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  • Factory QC

    This is my first post here. I have been RVing since 80 in some type RV or another. Currently have an Itasca Horizon DP motorhome and am planning to go back to a 5th wheel. Had a previous Raptor toy-hauler. I also currently have a GD Solitude that I'm selling since it's missing key features we want and some design/floor plan arrangements we don't like. GF saw an older Outback that has the door at the rear instead of midships like just about everything else. She researched and found the Arctic Fox 29-5T which has a similar design.

    I am a participant in other RV forums and when quality comes up, Arctic Fox seemed to usually get high marks. As most of us know, quality in the industry has declined significantly in recent years and the chances of having full access to your RV that first year is pretty slim. Some manufacturers are particularly bad, thor comes to mind perhaps the top of the list. As I began to research the AF Silver Fox 29-5T I liked what I saw. Many features are standard that I would have to add to others I would buy. Generator prep for one. I also figured, based on past messages on boards, that the quality of a unit leaving the factory would be excellent and any issues would be rare indeed.

    But I have read some threads on this forum and it seems that Northwood also is in the "pump em out" mode at the factory and quality isn't "job 1". I live in the SE, SE Alabama in fact. The closest dealer is in western OH, not exactly a day trip over to look at something. I was planning to order perhaps a GD Solitude or an Open Range in the 35' range, equip it with the generator, dual pane windows etc. But it scares me that I'll be dealing with crappy dealers and probably have to repair a bunch of stuff that should have never left the factory that way. I have not had the opportunity to view an AF 29-5T or any other new/newer AF 5th wheel because there aren't any around. As such I can't attest to any superb or normal build quality in one. I have seen new and newer models of the other manufacturers products that I previously mentioned. They look pretty good but I haven't done a real close inspection of one yet.

    Question is how bad has the QC at the Northwood factory really become? Have they "lost their soul" of previous devotion to build a great solid quality trailer in search of more sales? I can fix small stuff but shouldn't have to. The one thread I read about doors, floors, cabinets being poorly built doesn't inspire confidence in a new AF 5th wheel. I'm not going to get anything new till the fall. The Solitude is currently for sale and when we get back from the late summer and fall trip to the Great Lakes, I'll sell the motorhome and get/order an appropriate 5th wheel. I was so hoping the Northwood product would be the answer BUT after spending some time here reading, and recent comments on other venues, I'm not so sure anymore. For owners of newer AF 5th wheels that have had older ones, what is your impression and experience with the current build quality? Yes I know that most of the time good comments are not written. That way with anything.

    Thanks
    2007 Itasca Horizon, 2012 Wrangler "toad", 2015 GD Solitude, 2017 Ram 3500

  • #2
    We have a 2016 29-5T that we bought new. It has been across the country twice and to Alaska once - and currently has 55,000 travel miles.

    The only warranty issue with our trailer, was a faulty convertor. It was replaced by our NW dealer.

    With the exception of a drippy bathroom faucet (replaced by the plumbing manufacture) and a faulty fan motor (replaced by the fan manufacture) our 29-5T looks / works like new. We have been extremely satisfied with the NW build quality.

    I have also ventured onto other forums, and soon learned that a majority of posts are concerns / complaints. It's rare for an owner to pop-up and say he isn't having any problems with his RV. There's a reason why you don't see Northwood trailers come up for sale often - because owners are happy and the trailers last.

    You can pay more & you can pay less, but all RV's can have problems. Those issues are usually out-sourced parts, not the design / structure of the trailer. We have talked to several RV'rs in our travels, that have had serious structural problems with their "other brand' RV's.

    We have been extremely happy with our choice of a Northwood product, and if we were to get another trailer, our first choice would be again, a Northwood trailer.
    Last edited by RocklinDave; 08-06-2018, 05:42 PM.
    Travel Blog: www.rocklinroamers.wordpress.com

    2015 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD: SRW, Duramax / Allison 6.6L Turbo-Diesel, Extended Cab, Long Bed, 4x4, Reese 16K Hitch, 50gal In-Bed Fuel Tank (85 gals total)

    2016 Arctic Fox 29-5T: Six-Point Leveling System, Fireplace, Two A/C's, Two Honda EU2000i Generators, TST "507" Tire Monitoring System, King-Size Bed, Progressive 'Hard-Wired' 50amp Surge Protector, 16gal Water Heater, Dual-Pane Glass, Slide-Toppers, 50amp Power-Reel, 'G Rated' Sailun Tires.

