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Old 12-04-2015, 08:23 AM   #1
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My Meeting This Morning At Newmar-2016 Overweight Axles and Slide Out Floor Problems

I at the Newmar factory in Nappanee with my 5 week old 2016 Dutch Star 4018. After my post yesterday to the Freightliner Response to 2016 DS Overweight Axle thread, I received a number of responses from other 2016 DS owners who have overweight front axles on 40 and 43 ft Dutch Stars. I also learned of others with Dutch Stars and Mountain Airs that have the same issue that I have with the hydraulically operated floor of the full wall slide out being way out of level. I indicated that I was having a meeting today with Newmar to discuss the problems and people asked me to report on the results.

I talked met with Todd Miller, maintenance supervisor, Ken Miller, service manager, Brian Fuchs, customer service manager, and Tony Herman, director of service and warranty. Tony did most of the talking. I described the two issues and indicated to them that despite of only learning of the axle problem yesterday, I had been contacted by a number of other owners with the same problem who wanted me to be their voice too if I had a face to face meeting to discuss the problems. I pointed out that a number of these people had already contacted Newmar a multiple times and received either no responses or silly excuses from Newmar. I also pointed out how frustrated most of the people were and how angry some had become. I further pointed out the huge number of hits and posts that the threads about the problems had received on the IRV2 forum and the huge number of people who had become disillusioned with Newmar's handling of these problems. I noted that I had received a number of replies from people who were now reconsidering buying from Newmar and in particular 2016 Dutch Stars. I made it clear that the two issues were unacceptable to me and the others that have contacted me and we demand a reasonable response from Newmar.

They agreed that the front axle rating on my 2016 Dutch Star 4018 is 14,600 lb. I told them that their guys weighed the vehicle on their scales yesterday, with approximately 100 gals of water total, 75 gal of fuel in the 100 gal tank, only me inside the vehicle in the driver's seat and not all my storage full (since I am still equipping it). The weight was 200 lbs short of the axle limit. If the fuel tank was full it would have been exactly at the axle limit. If I had 2 passengers and full storage cabinets and basement, I estimate that I would have been 700-800 lbs over the axle limit.

They proceeded to tell me that their positon was that the axle limit should not be exceeded because I should not plan on carrying more than 25 gals of water (which would save the weight of 75 gals of water which I calculate is 625 lbs). They did not allow for anymore storage to fill up the cabinets. They also pointed out that I should move storage weight toward the rear of the coach to take weight off the front axle. I told them that I these arguments were total nonsense and had already been posted on the IRV2 Forum and that there where hundreds of replies from people who thought the argument was total BS. I told them that the arguments were insulting to Newmar customers' intelligence and making Newmar look really bad. We should expect reasonable use of the vehicle without compromising safety. From their expressions I can only conclude that they were being directed by others to use this stupid argument. Their position is that there is no axle problem.

As for the substantially un-level floor that I and others have in the full wall slide outs, they indicated their measurements indicated that the floor was only out 1/2" per 3 feet and not the 3/4 inch per 3 ft. that I was claiming. I was not happy with them trying to dodge the point by arguing details especially since I have measured this a number of times and they were just plain wrong about their measurement. They were implying that being "only" 1/2 an inch out of level was acceptable. They indicated that they did not think they could fix this problem. Then they asked me how much out of level was acceptable. We again discussed what was "normal" for the floor of a slide out (they have been claiming that my severely sloped slide out floor is normal). I maintained that the floor should be close to level and at the very least you should not be able to see the floor slant by eye as is the current case. I also said the you should not be able to see by eye that the refrigerator and the edge of the wall next to the fridge is not plumb. My recliners, which straddle the joint between the slide out and the main floor, should not rock because the feet do not sit right on the un-level floors. That is extremely irritating. They suggested that they might be able to put thicker feet on the recliners to solve the problem. I made it clear that I would not accept any such ridiculous band aid and wanted the real problem fixed. Later I went back to my coach with 2 techs and we measured 3/4 inch on 3 ft out of level so their measurement is a lie.

