We purchased this 1998/99 Holiday Rambler Endeavor on June 29th, 2010.
This page contains an indecent amount of negativity. Most of the first 1 year of ownership was fixing problems that were supposed to be handled by the dealer or repairs were simply done improperly and had to be done over again. Read on for the saga that was our first full year of ownership if you have the stomach for it.
Our adventure began in May of 2010 when my brother sent me an email with a picture of a pop-up camper he was interested in. My wife and I had looked at campers for a few years after we got married but work and life in general took over and we forgot about it. We would occasionally go to the big RV show in Rosemont but stopped going there as well. When I saw the email I looked over at Ronda and asked her what she thought about buying a camper. She responded that’s a great idea, let’s do it! My mother had died just a few months before and that made me realize life is too short to not start enjoying it!
We started out local, I went over to Abel RV and found a 1995 Class C that needed some work but mechanically was in great shape. There was significant delamination however but I figured I could get that repaired in-expensively, I was wrong. That rules out anything that even hinted at delamination. They didn’t have anything else in stock that was in our price range, we had decided to pay cash so that meant we were pigeon holing ourselves into much older rigs that may have too many issues but we kept looking before coming to that realization. So we contacted our mortgage company and got pre-approved for an RV loan.
We went to Camping World and “settled” on a 37ft 1999 Pace Arrow that my wife loved but I didn’t. The layout was good, but the blue floral patterns to me looked ugly, but Ronda liked it so I figure if she was happy then so am I. Dealing with CW was a whole other thing so we held off and kept looking.
We ended up at Shabbona Creek RV in Atkinson, IL and they had an abundance of Class A rigs there to choose from and after a few times going back and forth we decided on a 1998/99 Holiday Rambler Endeavor, I say 1998/99 because the dealer didn’t seem to have the year nailed down, turns out either does Holiday Rambler so from here on out I’ll call it a 1999 to keep it simple. My wife liked this Endeavor but I was turned off by the cracking ceramic tile in the kitchen and wanted to keep looking. I also didn’t like the rusty windshield wipers, the foggy headlights, the gap in the rear cap, the miss-matched front tires and the cracked windshield among other things I had found (had I known better, I would have asked for rear tires as well, lesson learned, check all tires!!).
Here are some of the things we saw during the initial inspection.
Gap in rear cap
Water calcified to the rear bumper, missing lower rung on ladder and rock guard bent
The salesman said well what if we fix all of your concerns and install a wood floor in the kitchen? I told him I expected the entire rig to be detailed, new headlights to be installed and he stopped me there and told me to write everything down and they would care for them. The wife and I came up with a very detailed list, drove it again and then put down some money and waited for our loan company to get the paperwork completed. During this phase the dealer was exceptional to work with, the owner took his time with us and we left very impressed.
Then came the day, June 29th 2010 for us to drive up to the bank near the dealer, pick up our paperwork and check and then drive to the dealer to pick up the RV. From this point on nothing went well, the bank screwed up the paperwork and had to re-do it 2 or 3 times, we can’t remember exactly. This made us much later than we wanted for the delivery of the RV. We finally had everything in hand and drove over to the dealer, the RV wasn’t near completed, not a good sign. So we discussed it with them and decided to take delivery and go to a local campground from the Wed June 30th to Monday July 5th so we could get used to the rig and we could bring it back to the dealer so they could finish.
The salesman took us through the delivery process, showed us how things worked and when it was time to put the slide back in the strap for the awning got caught up in the gear. Instead of opening the slide again and before I could stop him he cut the strap off with his knife and said the dealer would fix it. We took delivery and headed over to the Geneseo campground, ¾ of the way there we had to take a detour around the main street and while driving the detour ended up dragging the rear end of the RV over a bad street. We finally got to the campground which as it turns out was the best thing to happen to us! It’s beautiful!
I was able to get the rig set up, the slide put out and everything hooked up, generally pretty impressed with myself. Ronda got the inside set up and we decided to celebrate by cooking a pizza in the oven, it caught fire and smoked us out of the RV and took a few hours to fumigate but it also gave us a funny story to tell others! Soon after turning on the AC I was sitting at the dinette enjoying the view when I saw water dripping from the ceiling. WTF?!? I walk to the center of the room and look up and there is water streaming onto the floor from the AC unit. I turn the AC off and take the cover off the unit and then start taking it apart, I find the mounting screws aren’t even hand tightened! So I towel dry everything, put it all back together and tighten the 4 screws so they are snug and turn the AC on, whew this works.
On the 5th when we were ready to pull out I brought the slide in and here we go again, water streaming into the rig! The water had built up on the slide topper and poured onto the slide roof and then into the living room off the side of the slide. We have since learned how to avoid this by leaning the rig a bit to the right causing the water to drain on the passenger side and when we are ready to leave lowering the front jacks until all the water is gone and then bringing in the slide when the rig is level again. We dropped the rig off at the dealer to get the rest of the PDI list cared for and planned on another trip in the next week or two.
When we went back up the owner himself delivered the rig to us. He walked us over to the rig, which was supposed to be completed and said “doesn’t she look awesome?” I walked over to it and looked it over and saw that nobody had bothered to clean the exterior; you could see where they had used a buffer for the first 12 inches on the sidewall and above that was dirt. I told the owner it looks filthy, I thought they were going to detail it?? The owner instead of looking at it got very angry and went inside to get a rag so he could start wiping it down, I stopped him and calmly explained a rag wouldn’t suffice and it’s too late since we’re picking it up. He had personally told us it would be “detailed to perfection” and at the time he said that I said “I’m going to hold you to that” and I once again explained that to him. In the end, we never got that detail.
