Not quite what we expected ………

Thursday the 6th July dawned and with some trepidation we set of to Palm Beach RV for our training course and to pick up the RV and the Spark with the towing hitch fitted.

Got there after picking up a rather large certified cheque from Citibank and the day started with an introduction to their Finance guy to hand over the cheque and sort out our Warranty and Paint cover.

All completed we waited for the guy who was going to walk us through the RV and introduce us on how to use everything. He turned up and first showed us the Spark with all the towing brackets etc. sticking through the front grill. At first glance all looked great(more of this later).

Then onto the RV. I suppose we should of guessed that we weren’t going to get all we thought we were when he opened up by saying “this is my first time doing this on an RV”. Anne asked if we could video his talk and he said he wasn’t happy with that so Anne got the notebook out and started writing. First came the tour around the outside where we were shown the outdoor entertainment centre, the various storage lockers, the on-board generator and how to start it from the outside, and then the important bits on how to connect to the Black (sewerage), grey(dirty water) and white(drinking water) tanks, and the electrical, TV and cable hook-ups.

First thing we found out was something we already knew but our guide didn’t was that there was a separate black tank for the front bathroom which was connected to the back black tank for dump purposes via a macerator pump. Got that sorted out and then moved on to the front of the vehicle, where he didn’t know how to open the hood (bonnet). Luckily I knew how to do this and had already seen all the important bits (oil fill, radiator top up, washer bottle etc.), so we completed the external tour and moved inside.

Opened up the door and out popped the steps and he took us through the 4 batteries on board (2 engine start, 2 house batteries for running unconnected to power). Next to them he pointed out the external awning controls, and then then the various fuses and breakers that were in the panel next to the switches. Then we introduced to the screen door and the main door locks etc. and finally got out of the Florida heat into the air conditioned interior!!

This is when we discovered that the bits they were supposed to be repairing hadn’t been done! The end of the tow/haul lever was still missing, and the pull that opens the sofa into a bed that was pulled off during our sales tour was still off!!

We proceed on round the coach (will not bore you with the multitude of switches, functions etc. we were introduced to), although there was quite a few things that he was unclear about how they functioned. Finally got to the bottom of most things after asking more questions.

I then noticed an extra pedal next to the automatic pedals and asked what it was and he said it was the parking brake and proceed to show us how it worked. He released the brake and at this point the levelling jacks all automatically closed, a safety feature he had forgotten all about, since you are not supposed to drive off down the road with jacks down!! After a bit of rocking and rolling as we settled onto the wheels he apologised and tried to explain what had happened!!

We then moved onto how the slides worked and said that he would now show us how they retracted. Now I was a bit puzzled by this and said so, since I had read that you should never move the slides unless the vehicle was level on the jacks, which due to his mistake were now closed. Luckily Winnebago had put another safety feature in that stops you operating the slides without being level, so when he pressed the button nothing happened!!

So we found out how the levelling system worked!! First you must turn on the engine to provide pressure for the hydraulics and then you hit the Auto Level button. At this point the jacks come down and the RV goes into a sort of dance at it figures out what jack it needs to get the RV level. After about 3 minutes it declared success and sure enough we had one green light in the middle of the levelling system saying it was level.

Then we could retract the slides!! Which we did by pressing the appropriate buttons, but noting that you must make sure you switch all the lights etc. off at the back of the RV as once the bedroom slide is in the only way to do it is to climb across the bed.

At this point the “instructor” declared it was time for lunch and he would take us through how to attach the Spark to the hitch after lunch.

Anne and I looked at each other and said fine we will go and get lunch as well and meet him back there in an hour. In reality we wanted time to write down what we thought was missing so far and what we still needed to know and get fixed.

Our list was quite long so we decided after lunch to get our main contact Will and explain to him that we were not that happy with what had happened. To give him credit all sorts of people appeared out of the woodwork and we suddenly had access to more experienced people who explained all the outstanding questions (i.e. how did the left/right turn cameras work, obvious when you shown but it was omitted!).

Then we went through the things we thought we had paid for but not been done, black/grey tanks had not been emptied and flushed, LPG was not full, gas tank was half empty and supposed to be full and we weren’t too impressed with external “detailing” (water streaks all over it).

So finally it was agreed that we would leave the RV with them until Wednesday 12th July so they had time to fix all of this and also service the vehicle/generator which had not been done. Ho hum.

Then I was shown how to hitch the Spark up to the RV (it looks tiny at the back of the RV!!), which to be honest was impressive with so many safety features to stop it flying off into the woods if it became disconnected!!