    Comment


    • #3
      I, and I know others, share your concerns. I bought a 2016 27-5L 5th wheel in fall of 2015. Yes some things came up, but nothing expensive other than me trying to drive off and not hooked up! :-( Shower stall leaked, but it's under control from info on this forum, the kitchen sink faucet handle came off in my had one time and I replaced entire faucet with an up grade. The trim at bottom of refer came off and I can't seem to get it back on, so black duct tape removed it from my sight. :-) I, like many others, up graded tires to, in my case Sailun's (G rated), but Northwood has since changed to Goodyear Endurance tires which so far have not seen complaints. Added disk brakes as a safety feature as there have been many comments on drum brake problems.

      All that said, I think all manufacturers are doing as you say, just pumping them out. All in all, we like our 27-5L even though i was not an informed buyer. Would have changed a few things if I had been, but can't blame that on Northwood. OH, I gave the airbed sofa in our unit to Goodwill and bought a love seat recliner from a furniture store. :-) Not sure all air bed sofa's are the same, ours was very uncomfortable. Maybe check the comfort level of sofa's etc before buy and delete from purchase to buy your own if want.
      Neil and Marilyn and Beamer (feline)
      2015 Chevy 2500HD LTZ Duramax 6.6L 4x4 Double Cab LB, 5th Spring, Ride Rite Air Bags, Tires: 275/75R18 125/122 3640 lb rated, 40 gal Transfer Flow Aux Tank.

      2016 Arctic Fox 27-5L, Progressive EMS HW30C Surge Protector, TST 507 TPMS w/Color, Sailun Tires G rated, 2 Smart Tool 2000's, Titan Disk Brakes.

      Of all the things I've lost. I miss my mind the most :-)

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks I want some encouragement that going the AF direction is a good one. One saving grace for Grand Design it's nor a FR or thor product, its owned by Winnebago. My Itasca is a Winne product but we aren't talking the same thing of course. For me going with an AF is somewhat of a leap of faith since I don't have exposure to actual units. Our plan is perhaps swing by the OH dealership on the way back in late September and look things over. Hopefully there will be a 29-5T there to see.
        2007 Itasca Horizon, 2012 Wrangler "toad", 2015 GD Solitude, 2017 Ram 3500

        Comment


        • #5
          You didn't say where at the great lakes ........ https://www.niemeyers.com/ has come up alot and people seem to be happy with them.
          2018 GMC 3500 SB diesel
          2017 Arctic fox 27-5l 50Amp 5.5 Gen, 4 6 volt, 450W solar,ARPrv,michelin xps,built in surge suppressor, Tank Heat Pads and 4 Point Leveling System

          Comment


          • #6
            Yep, take a look and see what you think. Grand Design 5th wheels are showing up out in the west, though one party was from SE, US. I know nothing about them. Fellow said, as a owner of one. "There are problems with all RV's" and he left it at that. :-) Oh Oh, maybe we aren't suppose to refer to other RV's on this forum. They are called SOB's "Some Other Brand" :-)
            Neil and Marilyn and Beamer (feline)
            2015 Chevy 2500HD LTZ Duramax 6.6L 4x4 Double Cab LB, 5th Spring, Ride Rite Air Bags, Tires: 275/75R18 125/122 3640 lb rated, 40 gal Transfer Flow Aux Tank.

            2016 Arctic Fox 27-5L, Progressive EMS HW30C Surge Protector, TST 507 TPMS w/Color, Sailun Tires G rated, 2 Smart Tool 2000's, Titan Disk Brakes.

            Of all the things I've lost. I miss my mind the most :-)

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Art View Post
              You didn't say where at the great lakes ........ https://www.niemeyers.com/ has come up alot and people seem to be happy with them.
              We're going up the east side of WI and the furthest west is the Apostle Islands along Lake Superior. I saw the dealer in MN but not going that far. Then along MI northern peninsula down the souther, Traverse City, Holland, and Detroit. Check out a couple rv places in IN, then the Whisky trail in KY. After the IN stuff we'll swing down to the OH dealer. Figure to be back home early October.
              2007 Itasca Horizon, 2012 Wrangler "toad", 2015 GD Solitude, 2017 Ram 3500

              Comment


              • #8
                The Whiskey Trail sounds interesting though I'm trying to give up drinking. Lots of luck with that! Wish you the best. You'll find the RV of your dreams someplace. Just a thought.............Try communicating with Thunder RV in LaGrande, Oregon. It's away's away, but they are the best dealer when comes to AF. At least many say so on that point.
                Neil and Marilyn and Beamer (feline)
                2015 Chevy 2500HD LTZ Duramax 6.6L 4x4 Double Cab LB, 5th Spring, Ride Rite Air Bags, Tires: 275/75R18 125/122 3640 lb rated, 40 gal Transfer Flow Aux Tank.

