Monday, January 30, 2012

The Long Road to a Lazy Daze – Part 3

By Joan Taylor

Note: Comments and opinions expressed in this 3-part series refer primarily to the 2003 Lazy Daze 23.5’ TK model; my personal experiences with this particular chassis, design/floor plan, model year, and set of options may not apply to other Lazy Daze models and production years, and reflect only my views and experiences.

14 Months and 16000 Miles Down the Long Road….

Is it true that time goes faster when one is older? I believe it; it’s hard to think that the 23.5’ TK and I (and Rosie the dog!) have racked up over 16000 miles since taking delivery in November of 2003! We’ve been winter camping in the CA deserts, and spring traveling through Arizona, Utah, and Idaho. We stuck in a couple of bluegrass festivals and a little home state (California) camping in spring. During June, we spent a few weeks in British Columbia and Alberta making repeat visits to a few Canadian Rockies National Parks, including Jasper, then down to Kelowna, BC, for the RV conference at Okanagan University College. July travels included the Life on Wheels conference in Idaho and some “driveway camping” family visits – no, you may not borrow my motorhome to take the kids camping! In late August and September there was more “go, see, do” in Colorado; the main event was the gathering of the Lazy Daze “LaDeze” group for the fall “uppity women hoot and holler”! This “do” was near Ouray, Colorado. (I missed the first one of these last March as the rig was “in the shop” for warranty work.) September and October are usually the best weather months along the west coast, and are great times for fog and wind-less beach camping; Rosie and I had some beautiful outings in Big Sur, Santa Cruz, and along the central coast. January brought “front-line” RV parking at the Rose Parade and a rainy and cold trip to Palm Springs and central Arizona. We’re getting ready to take off again to see some great wildflower shows produced by our heavy winter rains!

16000 miles in widely varying weather, road conditions, and trip lengths have provided pretty good tests for the design and build quality of the Lazy Daze and the Ford E450 V-10, and the after-sale support and service by Lazy Daze and Ford; here’s the report card:

The Ford E450 V-10

Note: The most significant change to the 2004 Ford chassis/engine was the 5-speed “TorqShift” transmission; according to Ford, this transmission should provide more power and better mileage. See, pages 3-7, for 2005 E-series chassis/engine changes.

Before the Ford, my automotive ownership experiences were limited to “foreign” cars: a 1958 and a 1967 VW, one 1970-something Honda wagon, a couple of Datsun (now called Nissan) trucks, and several Toyotas, including a Dolphin micro-mini on a Toyota chassis. I had some idea of what to expect from the newer Ford E-450/V-10 as far as reliability, power, mileage, and longevity were concerned, but I still was pretty skeptical and wary; much of what I’d always heard when the ranch trucks had mechanical problems was, “Well, whaddaya expect? It’s a Ford!

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I keep waiting for the other automotive shoe to drop, but the V-10 has been very reliable so far; it starts on the “first kick”, runs pretty smoothly and quietly, doesn’t overheat (it’s had plenty of chances with some of the roads and ambient temperatures that I’ve driven on and in), and has sufficient power to keep me out of trouble – but always in the truck lane, especially on steep grades. I could go a little faster up the hills, but since the thing already has a hearty appetite for 87 octane, I let the transmission seek out its preferred hill-climbing gear(s) and get to the top behind the pack without sucking up more gas than necessary. (I usually catch up to said pack when they have to stop for the road construction flagger!)

The GVWR of the E450 is 14050 pounds, and all Lazy Daze models are built on this same basic chassis; the “wet weights” of each model length vary by roughly 1000 pounds (See: Mothership for specifications and features of current chassis.) My “down the road” weight is about 11800 pounds, and I’m traveling considerably lighter at the outset than a 26.5’ or a 30’. The lesser weight—and no “toad” -- helps to improve mileage, but 9.5 mpg was the maximum for the first few thousand miles; now, the truck is “averaging” just over 10 mpg. (The best mileage that I’ve gotten has been just under 11 mpg). I broke in the engine carefully for the first 5000 or so miles – varying the speeds, keeping it under 55 mph on the highway, and changing the oil and filter at more frequent intervals than the manual recommends. I learned early on that (using the correct oil weight and) changing the oil and filter is the cheapest “insurance” one can get for engine longevity; the truck gets new oil and filter every 3000 miles – the recommended Motorcraft 5W 20 synthetic blend and Motorcraft filter.

