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  1. Crain RV News
    Your Official Newmar, Tiffin, Jayco and Airstream Dealer in Arkansas

  2. Apr30th ’15

    About Tiffin Motorhomes

    About Tiffin Motorhomes

    Tiffin Motorhomes is a manufacturer of luxury Class A gas and diesel motorhomes. The Tiffin family has been producing quality motorhomes for over 40 years.  Attention to detail, quality and listening to their customers is what has set the Tiffin brand apart.

    Tiffin Motorhomes manufactures the Zephyr, Allegro Bus, Phaeton, Allegro RED, Allegro Breeze and Allegro lines of Class A motorhomes.

    This is a family business with members of the Tiffin family working every day.

    Our family is here to serve your family with good service and a products you can feel proud of driving down the road.

    The relationships we've built with Tiffin over the years speak for itself. They’re unique in the industry, and we consider ourselves fortunate to have gotten to know so many of them and represent their products.

    Whether you are looking at a Zephyr, Allegro Bus, Phaeton, Allegro Red, Allegro Breeze, or Allegro - we have what you are looking for: comfort, quality, and the ultimate luxury class a coaches.

    So come visit Crain RV and our experts will assist you in finding the perfect Tiffin!
     

    Mar01st ’15

    Newmar Safety comes first!

    One of the most overlooked aspects of a high-quality motor coach is the chassis. As the foundation of your motorhome, a well-made, expertly-designed chassis plays an important role in how much – or how little – you enjoy traveling from coast-to-coast in your Class A RV.   

    Given our commitment to industry-leading quality and superior engineering, it should come as no surprise that we at Newmar choose to work with the world’s best to equip each of our diesel and luxury coaches with a custom-built chassis. After all, a custom chassis offers several benefits compared to a one-size-fits-all application.

     How does Freightliner Custom Chassis work to build chassis that deliver a safer on-road experience?

    I’ll begin with something as simple as brakes. While drum brakes are the industry standard, we know from our testing that disc brakes do a better job of stopping a heavy Class A motor coach. Once we were able to prove that disc brakes elevated safety, it made sense for us to make them standard equipment. As a result, we made disc brakes standard on all of our products starting in 2007.

    In 2013, we debuted our new V-Ride rear suspension system. V-Ride increases weight capacity to as much as 24,000 pounds, and offers enhanced roll stability for when you’re driving around a campground and your coach is rocking back and forth.

    Soon, tire pressure monitoring systems will be a standard feature on each of our chassis. And not as an aftermarket add-on, but as something that we developed internally. This is a big deal because the inside rear tire on a Class A RV is rarely checked because it’s so difficult to reach, especially when you’re using a shorter tire pressure gauge intended for a car. Bringing that kind of safety technology to our OEMs is always a goal.

    Finally, all chassis manufacturers are required to meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. For us, the key to going above and beyond those standards is having a large, highly-qualified engineering department with cutting-edge technology and resource capabilities. As a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America, FCCC has the tools to build a stronger, safer chassis. Our relationship with Daimler allows us to actually pull features – including safety features – and apply those innovations to the creation of our custom chassis. Having brands like Western Star, Freightliner Trucks, Fuso and Mercedes-Benz all under the Daimler umbrella is huge for us, especially from a safety perspective.

    As a group, Freightliner has long focused on enhanced durability testing. How does this emphasis on longevity apply to FCCC?

    Durability testing is absolutely critical to the long-term success of every single FCCC product. Anytime we release a new design, our engineers perform durability testing. Not only do we test here at FCCC, we also have one at Bosch. This allows us to test our chassis more than 125,000 miles before one is ever applied to a vehicle. Our durability testing goes well beyond basic on-road maneuvers. We really give these chassis a heavy-duty shakedown, which is a practice that is inherently Freightliner.

    Some may wonder why we’re testing a bracket that’s holding an air cleaner in place, and it’s because we don’t want to find out years down the road that there are air cleaners falling off of motorhomes. Having the capability and depth of resources to perform a higher level of durability testing is extremely beneficial for us as a group.

    Building coaches that are easier and more comfortable to drive has always been a goal for Newmar. How does FCCC work to support this mission?

    At FCCC, we pride ourselves on delivering motorhome chassis that are the most maneuverable, best riding in the industry. The “Custom” in our name is very important – it means working closely with the highest-quality OEMs in the industry like Newmar to ensure we’re developing and delivering to them the best chassis so they can build the best coaches. The key has been major investments. There are a lot of great products out there, but FCCC has that corporate umbrella that provides us with access to the very latest engineering breakthroughs.

    Take shocks, for example. We brought in – exclusive to FCCC – SACHS shocks, which gave us the ability to tune our shocks to a particular coach. So when we take part in helping build new model or have a new configuration, we have the capability of tuning those shocks to that exact coach. If you go into our parts system and look at shocks, we have dozens of different part numbers representing our shocks because we’ve tuned so many different configurations. You can’t take a shock that we use on a Ventana and use it on a Mountain Aire because they are calibrated much differently.

    When you talk about maneuverability, FCCC is the only company in the industry that’s established a maximum 60-degree wheel cut on an independent front suspension. There are other independent front suspensions out there and they do a great job, but off the shelf, they are almost never custom-tailored. At FCCC, we’re not going to grab a truck suspension, make a few tweaks and throw it on a motorhome. We work with our partners to build suspensions that achieve maximum maneuverability.

     

    Jan27th ’15

    6 Reasons to Purchase an RV

    #1 Take the kids

    95% of people who camped as children said it had a positive impact on their adult lives, helping them develop an appreciation for the outdoors and for different people and places. Plus, RVs feel more like home than a hotel, making travel relaxing and familiar – no surprises here.

    Bunks or trundle beds give kids a space to call their own.

    Sleep soundly in your own bed with your favorite pillow so it will always feel like home.

    Bike ride, anyone? Extra “basement” storage accommodates bikes and bulky gear.

    On-board bathrooms save time on roadside pit stops and easily clean up messy hands.

    Make spur-of-the-moment route changes along the way when something catches your eye

    #2 Go Leisurely

    Take control. You decide when and where to go and what you want to take with you. There’s no racing to catch a flight or long lines. There are no baggage limits or fees, nor shortage of legroom, so stretch out, take your shoes off when you want to and enjoy the view.

    Your schedule is your call when you’re behind the wheel. Make unplanned stops along the way when something catches your eye. Stay as long as you like or hit the road earlier than planned. 

    #3 Make your RV Yours

    Some RV offer modified floor plans and amenities to suit your individual needs. Take the worry and uncertainty out of travel, and relax with all the comforts and conveniences of home. With a customized RV, the only unexpected surprises will be the discoveries you make along your journey. 

    Some custom modifications offered include:

    Wheelchair lifts or ramps

    Wider entrances

    Lower kitchen counters and cabinets

    Roll-under sinks

    Roll-in showers

    #4 RV’s make a great base camp

    Outdoor sports enthusiasts can have the best of both worlds. Spend the day in the woods or on the water, then relax and recharge. New ultra-light Travel Trailers make it easy to get in and out of the woods and convenient to get out of the cold. Outdoor showers mean clean gear for the next day and are great for cleaning the catch of the day for dinner. Full kitchens give you the option of dinner prepared indoors or over a roaring campfire. Locking storage compartments also let you store your gear safely overnight.

    #5 Your 4-wheeler wants to get out more

    Take your favorite motorized toys to the best places to ride. With built-in garages, the rear door of a SURV/toy hauler RV drops down to create a ramp. Motorcycles, ATVs and more roll in and out with ease, which means hello fun, good-bye boring weekends.

    After a day of engine-revving speed, wash off the mud in your bathroom, cook up your favorite food in your kitchen, relax in your living room and fall asleep in your own bed. 