                2016 Arctic Fox 27-5L, Progressive EMS HW30C Surge Protector, TST 507 TPMS w/Color, Sailun Tires G rated, 2 Smart Tool 2000's, Titan Disk Brakes.

                Of all the things I've lost. I miss my mind the most :-)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Just a thought, but are you thinking of a new truck to pull 5th wheel? Dave Smith Motors in Kellogg, ID is the largest Dodge dealer in the world and largest Chevy dealer in NW, US. Good Prices and not so far from LaGrande, Oregon. If the above is true, could be a fun trip. :-)
                  Neil and Marilyn and Beamer (feline)
                  2015 Chevy 2500HD LTZ Duramax 6.6L 4x4 Double Cab LB, 5th Spring, Ride Rite Air Bags, Tires: 275/75R18 125/122 3640 lb rated, 40 gal Transfer Flow Aux Tank.

                  2016 Arctic Fox 27-5L, Progressive EMS HW30C Surge Protector, TST 507 TPMS w/Color, Sailun Tires G rated, 2 Smart Tool 2000's, Titan Disk Brakes.

                  Of all the things I've lost. I miss my mind the most :-)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I think I'm in pretty good shape for a truck. Ram 3500 Laramie, CC 4WD, LB SRW. New 2017 left over and got a great price.
                    2007 Itasca Horizon, 2012 Wrangler "toad", 2015 GD Solitude, 2017 Ram 3500

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Here’s an off the wall thought. You can fly from ATL to Pendleton OR booking on United for $500. Doing this you could arrange a factory tour and visit Thunder. First hand look at the manufacturing process and very likely get a good rundown on the model/s you’re interested in. Get Thunders riding and you have leverage with any dealer you then choose. Might be a few bucks well spent on the tens of thousands you’ll be spending.
                      2015 AF 27-5L, 2016 F-250 Super Cab, 6.7 Diesel, SB, 4x4, Off Road and 10,000lb Payload Package,

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by TangoChuck View Post
                        Here’s an off the wall thought. You can fly from ATL to Pendleton OR booking on United for $500. Doing this you could arrange a factory tour and visit Thunder. First hand look at the manufacturing process and very likely get a good rundown on the model/s you’re interested in. Get Thunders riding and you have leverage with any dealer you then choose. Might be a few bucks well spent on the tens of thousands you’ll be spending.
                        We'll consider that this fall. In 7 days we are heading out on the trip and if I start adding things to do I'll get shot. Must stay focused.
                        2007 Itasca Horizon, 2012 Wrangler "toad", 2015 GD Solitude, 2017 Ram 3500

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I went on the Thunder Rv site to look at their inventory. Generally speaking what is considered a good discount from MSRP retail? Some trailers SOB you can easily get 30 to as much as 40% off. If a person can't get 20% off then a sign is on their back. The OH dealer had prices posted of around that discount but the units were sold so don't know if that was their asking, or what it sold for. Not a big fan of carpet living in the south. How good is the carpet in the AF units? I did know that carpet feels good on a cold morning as opposed to tile. The motorhome has ceramic tile in the bath and kitchen but carpet in the BR and LR areas. Not a heated floor either. We do some RVing in the south but tend to bail from here in the heat of the summer. We have hung around here too long and it's been hot and humid for a couple months. WI and MI better be cooler.

                          How noisy are the air conditioners? The GF has a Prime Time Crusader bunkhouse model we keep on a bay property in NW FL. The main a/c is fully ducted and no ceiling plate, rather quiet. Bedroom a/c not ducted, direct venting and noisy. I've been in some RVs, trailers and motorhome that then the a/c kicked on, you couldn't hear any conversation. At least I couldn't. One trailer I have previewed, 3X Open Range has both fully ducted and both no ceiling plate. Haven't heard them run but they should be quieter.

                          2 years ago on the way to AK we went right by the AF factory but I wasn't looking at that point. Last year spent time in the coast of CA, OR, and WA before heading across 90 to MT. Probably won't be traveling back that way for a while.
                          2007 Itasca Horizon, 2012 Wrangler "toad", 2015 GD Solitude, 2017 Ram 3500

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by RocklinDave View Post
                            There's a reason why you don't see Northwood trailers come up for sale often - because owners are happy and the trailers last.

                            We have been extremely happy with our choice of a Northwood product, and if we were to get a another trailer, our first choice would be again, a Northwood trailer.
                            Just wanted to echo this from RocklinDave. Sure we had some issues with our new 2016 32-5M AF, but they got fixed. This might sound crazy to you, but I have stated before if someone was to offer me a brand new 32-5M in exchange for our 2016 I would not take the deal. Not because of any concerns about current quality, but because I have complete confidence in our current trailer. Not even to mention the few modifications we made to get the trailer where we want it. I just don't see where I would gain any advantage trading for a newer trailer.

