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Friday, May 4, 2018

We aren't where we expected to be, but we are better!

Well, we left the hotel in Brigham City this morning about 7:30 under clear skies and great conditions.  The trip was uneventful until we were about 50 miles from Pendleton, OR, our planned stop for the night.

It seems that we were going to arrive there about 2:30 after a 500 mile drive.  That would leave us 213 miles to go Saturday to get home.  Carol suggested, and I concurred, that it is so early in the day, why not go further.  It seems that the 80mph speed limits in Utah and Idaho really made a difference plus we gained an hour with the time change to Pacific time.

So we pushed on.....and after 23 days, 5,802 miles, 13 states, 10 hotels, countless restaurants, and a zillion gallons of gas, we arrived home tonight at about 7:15pm.  We drove 713 miles today in a little under 12 hours.

We would have arrived in Portland in peak traffic hours, so instead, we stopped in Cascade Locks for dinner.  Carol wrote about that on FB, so I won't duplicate it.  But the food was just OK, the scenery was great, and the company was fantastic.  When we did go through part of Portland on the I-205, there was no Friday traffic at all.  We arrived home safe, and sound, and everything here was great.  No major problems at all.

This really was a great trip for us.  We went to places we had never been before, met some great people (I'm thinking of how I can kidnap some to bring back here to teach people how to behave), and learned a lot about RVs.  Also saw the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville at the Marshall Spaceflight Center (Part of the Redstone Arsenal).

My favorite part of the journey was seeing how the systems (electrical, hydraulic, plumbing, etc.) are installed in our new RV.  Carol's favorite part was watching all the bare chassis being driven about by guys either standing or sitting on temporary seats with absolutely nothing else on the chassis.

No more blog entries until we go to get the new RV.  Check back periodically for updates!  Thanks for reading.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Neither Rain, nor Sleet, nor Snow, nor Wind, nor Tornadoes, Shall Keep Us.....

Today we left Sidney, NE about 7:30.  We planned a 558 mile day to get us to Brigham City, UT.  I checked the weather radar (app=Weatherbug) on my cell phone and our immediate area looked good.  It was not raining where we were, so we quickly loaded up and got on the road.

Well, turns out we were surrounded by nasty weather and as we left Sidney, we ran into some heavy rain.  Carol took all the pictures below with her phone as I was driving.

This picture shows us driving just outside of Cheyenne before reaching Laramie, WY.  It is at the top of a pass and the visibility varied from about a quarter mile (shown above) to just about zero.  The real problem was when passing trucks.  They throw up a lot of road spray as they slowly climb the hill.  Your choice is to either go less than 30mph for quite a distance or try to pass them and go blind by their road spray until you go in front of them.  Almost like flying an airplane on instruments.  It was a very tense 20 minutes or so.  We had heavy rain, snow, wind and Lord knows whatever else.  Had we gone one of the alternate routes we considered, we would have added tornadoes too!  I think overall we made the right choice.

Fortunately after a few hours we were out of the rain.  Actually it was just about 10 miles out of Rawlins that we lost the rain, though the picture above was after entering Utah.  As we drove on, the sun started to come out and the road dried up as shown above.

And as the drive went on, we were rewarded with some great clouds in the sky.  When we left Sidney, the temperature was about 39 and at the summit of the pass, it was 34.  But above, the temp was in the mid to high 60s!  A very pleasant and welcome change for sure.

We entered Utah and as we left I-80 for I-84, we had some great rock formations surrounding us.

This road winds through the hills to eventually get to I-15.

Now you can see the Wasatch mountains in the distance.

Another great view of the mountains.

As we joined I-15, we had a good view of the Great Salt Lake.

We arrived in Brigham City at 4:45pm after a 558 mile drive.  Tomorrow should be a shorter 508 mile leg to Pendleton Oregon with another time change in our favor.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Half Way to Somewhere or other

This post is just to catch up on our travels...

On Tuesday, we left Fulton, MS at 7:50am and headed home.  We went on I-22 through Memphis, TN.  Memphis did not impress us and there were a lot of signals when I-22 ended.  Memphis is a major transportation hub, so there were 100 million trucks to contend with.  But once we exited the city, speed picked up.

