We left Sedalia, Mo and headed to Red Bay, AL, which is the home of Tiffin Motorcoach – (our coach is a 2017 Tiffin Phaeton). We wanted to go to the factory to get some warranty work done, as well as a couple of upgrades, since we didn’t have very good luck getting work done at a dealer.
What an incredible place Red Bay, AL is! It’s a very small town on the border of Alabama and Mississippi, just south of the Tennessee state line.
Tiffin is by far the major employer in the area, and several RV support businesses have sprung up throughout the area, since Tiffin is sooooo busy. Everyone in the town, and surrounding communities are so very welcoming, and cater to the RV crowd.
The way Tiffin service process works is that no advance appointments are given. When you arrive, you fill out some paperwork listing the items you’d like Tiffin to repair. An inspector (Norris – a really knowledgeable guy) comes to your coach to review the list with you. He then submits a report to the scheduler, who puts you in line for a service bay. Then you wait for “THE call”. It could be within a few days…or maybe a few weeks. This process can be very frustrating, if you’re not prepared for it. Fortunately, Jimmy conducted his typical, thorough research and we were prepared to stay in Red Bay through the end of June.
Tiffin offers owners the opportunity to stay right in the middle of their service area – affectionately known as “Camp Tiffin”. However, when we arrived, they didn’t have any open spaces, so we were placed at a nearby RV “park” – the Bunkhouse. Both areas are simply gravel parking lots with full hook ups. The amenities are so limited because everyone typically leaves in the morning headed to either Tiffin or one of the other businesses to get work done, and then return to the “camp” in the evening. The morning ritual with Tiffin after Tiffin after Tiffin parading down the street, some turning into Tiffin’s service bay area, others turning into other businesses along the main drag was interesting to watch.
One of our priorities while in Red Bay was to exchange the sleeper sofa that came with our coach for theater-style seating. Therefore, one of our first stops was to meet Heather in furniture. She took us into the warehouse to look at a few options, but none were to our liking. What we really wanted couldn’t be delivered until July. That timing didn’t work for us, since we’re headed to Panama. Heather made a couple of phone calls, and gave us the contact information for Trevor Nichols. Trevor’s shop is located right across the street from Tiffin and he specializes in furniture, step covers, dash covers, the underside lighting and more. Trevor had exactly the right theater-style seating – the correct color and everything. It was installed the next day and I love it!!
We also got some new shelves and drawers installed, along with some additional storage space located behind the fireplace. The craftsman came to our coach, took the measurements and came back five days later to install. How convenient!!
Another priority was a complete detail, inside and out, so we scheduled that at a small little storefront, also across from Tiffin, with the busiest person I’ve ever met. She runs a tiny cafe, RV detail service, barber shop, dog grooming service and oh by the way sells brand name purses…and puppies. We managed to get away without a new purse, nor a puppy 😦
OUR CALL came on Thursday afternoon (we arrived Monday). However, we were in the next town over, across the Mississippi state line, having a margarita (Red Bay is dry!). So we went back to the bottom of the list. Thankfully, we got the second call the next morning – at 6:30 AM. We packed up and headed to Bay 35. Jim went over the list with Greg, who knocked a couple of things off the list right away by simply showing us the correct way to do things (like the road noise around the door was because we weren’t closing it properly). I feel like the dealer should have shown us these things in the two-hour walk through we did when we took ownership, but they didn’t. In any case, we left the service bay and spent the whole day in the really well-appointed Customer Lounge. We met Greg again as agreed at 3:00 p.m. They completed some of the work, but weren’t finished, so we agreed to bring it back by 7am Monday, It was in the shop all day Monday, and again on Tuesday. While really nice, hanging out in the Customer Lounge got really old. The coach then got scheduled for the Paint Bay on Wednesday for two days. Then it went back to Trevor’s for down lighting installation. Finally, we took it to Bay Diesel for its annual service and installation of a “safety steer” thingy that makes the coach more stable in the wind. All in, we were pleasantly surprised by the final bill being 1/10th of what we expected. It was very well worth the trek to Alabama.
Here’s our new down lighting at “Camp Bunkhouse”
However, the whole experience was like working full-time again, with the work involved in setting up and tearing down everyday, and having to report in by 7am. We both are very glad we did it, and are very glad it’s over.
I can’t talk enough about the hospitality of this small little town. There are Tiffin RV’s driving all over, and the traffic gives them the right of way. Even the dentist located right next door to Tiffin worked me in immediately when I showed up with a swollen face and extreme pain….just $50…no emergency fee, no waiting. I’ll be forever grateful to Dr. Ray for helping.
The next post will take you along with us on our site seeing trips in and around Red Bay.