Spartan Get-Together

Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Charlotte, MI

On Monday, after our little "near miss" with Mother Nature, we had an easy drive from Celina, OH. to Charlotte, MI. We arrived mid-afternoon at the Eaton County Fairgrounds, parked, and familiarized ourselves with the area and the facilities.

It was only a little more than a week ago when we saw that we were positioned to take advantage of this mini-get-together of the FMCA Spartan Club and the Service Week event being held by Spartan Motors. By taking part in the event we could knock off our annual bus-house maintenance. Attendance was limited to 100 coaches. The fact that they still had room for us at this late date probably says something about the economy and, maybe, the number of people exploring the country in this lifestyle.

Spartan Motors is located right here in Charlotte, MI., just south of Lansing. It was here where the bus-house chassis was built way back in December of 2006. Spartan builds these chassis to the coach-builders specifications -- in our case, Newmar. In early January of 2007 our chassis was loaded onto a flatbed truck and hauled to Napannee IN. where the Newmar plant is located. By the first part of April the coach had been built on the chassis and the motorhome was complete. We took delivery near the end of April. It's hard to believe that was over two years ago.

This weeks event turned out to attract only about 50 motorhomes -- less than hoped. Despite the poor turnout we're really glad we came. First, Spartan has taken pains to make this an educational event for attendees by having a number of very good seminars on various aspects of the chassis. Second, I always learn so much just listening and talking with others about things they've experienced, problems they've had, and the solutions they've found. It's also good to visit and share with people that share our lifestyle. Thirdly, at any gathering like this we make good friends that we'll maintain contact with as we explore the USA. And, lastly, we're able to get our annual service and maintenance done by professionals -- the people who built the thing -- quickly and efficiently with one visit.

Today the bus-house was in the shop for all that maintenance work... a whole list of oils and fluids and filters and safety checks that should be done to assure trouble-free operation over the coming year. We don't put on that many miles -- maybe only 8,000 to 10,000 this year-- but time is as hard on things as miles. For the same reasons people regularly change their car's engine oil, this stuff needs to be done for the much heavier and more complicated bus-house.

Yesterday, Tuesday, we joined a tour of the Spartan Motors plant that builds fire trucks. In addition to motorhome chassis, they make some specialized armored military vehicles and fire trucks. Right now, the fire truck business is the only one that's strong.

I was surprised at the amount of customization that goes into the typical fire truck. Each one is spec'd out to the finest and most obscure detail -- right down to the shade of the color it's painted, the upholstery and interior cab detail... literally everything can be tweaked, altered, and customized. It's safe to say no two are alike. Each one is mostly hand-made.

Tuesday evening, the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce sponsored an outdoor mixer, complete with live music, a couple big campfires, and a hot-air balloon launching. It was a nice opportunity to mingle, meet people, and enjoy a great summer evening.



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