I contacted New Horizons on Monday at scheduled a tour of their plant for Tuesday (9/26) so after a good night’s sleep and our morning routine we jumped in the truck and drove the 83 miles from our campsite at the casino to Junction City where the factory is located.
We had toyed with the idea of actually lifting our jacks and making a move to Junction City after our stay at the Casio and tour the plant from there but there just wasn’t anything else in Junction City we wanted to see so we figured just driving there would work out fine, and it did.
We arrived at the factory just before 10 when our tour was scheduled and after a short sit down meeting with Candie who was doing our private tour we headed into the plant.
Touring the New Horizons plant was as different as night and day compared to the Montana and DRV plants. The Montana plant gave the feel of just banging out product, jam packed, somewhat un-organized and no real modifications are allowed. And the DRV plant even though much more organized and considered semi-custom meaning some customizing is allowed but not really all that much and it was still apparent that they were mass producing a product and they wanted to get them out the door and both plants had workers buzzing around everywhere, well actually just DRV because when we toured Montana the work shift had already ended.
Right out of the gate New Horizon starts to set themselves apart from most other 5th wheel manufacture by designing and building their own frame in house and each frame is designed for particular floorplans which just makes great sense to me compared to the vast majority of 5th wheels on the market today use a mass produced frame built by an outside source called Lippert.
I’m not saying that Lippert frames are a bad thing necessarily and it seems manufactures can spec out certain things on a Lippert frame but from what I have seen the in house frame that New Horizons builds is a much more sturdy and substantial frame using a 12″ Steel I-Beam over 4 inch structural steel tubing design. OH and they use only American Steel! Like anything else, without a good sturdy foundation it’s tough to create a strong and lasting product at the end.
Lipper frames tend to come with 6 Hydraulic levelers, the 2 front landing gears being rated at 14K each and the 4 rear being rated at 6k each compared to New Horizon using only 4 Big Foot leveling system but each leg has a 17,000 pound lift capacity.
At first thought you might think that a 6 point leveling system would have to be better but then if you think about how much stiffer the I-beam constructed frame is on a New Horizon and think about all of the motorhomes on the road that are much heavier than any fifth wheel and they only have 4 jacks you start realizing that maybe, just maybe the other guys use e extra jacks to remedy a weak spot.
I don’t know, on one hand I guess if the weak spot is fixed by the 2 extra jacks them you no longer have a weak spot (except going down the road in comparison) and we certainly are not going to toss DRV out of the mix because of this.
New Horizons use a Mor/Ryde IS axle suspension system and each coach is engineered to carry a minimum of 3,000 lbs of carrying capacity. NOTE, 3,000 lb MINIMUM. For those of you that have been shopping or have owned ANY type of RV you know how important cargo capacity is and how little you may end up with in some brands and units. Here is a link in case you care to learn more about the Mor/ryde systems. http://www.morryde.com/products/87-independent-suspension-system
Another thing we noticed while at the meat & potato’s section of the tour was the location of the 100 gallon fresh, 70 gallon grey and 70 gallon black tanks, they are over the axles where they should be. Plus they are heated & insulated and come with the external sensors and flush out system on both the black and grey.
While touring the Montana plant I asked if they used an external sensor system on the tanks, the answer was no. When I asked why the answer was because of the additional cost. WHAT!!! There isn’t a RVer out there that doesn’t complain about the unreliable internal sensor systems and that would complain about a puny $300 (roughly) out of the gate to have a good reliable external system. Plus if they started buying these external system at bulk like they surly would they would get a much better price. Just another thing that makes me think Montana does not really think a lot of the end user, but just the ending bottom line. Just my opinion
Another thing I noticed during the tour was the attention to detain in the wiring. I call it like I see it and our Tiffin has nothing but a rat’s nest of wiring crammed into every nook & cranny you look at and is one of the weakest things I think Tiffin does. And to be honest I didn’t feel that Montana did much better than Tiffin and DRV was the best of the 3 however but not even close to New Horizons, they really do it right. Wires were ran in loom’s keeping everything neat and things were ran and secured in lines instead of having a “ Oh, I have an extra 5 ft of wire so I will just stuff it in here someplace because no one will ever see it ” mentality.
Another feature that I really like was the placement of their generators if you wanted one, it’s fitted UNDER the 5th wheel in the middle of the coach instead of taking up valuable space in the cargo space up front AND adding more pin weight. This feature alone is HUGE in my book.
