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Old 01-24-2010, 08:28 PM   #1
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Tampa RV Super Show - Alpine is still Good

All – we went to the Tampa RV Super show; we spent two full days walking through many upscale RV’s. The 200-300K coaches made by a variety of manufacturers don’t hold a candle to the Alpines many of us own.
The GE Advantium 120 Convection/Microwave oven is not available in many of them, but alas many of us have it, and once we got used to it would not trade anything for it. There are times when a gas oven would be an asset for those times when we want to bake something in one, and also have another dish which needs the oven as well. It has only happened once, but I would like the option to be available. Nevertheless, we did not find any coach which would meet our requirements based on what we have now.
We checked the following coaches:
Zephyr – Tiffin
American Coach – Fleetwood
All the Monaco’s – even their TOL at 700K
Newell @ 1.2 Million
Foretravel – Three different coaches from 900K – 1.4Million
Other Million Dollar Plus Coaches – all over 2+million

We have components or items which make our coaches much more livable which none of the others had installed and/or in many cases, might be a special order.

All the highline coaches had total electric kitchens, toilets, (electric toilets is something that is just waiting to fail/leak all over the WC in the middle of the night when the weather is at its worse) etc. There was not one with the LP available, so if you have no hookups, you need lots of inverter power. The maximum number of batteries we found in those units was 4. All had the 12.5kW Onan genset, with 3 AC/Heat pump options. I am sure you could get an LP gas stove and more batteries if you wanted, but none of them were configured that way. All had huge outside wet bars, Big Screen TV’s, and Ice makers, etc. The woodwork in many of the Million + ones is very glossy, and really is a laminate over chipboard, much like the European cabinets you see in so many homes now. I believe the wood in ours (cherry) is real wood, not chipboard.

So what we found was that we like the Alpine a lot more than we used too, as we have many of the features which no coach had, for instance I have 8 house batteries, none of the others had that, we have 105 gallons fresh water tank; 100 gallon gray water tank & 84 gallon black tank. None of the MH’s we saw had tanks as large, which tells me they are not set up to really get out in the back country and be used. I am please we have the Automatic Transfer Switch/Surge Guard; a fairly large inverter; and the 8 large batteries we have. The workmanship on all the coaches we looked into, and I looked hard, was in my opinion no better than what we currently have. Yes, we have some quirks on our units, but nothing we cannot seem to solve one way or the other. Our components in many cases are as good as or better than what are found on the highline coaches.

I don’t know how many coaches WRV made during their peak production, but I have been told that Tiffin is going to build 1200 this model year, which works out to 23,03 coaches a week. With that kind of volume, I don’t believe their quality is going to be as good as it has been in the past, especially with what each worker is paid. I hope none of the management makes the workers mad, as it will come back to haunt them.

We saw something broken or loose in every motorhome we walked into, and we saw them first on Tuesday, which is one day before (Trade Day for Vendors/Dealers) the show opened to the public. I found loose cabinets, broken shower heads, switches which were inoperative, cabinetry which was not trimmed out well. we found places where cabinets should have been but was not their. We did see Bosch Washers/Dryers in many of the highe end ones, which was a nice option. Things the dealers/manufacturers should have fixed for the show, and was left undone. This does not bode well for how well they are made, or how well the dealers are going to take care of you.

Like I have said before, if Honda Motor Company every builds a Class A motorhome that is the one I am going to buy.
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Old 01-24-2010, 09:18 PM   #2
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At least tell me if the food was good or did that look bad also.
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Old 01-25-2010, 01:06 PM   #3
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We have seen the same quality level (poor) on show coaches in the past. We talked with a friend in the RV sales industry, and he said that is typical. Coaches are built for the show and don't go through the normal dealer prep that a coach on a lot will have received. They go straight to the show. It is a sad statement that even top level manufactures rely on the dealer to fix things before they can be sold. Can you image needing the Honda dealer to make those kinds of repairs before they sold each car? (Although we are still charged for "dealer prep".)

