“RV rally season” is officially underway at the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds in Goshen, Ind., with the annual Ramblin’ Pushers Maintenance Session winding up this evening (May 8) at a banquet for some 240 coach owners. Ed Kinney, a former Monaco Coach Corp. executive and sole lifetime member of the Holiday Rambler Chapter No. 419 Pusher Club, will be among those stepping up to the podium.

“I’m going to tell them how proud I am to see them still going strong and doing the things that that we set out for them to do 25 years ago,” reports Kinney, a former board member of the Holiday Rambler Recreational Vehicle Club now retired at a lakefront home in Indiana’s Kosciusko County.

Nine RV rallies are scheduled to take place at the fairgrounds, including the Entegra Coach Owners Association (May 14-16), Passport America Rally (May 26-30), Heartland RV National Rally (June 10-16), Open Range Owners/Highland Ridge Rally (June 24-29), Forest River Owners Group Rally (Aug. 11-16), Grand Design RV Owners Rally (Aug. 27-30), Montana Owners Group Rally (Sept. 11-17), and the THOR Diesel Rally (Oct 7-10).

Like the Ramblin’ Pushers, all will feature a variety of educational seminars, social functions, manufacturer factory tours, and available service work from RV supplier companies and other area vendors.

“We always have it here in Goshen at the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds because it’s in the heart of the ‘RV Capital of the World.’ We can get our hands on seminar providers, service providers, vendors, suppliers and manufacturers for everything in those motorhomes, from the nose to the tail,” said Jim Grossman, president of the Ramblin’ Pushers, which was founded as a special interest chapter of the Holiday Rambler RV Club 29 years ago by people sharing a desire to learn the nuts and bolts of their diesel pushers.

Club membership is open to owners of Class A and Class Super C diesel coaches built by REV Recreation Group, including American Coach, Beaver, Fleetwood, Holiday Rambler, Monaco, Renegade and Safari, as well as former club members who now own a non-REV brand.

Led by volunteers, Grossman said the club’s annual rally at the fairgrounds is called a maintenance session in support of the club’s mission, which is “to provide information to our members to help them safely operate and properly maintain their respective diesel motorhomes and enhance their ownership experience.”

About two dozen vendors support the Ramblin’ Pushers Maintenance Session, as well as many of the other RV rallies that take place at the fairgrounds, including Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., Lippert Components Inc., Cummins Inc. and Dometic.

In addition to several dealerships that provide service and repair work during the event, Krenek RV Super Center from Coloma, Mich., and Day Bros. Auto & RV out of London, Ky., have several new Fleetwood, American Coach and Holiday Rambler diesel pushers on display and available for purchase.

Just before lunch on Monday, Grossman and his wife, Jane, took a break from their duties during the rally to field a few questions from RVBUSINESS.com.

RVB: Given the club’s mission statement, I would imagine your seminars would have quite a focus on the technical aspects of owning a motorhome.

Jim Grossman: We had our opening session on Friday morning and then we were off to seminars. And when we say ‘off to seminars,’ we’re running four or five and more seminars at a time. Today is Monday, which I jokingly refer to as ‘Drivetrain Day.’ Cummins started off with a morning session of ‘Keeping Your Motorhome Out of the Garage’ and at 10:30 we started a joint question-and-answer seminar with Clarke Power, the Allison service shop in Fort Wayne. The two are just a block apart, so they know each other reasonably well. They’re over there with almost 100 people in the room asking questions about anything to do with their drivetrains.

Here’s why these seminars are important: If we go in for service at the average truck shop, they may or may not know how to service our motorhomes. If I’m in Fort Wayne, yeah, I can get good service. I can get good service in Elkhart. They know our motorhomes.
But a while back I had an alternator go out in New Jersey. I went into a shop and they thought they could put any truck alternator in my motorhome. It wouldn’t have worked. Fortunately, I knew that from being here and learning those things.

RVB: From your perspective as diesel pusher owners, what are some things you’d like the RV industry to know?

Grossman: Well, we certainly wish the designers would listen to our members more about things. You’re sitting here with my wife, Jane, who’s only five-feet tall, and when she reaches up to that microwave oven, it’s right over the main cooktop…

Jane Grossman: And the counter comes out far. There is a motorhome that literally I could not reach to get food out of a microwave. And I’d add that some of the features they’ve added has meant they’ve taken out a lot of the storage. The people in this group travel so much and live in their motorhomes for months on end and we need all the storage we can get. Another thing is they have king-sized beds and nightstands, and there’s not enough room to get in there to make the bed. The beds are touching the nightstands. You cannot make the bed.

Jim Grossman: And right along that line are the scrunch beds — part of the bed that is raised when the slide is in. The problem is you both can’t use the bed unless the slide is out. The problem with that is on stormy nights when those slide toppers start rattling, most of us are sensible enough to pull the slide in rather than lose our slide toppers. Well, if you slide in, you can’t use the bed. So she gets the bed and I get the couch.

RVB: What about on the positive side? In other words, what do you like about their motorhomes?

Jim Grossman: No. 1, we like the freedom it gives us in travel. Again, we take big trips: Fairbanks, Alaska; St John’s, Newfoundland; Key West, Fla., and San Diego and nearly everywhere in between. We probably put on more miles than most folks do on their motorhomes. We have a 12-year-old coach — it’s a 2007 Holiday Rambler Scepter with 135,000 miles on it.

Jane Grossman: We really, really like the electric cord and hose reels and the slideout tray in one of the bays down below. Our first coach did not have them, but the one we have now does.

RVB: What’s the best part about this rally?

Jim Grossman: The people, and the opportunity to help those people. Again, it goes back to the mission statement and why we’re here. We’re helping people who have new coaches, or who have coaches new to them. Even experienced coachers learn new things. Learning from each other, learning from all these great people in the industry who’ve given their time to present seminars and share their knowledge. That’s what this event is all about.