A tachometer didn’t come standard on the E-450 until the 2004 chassis, and although it would be a nice addition and give a little more information on how fast everything is “spinning”, it’s not too difficult to hear/feel the engine’s “sweet spot”; my rig seems to like to cruise at about 58-60 mph. That’s plenty fast for me, and my credit card gets some respite from being shoved repeatedly into the slot at the gas pump!

NB -- There were two recent recalls on many 2003 chassis (VINs of affected chassis are listed); the original air filter is not fire-resistant and should be replaced (04S23) and the ABS brake module can short and cause a fire (04S22). My vehicle now has a “recall compliant” air filter and a heat shield over its ABS module.

The 23.5’ “Box”

The selling points of all the Lazy Daze models are practical, livable designs, high-quality materials, solid construction, and careful workmanship. The overall build quality of my coach – with the exceptions noted in later paragraphs – is as expected; the construction is solid, and the coach has no significant squeaks or rattles when going down the road. Some vibration/clatter from the entry door is sometimes audible on rougher roads and/or at highway speeds; it’s very difficult to get an equal, constant “seal” on all sides of a tall, relatively narrow entry door. Lazy Daze even includes a disclaimer in the manual -- “It has not been possible for Lazy Daze to find a coach door that does not allow a certain amount of wind noise when traveling at freeway speeds.” – so the occasional rattle isn’t unexpected.

Nothing leaks. One of the “end caps” – fiberglass corner joint coverings on the coach rear – has separated slightly from the coach body in a couple of places; this “separation” has remained a (largely cosmetic if the gaps are repaired quickly) a problem through several model years and incarnations of end-wrap design. Scraping, cleaning, and re-sealing the (small) gaps, including those above and below the bands is on the to-do list, and will probably become a regular maintenance chore as the coach accrues miles and age.

NB: I had LD put “bands” on to cover the expansion joints between the upper and lower corner wraps. This narrow fiberglass band is screwed into the body at each end; this band was first used on the 2004s, and makes a neater-looking joint.

Any coach (and chassis) are obviously subject to plenty of stress any time the RV is going down the road; the continuous bouncing, flexing, and twisting of the coach structure even under “normal” travel and road surface conditions sometimes makes one wonder how the thing holds together at all! (Many manufacturers’ products don’t, of course!) Lazy Daze’s built-a-step-at-a-time wood-framed coaches are often labeled as outdated; detractors cite the availability/desirability of more “modern” framing materials, i.e., aluminum, and speedier construction and fastening methods. In my experience with the Lazy Daze product, any downsides that there might be to wood-framed coaches are compensated for by the framing design and construction, the sturdy (and abundant) screws securing the framing, and attention to build detail along the production line. A quality-controlled “old-fashioned” wood-framed coach trumps a short-screwed, skimpily-framed aluminum skeleton any day!

The coach interior, including the cabinetry, flooring, “structures”, i.e., couches, table, etc., are well-constructed; the materials and “fit and finish” are very good overall, and the surfaces and upholstery have been durable and easily maintained.

NB –I understand that interior color schemes and combinations are largely matters of preference; “décor” that’s pleasing (or inoffensive or insignificant) to one person is jarring and “omigodigottacoverthatupfast!” to another. But, personal taste and “art school” definitions of tone and hue and shade aside, LD might consider having their interior upholstery, valence, and carpeting color combinations reviewed for “best matches” by a person with a strong sense of color coordination.

As good a product as they produce, and as carefully as they produce it, even Lazy Daze acknowledges that they’re “not perfect”; sometimes the problem is an LD construction “glitch”, and sometimes it’s a faulty component from a supplier. I live about 400 miles (in northern California) from the factory; getting an appointment and making the trip down to Montclair for any repair or warranty work can be a hassle, but at least I’m close enough to the factory to not have to rely on playing “service roulette” with a local RV shop. And, I know that the “LD fix-it guys” will do everything they can to do a job right! The following are the build quality-related “warts” on my LD, and what, if anything, has been done to resolve the problems; with one exception, all were/are minor.