We went through Arkansas, which was the first time either Carol or I had ever been to that state.  We were very impressed by the quality of the roads and the fantastic welcome center.  We then entered Missouri.  We drove 500 miles and ended up in Clinton for the night.  We had a great hotel at a reasonable price.  It had a pool and hot tub which we took advantage of.

Today, Wednesday, we again left at 7:50.  Just a habit I guess.  We went through Kansas City, but our timing was good and we missed the commute traffic.  We then went up through St. Joseph, on I-49 and eventually went through the lower left corner of Iowa.  Then we took state highway 2 over to I-80.  Once on I-80, we headed to Nebraska and ended up in Sidney.  We actually traveled about 600 miles today which is more than we planned.  But we gained an hour due to the time change, so we arrived about 5pm or so.

So far an easy trip with no problems.  If all goes well, we will be home sometime Saturday!

Monday, April 30, 2018

All Cleaned Up and No Place to Go

Today we drove back to the Red Bay factory from Fulton, MS.  It is about 29 miles and an easy drive.  When we arrived, we went in search of our RV and it was the first one we checked.  Helped having seen the paint scheme.

At the RV there were 5 guys working on it fixing various things and testing others.

The outside was totally opened up.  All compartments were open, covers removed, everything was being checked.

I walked around the RV just to see everything and noticed how shiny the paint job is.  You can even see a clear reflection in it of the construction going on for the new engineering building! 

The last item to be installed here was the outside TV.  Earlier the awnings, slide toppers, power steps, and Tiffin emblems were added.  I did find a few things for the inspectors to add to the report and for the guys to fix.  There was a blemish on one cabinet that could only be seen sitting in a certain chair. a face piece over some electronics was on crooked, the passenger side mirror wasn't aligned and a few other things like that.  Fortunately, nothing major really!  Once the inspectors and finish team left, it was time for the cleaners to work their magic.

So Rachel and Myra, the cleaners, came inside and got right to it.  These ladies could give lessons on how to clean an RV and what to use!  I joked that I was going to have them come out every 6 months to clean the RV.  Myra said she'd love to at $18 per hour.  Of course, we'd need to get a bunch of RVs in the Vancouver, WA area to make it cost effective!  Any takers?

She also showed us the products they use to clean.  We've made a note of them for future use.  In case you are interested, here they are:

This is what they use to remove any black marks on the floor, dash, and other vinyl surfaces.

This is recommended for cleaning the counter tops.  As you will see in the next picture, it leaves a nice shine.

And this is recommended for cleaning windows and anything else like cabinets, microwave outside, refrigerator doors, etc.  It supposedly leaves no streaks.  These are a bit on the expensive side according to Myra, but makes the job easier.  And since she does 3 or 4 coaches a day, she should know!

Tonight we are having dinner with a guy who ordered a Phaeton.  It was being manufactured at the same time ours was but he could not be there.  So I took about 100+ pictures for him and at dinner he is going to copy them onto his computer.

Then tomorrow we start the journey home.  We actually could stay one more day for the last few steps, but we are happy with all that we saw during the build, painting, and inspection/cleaning.  I don't think there is much more to be learned and we want to get going home.  It is almost 2,500 miles back.  The weather may include some thunderstorms over the plains which means we have to be alert for tornadoes.  And there is snow falling now in the Rockies.  So it could be an interesting trip.  I'll blog more on each day of the trip home, but for now, we say good bye to Red Bay and Kelvin, our new RV.  Will see him soon, probably around the end of May.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Let me make this perfectly clear....

Today I am actually documenting what happened on Tuesday.  Unfortunately, I have had a cold the past few days and was not combat ready, so didn't feel like blogging.

Anyway, we arrived at the Belmont paint facility around 8:30.  Our RV actually went into the "Stripe Repair" station earlier in the morning, but we didn't see a reason to go in real early.  Would have been nice to watch them pull off the stencil pattern for the stripes though.

