What a day!
Very busy indeed, but I have to tell you each one of the days that we’ve had so far started out with “challenges.” I was ready to take a hot shower this morning and I reached in to turn on the valve and all I got was …. “Nothing!” Oh boy here we go again. I tried the sink in the lavatory and in the kitchen and nothing however we had plenty of ice cold water. I was thinking to myself that I know exactly what’s wrong although I was trying to work through a scenario in my mind where something froze. I opened the valve in the hope that it might start flowing again but like others here would tell you. “No joy!”
A brief cold water wash-up was the order of the day as I had to make my way out to the show. Before I left I hooked up Miss Roxy for a little walk. On opening the door I was greeted by a 15-20 mph wind and snow flurries. Great! While waiting to depart, I remotely started the car to warm up the inside. I knew pretty much what the problem was since other members here have encountered the same situation. I’m expecting the problem to be the top check valve on the back of the water heater. At that time, I was not looking forward to pulling the water heater out to make the repair.
I collected all my stuff together and made my way out to the car. I departed the campground in snow flurries but the good news was that the road wasn’t wet. It was strange for me after 5 or so years to be driving around in snow flurries since I promised myself that I wouldn’t have to do this again anytime soon. Today I disregarded the GPS and stuck it out on the northbound I-65 to the KY Expo Center exit. After a short distance I took the ramp off the highway and wound up right at the main entrance. Knowing today where I had to go to get in the building, I proceeded to park much closer to access the press room. The reality however was that it didn’t actually help much! It was freezing outside so I moved myself along quickly as I could to get inside. It’s not so much the cold but the wind was a bit brutal. The wind chill was something like 26 degrees.
I walked in through the West Wing and on my way to the press room I thought why back track so I stopped at the Sunnybrook exhibit. I went up to the main desk and asked if I could speak to someone about the letter of agreement that Winnebago cut stating that they were going to consider buying a towables company naming Sunnybrook as the company of interest. Nothing today has told me that we are any closer on this deal than the press releases that we have seen from Winnebago Industries about their intent. Winnebago Industries is a public traded company so any move in this direction has be disclosed. The nice lady behind the desk told me that she couldn’t help but the gentleman taking his coat off could, Mr. Elvie J. Frey, Sr. President of Sunnybrook RV Inc.
I waited to get Mr. Frey’s attention and once he had a moment he came over and introduced himself and we exchanged cards. I asked him the question that the readers here were interested in finding out; “What’s going on with Sunnybrook and Winnebago?” Frey responded that a letter of intent was in play and that a press release was cut stating that Winnebago Industries voiced interest in obtaining the company. Aside from that not much more could be said because the situation was still under development. Honestly I didn’t expect any more than that but I did ask the question.
I asked Mr. Frey if he had something that he wanted to show me that would combine all the best features of the brand into a single unit so we took a walk to one of the travel trailers in the display. As we were walking over Mr. Frey told me about his experiences early in his years when he went camping with his children. He told me that back then cooking outside was a routine that he often did. Incorporating his early reality into an RV was something that he and the development team at SunnyBrook were able to accomplish. On the SunnyBrook Sunset Creek model a side wall panel opened up and practically exposed an entire kitchen on the curb side of the unit. I was impressed because you just don’t see that on other competing RVs.
One of the Ultimate RV fifth wheels haulers could be this Navistar Lone-Star “Harley Davidson Edition” tractor. This tractor is equipped with an automatic transmission so “Yes”, I expect that you could drive it
Moving along Mr. Frey demonstrated how the front cap of the Sunnybrook brands had changed for 2011 in that they were made to be more rounded and improving the aerodynamics. The brand is very much in tune with the needs of the family that camps. New for Sunnybrook is a rear kitchen which affords uncontested space in the living room for the opposing couches. With both the galley and dinette in the back of the rig, the open floorplan in the living area is more than just a feeling that is being offered to Sunnybrook customers it’s real usable space. One of the models on display had bunk beds with a large access door on the curb side of the sleeping area. The door makes the storing of camping gear below the beds possible from the ground level.