One of the rear storage compartment doors didn’t fit or close correctly; it was replaced under warranty at the factory.

The toilet leaked at the base; the toilet was re-set on a new gasket and the bolts tightened at the factory.

The battery slide tray was installed slightly askew in the compartment; one “bar clamp” that locks the slide tray into place is tweaked just enough to need a few hammer taps to lift it so the tray can slide out.

The charge controller and sensor for the solar panel was faulty; this caused the batteries to consistently overcharge. I kept the batteries well-watered until the factory could replace the controller and sensor under warranty, and the batteries don’t appear to have been damaged.

A drawer rubbed on the furnace duct hose; the drawer is too deep to clear the hose, and if the drawer is repeatedly opened all the way, the rear of the drawer slide will quickly wear a hole in the duct. I discovered this before any damage was done; the solution was a combination of “mashing” down the duct and not opening the drawer past halfway.

There is a “low spot” about a foot square on the left front corner of the roof; this collects water from rain (or any source.). The only “fix” for this is to remember to close the driver’s side cab window upon starting up and moving the coach to avoid a deluge coming into the cab!

The gasket on the vent in the bath was not secured properly; the gasket stuck to the vent lid and pulled up when the lid was opened, and rain leaked in. Since the vent is over the shower, this didn’t matter too much, but Vince (at the factory) glued the gasket with some concoction and it hasn’t moved since!

The catch on the bathroom door is quirky and needs frequent adjustment to “catch”.

NB – The “Features and Specifications” sheet for the 2003 models lists the capacity of the black tank in the 23.5’ TK as 24 gallons; it’s actually 18 gallons. Until I found out the real capacity of the black tank, that 6 gallon “expectation” did contribute to some confusion as to why the “sanitary dump” was a too-frequent destination! Subsequent model years’ specs list tank capacities accurately, as far as I know.

A “Weighty” Concern

Most of the above-detailed glitches fall into the “mildly annoying, but fixable” category, but the weight discrepancy between the left and right rear corners rates quite a bit higher on the “wart scale”. According to the factory, the right “side”, i.e., rear, of the 23.5’ TK weighs 200 pounds more than the left; the refrigerator, water heater, generator, and batteries on this particular design are located on the right side of the coach. The rationale is (apparently) that if the fresh water tank, located on the left side, is kept at least half full, this will balance the weight. When my coach was weighed (at a truck scale prior to adding suspension components at Henderson’s Line-Up in Grants Pass, OR, with all tanks at less than 1/3 capacity), the weight discrepancy between the right and left rear corners was approximately 500 pounds, and, on the level shop floor, the coach was approximately 1” lower on the right rear!

The obvious reasons for any weight discrepancy and rear sag, i.e., unbalanced weight of the contents of the left and right rear storage compartments and chassis or suspension flaws (missing leaf springs) were checked; there was nothing in the right storage compartment that would account for the weight difference, and the techs found no chassis or suspension problems that would contribute to the weight imbalance and rear “dip”. Henderson’s installed a spacer, a short steel “mini-leaf” at the bottom of the leaf spring “stack”, and secured the package with longer U-bolts.

The addition of the spacer corrected the rear sag, but obviously did not address the root cause of the sag. I discussed this issue with the factory; the suggestion was that the coach had not been weighed correctly. I explained that the coach had been weighed twice, each time with the duals squarely in the middle of the weighing pad (and the tanks at as close to the same levels), and that there had been only 20 pounds difference between the first and second weighings. Other possible causes were suggested, i.e., compartment content and chassis issues that had already been checked and eliminated; nothing further was suggested. I plan to take the coach to be weighed (again) with tanks, outside compartments, and inside cupboards completely empty; the coach should be as close to its original “wet weight” – gas and whatever propane is in the tank – as possible. This weighing should determine the actual empty side-to-side weights and show any right side weight discrepancy above the 200 pound difference acknowledged by the factory.

