Maintenance and repair events are a necessary aspect of full-time RV life because, you know, stuff happens. For us, 2021 dealt us a more than generous dose of incidents (lessons?) that piled up a bunch of stuff that needed to get fixed. In February, while fleeing the polar vortex in Texas, our generator door cover was totally popped off the rig while crossing a railroad crossing that dropped off sharply and then rose up sharply to meet the intersecting road. In July, a microburst, out-of-nowhere windstorm in Spearfish, SD, whipped our awnings like a ragdoll to the point Scott had to cut them off the rig. In late summer, one of our air-conditioning units and our dash air conditioner decided to quit on us. Someone knocked off our passenger side rear view mirror in a campground. And there were more incidents, but you get the idea. The bright side is that none of these issues were show stoppers; we could delay repairs and keep moving about the country according to plans we had already made.
In the first few years of full-time RV life, we had most of our maintenance and repair events done with a national RV service and storage company. This seemed to be the convenient choice because they had several locations around the country and they’re a one-stop shop for all kinds of maintenance and repair work. Unfortunately, we haven’t been as happy with the experience as we’d like. We all know the demand for RV services is much, much higher than the supply, but even allowing for that, our experience was very frustrating. We sent to three different locations, and at all of them Scott had to seriously flex his general contracting experience by expediting and problem-solving issues for them to get the work done.
So, this year we were looking for better options for RV maintenance and repair services. We’d been hearing about Red Bay, Alabama, from our Tiffin-owning RV friends, and how the service experience works there. While Red Bay is known as the home of Tiffin Motorhomes, the surrounding community is full of numerous support shops for all kinds of related services, from engine and generator maintenance, to paint and body work, to awnings, furniture, and on and on. Even if you’re not a Tiffin owner, you can utilize the service community that has built up around the Tiffin factory. Since we weren’t really getting the benefit of efficient one-stop-shopping at the national RV service company, we decided to give the Red Bay service community a try – and we are hooked !!
Scott started planning the service and repair appointments well in advance of our planned visit to Red Bay. We planned to be in Red Bay in early February, and Scott started calling the various shops in October. With each service provider, he discussed in detail what work we needed done and confirmed availability of parts. In some cases, several follow-up calls were needed to coordinate parts and to address insurance documentation. He set up appointments across a 2-week period for:
- Girard awnings replaced at Girard Service Facility
- Paint and body repairs at Pro Finishes
- Engine/generator/transmission service, shock upgrade, and radiator replacement at Bay Diesel
- AquaHot repaired and serviced at Custom RV
- Air conditioners (roof and dash) replaced by Scott Petty
- Driver seat recline function fixed by Burroughs Custom Upholstery
All the appointments were completed as scheduled !! Let me say that again – all the appointments were completed as scheduled !! AND, the communication and responsiveness of each of the service providers was excellent and a very positive experience overall. AND, there were a few things we needed at the last minute that were able to be completed – technicians and parts were available !!
All in all, we absolutely recommend going to Red Bay, Alabama, to get RV service and repairs done, even if your RV is not a Tiffin. Yes, you will have to do quite a bit of coordinating up front and will need to communicate with many different providers, but that is no more effort or stressful than our experience has been at the “one-stop-shop” provider. We will be coming back for our regular service needs in the future and, hopefully not very many repair needs.
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