Coleman/Fleetwood vs. Jayco vs. Rockwood

Discussion in 'Camper Pre-Purchase Questions' started by Ted Duffy, Jul 26, 2013.

  1. Ted Duffy

    Ted Duffy New Member

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    I'm in the market to spend about $6,000 to $7,000 on a used pop-up (2004 - 2007 year). I've always thought Coleman had the best reputation for quality but I'm reading about their roof problems. I started looking into Jayco and Rockwood. Jayco has been around for a long time and is still in business unlike Coleman. Any thought on quality comparisons or are they all about the same and I should just focus on features and floor plans?
    Other question. Should I spend a little more and wait for a season-end clearance on a new one?
     
  2. Hammer_2012

    Hammer_2012 New Member

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    Being an owner who just switched from Coleman/Fleetwood to Jayco I'm still on the fence. We wrnt from a 2002 Utah to a 2007 1206 Jay series. Had Fleetwood not gone out of business I would have probably bought another.

    The years your looking at I believe the Fleetwood roof issues were corrected so take I'd that out of consideration. For me it was parts, and they are getting really hard to find! The Fleetwood quality is great, layouts were great, options were awesome. I do miss hours but it's probably more the fact that we're not used to Jayco yet.

    The jayco is equally good build and material quality IMO. The jayco tows like a dream!

    They both have their pluses and minuses but in my opinion they stand above most other trailers. I looked at some , Flagstaff, viking etc. and none seemed comparing quality and features.
     
  3. ghacker

    ghacker Active Member

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    Don't forget Starcraft. While owned by Jayco, they are built in a separate factory and AFAIK still operate pretty independently.

    JMO, but when I was looking 4 yrs. ago there was no question in my mind that Coleman was better than the rest. Their fit & finish was considerably better than the competition, stronger frame, and a number of desireable features others didn't have. Yes, the ABS roof was a costly mistake. After several versions they had to abandon the design. And to be honest, I was so uncertain as to whether I should get one, I ended up avoiding the issue by getting the '06. At this point, I would still get another late model Coleman. Not so sure 10 yrs. from now. Lot's of threads here touch on that debate.

    FWIW, I think Jayco/Starcraft have an edge on Forest River products.

    As to whether to buy used vs new, the only advantage to new is the warranty and maybe dealer support. Personally, at this point, I'd wait 'till yr end and pick up a used one. Should save you at least $1K unless you can camp year-round in your area.
     
  4. vanjr

    vanjr New Member

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    Isn't Coleman/Fleetwood now Sommerset?

    Back to the OP question-I think the main thing is a good inspection. A well taken care of PUP that has a floorplan you like trumps any brand name.
     
  5. friartuck

    friartuck Well-Known Member

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    Floorplan floorplan floorplan. Once you know what you need/want then you can really start looking. I had an 8’ Coleman/Fleetwood and it was good and sturdy. But there wasn’t that much difference between that one and the Jayco/Starcraft/Rockwood in quality. I liked the flip over galley in the Coleman, but Rockwood had an 8’ box with a trunk . . .
    Fast forward to a new life. The DW had Starcraft and Viking popups and just loved her Starcraft. When we went pup up shopping we needed to go bigger (the last camper she and he late husband had was a 35’ toy hauler 5’er) and there I saw huge difference in build quality, fit and finish. Bouncy or sagging floors, ugly seams, thin looking lifter posts etc. We looked for almost two years before we found a unit we could love, an ‘08 Bayside (yes we were being very picky). I’d buy another Coleman/Fleetwood in a minute, or a new Somerset perhaps [:D]
    Most of the parts, and all the appliances are third party anyway so while some things are getting hard to find there are products coming out to fill those needs (BedWedgies come to mind)
    So the short version is: Find a floorplan that works best for you and keep looking till you find the unit you can love, whatever it my be!
     
  6. friartuck

    friartuck Well-Known Member

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    Yes and no. The Sommerset floorplans are very close copies of the Coleman/Fleetwood models. And most of the traditional Coleman 'goodies' like the stepper door and captive bunk end poles and Swing Level galley are incorporated in the new models. And since Sommerset was able to aquire ALL the Coleman records, from engineering specs to sales documents, they will be even closer now.
    Fleetwood sold the Coleman name and rights to an investment group, FTCA, and they're the ones that shut the door on Coleman.
     