    In some RV models, the ramp converts to a patio so you can relax outside when the vehicles are unloaded. If you like four-wheeling adventures, you’ll love the freedom of RV travel.

    #6 Take a romantic getaway

    Weekends away for two are a snap. With basic necessities kept stored in your RV, when the urge for couple time strikes, you can hit the road for spur-of-the-moment getaways. The rest is up to you. Sleep in. Stay an extra day. Take a detour on a whim. You’re in charge of your schedule, so do whatever your heart desires. 

    Head to the mountains for the change of seasons, to the beach for sunsets and holding hands or to an out-of-the-way spot you discovered years ago. Rekindle the romance by spending time together.

     

    Jan12nd ’15

    Jayco Redhawk 31XL

    From “affordable luxury” to “bang for your buck” on up to “family-friendly,” 

    The living area consists of a two-person, belted J-steel sofa bed and a compact four-person dinette (also belted). Both the sofa and part of the galley are housed in a 98-inch streetside slide.

    The living area consists of a two-person, belted J-steel sofa bed and a compact four-person dinette (also belted). Both the sofa and part of the galley are housed in a 98-inch streetside slide.

     

    The Redhawk essentially combines all of the above into a smooth-driving, nicely appointed Class C package. Jayco has recognized the need for an affordable coach that includes many of the amenities of more expensive models without sacrificing too much. And, the company has done so in a style that befits families with children of all ages.
    At first glance, the exterior of the Redhawk doesn’t necessarily stand out from the crowd, but a little more scrutiny reveals some pleasant surprises. The front fiberglass cap, part of the “mandatory” Customer Value Package option ($4,691) and the radius-cornered entrance door are fine touches, plus the standard frameless windows add a touch of elegance. The seamless one-piece rubber roof will no doubt help with leak protection in the long run.
    The Redhawk is built on the Ford E-450 chassis, and the Triton 6.8-liter V-10 gas engine is rated at 305 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. The five-speed TorqShift Series transmission tackles the terrain with aplomb, while the Hellwig helper springs and rubber isolation body mounts help make for an enjoyable, shudder-free ride.
    But the Redhawk’s place in the spotlight lies inside the coach, which has been outfitted with a nice amount of walk-around space and up to eight sleeping positions.
    Stepping up into the entry, the Redhawk’s interior appears more upscale than its price point would indicate. The Ultraleather sofa and dinette, decorative slideout fascia boards and glazed cabinetry with brushed-nickel hardware would be right at home in a more expensive motor­home. The vinyl flooring is surprisingly tile-like; I had to run my hands over it to be sure. The cabinets are plentiful and the drawers all feature ball-bearing guides, which is always appreciated. One simple feature I especially liked is the cabinet containing the monitor panels: Corkboard has been inset in the door, as have three key hooks, which made for a very handy spot to hold keys, wallets, etc., in addition to a message center and/or picture holder.
    The living area consists of a two-person, belted J-steel sofa bed and a compact four-person dinette (also belted). Both the sofa and part of the galley are housed in a 98-inch streetside slide.

    Also located in the hall area is the bunk house, which brings the motorhome up a serious notch in terms of livability.

    Also located in the hall area is the bunk house, which brings the motorhome up a serious notch in terms of livability.

    Interior entertainment is provided by a 32-inch LED TV, which is offered as part of that Customer Value Package. However, the location of the TV — combined with a less-than-desirable swing mount — made for some interesting TV-yoga to view from the inside position on the dinette. First order of business would be a larger (longer) swing-arm mount that allowed for some swivel as well.
    The cabover sleeping area was comfy enough and rated for 750 pounds, which is way more capacity than an area so tricky to access without a ladder needs. This area has teenager/young adult written all over it — provided said youth is OK with the lack of a curtain, and therefore privacy, afforded by the perch.
    The galley features the standard three-burner range, oven and microwave, but food-prep space is near non-existent. With sleeping accommodations for so many people, I expected more usable space but, luckily, our simple RV menu is usually heavy on outdoor grilling anyway. With the lack of counter space in this floorplan, expect yours to be, too. I’m also not a fan of the plastic sink and faucet in the galley, but they do work as advertised.
    The 8-cubic-foot double-door refrigerator/freezer is just the right size for extended weekend stays, and should have no trouble handling groceries for large families. Non-perishables can be stored in a handy pantry located just past the kitchen in the hall area.
    Also located in the hall area is the bunk house, which brings the motorhome up a serious notch in terms of livability. Each 72-inch-long bunk features a light for reading, and integrated curtains mean the little ones will have the privacy that the cabover sleepers lack. Plus, the location of the pantry makes midnight snacks a breeze! The whole area can be cordoned off from the living area up front and the master in the rear via accordion-type doors.
    Redhawk-31XLThe streetside bathroom is just spacious enough to get things done. The foot-flush toilet is positioned at an angle for additional space, and though there is no medicine cabinet, an open-shelf arrangement behind the potty is a good place for toiletries. The shower curtain is vinyl with a rigid-type frame, which helps keep it away from soapy skin.
    The master bedroom is dominated by a wonderfully roomy wardrobe/drawer piece, which can easily hold all the vacation clothes with room to spare. The unit is part of the massive 138-inch curbside slideout, which begins at the bunk area and ends near the rear of the motorhome. The upper cabinet is wired for a TV should you need more viewing options, though its height means you would need to purchase a quality, wide-viewing-angle TV.
    The queen bed was rather comfy, enough so that I can easily imagine sleeping in it for more than a few nights without any side effects. At each side of the bed, Jayco has put a night “surface” (I refuse to call them nightstands due to their abbreviated size) that becomes incredibly useful as an electronics charging station, with an outlet immediately beneath each one.
    Overall, it’s clear that Jayco has drawn heavily on its near half-century of experience in anticipating which appointments buyers at this price point want and incorporated them as standard (the included Onan 4,000-watt genset is a prime example). Rounding out that “mandatory option” (another industry buzzword) Customer Value Package are a 400-watt power inverter, back-up camera and monitor, power awning, black-tank flush and holding-tank heating pads.

     

    Dec22nd ’14

    Six awesome things you probably didn't know about Airstream's!

    To some folks, Airstream's aluminum trailers are peculiar structures that warrant little more than a glance. But look a little closer, and you'll find a perpetually futuristic vehicle that has been used by NASA to shuttle astronauts, the Air Force to move high-ranking officials, and by millions of superfans to simply get out of town.

    To chat about the iconic silver trailer's most unusual history, Airstream caught up with Tara Cox, former editor-in-chief of RV Living magazine and author of the upcoming book Airstream: The Silver RV. 

    1) The Origin Of That Design
    If Airstream trailers are known for anything, it's their distinctive silver shape. But the company wasn't the first to make a streamlined silver trailer. The design actually originated with William Hawley Bowlus, a veteran designer who had previously worked on Charles Lindburgh's Spirit of St. Louis plane. Bowlus took inspiration from his work with airplanes to create a silver trailer called the Bowlus Road Chief. "The company went under in 1935, but was actually revived this year by a fan of that trailer," Cox says.

    Another fun fact: Early Airstream models were actually made out of wood, before the shiny silver became company standard.

    2) The Plans Used To Be Sold In The Back Of Magazines
    "Airstream founder Wally Byam originally sold plans on how to build a trailer in your backyard in the back of Popular Mechanics magazine," Cox says. "The oldest existing Airstream trailer was built by its owner from these plans."

    3) Just How Light They Are
    In the 1940s, Airstream commissioned publicity photos that showed a cyclist pulling a trailer with his bike. The goal: To show off just how lightweight the trailers were.


    4) There Were Almost Colored Airstreams
    "Wally Byam planned on making colored Airstreams to match the pastel schemes of the cars of the 1950s," Cox says. "After experimenting with his own gold Airstream, he abandoned the idea."