I told Tony that others who had contacted me were talking about organizing into a group and getting a list together of all the owner's who have a problem. We would then encourage all owners with the problem to make individual posts on all the major RV websites such as IRV2, Good Sam, Escapes, etc. to put out the word. It will be difficult for dealers to sell 2016 DS that they have on their lot once word got out to that extent. If we keep getting stonewalled on a fix, we will discuss hiring a law firm and contacting the NTSB and other government transportation agencies. Newmar's name will be trashed.

Tony asked that we be patient and he understood the owner's positions. He asked for time to address the issues. I said that I could be patient since I had just discovered the issue but that others were already fed up. I really tried to be calm and reasonable in the meeting and did not raised my voice. However, I made it clear that we would not accept the problems and would not go away until we got a proposed fix. We could be patient for a while longer but in the mean time will start organizing for possible serious actions against Newmar.

I also pointed out that the solution is it is not merely what we can live with. It is now a matter of how much a hit the resale value of the coaches has declined since the word is already getting out.

Tony said that he would try to set up a meeting with myself his boss, Matt Utley, VP of Consumer Affairs, to further discuss this. Unfortunately, he was not sure that Matt was back form the RV show in Louisville yet. I am waiting to hear back. I will try to go over to the executive building later to see if I can talk to anyone there including Matt Miller, Newmar president, or at least his assistant Theresa.

More later about any further meetings.

Has anyone else received any word of an official proposed fix for these problems from Newmar? I know there has been some talk of adding a proportioning valve to fix the axle problem but it was not mentioned in my meeting this morning.
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Old 12-04-2015, 08:42 AM   #2
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Hi Kieth,

Thank you for your detailed description. I am truly shocked that Newmar does not recognize the harm they are doing to their reputation.
We were close to ordering a 4018 until I realized the overweight front axle applied to the 40-footers as well as the 43-footers. I contacted my dealer, who suggested I contact Newmar. Yesterday I spoke with Brian Fuchs. He told me they are working on a proportioning valve with Freightliner. It will be at least 6 weeks before they have one, THEN they will figure out how much weight they can transfer off the front axle.
I told him I felt this was an unacceptable solution and we will not be ordering a 2016 DS. He was polite, but reiterated that the proportioning valve is the only solution they are currently planning.
Best of luck up there!
Candy
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Old 12-04-2015, 08:50 AM   #3
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Quote:
They proceeded to tell me that their positon was that the axle limit should not be exceeded because I should not plan on carrying more than 25 gals of water (which would save the weight of 75 gals of water which I calculate is 625 lbs).
Note that most of the water weight would be carried by the Tag and rear axle, I bet less than 1/4 of this would come off the front axle, you add more weight just having a passenger I expect than having a full water tank, I am surprised they did not tell you to not fill your fuel tank.

They are working with FL on this proportioning valve to use the suspension to shift weight aft, no hard numbers on what it will do but folks have speculated that it would only help by a few hundred of pounds before you run into trouble with either rear or tag limits.

I cancelled a 2016 DS order, sent an email to Matt Miller, no response. Decided to look elsewhere, faith in Newmar gone

Good luck, the real answer is to change out the limiting front axle components to get you another 1000# away from the limit, anything less is a band aid in my opinion, and as the word spreads, I worry on the re sale value tanking, which is part of the reason I chose to look elsewhere. Everyone needs to make their own choice, some will continue to have faith and believe Newmar will "fix" this, but I have not seen the actions I would need so I made my choice.

They should have realized this six months ago when they started producing and weighing these new 2016 models, they were notified of this issue over a month ago, but they act surprised and blame the user for making poor choices on carrying water or fuel, passengers and stuff.

I hope your rational, calm discussion will help, but I would be creating a list and checking it twice. You can add mine to a cancelled 2016 DS 4369 model because of this issue if you want.
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Old 12-04-2015, 09:02 AM   #4
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Very very telling indeed. Loved hearing the conference room brain trust at Newmar and their solution to the problem.
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Old 12-04-2015, 09:04 AM   #5
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My perspective.....Newmar has two main issues.

