An interesting talk with an RV salesman - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-20-2007, 06:41 PM   #1
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While I was having a Hensley Hitch installed on our new Bigfoot trailer, I had to stick around a long time because they had to cut through part of the fiberglass covers that go over the propane tanks. They moved the latches and provided a new seal. Meanwhile, I had an interesting talk with a saleman about the problems involved in selling RVs.

One thing we discussed was about availabiity of Bigfoot trailers--made in British Columbia---on the East Coast. He said the only other dealer east of the Mississippi was in NY and would be dropping the line shortly. The next closest dealer is in Colorado, he said. The Bigfoot is manufactured in British Columbia. Artic Fox/Nash could lose a few eastern dealers after closing its Virginia plant since shipping costs from Oregon are high and differences in marginal costs can deter buyers.

According to the salesmen, seven or eight dealers a year apply to sell Bigfoot but the problem is the company isn't into mass manufacturing and can't increase the quantity
that would be required. He said that when they sell a trailer it could take a few months to get a new one. As with Lazydays, it can take months to fill an order. One customer ordered in February and was just getting his trailer in June. The customer had been told to expect this and was in no hurry. From what I'm told, Bigfoot will make only Class Cs for a period, then trailers then truck campers. If you miss the run, you have to wait longer. I believe they used to make 5th wheels a few years ago.

The salesman said used Bigfoot trailers are pretty hard to find and sell quickly. They recently had a 21-foot trade in and it lasted about three days. The guy bought a 25-foot Bigfoot in the 2500 series.

Out of curiosity, I asked about the 4000 series Bigfoot Class C with the three slides he said they wouldn't carry it because most folks wouldn't want to pay the price regardless of quality. They don't sell the 3000 series 28-foot trailer for the same reason.

Well-built, high quality trailers all seem to run into consumer resistance. Folks say they want quality but they don't want to pay more for it than for run-of-the-mill mass manufactured stuff. Thus Sunline went out of business because people didn't want to pay the price for it.

The dealer also said weight can be a problem in selling trailers, used or new. One potential buyer almost bought the 3000 series 2401 that I bought but didn't feel his 3/4 ton gasser would handle it well enough (GVWR = 8,800 pounds. Lots of people want to tow with SUVs. While I was there, a customer game in looking for something to tow with a 6-cylinder gasser. Stick trailers light enough for that tend to cut corners.

Similarly, used trailers that required more than a one-ton diesel pickup tend to be hard to sell, even when well made, he said. Lots of folks don't want to invest in a truck that powerful unless you are full timing.

One other interesting thing: the dealer said they sold out of all the Sprinter diesel models they had in Class B and couldn't order any new ones until the new Sprinter comes out in September. They hadn't even seen photos of it yet. It will be a bit longer and feature the 3.0 Mercedes diesel in lieu of the current 2.7 Mercedes. He said the class B's were especially popular with older drivers who were finding towing a bit hard to do as they aged.
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Old 06-20-2007, 08:23 PM   #2
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According to the salesmen, seven or eight dealers a year apply to sell Bigfoot but the problem is the company isn't into mass manufacturing and can't increase the quantity
that would be required. He said that when they sell a trailer it could take a few months to get a new one. As with Lazydays, it can take months to fill an order. One customer ordered in February and was just getting his trailer in June. The customer had been told to expect this and was in no hurry. From what I'm told, Bigfoot will make only Class Cs for a period, then trailers then truck campers. If you miss the run, you have to wait longer. I believe they used to make 5th wheels a few years ago.

The salesman said used Bigfoot trailers are pretty hard to find and sell quickly. They recently had a 21-foot trade in and it lasted about three days. The guy bought a 25-foot Bigfoot in the 2500 series.

Well-built, high quality trailers all seem to run into consumer resistance. Folks say they want quality but they don't want to pay more for it than for run-of-the-mill mass manufactured stuff. Thus Sunline went out of business because people didn't want to pay the price for it.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Frank:

I toured the Bigfoot factory on Monday, and agree that they only appear to manufacture one line at a time. If I order a 21 or 25 now, I won't get it until late Aug. early September. Bigfoot only builds from orders, thus they are all custom.

I used to have a 17G, and had a stick built for larger size to cost. I am now thinking another Bigfoot. As you are having a Hensley installed, what size trailer do you have and what are you towing it with?