On our trip last spring we toured the Winnebago manufacturing plant in Iowa. It was impressive seeing a automotive style assembly plant after having toured WRV and Country Coach low volume plants in the past. Then we looked at the display coaches after the tour. In three of the four coaches I could not properly close and latch the bathroom door due to misalignment of the door!!! One of these coaches was a $375K diesel pusher.

The first time we stepped in an Alpine Coach on the lot we thought it was designed to be used, not to look pretty. We loved the large holding tanks. We intended to do a certain amount of dry camping, so we got the propane oven and the propane fridge. Our cabinets are good quality solid wood. Nothing fancy, but solid and functional. I like having 6 coach batteries for dry camping. I like NOT having a computer controlling everything.

I will grant that what I was looking for was not what many coach owners are looking for. We were stepping up from a good quality Lazy Daze class C. We were used to having something solid to "camp" in for weekend trips and an occasional 2 week vacation. Now we wanted something solid to "camp" in for week long trips and an occasional 6-7 week vacation. We don't need an electric toilet that will simulate how the toilet at home works. We can operate the foot controls for a while. I can live with hard to control shower temps for a while.

Now my idea of roughing it in the coach is having only one tuner in the hidef DVR! (Which I plan to fix by replacing the defective coax from my recent dish installation.)

I like my coach. I won't trade it for more expensive coaches. I'm just sorry that WRV is no longer around in case I ever total mine and need to replace it!
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Old 01-25-2010, 08:54 PM   #4
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I do believe I could suffer along with a Prevost even knowing I might have to forgo a few amenities.
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Old 01-25-2010, 10:20 PM   #5
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I'll never know for sure since I can't afford a Prevost, and nobody has offered to give me one just because I am a nice guy. I am afraid that touring the Country Coach Conversion factory in Oregon was as close as I will ever get to a Prevost.
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Old 02-05-2010, 05:16 PM   #6
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The sandwich we had was very good. Did not purchase anything else. Oh, one vendor gave me a large coffee for a dollar, that was nice.
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Old 02-05-2010, 09:39 PM   #7
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Old Rv'er,

Glad you saw the same things at the show that we see in our Alpine and why we bought it. I agree most competitors don't put the desired features in their coaches that WRV did.

The wood cabinets you are talking about in the expensive coaches are usually wood veneer between 1/16" and 1/32" thick over MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard). Sometimes they use that veneer over particleboard, which is a lower cost medium than MDF that works OK on flat surfaces, not curved. It's also not as strong or has as good of screw holding capability as MDF. Our Alpine cabinets were usually made of edge glued hardwood lumber and veneer laminated plywood, often European Birch plywood, which has thinner veneer and more plies. Both European Birch and MDF are good substrates for veneer, but edge glued lumber, like cherry, is more suitable for screw holding and vibration abuse going down the road, like we have on the cabinet doors and drawer fronts of our cabinets. The substrate in our floors is Oriented Strand Board, most of it trademarked Structurwood, made especially for RVs in large 8'x12' and 8'x24' panels.

But none of this is "chipboard". No such product exists. All these products, particleboard, MDF, Structurwood, and European Birch plywood are engineered for the application, and do the job for what they are intended to do. The particles are actually made to the size needed for the board. And solid hardwood lumber is very good for high vibration/high screw holding requirement cabinets. That's one of the reasons our cabinets hold together so well. It's also one of the reasons our subfloor, made of Structurwood, holds together as well as it does going down the road with the twists and stresses it gets from the flex in the frame. It just doesn't have as many joints as 4'x8' panels do, and it was engineered to take the flex and have no blank areas or "voids" in the core.

Among the jobs I held in my career before I retired were leading the divisions of the company that made many of these wood products that ended up in Alpine Coaches, along with a lot of new homes and furniture made in the U.S. It's another reason I bought an Alpine; because I know these products, oversaw the manufacture and sale of them, and no company made them any better than we did. And I didn't see any coach manufacturer using them better than WRV did in Alpine.
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Old 02-08-2010, 06:36 PM   #8
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While inTampa, I didn't make the Tampa show, I did take the time to tour the "High End" coaches at Lazydays, and the "Mega-Coaches" at that dealership in St Pete.