    5) NASA Used Them
    Neil, Buzz, and Michael's first stop when they got back to Earth: A modified Airstream. "NASA used an Airstream motorhome called the Astrovan to bring astronauts to the launchpad," Cox says.  "Apollo 11 astronauts were quarantined in an Airstream until they were clear of feared 'moon germs. In fact, Nixon interviewed them through the trailer."

    For decades, NASA also used an Airstream (or Astrovan, as they called it in the '80s) to shuttle astronauts to the launchpad in style.

    6) The Military Loves Them
    What's the best way for the Air Force to transport VIPs to far-flung locations? Via Airstream, of course. As part of its "Silver Bullet" program, the Air Force Research Laboratories transformed a series of Airstream trailers into mobile communications modules. The trailers, which are outfitted with at-home luxuries such as comfy couches and TVs, as well as a load of communications gear, are designed to fit inside Air Force cargo planes such as the C-17. Past and current Defense Secretaries Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel have both served as passengers in these flying trailers.

    May22nd ’14

    Bontrager Family Leads of Reorganization of Jayco, Inc.

    MIDDLEBURY, Ind. -- Jayco Inc., the world's largest privately-owned RV manufacturer, announced a reorganization that will provide greater hands-on roles for Wilbur Bontrager, Chairman, and Derald Bontrager, President & CEO.

    Derald Bontrager explained, "The new leadership structure will provide greater autonomy for our four operating divisions; Jayco Towables, Jayco Motorhome Group, Starcraft, and newly formed Highland Ridge RV which produces the Open Range family of products."

    "Each division will be led by its president and a dedicated operating management team with a laser focus on creating the best, most innovative models within their product range." Bontrager said. "Our four division presidents will now report directly to me, as we have flattened our organization and moved away from the need for a corporate COO."

    In conclusion, Bontrager stated, "Our new structure will enhance the speed to market, flexibility and accountability of each Jayco operating entity. With our recent acquisition, we felt it was important to our employees, dealers, customers, and our future success in the marketplace for the Bontrager family to get even closer and more involved in the day to day leadership of our businesses."

    Wilbur Bontrager, Jayco Chairman, added, "The values that formed Jayco nearly a half century ago by our parents, Lloyd and Bertha Bontrager, have been critical to our historical success, and become even more important as we grow and look to the future. Derald and I are looking forward to directly influencing and inspiring our business leaders with those core values every day as the foundation of our success in the marketplace."

    Updated: 5/22/2014 4:00:11 PM

    Feb20th ’14

    Jayco Moves Forward with Jay Smart Travel Trailer

    MIDDLEBURY, Ind. -- Jayco, Inc. approved the launch of its new Jay Smart, a line of Euro-styled, ultra-lightweight RVs. The new line of towables is slated to be built on Jayco's campus in Middlebury, IN.

    Jayco displayed a prototype of the Jay Smart during the 2013 Louisville RV Show. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive by those who explored the revolutionary product. Dealers from all over the globe were excited at the prospect of Jayco producing such a modernized, easy-to-tow and lightweight travel trailer.

    Jim Jacobs, Jayco's chief operating officer commented, "With the knowledge and experience we've gained from building this new family of lightweight products, we're confident our dealers will gain an even stronger competitive advantage in the marketplace." He went on to say, "It wouldn't surprise me if along the way we find ways of incorporating some of the design and engineering elements discovered in building the Jay Smart into our other product offerings."

    Formal introduction of the Jay Smart will occur at Jayco's annual Homecoming event taking place in San Antonio, Texas the week of June 23rd.

    Initial offerings of the Jay Smart will include four floorplans in 19, 22 and two 26-foot lengths. Each unit will be built with the same streamlined, contemporary look highlighted during the RV industry's largest trade show of the year.

    Brian Donat, an industry veteran, will remain active as a product design consultant for the Jay Smart. Donat's knowledge of the European marketplace is a valuable asset and contributed greatly to the positive response from the dealer network.


     

    Jan23rd ’14

    Rough Roads? No Problem...

    Wally Byam stood by his Airstream. If you had an automobile that could make it over any road condition, then you could take your Airstream with you. Of course, this was the early days - before four wheel drive and heavy duty utility vehicles.

    In planning the first Airstream Caravan in 1951, which traveled through Mexico and Central America, Wally knew the roads were going to be rough but passable. He knew that the Pan American Highway had not been completed and in Southern Mexico, the Caravan had to travel by rail on flat cars to the Guatemalan border. Wally also knew that Managua, Nicaragua was the trail's end. The Pan American Highway is non-existent into Panama.

    When least expected, the Caravan crossed primitive and localized bridges where villagers built bridges using practical applied engineering. The above picture shows a plank bridge in Mexico.

    Eight years later, on the 1959 Airstream Wally Byam African Caravan, they experienced similar bridges. This created de´ja` vu moments from the 1st Caravan to Mexico and Central America.

    Airstream's pedigree includes road testing on the six continents including North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. Someday, Antarctica may be included.

    The miles accumulated by Airstream Caravans and by individual owners traveling our world confirms, what Wally Byam bequeathed us in the "Wally Byam Creed."

    Wally said, "To place the great wide world at your doorstep for you who yearn to travel with all the comforts of home." Enjoy, and Live Riveted!

    Updated: 1/23/2014 2:06:48 PM

  3. Apr30th ’15

    About Tiffin Motorhomes

    About Tiffin Motorhomes

    Tiffin Motorhomes is a manufacturer of luxury Class A gas and diesel motorhomes. The Tiffin family has been producing quality motorhomes for over 40 years.  Attention to detail, quality and listening to their customers is what has set the Tiffin brand apart.

    Tiffin Motorhomes manufactures the Zephyr, Allegro Bus, Phaeton, Allegro RED, Allegro Breeze and Allegro lines of Class A motorhomes.

    This is a family business with members of the Tiffin family working every day.

    Our family is here to serve your family with good service and a products you can feel proud of driving down the road.

    The relationships we've built with Tiffin over the years speak for itself. They’re unique in the industry, and we consider ourselves fortunate to have gotten to know so many of them and represent their products.

    Whether you are looking at a Zephyr, Allegro Bus, Phaeton, Allegro Red, Allegro Breeze, or Allegro - we have what you are looking for: comfort, quality, and the ultimate luxury class a coaches.

    So come visit Crain RV and our experts will assist you in finding the perfect Tiffin!
     

    Mar01st ’15

    Newmar Safety comes first!

    One of the most overlooked aspects of a high-quality motor coach is the chassis. As the foundation of your motorhome, a well-made, expertly-designed chassis plays an important role in how much – or how little – you enjoy traveling from coast-to-coast in your Class A RV.   

    Given our commitment to industry-leading quality and superior engineering, it should come as no surprise that we at Newmar choose to work with the world’s best to equip each of our diesel and luxury coaches with a custom-built chassis. After all, a custom chassis offers several benefits compared to a one-size-fits-all application.

     How does Freightliner Custom Chassis work to build chassis that deliver a safer on-road experience?

    I’ll begin with something as simple as brakes. While drum brakes are the industry standard, we know from our testing that disc brakes do a better job of stopping a heavy Class A motor coach. Once we were able to prove that disc brakes elevated safety, it made sense for us to make them standard equipment. As a result, we made disc brakes standard on all of our products starting in 2007.

    In 2013, we debuted our new V-Ride rear suspension system. V-Ride increases weight capacity to as much as 24,000 pounds, and offers enhanced roll stability for when you’re driving around a campground and your coach is rocking back and forth.

    Soon, tire pressure monitoring systems will be a standard feature on each of our chassis. And not as an aftermarket add-on, but as something that we developed internally. This is a big deal because the inside rear tire on a Class A RV is rarely checked because it’s so difficult to reach, especially when you’re using a shorter tire pressure gauge intended for a car. Bringing that kind of safety technology to our OEMs is always a goal.