Rick B
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Old 06-21-2007, 08:11 AM   #3
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RE: As you are having a Hensley installed, what size trailer do you have and what are you towing it with?

The trailer is the 3000 series 2401, which is about 24 1/2 feet with slider according to the stats. The tow vehicle is a 2005 Dodge 2500 4 x 4 with 5.9 Cummins and covered longbed in back with same burgundy color. The RV guy can't get over that combination with the Hensley and keeps saying, "You really did your homework." I knew that there is no perfect RV, so I started with needs and what we'd like to do and tried to figure out what combination could best accomplish that while giving up the least in terms of "like to haves."

What I like about this combination is that it has gives us substantial storage without having to go to greater trailer length. Thus it will allow us to get into smaller spaces and parks. With a generator (probably Yamaha 2400) and bikes in the truck we ought to be able to go anywhere and boondock.

Further versatility: the 4-season nature of the trailer (day-night shades, tinted thermopane windows, heated and enclosed tanks) should let us camp in some places after the crowds have left.

Fulltiming possibilities: For a retired couple, it should be quite cozy with that slider and the extra storage in the pickup and underneath. The 3000 series features the U-shaped dinette, which is kind of like having a combination couch/bench dinette, but no separate couch. For the two of us we can live without that.

I like downsizing over upsizing. We did it with our house so feeling comfy with the trailer should be no problem especially with that huge living room outside. The less space you have, the less you are tempted to buy. I think sometimes homeowners in fixed locations with big houses wind up shopping out of plane boredom and where house size allows it, it's easy to get caught in that trap.

People say you don't miss things like big screen TVs and surround sound when you get into this lifestyle. I can believe it. The only thing is that our present location in the east (Philly) isn't conducive to finding isolated and inexpensive campgrounds or boondocking. In the West, campgrounds are cheaper, populations less dense and--boondocking opportunities abundant. Sounds perfect for this combo. I suspect that because of the great distances involved, the lack of crowded campgrounds is even greater than in the East during the off-season because most folks won't travel more than two hours on a weekend.

HENSLEY INSTALLATION

THe salesman was right when he said you don't want to do it yourself, particularly in the case of the Bigfoot with its cover over the propane tanks. He had to cut special grooves, move the latches and then put a plastic seal around the cuts to restore the aesthetics. It was an all-day job for a pro who works with RVs. Now we are "set" in terms of vertical hooking up. To help with horizontal movement, I bought the strongly recommended "Hensley Helper."

This trailer--like all Bigfoots--had the same high "value" and reliability ratings that gave 5 stars to the 17 foot-model in Gallant's consumer guide. What brought it down one star (as will all the bigger Bigfoots) was a drop in highway control. The Hensley surely restored that, so I suppose I'm back to 5-star Land now. That was the idea too.
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Old 06-21-2007, 08:52 AM   #4
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Frank:

Did you try towing the 2401 before you had the Hensley installed?

My neighbour and I have the same trailer - we tow ours with a Chev Avalache inflating the tires to near max. capacity. My neighbour had a Dodge 1/2 ton pickup, and he experiences sway, while we do not. A few times, ruts in the road have directed the trailer to follow,and cross winds can cause minimal sway with the Avalanche, but we are unaffected by semi's passing.

I don't really want to buy an expensive trailer and then have to spend another $3500 on a Hensley.

Thanks
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Old 06-21-2007, 09:42 AM   #5
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Meanwhile, I had an interesting talk with a saleman about the problems involved in selling RVs.

One thing we discussed was about availabiity of Bigfoot trailers--made in British Columbia---on the East Coast. He said the only other dealer east of the Mississippi was in NY and would be dropping the line shortly. The next closest dealer is in Colorado, he said.
Frank, that's not entirely accurate. Kramer's Kampers is just north of Chicago. They're an excellent and responsive Bigfoot dealer. They won't carry any of the 3000 series trailers or motorhomes either, for exactly the same reasons.

Roger
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Old 06-21-2007, 12:22 PM   #6
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Did you try towing the 2401 before you had the Hensley installed?

Nope, never towed before and I'd have needed to invest in a hitch I might not keep. I relied on the Consumer Guide ratings which, if I recall were, just above the acceptable level for highway control (rating was 71 or 73) though that's still better than hundreds of trailers out there. I just wanted peace of mind.

re: I don't really want to buy an expensive trailer and then have to spend another $3500 on a Hensley.