                            In regards to reduction from MSRP...I guess we are one of those with signs on our back as we didn't quite get a 20% reduction. What I might add is that having a reputable, responsive and understanding dealer was far more important to us than maybe a thousand dollars or so. At the end of the day we are proud owners of an Arctic Fox and are completely satisfied with our purchase.
                            2016 Arctic Fox 32-5M, 300 watt Zamp Solar Kit, 2 T105 Trojan 6 volts, 5.5 Onan LP Generator, 6pt leveling system, 2nd 13.5k A/C, Slide Toppers, Fireplace, King Bed, Central Vac. Hardwired Surge Guard Model 34560.

                            2016 Ford F-450 Lariat. B&W Companion Hitch. Remax Bed Roll Cover, Bed Carpet.

                            Florida based

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Good Day,

                              I think maybe I can shed some light into your quest of finding the best for you unit. In the RV industry I have found that many look great with great floor plans and options. Believe me I did my research prior to ordering our first RV. We went to many RV shows and dealerships, asked questions and researched the internet for opinions, reviews and problems. At that time Arctic Fox had come up (Northwood) and it had my attention. I'm on the East coast so there was only one Dealership that was within 3-4 hrs from us. We had friends that had upscale SOB's and we had been camping with them for over 2 yrs so we had some idea as to what to look for from both Dealer and Unit. We also have seen what they had to deal with when a major problem took place with their new unit and how awful they were treated.

                              We were not able to see our unit prior to ordering but we could take a ride to the dealership and look at a Northwood product and by this time we had already narrowed our decision down to the Arctic Fox 32A and 2 others. Once walking inside of a Northwood product we knew this was it. We liked the dealer a lot I felt they were really forthright with answering any questions we had, so we placed our order with them in Oct of 2017.

                              We took delivery April 2018 and I won't say it was without problems. In fact I will say I had quite a bit of problems that all stemmed from quality control and items that should have been caught at the PDI prior to leaving the factory. The sad thing is even with our problems the Northwood products were still better then all of the items we looked at in price range. I have posted on this site a lot of the problems we faced and how they were fixed. Mostly by my husband.

                              What I will say at this time, I should not have received a unit like this from the factory. I think it makes it even more discouraging when you read that Northwood had high quality units and everyone one raved about them and reading months if not years of how happy people were with the unit it came as a shock that we had to deal with what we have been dealing with on a new unit. Not the little tweaking items or cosmetic items but real quality issues.

                              Here is where Northwood has shined......I have an awesome dealership that has to date stood by us to tackle what needed to be done and get us the parts to do it. Northwood although lacked in quality control for us has stepped up and is standing behind our Cracked Front Cap and Roof that has construction debris under the material along with giving us what ever we need to fix the unit. There is some quality control items that can't be fix and I guess we will live with that. There were other items that we had to deal with that was not recorded on this site because it just became overwhelming and they are behind us now. Another point I wanted to bring up is with all the research I have done and Northwood being in business for 25 yrs I have yet to read any problems with Frame Flex in their 5th wheels which is has been a problem through the years with SOB's

                              The real question is after all this would I buy another Arctic Fox........YES I WOULD....I might wait and buy one that I could see in person or I would be more diligent in the PDI prior to paying for it but in the end once we fix what needs to be fix we should have a solid unit that will be with us for years to come.

                              When shopping for and RV the dealership is a very important consideration they are the ones that are going to fight for you if need be. They are the ones that will take your unit in and work on it if need be and not let it sit on the lot for months waiting for warranty work if you should need to take it back. Keep that in mind.

                              In the end, you have owned other units, you are well versed in the RV industry and you are aware of the problems that they are facing. You asked if Northwood has lost their soul. I don't believe that's the case. I think with Northwood they are still trying to build the best units possible with the craftsmen available and being overwhelmed with demand. If they lost their soul there would be no after thought after the sale.


                              TV: 2016 F250 4X4 3.55 SC, LB, LARIAT 6.7 DIESEL W/ARE Utility Cap and Airlift Ultimate Plus airbags with wireless compressor ProPride Hitch

                              AF Silver Edition 2018 32 A:
                              Slide out toppers with Alumaguard, Alumaguard Main Awning, 24" TV Bedroom, 15K Low Profile air w/ducting, Fantastic fans, Power Scissor Jacks, Slow Rise Night Shades, Holding Tank Heat Pads, Fireplace, 50 Amp Service, 2 Cross Stitch Swivel Rocker Recliners, Rear View Camera, LP 2nd air, 2" Receiver

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