Is the Fleetwood Niagara really as good as people make them out to be

Discussion in 'Camper Pre-Purchase Questions' started by superl8apex, Apr 13, 2018.

  1. superl8apex

    superl8apex New Member

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    Hi all,
    We are looking to purchase a highwall pop up and have narrowed it down to three units:
    2014 Flagstaff hw27sc
    2006 Fleetwood Niagara
    2008 Fleetwood Avalon

    This is going to be a purchase that we are keeping for a long time. The biggest thing I notice is how much heavier the Fleetwood is vs the Flagstaff. Does this equate to being better built or just antiquated materials.
    Also seem to stay priced quite high considering they are 10-12 years old. (6.5-8k) vs the Flagstaff that is 4 years old (9k)

    We are coming from an old 1999 Viking so they are all an upgrade, lol.
    Would love to hear your thoughts. Personally I think I like the Niagara best just having trouble coming up with a good market value for it. Rv pricing is all over the place.
     
  2. Old_Geezer

    Old_Geezer Well-Known Member

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    A fleetwood Niagra or any of the others, no matter the vintage or year be it pure original Coleman / Fleetwood / FCTA, are going to be at least 300% better constructed than any Forest River popup ever made, possiblty 500%. IMO I don't see how it can even be debated.
     
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  3. Adam H

    Adam H Active Member

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    I have an Avalon, friends I used to camp with have a HW 296, very comparable campers. Here’s my take on why I like my Avalon better. Rockwood is essentially the same as Flagstaff, all owned by Forest River
    Interior is much brighter than the Rockwood. Flagstaff my be different
    Sunbrella instead of Vinyl. Much cooler in the heat.
    The power lift system on a Coleman / Fleetwood is far superior. The Rockwood sounds like a garbage disposal when using, don’t set up during quiet hours. Also the Rockwood requires lift supports after the roof is up because it all hangs on 1 cable.
    Separate waste tank drains for black and gray tanks, why would Rockwood do this? Maybe Flagstaff doesn’t have this deficiency but I’d check.
    Torqueflex axles on a tandem trailer, makes no sense.
    If you can’t get past these, go with the Coleman / Fleetwood.
    Only problem with the Niagara is the axle is near capacity before you load 1 paper plate in it. I’d go with the Avalon but I might be a little biased :)

    Adam
     
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  4. BikeNFish

    BikeNFish Well-Known Member

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    Hello and welcome from Minnesota.

    It almost sounds like we have a Chevy/Ford/Dodge debate going on here!;)

    I may be a little biased, but I went with my Flagstaff because it was newer. I didn't want to deal with an older pup. Once you get past that ten year mark, things tend to start nickel and diming you (not that I haven't had a few minor issues with mine). Coleman/Fleetwood has a better reputation but that may be a self fulfilling prophecy.

    IMHO, the shape of the pup is as good as the manner in which the previous owner kept it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2018
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  5. xxxapache

    xxxapache Well-Known Member

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    I wonder why Airstream has used them for decades.
     
  6. theseus

    theseus Centerville, OH

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    I have owned both Fleetwood and other manufacturers (Palomino, now owned by Forest River). When I went from my 86 Coleman to my 99 Palomino, I was surprised by the difference in quality. Everything seemed to be made cheap. The consequence was the Pal was at least 700 pounds lighter than the comparable Coleman/Fleetwood (which is what I now own). There are there things I like about my Coleman, and things I miss about the Palomino.

    If I had them side by side, I'd probably choose the Coleman because of look and feel. The Palomino was easy to get parts for though.

    Those aren't lift supports. They prevent the roof from falling if the lift system fails. The door in the Coleman serves the same purpose. Personally, I find the Goshen lift system easier to maintain. It is certainly easier to get parts for.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2018
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  7. theseus

    theseus Centerville, OH

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    Personally I prefer Ford ;)
     
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  8. Rusty2192

    Rusty2192 Well-Known Member

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    That ABS roof was a smashing success!