One is the problems of the affected coach models.

The second, which may actually be the biggest problem for Newmar, may be what this says about the Newmar culture and how they are choosing to do business. What it says to me is they now do not have a culture of providing a top notch product or service, but instead are falling in to the trap of being in the transaction business seeking volume and not really caring. Perhaps they are aware this problem represents a financial challenge and blemish on their image, and are counting on "controlling" the negative impact of this on marketing, and think that will be less costly than fixing the issue? Since the majority of RV owners are not aware of this forum the impact may be minor unless the regulatory authorities step in?

I know how this issue is resolved will weigh on my decision to include Newmar in my search when I decide to move to a larger MH.
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Old 12-04-2015, 09:18 AM   #6
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I agree they are parroting a canned response to this issue. If their executive and legal team believes this is going to fix their problem, then I believe they have a much more serious problem that the one that confronts them now.

It's time for them to communicate a reasonable fix to us. Surely Freightliner has calculated exactly how much weight transfer can be accomplished with the tag proportioning valve. I think if it were a good answer, we've had heard it by now. That leaves them having to deal with stopping production and replacing axles on the chassis on hand and already in the field, ours included. This means doing the right thing, which they just can't seem to bring themselves to do in a timely manner.
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Old 12-04-2015, 09:54 AM   #7
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Surely Freightliner has calculated exactly how much weight transfer can be accomplished with the tag proportioning valve.
The calculations are easy to do. It really depends on how much weight is already on the drive axle.

You take the ratio of the distance between the tag and the drive to the distance between the drive and steer. For example, if the tag is 50" behind the drive and the steer 252" in front, the ratio is 50/252 = 0.198 or roughly 1:5. For every 1,000 lbs you take off the tag, you take 200 lbs off the steer, but also add 1,200 lbs to the drive. That means you'll always add 6 lbs to the drive for every 1 lb you take off the steer.

If your loaded weight has 18k already on the drive, you could add 2000 lbs to the drive. That means you can take 2000/6 = 333 lbs off your steer.
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Old 12-04-2015, 10:07 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by marky mark View Post
I agree they are parroting a canned response to this issue. If their executive and legal team believes this is going to fix their problem, then I believe they have a much more serious problem that the one that confronts them now.

It's time for them to communicate a reasonable fix to us. Surely Freightliner has calculated exactly how much weight transfer can be accomplished with the tag proportioning valve. I think if it were a good answer, we've had heard it by now. That leaves them having to deal with stopping production and replacing axles on the chassis on hand and already in the field, ours included. This means doing the right thing, which they just can't seem to bring themselves to do in a timely manner.
Show the numbers on a scale not on a computer...The Proportioning Valve does NOT work on a Trailer It will NOT work on a Coach, the Engineers are pacifying you!
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Old 12-04-2015, 10:15 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cwsqbm View Post
The calculations are easy to do. It really depends on how much weight is already on the drive axle.

You take the ratio of the distance between the tag and the drive to the distance between the drive and steer. For example, if the tag is 50" behind the drive and the steer 252" in front, the ratio is 50/252 = 0.198 or roughly 1:5. For every 1,000 lbs you take off the tag, you take 200 lbs off the steer, but also add 1,200 lbs to the drive. That means you'll always add 6 lbs to the drive for every 1 lb you take off the steer.

If your loaded weight has 18k already on the drive, you could add 2000 lbs to the drive. That means you can take 2000/6 = 333 lbs off your steer.
Thank you for posting this formula. Although my 2016 Ventana LE doesn't suffer from this issue, it will make it easier for me to calculate the need for additional load.

Since I do not have a tag, can you show me how to calculate load of water on both of my axles if the water storage is 24 inches in front of my drive and my wheelbase is 276"?
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Old 12-04-2015, 10:21 AM   #10
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Hoping you have already contacted an Attorney. What a nightmare. Keeping our fingers crossed for you
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Old 12-04-2015, 12:29 PM   #11
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RetireeKeith,
Your post is outstanding.....All I can say is "THANK YOU"...you are the man!!!!!! I think you handled the meeting perfectly. One of these days I want to buy you a beer (or two).