Obviously, it’s unrealistic to expect a coach to be perfectly weight-balanced side to side and front to rear; some minor weight imbalances are inherent in any design. The loads carried by each owner (and how these loads are distributed) also vary, and can affect weight distribution. However, an apparent weight discrepancy of more than twice the manufacturer’s specifications and a 1” sag on one rear corner (and the expense to correct the problem) is not an expectation in a coach of Lazy Daze’s quality; I was very surprised to find this in my coach, as were the techs at Henderson’s – this was not consistent with their (or my!) experience with LDs.

The (apparently) excessive weight of the right rear may be a problem that affects only my particular model, i.e., the 23.5’ TK; I have corresponded with one other owner of this model who reported that he had noticed the same weight imbalance. I haven’t heard reports of any weight-related problems with any other models; most owners praise the design, balance, and overall handling of their coaches as they come “stock” – with perhaps only the addition of Bilsteins (or Koni or other aftermarket shocks). As mentioned, the spacer corrected the sag (but obviously not the apparent weight discrepancy; this is still under review!) and three aftermarket add-ons (installed after driving the coach for 3-4 thousand miles) improved the overall handling and stability of the “BabyDaze”.

Factory-installed Options…

Some Lazy Daze buyers pick up their coaches after the several-month gestation period, leave the mothership’s driveway, and never look back; the original chassis and coach components and their chosen-from-the-short-list factory-installed options suit them just fine, and they’re not particularly interested in add-ons or (further) modifications to the “stock” coach or chassis. Some owners, though, enter into the ordering process at the factory with their “tweak lists” already in gear – “Steve/Ed, can you install/remove/delete/modify/relocate/substitute ……?” The have-it-my-way owners’ lists grow or shrink (“Well, I guess that can be added later…”) according to the factory’s number of “We can do that” or “NO!” answers!

My travel and camping styles are pretty simple and straightforward; I neither needed nor wanted most of the available factory-installed options, e.g., an electric step, hardwood dashboard trim, outside shower, etc., or many “Steve/Ed, can you…” changes. I did request that the factory leave off the clock, the magazine rack, and the real interior curtain covering the faux windows in the cabover; LD is of the opinion that “leaving off the curtain will show too much white space” on the front wall of the cabover. My answer was that white space was fine with me; I could see no sensible reason to put a dust-catching, hard-to-reach-to-clean curtain over blank wall space! I chose factory-installed options of one solar panel, Bilstein shocks, and a CB.

These modest choices have worked for me, but if I were making the selections again, I’d omit the CB and add a second solar panel and the back-up camera! (Not exactly an even trade-off cost-wise, but useful!) I haven’t yet used the CB, and although the second solar panel isn’t really critical, it would be a nice-to-have boondocking time stretcher. However, since I travel solo most of the time, there have been plenty of occasions to regret not having the back-up camera factory-installed! Vince repaired the results of my really dumb “back into a big sprinkler pipe in the rainy dark and take a plug out of the rear end” mishap; I learned the hard (and expensive!) way to live with the endless opportunities to comply with my driving instructor’s admonitions to “GOAL” -- Get Out And Look!

…and Aftermarket Add-ons

Last June, I was headed up I-5 for British Columbia anyway, so I made an appointment at Henderson’s Line-up in Grants Pass, OR, to have a front-end and “6-wheel” alignment done. Lazy Daze coaches have a reputation as having “good road manners”, and although the little coach didn’t drive badly, I felt that there was room for improvement in its overall handling. There was some “play” in the steering, the coach “swayed’ when passed by an 18-wheeler, and Ford’s notorious “bump steer” was very apparent. After a weighing and a test ride with some “fancy” maneuvers, I decided to add the installation of a Safe-T-Plus steering stabilizer and front and rear sway bars from IPD; combined with the Bilsteins (already factory-installed on the coach) and a careful alignment, the steering stabilizer and sway bars have made positive differences in the coach’s handling. The ride is stable and controlled, the steering is much more “precise” – if one can use that term for a “truck”! – the coach tracks in a straight line, and windy conditions and passing big rigs don’t “sway” her!

