In October 2018 after we returned from Alaska, we took our trailer to the dealer in Loveland, Colorado to inspect the crack that had developed on the exterior midline of the rig. After a thorough inspection, they informed us that we not only had the 12-inch or so crack in the middle of the trailer, but each of the four slide-outs had cracks on each upper corner. They had never seen a trailer with so many cracks!
As the trailer was still under a structural Warranty, they contacted the manufacturer, Primetime at Forest River, who said they could fix it mid-February and it could take up to eight weeks to complete. The other openings were in July and October 2020! Though February put a little crimp in our plans with regard to camp hosting at Cherry Creek State Park Campground, we accepted the offer because we needed to start our trek north back to Alaska in mid-April. We wanted our trailer to be ‘like new’ so we wouldn’t worry about it falling apart on the road – something one of the Forest River folks told us could never happen.
In December 2018, we sold our home in Nebraska. We packed all of our belongings and put everything in storage in Colorado near our son’s house. As the weeks progressed in January, the dealer, at the request of the manufacturer, came numerous times to check the camber and take multiple photos of the cracks. He also took photos of the twisting of the refrigerator, the cracking in the ceiling of the shower and the twisting of the front door. He noted that all of the doors slowly shut themselves, something they didn’t do when we bought the trailer. We learned through the photos that the leaves on our axles were flat and possibly the reason for the cracking from a bent frame.
The manufacturer insisted we were overweight which caused the leaf problems. We didn’t agree with this assessment as we had weighed our trailer twice when full and once totally empty. Though it may have been ‘close’ by some estimates, it was definitely not overweight; it was a problem with the manufacturing. We have learned through research they produce everything to the minimum requirements by law.
While waiting for mid-February to arrive, we met a family at Cherry Creek who had had similar issues with their Heartland fifth-wheel. Theirs was also under warranty when the cracking began and it was taken to the factory and fixed -– superficially they learned. While driving to Canada, their entire trailer began to fall apart on the road. They had to limp it to an RV park where they left it for parts because Heartland refused to help them as their Warranty had expired. The manufacturer didn’t take any responsibility. When they saw the condition of our trailer, they freaked out because they knew what could be in our future.
As mid-February approached, we contacted our dealer to find out when the manufacturer would be arriving for our rig. After all, we had to pack and remove all of our belongings and rent another storage unit. Though our trailer wasn’t the size of our house, it would still be a major project. They made a call to the manufacturer; we made calls to the manufacturer and someone, somewhere did not make the appointment for our trailer back in October. Forest River explained they were booked until July or October. We were overwhelmed. After having a meeting with everyone at the Loveland dealership to discuss what was happening with Forest River, they admitted NO ONE followed through by making that appointment! What were we going to do? We have to be in Alaska mid-May or we lose our jobs!
My husband tried calling one person at Forest River who was so rude he hung up on us. We were no longer under Warranty, (it expired the end of October) and they didn’t need or want to help us. We didn’t know what we were going to do. We met with the dealer again with some ideas, but even though they liked our suggestions, they had been bought and the new owners didn’t want anything to do with our situation. We were the previous owner’s problem. So, a no-go on the compromises. It appeared we were stuck. I began praying for Yeshua to be the Warrior I know he can be.
One evening my husband decided to write a letter to Forest River. A good friend had found their Code of Ethics online and he used that as the basis for the letter. He sent it to everyone’s email he could find online from the CEO to the janitors.
Suddenly, the phone began ringing. They had no openings for us in service, but they would take the trailer and fix it in the manufacturing bay. They were going to inspect the frame and camber, replace the two exterior walls, the leaves and check the axles. This would not be Warranty work, but ‘good faith’ work and they would not guarantee the work when it was finished. Not sure how ‘good faith’ means you don’t guarantee your work, but at least we had forward motion. They would be able to pick it up at the dealer within a couple of days!