We bought an 11 year old rig, we didn’t/don’t expect perfection but we did expect work promised to be work performed correctly the first time. After the purchase the dealer would continue to fix things but I would end up having to return because something wasn’t done right the first time. The list of items that were worked on is too long to get into here; it’s a very impressive soul sapping list that I won’t get into further. The straw that broke the camel’s back happened when we decided to use their body shop…
Which brings us to the next saga in the story, the storage problem. When we finally took delivery to the point we could bring the RV home we decided to use Barrington RV because they had security and their price was fair. We dropped off the RV after going to the Paul Wolff campground and I took pictures of it so I could show the wife where it was and to mark the occasion. Little did I know that these pictures would come in handy later in the week!
I went to Barrington RV to pick the rig up and found the rig had mud all over and rock chips in the front paint and small chips in the windshield. At this point I’m wondering why the hell we bought an RV, first the dealer and now this?!?!? I’m standing there staring at it when the owner of Barrington RV comes over in his golf cart and he asks me how it’s going. I explain to him the rig is covered in muck and the front end is all chipped up and there are cracks in the windshield!! He says that’s impossible, they must have been there the whole time. I explain I have pictures from just a few days ago and there are no chips, mud or anything wrong with the front end! He says it can be air brushed and drives away. I’m left standing there shocked that this happened and shocked that Brian (the owner) could shrug it off like it was nothing. In the end we took the RV elsewhere which turned out for the best.
Back to Shabbona Creek since that’s where we took it to get the front end repaired. The estimate covered new windshields, repainting the front bumper and driver’s side fender. Simple right? I get a call from their body shop one day asking me if I wanted to pay for a new stripe, why would I have to pay for a new stripe if you are refinishing the front end and the insurance is covering it? I get the rig back and it turns out they painted and clear coated not only over the now 12 year old plastic stripes but also over the calking! They also refinished the passenger fender which wasn’t part of the estimate. I asked the owner about this and he says I approved it?!?! I am now livid and I contact State Farm who sends an inspector out and takes one look at it without knowing the exact particulars and asks who painted/clear coated over the calking and picked out the very same things I had issues with. He then okayed doing the entire thing over again. It turns out; even the windshields were installed wrong! While the rig was in the auto body shop we had the fenders repainted at our cost, the door handle repainted and also the driver and passenger mirrors repainted.
Shabbona Creek was also supposed to look into and repair the leak we had on the passenger side of the RV, this never happened so after we got the RV back from Marengo auto body I dropped the rig off at Collier RV to have them “Seal Tech” it to find the leaks. $1,800.00 later the leaks are fixed and we now have a leak free RV. To end the 2010 season I had Scott’s RV winterize the rig for us, we get the rig back with the water pump switch on but the pump is dead. Unreal. Fast forward to the first trip of 2011…
We once again head to Geneseo to start the season because we love the place and because nobody else is open in March. I begin the de-winterizing process and see water is flowing from the floor of the RV. We find out that there wasn’t enough pink antifreeze in the lines so the line to the water heater had burst over the winter. I spent the next day looking for parts and repairing the line. We discover on this trip the toilet room has a soft spot in the floor so Shari let me have a board I could put down on the floor in front of the toilet so we don’t go through the floor, this worked fine as a temporary fix.
The rest of the trip goes well and we end up heading home on a very windy day where the winds are gusting over 40mph. I pull onto the highway and within 2 miles we hear a flapping on the side of the RV, I look in the side mirror and there is our awning unraveling with the wind. I pull over and climb the ladder but Semi’s are passing by and adding to the already high winds and it makes it difficult to walk to the driver’s side of the rig.
I finally get there and see that the awning has retracted like it should and everything looks fine. It must have been a fluke so I get back in and start driving again, the awning starts flapping again so once again I pull over but this time I figure I have to do something about it, but what? I find some plastic ties, the thick kind and combine 2 of them so I can wrap around the gear and the claw that is supposed to lock into the gear to prevent the awning from unraveling and I get them locked into place. Thankfully while it was a white knuckle drive because of the wind, the awning remained perfectly locked in place. The story about getting the awning replaced is too long to get into, but it finally did and it works perfectly, it’s also wider than the original so no more worries about water coming in from the slide! Nice bonus.
On the next trip we went to Sugar Shores and while there the TV was acting funny. I opened the cabinet that holds the digital TV converter that Shabbona installed and got zapped across the living room. After disconnecting power I find they had installed a used converter with a bare spot in the power cord. I had wrapped my hand around the cord which is what zapped me and could have killed me. I contact Shabbona and their response, must have been mice. I look in the cabinet for mouse poop and find nothing but they insist it was a mouse. I repaired the wiring while at the campsite so we were able to watch Retro TV, which is our favorite when camping.
For 2012 we have replaced the tires, repaired the emergency flashers, the third brake light and had the front and rear caps waxed. I repaired the soft floor in the toilet room last fall but still have to put down the Allure flooring in the toilet room and bathroom. I’ll add to this page when I can remember what else we have had to do.
I think many will read this and think holy crap they need to get out of RV’ing!!! We disagree, we chose the wrong dealer to buy from, had I researched them I would have found complaints and avoided them but I didn’t do the research and it burned us. The very hardest thing about buying an RV is WHO you buy it from. No other factor can affect your experience to this degree. We went on many camping trips from 2010 to 2011 without any issues and enjoyed ourselves immensely and I posted about them, but of course the bad gets the most ink and I’m going to try and post more of the good this year.
Our next RV will be researched better, the dealer if we buy from one will be researched up and down and we will be much smarter consumers next time. We are very happy with the RV now and we’ll see how it goes for 2012!
Here are some pictures of how the rig looks after all of the cleaning repairs and repainting.
8 hours of me detailing July 23rd 2010
Rear bumper repainted and ladder repaired
Repainted front end
New slide topper