    Finally, all chassis manufacturers are required to meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. For us, the key to going above and beyond those standards is having a large, highly-qualified engineering department with cutting-edge technology and resource capabilities. As a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America, FCCC has the tools to build a stronger, safer chassis. Our relationship with Daimler allows us to actually pull features – including safety features – and apply those innovations to the creation of our custom chassis. Having brands like Western Star, Freightliner Trucks, Fuso and Mercedes-Benz all under the Daimler umbrella is huge for us, especially from a safety perspective.

    As a group, Freightliner has long focused on enhanced durability testing. How does this emphasis on longevity apply to FCCC?

    Durability testing is absolutely critical to the long-term success of every single FCCC product. Anytime we release a new design, our engineers perform durability testing. Not only do we test here at FCCC, we also have one at Bosch. This allows us to test our chassis more than 125,000 miles before one is ever applied to a vehicle. Our durability testing goes well beyond basic on-road maneuvers. We really give these chassis a heavy-duty shakedown, which is a practice that is inherently Freightliner.

    Some may wonder why we’re testing a bracket that’s holding an air cleaner in place, and it’s because we don’t want to find out years down the road that there are air cleaners falling off of motorhomes. Having the capability and depth of resources to perform a higher level of durability testing is extremely beneficial for us as a group.

    Building coaches that are easier and more comfortable to drive has always been a goal for Newmar. How does FCCC work to support this mission?

    At FCCC, we pride ourselves on delivering motorhome chassis that are the most maneuverable, best riding in the industry. The “Custom” in our name is very important – it means working closely with the highest-quality OEMs in the industry like Newmar to ensure we’re developing and delivering to them the best chassis so they can build the best coaches. The key has been major investments. There are a lot of great products out there, but FCCC has that corporate umbrella that provides us with access to the very latest engineering breakthroughs.

    Take shocks, for example. We brought in – exclusive to FCCC – SACHS shocks, which gave us the ability to tune our shocks to a particular coach. So when we take part in helping build new model or have a new configuration, we have the capability of tuning those shocks to that exact coach. If you go into our parts system and look at shocks, we have dozens of different part numbers representing our shocks because we’ve tuned so many different configurations. You can’t take a shock that we use on a Ventana and use it on a Mountain Aire because they are calibrated much differently.

    When you talk about maneuverability, FCCC is the only company in the industry that’s established a maximum 60-degree wheel cut on an independent front suspension. There are other independent front suspensions out there and they do a great job, but off the shelf, they are almost never custom-tailored. At FCCC, we’re not going to grab a truck suspension, make a few tweaks and throw it on a motorhome. We work with our partners to build suspensions that achieve maximum maneuverability.

     

    Jan27th ’15

    6 Reasons to Purchase an RV

    #1 Take the kids

    95% of people who camped as children said it had a positive impact on their adult lives, helping them develop an appreciation for the outdoors and for different people and places. Plus, RVs feel more like home than a hotel, making travel relaxing and familiar – no surprises here.

    Bunks or trundle beds give kids a space to call their own.

    Sleep soundly in your own bed with your favorite pillow so it will always feel like home.

    Bike ride, anyone? Extra “basement” storage accommodates bikes and bulky gear.

    On-board bathrooms save time on roadside pit stops and easily clean up messy hands.

    Make spur-of-the-moment route changes along the way when something catches your eye

    #2 Go Leisurely

    Take control. You decide when and where to go and what you want to take with you. There’s no racing to catch a flight or long lines. There are no baggage limits or fees, nor shortage of legroom, so stretch out, take your shoes off when you want to and enjoy the view.

    Your schedule is your call when you’re behind the wheel. Make unplanned stops along the way when something catches your eye. Stay as long as you like or hit the road earlier than planned. 

    #3 Make your RV Yours

    Some RV offer modified floor plans and amenities to suit your individual needs. Take the worry and uncertainty out of travel, and relax with all the comforts and conveniences of home. With a customized RV, the only unexpected surprises will be the discoveries you make along your journey. 

    Some custom modifications offered include:

    Wheelchair lifts or ramps

    Wider entrances

    Lower kitchen counters and cabinets

    Roll-under sinks

    Roll-in showers

    #4 RV’s make a great base camp

    Outdoor sports enthusiasts can have the best of both worlds. Spend the day in the woods or on the water, then relax and recharge. New ultra-light Travel Trailers make it easy to get in and out of the woods and convenient to get out of the cold. Outdoor showers mean clean gear for the next day and are great for cleaning the catch of the day for dinner. Full kitchens give you the option of dinner prepared indoors or over a roaring campfire. Locking storage compartments also let you store your gear safely overnight.

    #5 Your 4-wheeler wants to get out more

    Take your favorite motorized toys to the best places to ride. With built-in garages, the rear door of a SURV/toy hauler RV drops down to create a ramp. Motorcycles, ATVs and more roll in and out with ease, which means hello fun, good-bye boring weekends.

    After a day of engine-revving speed, wash off the mud in your bathroom, cook up your favorite food in your kitchen, relax in your living room and fall asleep in your own bed. 

    In some RV models, the ramp converts to a patio so you can relax outside when the vehicles are unloaded. If you like four-wheeling adventures, you’ll love the freedom of RV travel.

    #6 Take a romantic getaway

    Weekends away for two are a snap. With basic necessities kept stored in your RV, when the urge for couple time strikes, you can hit the road for spur-of-the-moment getaways. The rest is up to you. Sleep in. Stay an extra day. Take a detour on a whim. You’re in charge of your schedule, so do whatever your heart desires. 

    Head to the mountains for the change of seasons, to the beach for sunsets and holding hands or to an out-of-the-way spot you discovered years ago. Rekindle the romance by spending time together.

     

    Jan12nd ’15

    Jayco Redhawk 31XL

    From “affordable luxury” to “bang for your buck” on up to “family-friendly,” 

    The living area consists of a two-person, belted J-steel sofa bed and a compact four-person dinette (also belted). Both the sofa and part of the galley are housed in a 98-inch streetside slide.

    The living area consists of a two-person, belted J-steel sofa bed and a compact four-person dinette (also belted). Both the sofa and part of the galley are housed in a 98-inch streetside slide.

     

    The Redhawk essentially combines all of the above into a smooth-driving, nicely appointed Class C package. Jayco has recognized the need for an affordable coach that includes many of the amenities of more expensive models without sacrificing too much. And, the company has done so in a style that befits families with children of all ages.
    At first glance, the exterior of the Redhawk doesn’t necessarily stand out from the crowd, but a little more scrutiny reveals some pleasant surprises. The front fiberglass cap, part of the “mandatory” Customer Value Package option ($4,691) and the radius-cornered entrance door are fine touches, plus the standard frameless windows add a touch of elegance. The seamless one-piece rubber roof will no doubt help with leak protection in the long run.
    The Redhawk is built on the Ford E-450 chassis, and the Triton 6.8-liter V-10 gas engine is rated at 305 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. The five-speed TorqShift Series transmission tackles the terrain with aplomb, while the Hellwig helper springs and rubber isolation body mounts help make for an enjoyable, shudder-free ride.
    But the Redhawk’s place in the spotlight lies inside the coach, which has been outfitted with a nice amount of walk-around space and up to eight sleeping positions.
    Stepping up into the entry, the Redhawk’s interior appears more upscale than its price point would indicate. The Ultraleather sofa and dinette, decorative slideout fascia boards and glazed cabinetry with brushed-nickel hardware would be right at home in a more expensive motor­home. The vinyl flooring is surprisingly tile-like; I had to run my hands over it to be sure. The cabinets are plentiful and the drawers all feature ball-bearing guides, which is always appreciated. One simple feature I especially liked is the cabinet containing the monitor panels: Corkboard has been inset in the door, as have three key hooks, which made for a very handy spot to hold keys, wallets, etc., in addition to a message center and/or picture holder.
    The living area consists of a two-person, belted J-steel sofa bed and a compact four-person dinette (also belted). Both the sofa and part of the galley are housed in a 98-inch streetside slide.

