Broadening Our Horizons - May 2007 travel blog

stapling fabric

left over wires

fabric swatches

fabric factory floor

chassis with walls and cabinets

glueing on the walls

chassis waiting for slide out

insulated walls with washer/dryer

Barb & Gary in their next RV

Movie Clips - Playback Requirements - Problems?

(MP4 - 500 K)

moving the rig on a curtain of air


Although we have been quite content with our current trailer, it has become clear that as restless souls who rarely stay in one spot more than a month, a Class A bus type vehicle would better suit our needs. We might have chosen a Class A in the first place, but they easily cost as much as a nice home. A chance encounter with someone selling a Class A with 20,000 miles on it who has no time to take it anywhere, is making owning such a vehicle a bit more imaginable financially. We wanted to know more about Dutch Stars, so we headed to Elkhart, the RV center of the universe, to tour the factory where they are made and find out more about them.

Many RV's are manufactured in Elkhart, in part because of the sizable and hardworking Amish community here. The Newmar factory purchases the chassis the RV is built upon, but most of the other components are made and assembled here. The tour started with the area where window treatments and upholstery items are fabricated. This work was done by women and was mostly completed with staple guns and glue rather than with sewing machines. Although their job looked like it could be fun, doing the same thing over and over again with little changing but the color of the fabric, could get tedious.

The next area the chassis stood empty, waiting for the walls to be erected and insulated. The factory was organized as an assembly line; Henry Ford could have recognized his approach to vehicle assembly here. But Henry would have been impressed watching the huge rigs move from one post to another on little pads riding on cushions of air. A few men gave the rig a tug and it was off at its next assembly location. The guide said about fifteen miles of wiring are run through the walls and ceiling. Since RV's use both AC and DC power, the end result is a spider web of electricity. Since most RV's today have slide outs, walls that move in when on the road and out when parked, large chunks of the walls were removed and many of the components were easily visible until the final steps of assembly when the slide outs were placed in the openings. Each RV has many feature and color choices and it must be a real challenge to make sure the right parts all end up in the right rig. This factory produces about ten rigs a day.

In addition to the Newmar factory tour guide, we were lucky to have Class A owners and friends from our Yucatan trip Barb and Gary on the tour with us as well. It was great to see them again and ask them lots of questions about the Class A life. Even though their rig is in great shape, as fellow restless souls, they have also been looking around in Elkhart and have found their next dream coach. We all need to win the lottery!

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