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Nebraska Home- 3metzgerletter
Date: Wed, 23 Sep 1998 20:52:50 -0400
From: Donald Metzger
Subject: Re: 5th Wheels
To: Mel & Kay Meier
Cc: Russ Anderson
Reply-to: Donald Metzger
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Dear Mel and Kay,

My wife Gail and I started RVing seriously when I retired from Digital in 1992. Our first RV was a 26 foot Dutchman 5th wheel. I don't need to tell you all the advantages of a 5th wheel over a conventional travel trailer or motorhome because it sounds as though you have already come to that conclusion yourselves.

Well, we literally ran the wheels off the Dutchmen (over 100,000 miles including a trip to Alaska). Since this was our first coach, we were pretty naive about features and we spent a lot of time looking at different floor plans, accessories, etc. What I learned is that the first place to look is underneath at the running gear (axles, suspension, etc.). We had multiple experiences with the Dutchmen including two incinerated bearings, frozen spring shackles, broken spring, etc. So the thing I like BEST about the Americana is the rubber torsion suspension, large bearings/drums, and 16 inch wheels. We shopped for over a year and the Americana was the only coach under $50,000 that offered torsion axles as standard. I must say that I have been more than pleased with the suspension. We trailered to Guadalajara, MX last winter and the suspension performed flawlessly -- no hopping around, no bouncing -- just a level pull over some of the world's worst washboard roads and speed bumps at every corner.

Then there are a lot of other things about the Americana that we like. The floor plan is excellent with lots of subtle livability features built in like a dirty clothes hamper, etc. Storage space is superlative with the full-width bedroom clothes hamper and the heated basement. In addition, there is a large storage under the overhang which is just right for lawn chairs, tables, and the gas grill. We dry camped for almost two weeks on our way to Guadalajara and really appreciated the big tanks. The hydraulic/electric slideouts perform perfectly and the seal is absolute in spite of some near-tornado wind and rain. The Filon siding cleans easily. We were constantly battling "black streaks" on the corrugated aluminum siding of our Dutchmen.

There has also been good attention to weight control. We have the 28/29RK model and "wet and loaded" it comes right in at the 9600 pound tow rating of our Ford F250 truck. The light woodwork keeps the interior bright and the quality of cabinets is very good.

Another feature I like especially is the fully enclosed and insulated underbelly. On our previous RV, I was always fighting severe rust on theundercarriage beams and supports. The appliances are of high quality and although we are not full-timers, both Gail and I agree that full-timing in our Americana would be no problem and in fact we often consider selling our real estate and doing just that. It's hard to figure out what to say exactly that will help you with your decision. We found Russ to be a person of high integrity who dealt with us fairly and with a keen sense of excellence in customer satisfaction. I wish we had bought an Americana as our first RV, but then we might not appreciate its quality features as much as we do.

Price was not our first priority when we bought the Americana, but even if you could find equivalent features (and the rubber torsion suspension is difficult to find on any brand) I have the feeling that we saved many thousands of dollars by buying from Factory Direct.

I hope you have a pleasant trip and enjoy the "RV Capitol of the World" in and around Elkhart. Your question was a general one and if there are specific questions that come up, please feel free to Email them back to me and I will try my best to answer them.

We plan to travel to Ohio with our Americana beginning next Monday, but we read our Email regularly while traveling.


Don Metzger
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