Sunday, March 26, 2017
 
News & Updates

Andy,

I enjoy going to your website and can see that you have put a lot of effort into it. It is a great resource for people that are interested in vintage motor homes, weather they own one or are thinking of restoring one or just love the history.

I don't know if are aware but I am the owner of two places of business, Soapstone Valley Equipment is a truck and equipment repair shop, with myself and three mechanics since 1994, and next door Classic Motorcars of Ellington, where we have a show room with 20 - 25 antique cars for sale, we also offer repair service and parts for old cars and trucks.
www.oldantiquecars.com

The reason I tell you all this is because after being in the truck and antique car repair bussniess for 35 years, I have a few thoughts I would like to share with people who are thinking of restoring a vintage motor home.

I'm sure you have seen other web sites or blogs about Travcos. Some have done wonderful jobs and inspire the rest of us. Others seem to jump into a total restoration project without sitting down first and counting the cost. I have seen this many times when it comes to old cars.

I tell people the most expensive car (or in this case motor home) is the one you can get for free.

The real cost of a restoration is staggering.

People start with good intensions, tow home an old Travco and rip out the interior, try to get it running, after a while reality sinks in, the list starts getting longer and longer, rust issues, fluid leaks, wood rot, glass, electrical, paint, brakes, tires, exhaust, interior, etc. and all they wanted to do is take a trip in a cool old motor home. Sadly some get frustrated and give up.

I really admire those who stick with it and end up with beautiful rigs even if at a great cost.

I would encourage wannabees to consider buying a vintage coach that has had most of the work done, this has proved over and over to be the most cost effective way to enjoy the hobby.

Good running, driving Travco can be bought for $5,000 - $7500 and is far less than the cost of a restoration.

We that have old vehicles know that there is always things that need attention or find that even a good unit is a continuous work in progress. Or better said, we get to use out rigs and are always tinkering with them too.

It is my hope that someone reading this might give it some thought and that more people would be able to enjoy this great hobby.

Thanks Arlo Hoffman


Archive

 

Foretravel History

1976 Foretravel1976 Foretravel

 

 

The Fore family's tradition for travel began in 1876,when CM. Fore's grandparents first traveled from the East and settled in Nacogdoches, the Gateway to Texas. This tradition was carried on by James E. Fore (CM.'s father), who began his travels around the turn of the century as a peddler, living and selling from a covered wagon.

CM Fore and his new bride, Marie, continued this family tradition of travel through numerous family vacations, and as their family grew, requirements for a suitable vehicle changed. They went from cars to station wagons, and even used a small fold-out trailer during the early days of the RV industry in America. CM. and Marie finally decided that if they were ever going to own the perfect vehicle for family travel, they were going to have to build it themselves. 

It began as a high school Distributive Education project for their son, Ray, and soon turned into a real family endeavor. They began working together to build the first Foretravel motorhome, a 21' class "A" . It was built from lightweight aluminum on a Dodge chassis, which weighed less than 4000 pounds. Upon completion, they promptly drove their new creation to Washington state for a visit with their eldest son, Roy, who was stationed there in the military. The Fore's "coach" generated so much interest along the way, that by the time they arrived back home, they had also concluded there was definitely a need for high quality motorhomes such as theirs. So they decided to go into the business of building motorhomes under the "Foretravel" name. The Foretravel Super Luxura.

The original production facility was a small building located on the family property, and for the first five years, the company manufactured and sold units at a loss. However, in 1973, their firm commitment to quality and success led them to make their first major exterior design change. The Super Luxura boasted a fiberglass front cap, rear cap, and side panels, which sparked great interest across the country. Foretravel continued to grow during the 70s.

Originally, Foretravels were built on Dodge van chassis , some were built on Chevy chassis and then truck chassis, mostly Dodge. When they shifted to diesel power, they shifted to Oshkosh chassis as they were the most readily available heavy duty truck chassis. Earliest ones were front engine models (OFED, OFEG). Then they shifted to rear engine models (ORED, OREG). The body design remained such that it would work for either configuation - all the way up to 1994

In 1974 they had pioneered the first use of a diesel engine in a conventional motorhome.

