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Excel 5th wheels


Charles Skinner

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  • 5 weeks later...

I have an idea why Excel closed. It has to do with the fact the "everybody seems to have a lot of money these days!" I believe that if a person is "well enough off," ------ and there seems to be thousands of these folks now ----- if the person has enough money to buy a really high quality 5th wheel, they would also have enough money to buy a "cheap to middle of the road motor home." So, the high quality 5th wheel market may be just about gone. New Horizons may be the only one left. Your thoughts?

 

C. S.

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My thought when NuWa closed up shop was that they were in the business of selling high-quality, fulltime rated units that were very well designed and built, but not particularly flashy. That was exactly what we were looking for when we bought our unit. As we talked to experienced RV sales folks, they said that most buyers looked at the additional cost of a Hitchhiker compared to some of the nicer "mass produced" trailers and didn't see the reason for the extra $$$. In fact, in the cheaper trailers they got electric fireplaces, televisions that raised and lowered into their cabinets, and other glitzy features that didn't interest us at all. What we wanted was the heavier frame, rugged slide mechanisms, better running gear, quality cabinets, insulation, etc. and we were willing to pay for it. However, it appears that many are not.

 

We specifically didn't want a NH or other top-end trailer because we didn't want to have to go to a MDT or HDT, and frankly didn't want to spend that kind of money. We have some friends who replaced their Hitchhiker with an Excel and are quite happy with it. I hoped (and still hope) that when the time comes to replace ours that a NuWa, Excel, or Carriage quality builder will be around for us. Something better than the mass-produced units, but less expensive and lighter than NH. Luckily we have many years before we'll be looking again...

 

And as far as high-quality fifth wheel vs. medium quality motor home, it's an interesting thought. We haven't considered motor homes at all, as we are quite satisfied with the fifth-wheel, F-350 combo. But it we can't put something together in the future that suits us we might end up looking that direction.

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Charles- Over on the IRV2 forum there is an owners forum for Excel. There have been many discussions about why Excel closed.

But as others have stated above, many other quality builders have closed as well.

Newmar

Carriage

Travel Supreme

Excel

Nuwa

About the only one left is DRV, and they got bought by the Thor conglomerate recently.

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We have considered motorhomes from time to time but we never saw one, even the million dollar units that we'd never buy that offered the interior space and layout that you can get in a reasonably priced fiver.

 

I think there are folks that like motorhomes, folks that like fivers and folks that own other than what they like best for a variety of reasons. We were considering a motorhome, because it can be easier to set a properly configured one up than it is most fivers, before we had to give up RVing. We chose to keep our fiver because we just couldn't give up the interior space and comforts.

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I agree with Stan's comments.

I like 11-12 mpg diesel towing, 20 mpg unloaded around town with a Dodge Ram Cummins than getting less in a motorhome too. However,I would never rule anything out. Our HH was the best quality rig we've owned. And as for this one now, it is a temp unit just to meet some needs in the next couple of months. Then we can sell it or put it under its own carport without worrying about engine seals and all the other things that can go bad in an engine not used enough. Trailers just need wheel repacking and seals once in a while, and brakes, no drive train. All RVs seem to use the same appliances until you get into the 100k custom units.

 

I lament not being able to buy any of the HHs and Newmar units used later if we can get in agreement to go back to fullttiming.

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Well I'm not shocked as how they dealt with or not dealt with buyers. I went to the 2014 Hershey RV show. We were looking at them as an option. We walked in and looked around and walked by three sales people. Not ONE person said a single word to us. Needless to say that we ordered a DRV with lots of changes and are picking it up tomorrow. I had heard that they made well built coaches, but I do not like being prejudged and not even dealt with. Just my take on it.

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We got one of the last two HitchHiker Champagnes built. We traded a Carriage Cameo for the Champagne. The Champagne is not as flashy as the other trailers in its price range, but it is a solid, well built, full time trailer. It was sad to see NuWa to stop production, but I can see the reason. Excel was caught up in the same economy.

 

The NuWa CEO told me that he was tired of trying to compete with the Indiana manufacturers on price. He was committed to building a quality trailer for the price level and the buying public was looking for glitz and low price.

 

Ken

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I have an idea why Excel closed. It has to do with the fact the "everybody seems to have a lot of money these days!" I believe that if a person is "well enough off," ------ and there seems to be thousands of these folks now ----- if the person has enough money to buy a really high quality 5th wheel, they would also have enough money to buy a "cheap to middle of the road motor home." So, the high quality 5th wheel market may be just about gone. New Horizons may be the only one left. Your thoughts?

 

C. S.

 

You're making the assumption that everyone wants a motorhome. Not everyone does. Although we have a motorhome now (a Class C), we are no longer fulltimers. If we were going to go back to fulltiming, we'd go back to a fifth wheel.

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So, the high quality 5th wheel market may be just about gone. New Horizons may be the only one left.

And Continental Coach, Augusta RV, Space Craft. There was a time before Teton, Newmar, Carriage, Excel. and the other high end" trailer manufacturers. Brands grow into the marketplace, brands leave. The crash of 2008 made new space for other manufacturers to grow into.

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As others have said, in the high end 5er market there is New Horizons and Forks (Continental Coach). Below that is Spacecraft. All three are totally custom, very well built, heavy and costly. I'd say that in all three you "get what you pay for". These three make up the top tier of 5ers, which NH and Forks a little above Spacecraft. All three can build you an exceptional coach - YOUR way.

 

There are other manufacturers that build a solid "upper midline" coach. Like DRV.

 

As Mark said, manufacturers come and go. It has nothing to do with motorhomes. If it did, then there would be no New Horizons, Spacecraft or Continental Coaches being built.