I came to the same conclusion as many other here have....

Dollar for Dollar, I believe that we (WRVers) have one of the best "values" out there, and even though I like the Zephyrs and Prevosts, I will keep the additional $500 K in the bank.
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Old 02-10-2010, 07:51 AM   #9
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Jim A, I was not commenting as to my ability to purchase a Prevost motor coach or not. My remark about having A Prevost in place of an Alpine there would be no question in my mind. If you think for a moment that Prevost uses a veneer finish on their cabinetry you have some serious education about their products. The high polish is a magnifcient quality of hand rubbed finishes. I drove a brand new unit that had not been touched by the dealer and and absolutely nothing I could find did not fucnction properly. All doors closed beauifully, The air doors were magnificent. The handling & the ride were absolutely impeccable and rightfully so for the price of the product. Everything I tried worked to perfection and why shouldn't it for that amount of money but to try and compare it to an Alpine is utterly absurd.
In addition I found the Tiffin Allegro Bus to be a first class product and way beyond anything that Alpine ever produced. Had we not taken such a bath on the Alpine and the Market not fallen out the bottom so drastically I would have purchased an Allegro Bus when Bud & Beverly purchased theirs
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Old 02-10-2010, 08:39 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted III View Post
........I drove a brand new unit that had not been touched by the dealer and and absolutely nothing I could find did not fucnction properly. All doors closed beauifully, The air doors were magnificent. The handling & the ride were absolutely impeccable and rightfully so for the price of the product. Everything I tried worked to perfection and why shouldn't it for that amount of money ..........
Bottom line,.....

You get what you pay for, Quality is NOT free (despite what Mr.Crosby said!)

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Old 02-10-2010, 10:29 AM   #11
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Ted III, Thank you. Finally a moment of clarity. The Alpine owners here are hard to figure out, why if the love there coach so much are they justifying what they have all the time and why are they shopping all the time? Maybe to bolster up they price of there orphan Alpines.
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Old 02-10-2010, 01:32 PM   #12
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Seems you "big bus" drivers/want-a-bes just cant resist the opportunity to make us poor folk feel bad about our stations in life. More often than not, conversations with these guys reminds me of the old Texas saying: "Big hat, no cows." Cant we all just get along? [smile]
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Old 02-10-2010, 02:16 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drifter View Post
.... Maybe to bolster up they price of there orphan Alpines.
Sure, just like those "Orphan" Holiday Ramblers, Safari's, Monaco's, Alpha's, National RV's, Country Coaches...etc...I't not necessary to "bolster" the price , unless of course you bought at full retail before the mfg tanked....

Orphans are a great purchase, after the mfg closes as you get to take advantage of all the "depreciation" that happened when the MFG closed..

I was looking at a new Alpine in early 08...# around $270K...same RV 2 year later $160K....
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Old 02-10-2010, 05:48 PM   #14
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Drifter...

Nice to hear you have found some clarity. Seems to me that most RV owners are often thinking about their next home on wheels. I think that may have roots back to our treehouse days when we all dreamed of an escape and a simple place to hide out. Thats not all bad !

For me, I love the fact that you rarely find another Alpine sitting on the lot or in the campgrounds. WRV was a company that embodied the American Dream. A small passionate group of craftsman who set out to build a better Coach. We can debate all day whether they actually did or not, but there is evidence on the road from coast to coast that they did try.

Other manufacturers have built far more coaches. Personally, I'll take my Orpan over the other more popular brands any day. There are a few quirks that an Alpine owner must endure, but the benifits are more than worth it. I doubt you will find a more passionate, friendly or proud group of owners than the folks here in the Alpine Coach Forum.

If anything will bolster the price of the Orphan Alpines, it would be the owners that post to this forum.
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