1977: Foretravel celebrated ten years in business with the introduction of the FTX (Foretravel Ten). The FTX offered features not common in the RV industry at the time... TVs, VCRs, dual roof air conditioners, icemakers, central vacuums, and more. The FTX was truly "the" way to travel in style. Also, by October of 1978, the FTX became the first conventional motorhome to be powered by a rear engine diesel.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Foretravel purchased the manufacturing rights to Travco and GTC (Avco) motorhomes.

Foretravel continued to manufacture motorhomes on many types of chassis.

In the 1980’s & 1990’s, Foretravel manufactured most of the non-Unihome type diesel motorhomes on an Oshkosh V-917 Frame rail type chassis which consisted of air suspension, air brakes, Caterpillar 3208-T V-8 diesel engine coupled with an Allison MT-643 four speed transmission.

There were however some of these Grand Villa motorhomes manufactured with a 300 hp 3208 and a MT647 Allison 4 speed. They used these chassis from model years 1982 thru 1992 in both Foretravel FTX (old orange & white) and Grand Villa’s.

In 1986, Foretravel introduced an innovative new motorhome with aerodynamic styling and an unusually spacious interior. Because of its grandeur and beauty, Marie Fore dubbed it the Grand Villa, and it quickly became one of the best-selling motorhomes in history. You might occasionally come across a Foretravel diesel motorhome built on a Hendrickson or Capacity chassis but those are very few and far between.

After that, things got pretty confusing. For 5 or 6 years you could get a GV, OREG/OFEG/ORED/OFED, or a Unihome GV.  They also offered a 'comfort ride' Torsilastic suspension - same suspension used in the old Greyhound chassis.

 

1986-1994 Grand Villa: Lengths: 29', 30’, 33’, 35’

  • Chassis: Roadmaster/Chevrolet/John Deere/Oshkosh
  • Engines: Chevrolet/Ford gas or Cummins 5.9 diesel
  • Lengths: 34', 36’
  • Chassis: Oshkosh
  • Engines:
  • Caterpillar/Detroit/Cummins 8.3 diesel (some Ford 460 gas)Lengths: 38', 40’
  • Chassis: Oshkosh Engines:
  • Caterpillar 250 or 300 hp

  • Engine/trans:

  • U280s came with a 250 Cat/4 speed (early 90s),
  • C8.3 300 Cummins 4 or 6 speed (mid to late 90s)

During model year 1987, Foretravel introduced the Grand Villa Unihome (all mid entry coaches)... the first conventional motorhome to utilize a monocoque chassis design, an eight-bag outboard suspension system, and an air leveling system. This innovative design concept revolutionized the motorhome industry and quickly set the standard by which most quality motorhomes are built today.

 

1987-1996 Grand Villa Unihome (U-280/U-300)

Lengths: 36', 40'(few 38' special orders) Chassis: Foretravel monocoque

Prior to the Unihomes, Foretravels were described thusly:

ORED (Oshkosh chassis, rear-engine diesel,

OFEG (Oshkosh, front engine gas), etc

The code for the Unihomes: U-225 (entry level, had 22,500 lbs gross vehicle weight rating [GVWR]);

(Grand Villas were also available 'non-Unihome' with Oshkosh chassis)

U240s low-mid level, came with the torsilastic [massive rubber suspension bands] and a Cat (various engines -3208, 3116, and 3126). With the lighter coach and the smaller Cat - better mileage. 24,000 GVWR

U280s (next to highest in terms of accessories that were standard) came with the air suspension and a 300hp Cummins C, 4 speed or 6 speed (depending on the year). Automated HWH 8 air bag suspension, came in 32', 34', and 36' lengths. 28,000 GVWR

Optional hydraulic retarder 6 speed is hard to find but VERY desirable. It was a 12K option back then, so whoever was buying had to really want it!

Aquahot was also a desired option ($5K original, it can't be added)

U300, top-of the line, came with the air suspension, wide-body, a DD 350hp 6V92 (2 stroke, older technology but with Jake brake), and a 4 speed except in the final build (95/96) when they were available with a Cat 3176 and a 6 speed. 30,000 GVWR - 40' length

Build quality is excellent in all models. Walnut is the standard interior, Pecan or oak are rarer options. If it has the Splendide washer/dryer you lose the bottom 1/2 of one side of the wardrobe. The 40 footer adds a lot more storage - important for full timers, especially if you have the Splendide

The 'U' series first appeared in 1988 as a designation to the Unihome body design.

