Lesson #1: A factory visit beats hands down what you can learn from the internet or telephone conversations.
Our first destination was Elkhart Indiana. Now either I missed something in all of the digging I did or did not understand what I was reading or what the fellow said on the phone. What I learned once we actually got there was that this particular company did not really make their own trailers, but took a basic unit from a local volume manufacturer in nearby Goshen and up-fitted the trailers to their specifications and options. After pushing to visit their ‘factory’, the best they could do was arrange a tour of the local manufacturer that built their base trailers. It turned out that this local company was on my ‘not to be considered list’ . The only good result of this was a confirmation that my initial assessment of the ‘volume manufacturer’ was correct. To me, a sledge hammer is not a tool used in manufacturing process, to adjust frames and knees after welding, in order to make floors and walls fit properly.
Lesson #2: You can learn a lot from talking to current owners.
The next stop was NuWa in Chanute Kansas. There is a city campground a stones throw from the plant and just across the street from the hotel we were staying in. The night of our arrival, I noticed all the Nuwa rigs in the campground and we took a stroll through and ended up talking to a number of owners (it is where all Nuwa owners park when coming in for service at the factory). They were all very candid about their rigs, very willing to share information and give us a look around inside their homes, with lots of useful information for us ‘1st timers’. The factory tour was amazing and very informative. We looked at a brand new model on the line and fell in love with it.
Their trailers met almost all of my long list of requirements, with some things that I knew I could upgrade myself. By the time we left Chanute, we were convinced that we would be buying a new NuWa Champagne, but felt we should continue our trip and make our other appointments as a courtesy.
The next stop was New Horizons in Junction City Kansas. Perhaps it was an omen of things to come, but when we checked into the hotel, the clerk advised us that they were under a tornado watch and if the sirens went off, to take the bed mattress and put it over us while lying in the bathtub. For a couple of ‘easterners’ who only dealt with Nor'easter's and the ocean rising and surrounding your house , this was a sobering warning. We spent the evening watching the radar on TV and once the danger was lifted, went out for dinner.
The factory tour was equally amazing. I am sure that after 2 days of asking factory workers questions about their construction methods, the guys on the line were happy to see me go. Lynn was in love with the interior design and outfitting.
Our next destination was Excel in Smith Center Kansas to the west of Junction City, but again Mother Nature seemed to butt in and make the decision for us. The weather forecasts for Smith Center were very ominous. We had a choice going to Smith Center and possibly a meeting with a tornado or staying in Junction City and bypassing Excel. So we huddled together that evening and made a decision. It was obvious that Mother Nature was against our going on to Smith Center.
New Horizons was going to be our choice. We called them to cancel our visit and spent the next 2 days hammering out an order with New Horizons for a 41 foot Majestic and worked up designs with the modifications were wanted.
It seems silly to make a decision based on weather forecasts and Mother Nature, so perhaps I should explain our past history with high winds, storms and also how we approach ‘Lynn’s feelings’.
Back in the days when we were sailers,one weekend we were getting ready to set off for a couple of nights anchored out at one of our favorite islands off Georgian Bay. We were following another couple from our marina, up the bay to open waters. About a mile or so out from the marina just as we were getting to open waters, Lynn looked at the oncoming black clouds, got a shiver down her spine and said ‘Let’s turn back’. They just looked like the usual rain clouds and there was nothing on the Coast Guard weather radio about severe weather, but I have learned that when she gets that look, it is best to heed the warning. We turned back and by the time we got back to the marina, the winds had really picked up. Within 10 minutes, boats were heaving up and down, straining against their mooring lines as a fast moving line squall blew through the area and the water level had risen over a foot as the water was driven into the bay by the high winds. There was a bunch of us, running from boat to boat, adjusting lines so that the boats would not rip out their cleats and heave up onto the dock, smashing themselves to bits. What we had experienced in the sheltered bay was not all that bad, but out in open waters where we would have been, it was a whole different matter: There had been a racing regatta that weekend and several crew were swept overboard. From our dock, we could see the police boat offloading the body bags. The older couple from our marina that we had been following up the bay that day, when the storm hit, he had gone forward to lash down the dingy, and was swept overboard. They never found his body.
So, a New Horizons it was going to be. With half of the rig decided upon, the next challenge was deciding on a tow vehicle and where to purchase it. New Horizons would hold the RV until I was out of work and we could come back to pick it up. The problem was that my ‘end date’ was still up in the air. Looking at tow and weight ratings, I settled on a Ford F450 (that would be another 10 pages of the decision making, but I don’t want to rehash old arguments). So, do we buy what was on the lot which may not have everything I wanted or factory order. Life is never straight forward. Do we buy from a dealer in Kansas that works with the New Horizons factory or do we buy locally in Massachusetts. This option presented its own set of issues like: How to get the Camry for trade in to the dealership?
We decided to buy local and go with the ‘what was available on the lot’ option, but it was another 4 months before my ‘end date’ became a reality, plenty of time to have factory ordered the exact vehicle I wanted. Oh Well.
Lesson #3. When dealing with trucks, stick to truck specialists, not any old dealership. My mistake was dealing with a salesman who didn’t know how to spell ‘diesel’ or know the difference between a F150 and a F450 (he tried to give me a jack from a F150 to replace the missing jack from the F450). I should have insisted on dealing with a truck specialist or gone to a dealership further out in the country that dealt more with trucks. I was very disappointed with Ford in that the regional office did not respond to my letters. Needless to say, I will never recommend Metro Ford in Raynham to anyone for buying a truck.
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