Wow...reading that title, you'd think we were done traveling. Nothing could be further from the truth. I suppose I should have picked a better title :) This post instead about updating and upgrading your rigs...something that is inevitable on the road, when traveling fulltime.
As we've become immersed in the traveling RV community, our circle of friends has grown beyond our wildest expectations. We find ourselves looking for common things to bond with each other. These bonds are further solidified as we commiserate with each other with stories from our travels. In those fireside chats, I can't tell you the number of times people have had to make hard choices like changing rigs mid-travel. For those that do this life for any period of time, realize that most likely, you will have to change your RV at least once. The reason is quite simple...most rigs in the RV Marketplace are not designed for Fulltime Travel. The majority of them are engineered for weekend usage, maybe 4-6 weeks of use over the course of the year. Obviously, living 24/7/365 in an RV, you put a lot of wear and tear on them. Parts are cheap and break easily. Eventually, the problems and cost to fix themselves become cost prohibitive, and that's when decisions are made to change rigs. That brings us back to our story of trial and tribulation with our rigs.
When we launched on our journey 6 years ago, we did so in a 2014 Open Range 5th Wheel. We did lots of research into the unit that we wanted to launch with. After considering all of our options and rigs that fit in our price range, we decided to go with the Open Range Residential 430RLS. We loved that rig. We had custom bunk beds installed and completely remodeled the interior to make it our own. All was going well in the world, until we had the unit serviced at the manufacturer for some electrical issues and repair a stress crack on the sidewall near our bedroom slide. While there, the manufacturer did a service recall, to repair a defect in our model design, which ended up causing more problems. The service recall was meant to deal with flexing issues, in the frame, and the solve was to run a support strap from the frame to the roof line. I was told that this was to distribute the stress to the roof line, and prevent additional flexing. After that fix was done, we began having constant problems with tire failures. We worked with the manufacturer to resolve the issues and decided to move into a new unit.
We found ourselves three years into our journey, and we had to pick a new rig, so that we could move away from the structural issues with the previous rig. We ended up moving to a 2017 Open Range 3x349RLS. The 3X line boasted 3" thick walls, and was meant to provide much better temperature regulation. This thing delivered and we were excited. To us, we had found our 7-10 year rig. We wanted to make it ours, and do some of the improvements that we had wanted to do to the previous rig. On the 349RLS, we decided to have the MorRyde Independent Suspension installed and the Kodiak Electric Over Hydraulic Brakes. These were amazing enhancements that we would absolutely recommend to fellow travelers looking to make really smart investments in their rig. You can read about these upgrades and others we recommended here Two years later, we discovered a problem with the roof, where we appeared to have soft spots in the roof. Fearing the worst, we had the roof checked out. Thankfully, we didn't have any water damage, which we were convinced would be the underlying issue. Turns out, we had some of the roof trusses that were broken. We don't know what the source of the broken trusses were. It could have been stress from hardening of the frame. It also could have been a design flaw for the wooden trusses. Either way, we knew that the problem needed to be fixed. I contacted the manufacturer and after inspection, it was determined that there was a manufacturing flaw in our unit. As such, Open Range was happy to stand behind their product and they gladly repaired their product.
We went to a dealer in Fort Worth, TX, to have the roof repaired, called ExploreUSA RV. We were encouraged by good reviews online, as well as recommendations by Open Range for the quality of work that this dealer would do. Sadly, the experience we had was unlike the reviews we had seen. I'll hold that for another discussion on another day, as I don't want this to turn into a bash a dealer post. We contacted Open Range immediately upon receiving the rig back from the dealer, to provide them documentation about the rig was just not right.
Open Range stepped up, yet again. This time, they authorized a roofing specialist to repeat the repair. I contacted the folks over at RV-Armor and one of their field personnel stopped by and did a evaluation of the roof. They provided the quote to essentially replace some of the wood on the roof, repair several of the trusses which weren't repaired by ExploreUSA RV and then apply their flexible product on the roof. I was super excited as I know many who work for RV-Armor and know even more who have had their roofing systems installed on their rigs. I can tell you with certainty, their roofing systems are amazing. Thankfully, Open Range agreed to replace the roof using RV-Armor.
If you are keeping count, we now had a 2017 Open Range, with a MorRyde Independent Suspension, Hydraulic Brakes and upgraded roof system. So, you'd think we'd be all set...and good to go for another 5-7 years, right?? Nope. We found ourselves reevaluating our travel methods, both how we had been traveling in the past and how we were planning to continue our travel into the future. What we realized is that we were traveling way too often and I'm not getting any younger. With my medical issues, I was worried about the long term prospects for continuing travel in a 5th wheel. As such, what better time to upgrade a rig, than when all is right in the world.
Back to the research phase, we decided we wanted to get a Class A RV. We also knew that we wanted to ensure it was a Diesel Pusher. Given our warranty issues with our previous rigs, another consideration was the service center locations. Sounds silly, but try having a problem with your rig that needs factory service during the middle of winter and the factory is located in Indiana. Just saying...it's not a fun prospect to have to drive to Indiana during the winter, and that's even if they are open at that time and accepting appointments.
We ended up picking a 2019 Tiffin Allegro Red 37BA. For us, it checked all of our boxes and 6 months into ownership of it...we are happy beyond belief. We'll talk details about our new rig, and what modifications we made to it in a future post.