Winnebago, Avion, Jayco, Fleetwood, Airstream, Coachman, Thor, and so many other RV names were familiar to us. Many have been around for years and years and enjoy a long history of making quality recreational vehicles.
I only recently (within the last year or so) became familiar with the coach building company known as FORETRAVEL. I realized we were going to be right past the home of Foretravel at Nacogdoches, Texas. “So let’s go take their factory tour too, eh?”
Like the Airstream factory, Foretravel also offers low cost ($5/nite) camping for it’s customers and visitors. We pulled in to the parking area in the afternoon and found that the plant tour would be at 10 am the next morning. We took the opportunity that afternoon to talk to one of their in-house sales reps so we could look at their used inventory and then we also drove up the street a mile or so and met with Brad at Motorhomes of Texas to see what they had in their Foretravel inventory.
(The following is taken from “The History of Foretravel” on the corporate web site.)
“The business of building motorhomes came about not due to planning by the Fores, but by the traveling they did in their self-built motorhome.
From that modest beginning in 1967 with the 29’ “Speedy Marie” motorhome produced in the backyard of C.M. & Marie Fore, Foretravel continued to set the standard. Weathering the oil embargos of the early 1970’s Foretravel introduced the first diesel-powered motorhome in 1974.
In addition to the numerous conveniences of a Foretravel, i.e., VCR’s, central vacuum cleaners, icemakers, trash compactors, Foretravel was among the first to use fiberglass instead of aluminum, real hardwood, and a full air bag suspension.”
Foretravel continues to be a top-notch motorhome manufacturer. At present, they make 2 Class “A” coaches – The model IH-45, selling for about $1,000,000 and the “entry level” coach labeled the “Realm” that sells somewhere in the $800,000 range.
Unlike Airstream that makes about 100 units per month and has about 1200 employees, Foretravel has only about 160 employees and manufactures about only 25 units PER YEAR! Their paint process alone requires about 2000 man hours to complete.
Also unlike Airstream, the Foretravel factory tour allowed us to take pictures!
Some of the features that the Foretravel coaches have that really appeal to me are;
- 8 (or 10 if there’s a tag axle) “outboard” air bags. They place their air bags at the extreme outboard end of where the axle meets the frame just inside the side wall. Most coach chassis makers have the air bags inside the wheels so the airbags might be 4 or 5 feet apart whereas with the Foretravel coaches the airbags are more like 8 feet apart. This gives the coach much better stability and far less side-to-side rocking when driving into or out of a driveway.
- No slide gaskets or seals that are exposed to the exterior. No slide trim panels that overlap the sidewall. Foretravel uses the HWH expanding bladder to seal the slide to the outside wall. When the slide is retracted or extended, there is a vacuum placed on the bladder. Once the wall is completely in or out, then the bladder is pressurized to provide an airtight weatherproof seal. This system not only provides an airtight seal, but when the slides are closed (retracted), the face of the slide is perfectly and completely flush with the sidewall.
- Pass-through basement storage drawers (full height from side to side)
- Aqua-Hot heating system uses hot water circulated through heat exchangers in the cabin for warm, quiet heat. This is diesel powered and also provides hot water to the bath and kitchen.
- CAT (on older models) and Cummins 450hp and up engines along with Allison Electronic Transmissions (3000 series on older coaches, 4000 series on newer) along with driver-controlled 4-position transmission retarder. This style retarder gives the operator far superior speed control during steep downhill grades … better than an exhaust retarder or engine brake.
These next few photos show Kathy getting just a little TOO comfortable inside the new Foretravel REALM that just rolled off the factory floor. It’s a darn shame it was already sold … aw shucks.
Here’s that REALM on the outside. I gotta admit – I do like the paint scheme
Oh, take a look at the steps. These are not your typical RV steps. Most motorhomes today use electric RV steps known as Kwikee Steps made by Lippert Industries. These high-end steps are known as “Executive” brand steps made by Braund Industries.
I was really impressed with these steps when we were at the factory. Our coach steps are well worn and rattle a lot as we’re going down the road. So I thought, “boy I’d like to get a set of those steps for our coach” I did some research online when I got home. Those steps would cost us about $5000 !!!! Not Happnin’ !
Here’s a few pix of older Foretravel coaches that we looked at in the $125k-$175k range. We like to look, but we’ll keep our Airstream for now.
NOTE: We’re doing some interior remodeling and some performance and suspension upgrades to our present Airstream coach and we’ll be publishing posts on those projects soon, once we have all the projects completed.
Oh, I almost forgot …. when we were in Nacogdoches we asked where we should have dinner that night and were referred to the Fredonia Hotel downtown. We weren’t disappointed. Kathy had shrimp and I had salmon. The food was excellent, the presentation beautiful and the service outstanding. Hats off to our server Brett. Here’s a few pix of our delectable delights.