The video for this Chapter follows this colorful story of my introduction to Newell Coach and my trip to Miami, OK and includes driving footage.
The next chapter in my quest to learn to drive a motorhome takes me to Miami, OK to visit the Newell Coach factory to attend a two-day driving class. At this stage, I’m continuing to determine the answers to these questions:
- Is a motorhome in my future?
- If so, will it be a pre-owned or a new model?
- Should I continue to consider the concept of buying my last coach first and bypass thought of purchasing a starter coach?
For those who may not be familiar with motorhomes, Newell is considered to be the creme da la creme in the motor coach world. I hope you’re sitting down while reading the next sentence as you may get a bit dizzy when I tell you the sticker price of a custom designed Newell coach can exceed two-million dollars.
Yup, $2,000,000.00…that’s a lot of zeros!
Newell’s are in an exclusive class of coaches only shared with the likes of a select few upper-tier Prevost conversions. But since a maximum of 26 Newell custom coaches are produced per year, these models aren’t as prevalent on the highways as other brands. Just seeing one up close and personal is quite a treat. Simply stated, a Newell motor coach is considered by many enthusiasts to be the top-of-the-line in the world of luxury coaches. And, as owners of pre-owned models have stated on sites such as www.NewellGurus.com, a pre-owned Newell rides as well, if not better, than some new models in an equivalent price range.
Well, to be accurate, they wouldn’t be saying, “some new models,” they would call them “SOB’s…Some Other Brands!
Yeah, that’s motorhome lingo!
So, you can imagine my reaction when, after very little begging, Brian Pitts of Newell Coach gave me the green light to take a two-day driving class at the factory in Miami, OK.
Without any hesitation on my part, we picked a date and I booked my flights (yes, “flights” as it took more than one to get there from PBI airport) to Tulsa, OK. I then made arrangements to rent a car from Hertz and upon arrival, drove 80 miles to Miami, OK. I’ll add, the roadways in the State of Oklahoma feature those somewhat rare signs that display a speed limit of 75 mph on its smooth surfaced, well maintained highways.
My first lesson about this area of the country began just days prior to the trip when I gave my neighbor George a call.
We live in a sociable, casual, boutique-style golf community that’s located on the appropriately named PGA Boulevard in Northern Palm Beach County, FL. While I’m not an avid golfer these days, I have played in foursomes with George in the past and he’s one of those characters who always has a smile on his face, swings the club effortlessly and typically lands the ball close to the hole. Yes, he’s a happy guy!
While it’s been a while, George spent his professional years in the racing business and his racing team owned two Newell coaches over the span of a number of years. So, I thought that I could learn by his experiences and get some insight into the service reputation as well as the people behind the Newell brand.
When I called George, after a bit of small talk I said, “Guess where I’m going tomorrow? (pause) And, said with enthusiasm, Miami, Oklahoma!”
He responded, “My-Am-Uh Oklahoma!” with a smile you could hear over the phone. Personally, I thought he was just having fun and had no idea he was being serious about the proper pronunciation of this quaint town. More on that conversation in a moment.
Upon arrival at the Tulsa airport and during a conversation with the Hertz agent, she asked where I would be going. I responded, Miami and pronounced it like a Floridian. She gave me a strange look, noticed that I held a Florida driver’s license and asked with surprise, “Florida?” I replied, “No, Oklahoma.”
She laughed and told me that I’m saying it incorrectly and “Miami” is pronounced differently in Oklahoma than it is in Florida.
In Florida, Miami is pronounced, My-Am-Eee. In Oklahoma, it’s My-Am-Uh. It’s like toe-may-toes, toe-mah-toes, but I really didn’t care as no matter how it was pronounced I was about to drive a Newell Motor Coach!
It also didn’t matter that the coach I would be using for the training sessions would be a 2009 pre-owned model as I’m to understand that even a used Newell would give me insight into the the quality of coaches built by Newell and let me know, that if I choose to build a custom coach, what it would feel like eight years down the road. In the back of my mind however, I was still a bit miffed that the folks running Newell would be allowing this newbie to get behind the wheel of one of its coaches, as of this very moment, I only had a few hours of supervised training and behind-the-coach-wheel experience. Are they nuts? (You can view my initial driving experiences by clicking the Motorhome section at the top of the page).
When George and I got to the topic at hand, I simply cut to the chase and asked him to tell me all the bad things about Newell. He was a Friend and I could be blunt with my questions.
There was a pause…a long pause.
He responded, “Andy, I really can’t think of anything bad to say about Newell.” He reminded me that he had a team of automotive mechanics traveling on the road with him and if something went awry, he may not have known. But he stated his coaches logged quite a few miles and that he was never left stranded. He seemed to be impressed with the reliability of his Newell coaches. He added that during the few occasions he needed to contact the factory, the responses came quickly and respectfully. But then, he thought of one negative issue that occurred on more than one occasion. Read on…
As stated, it’s been a few years since George owned a motor coach and it seems that sometime during the mid-2000’s that Newell had placed an electronic refrigerator lock just out of eyesight on top of the fridge. As George told me, during refueling stops, he would head back to the galley to get a bottle of water (or a cold beer if he had completed his time behind the wheel), and on more than one occasion, when pressing the refrigerator unlock button, the door wouldn’t open, so he did what anyone would do…he kept pressing the button. He said the first time that happened, his coach was parked in front of a gas pump. After a few presses of the button one of his crew members ran from the diesel pump into the coach while yelling at the top of his lungs for him to STOP!
George was a bit stunned as all he was doing was attempting to open the refrigerator.
It seems that back then, Newell placed the button for the black tank (sewage) dump in close proximity to the refrigerator unlock button and while George thought he was pressing the correct button, he was instructing his coach to empty the accumulated sewage tank all over the parking lot!
Although it was a bit of a blur, knowing there was nothing he could do to rectify the situation, George remembers that what happened next was a quick series of events that had him on the road in a blink of an eye. He reminded me that his 600 HP, 20 ton coach had a lot of power as he got out of there quickly!
Okay, enough of my blabber. In this episode you’ll meet Glenn Edwards, my Newell instructor for the next two days and you’ll see the 2009 coach that Newell allowed this relatively new motorhome driver to take to the parking lots, and later the roadways of Oklahoma.
While this video is part one of a series of videos produced during my visit to the Newell factory, future videos will tell the rest of the story of this ongoing adventure.
Stay tuned as in the next chapter, I place multiple cameras in the cockpit and we’ll drive this coach through Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas. Be sure to check back at GadgetGuru.com or like us at Facebook.com/TheGadgetGuru and Subscribe to YouTube.com/TheGadgetGuru so that you don’t miss a single episode!