It sounds like you were successful in getting their attention. I'm hopeful they will pull their senior management team together and collectively think about the short term and long term ramifications of their current valve fix. I am not an engineer and I'm not very mechanically inclined but what I have gleaned from the posts thus far is that most are of the opinion that beefing up the front axles to 20000 lbs for the 43' and 17000 lbs for the 40' models is the right answer. I have asked Newmar via e-mail, if they are pursuing this alternative as a possible solution to the problem. No response so far.

Again, I certainly appreciate your efforts and look forward to hearing more about the subsequent meeting you're going to have.

Allen
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Old 12-04-2015, 02:53 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by RetireeKeith View Post
I talked met with Todd Miller, maintenance supervisor, Ken Miller, service manager, Brian Fuchs, customer service manager, and Tony Herman, director of service and warranty. Tony did most of the talking.
.
.
.
They proceeded to tell me that their positon was that the axle limit should not be exceeded because I should not plan on carrying more than 25 gals of water (which would save the weight of 75 gals of water which I calculate is 625 lbs).
.
.
.
As for the substantially un-level floor that I and others have in the full wall slide outs, they indicated their measurements indicated that the floor was only out 1/2" per 3 feet and not the 3/4 inch per 3 ft. that I was claiming. I was not happy with them trying to dodge the point by arguing details especially since I have measured this a number of times and they were just plain wrong about their measurement. They were implying that being "only" 1/2 an inch out of level was acceptable. They indicated that they did not think they could fix this problem. Then they asked me how much out of level was acceptable. We again discussed what was "normal" for the floor of a slide out (they have been claiming that my severely sloped slide out floor is normal). I maintained that the floor should be close to level and at the very least you should not be able to see the floor slant by eye as is the current case. I also said the you should not be able to see by eye that the refrigerator and the edge of the wall next to the fridge is not plumb. My recliners, which straddle the joint between the slide out and the main floor, should not rock because the feet do not sit right on the un-level floors. That is extremely irritating. They suggested that they might be able to put thicker feet on the recliners to solve the problem. I made it clear that I would not accept any such ridiculous band aid and wanted the real problem fixed. Later I went back to my coach with 2 techs and we measured 3/4 inch on 3 ft out of level so their measurement is a lie.
First, thank you for taking the time to talk with Newmar and to report back on this topic. Much appreciated.

So, just to recap, you had two of the Miller "clan" (not sure if direct family or relations.....) in the room, and their pre-programmed answers were:

1. Regarding the front axle on the 40' and 43' DS line, Newmar doesn't have a problem, you do. Don't carry more stuff than your axle allows, even if that means leaving half the family at home.

2. Regarding your slide floor, Newmar thinks your measurement is 1/4" off (which it wasn't), so they don't have a problem, you do, since 1/2" out of level is perfectly fine, and they can't fix it even if they wanted to (which they don't).

3. They still have no idea if the proportioning valve will help because apparently no one there knows how to use modeling tools, but consensus among the RV owner ranks who DO have some mechanical engineering knowledge and background think it will gain very little, if any, relief. And if this "fix" really doesn't help, too bad, so sad, because that's all Newmar has to offer.

I'm not sure how Newmar could look worse right now.....
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Old 12-04-2015, 03:00 PM   #13
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Hoping you have already contacted an Attorney.
+2 on that

Anyone accepting their position is a fool not to take a legal action.

You will have a major problem using the coach in the future.

Another if you ever think you will sell it
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Old 12-04-2015, 03:19 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by unw1red View Post
Thank you for posting this formula. Although my 2016 Ventana LE doesn't suffer from this issue, it will make it easier for me to calculate the need for additional load.

Since I do not have a tag, can you show me how to calculate load of water on both of my axles if the water storage is 24 inches in front of my drive and my wheelbase is 276"?
If you take the weight of the water and divide the 24 inches by the wheelbase that is the amount of water weight that will go to the front axle. The rest of the weight goes to the drive.
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