Posts tagged: Dutch Star

Birthplace of the Beastie…

By , September 7, 2010 10:31 am

As Dasy mentioned in our previous post, after leaving Colorado we were aimed for Bremen, IN.  Actually, we were going to Nappannee, but the closest campground we found was down the road in Bremen.  Nappannee is famous for two things (that we know of)…

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RV manufacturers and the Amish.  It just so happens that our RV is made by Newmar, which is in Nappannee and the owners are of Amish descent.  Our first full day there, we went to the Newmar plant to see how they built our RV (the one pictured above is a new 2011 model…  very nice!).

IMG_4028We were greeted by Mahlon Miller, the owner of Newmar Corp.  He gave us a quick introduction and some history of the company and then opened the floor to questions.  Some of the guests asked some pretty pointed questions about how Newmar weathered the depression and what effect it had on them as far as staffing and such.  Mahlon was pretty straight forward and didn’t dance around the bush, which I thought was pretty admirable.  They never closed, but went from making 16 units a day with 1000 employees to 3 units a day with 400 employees (that’s what they’re doing currently).  The RV industry as a whole was hit pretty hard and several well-known brands have folded.  Mahlon said that it’s finally looking like it’s picking up again.  Throughout our stay, I heard bits and pieces around the community of what the Miller family had done to keep Newmar going.  They’re the kind of folks most people would want to work for. Smile

As for the coaches, they start with a bare rolling chassis from Freightliner or Spartan, depending on what the unit will eventually become.  The fifth-wheel chassis are built in-house.  We were able to see almost every step of the process throughout our tour.

Here is the outside fiberglass shell going into place.  It’s once giant sheet that is epoxied and screwed to the superstructure.

IMG_3178 First, they do some basic prep of the frame, creating the sub-floor and basement areas, along with most of the components that go in there.
IMG_3179 Next is basic framing.  Newmars are all made with an aluminum super-structure, then several layers of wood and laminates for the basic shell.
IMG_3181 Electrical is done next, with some of the interior structural components going in while there’s still a lot of room to work.
IMG_3186 Here they are putting on the fiberglass side of the rig.  It is epoxied in place, then pressed in with an external wooden rig until it’s adhered correctly.
IMG_3193 The outside shell is then cut to allow for windows, slideouts, vents, etc.  Some more of the interior finishing is also done.  From what I could tell, they’re doing some kind of interior work the entire time that the exterior stuff is being done.
IMG_3195 Next, front and rear end-caps get applied.  They’re mostly fiberglass, with minimal framing.  Most of their structure is inherited from the RV chassis when it gets mounted.  Glass and roof panels are always handled with a vacuum system.  The roof is mounted after the end-caps are installed.
IMG_3209 Slide-outs are added and lined up.  Slide-outs are made exactly the same way the rest of the coach is, just in smaller areas.
IMG_3202 Most of the exterior structural work is done at this point.  More interior is done, cabinetry is finished up, along with tying in the wiring and plumbing of the slides.
IMG_4065 Prep for paint is started, which LOTS of stuff getting masked off.  They even go so far as to mask off everything INSIDE the basement compartments!
IMG_4064 A final vacuum sanding is done on the entire body, then the whole thing is sent over to the paint building, where it is painted.  We didn’t get to see the paint area… they said it was pretty boring and takes about a week for a unit to come back.

What comes back is basically this:IMG_3212

A nice, shiny Newmar coach!  The one pictured above is an Essex, the second most expensive model.  I want three…  in different colors! Winking smile

Below are some other interesting shots.  They show just how much wiring is involved in an RV, a little bit of the furniture being installed and a cool picture of how they move them…

When the chassis arrives in the building, they put “air pads” under each wheel.  Whenever they have to move an RV from one station to the next, they hook the pads up to an air compressor and push it over on a cushion of air.  Pretty much like upside-down air-hockey tables. Smile They said they can do it with two people, but they generally use three just for an extra set of eyes (and brakes).

There’s also a couple pictures of the furniture (which is built in-house) ready to get installed and the floor grate that is the trash system.  There’s a grate covering a conveyor belt that runs the entire length of the plant.  All trash goes into the grate, then is collected at the end of the belts.  It apparently works very well, we didn’t see any trash or scraps anywhere during out tour, unless it had just been cut off a unit they were working on.

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We also picked up a handful of parts while we were at Newmar… some light covers that had faded, a couple of switches that were missing or broken, some exterior parking lights, and various other knick-knacks needed for our RV (they were actually pretty cheap for most common parts).

If you have an RV or are thinking about getting one, it’s worth touring the RV plant to see how it’s made.  We hope yours is made as well as ours!

Things You Can Learn In An RV Resort

By , December 29, 2009 12:28 pm

SewerValves

What you are looking at above is the correct way to hook up a sewer hose in a 2001 Newmar Dutch Star motor home.  The reason you are seeing it is because it’s not quite as obvious as you might think it is. 

The purplish tint is applied to stuff that’s not really important in this post.  What’s important is that are usually two valves in a motor home waste system and they empty into a sewer hose that normally goes through the floor and then into a sewer cap.  IMG_8934

In the picture to the right, you can see the different valves and labels.  The “sewage water holding tank” (commonly called black water) is the valve for dumping everything from the toilet.  The gray water valve on the right dumps the waste water from all the sinks and the shower. 

When we got the Star and I started checking everything out, I couldn’t get the clear elbow to attach to outlet correctly.  I also couldn’t get a sewer hose to attach and then bend backwards to go through the big hole in the floor.

IMG_8936 In this picture, you can see the clear elbow attached, but it sticks out too far.  Normally a sewer hose goes on the bottom of that elbow and then goes through the hole in the floor.  The elbow sticks out too far and there isn’t enough room for the hose to come up through the hole.

I figured that someone had damaged the original pipe system and then replaced it all with the stuff we have now.  I was planning on ripping it all out and rebuilding it.  But first, I wanted to see what the original system was supposed to look like. 

Luckily, while we were at Sun N Fun RV Resort in Sarasota, we spotted another Dutch Star that was very similar to ours.  We stopped as the owners were coming out so I asked if I could look at the guy’s sewer system. 

As we were walking around to the sewer bay, I started to explain my issue.  The gentleman mentioned that his outlet pipe swiveled down to line up with the hole.  When we got to the bay and started looking, I instantly realized it was exactly the same system as ours.  Hmm…

IMG_8937So, here’s what our sewer pipe outlook and elbow look like if you swing the whole assembly down into place…  perfect!

We probably would not have figured this out.  I might have gotten lucky and realized it moved when I went to rip it out, but that’s not really very likely.  Just talking to another owner and doing a bit of exploration saved us a lot of time, effort, inconvenience and probably a fair chunk of money too.

In short, if something doesn’t seem right on an RV, ask others who would have had to deal with the same issue.  If you can find someone with the same unit, that’s even better!

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