kind of thing. They are the only manufacturer I know of who still uses a 3-point jack system, ostensibly to prevent torquing the chassis and causing windshield issues. Monaco... it's not working! It also seemed like there was a period when they had a lot of "growing pains" from the acquisition, and subsequent integration, of all of the other brands (Beaver, Holiday Rambler, and Safari). They appear to be past that now, and they seem like nice coaches (they offer a lot of features for the dollar), but I can't stop myself from feeling like they are the General Motors of the RV world... so many brands, but very little to distinguish them from one another... and possibly more "glitz" than "substance". Nothing to back that up, though... it's a gut feeling. Being the second largest maker in this grouping, Monaco would seem to be a sure thing when it comes to surviving the downturn... but there's a lot of outstanding inventory out on dealer's lots, which could come back to bite them, one way or another.

Tiffin: I've only recently begun monitoring their forums, so I don't have much history with them. Many will say that Tiffin today is what Newmar was several years ago. Which, if true, is quite a compliment (although I disagree with the implication that Newmar today isn't what it was several years ago). Don't really see too much activity on their forum... perhaps because the coaches are so well built their owners are out enjoying them? Or maybe there are just fewer of them? Can't say for sure... but I'm watching! Being privately owned, and hearing positive reports about production from people who have recently been to Red Bay, I assume Tiffin will make it through these tough times.

Fleetwood: in my mind, the Fleetwood-branded products aren't in the same league as the above-listed brands. I really liked my 2002 Bounder Diesel 39Z. It was my first coach, and it did everything fine. But the fit-and-finish, and overall build quality, just isn't the same as a Newmar (or Tiffin or American Coach or Country Coach or Monaco for that matter). It'll get the job done, and probably save you a pretty penny, but it's not really the same beast. Fleetwood had some outstanding debt they were going to have to re-finance, but I never heard the result of that (if the deadline has even come up, yet). They're the biggest out there, so I'd certainly hope they make it through.

&lt;WHEW!&gt; I hope I haven't offended anyone, or stepped on anyone's toes, with all of this rambling. I apologize for the diatribe! Who knew I had that all in me! LOL!

Hope some of it is helpful. Just ignore the rest!
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