Perhaps LD doesn’t feel that any handling “enhancements”, including heavy-duty shocks, are necessary for good ride quality, especially for the 23.5’, but the OEM replacement add-ons have improved the coach’s handling and stability significantly, and have made driving much less tiring.

It’s back up I-5 to Canada – and Henderson’s; Rosie the dog jumps out of the coach and goes straight to the waiting room door! -- in June (again), so I’ll get another alignment and any needed “loosen the bolt and get the big hammer” adjustments on the Safe-T-Plus!

… and Customizing My “Covered Wagon”

Unlike some LD owners, I fall toward the lower end of the “tinker and tweak” scale; my coach is stock except for aftermarket suspension components, “extended” tire valves, and Velvac “wide-angle” side mirrors. The factory-installed Velvacs have a small stick-on “things in the mirror are larger than they appear” convex corner mirror for wide-angle viewing; they’re just OK in the daylight, but do not provide clear views at night or in the rain. I haven’t beefed up the bumper to tow, or added any audio components (that I can’t carry outside to listen to!), or installed additional batteries, a second solar panel, or an LCD TV. (I can’t think where one would go in the 23.5’ anyway; the little fold-down shelf in the back works fine for my “primitive” 9” TV!) I don’t have a GPS; so far, I’ve managed to plan routes and navigate all over the US and Canada with AAA maps and a Michelin atlas, and where I end up is (almost) always where I figured I would! I’m no Luddite; I do plan to get ad-free satellite radio, as the tiny-button, incomprehensible-function AM/FM radio is one of the most dreadful designs I’ve encountered, and radio ads are as frequent, lengthy, intrusive, and dumb as those on TV. I did get a dash-mounted compass/altimeter/barometer/temperature sensor, but haven’t installed it yet; there are about 30 pages of instructions on calibration/setting the declination/bearing points and a great deal of other “Whaaat?!? complexities! Shouldn’t the thing be able to figure out its elevation and where “north” is on its own? Now I know why it was on sale!

I did make a “doghouse apron” to have “stuff” accessible in the cab. The apron is necessary because the “console” in the LD consists of a miniscule shelf with two cup holes and the space on the floor between the driver’s and passenger’s seats – where dog-less RVers might put a compartmented organizer -- is taken up with the dog bed! I sewed throws for the couches and an insulated divider “curtain” to separate the living area from the cab. The hard rubber steps of the overcab bed ladder have been covered with dense foam, the drawers and cabinet doors have new hardware (with beefy washers), and the medicine cabinet (heavy, and with one puny shelf and a lot of wasted space) has been replaced with wire shelves in the bath area. More “gracious living” projects will get done down the road, including having (the decals removed and) California poppies airbrushed on the spare tire cover!

The Balance Sheet

The Lazy Daze has met my (high!) expectations with one exception: the apparently excessive weight differential between the left and right rear corners. I’ll know the exact difference when I can find a scale capable of separately weighing each corner. The right corner “sag” of a little over an inch – not readily apparent unless seen from the rear on a level surface – was expensive to correct and a “fix” should not have been necessary.

The coach has so far proven to be solid, durable, and “tight”. (Some minor repair needs to be done to the rear corner wraps; I know that LD is working on a better design to resolve this “gapping” problem.) The V-10 does like to be fed, but it chugs right along and provides plenty of power if one doesn’t care about getting to the top of the hill first. The shock/suspension “tweaks” and the coach’s relatively low center of gravity have contributed to producing a smooth-driving, easy-to-handle motorhome.

With the exception of the charge controller (replaced under warranty), the systems and appliances have performed as they were designed to do.

The Lazy Daze’s simple, classic exterior design and tri-color paint pattern is distinctive, but low-key. My green and white coach has elicited quite a few comments of, “Hey, nice-looking rig!” The “two-couches-and-large-windows-in-the-rear” floor plan has been comfortable and efficient, and since the wide rear window of my previous class C had spoiled me with many glorious “back up to the view” sights, I wanted to keep this feature.