    Also located in the hall area is the bunk house, which brings the motorhome up a serious notch in terms of livability.

    Also located in the hall area is the bunk house, which brings the motorhome up a serious notch in terms of livability.

    Interior entertainment is provided by a 32-inch LED TV, which is offered as part of that Customer Value Package. However, the location of the TV — combined with a less-than-desirable swing mount — made for some interesting TV-yoga to view from the inside position on the dinette. First order of business would be a larger (longer) swing-arm mount that allowed for some swivel as well.
    The cabover sleeping area was comfy enough and rated for 750 pounds, which is way more capacity than an area so tricky to access without a ladder needs. This area has teenager/young adult written all over it — provided said youth is OK with the lack of a curtain, and therefore privacy, afforded by the perch.
    The galley features the standard three-burner range, oven and microwave, but food-prep space is near non-existent. With sleeping accommodations for so many people, I expected more usable space but, luckily, our simple RV menu is usually heavy on outdoor grilling anyway. With the lack of counter space in this floorplan, expect yours to be, too. I’m also not a fan of the plastic sink and faucet in the galley, but they do work as advertised.
    The 8-cubic-foot double-door refrigerator/freezer is just the right size for extended weekend stays, and should have no trouble handling groceries for large families. Non-perishables can be stored in a handy pantry located just past the kitchen in the hall area.
    Also located in the hall area is the bunk house, which brings the motorhome up a serious notch in terms of livability. Each 72-inch-long bunk features a light for reading, and integrated curtains mean the little ones will have the privacy that the cabover sleepers lack. Plus, the location of the pantry makes midnight snacks a breeze! The whole area can be cordoned off from the living area up front and the master in the rear via accordion-type doors.
    Redhawk-31XLThe streetside bathroom is just spacious enough to get things done. The foot-flush toilet is positioned at an angle for additional space, and though there is no medicine cabinet, an open-shelf arrangement behind the potty is a good place for toiletries. The shower curtain is vinyl with a rigid-type frame, which helps keep it away from soapy skin.
    The master bedroom is dominated by a wonderfully roomy wardrobe/drawer piece, which can easily hold all the vacation clothes with room to spare. The unit is part of the massive 138-inch curbside slideout, which begins at the bunk area and ends near the rear of the motorhome. The upper cabinet is wired for a TV should you need more viewing options, though its height means you would need to purchase a quality, wide-viewing-angle TV.
    The queen bed was rather comfy, enough so that I can easily imagine sleeping in it for more than a few nights without any side effects. At each side of the bed, Jayco has put a night “surface” (I refuse to call them nightstands due to their abbreviated size) that becomes incredibly useful as an electronics charging station, with an outlet immediately beneath each one.
    Overall, it’s clear that Jayco has drawn heavily on its near half-century of experience in anticipating which appointments buyers at this price point want and incorporated them as standard (the included Onan 4,000-watt genset is a prime example). Rounding out that “mandatory option” (another industry buzzword) Customer Value Package are a 400-watt power inverter, back-up camera and monitor, power awning, black-tank flush and holding-tank heating pads.

     

    Dec22nd ’14

    Six awesome things you probably didn't know about Airstream's!

    To some folks, Airstream's aluminum trailers are peculiar structures that warrant little more than a glance. But look a little closer, and you'll find a perpetually futuristic vehicle that has been used by NASA to shuttle astronauts, the Air Force to move high-ranking officials, and by millions of superfans to simply get out of town.

    To chat about the iconic silver trailer's most unusual history, Airstream caught up with Tara Cox, former editor-in-chief of RV Living magazine and author of the upcoming book Airstream: The Silver RV. 

    1) The Origin Of That Design
    If Airstream trailers are known for anything, it's their distinctive silver shape. But the company wasn't the first to make a streamlined silver trailer. The design actually originated with William Hawley Bowlus, a veteran designer who had previously worked on Charles Lindburgh's Spirit of St. Louis plane. Bowlus took inspiration from his work with airplanes to create a silver trailer called the Bowlus Road Chief. "The company went under in 1935, but was actually revived this year by a fan of that trailer," Cox says.

    Another fun fact: Early Airstream models were actually made out of wood, before the shiny silver became company standard.

    2) The Plans Used To Be Sold In The Back Of Magazines
    "Airstream founder Wally Byam originally sold plans on how to build a trailer in your backyard in the back of Popular Mechanics magazine," Cox says. "The oldest existing Airstream trailer was built by its owner from these plans."

    3) Just How Light They Are
    In the 1940s, Airstream commissioned publicity photos that showed a cyclist pulling a trailer with his bike. The goal: To show off just how lightweight the trailers were.


    4) There Were Almost Colored Airstreams
    "Wally Byam planned on making colored Airstreams to match the pastel schemes of the cars of the 1950s," Cox says. "After experimenting with his own gold Airstream, he abandoned the idea."

    5) NASA Used Them
    Neil, Buzz, and Michael's first stop when they got back to Earth: A modified Airstream. "NASA used an Airstream motorhome called the Astrovan to bring astronauts to the launchpad," Cox says.  "Apollo 11 astronauts were quarantined in an Airstream until they were clear of feared 'moon germs. In fact, Nixon interviewed them through the trailer."

    For decades, NASA also used an Airstream (or Astrovan, as they called it in the '80s) to shuttle astronauts to the launchpad in style.

    6) The Military Loves Them
    What's the best way for the Air Force to transport VIPs to far-flung locations? Via Airstream, of course. As part of its "Silver Bullet" program, the Air Force Research Laboratories transformed a series of Airstream trailers into mobile communications modules. The trailers, which are outfitted with at-home luxuries such as comfy couches and TVs, as well as a load of communications gear, are designed to fit inside Air Force cargo planes such as the C-17. Past and current Defense Secretaries Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel have both served as passengers in these flying trailers.

    May22nd ’14

    Bontrager Family Leads of Reorganization of Jayco, Inc.

    MIDDLEBURY, Ind. -- Jayco Inc., the world's largest privately-owned RV manufacturer, announced a reorganization that will provide greater hands-on roles for Wilbur Bontrager, Chairman, and Derald Bontrager, President & CEO.

    Derald Bontrager explained, "The new leadership structure will provide greater autonomy for our four operating divisions; Jayco Towables, Jayco Motorhome Group, Starcraft, and newly formed Highland Ridge RV which produces the Open Range family of products."

    "Each division will be led by its president and a dedicated operating management team with a laser focus on creating the best, most innovative models within their product range." Bontrager said. "Our four division presidents will now report directly to me, as we have flattened our organization and moved away from the need for a corporate COO."

    In conclusion, Bontrager stated, "Our new structure will enhance the speed to market, flexibility and accountability of each Jayco operating entity. With our recent acquisition, we felt it was important to our employees, dealers, customers, and our future success in the marketplace for the Bontrager family to get even closer and more involved in the day to day leadership of our businesses."

    Wilbur Bontrager, Jayco Chairman, added, "The values that formed Jayco nearly a half century ago by our parents, Lloyd and Bertha Bontrager, have been critical to our historical success, and become even more important as we grow and look to the future. Derald and I are looking forward to directly influencing and inspiring our business leaders with those core values every day as the foundation of our success in the marketplace."

    Updated: 5/22/2014 4:00:11 PM

    Feb20th ’14

    Jayco Moves Forward with Jay Smart Travel Trailer

    MIDDLEBURY, Ind. -- Jayco, Inc. approved the launch of its new Jay Smart, a line of Euro-styled, ultra-lightweight RVs. The new line of towables is slated to be built on Jayco's campus in Middlebury, IN.