I thanked Mr. Frey for his time and retrieved my coat and continued on to the press room. I checked by mail box and only saw a couple of items so I went and got a cup of coffee, careful not to wreck my white shirt and I pulled out my map and made a plan of attack for the day. Although I’m going to abbreviate this narrative I will write further about my tour today which will feature an article on the 2011 Winnebago Industries products and my meeting with Bob Olsen, President of Winnebago Industries. Later in the day I stopped by and saw Ryan Lee the Marketing Director for Monaco Coach LLC and we reviewed the new Monaco Vesta and the Holiday Rambler Trip. Concluding my day I stopped by the Newmar exhibit and met with Shannon Stover in the Marketing Department who pointed out the new entry level RDP product built on a Freightliner Chassis, the Ventana LE.
During the course of the day I wanted to stop by real quick and see what was going on at the GM exhibit. I spoke with one of the gentlemen from the commercial side of the business just to find out what was new at GM. The cut away van chassis for use on Class C motorhomes is still alive and well and has a GVW of 14,200 pounds however plans are in the works to lengthen the wheelbase and increase the GVW at that time. I also found out that the Class Cs van cutaway chassis are equipped with 6-Speed Hydra-Matic automatic transmissions. The reason for the use of a Hydro-Matic is because GM could not fit an Allison on the cut away chassis without redesigning the floor pan. A CNG and LP option for some commercial applications was discussed which would affect the commercial side more than the RV side of the business.
The GMC/Chevrolet pickup trucks on the other hand are equipped with the Allison 6-Speed Transmission when opted with the Duramax diesel engine. For model year 2011 the D-Max is rated at 397 Horsepower and 765 lb/ft of torque. GM states that the new D-Max has less tail pipe emissions using SCR/DPF technology and Urea, is more fuel efficient and quieter than ever before. The D-Max can also operate on B20 fuel, a blend of 20% Biodiesel and 80% ULSD. The Vortec 6.0L gasoline engine is standard on the Sierra pickup truck line. FlexFuel is also an option for the gasoline engine which burns an 85% Ethanol and 15% gasoline blend. GM even brought a new 2011 vehicle model to the show called a Cruze which is flat four towable. Lightweight and allegedly fun to drive, the Cruze should stand on the shoulders of its predecessor the Saturn, a favorite RV tow vehicle.
It goes without saying that this was my favorite activity for the day. There was breaded fried chicken, or BBQ sandwiches, beans, cole slaw and potato salad, followed up with a nice piece of apple pie and an ice tea.
Looking at the clock the day had run its course and it was time for me to make like Elvis and leave the building. I went back to the press room and retrieved my coat and began to make my way out of the expo center. On the way I met up with an old friend of mine and he agreed to have his picture taken with me. Terry wants to say Howdy to all of our RV’ing members on iRV2 and the one message that he has to all is to “Keep It Green!” Tomorrow will be the last day at the show for me and I expect to visit Fleetwood RV, Thor and Tiffin Motorhomes. The show is reminiscent of the Smithsonian Museum; there no way that one person can visit all these exhibits in a week and do justice to this industry.
The overall feeling is that the business is improving and the “Cream of the Crop” remains ready and willing to fill your RV order. The suppliers are out there ready to provide the OEMs with the products that make RVs the more livable and fun to own and operate. Like I said earlier, I will be developing separate story lines for the larger exhibits that I visited today and I will get those penned sometime after I get back to South Carolina.
Late this afternoon Eric Fischer from RV Mobile Services, an RVDA/RVIA Master Certified Technician came out and changed the check valve in about an hour. Current status; Houston! We have hot water! It looks dreary out doesn’t it. 31° at the time this picture was taken.
Stay tuned for for tomorrow’s installation, “Day 3” of our visit to the 48th Annual RV Trade Show in Louisville, KY.Research Campgrounds, Plan RV Safe Routes & Turn your phone into an RV GPS.
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