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The other half of the equation [Aug. 16th, 2007|06:03 pm]


Now for something different. (again by J)


After a couple of write ups on the truck (Eloise) we have gone on vacation.


Yes a week in northern Ohio and Indiana, oh wait make that five days in Indiana since the trip to Ohio got eaten by Eloise’s seats.


So I can hear you say.  “Why Indiana, J?”  Because Elkhart County Indiana is where 80 plus minus percent of all the fifth wheels in the US are built. This is where the factories are and the companies provide tours, and some times a pen or even pie!


We’re touring five factories; so far we’ve been to three of them.  Carriage, which makes the Cameo, a very nice higher end unit that is just outside our price range.  KZ which makes a broad range of units, but we’re here to see one of their lower / middle range units the Sportsman LX that this year was moved to the Durango LX.


Carriage was first and unique so far in that they did the tour while the line was running.  This was cool but don’t ask me what the lady doing the tour said (Jennifer a very nice woman) because I was too busy watching how things are put together while it was going on.   They churn out six units a day on one primary line they have some secondary lines making Domanis and other units but the bread and butter was what we were looking at.  It was very interesting to see how they put them up.  Carriage uses a hung wall system and everyone we saw was moving all the time.  It appeared that they had a well thought out system and a very solid team executing it.  And they gave us a pen.  Course they wanted us to fill out a survey with it.


The KZ tour started off with some bad news.  The Sportsman LX was a 12 Feet 4 Inch high unit.  The Durango unit will be 6 inches taller.  This is a significant change it affects where we can camp and even what roads we can use to get from place to place.  This tour was done after the line shutdown and it was possible to ask more questions.  The guy doing to tour didn’t see this as the feature I did.  KZ is an all aluminum or mostly aluminum construction depending on what line you buy.  They also use a vacubond sidewall which I’m still not sure I like or not.  I did get the impression that quality was important to KZ and they had some interesting things to say.  But the overall impression is that while I love both the KZ dealers near me, and I really like the layout and features of the unit if I buy KZ I’m buying it in spite of the company not because of them.


That brings us to Glacier Bay aka Travelers Inc LLC.  OK now you have to understand that Glacier Bay was a model line I didn’t hear about until Cat says to me.  “They serve pie at the factory tour for Glacier Bay and the guy who posted about it bought one.”  Now I know what your thinking who wouldn’t buy a trailer from a company that serves pie? 


So we go and look at a couple of the units.  They’re the first company with a rear kitchen we’d actually want to buy.  Add in they have a variation on one of the floor plans we prefer, and we had a new contender.  We were early for the tour the president of the company was giving, and yes there was pie.  (Both us and the other guy happened in on days when there were special events and there happened to be pie.)  Of all the companies on our short list this is by far the smallest and as the Carriage people said Elkhart has RV companies opening up all the time…. And closing up all the time; a valid point to consider.  The tour reminded me of aspects of both KZ and Carriage and they take a lot from Sunnybrook and other companies as well.  Hung wall construction double insulated which the KZ tour rep described as the biggest scam in the RV industry.  (I’m not sure I agree with him but presenting all view points).


In talking to them they do one thing that I think is good they put out all floor plans in three trim lines you pick the price point / trim line that suits you best.  They also have a number of new floor plans due out soon one of which is a copy of a Sunnybrook floor plan (That they copied from NuWa) that we love.  So we have to see.


Next up Heartland and Sunnybrook.