    Jayco displayed a prototype of the Jay Smart during the 2013 Louisville RV Show. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive by those who explored the revolutionary product. Dealers from all over the globe were excited at the prospect of Jayco producing such a modernized, easy-to-tow and lightweight travel trailer.

    Jim Jacobs, Jayco's chief operating officer commented, "With the knowledge and experience we've gained from building this new family of lightweight products, we're confident our dealers will gain an even stronger competitive advantage in the marketplace." He went on to say, "It wouldn't surprise me if along the way we find ways of incorporating some of the design and engineering elements discovered in building the Jay Smart into our other product offerings."

    Formal introduction of the Jay Smart will occur at Jayco's annual Homecoming event taking place in San Antonio, Texas the week of June 23rd.

    Initial offerings of the Jay Smart will include four floorplans in 19, 22 and two 26-foot lengths. Each unit will be built with the same streamlined, contemporary look highlighted during the RV industry's largest trade show of the year.

    Brian Donat, an industry veteran, will remain active as a product design consultant for the Jay Smart. Donat's knowledge of the European marketplace is a valuable asset and contributed greatly to the positive response from the dealer network.


     

    Jan23rd ’14

    Rough Roads? No Problem...

    Wally Byam stood by his Airstream. If you had an automobile that could make it over any road condition, then you could take your Airstream with you. Of course, this was the early days - before four wheel drive and heavy duty utility vehicles.

    In planning the first Airstream Caravan in 1951, which traveled through Mexico and Central America, Wally knew the roads were going to be rough but passable. He knew that the Pan American Highway had not been completed and in Southern Mexico, the Caravan had to travel by rail on flat cars to the Guatemalan border. Wally also knew that Managua, Nicaragua was the trail's end. The Pan American Highway is non-existent into Panama.

    When least expected, the Caravan crossed primitive and localized bridges where villagers built bridges using practical applied engineering. The above picture shows a plank bridge in Mexico.

    Eight years later, on the 1959 Airstream Wally Byam African Caravan, they experienced similar bridges. This created de´ja` vu moments from the 1st Caravan to Mexico and Central America.

    Airstream's pedigree includes road testing on the six continents including North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. Someday, Antarctica may be included.

    The miles accumulated by Airstream Caravans and by individual owners traveling our world confirms, what Wally Byam bequeathed us in the "Wally Byam Creed."

    Wally said, "To place the great wide world at your doorstep for you who yearn to travel with all the comforts of home." Enjoy, and Live Riveted!

    Updated: 1/23/2014 2:06:48 PM

  4. Apr30th ’15

    About Tiffin Motorhomes

    About Tiffin Motorhomes

    Tiffin Motorhomes is a manufacturer of luxury Class A gas and diesel motorhomes. The Tiffin family has been producing quality motorhomes for over 40 years.  Attention to detail, quality and listening to their customers is what has set the Tiffin brand apart.

    Tiffin Motorhomes manufactures the Zephyr, Allegro Bus, Phaeton, Allegro RED, Allegro Breeze and Allegro lines of Class A motorhomes.

    This is a family business with members of the Tiffin family working every day.

    Our family is here to serve your family with good service and a products you can feel proud of driving down the road.

    The relationships we've built with Tiffin over the years speak for itself. They’re unique in the industry, and we consider ourselves fortunate to have gotten to know so many of them and represent their products.

    Whether you are looking at a Zephyr, Allegro Bus, Phaeton, Allegro Red, Allegro Breeze, or Allegro - we have what you are looking for: comfort, quality, and the ultimate luxury class a coaches.

    So come visit Crain RV and our experts will assist you in finding the perfect Tiffin!
     

    Mar01st ’15

    Newmar Safety comes first!

    One of the most overlooked aspects of a high-quality motor coach is the chassis. As the foundation of your motorhome, a well-made, expertly-designed chassis plays an important role in how much – or how little – you enjoy traveling from coast-to-coast in your Class A RV.   

    Given our commitment to industry-leading quality and superior engineering, it should come as no surprise that we at Newmar choose to work with the world’s best to equip each of our diesel and luxury coaches with a custom-built chassis. After all, a custom chassis offers several benefits compared to a one-size-fits-all application.

     How does Freightliner Custom Chassis work to build chassis that deliver a safer on-road experience?

    I’ll begin with something as simple as brakes. While drum brakes are the industry standard, we know from our testing that disc brakes do a better job of stopping a heavy Class A motor coach. Once we were able to prove that disc brakes elevated safety, it made sense for us to make them standard equipment. As a result, we made disc brakes standard on all of our products starting in 2007.

    In 2013, we debuted our new V-Ride rear suspension system. V-Ride increases weight capacity to as much as 24,000 pounds, and offers enhanced roll stability for when you’re driving around a campground and your coach is rocking back and forth.

    Soon, tire pressure monitoring systems will be a standard feature on each of our chassis. And not as an aftermarket add-on, but as something that we developed internally. This is a big deal because the inside rear tire on a Class A RV is rarely checked because it’s so difficult to reach, especially when you’re using a shorter tire pressure gauge intended for a car. Bringing that kind of safety technology to our OEMs is always a goal.

    Finally, all chassis manufacturers are required to meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. For us, the key to going above and beyond those standards is having a large, highly-qualified engineering department with cutting-edge technology and resource capabilities. As a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America, FCCC has the tools to build a stronger, safer chassis. Our relationship with Daimler allows us to actually pull features – including safety features – and apply those innovations to the creation of our custom chassis. Having brands like Western Star, Freightliner Trucks, Fuso and Mercedes-Benz all under the Daimler umbrella is huge for us, especially from a safety perspective.

    As a group, Freightliner has long focused on enhanced durability testing. How does this emphasis on longevity apply to FCCC?

    Durability testing is absolutely critical to the long-term success of every single FCCC product. Anytime we release a new design, our engineers perform durability testing. Not only do we test here at FCCC, we also have one at Bosch. This allows us to test our chassis more than 125,000 miles before one is ever applied to a vehicle. Our durability testing goes well beyond basic on-road maneuvers. We really give these chassis a heavy-duty shakedown, which is a practice that is inherently Freightliner.

    Some may wonder why we’re testing a bracket that’s holding an air cleaner in place, and it’s because we don’t want to find out years down the road that there are air cleaners falling off of motorhomes. Having the capability and depth of resources to perform a higher level of durability testing is extremely beneficial for us as a group.

    Building coaches that are easier and more comfortable to drive has always been a goal for Newmar. How does FCCC work to support this mission?

    At FCCC, we pride ourselves on delivering motorhome chassis that are the most maneuverable, best riding in the industry. The “Custom” in our name is very important – it means working closely with the highest-quality OEMs in the industry like Newmar to ensure we’re developing and delivering to them the best chassis so they can build the best coaches. The key has been major investments. There are a lot of great products out there, but FCCC has that corporate umbrella that provides us with access to the very latest engineering breakthroughs.

    Take shocks, for example. We brought in – exclusive to FCCC – SACHS shocks, which gave us the ability to tune our shocks to a particular coach. So when we take part in helping build new model or have a new configuration, we have the capability of tuning those shocks to that exact coach. If you go into our parts system and look at shocks, we have dozens of different part numbers representing our shocks because we’ve tuned so many different configurations. You can’t take a shock that we use on a Ventana and use it on a Mountain Aire because they are calibrated much differently.

    When you talk about maneuverability, FCCC is the only company in the industry that’s established a maximum 60-degree wheel cut on an independent front suspension. There are other independent front suspensions out there and they do a great job, but off the shelf, they are almost never custom-tailored. At FCCC, we’re not going to grab a truck suspension, make a few tweaks and throw it on a motorhome. We work with our partners to build suspensions that achieve maximum maneuverability.