I looked at it from the opposite side. Having gone this far (and having got a very good deal on both the tow vehicle and trailer), i reasoned that anything is only as good as its weakest part. If we keep the trailer long enough, it will average out. And if for some reason we don't, it can be transferred to any new trailer unless we switch to a fifth wheel. Even then, it woud add to the value of the Bigfoot used so we'd recover part of the cost.

TO ROGER:

re: Chicago dealer

It's not as far away as Colorado, but it's pretty far. I expect the same thing may happen to Artic Fox and Nash down the road. One local Artic Fox dealer I spoke to said he might drop the brand if shipping costs from Oregon looked too expensive and added another thousand or so to the costs, thus either upping sales price or cutting into profit margins.

As for the location of Bigfoot dealers, I'm sure one could use the "dealer search" at the main Bigfoot site to find out how many dealers there are and where they are located.

One thing looks likely: that anyone in the East hoping to buy one will eventually have far less opporutnity than in the past.
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Old 06-21-2007, 01:05 PM   #7
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...One other interesting thing: the dealer said they sold out of all the Sprinter diesel models they had in Class B and couldn't order any new ones until the new Sprinter comes out in September. They hadn't even seen photos of it yet. It will be a bit longer and feature the 3.0 Mercedes diesel in lieu of the current 2.7 Mercedes. He said the class B's were especially popular with older drivers who were finding towing a bit hard to do as they aged.
Class B RVs are out of the interest area of this forum, but the Sprinter gets frequent mentions because it is on the lightweight end of commercial van chassis, and a Sprinter-based Class B may be a logical alternative for some "egg" owners; a Sprinter passenger van could also be a logical tug choice for an egg.

I believe that the new Sprinter is available now in some areas, and a local dealer told me their units are in transit. I suspect that the September date is for availability of the motorhomes based on it, as the manufacturers will need time to finalize their changes and get units produced.

The new Sprinter is more than a bit longer - try a 20% increase in average wheelbase and overall length, between comparable configurations (there are multiple wheelbases, body lengths, and roof heights, plus the chassis-cab units used for Class C motorhomes, etc).
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Old 06-22-2007, 06:59 AM   #8
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Indian Valley Camping Center in Souderton PA carries Bigfoot. There are also dealers in Rutland MA and St Michaels MD
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Old 06-22-2007, 07:49 AM   #9
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RE: As you are having a Hensley installed, what size trailer do you have and what are you towing it with?


This trailer--like all Bigfoots--had the same high "value" and reliability ratings that gave 5 stars to the 17 foot-model in Gallant's consumer guide. What brought it down one star [b](as will all the bigger Bigfoots) was a drop in highway control. {emphasis added}The Hensley surely restored that, so I suppose I'm back to 5-star Land now. That was the idea too.
Frank, I don't know where they come up with this drivel. Having had both 17' AND 25' Bigfoot trailers now, and having towed BOTH with a V6 Tundra, I sure don't know what a "drop in highway control" means. I've never yet had so much as a wiggle out of either of them. Both are well mannered. Now, that said, I've also heard that filling the fresh tank on the 17.5 unloads enough hitch weight to cause some unstability in that particular model, but I certainly wouldn't lump all "larger Bigfoot" trailers together in that regard.

Not to get into another "Hensley discussion", the Hensley is a great hitch, and it does "as advertised", but my Reese Dual-Cam has perfectly adequate control on my 25' Bigfoot, and also did well on my 34' Airstream for 1/4 of the cost of a Hensley. I can't imagine needing that much hitch except perhaps for the new 28' Bigfoot because of it's weight. The Hensley doesn't control anything, it merely moves the apparent attachment point further forward toward the axle. If your trailer or your tow vehicle have issues, the Hensley will mask them nicely, until it can't any more, and then you're in a world of hurt.

My point is not to let the Hensley lull you into a false sense of security so that you forget to deal with all of the factors that cause unstable towing. The Hensley should be an added safety feature, not a "cure" for some other problem that hasn't been addressed.


Roger
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Old 06-22-2007, 12:15 PM   #10
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I am also interested in the Hensley Arrow design; having learned quite a bit about it, I don't want one.