 

I'll use New Horizons as an example, but it applies equally to Forks. A higher-end, customized NH WITH appropriate tow vehicle compares well with a 650K motorhome. In my opinion it pretty well outdoes it in livability. And it would have all the amenities and more - there is not a single item on a 600-800K motorhome that is not present on a NH or Forks. Interior would be be better built. And you would have a custom layout to meet your needs.

 

My point is, that there is a space for custom high end 5th wheels, and that space is not being reduced, but expanded as people start to realize the benefits.

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Jack, agree with you completely, and an additional point, which I feel was very important for us, is that we feel we got the quality and customization we wanted in our rig, truck and 5er-comparable to a $600K+ MH-and it only cost us $400K. We spent slightly less than $200 for both the new truck and 5er. I think one would be hard pressed to find a 41' MH with a DD 13 engine and the build quality of a Continental Coach and 2L Custom Truck. Just my opnion, thanks for listening, Best Wishes, Jay

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We got one of the last two HitchHiker Champagnes built. We traded a Carriage Cameo for the Champagne. The Champagne is not as flashy as the other trailers in its price range, but it is a solid, well built, full time trailer. It was sad to see NuWa to stop production, but I can see the reason. Excel was caught up in the same economy.

 

The NuWa CEO told me that he was tired of trying to compete with the Indiana manufacturers on price. He was committed to building a quality trailer for the price level and the buying public was looking for glitz and low price.

 

Ken

Then what about forks RV? The all compete. But if you can validate the cost difference because of better build and quality. Then you can sell it for more. But it gets tricky as you always want to get bigger.

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This may be the appropriate time to ask. My rig is a 40' 2002 Travel Supreme. There have been a lot of upgrades over the last 3 yrs. and a few more to come. The insurance people want to know do I want to insure it for market or replacement value. It was appraised last year so Market value is accounted for but replacement value is another thing. The Bruss's unit may be similar to mine as are a couple of others on the forum.

 

TS made a good unit, solid, everything works and few issues mechanically.

 

So of the remaining RV manufactures out there, which one would be a close match to mine? I know options can make a big difference in price but lets pick an average. Ie, I may like this, you may like something else but maybe the dollar values is similar.

 

Back in 2007 a new 40' TS was going for 137k Canadian.

This does not include personal items.

 

Thanks

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Great thread about a downer subject. I had never heard of Forks RV but they apparently have several divisions one of which I could not get to, the lite fiver section.

 

However I did get into their luxury fiver section and if everyone here is unfamiliar with the Continental Coach brand of Forks RV go here and scroll down the pics for a look:

http://www.forksrv.com/continental/availablegalleryPage2_temp.php?39KS3_-_CALL_FOR_COMPLETE_BUILD_SHEET-3/

 

Wow! Worth the $169k? Looks like it but out of my budget for now. Maybe when Tesla's stock goes up to $500?

 

It is every bit in the same class as New Horizons.

 

DRV: http://www.drvsuites.com/mobile-suites/photos.html is another one I never looked into until now.

 

Sweet!

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Roger, probably the DRV Mobile is a close match....but with the option you added yourself you may be into a lower end New Horizons price wise to replace it.

 

Roger should seriously consider Spacecraft - depending upon what he wants for interior it would be close in cost to the DRV and they have a lot of experience building to Canadian specs if he wants that.

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I've been thru the sites..all of them. I prefer my current layout, it gives me more to work with. My thoughts would be to buy used with a lot of options that the previous owner paid handsomely for then took a big hit on depreciation.

 

- 102" wide as opposed to 96"

- Lighter outside color

- Lighter inside color as well

- LED interior lights

- Electric steps and awning

- Dishwasher drawer and scrap the gas stove

- Induction stove

- Old Motosat sat system which has been resurrected.

- Built in vac system

- Washer and dryer a must have

- Scrap the 16" wheels and upgrade to 17.5's. Undecided about suspension and brakes. What I have now works fine.

- 4 or 6 batteries, another inverter charger and an add on to the truck to charge the house batteries while on the road.

- Another battery autofill system, this one works fine and was an hour to install. No battery acid in my eyes thank you

- Backup camera system

- May need a heavier hitch on the truck. Pin wt may be too much for Trailsaver.

 

 

Bigfoot levelers are not a deal breaker, probably downgrade 40# propane tanks to 30's. 40's, with my wrists, are a pig to get out of the TS. Scrap the island and make one wider and longer that slides laterally 6" like mine does now.

 

May re-do appliances in the retro 50's like mine is undergoing now. Elmira stove in Ontario. Go residential again.

 

Pretty much most of the fancy stuff Jack has on his rig can be retrofitted as time and money allow.

 

I figure 180 K US plus taxes should do it.

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Roger, what you just described would likely be a custom rig. I assume you would be doing the customizing if you are buying used. Or, Spacecraft could build that in your price range. Exactly how you want it. And New Horizons is coming out with a newer line that is more in that price range. And could have the same items. The Spacecraft would still be a little cheaper.

 

You could take a used DRV and upgrade it to those specs and be under that price. Assuming you did the work yourself. You could take a used New Horizons and upgrade it to those specs easily....it will already have some of your list. Still under that price.

 

I'd probably go the new route and build a custom - either NH or Spacecraft. That way you get exactly what you want with infrastructure a level above a DRV.

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It's all pie in the sky at this point. Or as was said, a downer topic. I like my layout...Spacecraft didn't have it. I will edit this later today...Got to try for my CDL written this am then up to Calgary Clinic in pm, back here tomorrow unless they euthanize me by accident.

 

No CDL, no drive the unit in BC.

 

Thanks for the input.

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Roger, when you said above that "Spacecraft did not have it"...meaning your layout, you perhaps fail to understand that Spacecraft, like New Horizons and Forks is 100% custom. You can have any layout you want. All of them routinely do custom floorplans.

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