Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Getting Ready, Always Another Surprise, Part II

Part II

See the previous article for Part I.

So we has two more surprises in getting the Roadtrek ready for the season! One involved the Roadtrek physically, and the other involved the Roadtrek's emergency roadside assistance coverage.

So - the Roadtrek's physical problem. During the process of dewinterizing and sanitizing we are in and out of the inside of the van. At one point I was outside the open driver's door and Meryl was inside standing between the driver's and passenger's seats and looked down at the driver's seat. She said look at the seat and pointed. There were three tiny tears in the upholstery of the driver's seat. One of the tears was along the edge of a seam and was larger than the other two - this one was a tear about a quarter of an inch long - basically a small flap. The other two were not much more than pin holes - one of them hardly that. But once there is a tear or hole, it is destined to get bigger if nothing is done about it.

I am not sure what the Roadtrek seats are made of. It has been implied that they are leather. They may just be a leather look vinyl. The seats are made by Roadtrek and installed - they are not stock seats. They swivel 360 degrees. They have the name Roadtrek across the front under the headrest. They also have an arm rest on each side. These are not stock seats.If you go to any site that sells custom seat covers they want to know what make, year, and model car or van you have. No choices on any of these sites is "Roadtrek". So we started on a quest to figure out how to fix or cover these seats - to stop the tears from becoming major tears.

I started researching fixing vehicle seat holes. The most common method uses a paste that is mixed to match the color of the upholstery and then set with heat or with some, left to dry after pressing a textured sheet over the paste to make it look like the upholstery. I have had some really poor experience with this stuff and I will not use it again. My first encounter with this was with one of my cars. I followed all of the directions and the resulting patch was a globby mess - that eventually peeled away.  My second experience was with a Chevy service using this to fix a tear in a passenger van arm rest. That peeled away within a year. I was not going to use this stuff to fix the Roadtrek seat.

I looked for other alternatives and the best I could find were vinyl/leather flexible glues specifically for upholstery. I have a lot of glues at home. None list vinyl. I have some good glues. As a long time leather worker, I have glues made for leather - but each of the really good glues all say to do the same thing which is not going to work tears this small - you need to coat both sides, put them together and then peel them apart, wait five minutes and push them together again. Peeling a quarter inch flap with glue on it apart would rip it apart. I went to Home Depot - they had no glue for vinyl and leather. Lowes did - a vinyl leather glue from Locktite. We bought that. With a toothpick I applied a little glue to hole in the seat under the flap and the flap and put them together - with the tip of a clean toothpick. Then I went around the edges with a very little more glue. I coated the tiny holes with a tiny dot of glue. The package says tape together to hold until dry. I used painter's removable tape which I place over the holes and to the sides and not on them to pull them, closed. This needed to dry for 24 hours. After that the flap was sealed but one small edge remained open. A small coating of glue on that edge and another 24 hours to dry. It looks like this will hold, but I really would like a seat cover to be sure - and that is another problem.

We went to the chain auto parts stores that are here. They pretty much all have the same seat covers and none are going to work as is on the Roadtrek seat. If they have a high back to go over the built in headrest then they have no slots for the arm rests. If they are sideless they cannot be used on a seat with a built in headrest. There are covers for just the seat part and not the back to be found on Amazon but there are no dimensions and the Roadtrek seat is unusually wide. I know this because I have looked at several seat pads - that just sit over the seat and are strapped on - and these are all too small to cover the Roadtrek seat.

So what to do? Right now we are working on an idea. To buy a truck full seat cover, cut off most of the back, create a section out of what remains of the back to push under the seat and anchor there in some way - and only use the seat part to cover the seat. We did find a cover for a truck size seat which we could buy and return if that it is too small. That is currently in consideration. It seems that we are not alone - and others have told me that they too are looking for a seat cover to fit a Roadtrek seat.

And so finally - the emergency roadside assistance plan. When we bought the Roadtrek - way back when - we received a free one year of Coach-Net Emergency Roadside Assistance Coverage. Coach-Net is an RV specific policy with technicians who know RVs and they will send out a truck to help with someone who also knows RVs - and not the kid from the corner gas station in a tow truck as plans like AAA or the policy thrown in with your vehicle insurance policy. For years they have had gotten good reviews from RVers. Before we found out that we were getting the plan for free for a year we had decided that this was the plan we would purchase. We have renewed the plan every year we have had the Roadtrek - until now.