    (I’m aware the pups in the OP are too new for the ABS roof, but my point stands)
     
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  9. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

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    Here are my two cents. As much as I love my fleetwood the biggest issue I have is no shops are willing to work on it other than your basic appliances and wheels. Fleetwood is out of business and parts for them are getting a little harder to find or found for more money. So if your not a handy person and really don't want to have a crash course in nearly every repair job then you might want to go with the company still in business. I do like the lift system on my fleetwood however I do have to do seasonal maintenance on it. As on many old campers the biggest key before you purchase is the condition it is in vrs year or brand. I found a 1970 camper in pristine condition clearly well loved vrs a 2000 camper that looked like it went through the wringer and would need a ton of work. If that 70's camper had the amenities I needed I would have jumped on it despite the year.
     
  10. durhamcamper

    durhamcamper Active Member

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    As many have posted here, it's more of 'how well was it maintained before you buy it'. I know there are a lot of Coleman/Fleetwood loyals here and that's fine. However in my own experience, Fleetwood has it's 'issues' as well. My previous pup was a 2000 Dutchmen. I actually loved the pup. We had it for 7 great years and had very few issues over that time. The only reason I replaced it was because I wanted a pup with trailer brakes, and one with a one piece door so that I didn't have to bend down so far to unlatch from the inside. I actually preferred the steel construction of the bed slides in the Dutchmen over the aluminum ones in the Fleetwood. Anyone with a Fleetwood knows what I'm talking about here with the bed slide parts rubbing, wearing, and leaving a mess of black aluminum dust which happens when travelling. I have also needed to replace the bed wedges and shorts on this system because of inferior cheap plastic parts. I am pretty meticulous about maintenance (lubricating lift systems, bed slides, caulking etc) and once again, although the lift systems are different I wouldn't say one is any better than the other. The one thing that did surprise me though is how much cooler the Fleetwood is with the sunbrella material. Neither pup had air conditioning, and the Dutchmen had a roof vent which we opened all the time to assist in the head escaping. No vent in the Fleetwood....it doesn't need one.
    I don't regret buying the Fleetwood....not at all. Just surprised about some of the issues I have needed to deal with. All pups will need repairs etc over the course of time and although I have no knowledge of the benefits vs downfalls of a Flagstaff I'm sure that if you do the yearly maintenance you will be pretty happy with either. Just be sure you inspect thoroughly before purchase, especially the roof (front, back, sides). All are known for rot if not properly caulked and maintained and that is a big job to take on if you need to repair/replace side or end boards. Good luck and enjoy your upgrade.
     
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  11. superl8apex

    superl8apex New Member

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    Thank you for your thoughts and experiences. I will be going over them with a fine tooth comb. The Niagara is original owner and guy seems to take really good care of it. The avalon is so so.
    The flagstaff is also been well cared for. So it is going to boil down to which one my wife likes better.
    Again thank you I wasn't expecting so many thoughtful responses.
    Manny
     
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  12. Sneezer

    Sneezer Well-Known Member

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    I personally liked the StarCraft Centennial series. I think the 3608 and 3612 were the two I preferred when I was looking. Back then StarCraft had better build quality - I looked at a couple mid 2000 StarCraft popups and felt they were pretty solid. I think Jayco also made some high walls in that time frame as well but I don't think I saw that many on the used market when I was looking. Jayco also made well built trailer then as well, before the buyout.

    Personally the HW I always wanted to get was the Flagstaff with the slide out kitchen - that was a really nice option. I would love to have an exterior sink that is plumbed into the system like that. Unfortunately those were out of my budget, but I am happy with what I got.
     
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  13. Old_Geezer

    Old_Geezer Well-Known Member

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    My Rockwood Roo with tandem torsion axles is the smoothest towing hybrid out of the 3 we have owned. I can leave things on the counter and they are still there after 300 miles, and things in cabinets remain where they were put. With our other two trailers with conventional suspension, you had to bungie the cabinets closed and make sure nothing was sitting around loose. And that was after adding Equa Flex, bronze bushings, and wet bolts............

    The Colemans and Fleetwoods were simply built better than anything Forest River makes or made and by a fair margin, and I am now and was in the past a Forest River owner. Coleman produced a lot of the parts in house in Somerset PA. I know people who worked there, some for decades. I have seen a lot of Forest River popups, Rockwood, Flagstaff, Coachmen, Viking, and owned a 2010 Palomino Y4124 that fell apart within the first year of ownership. No comparison with Coleman/Fleetwood/FCTA IMO. The ABS roof was a debacle, but other than that the reason why there are still so many out there and why they command top dollar is because they're well built. Buy a 2018 Forest River product and see if its still around 10 or 15 years from now.
     
