Sunday, August 26, 2018

Two weeks in Elkhart–motorhome maintenance and repairs

So, you may be wondering why we were in Elkhart for two weeks, and what we were getting done on the motorhome . . .

Well, remember a couple of months ago when we were faced with crossing this one lane bridge to get into a campground along the Laurel River in Virginia?

Crossing a narrow bridge!

We made it across the bridge ok going into the campground, but leaving was another story!

We had to make a 90 degree right-hand turn onto this bridge, with the mountain to our left, and it was very tight!

The offender

We didn’t swing quite wide enough, and ended up getting hung up on the guardrail.  We didn’t realize it at first, and kept creeping forward until we couldn’t move anymore, and once we realized what had happened, we had to disconnect the Jeep so we could back up and try again.

Ugh!  Four baggage doors were damaged, although fortunately they all still opened and closed.  The back two doors had the worst of the damage.

The worst of the damage

Two more doors damaged

Tom did a lot of calling around when we reached the next campground, but didn’t have much luck finding a place to get it fixed in Virginia.  Since the doors all functioned OK, we decided to wait on the repair until we were able to return to Elkhart, Indiana, where we knew there were shops that could handle the repair.

Fast forward to August . . . our appointment at Pro Custom was on August 6th, but we arrived a few days early to get our oil changed and chassis inspected at Marv & Tom’s Truck Service first.

Oil change and chassis maintenance

It’s a small shop, but they were really thorough, and Tom was thrilled that he could go into the pit with the mechanic and see what he was doing and how to check everything.  Tom had a long list of checks he wanted done on the engine and transmission, the chassis, and the air leveling system, and they took care of all of it!  At a very reasonable price!


Added bonus – we had a FHU place to park overnight!

Campsite #1

They finished up their last couple checks in the morning and we paid our bill.  Then, after confirming that we could arrive at Pro Custom a couple days early, we drove the 3 miles down the road and settled into a site in their gated lot.  It wasn’t a FHU site, but they had a dump station next to the building that we could use on our way into or out of the building.

Campsite #2

After our arrival, PJ went to work looking at the damage and putting together an estimate for the insurance company.  Unfortunately, he determined that it was worse than he had anticipated based on the photos we had sent him, so the job was going to take longer than the 3 days he had planned on, and the cost was going to be considerably higher than first thought.  Good thing we had decided to turn it in to the insurance!

He was saying that we would need to be there for 2-3 weeks, depending on how responsive the insurance company was, and how long it took to get the 2 doors that had to be replaced.  Yikes!  We needed to be in Lansing by the 17th to get Bryce settled in his apartment!

We all got right to work that afternoon – P.J. tracking down doors and us initiating the claim with our insurance company, Nationwide.

As it turned out, our doors are no longer available, so P.J. would have to take the 2 doors apart and have new skins made for them.  The one hinge was also slightly bent, and those were not readily available either, but he thought he could bend it back into position, and repaint it.  We heard from the insurance adjuster early the next morning, and he agreed to accept photos from P.J., rather than sending out a field rep to take pictures (that saved us a few days!).  P.J. took the photos and sent them along with the estimate to the adjuster.  He had us prepared for the worst – several days spent analyzing the quote, and back and forth negotiations before arriving at the price that the insurance company would agree to pay.  We were still discussing this when his phone rang about 20 minutes later.  It was our insurance adjuster, approving the repair for the full amount of the estimate!  To say we were all shocked would be an understatement!

When we recovered, P.J. said, “Close it up and bring it inside – we’ll get those doors removed right now!”

Removing the old doors

We brought it inside, and they got to work, removing the two doors and taking them apart.

Skin removed

He took measurements for the new skins, and another shop got right to work on fabricating those, with plans to have them back by Tuesday or Wednesday.

That was it for Friday, and were got settled back out in our site for the weekend.

1st weekend -- waiting for new doors

Monday was a full day of repair work, sanding and priming.

Repairing fender damage


Working on the repairable doors

Repair in process


Hard at work


It was a time-consuming process, but they got quite a bit done that day.  Tuesday was a waiting day, and nothing happened on our coach, but we were back inside on Wednesday to continue the sanding and priming process.  The new door skins arrive that afternoon, so we were back inside on Thursday to get them installed and primed.

Repaired doors

New door skins

New doors

Installed and checking the paint match.

Ready for paint

Final sanding

Final touches before paint

Based on paint codes, two of the colors were a good match – the dark brown and the light tan.  The medium tan, though, took quite a bit of work to arrive at a custom recipe to match the existing color.

Friday was an additional day of final prep work, since we had made the decision to not start painting until Monday, so that we would not have to spend the weekend in a hotel.

In the paint booth

On Monday, the coach moved into the paint booth, and we moved into a hotel in the afternoon.

We had hoped we wouldn’t have to, but with 3 colors to paint, plus clearcoat, it was a 2-day job.

We didn’t want to rush them at this point, and we were doing well with our schedule, so we just made the best of it.

Taping off the stripes

Working on the stripes

When we returned on Tuesday, the paint was complete and we were able to stay in it again. 

Looking good!

Finished doors -- looks good!

Nice job!

On Wednesday, they made a few little last minute touch-ups, and P. J. entered the actual labor times into the computer.  In the end, it took slightly less time than he estimated, and he was able to cover most of our deductible.  That was a nice bonus!

We paid our bill, and then got ready to hit the road . . . 2 days ahead of schedule!

Done and ready to hit the road again!

We had a great experience in Elkhart – I think we found our regular shop for engine/chassis maintenance!  We were also really pleased with the work done at Pro Custom, but honestly hope we don’t need their service again!

Now we just need to stay away from one lane bridges and guardrails!!


  1. A very nice job done to fix the damage, always great when you can find someone who does great work.

  2. They did a great job fixing your coach but in the future if there are narrow bridges ahead unhooking the Jeep first might be a priority.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.


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