Engineering a Masterpiece Part 4: Electrical | Marathon Coach

Engineering a Masterpiece Part 4: Electrical


Between the two, Jim Smith and Don Shipp have more than 60 years of electrical engineering experience, and they bring that experience to Marathon with enthusiasm. Don is experienced in electrical theory and design; he even rebuilt and rewired his personal RV. Jim, just as experienced and excited about his work in electrical engineering, worked for a company where he did voice electronics before entering the RV industry, which is where he met Don. Jim came to Marathon in 2010, and Don, who came out of retirement at Jim’s request, joined the company in 2022. Together, these two men design and oversee every electrical component on each coach.

Their work is tied closely to the function on the entire coach — from the system that raises the TV from its hiding place, to the slides going in and out, to the lighting. This team of two innovates alongside Jay to ensure everything works as it should.  Reducing chatter, which is when too many processes are running at once, is essential to a smooth electronic flow, according to Jim and Don. They counter the chatter by ensuring the programming only fires commands in a certain succession, so no power surges or drains affect the running of the coach. A duo as dynamic as these two — who have solved problems and designed new systems to ensure the longevity of the coaches — is critical to the success of Marathon. They are an experienced team working in conjunction with the rest of the engineers to turn out the best product on the market. 

A key project of Jim’s was having remote access to your coach with an app on your phone. He helped design the systems for the cameras, air conditioning and how they all integrate with the Crestron system and Dave Dolby’s programming. It takes significant time and expertise to ensure the wires tie in correctly from A to B to Z, so Jim and Don work closely with production every step of the way. Ethernet cords, battery cables, and electrical cables are just a few of the complex wires running through a coach’s walls. Timers on the voltage and amplifiers ensure everything works on time and smoothly, keeping power even and going to the correct location so features work properly. Identifying wire pulls and perfecting the plethora of features that run on electricity is no small feat, and Marathon’s electrical engineers, along with Systems Analyst Kent Clark, are always up to the task.

Marathon coach owners embrace the technology that our company offers, and Jim and Don enjoy every challenge that’s thrown their way. They say they always have something to do,  something to innovate and something to learn.


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