May 13, 2014
|The storm abated around 1900 and by morning the temperature was down to 50 degrees. Ross went for his walk around 0545 and walked into town and back. He had dressed in sweats but even those were not enough to keep the cold at bay because on the return walk the wind was a direct headwind where during the out-going walk the wind was a tailwind and did not seem as cold.
At 0900 Ross & Marge walked to the Newell office and met with Jim Simms, Sales Consultant, who had been assigned the task of walking them through the plant. The tour started in the final assembly area and from there went to the cabinet shop where all the cabinet work is completed. The cabinet drawers are all made from top grade plywood with glued dovetail joints making extremely strong drawers. The next station was where the basement sections are installed and the upper chassis is assembled and installed. The basement section of all Newell Coaches is steel from the frame down and aircraft quality aluminum frame with aluminum siding making the coach have very low center-of-gravity. The next assembly area was the frame shop which is where the chassis frame is assembled; the drive train, steering systems, brakes, engine and transmission are installed. One of the more surprising things Ross noted was the engine access that is built into the coach. There is also an access built into the rear of the coach floor so that the engine can be accessed from above if necessary. The sub-floor of the coach is a laminated wood and Styrofoam one piece unit that is at least 7 inches thick for insulation of heat as well as noise. The finish floor goes on top of the sub-floor.
Tiffin likes to make a lot noise about their quality control program but their program is at best a very, very light shadow of what Newell has in-place. Each assembly station has a different blue print for every coach and every trade.
The next stop was the Service Center where customers have their units serviced and repaired as necessary. The Service Department also has a 24/7 technical service contact that can provide technical service to customers and/or repair technicians that have questions.
Both Marge and Ross were impressed with the motorhomes Newell builds but there are some things that they did not care for, such as no bug screen on units with a front entry because, according to Mr. Simms, the air operated action and the shape of the front entry door prevent the installation of bug screens. Those coaches with a mid-chassis entry door do come with a bug-screen because the door is a rectangle and a side roll-up bug screen door is used. Both style of door are air operated and are pressure sealed when closed.
Another surprise were the number of coaches that are manufactured and the owners do not want perimeter windows that open but rather are fixed windows that cannot be opened. An option is available for customers can order window glass with fixed as well as movable glass sections and bug screens.
After the plant tour was completed Mr. Simms turned told Ross & Marge that they were welcome to tour any or all of the used Newell Coaches on display in their lot but since every coach is built for a specific customer there were new coaches to tour except for those that were still under construction in the assembly area.
Each coach takes approximately four months to be completely assembled and they tell all new and/or return customers to allow at least three to four days for customer check-out before being turned loose to terrorize the country's roads and highways.
Is the Newell worth $1.7 million? From a quality of construction viewpoint Ross would say "Yes". However, it would remain to be seen if it is worth it when viewed from a durability and reliability perspective. And since $1.7 million is not likely to fall into a bank account under the control of Ross & Marge a report on the Newell's durability and reliability from Ross or Marge will not be forth coming.
The trip from Miami to Springfield, Missouri was uneventful. The sky was overcast and there were a few very light sprinkles that dampened their motorhome. The terrain was green and included rolling hills and where the road was blasted out from rock the rock was a layered rock that looked like ice cream layered in between layers of cake.
Ross & Marge decided to take back roads which had them traveling through 3 states in less than an hour. The road they took had them driving through Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri. Two more states are now showing on their map of states visited by them in this motorhome.
That is all for now,
Ross & Marge