The Torsilastic 'Velvet Ride' suspension came on both the U225 and U240 models.

  • Gas engines:
  • 440 Dodge, 460 Ford, 454 Chevy, various years. 460 Ford exclusively the last 5 or so years.
  • Diesels:
  • Detroits: 8.2L turbo, 210 hp, 6V92 Silver Series 300/350 hp DDEC
  • Cats: 3116 ATAAC 250hp, 3208T 250hp, 3176 350 hp
  • Cummins: B5.9 190hp, 230hp, C8.3 300hp, 325hp, ISC 350hp, ISL 400hp, M11
    400hp, 450hp, ISM 450hp, 500hp, ISX 525hp, 600hp.
  • Allison transmissions:
  • MT 643, 647, 648
  • AT 545
  • B500, B500R (U300)
  • HT746 (U300)
  • 'World' MD3060, 3060R, 4060, 4060R, MH3000R, 4000R
  • Models with jake brakes: DD6V92 (U300), Cat3176 (U300) , M11 400 (320)
  • Models available with retarders: U240 later years, U280 last 2 years, U300, U320.
  • Retarders were a $10-12K option.
  • Some U270/U295 models came standard with a retarder but no joystick, this can re retrofitted.
  • First 6 speed Allison’s were late 1993. Prior to that, all were 4 speeds.
  • First 3060 standard was in the U240.

 

1991-1995 Grand Villa Unihome U-225 / U-240 (all mid-entry coaches)

  • U-240 (low-mid level, some had Oshkosh chassis with Torsilastic massive rubber suspension bands, (not air bag, jacks for leveling) 24,000 GVWR.
  • Length: 36'
Chassis: Foretravel monocoque
  • Engines: Cummins 5.9(230hp) / Cat 3208T (250hp) / Cat 3116 (250hp)

The older Grandvilla was on a Gillig chassis with a side door. The U225 and U240's built in the 1990's were indeed Unihome construction but did not have the 'high' profile of the U280 and U300 series which also had huge
basement storage. The reason the U225 and U240 coaches did not have the high profile of the U280 and the U300 is that they did not have the air suspension. They had the torsilastic suspension, better than steel springs, but way inferior to air.

The 1992 U-280 and U-300's were the first FT's to have complete air bag (8 - 2 per axle on each side) suspension - i.e., no jacks at all, wide body & low profile.

The U-300 is 40' long and will, in some, have a 350 hp Detroit, a 350 CAT, or a 300 Cummins.  Some people shy away from Detroit diesels.

The U-300 was considered the "top-of-the-line in accessories", but many U-280's had just about as much: compactor, vacuum cleaner built in, separate ice machine, full oven w/ 4 burners, heat exchanger for hot water while driving.

In 1991, Foretravel embarked on a mission of product and process improvement called the Total Quality Process, through which all Foretravel employees are involved with customer satisfaction and product and process improvement. This revolutionary process provides the tools people need to do their jobs better, by allowing and encouraging them to control the quality of their own work, and then holding them responsible for it. One result of this new attitude toward employees is an extremely low turnover rate, which enables Foretravel to produce a quality product more efficiently in a very labor-intensive industry.

1992: Foretravel proudly introduced the luxurious 102;' wide-body Unihome and at the same time, celebrated their 25th year in business with the introduction of the Silver Anniversary Unihome U300. Easily identified by specially ordered angled side windows.

1992 was the transition year between old generation Cat V8 3208 with 4 speed Allison and the newer in line 6 cylinder Cat 3116 with Allison 6 speed.

Nearly every year after that up until the advent of the Nimbus/Phenix there were 'Special Edition' (SE) and/or 'Limited Edition' models with special trim/option packages. Special Edition' models were available in the 280s and 300s from (at least) 1993 on with different graphics and 'upscale' (300 interiors with more glass doors, gaggenou cook top) interiors. Since each coach could be custom designed or go back for upgrades, a lot of difference exists coach to coach).

Most 280's and all 300's had inverters, at least from 1992 on.  Inverters were optional, but were almost always included – Inverters varied from Taytronics 1500 to Heart/Trace 2000/2500 watt models.Better designs/features each year.

