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!


  1. I'm glad you got it fixed. I think the flowers at the beginning of your Blog are beautiful.

    1. The header picture was taken near the east side of Glacier National Park a couple of years ago.

  2. I'm glad it is all fixed. Looks like Bruce did a great job. I like your temporary duct tape fix - that looks like it worked well. See you guys soon at Red Bay!

  3. I'm sure you're glad you've gotten your baby all fixed up and so quickly, too. Looks like it's brand new. I did get a laugh out of your duct tape job, how do we RVers survive without that stuff? :cD

  4. Great that the repairs went so smoothly and you are leaving as a satisfied customer.

    1. Very satisfied with Bruce Deaton's work and efficiency. I would definitely go to him again for any work we needed done.

  5. I would say things went pretty darn well taking into consideration what most go through in Red Bay. Where to now?

    Dave & Diane

    1. We have friends arriving in Red Bay this Saturday and the following Saturday. We'll stick around with them and enjoy all that Red Bay has to offer.

  6. Goodness, husband had a similar incident at the gas station when we were about an hour from home on our way back from a trip. We were lucky enough that he clipped the one door that we rarely get into. Still he kicks himself but it was three day weekend with two long days of travel. It happens to the best of you. Merry Christmas.

    1. The good thing was that there were no injuries and that there was no "real" damage to another party.
      Merry Christmas to you and your family as well.

  7. Love the work Bruce Deaton and his guys do. We used him twice in the past for bodywork and are overdo to see him again this year to redo worn off clearcoat on our 2007 Phaeton.

    Enjoyed what I've read of your blog this morning. Going to subscribe.
    - Rosemary

    1. We agree about Bruce. He did the MH repair, of course, but also did a minor dent repair on our Honda Fit. Excellent work on both vehicles. In fact, the door on the MH wet bay works better than when it was new.