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Old 08-14-2013, 04:07 PM   #1
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Long Distance RV Buying

This post is about buying an Arctic Fox. Unlike some other boards, we decided some time ago to keep SOC alive and vibrant by retaining the membership of previous owners who obviously were no longer able to buy new Sunlines. I hope you'll find our experience interesting, but, skip this thread entirely if you are so inclined.

Introduction
There are a staggering number of RV manufacturers and a mind-boggling number of virtually identical brands. Large holding companies own several manufacturers and often end up competing against themselves with identical floor plans and virtually identical features--only the names and decals are different. They often sell at different dealers within the same geograpical area so that their dealers are also competing against each other. One concept of RV buying is to find a dealer you like and buy your floor plan in whatever brand they're selling. We tried that, but they weren't selling anything in between an Airstream and a Gulfstream. In fact, they weren't selling anything, except Airstream, that they were selling 8 years ago. So, even buying a brand that is still active, is no guarantee that a dealer will be handling it just a couple of years later.

Because of the cutthroat competition, all these manufacturers are afraid to produce anything innovative so that most any RV is pretty much the same as any other. At the high end, there is a decent choice of glossy, full paint 5th wheels (we saw at least one Redwood everyday and also camped beside one with a telescopic slide), but those companies don't make the same quality of tt in any length let alone 23 ft. The sweet spot in the market today seems to be 30 ft. or so family trailers and there is some decent choice there too. But 23 ft. is entry level for everyone except Airstream... and Arctic Fox. We couldn't justify the AS in 2006 and still can't, but between the 2499 and the AF could have come up with one AS. Would a 2005 AS have stood up better, or been an ongoing maintenance project... I don't know? Either way, at our age, the AF will be our last tt and quite possibly our last RV as well.

The Search
When we first started looking at Sunlines, the 2363 was our first choice, until I made the mistake of letting Karen walk through a 2499... well... I liked it too. But I wasn't entirely comfortable with the length and I knew we would need to upgrade from what is still my all time favorite truck. So, our bottom line in a new trailer was: island bed, dinette, no slides, 23 ft., no OSB, no new truck. I scoured the Internet, RVtrader and we visited 2 dealers, one of whom was big enough to put on his own RV show and quickly came up with... nothing. I was prepared to buy an Evergreen Element--now discontinued--at one dealer, but the interior and the windows were so bad. I had Karen all psyched to buy the Element and when we were both so disappointed she was spooked from buying anything sight unseen. Lance was also in the running, but I didn't like the laminated floor--IMHO worse than OSB and not only difficult to fix, pretty much impossible--and felt it was too light for rough cross country highways. That meant Arctic Fox, which isn't sold in ON, quickly moved to the top of the list. We were aware of the AF brand because we see them in the west and knew that Pam and Steve have one, but the only ON dealer sells just the truck campers. AF has a very local market much like Sunline. Their plant is in OR and they have 16 dealers in AB and BC and corresponding numbers in the northwestern states under AB and BC... and 2 in PA and a few other places in between. Five AB dealers were within easy range of our upcoming AB travels. We quickly picked the 22g floor plan which met all our criteria and selected dealer #1 with a large AF inventory--only one 22g--who was also reasonably close to one son's place.

The Hurdles
We sent the dealer more than 30 pictures of the 2499, but couldn't close a deal online because they wanted to see the wet spot for themselves. I expected to take a bath on the trade, but wasn't willing to make an unconditional offer. The day before we left for AB the dealer sent an email that they sold "our" 22g after having it sit on the lot for 6 mon. Karen was just a little relieved as she was uneasy buying the AF sight unseen even though I assured her they had an excellent reputation and, unlike the Element, one white box was the same as another. We had seen the 22g floor plan in numerous other brands--Sunline made it too as a 2075 with dinette option. We visited the dealer anyway to see an AF up close, were impressed, and Karen decided we could buy a 22g sight unseen.

The original plan was to buy the 22g close to the beginning of our time in AB, pick it up on our way to a family camping trip in Jasper and return to the dealer's for any adjustments after that 5 day shakedown. Our insurance company put a damper on that by saying we had to come straight home and register the new trailer in ON. The agent's words were "no touring". They did give us 14 days to make a 5 day trip, but that still wasn't enough.