U-300, top-of the line, 30,000 GVWR - 40' length, had the 350 hp Detroit Diesel; also was wide-body, air bags, etc. Some of the early 1990 coaches came in 30', 32', 34' and 36' lengths.

  • Engine/trans:
  • U280s came with a 250 Cat & 4 speed transmission (early 90s),
  • C8.3 300hp Cummins and 4 or 6 speed transmission (mid to late 90s)

1993: some of the U-280's were 40' long.

1994: both the 280 and 300 had the 6 speed Allison tranny with retarder.   

1994 and 1995: the dual pane windows were optional .

1994: The all new Foretravel Unicoach was introduced . With this new coach, Foretravel was able to integrate the high 'U performance, smooth ride, (The Foretravel Unicoach U270). and easy handling characteristics of the Unihome, but with massive bus styling, which provided greater interior space. The Unicoach quickly became Foretravel's best-selling model.

In late 1994 and 1995 the U-280 and 300's would have the 6 speed Allison and might even have the transmission retarder instead of a Jake brake or exhaust brake.

Only difference between 270 and 295 are features like bay doors, inside trim.Same engine, frame, suspension, tires, brakes, retarder, outside structure, dash, electrical, inverter,etc. Many features that are standard on the 295 are optional on 270s. A lot of 270s are manufactured with these additional options.

Also some important optional items were not standard on any models, but should be looked for, like bay storage "Joey Bed" and window awnings.

In addition to the differences already noted, the 320 larger engine also gets you the larger, heavier-duty Allison, the MH4000 vs the MH3000. And this also means more braking action out of the retarder. Most 320's also have AquaHot instead of gas furnaces & hot water heater.

You could 'option' a 295 to the level of a 320 most years, except for the engine. 295's were limited to 36 and 40 foot models, where in later years you could get a 320 in a 42'. The 295 was not available with a tag axle.

1994 - 1996 a few models were optioned with the  hydraulic retarder.

U300s came with 300/350 hp Detroit Diesel, 4speed retarder or jake brake.

In late 1994 to 1996 , 350 hp 3176 Cat and 6 speed optional retarder was optional. Other than that, pretty much the same. Optional items on a 280 were  standard on a 300.

1995 was the 1st year of the front-door bus-front.

1995: Foretravel began to convert to the Unicoaches, which started with the U-270 (low end regarding standard accessories) which provided the Foretravel quality which consumers have come to expect, but in a more affordable coach. ,

U-295 (Mid-level) and U-320 (high end). Again, the numbers also referred to the thousands pounds of GVWR. The front axle weight rating (GAWR) + the rear axle weight rating (GAWR-rear) will determine the GVWR.

In the U-225, you would often find a 230 hp Cummins engine with a 4 speed Allison (MT-643) transmission;

In the U-240, it might have the 250 hp CAT with a 4 speed Allison (MT-643);

The U-280 had the 300 hp Cummins (C 8.3) with the bigger 4 speed Allison (MT-647) transmission. The Allison Retarder and Aquahot was optional.

The U-300 would have the Detroit diesel (350 hp) with the big Allison. The Allison Retarder and Aquahot was optional.

All 1995 model U320 models were 'SE' models, with a 'C' designation to further distinguish it as a 'Unicoach' . The 1995 was perhaps the best Unihome ever built, but they began to reduce the amount of wood (eliminate wood panels from the walls - some prefer it that way). 

The 1995 and 1996 Grandvilla U300's were very desirable and came with 370hp M11s uprated by Foretravel to 400hp. (these were all Unihomes)

  • Cat 3176 350hp could be substituted by special order (these are rare).
  • There were a very few U240s and 280s built in 1996.
  • Rare and desirable Foretravels: 38 foot U320 with/without tag.
  • GV320 with tag, dual slides (last year only). U320 with a 3176 Cat, especially rare with retarder.
  • U300 with a 3176 Cat (late 94, all 95). Especially rare with retarder. U280 with retarder (94/95, special order).
  • U240 with retarder.

The 1996 did not come standard with double pane windows.

The 40' has more space both inside and under than the 36' but otherwise look pretty much the same. They are all well made and dependable.

The 1996 has a retarder switch that can be upgraded to a Joystick retarder for about $400. The joy stick came in late 1996.

There were slight changes in engine styles and HP in those years as well. The 1996 Cummins is more mechanical, in later years they are Electronic.

