Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Repair of Our Phaeton

Posted from Red Bay, AL
(Click on Pics to Enlarge)

This blog is about the repair process after my accident with an immovable object at a gas station in Vermont in July of this year. Rather than re-hash the details of the original crash, just click here if you're interested.

The crash occurred on July 23rd just prior to us arriving at the Escapees National Rally in Essex Junction, VT.  When we arrived at the complex I took a closer look at the damages and contacted Progressive Insurance Company online at 12:49 PM.  My biggest concern at this point was that the damage to the "wet bay" door would not allow me to open that door.  Because of this, we wouldn't be able to hook up any water or have our tanks drained during our stay.  Not a good start to the Escapade.

Fortunately, with the help of a couple of guys from one of the dealerships exhibiting at the Escapade we were able to pull the fiberglass wheel well fender out a bit, then get the wet bay door (the one immediately in front of the wheel) to unlock and open. Not only had the rig sustained damages to the (3) doors, but the fiberglass wheel well piece was broken, several of the steel frames behind the doors were bent, and the flooring under the wet bay compartment itself was broken.  I could see the time to repair and dollar signs already starting to escalate.

My initial inquiry to Progressive generated a case number for the crash and I received a telephone call from Michelle (no last names will be used because I didn't ask permission) at 4:43 PM.  She took some additional information from me and asked me to send a few pictures of the damage. She also told me that she would attempt to a local adjuster come to my location on Monday July 25.  (Note: Michelle was located in Connecticut.)  On Monday I received another call from Michelle indicating that an adjuster was not going to be able to visit us before our departure day on Friday July 29. That really wasn't a big deal as I had already indicated to her that I desired to have the rig repaired in Red Bay, AL (the home of Tiffin Motorhomes). She was fine with that, just wanted me to contact her when we arrived.

My biggest concern was how to keep the wet bay door from opening, and keeping water out, while we traveled from upstate VT to AL. I "Macgyver'd" a system using some cardboard and duct tape. The "repair" held surprisingly well and allowed us to make it to Red Bay.

We arrived in Red Bay, AL on Wednesday August 3rd. We've stayed several times at the Red Bay Downtown RV Park up in the middle of town. We enjoy it there as there is no dust and only 10 sites available, so never a bunch of traffic. The temporary duct taping did well.  I just needed to add a bit extra to the fiberglass wheel well fender which decided to flap in the breeze.

I re-contacted Michelle from Progressive and advised her that we had arrived in Red Bay. David, out of Tupelo, MS, was assigned as our local adjuster.  He came over to our site at 2:30 PM and did a complete "work up" on the damages to the rig.  We advised him that we wanted Bruce Deaton, of Custom Paint and Auto Body (256) 356-5695, to handle the job. He stated that he works frequently with Bruce and would contact him. Before leaving, he gave us a complete printout of the estimated damages.  The total cost to repair was estimated at $5055.96. Fortunately, we've been with Progressive Insurance for a few years now and have a $0 deductible for the collision.

On August 4th Bruce Deaton came over to our site to determine what part of the job he would be able to do.  I gave him a copy of the damage estimate and he felt confident that he could handle the entire job of painting, fiberglass repair, frame fabrication, and wet bay floor replacement in-house. He indicated that the biggest slowdown would be in getting the needed doors from Tiffin.

On August 5th we drove the wounded Phaeton over to Bruce's shop, located only a few blocks from our campground for him to begin the work. By the end of the workday he had fabricated and installed all of the necessary steel framing behind the doors.

Although Bruce was confident that he could remove and replace the broken wet bay floor he felt that Tiffin could probably handle the job more efficiently. From someone who has been to Tiffin for service repairs on several occasions, I could feel that we were about to hit a slowdown in the repair process. Fortunately, Tiffin contracts out this job to a company named Kimbough's Automotive and Power in Tuscumbia, AL. Bruce had secured an appointment for Tuesday August 9 at 7:00 AM.  From our campground, Kimbrough's is approximately an hour drive. We arrived promptly at 6:50 AM and parked the coach in the lot. At 7:15 AM an employee came out to check with us.  We told him that Deaton's shop had made the appointment and he indicated that "someone" would be with us in 15 minutes. Well, 15 minutes turned in to 35 minutes before I went inside. The person in the next bay indicated that it would probably be a couple of hours before they could get started.  I indicated to him that was fine and off to the lounge we went to wait. At 11:45 I noticed that our rig was still sitting in the same parking spot. I caught one of the guys again as they were going to lunch and inquired whether or not they were going to be able to take our rig today (they close at 3:00 PM).  He thought that they were waiting for the insurance adjuster to take a look at the rig. I told him no, the rig was here to be repaired. He stated that if his partner didn't mind working a little late that they should be able to get to the repair today.  I was skeptical at this point, so Karen and I went off to grab some lunch.