There was still one other 22g on our route in AB, but even though I called several times, dealer #2 was very vague about taking any trade and strangely didn't seem interested in selling or didn't realize I was a serious buyer--their price was also several $1000 higher than any other AB or BC dealer. At this point we were prepared to return home with the 2499--dealer #1 wanted us to fix it then, but at least they would commit to a price and order a 22g for us for next summer.

The day before heading to southern AB for our last stop with extended family, a fresh off the line 2014 22g showed up on dealer #3's website. I hadn't really been tracking them even though they were the most logical location to buy as they never advertised on RVtrader and only had 5ers and truck campers. Basically I made a deal on the phone and bought the trailer with my credit card. I couldn't believe it after the experience with dealer #2. We signed the papers late Fri. afternoon--just in time to get the temporary in transit permit--they had already started the prep--picked it up Sat. at noon and left for home Mon. morning.

Buying a new trailer on the road brings its challenges in transferring stuff and finding a logical place for everything. Since we knew what we were buying, just not where, I left a number of things like the TV and DVD player at home to begin with as the 22g came with them. We also took a bunch of empty bins along to facilitate transferring little stuff and, since we were camping on my cousin's yard, filled those bins and left them in the garage. We left all the dishes and food in the 2499 and I packed it up while Karen packed it away in the most logical place in the 22g. Even though we are now 2 ft. shorter there was still more than enough room.

The Arctic Fox 22G





Storage is a bit of win and lose. The pass through is as much taller as it is narrower than the 2499's, but that space is tied to the under bed which is now huge. Unfortunately the spare tire does not fit into the pass through. But the generator compartment--sans generator--is a perfect fit for a milk crate and 2 bags of Lynx levellers. We do miss the 2499's TV cabinet--we still had the full height one--as well as the pantry and peg board tool compartment. The 22g is 2 ft longer than the similar Sunline 2075 and that space is added to one of the longest kitchen counters we've seen and to the bathroom which has a huge wardroom--finally a good place to leave jackets and extra shoes.

I also lost the LT tires and TPMS. The TPMS was the internal type with Al stems. It was 5 years old and one of the batteries was dead, so they all needed replacing. The cost of that would have been a whole new system, so no big loss. But, the LT tires are gone and the 22g even comes with 15X6 wheels perfect for a tire upgrade, but the wheel wells appear to be too tight even for the LT215 let alone an ST upgrade to 225.

The factory dry weight of the 2 trailers is the same at 5000 lb. so the 22g is a heavy trailer with a full walk on roof. We carried an extra 1000 lb. on the 2499 so I expect the 22g to also weigh in at 6000 lb. The 22g has 3500 lb. axles, but unlike Sunline, is rated at a 7500 lb. GVWR. I won't go there though and it's a 7000 lb. trailer as far as I'm concerned. The dry tongue is also close to 200 lb. less so the new TW should be well under the 2499's 1000 lb. TW will be more of a wild card as the fresh tank is in front of the axles, the grey on top and behind and the black, with a rear bath, right in the back. The 22g's nose is very high gloss, sculpted and with more rake than the 2499. I don't have a good mileage comparison yet. We got a personal worst with the 2499 into west winds on the way out at 7 mpg--just to put that into perspective, gas at one stop was $6.01/US gal. For once we didn't have east winds on the way home and the 22g had a best ever towing mileage of 14 mpg. The truck does well solo at 16 mpg. On the ON leg, where wind is less of a factor, the 22g seemed to average 1.25 mpg more at 11.25 mpg. This would all be on the nose as the 2 weigh the same and the 22g is actually a bit taller and wider than the 2499.

We've slept in the 22g for 7 nights and towed it almost 2000 mi. Next week we're out for another 5 days with our ON son and family so we'll get more familiar with it and redo some of the storage with new bins. AF appears to be all its cracked up to be on the Internet, although the wall cut out guy did a poor job installing the fresh water and electrical doors--I fixed the other glitches myself, but may have to leave those doors until we get back to AB next summer. All in all it's a very nice trailer and feels like the right fit for us at this time. We are very happy with it and still amazed at the number of little extra things AF does. Their website and brochure are very basic--it looks like the only options are thermopane windows and electric tongue jack, both of which we have. Beyond that ours also came with a Progressive Dynamics converter with charge wizard, 2-6V batteries, LED lights inside and out, 12V and USB charging ports, full generator and solar pre-wire (not likely to use those), shock absorbers, mudflaps, still Chinese but at least they're Goodyear tires, black tank rinse, plywood T&G floor and plywood roof, ducted AC with styrofoam ducts, filter on water pump, large dump valve on fresh tank, two fans, two skylights that are double pane also etc.