We needed the Spark as the hire car goes back on Sunday 9th and we had promised to take Lilia to Miami airport on Tuesday (going to Mexico) as Christopher starts his training course on Monday and cannot get away. So we parked it in the Customer Parking and drove back to Chris’s to get him so we could pick it up.

We then drove back with Chris and it was then that he noticed that they had damaged the Spark front bumper installing the hitch!! The dealership was closed so we drove back got something to eat, and called it a day.

Next day we went back again to have this investigated and we are getting a new bumper to fix the problem!! Result!!

Other than all above we have been continuing to shop for the RV which if some of you have seen Anne’s Facebook post has not exactly been my favourite bit!!

That’s all for now, probably will leave it until Wednesday to post again when we pick up the RV (hopefully) !!

A bit quiet ……

Sorry about not posting lately but we are now working on getting the RV kitted out.

It’s like furnishing a new house, bedding, towels, plates, cutlery etc., so Anne is in her element shopping for the RV and as most of you know I hate shopping, so after 1 full day, Lilia offered to go with Anne so save me!! Thank you Lilia.

I have now concentrated on the “blue” things, getting the tow hitch ordered for the Chevy Spark, plus a Tyre Pressure monitoring system for the RV tyres (blowouts on a 6 wheeled vehicle are not a good idea), and we have realised driving around here that is seems to happen quite often, as I95 is littered with rubber bits!!

Next task is to buy a toolkit to keep us running, looked around in Home Depot and that puts B&Q to shame (sorry Wendy!!). So much choice and so BIG and that is just the local Jupiter one.

Had a great 4th July with Christopher and Lilia. We went to Stuart, just up the coast from Jupiter and ate in the Boat House overlooking the sea. Then we came back and went to two block parties being held by their friends. If you think Bonfire night in the UK is mad you ought to see them over here. All the neighbours out in the street letting of all sorts of fireworks from pretty ones to very loud mortars. Started about 4pm and there was still some going of at 11pm!!

Today (Wednesday) is a getting ready to attend our RV course tomorrow, and then we pick it up and park it on Christopher’s drive (7ft to spare), thank god for the rear reversing camera!!


What a difference a day makes ……………

Well after buying the RV the next step is to buy a tow car, so we can travel around towing the car and use it when we are parked on a campground, as even in America it isn’t very practical going shopping in a 35ft RV.

After some research we found that it was best on a gas RV (petrol just in case you thought it was running on LPG!), to buy a light car. So no Jeep Wrangler, Chevy Eldorado and other HUGE vehicles we have seen some people towing!!.

We also needed to tow it “4 down” (all four wheels rolling) on an A frame so it is best to get a manual gear shift. Now those of you in the know will realise that manual cars in the USA are quite hard to find. But wonders will never cease we found a dozen manual Chevy Sparks in a 50 mile radius.

The best buy seemed to be a 2013 white one at a company called  Al Hendrickson Toyota. So Thursday evening we set off with Christopher to the dealership ready to haggle them down from $5,997 asking price.  Arrived there and explained to a salesman what we had come to see, and it takes him nearly 45 minutes to find the car in this HUGE lot. Christopher (my nephew) says this is good as they obviously haven’t had many buyers for the car so we should be able to knock them down.

So finally the car arrives and it is it good condition and seems to tick all the boxes, so I had a test drive (gear shift on the wrong side!!) and it runs well. So back we go to haggle (or so we thought!!).

Sit down with the salesman and they produce an already printed sheet with lots of detail and asking price of $9,877. I must have looked at him gobsmacked especially when he said that was their final offer. So how does a car advertised at $5,977 increase in price by 50%? Dealer fees!! Which included would you believe $980 for nitrogen in the tyres and $1400 for getting the Florida tag (number plate), which we knew for a fact was actually only $400 as that is what we paid for the RV tag.

So opening gambit was can you just take the nitrogen out of the tyres and put in FREE air, but no $9,877 was the asking price and they wouldn’t move. So we had no option, and said “thanks, but no thanks” and walked out. Even now when I am typing this I still don’t understand their attitude!!

So Friday we phoned our second choice at a company called Pompano Cars. Yes $5,400 was their Internet cash price (15,000 more miles but same year 2013), plus dealer, tax and tag $6900 and willing to haggle. So Anne and I set off (Christopher was working).

