Like Mike (see Episodes 10, 11 and 12 of his podcasts), I've spent the last couple of days at the Louisville RV show. The show is very, very different from any show you're likely to attend since it's closed to the public. Only industry insiders, dealers, manufacturers, and suppliers can get in. While you might think this makes the show full of mystery, intrigue, beautiful women with foreign accents and poisoned daggers in their garters, and drug and alcohol fueled backroom parties, you'd be wrong.
It's full of RV sales people, suppliers, engineers, and manufacturer reps — a pretty staid and boring crowd, in other words. We get excited when we see a new RV furnace or a different cabinet hinge or an open bar. There are a few moments of bright lights and loud announcements when a manufacturer unveils a new model, but that's about as exciting as it gets most of the time.
Not that there aren't a few really exciting things here. I did catch Chris Deakins, Roadtrek's service guru, checking out the new Sprinter 4×4. More ground clearance, and typical German attention to detail. I snuck a peek under the vehicle. They didn't let me crawl under there so I can't report too many details, but it looks like a real 4×4 under there.
Wandering through the show is sort of like being in a giant maze. Walled in by Class As and gigantic fifth wheels, it's hard to find your bearings. You can lose a booth for a day or two; it's difficult to get around without a map and a good sense of direction.
There is a whole arena full of suppliers. Lots of neat little gadgets and supplies. I found a portable diesel fired heater, a cool windshield screen for the Sprinter, and a bunch of other stuff. Some of it might make it into production Roadtreks.
I found my friends from Grape Solar in one of the small booths in the arena. They're a solar panel supplier and are branching out into 12V fridges and other RV stuff. They make some neat stuff; portable fridges, folding solar panels, flexible solar panels. They also make complete solar install kits; solar panels, controller, inverter, and cabling all sold in one package. They're a young dynamic company from my home town of Eugene, Oregon. Us Eugeneites have to stick together.
No show would be complete without a headscratching display. Not really sure what a NASA astronaut has to do with a 2 year warranty; NASA has a bad habit of leaving its hardware all over space when they're done with it. Warranty service is pretty hard to come by out in the asteroid belt. But it sure looks cool.