I don't want this to sound like an AF commercial. What seem like superior features to an 8 year old Sunline are simply what I think Sunline would have evolved to as well if they hadn't gone under. Sunline and now AF target the same upscale buyer with a quality build and attention to detail in a decent trailer in a decent size. Like Sunline, all AF branded trailers from an $80,000 5er down to our 22g are built to the same specs--the Silver Fox edition does have a more deluxe interior and fiberglass end cap. I very much appreciated what Sunline built in 2005 and still value those things in 2013. There is much in an AF that appeals to a former Sunline owner.

Henry
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Old 08-14-2013, 07:32 PM   #2
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Hey Henry, so glad you're liking the Fox! We're out camping in our Fox right now. This is our second camping season, and we're still very happy. And, Steve learned something from your post - the fact that we have a filter on the water pump! When we had our Sunline we always said Arctic Fox seemed like the Sunline of the west. Hopefully we both have many happy years of camping in them!
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Old 08-14-2013, 07:56 PM   #3
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Congrats on the new trailer. It looks very nice. Looking forward to seeing in person.
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Old 08-14-2013, 08:12 PM   #4
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Congrats on the new Fox Henry.
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Old 08-14-2013, 08:45 PM   #5
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Nice write up. The pics of your 2499 looked worse than mine from the inside and my damage underneath the siding was significant. It took me about 15 hours labor (first time doing one so I was slow) and a few hundred in materials to repair mine. The dealer should be able to fix it much faster and cheaper than I did. Love that Artic Fox. If I'm ever inclined to buy new, I may have to consider one.
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Old 08-15-2013, 07:58 PM   #6
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Thanks for the write-up - interesting stuff, especially since one day the Sunline may have to be replaced. Enjoy your Arctic Fox! (Any pixs of the interior?)
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Old 08-16-2013, 07:59 AM   #7
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Enjoy your new Arctic Fox!

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Old 08-16-2013, 06:28 PM   #8
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RV Search Tools

Two of the best tools for armchair RV evaluation are rvtrader.com and YouTube. Manufacturer's websites often don't have many photos and those they do show are usually high end living rooms with two slides, two recliners, a fireplace and entertainment unit--pretty, but not very useful for someone looking a little lower on the food chain. I won't link to a search in rvtrader as it will be stale in a week anyway. If you're looking specifically for Arctic Fox, rvtrader only lists the parent company, Northwood Manufacturing, so you'll get some of their other brands in a search, most notably Nash, which is also a very popular western trailer. You can, however, search Northwood for a specific model like 22g. If you do that search today, the first 22g listed is actually a 22h, but the second 22g does have some nice photos in our colour/pattern.

I would suggest always doing a nationwide search when researching as it shows what is out there and some dealers have much better photos than others, even if you wouldn't buy from them. If you're looking for a popular brand and 10 pages of results come back, narrow the distance down somewhat from nationwide. Then look for an ad that has 15-20 photos to get a good impression of what the trailer looks like and whether you want to see it in person.

Some dealers are also posting video tours on YouTube. These links probably won't go stale as quickly as rvtrader. If you can get past the sales pitch, check out this video. video of the 22g Same as rvtrader, search YouTube for any specific brand or model you're interested in. I found these tools very useful, plus looking in person at the same floor plan from a totally different manufacturer, as we zeroed in on Arctic Fox as our first choice.

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Old 08-16-2013, 08:42 PM   #9
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Do you have the glassed in shower and the oven? I noticed a lot of new campers do not have ovens anymore.....that's a shame. That would be neat if you had the oven. The shower looks big enough for a person to take a shower...very nice.


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Old 08-20-2013, 02:05 PM   #10
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Congrats Henry & Karen....to bad you won't be at Southwoods, would love to see your new AF!
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Old 08-24-2013, 09:31 PM   #11
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Henry and Karen, Congrats on your new camper. Very nice!

Thanks for sharing your buying experience. Will have to "check it out" the next time we connect at a M & G.

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