Anyway, when we arrived it was inside the bay where they repair the stripes.  There were a number of areas that they touched up with the sprayers.  The windows to this booth were splattered with paint, so pictures didn't really come out well at all.

Here the bay doors are opened and they are ready to drive the RV out to the next station.  They have already removed the covering over the front window so they can see where they are going.

There was one last minute touch-up on the white color before it came out.

Here it is being driven out of the stripe repair bay and to the next station.

This station is to get the RV ready for the clearcoat.  First, the paint job is inspected.  The inspector above is marking areas to be fixed with blue tape.  He goes over the entire pain job!  You can see two real small fixes tagged to his left.  

As part of the prep, workers use razor blades and go along the boundary of each color to clean up any adhesive from the tape or stencil.  If they didn't do this, the adhesive would end up being under the clear coat and almost impossible to fix later.

One of the areas the inspector found was repaired but still not up to his standards, so he grabbed the equipment and fixed it himself!

Now it is being driven into the clearcoat bay.  All windows and other non-painted surfaces are covered or taped so they are not clearcoated.

Here you can see the workers wearing their space suits as they spray clear coat on the RV.  They seemed to go over each area several times.

Next, after the clear coat is applied, the RV is driven into the oven.  The oven is actually physically connected to the exit of this bay so that no foreign particles can get on the clearcoat.  In the oven, the RV will be baked at a temperature of 160 degrees for one hour to dry the clear coat.

We didn't stay to watch the oven drying since there are no windows.  Instead we left and will come back on Monday for the final inspections.  Between the end of the painting and Monday, all the taping and protective paper will be removed, the outside accessories (TV, awnings, stairs, etc.) will be added, and then it will be bubble tested once more before going into the rain booth.  

So when we see it on Monday, we should be seeing the final product!  We have decided to name the RV "Kelvin" in honor of the supervisor and team that built it.  There was no easy way to include everyone's name in the RV name, so we picked their supervisor as the namesake!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

From Catepillar to Chrysalis

Last week we watched a zillion parts all come together to make our RV.  It looked like a gray slug or maybe a caterpillar.  Everything on it worked on the inside, but it really wasn't nice and shiny on the outside.

This week began the process to transform the outside.  Yesterday, it went through the wash bay and then four sanding stations.  We didn't go to watch that as sanding is a messy business.  So when we caught up with the RV, it was being prepped for the base coat.

Here you can see the masking tape covering the various parts that are not to be painted.  This is just before it enters the first bay to be painted.

Now it is being given a couple of coats of primer.  There are 4 painters in the paint bay  The room is sealed off and fresh air is pumped up through a grate in the floor.  It is sucked out of the room from a system in the ceiling.  

The four painters in this room are all wearing protective suits and special soft helmets with clear visors.  The paint guns are all driven from air compressors which also pump air into the helmets for breathing.

Above is what it looked like after the first primer coat.  Almost the beginning of a camo paint job.

Now the painters are applying the first of four base coats.  It is amazing to watch the color fill in with each coat.  Instead of putting it on too thick and worrying about runs, they do four full coats whenever they paint anything!

Now the base color is on (it is a shade of white).  It looks shiny but it will dry to a flat.  After the painters finish at this station, they turn up the heat and bake the paint on.

Here is what it looks like with the base coat.

Now comes the interesting part.  An army of ladies (we counted 9 at one time) attack the task of laying out the stripes.  Long rolls of vinyl are created with the pattern cutout.  So where the vinyl is, the base color will remain.  Where there is no vinyl, there will be a stripe of a color.  They carefully place the vinyl template on the side of the RV and then do it again for the next 3 layers.  They do the same to the front and back. 

When they peel off the backing, the vinyl remains.

There are a lot of uneven edges, like where slides are, or windows, or handles, etc.  These are masked off with green tape to continue the stripe.  It is really almost an art form to watch the team change an all white whale into a green and yellow striped RV.

Now the color black is being sprayed onto the stripes that will be black.  Naturally they are doing 4 coats!

When they are done painting the black, they put paper over the area they just painted and use tape to hold it there.  That way when they paint the next color, it won't ruin what they just painted.