  7. CamL48

    CamL48 New Member

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    Not the greatest source of information in friartuck's post.

    Somerset did leverage the local expertise ... and perhaps the brand equity of Somerset, PA's heritage of building the market-leading Coleman/Fleetwood brand PUPs.

    Somerset has also leveraged the floorplan names from the old C/F line ... and Palomino got into this as well, with its new Traverse line of trailers. But, you won't find the stepper door in Somerset, despite tuck's comments to the contrary. Similarly, Fleetwood didn't sell the Coleman name to FTCA or anyone else. The Coleman name wasn't Fleetwood's to sell ... as evidenced by the period between 2004-2008 when the Coleman name was absent the trailers. Same factory, same manufacturer, but no Coleman brand in those years.

    In 1989, Coleman sold the trailer plant to Fleetwood, lock-stock-and-barrel. In 2003, either the licensing deal ran out or Coleman sued Fleetwood to cease using the Coleman name due to quality issues (and potential to damage the Coleman brand) -- I've read both. Either way, Fleetwood spent years in litigation with Coleman on a few issues all relating to brand usage ... Coleman tried to license the brand to Coachmen, I believe, but Fleetwood won that battle. Anyway, quality issues (ABS roof), litigation, and overall economic downturn combined to ruin the company, which was becoming insolvent (if not bankrupt) by 2008.

    Blackstreet capital group bought the plant under the FTCA (Folding Trailer Company Acquisition) company name. One of the first actions by Blackstreet was to restore the Coleman licensing deal. So, Coleman brand reappeared for 2009, I believe. Then, in mid-2011, the company went bankrupt a final time and liquidated its assets -- inventory, parts, half-built trailers on the line, and any IP that it had. I thought that Coachmen bought the stepper door IP, but my memory may be fuzzy.

    Somerset did not exist at the time and owns none of the old Coleman IP (including the stepper door patents). I'd be surprised if any of the Coleman/Fleetwood records or other properties ended up in Somerset's hands ... but I've been surprised before. If they did, it would have been via some intermediary who bought and held said records until Somerset was formed and represented an interested buyer.

    Otherwise, yes, the ABS roof ceased in 2003.5. 2004+ trailers will have your garden-variety issues ... poorly caulked roof, random quality issues, poorly maintained Filon, etc. Nothing systemic like the ABS roof. Some concerns about Filon, but Filon was used by several manufacturers and Palomino may still use it.

    If I were looking for a used trailer, C/F would be my preferred brand in the 2004-2008 span you're considering.

    Good luck.
     
  8. BeachBound

    BeachBound New Member

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    Actually, I've been spending some time on the Somerset site considering a new trailer vs. used and at the bottom of this page: http://somersetrv.com/campers, there's a graphic on the company history. Somerset did not exist, but the parent company, Columbia Northwest, did. Columbia Northwest claims to have purchase the Coleman IP in 2011 and hired "many of the former plants' key personnel."

    Though none on the website currently feature the stepper door - that may have either been sold, licensed, or could be close to expiration. I'd have to look it up on the PTO website.

    It will be fun to see how it works out. I hope they increase production some. I'd like to see one in person but may have to make a trip to make that happen.
     
  9. metro6775

    metro6775 New Member

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    I have been in a Utah and Sun Valley Somerset. If I had to pick up a brand new pop up in the traditional pop up style I would take the Somerset.

    As to answer the original post I would prefer the Fleetwood/ Colemans over the others.
     
  10. BigBaron

    BigBaron Dreaming of Tommy's chili cheeseburgers...

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    Here's a compilation of Coleman History that I have found. I hope it helps and is interesting to read.
    Timeline of the plant’s operations

    1967 — The Coleman Co., Wichita, Kan., opens a trailer plant in Somerset.

    1969 — There is a three-month strike between the Coleman Co. and the United Steelworkers. Strikers allegedly slash the tires of company vehicles and blow up the power supply to the plant before a settlement is reached.

    1989 — Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., Riverside, Calif., buys the Coleman plant. The move makes the Somerset facility the largest towable trailer plant in North America.

    1993 — Fleetwood employees celebrate reaching top honors in a nationwide customer satisfaction contest for the fourth consecutive year.