It does, as Roger said, move the effective pivot point in the vertical axis further forward. For a tug with short wheelbase and long overhang (as found in some SUVs), I think this could be genuinely valuable. I don't see much value with a long-box Dodge 2500, especially since the design also moves the lateral pivot axis back, worsening the load transfer problems of tugs with poor wheelbase-to-overhang ratios.

As I mentioned in another thread the "RV Consumer Group" rates "highway control" based entirely on some unpublished formula, using some dimensional information. I think it might be a reasonable rough screening method, but not a way to select a specific trailer.
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Old 06-22-2007, 02:11 PM   #11
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re: Frank, I don't know where they come up with this drivel. Having had both 17' AND 25' Bigfoot trailers now, and having towed BOTH with a V6 Tundra, I sure don't know what a "drop in highway control" means.

I've been clear about my source, Gallant's RV consumer guide, and merely passed the info along. None of us can have tried towing every trailer and in my case I"ve yet to tow one.

re: My point is not to let the Hensley lull you into a false sense of security so that you forget to deal with all of the factors that cause unstable towing. The Hensley should be an added safety feature, not a "cure" for some other problem that hasn't been addressed.

I've read up on the other risk factors which seem to be:

1. Trailer heavier than the controlling vehicle.

2. Wheel base too short.

3. Distance of pivot point from rear axle.

I surely won't have any problem with the first two. Don't know abou the third.

Roger: I'm wondering if weight distribution is more important with a regular hitch such as the Reese compared to the special design of the Hensley. What do you think.
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Old 06-22-2007, 02:48 PM   #12
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Frank,

Reese, Equalizer and Hensley are all "regular hitches" and they all do both weight distribution and sway control. The weight distribution is accomplished pretty much the same way by each. The sway control is where they differ, and each has its merits. The only negatives about the Hensley are the complexity and cost. All three are effective.

All the Hensley does is offset the sway control system using cams that place the effective point of attachement three feet closer to the axle than the actual hitch point. The Hensley's system fools the trailer into thinking it's attached to the rear axle when it tries to apply leverage. It's a very clever design. Reese accomplishes it's sway control with saddles that must ride up over bearing surfaces. In order to sway, the trailer has to overcome the friction offered. Equalizer also uses friction for sway control, but yet in a different way.

Reese and Equalizer aren't inexpensive, but they're fairly simple with few moving parts. The Hensley is complex and four times the cost of either the Reese or Equalizer.

I confess that I've never owned nor towed with either the Hensley or the Equalizer, I've only used Reese Dual Cam over the past twenty-five years or so, and have never felt the need to change. I have friends who have used either the Equalizer or the Hensley. All, IMHO, do the job.

Roger
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Old 06-22-2007, 04:46 PM   #13
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From my readings on RV groups of larger RVs, I wouldn't put the Henseley or the PullRite hitches in the "masking problems" category any more than I would put a 5W or Gooseneck in that category (presuming there is a resonable weight balance, but there's a lot more slack in these four hitch types than in conventional hitches, even with dual-cam or EqualiIZer sway control). All of them put the actual or effective pivot point much closer to the TV's rear axle.

I don't think I'd pay full price for a new H or PR, but if I had a big rig, I'd have my eyes open for an H.

My opinion is that there are three classes of hitch type for stability, with conventional ball plus friction sway control being the least, WDH with dual cam or E'er being far better and 5W, Goose, H or PR being the most stable.
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Old 06-22-2007, 06:00 PM   #14
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I tend to agree with Pete on the issue of how the novel hitch designs (Hensley Arrow and Pull-Rite) differ from conventional hitches.

The Hensley Arrow and Pull-Rite are actually different hitches, the rest are a normal ball-and-socket with various "springy and sticky" hardware stuck on. The Equal-i-zer has some slightly unusual details, but not enough to be important on the scale of this discussion.

The "weight distribution" function is achieved the same way in all systems offering this function, but while the Pull-Rite genuinely moves the pivot and weight support point forward by effectively extending the tongue, and uses the WD hardware to allow the extended tongue to "bend" at the rear of the tug, the Hensley Arrow forces the real weight carrying point rearward, and thus depends heavily on the WD work-around. In a truck which can accommodate the Pull-Rite, I would not consider the Hensley; this is strictly on a basis of technical principles, not experience with any of these rigs.
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