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  14. Jorja

    Jorja Active Member

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    sounds like you are taking the time to really weigh out the pros and cons.

    The decision for our Niagara was a snap one - though I had been eyeing the model for a while.

    I luckily found this site and the pop up princess as well as backpacker camper? blog (still has posts up from their Niagara which unfortunately got vandalized)

    Really it came down to us needing a camper that could fit under a carport and me wanting space (king size beds are wonderful when camping, the slide out dinette is a huge plus - especially for me at night since I often get up and can read stretched out on one of the benches of the dinette, and the privacy of having a bathroom with actual walls and a nice toilet - no creepy late night trips to bathrooms at campground)

    Also, I now greatly appreciate having the huge window to look out. Something I hadn't considered. As well as having a lot of countertop space, which always gets used. I also like everything being at countertop height and the larger fridge.

    When I came across our Niagara last year for 3000, I dragged Mr. Jorja on Thursday, put a deposit down that night. Took family back to more closely inspect everything on Monday and paid for it once I knew it was in pretty great shape. We weren't willing to finance an RV, especially an older used one, so I knew when I saw the listing it was worth the effort to look at it immediately.

    I am nervous about getting replacement parts over time. I've actually started stocking up on a few items I think we might need. And I've taken to heart being pro preventative maintenance and safety conscience.

    I'm very aware of weight limits since getting the camper (with brand new tires provided, luckily) and I keep it in mind. We have a 2008 Expedition so I pack some things in drawers in camper. And have a everything else in containers/bags/pre packed in TV in a certain order, example BAL leveler in pizza bag on top.

    Plus we have a travel inflator that works for TV and camper and I check all six tire pressures before we leave home and when we leave the campsite.

    We are gearing up to camp almost every other weekend now through October.

    About half of the trips our Niagara will serve as base camp for family and friends when we go kayaking.

    Having the space in the camper will mean easy entertaining after we are out on the water and the flexibility that family can crash with us if need be.


    I'm very happy with our Niagara - and can't wait to head out for our next trip.

    Good luck with your decision!
     
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  15. Fixitup

    Fixitup Active Member

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    Our first pup was a 2005 Fleetwood Victory. Im very anal about quality, fit and finsh. I was impressed with Fleetwoods quality. When we up graded to our 2007 Niagara I was impressed even more. They hold there value very well if it has been maintained.
     
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  16. Adam H

    Adam H Active Member

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    Because on uneven roads 1 wheel can get all the load. No equilizing between axles like leaf spring suspensions have. All axle load placed on 1 small part of the frame instead of 2. Also never been a fan of my trailer held up by rubber bands. What manufacturer uses them is irrelevant.
     
  17. Adam H

    Adam H Active Member

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    A Fleetwood would have to break multiple cables for the roof to come down, with Goshen systems it is all hung on 1 cable. Maintenance is easy on either, just different.

    Adam
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2018
  18. Old_Geezer

    Old_Geezer Well-Known Member

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    Got to disagree with ya there. I've never been on a road uneven enough for 3 of the 4 tires to leave the pavement while the 4th takes the entire load. IMO torsion axles add to structural strength. They act as an additional frame cross member with no chance of bending or ripping off the cheap ass hangers these manufacturers use now days, which are welded to thin gauge frame flanges by pre-K students.
     
  19. Adam H

    Adam H Active Member

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    I’ve never replaced a spring hanger but seen many torsion axles with their rubber bands snapped / collapsed.
    Yup if you stick to the highway and not venture out on rough roads, torsion axles will be fine. Being that it is essentially an independent suspension without the equalizer that tandem leaf sprung trailers use, each tire can be heavily loaded. Especially when parked on uneven ground and leveled.
    Not looking to get into an argument over this. Do your own research.

    Adam
     
  20. myride

    myride Well-Known Member

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    ....and I' a tried and true ABF.....anything but ford...[:D]
     

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