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Free At Last! Free At Last!

May 1st, 2008

After far too much time spent planning, preparing and waiting, we are finally on the road!

We spent a few hectic days cleaning out the remains of our storage unit and some work on the truck. Friday afternoon, our Bodiak front end receiver came in along with a receiver mounted cargo carrier. Unfortunately, the cargo carrier stuck out an absurd amount from the front of the truck… roughly 14 inches past the receiver before the basket portion even began! With some fiddling, I found that we could use the holes drilled for people that wanted it to stick out even further (I have no idea why) to reverse the basket so that it would mount over the raised portion of the carrier support. This still left about a foot of useless steel sticking forth, which I was tempted to use as a battering ram. Instead, I waited until the welding supply shops opened on Monday (I blame Murphy for using all my gas on Thursday) and cut it down to a manageable size. See? Everyone really needs an oxy-acetylene torch in their rig!

After speaking with Dave at the Virginia Northwood factory, we found that our plans for having work done in June were shaky as he was not sure the eastern factory would still be open by then. Even though diesel fuel is insanely high, we decided that it would be best to have the repairs made while we could be sure the factory was open, even if it meant an extra thousand miles round trip past our planned destination. Our first stop was a straight through trip to Columbia, SC to drop off more things in long term storage, say hi to my parents and swap out some hard copy books. Next we lit out for Winchester, VA, which is about as far north as you can go and still be in Virginia.

On the way up, we stopped for lunch at this Civil War era furnace. As near as I can figure, some mad scientist type was unhappy with houses and was experimenting with climate control for the great outdoors. I am sincerely hoping that we never run across his idea of an outhouse.

When we finally arrived in Winchester, we had this depressing campsite for the evening.

Yup. That’s what a factory looks like when it’s down to a skeleton crew for repair work. I hope we have no more major issues, because anything that requires a factory repair after this will require heading out to Oregon.

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3 Responses to “Free At Last! Free At Last!”

  1. LiveWorkDream says:

    Wow, so are you saying that Northwood is closing their VA factory? That’s a scary sign.

    But if you do come out to Oregon, look us up while you’re out west. We plan on going there in the fall, to have them take care of our crazy fan/refrigerator issue that’s gone on since day one!

  2. johnny says:

    The factory has been downsizing for several years now. I think they quit making truck campers there in 2006.

    I talked with the factory manager a bit and he says they just do not have enough east coast sales to keep it open. Their sales (and the industry as a whole) went down around 2000-2001 and have been going down since. When we got there, they had four people on site, and I believe at least one of them was only part time.

    The Oregon factory is still going strong for now. I don’t think you need to worry about warranty work on your 5’r until its beyond hope of Northwood footing the bill.


  3. LiveWorkDream says:

    Wow. Well, they do have such great quality, I’m not too worried.

    The sales rep in Oregon told us that they sell more campers out west because more people have boats here, and want to be able to tow them along with an RV of some sort. Campers are it for that kind of need.

    We almost got your same camper, we came very close, but the size of our dog pointed us to the 5th wheel. I do think we would have had a lot more portability with the camper. That’s one of the best perks about your rig.

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