    1994 — The Somerset plant reaches $72 million in sales, a 12 percent increase from the previous year.

    2003 — Third shift assembly is temporarily shut down and about 40 associates are laid off. A company official cites the threat of war in Iraq, erosion of consumer confidence and high oil prices as factors contributing to the decision.

    2003 — Fleetwood stops carrying the Coleman name.

    2004 — A business restructuring causes company officials to ask between 15 and 20 percent of the nonunion work force to choose between a factory floor job or being furloughed. At the time the Somerset plant had about 600 full-time employees, making it the county’s largest employer.

    2005 — Fleetwood supplies as many as 200 trailers to people who lost their homes during Hurricane Katrina.

    May 2005: Fleetwood Folding Trailers furloughs 47 employees and announces it is scrapping its travel trailer line in favor of folding trailer operations.

    August 2006 — The Somerset plant adds 35 employees to its work force of 477 people because of increased business. At the time, the company had 45 percent of the folding trailer market share. This was after a three-year decline in the number of workers at the facility.

    November 2006 — Fleetwood considers outsourcing its sewing department to Texas and Mexico.

    December 2006 — Fleetwood officials try to find an alternative to outsourcing the sewing department.

    January 2007 — The company outsources its sewing department. Employees earlier rejected two proposals that would have kept the company from outsourcing.

    January 2007 — The company furloughs about 40 employees, but says the move is unrelated to the decision to outsource the sewing department.

    March 2007 — Twenty-nine employees are let go. The layoffs are considered normal because business was down.

    March 2007 - Allan Reeping replaces John Green as general manager of the company. Green retired from the company 2 1/2 years earlier, but came back to help with the Somerset division.

    August 2007 — At least 60 employees are laid off from a work force of about 520 people. Company officials reverse course on a decision to outsource sewing work to Mexico, a decision that saves about 50 jobs.

    March 2008 — The company lays off 20 employees.

    May 2008 — Folding Trailer Company Acquisition Inc. (FTCA), an affiliate of Blackstreet Capital Partners LLC, from Bethesda, Md., announces a buyout of Fleetwood Folding Trailers less than a month after Fleetwood officials confirmed their intent to sell the Somerset Township plant. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

    June 2008 — Around 70 workers are let go.

    August 2008 — FTCA announces products made at the Somerset plant will once again carry the Coleman name.

    October 2010 — Ketelsen Campers of Wheat Ridge, Colo., announces it has become an exclusive dealer of Coleman camping trailers.

    Jan. 19, 2011 - FTCA ceases operations at the Somerset plant.

    Coleman History
    There are many sites that discuss Coleman popup campers and the history of many years of campers.
    Here is some of that information. Red text indicates the models that had ABS roofs, which ended mid-2003 and was replaced by the Alumitite roof.

    1967 - Started building folding camping trailers (pop-ups) in Somerset PA

    1967-70 were all CT series campers.

    1967: CT-160, CT-161, CT-170, CT-171, CT-172, CT-180, CT-190

    1968: Pretty sure all the models carried over.

    1969: CT-360, CT-370, CT-380, CT-381, CT-382, CT-390.

    1970: CT-460, CT-470, CT-480, CT-481, CT-482, CT-490.

    1971: 570, 580, 581, 582, 590, 596. (In 1971 the CT was dropped and just numbers were used.)

    1972: First year for names. Not sure of the line-up but I know this was the first year the name Valley Forge was used.

    1973: Somerset, Valley Forge, Brandywine, Brandywine ll, Yorktown.

    1974: Models Carried over from '73.

    1975-1977: Brandywine, Minuteman, Settler, Yorktown, Lexington, Patriot, Valley Forge

    1978: Brandywine, Gettysburg, Saratoga, Valley Forge, Concord, Rebel, Ticonderoga, Yorktown

    1979: #1 Folding trailer manufacturer

    1980: Sun Classic, Sun Sprite, Sun Haven, Sun Lite (3 models)

    1981: Colonial, Niagara I, Niagara II, Shenandoah, Williamsburg, Sequoia, Sun Valley

    1982-1981: +Redwood, Liberty

    1983: Colonial, Colonial XL, Columbia, Jamestown, Sequoia, Sun Valley, Jamestown, Royale, Shenandoah, Williamsburg