     

    Jan27th ’15

    6 Reasons to Purchase an RV

    #1 Take the kids

    95% of people who camped as children said it had a positive impact on their adult lives, helping them develop an appreciation for the outdoors and for different people and places. Plus, RVs feel more like home than a hotel, making travel relaxing and familiar – no surprises here.

    Bunks or trundle beds give kids a space to call their own.

    Sleep soundly in your own bed with your favorite pillow so it will always feel like home.

    Bike ride, anyone? Extra “basement” storage accommodates bikes and bulky gear.

    On-board bathrooms save time on roadside pit stops and easily clean up messy hands.

    Make spur-of-the-moment route changes along the way when something catches your eye

    #2 Go Leisurely

    Take control. You decide when and where to go and what you want to take with you. There’s no racing to catch a flight or long lines. There are no baggage limits or fees, nor shortage of legroom, so stretch out, take your shoes off when you want to and enjoy the view.

    Your schedule is your call when you’re behind the wheel. Make unplanned stops along the way when something catches your eye. Stay as long as you like or hit the road earlier than planned. 

    #3 Make your RV Yours

    Some RV offer modified floor plans and amenities to suit your individual needs. Take the worry and uncertainty out of travel, and relax with all the comforts and conveniences of home. With a customized RV, the only unexpected surprises will be the discoveries you make along your journey. 

    Some custom modifications offered include:

    Wheelchair lifts or ramps

    Wider entrances

    Lower kitchen counters and cabinets

    Roll-under sinks

    Roll-in showers

    #4 RV’s make a great base camp

    Outdoor sports enthusiasts can have the best of both worlds. Spend the day in the woods or on the water, then relax and recharge. New ultra-light Travel Trailers make it easy to get in and out of the woods and convenient to get out of the cold. Outdoor showers mean clean gear for the next day and are great for cleaning the catch of the day for dinner. Full kitchens give you the option of dinner prepared indoors or over a roaring campfire. Locking storage compartments also let you store your gear safely overnight.

    #5 Your 4-wheeler wants to get out more

    Take your favorite motorized toys to the best places to ride. With built-in garages, the rear door of a SURV/toy hauler RV drops down to create a ramp. Motorcycles, ATVs and more roll in and out with ease, which means hello fun, good-bye boring weekends.

    After a day of engine-revving speed, wash off the mud in your bathroom, cook up your favorite food in your kitchen, relax in your living room and fall asleep in your own bed. 

    In some RV models, the ramp converts to a patio so you can relax outside when the vehicles are unloaded. If you like four-wheeling adventures, you’ll love the freedom of RV travel.

    #6 Take a romantic getaway

    Weekends away for two are a snap. With basic necessities kept stored in your RV, when the urge for couple time strikes, you can hit the road for spur-of-the-moment getaways. The rest is up to you. Sleep in. Stay an extra day. Take a detour on a whim. You’re in charge of your schedule, so do whatever your heart desires. 

    Head to the mountains for the change of seasons, to the beach for sunsets and holding hands or to an out-of-the-way spot you discovered years ago. Rekindle the romance by spending time together.

     

    Jan12nd ’15

    Jayco Redhawk 31XL

    From “affordable luxury” to “bang for your buck” on up to “family-friendly,” 

    The living area consists of a two-person, belted J-steel sofa bed and a compact four-person dinette (also belted). Both the sofa and part of the galley are housed in a 98-inch streetside slide.

    The living area consists of a two-person, belted J-steel sofa bed and a compact four-person dinette (also belted). Both the sofa and part of the galley are housed in a 98-inch streetside slide.

     

    The Redhawk essentially combines all of the above into a smooth-driving, nicely appointed Class C package. Jayco has recognized the need for an affordable coach that includes many of the amenities of more expensive models without sacrificing too much. And, the company has done so in a style that befits families with children of all ages.
    At first glance, the exterior of the Redhawk doesn’t necessarily stand out from the crowd, but a little more scrutiny reveals some pleasant surprises. The front fiberglass cap, part of the “mandatory” Customer Value Package option ($4,691) and the radius-cornered entrance door are fine touches, plus the standard frameless windows add a touch of elegance. The seamless one-piece rubber roof will no doubt help with leak protection in the long run.
    The Redhawk is built on the Ford E-450 chassis, and the Triton 6.8-liter V-10 gas engine is rated at 305 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. The five-speed TorqShift Series transmission tackles the terrain with aplomb, while the Hellwig helper springs and rubber isolation body mounts help make for an enjoyable, shudder-free ride.
    But the Redhawk’s place in the spotlight lies inside the coach, which has been outfitted with a nice amount of walk-around space and up to eight sleeping positions.
    Stepping up into the entry, the Redhawk’s interior appears more upscale than its price point would indicate. The Ultraleather sofa and dinette, decorative slideout fascia boards and glazed cabinetry with brushed-nickel hardware would be right at home in a more expensive motor­home. The vinyl flooring is surprisingly tile-like; I had to run my hands over it to be sure. The cabinets are plentiful and the drawers all feature ball-bearing guides, which is always appreciated. One simple feature I especially liked is the cabinet containing the monitor panels: Corkboard has been inset in the door, as have three key hooks, which made for a very handy spot to hold keys, wallets, etc., in addition to a message center and/or picture holder.
    The living area consists of a two-person, belted J-steel sofa bed and a compact four-person dinette (also belted). Both the sofa and part of the galley are housed in a 98-inch streetside slide.

    Also located in the hall area is the bunk house, which brings the motorhome up a serious notch in terms of livability.

    Also located in the hall area is the bunk house, which brings the motorhome up a serious notch in terms of livability.

    Interior entertainment is provided by a 32-inch LED TV, which is offered as part of that Customer Value Package. However, the location of the TV — combined with a less-than-desirable swing mount — made for some interesting TV-yoga to view from the inside position on the dinette. First order of business would be a larger (longer) swing-arm mount that allowed for some swivel as well.
    The cabover sleeping area was comfy enough and rated for 750 pounds, which is way more capacity than an area so tricky to access without a ladder needs. This area has teenager/young adult written all over it — provided said youth is OK with the lack of a curtain, and therefore privacy, afforded by the perch.
    The galley features the standard three-burner range, oven and microwave, but food-prep space is near non-existent. With sleeping accommodations for so many people, I expected more usable space but, luckily, our simple RV menu is usually heavy on outdoor grilling anyway. With the lack of counter space in this floorplan, expect yours to be, too. I’m also not a fan of the plastic sink and faucet in the galley, but they do work as advertised.
    The 8-cubic-foot double-door refrigerator/freezer is just the right size for extended weekend stays, and should have no trouble handling groceries for large families. Non-perishables can be stored in a handy pantry located just past the kitchen in the hall area.
    Also located in the hall area is the bunk house, which brings the motorhome up a serious notch in terms of livability. Each 72-inch-long bunk features a light for reading, and integrated curtains mean the little ones will have the privacy that the cabover sleepers lack. Plus, the location of the pantry makes midnight snacks a breeze! The whole area can be cordoned off from the living area up front and the master in the rear via accordion-type doors.
    Redhawk-31XLThe streetside bathroom is just spacious enough to get things done. The foot-flush toilet is positioned at an angle for additional space, and though there is no medicine cabinet, an open-shelf arrangement behind the potty is a good place for toiletries. The shower curtain is vinyl with a rigid-type frame, which helps keep it away from soapy skin.
    The master bedroom is dominated by a wonderfully roomy wardrobe/drawer piece, which can easily hold all the vacation clothes with room to spare. The unit is part of the massive 138-inch curbside slideout, which begins at the bunk area and ends near the rear of the motorhome. The upper cabinet is wired for a TV should you need more viewing options, though its height means you would need to purchase a quality, wide-viewing-angle TV.
    The queen bed was rather comfy, enough so that I can easily imagine sleeping in it for more than a few nights without any side effects. At each side of the bed, Jayco has put a night “surface” (I refuse to call them nightstands due to their abbreviated size) that becomes incredibly useful as an electronics charging station, with an outlet immediately beneath each one.
    Overall, it’s clear that Jayco has drawn heavily on its near half-century of experience in anticipating which appointments buyers at this price point want and incorporated them as standard (the included Onan 4,000-watt genset is a prime example). Rounding out that “mandatory option” (another industry buzzword) Customer Value Package are a 400-watt power inverter, back-up camera and monitor, power awning, black-tank flush and holding-tank heating pads.

