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Looking for Mr Goodwrench

The past 48 hours have reminded me of the difference between good and bad service. We brought our Safari into Colonial Airstream to have a leak repaired on our front compartment. When we tow in wet conditions, water gets into the front compartment. This problem has been plaguing us for over a year, and nobody has been able to solve it.

Our solution has been to put packing tape over the door frame, which has stopped the wind-driven water from blowing in. But it’s not an elegant solution and so finally we brought it to Colonial Airstream for a real repair.

Tony Cursi, Service Manager, has been absolutely great. The week before we came in, he requested digital photos of the area so he could plan the solution. Then he got on the phone with Airstream’s service experts and got their advice. When we arrived, he had parts on hand and spent time with me to review his ideas even before we were unhitched.

In the end, the solution was to remove the compartment door, re-attach it a bit straighter than it was originally made, add reinforcing metal behind the lower corners to eliminate some cracking that was happening there, re-riveting, caulking, adjusting the gasket, and doing other sealing work along the lower edge. Tony thinks the solution will prevent further leaks, and I’m hoping he’s right.

Bottom line: the work got done professionally, they worked with me to come up with a good solution, and the job was done quickly. If that was the end of the story we’d have left today and headed on our way. But we still needed a fix for the Nissan’s hitch.

colonial-airstream-row-of-trailer.jpg

Let’s contrast my customer service experience with the Nissan dealership I took our Armada today. Our hitch was suffering a problem of two forward bolts coming loose inside the frame. This is admittedly a tricky problem, but we hoped that if anyone could handle it, the dealer could. But when we dropped off the truck, the service writer looked unhappy about it and said, “I’ll see what I can do.” I also asked them to change the oil since we were there.An hour later he called to tell us that the bolts could be tightened for $50. He also said we needed a coolant flush, transmission and rear differential fluid replacement, an engine air filter, in-cabin microfilter, air conditioning “service” (a recharge), an alternator drive belt, and had a leaking rear differential seal. Except for the air conditioner, belt, and leaking seal, that’s basically a 60k service interval which we just had done 6,000 miles ago. It’s a $700 pile of services.

I was annoyed because every Nissan dealer we’ve visited has had full access via computer to our service records, and it was obvious that they were just trying to pad our bill with a heap of stuff we didn’t really need. I should have just bailed out and gotten the essential services elsewhere, but I told them to go ahead on the things we really needed: the belt, air conditioner recharge, and leaking seal (the latter covered by warranty).

They’ve made me regret that. The car was dropped off at 12:30 Tuesday, and promised by end of day or at least Wednesday morning. At 2 pm Wednesday they called to say they couldn’t figure out how to tighten the hitch bolts after all, and that the car still wasn’t ready for pick up. We finally the car back at 4 p.m., too late to go much of anywhere, and with the essential problem of the hitch still unsolved.

So we talked to Tony at Colonial (not a long walk since we are parked next to his office) and he immediately hooked me up with a trailer hitch specialist a few miles away who can easily handle the job. They will remove the hitch and the stubborn bolts, tack weld a new nut to a piece of coathanger, feed that nut in through an access hole in the frame, and reinstall the hitch. That’s the right way to do the job.

They’ll also use lockwashers and I’m going to ask them to add some Loc-Tite too, so it won’t come loose again. My father, an amateur aircraft builder, recommended some “inspector’s paint”, which is another good idea.

colonial-as-fc-badge.jpgTonight we are staying in the Colonial Airstream lot, surrounded by the other 64 new Airstreams they have in stock, and sharing the lot with a couple of new owners who are spending the night in their Airstreams before taking delivery tomorrow. It is actually rather nice. The weather has turned from humid and hot yesterday to beautifully cool and springlike today, which seems to be putting everyone in a great mood.

And, we have the opportunity to check out the new Airstreams, which include the very sweet Flying Cloud models, and hang out with Pat & Lauren Botticelli, a newly-married husband and wife team who share the Airstream sales duties. I’ll probably have more those things tomorrow.

Our coordinates:     40 ° 5’0.96″N     74 °10’15.14″W

5 Responses to “Looking for Mr Goodwrench”

  1. Forrest Says:

    I sure wish the Flying Cloud model was posted on the Airstream Inc. web site!
    Do post some good photos!

  2. leigh Says:

    If only you were the publisher of “Nissan Life”

  3. Neil M Says:

    Glad to hear more good stuff about Colonial Airstream. I’ve just put a deposit on a sweet ’08 Safari SE 19′ Bambi and can’t wait to go pick it up. P.S. saw their ad in Airstream Life.

  4. Barry Says:

    We, too, had leak problems with that big access door on our 25 foot Safari FB. After a couple of unsuccesful attempts by our dealer we pulled up to Jackson Center where Rick Scherer, and Airstream technician fixed it for good. I can’t say enough good things about Rick. He treated me like family, and fixed everything listed. So far, no more leaks there. Can’t say that about the rest of the trailer, as we had water coming in the back window after removing from storage. Also had one of our LED taillights only 1/3 working, so had to order a new one @ $65.00. After a trip to another Airstream dealer, a friend of mine found the leak and fixed it.

  5. terry Says:

    Rich, if that a/c “service” was called an “evaporator service”, all they do is shoot some lemony smelling soapy stuff into the ductwork, and charge you more than they should for it. It’s another of those “bonus services” we talked about Saturday.
    That $59, or $89, or whatever they charged will buy a lot of lemon-flavored air fresheners…

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