Here is what happened. Last year we renewed the plan. We sent the check. Got an acknowledgement of the renewal and were all set to face any problem that might come up through the year - which hopefully we would not have - and didn't. Now comes April and it is time to renew. Meryl tells me that we should have received the renewal notice by now and didn't and that I should go to their website and see about renewing there - or getting an application to send with a check. I go to the site and try to log on with my user name and password and a message comes up across the screen that my policy has expired and it rejects my login. I could not get on the site. The next day Meryl called Coach-Net. She is told by the rep that our policy has been expired for more than six months. Since our renewal date was not until a week later from the date of this phone call, Meryl - who is a lot better with this type of thing than I am as she gets direct where I would just get mad and start yelling - let him know that we sent a check last year for coverage to X date and what is going on? She was told that yes he could find that we had paid, but the renewal was NEVER ACTIVATED. Essentially we had no coverage the entire year. Instead of his saying that he would activate the policy and extend it through the next year, he just said that he would activate the policy through the coming expiration date!  Totally unacceptable, but he would do nothing else. That was it for us with Coach-Net! The President of Coach-Net is getting a letter along with a complaint filed with the State Attorney General's Consumer Division. We have also learned that we were not the only ones that this happened to in 2016. But we then had to decide on a new company.

Again, I went to one of the better Roadtrek groups on Facebook to ask. About one or two years ago, Roadtrek stopped giving a year of Coach-Net but became involved in it's own ERS plan with one of the big ERS providers. This is what they now give free. This was recommended to me by a few who have it. They too will respond with a Roadtrek technician on the phone and also will send out someone who knows RVs - hopefully, the Roadtrek but that may be too much to expect in some areas. The price is a little more than Good Sam's ERS plan but that plan gets mixed reviews. One signs up by going to a special website or calling a number on the Roadtrek website. I wish I had called that number instead of going to the website - as my experience in applying was not the best - and I am hoping that this is not an indication of what the service will be. I want to say right here that I have since straightened everything out through a contact I was given directly to Roadtrek - who responded and resolved everything. There is only an enrollment website for this plan. There is no website that you can go to that will show you your account and expiration date, or the services that you are entitled to. All of the services need to be accessed by telephone through one number that has a menu of choices including one that goes to an emergency response operator to report that you need help. The other services that this plan entitles you to are all accessed on that menu. This was a surprise as with Coach-Net their website accessed mapping software and other services - in addition to the phone number that got help to you when needed. Perhaps a phone access solution is better as one generally has phone service but does not always have data service or a computer near by.  According to Roadtrek, they have trained all of the response technicians who will troubleshoot whatever problem you might have on the road in your Roadtrek. That seems like a good idea - and since they no longer have this relationship with Coach-Net, this seems to be the plan to have with a Roadtrek. I hope never to need this service. Like any insurance, a good day is when you don't need to use insurance.

Well, we are set and ready to travel. We just took the Roadtrek to our mechanic for its annual maintenance. He changed the oil, checked all of the fluids, and did the State Inspection. I also asked him to change the air filter in the engine - as I am not sure he has changed it in the past. I checked the air in the tires myself and found them low - though the temp her is just at 60 degrees F - and I filled them. Before we leave on a trip I will check them again - and likely if the temps go up, I will be letting some air out.  When de-winterizing take the opportunity to check the air in your tires - and don't forget the spare.

One more tip - When dewinterizing, check the battery in your Roadtrek's smoke detector. Unlike the CO and Propane Detectors, the smoke detector is just a house smoke detector that uses its own 9 volt battery. Push the test button if you hear nothing or you hear a dim beep, change the battery. The smoke detector should come off the wall with a twist and the entire unit comes off in your hand. The battery is on the back of the detector.

Now all we need is a place to go...


  1. Hi,do you know how to connect the old black tank to make1 large gray..after puting in a compost toilet. 190 pop 1996 Linda

  2. Other than having someone change the plumbing and join the tanks, I don't think that is possible.