    1984-1983: + Cape Cod

    1985: Aspen, Columbia, Newport, Royale, Sequoia, Sun Valley, Williamsburg, Chesapeake, Jamestown, Redwood, Savannah, Shenandoah, Tara

    1986: Chesapeake, Columbia, Laramie, Redwood, Sequoia, Sun Valley, Williamsburg, Colorado, Jamestown, Newport, Savannah, Shenandoah, Tara

    1987-1986: (minus Redwood, Jamestown)

    1988: Chesapeake, Columbia, Laramie LTD, Plantation,, Shenandoah, Williamsburg, Colorado, Laramie, Newport, Sequoia, Sun Valley

    1989: Chesapeake, Columbia, Newport, Sequoia, Sun Valley, Colorado, Laramie LTD, Plantation, Shenandoah, Williamsburg

    1989: Fleetwood RV buys Coleman trailer rights

    1990: Chesapeake, Columbia, Newport, Roanoke, Sequoia, Sun Valley, Colorado, Laramie LTD, Plantation, Roanoke Roayale, Shenandoah, Williamsburg

    1991-1990: (+ Roanoke CD)

    1992: AMERICANA SERIES (Brandywine, Grandview, Sequoia, Shenandoah, Williamsburg) COLORADO SERIES ( Colorado, Colorado Sport) DESTINY SERIES (Cedar, Roanoke, Royale) PIONEER SERIES ( Arcadia, Chesapeake, Newport, Sedona, Seneca)1993 Cape Cod, AMERICANA SERIES (Grandview, Sequoia, Williamsburg) DESTINY SERIES (Cedar, Rio Grande, Roanoke, Royale) PIONEER SERIES (Arcadia, Chesapeake, Evergreen, Newport, Sedona, Seneca)

    1994: AMERICANA SERIES (Sequoia, Williamsburg) DESTINY SERIES (Cedar, Cedar XL Montauk, Rio Grande, Roanoke, Royale, Stoney Creek) FOUR SEASON SERIES (Cape Cod, Yosemite) PIONEER SERIES (Arcadia, Avalon, Chesapeake, Columbia)

    1995: AMERICANA SERIES (Sequoia, Williamsburg) DESTINY SERIES (Cedar, Cedar XL Rio Grande, Roanoke, Royale) FOUR SEASON SERIES (Cape Cod, Hatteras, Utah Yosemite) PIONEER SERIES (Arcadia, Avalon, Chesapeake, Chesapeake CP, Columbia)

    1996: DESTINY SERIES ( Bayport, Cheyenne, Laredo, Santa Fe, Sedona, Sea Pine, Westlake, Taos) GRAND TOUR SERIES (Key West, Laramie, Niagara, Shenandoah, Sun Valley, Yukon)

    1997: DESTINY SERIES ( Bayport, Cheyenne, Laredo, Santa Fe, Sedona, Taos) GRAND TOUR SERIES (Key West, Niagara, Sun Ridge, Sun Valley, Yukon)

    1998: DESTINY SERIES ( Cheyenne, Mesa, Natc
    hez, Redwood, Rio, Santa Fe, Sea Pine, Taos, Westlake) GRAND TOUR SERIES (Bayside, Casa Grande, Grandview SP, Grandview Glide-Out, Niagara, Sun Ridge)

    1999: DESTINY SERIES (Redwood, Santee, Taos) GRAND TOUR SERIES (Bayside, Cheyenne, Mesa, Nevada, Niagara, Santa Fe, Sea Pine, Sun Valley, Utah, Westlake)

    2000-2001: DESTINY SERIES (Fairview, Sedona, Tacoma, Taos, Timberlake) GRAND TOUR SERIES (Cheyenne, Mesa, Santa Fe, Sea Pine, Sun Valley, Utah, Westlake) GRAND TOUR ELITE SERIES (Bayside, Niagara)

    2002: DESTINY SERIES (Cottonwood, Fairlake, Laramie, Sedona, Tacoma, Taos) GRAND TOUR SERIES (Cheyenne, Mesa, Santa Fe, Sea Pine, Sun Valley, Utah, Westlake) GRAND TOUR ELITE SERIES (Bayside, Niagara)

    2003: DESTINY SERIES (Cottonwood, Laramie, Sedona, Tacoma, Taos, Yuma) GRAND TOUR SERIES (Carmel, Cheyenne, Mesa, Santa Fe, Sun Valley, Utah, Westlake) GRAND TOUR ELITE SERIES (Bayside, Niagara, Monterey)

    2003: Fleetwood stops using Coleman brand

    2004: Fleetwood continued to make pop-ups with many of the same familiar names.