We began packing and moving as quickly as we could – in spite of the suddenly frigid and snowy weather which is how we moved out of our house! Once the trailer was completely empty, everything we owned was in a storage unit and we found ourselves ‘homeless.’ Thankfully, we have a son and daughter-in-law who graciously took us in and allowed us to live with them until the trailer could be fixed. We said ‘good bye’ to Cherry Creek State Park 10 weeks earlier than our agreed ‘contract’ and moved in with our son.
We drove our trailer to the dealer and a day later it was picked up by a transport company and hauled across country to Elkhart, Indiana, the hub of RV manufacturing. Every Friday we received an update with our trailer’s progress. Lippert (who makes frames) came to check the frame and said there was nothing wrong with the frame. The camber was within the legal limits. The leaf springs were replaced. One side was replaced. The other side was replaced. The vinyl flooring that had torn because of a messed up slide-out was replaced (something we didn’t know they were going to do).
Because they will not ‘guarantee’ their work, we spent the weeks pondering and struggling with the idea of trading it in and buying a different trailer. Through the process we learned there are two types of Warranties on trailers – fulltime and not fulltime. We had a not fulltime Warranty and were living in it fulltime so in effect it invalidated the Warranty, but no one ever gave us that information when we were buying the trailer or when we were using it fulltime! Fulltime Warranty trailers are constructed somewhat better and have a few features we could really use. Unfortunately, the trade-in value didn’t put us in a price range for buying another trailer. Plus, we do like our trailer and it is our home, but we do use it more than 95% of the people who buy this type of 5th-wheel.
During our wait, one of the manufacturing plants for Forest River blew up. It destroyed everything and would takes weeks to figure out the cause. Though we prayed for our trailer to be in that explosion so we could get insurance and buy a fulltime warrantied trailer, ours was not in that building.
We continued to wait for the Friday email updates.
We also attended an RV show in Denver to look at new trailers and review the one we really liked. Unfortunately, the dealer didn’t bring the one we had looked at so we visited some of the booths and talked extensively with the MorRyde folks. We wanted to add suspension to help our trailer with the terrain, not on the Alcan Highway, but the roads in Alberta and Wyoming and even Colorado which are worse than anything we encounter driving through British Columbia and the Yukon!
We found a place that could install the new suspension so we’re probably going to keep our trailer and upgrade it. We are also going to do some remodeling inside to help with some of our storage issues. Even so, we still are not sure of what we’re actually going to do and when we’re going to do it. In order to remodel, we need time at a campground and everything around us is filling up, including Cherry Creek. We still vacillate between a new camper and keeping the old one depending on what the place says regarding the suspension when they inspect it. We still don’t know if we trust the work that Forest River is doing. Thus, we have no ducks, no rows, but continue living day to day by faith in what God is doing, waiting for a miracle if that is His will, and just walking this ‘misdaventure’ out step by step.
Last week, according to the email, our trailer was nearly completed. It went through a rain test and a PDI (Pre-Delivery Inspection). Today we received an email that we can drive to Elkhart and pick it up next Wednesday, April 10, 2019. The original discussion back in October with Forest River included them paying our expenses to drive to Indiana. We now wait to hear if that is still the case, but maybe, just maybe, we have one duck waddling around right now.
As with everything in life, whether it’s a house, a car, a trailer, a boat, there will always be issues. The greatest thing I’ve learned through all of this is about faith and prayer. When we didn’t know what was going to happen after finding out no one made the appointment, I prayed that Yeshua would be the Warrior He is and battle mightily for us. He did. Each day is a waiting day, but also a living day, expecting God to continue to amaze.
I placed a prayer request in the box at our congregation with nothing more than the words, ‘A Miracle.’ I was expecting one thing, but since that Shabbat, other miracles are taking place that keep me praising the God of Israel for His faithfulness to us in everything. Our God can never be put in a box because there is no box big enough for him (I should know because everything I own right now is in boxes), but also because He works outside the box. He is freer to work His will when we have no ducks and no rows because then He gets all the glory for everything.
What a blessed and glorious life we are living. Through these events God has given us everything we need for our life and will continue to do so in ways we will never imagine. For everyone who has prayed with us and for us, thank you. You have all been encouraging and supportive and well, it’s almost time for the next phase of the modern-nomad life of living a dream.
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