Truck Camping for Ram Dullay
We have owned 4 truck campers, before buying our Host we had an Arctic Fox 1150. If you ask around you will hear generally nice comments regarding Northwoods manufacturing. Unfortunately our experience wasn't great.
On one of our first trips the slide wouldn't retract. At the time I was very impressed with the company as the owner Ron Nash answered the phone on a Sunday and had one of their guys call me and walk me through how to remove the slide motor (thankfully I carry a lot of tools) to get the slide in so we could drive down the road. Ron was very apologetic, explained they had a batch of bad motors that had a plastic gear. We cut our trip short and headed directly home to receive the new and improved motor with all steel gears. I installed the motor and the slide worked again.
On our next trip shortly after that we got caught in a heavy rain in the middle of the night. Water was pouring into the camper. Part of the skylight in the bathroom was missing sealant. This was a miss by the manufacturer but also by me. I would definitely get on the roof of any new RV and carefully inspect sealant.
We bought this camper in 2006. At about that time in my working career I was promoted and began taking on serious responsibilities and vacations became pretty much non existent. The camper just sat until we recently took an early retirement about 4 years ago.
We were pretty stoked and took our dream trip to Alaska. I went over the camper top to bottom, installed solar, resealed everything. While in Alaska the slide broke again. This time it was a shear pin. No problem, I used a drill and cleaned up the hole and installed a larger grade 8 bolt. That worked for a while. The side moved back and for the easily by hand without the motor connected. There wasn't anything binding or broken in the rack. Unfortunately the slide broke again. I pulled the motor out, opened the case and low and behold another plastic gear broken. This motor that replaced the defective motor (per the owner) was also defective.
So I called Northwoods to explain my dilemma and ask what they could do to help me out. After all I never had a non defective slide motor. I was well out of warranty but was hoping they could at least ship one to me at their cost. I was basically told to bugger off. Ron was no longer in charge, unfortunately he has some serious health issues. I was told that their slide motors NEVER used plastic gears and I should go to a dealer and have the motor replaced... I am basically being called a liar as I sit there on the phone with them holding a broken plastic gear. We are not near a dealer. I understand why manufacturers may elect not to sell directly to the public but it seemed given the history of my problem they could have just shipped me a motor to replace the obviously defective one. We called a couple dealers to see if they could drop ship a motor to us and finally found one that would do so for $1200. Wow, these are just cheap dc motors. The mark up is insane.
I removed the defective motor and moved the slide manually for the rest of the trip using a piece of 2x4 to wedge the slide closed for travel. Again tools and making do. We were not cutting this trip short. There were lots of other little quality issues that I won't go into. Things I fixed myself. Some things are to be expected on any RV. In general these campers are assembled by hand using labor that is somewhat seasonal and low cost. Quality control seems to vary.
On our way home we stopped in Bend Oregon toured the Host factory, worked out the model and options we liked with the plant manager and ordered a camper the next day through one of their dealers. Our new camper has been outstanding. We already have more nights in it than our AF and the few issues we have had the dealer and manufacturer stepped up and handled without issue.
That's my history with Northwoods. When we go down the 5th wheel road sometime in the future they will not be on my list to consider..
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