1997: ducted air, Screen Door and dual pane windows were added.

Models U270; U295; and U320 was the top of the line.

Its tank capacities exceed all but the newest high-end coaches of today:    

  • Diesel fuel capacity: 148 gal.,
  • Fresh water tank – 105 gals.,
  • Grey water tank - 110 gals, and black water 54 gals.
  • Diesel generator was a 7.5 Kw Onan.

1998 introduced the computerized Cummins ISC, before that is was mechanical C, which most find problem-free.

The U270 & U295 used Cummins C, 8.3 liter, 325 hp engine,

The U320 used larger Cummins 11 liter, 450 hp engine.

1994-2000 Unicoach (U-270/U-295/U-320)

  • Lengths: 34',36',40',42'
  • Chassis: Foretravel monocoque
  • Engines: Cummins C8.3/M11 (some Cat 3176/3126)
  • The U225 came with a 230 HP Cummins B engine (like the one in the Dodge PU.
  • It also came with the Allison 4 speed transmission. All are 36'.

The U240 is basically the same coach with a Cat 3116 250 HP/650 ft lbs torque and Allison 6 speed. "U" refers to Unicoach with Unibody construction. These are all front door, bus style.

Model numbers over the years were: . U225, 240,.270, 280,.295, 300, 320. The model number of older coaches use to refer to the GVW  IE: 225 = 22,500 lb etc., but I does not apply to later models.

 

 

 

 

 

ORED

 

Oshkosh chassis Rear Engine Diesel

 

OFED

 

Oshkosh chassis Front Engine Diesel

 

AGBD

 

angled galley, bed slide (driver side)

 

AGBS

 

angled galley, bed slide (curb side)

 

AGDS

 

angled galley, double slide, 2002 40 or 42

 

CAI

 

center aisle, queen island bed, 36 or some 40's - the bath is on one side, and the closet on the other.

 

CSGI

 

curb side galley, front entry

 

DGFE

 

double galley, front entry, has a U-shaped kitchen, 40 or 42

 

PBBD

 

private bath, bed slide (driver side)

 

PBBS

 

private bath, bed slide (curb side)

 

PBDS

 

private bath, double slide

 

PBFS

 

private bath, front slide

 

RCFE

 

rear closet, front entry

 

SAI

 

side aisle, island bed

 

SB

 

side bath, twin beds

 

SBI

 

side bath, island bed, The Bath, shower, commode and sink are all on one side

 

SBID

 

side bath, island bed, dinette and 2 chairs

 

WCDS

 

walk in closet, double slide

 

WCFE

 

walk in closet, front entry

 

WTB

 

Walk Thru Bedroom

 

WTBD

 

walk through bath, bed slide (driver side)

 

WTBI

 

walk through bath, queen island bed

 

WTBS

 

walk through bath, bed slide (curb side)

 

WTFE

 

walk through bath, front entry, 36 or 40

 

WTFS

 

walk through bath, front slide

 

WTME

 

walk through bath, mid entry. rare 36 or 40

 

WTNS

 

walk through bath, non slide, 36 40 42

 

RB

 

Rear bath

 

The last RB coach was produced in 1992. All the RB units are of course front engine. The advantage is a bath that spans the rear of the coach. Very nice.

Late 1999 introduced a slide out.

2001 - introduces painted Foretravels as opposed to decals (optional).

Oct 2001 - introduces tag axels to 40' U320 & GV 320

2003 - full body paint standard

2004 - introduces Quad Slide

2006 introduced Nimbus

2007 introduced Phenix

Foretravel has always recognized the importance of customer satisfaction and customer retention. As a result, Foretravel was one of the first in the industry to recognize the importance of an owners' club. The Foretravel Motorcade Club was born with the merger of the Foretravel Travelers and the Travco Motorcade Club. The Travco club was one of the very first owners' clubs in the nation and dates back to 1965. There are presently more than 2,000 families enjoying the fun and fellowship of membership in the Club. Membership is exclusive to owners of Foretravel, Travco, or Avco motorhomes, and provides numerous benefits and travel opportunities.

Over the years, Foretravel and the Fore family have continued their commitment to quality and customer satisfaction. Since building that very first motorhome 40 years ago, Foretravel has grown to become a recognized industry leader in quality, innovation, and customer service.