     

    Dec22nd ’14

    Six awesome things you probably didn't know about Airstream's!

    To some folks, Airstream's aluminum trailers are peculiar structures that warrant little more than a glance. But look a little closer, and you'll find a perpetually futuristic vehicle that has been used by NASA to shuttle astronauts, the Air Force to move high-ranking officials, and by millions of superfans to simply get out of town.

    To chat about the iconic silver trailer's most unusual history, Airstream caught up with Tara Cox, former editor-in-chief of RV Living magazine and author of the upcoming book Airstream: The Silver RV. 

    1) The Origin Of That Design
    If Airstream trailers are known for anything, it's their distinctive silver shape. But the company wasn't the first to make a streamlined silver trailer. The design actually originated with William Hawley Bowlus, a veteran designer who had previously worked on Charles Lindburgh's Spirit of St. Louis plane. Bowlus took inspiration from his work with airplanes to create a silver trailer called the Bowlus Road Chief. "The company went under in 1935, but was actually revived this year by a fan of that trailer," Cox says.

    Another fun fact: Early Airstream models were actually made out of wood, before the shiny silver became company standard.

    2) The Plans Used To Be Sold In The Back Of Magazines
    "Airstream founder Wally Byam originally sold plans on how to build a trailer in your backyard in the back of Popular Mechanics magazine," Cox says. "The oldest existing Airstream trailer was built by its owner from these plans."

    3) Just How Light They Are
    In the 1940s, Airstream commissioned publicity photos that showed a cyclist pulling a trailer with his bike. The goal: To show off just how lightweight the trailers were.


    4) There Were Almost Colored Airstreams
    "Wally Byam planned on making colored Airstreams to match the pastel schemes of the cars of the 1950s," Cox says. "After experimenting with his own gold Airstream, he abandoned the idea."

    5) NASA Used Them
    Neil, Buzz, and Michael's first stop when they got back to Earth: A modified Airstream. "NASA used an Airstream motorhome called the Astrovan to bring astronauts to the launchpad," Cox says.  "Apollo 11 astronauts were quarantined in an Airstream until they were clear of feared 'moon germs. In fact, Nixon interviewed them through the trailer."

    For decades, NASA also used an Airstream (or Astrovan, as they called it in the '80s) to shuttle astronauts to the launchpad in style.

    6) The Military Loves Them
    What's the best way for the Air Force to transport VIPs to far-flung locations? Via Airstream, of course. As part of its "Silver Bullet" program, the Air Force Research Laboratories transformed a series of Airstream trailers into mobile communications modules. The trailers, which are outfitted with at-home luxuries such as comfy couches and TVs, as well as a load of communications gear, are designed to fit inside Air Force cargo planes such as the C-17. Past and current Defense Secretaries Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel have both served as passengers in these flying trailers.

    May22nd ’14

    Bontrager Family Leads of Reorganization of Jayco, Inc.

    MIDDLEBURY, Ind. -- Jayco Inc., the world's largest privately-owned RV manufacturer, announced a reorganization that will provide greater hands-on roles for Wilbur Bontrager, Chairman, and Derald Bontrager, President & CEO.

    Derald Bontrager explained, "The new leadership structure will provide greater autonomy for our four operating divisions; Jayco Towables, Jayco Motorhome Group, Starcraft, and newly formed Highland Ridge RV which produces the Open Range family of products."

    "Each division will be led by its president and a dedicated operating management team with a laser focus on creating the best, most innovative models within their product range." Bontrager said. "Our four division presidents will now report directly to me, as we have flattened our organization and moved away from the need for a corporate COO."

    In conclusion, Bontrager stated, "Our new structure will enhance the speed to market, flexibility and accountability of each Jayco operating entity. With our recent acquisition, we felt it was important to our employees, dealers, customers, and our future success in the marketplace for the Bontrager family to get even closer and more involved in the day to day leadership of our businesses."

    Wilbur Bontrager, Jayco Chairman, added, "The values that formed Jayco nearly a half century ago by our parents, Lloyd and Bertha Bontrager, have been critical to our historical success, and become even more important as we grow and look to the future. Derald and I are looking forward to directly influencing and inspiring our business leaders with those core values every day as the foundation of our success in the marketplace."

    Updated: 5/22/2014 4:00:11 PM

    Feb20th ’14

    Jayco Moves Forward with Jay Smart Travel Trailer

    MIDDLEBURY, Ind. -- Jayco, Inc. approved the launch of its new Jay Smart, a line of Euro-styled, ultra-lightweight RVs. The new line of towables is slated to be built on Jayco's campus in Middlebury, IN.

    Jayco displayed a prototype of the Jay Smart during the 2013 Louisville RV Show. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive by those who explored the revolutionary product. Dealers from all over the globe were excited at the prospect of Jayco producing such a modernized, easy-to-tow and lightweight travel trailer.

    Jim Jacobs, Jayco's chief operating officer commented, "With the knowledge and experience we've gained from building this new family of lightweight products, we're confident our dealers will gain an even stronger competitive advantage in the marketplace." He went on to say, "It wouldn't surprise me if along the way we find ways of incorporating some of the design and engineering elements discovered in building the Jay Smart into our other product offerings."

    Formal introduction of the Jay Smart will occur at Jayco's annual Homecoming event taking place in San Antonio, Texas the week of June 23rd.

    Initial offerings of the Jay Smart will include four floorplans in 19, 22 and two 26-foot lengths. Each unit will be built with the same streamlined, contemporary look highlighted during the RV industry's largest trade show of the year.

    Brian Donat, an industry veteran, will remain active as a product design consultant for the Jay Smart. Donat's knowledge of the European marketplace is a valuable asset and contributed greatly to the positive response from the dealer network.


     

    Jan23rd ’14

    Rough Roads? No Problem...

    Wally Byam stood by his Airstream. If you had an automobile that could make it over any road condition, then you could take your Airstream with you. Of course, this was the early days - before four wheel drive and heavy duty utility vehicles.

    In planning the first Airstream Caravan in 1951, which traveled through Mexico and Central America, Wally knew the roads were going to be rough but passable. He knew that the Pan American Highway had not been completed and in Southern Mexico, the Caravan had to travel by rail on flat cars to the Guatemalan border. Wally also knew that Managua, Nicaragua was the trail's end. The Pan American Highway is non-existent into Panama.

    When least expected, the Caravan crossed primitive and localized bridges where villagers built bridges using practical applied engineering. The above picture shows a plank bridge in Mexico.

    Eight years later, on the 1959 Airstream Wally Byam African Caravan, they experienced similar bridges. This created de´ja` vu moments from the 1st Caravan to Mexico and Central America.

    Airstream's pedigree includes road testing on the six continents including North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. Someday, Antarctica may be included.

    The miles accumulated by Airstream Caravans and by individual owners traveling our world confirms, what Wally Byam bequeathed us in the "Wally Byam Creed."

    Wally said, "To place the great wide world at your doorstep for you who yearn to travel with all the comforts of home." Enjoy, and Live Riveted!

    Updated: 1/23/2014 2:06:48 PM