Today was an early day…a VERY early day.
We got up at 5:30 AM and left the rig in our toad about 6 am on a 130 mile trip south to Decatur, IN. We wanted to be there by 9 am to take the American Coach factory tour at their plant. We left early because the weather was pretty bad, with a lot of rain and wind. With all the wind, I was glad we weren’t in the rig.
But before we hit the Interstate, we stopped off at McDonalds for a quick breakfast sandwich.
We got to the American Coach plant in Decatur about 8:45 am, right on time.
We were really surprised to see how full the parking lot was, considering the condition of the RV industry.
After filling out a form, a gentleman named Tom came by to be our tour guide. Unfortunately we were not able to take pictures inside the facility, but it’s really amazing how the RV’s are put together.
In this case American Coach starts out with a pre-built chassis/engine combination from Spartan Chassis that looks like this.
These are complete ready to run units just waiting for an RV to be built on top of them.
The floor and the walls are built up from welded aluminum tubing that form a single unit. Then the carpet / tile / wood flooring is added and the cabinets / furniture are installed. Finally, the roof is put on and the rig is moved into the paint area to be painted and striped.
It takes about a week from start to finish to build a rig and roll it out the door. They are presently building about 30 rigs a week, around 1500 a year, and at this point business is increasing by about 5 more rigs a month. Good news for the RV industry.
Our tour took a little over an hour, and after it was over, we drove over to American Coach Service to buy some parts for my coach.
Leaving there, we headed about 30 mile south back to Celina, OH where we were a month ago for the Gypsy Journal Rally. We wanted to eat lunch at La Carreta, a Mexican restaurant that we really enjoyed while we were there.
After lunch we started back toward Elkhart, stopping in Auburn, IN to visit the Auburn – Cord – Duesenberg Museum.
Founded in 1874, the Eckhart Carriage Company was a successful manufacturer of horse-drawn carriages. Frank Eckhart had not only the foresight but also the engineering ability to steer the buggy company into the “Age of the Automobile.” His Auburn Automobile Company prospered, particularly after E.L. Cord was brought in to run the business. Cord was both inventive and astute, and in 1929 created his own company, which, among other things, bought out the Duesenberg Automobile Co.
Despite the enthusiastic public response, sales were disappointing. The estimated production figure of 500 cars per year was never matched and eventually only 481 Model Js were constructed. Being extremely expensive, the Model J was popular with the rich and famous. Among the owners were many greats from the showbizz industry like Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, James Cagney and Greta Garbo. Various kings and queens were Model J owners as well. Part of the Duesenberg legend is based on the many famous owners.
Styling and engineering failed to overcome the fact that Cord’s vehicles were too expensive for the Depression-era market and that Cord’s stock manipulations would force him to give up control of his car companies. Under injunction from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to refrain from further violations, Cord sold his shares in his automobile holding company. In 1937, production of Auburns, Cords and Duesenbergs ended.
The building that now houses the Museum was the original Art Deco headquarters / showroom of the Auburn, Cord, and Duesenberg automobiles, and it’s beautiful in its own right.
And the inside is even more outstanding.
I won’t bore you with all the details. I’ll just show you pictures of these beautiful automobiles.
Leaving the museum we drove back to Elkhart through more heavy wind and rain.
And arriving back about 5 pm, we immediately headed out to dinner at Ryan’s with Nick and Terry.
Tomorrow we start getting ready to leave here on Sunday afternoon.
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