    2004 the Highlander High-Walled series were introduced and all were named after a type of evergreen tree: Sequoia, Redwood, Hemlock

    2008 May: Fleetwood sells the Fleetwood Folding Trailers Division to Blackstreet Capital Partners LLC, which renamed it FTCA (Folding Trailer Company Acquisition Inc.)

    2008 Aug: FTCA, Inc. (Blackstreet) signed a trademark licensing agreement with The Coleman Company, Inc.

    2011 March: Fleetwood files for bankruptcy and stops producing folding camping trailers.

    2011: Beckley RV, MD purchases all factory campers and parts.

    2011: 2 unknown sources purchase Coleman lift system, door and other patents.

    • It was a division of Fleetwood, FFT (Fleetwood Folding Trailers), that manufactured the trailers up until it was sold to Blackstreet.
      * FTCA was the corporate entity created by Blackstreet to purchase the campers, patents and whatnot, while leaving the liability of the roof issues to FFT.
    Coleman started in Wisconsin by buying a company already making PUs.

    Trimline
    11820 W. Ripley Ave
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    •Earliest AD identified so far is from the summer 1962.
    •From 1962 to 1964 Trimline Inc. manufactured the Gator line of trailers.
    •Use of "Gator", registered trademark of Peterson Bros., Inc. Jacksonville, FL
    •Peterson Bros. Inc. was a well-known boat trailer manufacturer
    •Mid 1965 Regis Corp. acquires Trimline. Company now known as Regis-Trimline, Inc.
    •Acquired mid 1966 by Coleman as their entry into the camping trailer market.

    At this time the company profile is unknown. While the Coleman company officially entered the camping trailer market in 1967 they can actually trace their roots back to the acquisition of Regis-Trimline in mid 1966. If you look at Coleman's 1967 brochure you will see the address as 13300 Wall Street, Elm Grove, WI. This is the same address for Regis-Trimline for 1966.

    Fleetwood offered the ABS roof for 8 model years, 1996 through to 2003 inclusive, replacing it with the AlumiTite roof with the introduction of the 2003.5 model year. Contrary to popular opinion it was used on Destiny series campers up to and including the 1998 model year, then became exclusive to the Grand Tour series beginning with the 1999 model year. Early reports of failure resulted in the introduction of a ceiling brace with the 1998 model year which was also offered free of cost as a retrofit to earlier model year owners but no doubt many didn't take advantage of this offer so quite a few early model year Fleetwoods for sale on the market now won't have this brace. Not long after the brace was introduced it was determined that securing it to the roof at the sidewalls was a poor design so the roof and mounting bracket were changed so the brace could be secured to the ceiling through the top of the roof. By 2000 the roof design had been changed to improve the gutter design and increase roof arch, particularly with the 12' version ... the latest version showed up on the 2002 model year campers with even more arch and a different bulb style perimeter seal that replaced the earlier 3-finger design that I had on my 2000 Santa Fe. Certainly, if one is interested in buying any Fleetwood with an ABS roof they'd improve their chances of getting a good one by selecting a later model version, 2002 and 2003 being the best years.
     
  11. ONTHEPIPE33

    ONTHEPIPE33 New Member

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    Wow!! Great post, lots of good reading
     
  12. Unstable_Tripod

    Unstable_Tripod Well, there's your problem!

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    I researched the heck out of everything before I bought my first PUP. I came to the conclusion that the Coleman/Fleetwood line was the best because they had sooo many superior features. I bought a Fleetwood Yuma and loved it. If I were to ever buy another canvas PUP I'd look for a gently used Fleetwood/Coleman. I've been in Somersets at RV shows and they sure look like Fleetwood/Colemans but I'd want to watch how they perform over time before getting one. Columbia Northwest (maker of Somerset and the Aliner) has an inconsistent history according to Aliner owners I've talked with in CGs. Some rave about about much they love their Aliners and others rave about how horrible they are.
     

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