Trailer Tours – Big Country, Montana and Used Carriage

I should be in the garage changing the oil and sharpening the blades on the mower before it gets to hot outside to mow. Na, I’d rather be looking at fifth wheels so that’s what I’ve been doing. Sharper blades on the mower should cut through taller grass so that’s covered for later. Although Karen has been doing the mowing and I’ve been running the weedeater. She has improved her mowing skills and has not managed to knock the 500 gallon propane tank off its stand like the last time she took over the mowing.  That’s a funny story we still laugh about. I had to use a tow line and four-wheel drive truck to pull the tank back onto its stand. Only left one small scratch on the mower. I’m glad she was not hurt and neither was the mower. I could not find a better woman to marry.  And it took me a long time to research which mower to buy.

This is going to a very long post so if you are not interesting in camping trailers than feel free to skip it.

warning sign.pngWarning – Opinion Ahead

I wrote earlier about a visit to Camping World in Columbia Missouri. After checking online for trailers they had for sale I noticed a fairly large supply of the Keystone Montana and Heartland Big Country. Over 18 months ago I had little knowledge of what a fifth wheel was, much less how they are built and by whom. Now armed with a more informed opinion I can walk through a trailer and later complete a little online research to find out about the nuts and bolts that can’t easily be seen in person.

I wish manufactures did a better job listing how their trailers are constructed! Maybe that’s by design because there is always going to be a part or two which is not “as good as” the competition, so why advertise it.  I understand and appreciate the concept. Seems like these trailer manufacturers decide what “class” they are in and highlight what they think their trailers offer as “best in class.” Personally, the approach some are using where they advertise what their trailers offer “at a price point” is more attractive to me.  “Class” is far more subjective. As always this is just my opinion. When it comes to price point one best consider the options on the trailer before deciding which is best for their needs. I’m having trouble finding the options when reviewing online advertisements. Suppose it will be easier once we narrow the search to a couple trailers.

This blog became very long so I’ll post about my notes on the Heartland Big Country later. Unfortunately, I’ve not toured the Heartland Big Horn which really should be included in the same post. The Heartland Landmark is an impressive trailer and expensive if the better options are added. If you are considering the Augusta Ambition the Landmark might be another to look at.

Regarding the Keystone Montana; I was not impressed with a few minor quality items I saw spread out amongst the trailers at this dealership. They also had the Montana High Country which is not the model I’m writing about.  I wondered if Keystone includes the High Country in their sales counts when bragging about being the bestselling fifth wheel?

I follow a blog where a couple owns a Montana which is a trailer still high on my list. I don’t mean to bash Keystone by any means. What I saw just had me wondering if this is a dealership issue because all trailers arrive with needed repairs or if this was Keystone building trailers fast in order to meet demand. Or maybe they had been on the lot for a long time and were damaged when people walked through them.  I’ll know for sure If I see this again at another RV lot. Our local dealership was busy selling Grand Design trailers and steered me away from the Montana. I have a gut feeling that was because at the time the dealership was getting something in return from Grand Design who at the time was new to the market.

Here are the minor flaws in these new Montana I observed at the dealership:
(I later toured the trailer at a different dealership and did not find these flaws)

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Dents in fridges in this area (poor picture)

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Rusty Rivet

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Loose screws on floor

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Loose and poorly mounted weather stripping

I also found one trailer with crushed trim below the living room cabinets. The trim piece may not have been solid wood.  In another unit there was sawdust on a recliner although I did not find its origin.  I’m sure the dealership will have a chance to cleanup these trailers but wondered what else was wrong if these somewhat trivial items were faulty.

I came away with the opinion looking at the Heartland Big County and Big Horn is something one should do if considering the Montana. The dealership in Columbia Missouri left me alone to see whatever I wanted and had parked the Big Country right next to the Montana. I took some time to walk through the older trailers for both companies to get a feel how they hold up, although I’d have no way of knowing if the used trailers were lived in full time.

For kicks I also toured a 2011 Carriage Carri-Lite which was advertised on the dealerships website. In its day this was a popular full-timers rig, at least that’s what I’ve noticed in signature lines listed on the forums. Astatically it was in better shape than the others. I try and pay attention to the older trailers because it has been suggested rather than buying new, get a good used one and haul it around having upgrades done. Carriage was bought out by Crossroads RV. From their website: “The Carriage brand has been a household name since 1968, providing customers with full-time luxury style and construction.” The newer Carriage trailer is high dollar. Crossroads’ now also builds the Cameo. Former employees  of Carriage, once they went out of business, started up Lifestyle Luxury RV. In 2017 Lifestyle went lighter to include their frame design.  I followed a blog where their older Lifestyle, with a heavy frame, suffered a major frame issue. Lifestyle made good and built them a new trailer. They lived in a motel for months waiting for the trailer to be built. Also followed a blog where their older Cameo suffered minor frame damage.

5 thoughts on “Trailer Tours – Big Country, Montana and Used Carriage

  1. Hi Mark, Your blog is very interesting. While my husband and I are not planning to go the full timing RV route, we are planning to eventually spend a lot of time on the road. I see you put a lot of thought into your decision making and as I haven’t gone through your entire blog (yet) I was wondering if you had done a post on your decision of a fifth wheel over a class A? We keep going back and forth on this.



  2. Pingback: Tour of the New 2017 Traveler and Bighorn | Our Future in an RV

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