NB – Lazy Daze’s double-paned windows are tinted; the grey-tone tint darkens the interior, but helps to keep the interior cooler in hot weather. The “can’t see in” tinted windows also contribute to interior privacy during daylight. The tint does distort outside colors; when looking out of the windows, outside colors appear darker and greyer than they really are. Getting a “true color view” requires a trip outside!

The 23.5’ offers plenty of cargo-carrying capacity; at my LD’s heaviest down-the-road weight of about 12,000 pounds, there’s still a ton (literally!) of capacity left on the 14050 pound capacity chassis. I’m sure that I could haul more “stuff” weight-wise, but finding a place to stow it is a problem; storage compartment space, especially for taller and/or bulky items, is limited on the 23.5’. The interiors of the main storage compartments measure about 12” high, and access to the areas away from the compartment door can be difficult. However, Lazy Daze has built the storage compartments as efficiently as the design of the 23.5’ TK allows; the compartment size and access is determined by the coach’s rear-couch layout and the maximum practical size of the storage compartment doors. Adjusting the cargo placement for best access is a matter of re-arranging things (and dumping all but the essentials!) until a convenient (or at least workable) solution is found; I’ve done this several times!

NB – The cargo capacities and storage compartment configurations (and wet weights) of each model vary; check Mothership for current specifications.

The rig has adequate interior storage; there are cupboards and drawers (see “I Wish …” below) and “spaces” wherever LD could fit a door or drawer front. Closet space is ample for one person and workable for two, but two people’s hanging clothing leaves little space for a small laundry hamper or bag. A small shelf at the top of the closet provides storage for shoes (and/or whatever). The rears of the floor-level storage compartments can be difficult to reach; I use a foam kneeler and a flashlight when I have to go on a voyage of discovery to the back of one of these cupboards. (Given a bit of time and darkness, a “lost” potato can do some real interesting things!)

The “BabyDaze” is a practical and versatile rig for my “go anywhere, stay a few days, then get on the road again” travel style. It’s short enough to maneuver easily, get down all but “goat track” roads, and fit into most campsites. Its 99” width (the same as all LDs) has only been a bit dicey on a couple of very narrow, curvy mountain roads. The 23.5’ can park where a 26.5’ might not fit, and its smaller size makes towing a runaround vehicle a less “necessary” option. (Yes, there are times and places when and where having a small car along would definitely be convenient, but the downside is having the extra expense, limitations, and hassle of towing. Enterprise Rent-a-Car has a lot of locations!)

The Lazy Daze manual, provided to the customer when the order is placed, is very good; my worn copy is highlighted and sticky-tagged and dog-eared from use! This owner’s guide is clearly organized and written, and is very comprehensive; between the manual and the Lazy Daze message board, no LDer should have too many unanswered questions about the coach or its systems!

As I said in Part 1 of this series, one compelling reason for my choice of a Lazy Daze was that it was a “factory-direct” purchase; no dealers! From my research, I knew that Lazy Daze had a reputation for conscientious after-sales customer service and support. My experience has shown that this reputation is well-deserved; all warranty and/or repair issues that I’ve had with my coach have been handled as competently and professionally as I would expect. Despite a very heavy volume of work – often to repair the fall-out from owner-caused “misjudgments”! – the overworked fix-it guys at LD do a great job. Although there is often a wait for service and repair appointments, the factory tries to be aware of customers’ needs and schedules, and to deal with warranty and/or repair work as expeditiously as they can.

There have been some appliance and equipment improvements to the coach (see the web site reference under the section heading, “Ford E-450 V-10” for changes to the chassis) in the 2004 and 2005 model years , e.g., a quieter, electronic water pump, LCD TVs in the larger models, 100W solar panels, an “upgraded” charge controller, etc. Lazy Daze doesn’t make design or equipment change decisions quickly or arbitrarily; they subject any and all changes to the coach to a process of careful scrutiny before implementing them. They do listen to owners’ comments and suggestions, and incorporate ideas, design and equipment changes, and technical product “advances” that are consistent with their business model and production style. LD’s “new idea implementation timetable” might be a little slow-moving for some people, but new coach buyers can be confident that changes have been well-considered, and are not simply reflections of the latest trend.