We returned to Kimbrough's about 2:00 PM with the expectation of still seeing our coach sitting in the same parking spot.  To our surprise the rig was actually in a bay.  Even better, two guys were working on it. They completed the job at 3:02 PM.  I asked when they began and was informed that it was around 1:30 PM, so the entire job only took about 1 1/2 hours. Pretty darn good and the work looked very well done.

On Thursday August 11 I took the rig over to Bruce's for more work.  By the end of the day he was able to get the doors from Tiffin and re-install all of them.

Friday August 12 was spent priming and painting all of the newly re-worked areas. It's starting to look a lot better at this point. The wet bay floor looks great at well.

Only the re-installation of the lights and clear coating are needed at this point.

On Monday August 15 Bruce totally completed the job. So, from our arrival in Red Bay on August 3rd until the job was totally completed on August 15th, the total was only 9 working days.  WAY QUICKER than we had expected.

The best part is that the rig looks better than new in the area of the repair job and the bay doors open and close better than before. 

We can't say enough good things about the way Bruce Deaton was able to work us into his schedule and complete the job in a MUCH quicker fashion than we thought possible. We have used Bruce to also do a very small repair on the rear of the Honda Fit last year (a shopping cart into the hatch) and he did an equally great job on that.  All of our paint and body work (hopefully, not too much) will be performed by Bruce.

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Really Done It This Time

Posted from Essex Junction, VT (Escapees Rally)
(Click on pictures to enlarge)

Well, I finally did it.  After 6 years of careful driving in our rig, I managed to have a collision.  Thankfully not a collision with another vehicle or person, but contact with an inanimate object which was just sitting there minding its' own business.

When we travel, we always use truck stops to refuel.  I like to know that I'll be able to get in and out of their stations without problems. So, I broke our own rule on this one.  We were headed to the Escapees National Rally in Essex Junction, VT on Saturday, July 23rd. Unfortunately, in this part of the country there seem to be no large truck stops (Pilot, FJ, Loves, etc.) to refuel.

I had tried to do my homework to find a diesel station close to the Escapade.  That seemed to be the Mobil station just off of Interstate 89 in Winooski, VT.  I used Google Earth to get a "birds eye" view of the station and it seemed possible to use as a stop.

A couple of mistakes on my part. Since they advertised as having diesel, I assumed that diesel pumps would be available on at least 2 islands at the station.  That was not the case.

As I pulled into the station from the main road, a single vehicle was blocking the pump at the far right end. No problem I thought, I'll just pull thru, go around the rear of the station, and use the diesel pump on the other end (where the white car is located in the first photo.)

Well, there is no diesel pump over there.  It turns out that the only diesel pump is on the far right end of the station as I initially pulled from the highway. So now I have to circle the front of the station and get back to the original pump again.

At the time of the collision with the fixed metal post, there were two vehicles parked parallel to the highway at the front of the station. I attempted to turn around the post, miss the cars, and head back to the other side of the station. Doing fine until this pole "jumped" out and bit the side of the rig.

Backed away from the pole, but the damage was already done. We did manage to get fuel, however. Probably the most expensive fuel stop I'll ever make!

We continued the 3 miles to the Escapade and got set up. It gave me a chance to take a closer look at the damages. It's a lot more than cosmetic.

The greatest intrusion was to the compartment just in front of the DS wheel.  Of course this happens to be our "wet bay" where the connections for the water and sewer are made.

You might be able to see that the door was forced both back and up thus preventing us access to the compartment. With the aid of several other folks here at the Escapade we managed to at least get this door open which allowed us to connect to the water line. I can foresee the use of a LOT of duct tape in our future to limp in for repairs.

Speaking of repairs, I contacted our insurance company shortly after arriving at the Escapade. I received a return call in short order from a repr. at Progressive's claims center. I explained to her that we are fulltimers and would really like to get the rig repaired in Red Bay, AL. This is at the Tiffin Service Center and we'll hopefully be using a body and paint shop which I trust there.  She didn't have a problem with that and would attempt to have an adjuster come to the Escapade on Monday (today) and get the paperwork rolling on this claim.  I also advised her that we would be in this location until Friday (end of the Escapade).

Well, of course, we've run into our first little hiccup.  We received a call from the claims person late on Monday afternoon and she advised that her adjuster would not be available anytime this week. Her advise now is to wait until we get back to Red Bay, AL and to have a local adjuster come out at that time.

I really don't have any problem with that, other than it will just slow down the initial process of getting us into the shops.

Looks like the rest of the summer is going to be shot with an extended stay in Red Bay in our future. Think about it, what better place to be than in the south in August (and maybe September)?  Yes, I am being very sarcastic at this point.

Other than this, we're enjoying a good time at the 56th Escapees Escapade.

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!