We arrived to find a silver car in actually better condition than the one we had seen before, had a test drive and it ran really well.  Then we started haggling and he showed me what they had bought the car in at and the cost of the servicing they had done, plus for some strange reason it was missing the hood (bonnet) prop which they would pay for. So I asked what was their best price and he gave me the usual about he would get killed if he reduced it further as the internet price was already lower than their original asking price. He would have to ask the dealership owner and he was at an auction. Fine I said we will go away and phone me if you have a deal. We went off to the Post Office and to get something to eat and Jerry phoned back after an hour to say he had a number.

Back we went and they offered another $600 dollars off so we agreed to buy it and “closed the deal”. Add the tag, dealer fees and local tax and we had a bargain compared to AJ Hendrickson.

So we now have a tow car and can get the hitch etc. fitted.

As a codicil to this story AJ Hendricks phoned Christopher back just as we were closing the deal to say they would take $8,400. Guess what the answer was!!

As I said “What a difference a day makes ..” and thank you Pompano Cars and Jerry for being nice people to deal with.

The RV

The rear slide is the bedroom and the front slide is the lounge/dining area.

Living area, still cleaning it hence, boxes on seats. Sleeps 7. Over the top of the driver’s area is a powered bunk, and the both seating areas become double beds.

Looking back the other way showing kitchen with hob, oven and microwave, double American style fridge/freezer, the electric fire with the TV above, and beyond you can see the master bedroom with ensuite bathroom. Behind the TV area there is another loo and washroom, which you can use on the road when the slides are in.

Master bedroom.

Well didn’t expect that!!

As some of you may know we came to Florida to buy the RV because it seemed to have the most dealers selling Tiffins (RV Make) and we were looking for a particular model, an Allegro 36LA.

Well we set off to our FIRST dealer yesterday Palm Beach RV and when we arrived thought we had made a mistake as they seemed to specialise in 5th wheels (articulated caravan) and caravans.

Went into the dealership and they said we do have some gas (petrol) RVs can we show you them. So we agreed and the first was a Fleetwood that was only a year old but we were not very impressed. So we moved on and it turned out that the others they had were Diesel Pushers (engine in back) and too long for the UK in case we wanted to take it back.

So we were about to leave when the manager says we have just had a 2016 Winnebago in on part exchange would you like to see it. We said yes, and it turned out to be a 2016 SunStar LX 35F (35ft) with almost exactly the same floor plan as the Tiffin 36LA. Now we didn’t know too much about Winnebagos since we had been concentrating on Tiffins, but it looked in excellent condition and the cleaners had just got to it, so it definitely was new in!!

We looked around and to be honest it ticked all the same boxes as the Tiffin, but it was out of our price range ($124K). So we were about to leave when he mentioned he could reduce the price. What to I asked, $95,000 he thought he could get down to, so we said we would have to go away and think about it.

Came back to Christopher’s (my nephew) and looked up the prices of that make, model and year and they were averaging $121K, so we weren’t being ripped off!!. As luck had it Christopher was off work early so we took him back to look at it with us.

He was impressed, as we were the second time around and further cleaning having been done. So the haggling began and we are now the proud owners of a Winnebago SunStar LX 35F with lots of extras,  including a training course and vehicle prep!! Pick it up next Thursday 6th July!!

Didn’t expect to make a decision that quick, but both Anne and I were very impressed with the vehicle and the price was too good to miss. Christopher reckoned they wanted to make their end of month sales figures a bit better!! Will get pictures up as soon as we have them, but didn’t expect to buy an RV so soon so forgot when we were there!!

Bank account set up

Amazingly setting up a Bank account was much faster than hiring a car!!

Very good service from Citibank. Account, temporary ATM card and online access set up in less than an hour!!

Trialled transfer of funds via TranferWise and that seems to have worked, but won’t know for certain until tomorrow (Wednesday).

Off to look at RVs today.

In Florida

After Virgin Atlantic to Atlanta, and Delta to Orlando, a 1 3/4 hr wait for a car hire (thanks Budget will not use you again) arrived at my nephew’s Christopher at 11.30pm knackered!!

Suitably refreshed by Monday morning we now proceed to hopefully open a Bank Account.

Leaving on Sunday

Flights all booked. Leave on Virgin Atlantic from Heathrow to Atlanta and then Delta down to Orlando on Sunday 25th 11am.

Car hire in Orlando to Jupiter where my nephew Christopher and his wife Lilia live.



Welcome to the Jordan’s RV blog.

This where we hope to log everything from travelling to the US to buy the RV, to using it to travel around the US and beyond.