There’s certainly no general agreement as to what should be included on any “wish list” of changes and/or options – Lazy Daze people are a pretty independent bunch! This is my “short list” -- other items that I feel might be changed, improved, or offered in the first place have been previously discussed, are minor and therefore “customizable”, or have been incorporated into the 2004 and 2005 models. I suspect that Lazy Daze may pigeonhole suggestions for changes into, “we’re already working on that”, “an OK idea, but we don’t have the space/personnel/equipment to do that”, and “when pigs fly!” My wish list items may fit into that last category, but …

I Wish Lazy Daze Would…

…provide a diagram of each model’s black tank “throat” configuration so that owners can select the most efficient equipment and methods for tank flushing to accommodate the “bends and angles” of their particular model.

…offer an option of easy-to-keep-clean all-vinyl flooring throughout the living areas of the coach. Carpeting is impractical in an RV; it’s almost impossible to keep clean, any trapped moisture contributes to mold and mildew, and it can be difficult and expensive to replace. I use washable cotton throw rugs to cover the small area of carpeting in the rear (and at the entry) of my 23.5’; without the “protective cover”, all the grubby grunge that I’ve washed out of those rugs so many times would be ground into the carpeting!

…re-design the “3-drawer bank” in the kitchen area; the space (that three drawers take up now) will accommodate four drawers if each drawer is made shallower. The current 3-drawer setup is a space waster; the drawers are too deep for efficient “single layer” silverware and/or utensil storage and too short to store rolls of plastic wrap, foil, zip-locks, and wax paper.

…offer an option to replace the pull-down accordion shades with wide plastic or wood slatted blinds. The wide shades are awkward to raise and lower. When the shades are down, they allow very little air to pass through the windows. It’s also impossible to “peek” through a down shade to see what’s going on outside. Blinds (wood or plastic, not aluminum) would be more versatile and offer about the same insulation value as the shades. And, cleaning blinds is easier than cleaning the shades; the back and front surfaces of each blind are accessible. Just try cleaning the backside of the pull-down shades!

… lose the black-painted “faux window” rectangles on the cabover. The factory apparently feels that leaving the cabover free of black paint would make it look like a bread truck; I believe that a creative re-design (not an enlargement!) and placement of the logo would take care of any overage of white space!

…eliminate the “hinged skirts” that make access to the rear tires more difficult than it needs to be; perhaps a re-design might include a clean-trimmed over-the-tire cut-out in the siding of about half the depth of the current skirt ? To get to the whole tire (if there’s no “hold this” help around when checking tread or washing the vehicle/tires or checking the sidewalls), one has to unscrew the wing nuts, then lift and prop up the skirts with a stick, a shoulder, a camp shovel, or the awning rod. I’m aware that this skirt design hits pretty close to being sacred, and that LD feels that the skirts “improve the aerodynamics” and enhance the overall look. The design and utility (more important to me than the look) of fender skirts remind me of one of my era’s hot cars – a “have to take the fender skirts off to get at the tires” ’54 Mercury.

Down the Road…

No coach or manufacturer is perfect; all coaches have a few “warts” and features that don’t please everybody. But when considering the products’ overall designs and quality, the commendable customer service, and the value for the price, Lazy Daze is way out in front of any class C competition. Lazy Daze is a unique manufacturer, proud of its singular products and dedicated to its business model and ongoing vision of producing and supporting the best class C; they’re doing that job very well.

As the song says, “If I had it to do all over, I’d do it again”; Lazy Daze is the “TA DAAA!” of class C coaches. My original decisions on the model and factory-installed options (with the exceptions and comments noted previously) have worked out as I’d hoped. I do like my casita verde; we’re a good fit! If my travel style ever changes, i.e., being on the road for a few months at a time, or if I eventually wear out my little coach (and I’m still allowed out without supervision!), I might consider another “egg from the same LD nest”, a 26.5’ MB, to continue the journey. But this is now; the winter months’ pages are torn off the rig’s stick-up calendar, the maps and guidebooks are marked, spring is coming, and the dog and I are soon to be down the road again!