When it comes to the framework of walls New Horizons is really not much different from the other guys. The only real difference I saw was that DRV welds one side of the aluminum ribbing and uses a screwed on bracket on the other side claiming it allows for some movement instead of breaking weld where New Horizons welds all seams. I don’t know, in my mind ridged is good but that discussion can be left to the engineers of the world. Again, one way or the other would not sway us one way or the other until it could be proven to me which was best.
As far as insulation goes coming from the construction world years ago I liked what I saw at DRV with the glued and hung batt insulation, it just looked insulated to me compared to New Horizons and there high density closed cell foam insulation. But I will say that once I saw a completed wall and a cut away section I started to be swayed a bit, the thickness was impressive.
And when I asked Montana and DRV about insulation in the slide floors I think I saw them start to laugh at me saying there are some areas that you just can’t really insulate. But when I asked New Horizons they quickly told me that they do insulate the slide floors which is huge. In full disclosure they did not SHOW me how much insulation they put in the slide floor.
Speaking of slide floors, New Horizons has found a way to make the slide floor pretty much flush with the main floor when extended which is great. What is also great is you can opt to NOT have carpet on the slide floor so if you opt for hardwood flooring in the rv you can also have hardwood on the slide room floors which is great.
Even though our motorhome is considered to have tile everywhere we still have carpet on the slide floors which we would rather not have.
Oh, did I say hardwood flooring?? Well yes I did, when I asked Montana and DRV about hardwood flooring (we love our heated tile floors but tile in a 5th wheel I’m sure would really add up weight wise pretty fast and cause issues) we were simply told NO. But with New Horizons hardwood flooring is almost a standard. And when I asked Montana and DRV about heated floors the answer was NO and even though New Horizons does not really like doing heated floors they will but they tell you up front that they will warrantee the floors but not the heated portion which I guess is fare if you know that up front and really want them.
Well this is starting to get lengthy and we haven’t even talked about the glitz and glitter of the interior. Well the theme of getting what you want continues. If you want to change the standard layout of the kitchen just speak up, work with the design team and have it done. If you want cabinets to be taller than standard, no problem, if you want to reverse the entire floor plan and have the exit door on the opposite side of the RV, no problem, if you want to supply your own kitchen sink or bathroom sinks, no problem, want to supply your own wall sconces, no problem, want to change the size of windows or even slides, no problem. It just goes on and on. Heck I think if you told them to leave out the kitchen and just make one huge living room they would do it. Try ANY of those things with any of the other manufactures out there and see how far you get LOL!!!
But that’s why they call New Horizons a custom 5th wheel manufacture, you just have to be willing to pay the price to get exactly what you want.
Oh sure price, here is where the fun stops because New Horizons 5th wheels are not cheap and if you are anyplace near our tax bracket they are downright expensive but once again, if you want the top of the line and you want it your way you don’t have many options.
It is “our opinion” Montana and DRV are nowhere near being in the same league as New Horizons and if money wasn’t an issue we would buy a New Horizons hands down at this particular time.
New Horizons only produces about 35 units per year compared to the hundreds the other guys put up so as you can imagine there is more attention to detail in the New Horizons.
Ok, let me back pedal just a little because nothing is perfect, we don’t like their windows. They use the windows with the little crank our portion at the bottom and we just don’t care for them. If we want a window open we want it OPEN, not have some puny little area tilted out, heck I don’t think you can even yell at your neighbor through one of those stupid things but then again that just us.
And what REALLY surprised me is that they use that same crank out type window on the sides of the slides. I can just see me pulling a slide in with the window cranked out, not good. In all fairness we did not ask if they would use a different window but when we expressed our dislike for the crank out style they didn’t jump right in with option’s so who knows.
Lucky for us we are not really in the market for a 5th wheel right this minute so we are hoping that DRV (which is the 2nd runner up for us) will up there game and offer a few things that New Horizons offers now within a couple years at maybe a lower price. And if they don’t, when (and if) the time comes we will have to sit down and really think hard which way to jump, who knows maybe a lightly used New Horizons built close enough to the way we would want that we would jump on that. And who know, maybe we would just buy a new one and get it exactly the way we want it. Only time will tell.
For now I really love driving our motorhome and we are very comfortable in it so there is no hurry.
Well that pretty much sums up our short stay at the Prairie Band Casino, after our tour we stopped for a late lunch / early dinner and headed home for the evening and Wednesday morning (9/27) we lifted our jacks and moved westward. You will need to come back to find out where. IN fact by the time we get this posted we will have moved at least twice and changed states at least once and maybe twice LOL!!! We will get caught up.
Oh, and this post is not meant to piss anyone off, we have friends with both DRV and Montana that have great luck with them and we would hate to not be invited in for a beer because of this update LOL!!!. These are just our honest opinions.