Now they are painting four coats of a greyish color.  When they are done, they will use tape and paper to protect that color too.

Lastly, they add the 4th color which is a deep mahogany.  That color has a good amount of area to cover, so it takes a bit more time to apply all the coats.

They rolled it out of the painting bay just before quitting time.  Looks kind of ugly at this point. Tomorrow morning, another army of workers will carefully remove all the tape and vinyl to reveal our butterfly.  But tonight it is a chrysalis incubating before the transformation.

After they remove the tape tomorrow morning, it will go to another paint bay for stripe repair.  They carefully go over all the stripes and flag any areas needing touch ups.  They start tomorrow at 6am and we are staying 25 miles away.  Plus I have developed a cold these last few days and Carol is a day or two behind me with the cold.  So we will go over after we get up and check out of this hotel.  We will stop by the paint facility to see how it looks and get some pics to share.

Then it gets several coats of clear paint to make it nice and shiny.  After that, it gets baked and then taken back to the Red Bay factory for the addition of the final accessories like the awnings, trim pieces, etc.  Early next week it has a final inspection which we will attend on Monday and Tuesday before leaving for home.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Meeting the Queen of Paint

This afternoon we went over to Belmont to tour the paint shop.  It is in Mississippi, about 8 miles from Red Bay.  This place is huge!  It has at least 12 paint booths that I saw.  There is not guided tour...the guard gave us the overall layout and turned us loose.  So we wandered around on our own.  The stations we saw were not in any order, but here goes....

This RV was in a booth getting ready for some kind of paint.  It may have been clear coating.

These ladies appeared to be doing some inspection of the paint and putting on yellow masking tape where there were problems.

These guys in space suits are doing actual painting.  We were able to see them through the window in the booth.

This RV has just finished up in the "Super Clear Coat" booth.

Here is a rig all taped up and ready to go in to get the base coat.  From what I understood, the base coat is always white.

This is another rig being inspected.

Hard to see these guys painting.  It appeared that there was a lot of spray in the air, but I think that was just on the window I was looking through.

Here some workers are applying tape for the next set of stripes to be painted.

It appeared that there was some stripes being laid out on this rig.

Here is one that is getting ready for painting a level of stripes.

We were warned by the guard that there could be a lot of fumes in the air.  But there weren't really...and I suspect the reason is these huge pipes that pull air out of the booths and send it outside.

I overheard one worker scheduling the above rig for clear coating.  Fairly intricate art work on these.

For an extra few thousand dollars, they will continue the stripes on your slide walls too!  We didn't see the need for this option.

This bay was prepped to receive a coach and as we were walking away, one drove right in and they closed the doors.

This appeared to be some kind of spray or wash area.  Didn't see much happening here.

Outside of the plant there is a large parking lot.  This is where the rigs that are ready for delivery are stored until a driver can deliver them.  They are short of drivers, so if you need a job and have always wanted to drive really expensive vehicles,  this might be the place for you!

We were very fortunate to have done this visit to the paint shop when we did.  We saw that the color white that we saw on our RV paint scheme really wasn't white - it was "Chocolate White" which to me meant light tan.  We met with Melissa, the Queen of Paint to talk about this.  She said it was a white, but not pure white.  We looked into changing just that one color and she made up some change sheets, but we would have to take them over to the main sales office for costing and approval.  Basically, we wanted to use the white from another paint scheme.  Why that would cost money since they normally use that paint, is beyond me.

We went out into the pre-delivery storage area and found our color scheme (Maroon Coral) on one rig and saw an alternative on the other (White Mahogany).  Turned out we liked the White Mahogany better.  We went over to the sales office back in Red Bay and checked a few rigs there to make double sure....then went in and changed it with the sales office.

If you are buying one of the rigs new, I strongly suggest that if at all possible, you come to the paint shop in Belmont (8 miles from Red Bay) and actually see the color scheme you have ordered.  As the Queen of Paint said, the paper version does not do it justice.  You need to see it on a rig in the sun to be sure.  I know we would have been unhappy with our original choice and if we didn't come to Belmont, we would not have had the chance to get it corrected!