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Old 03-31-2007, 12:44 PM   #1
David and Jo-Anna
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Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Green Valley
Posts: 1,618
M.O.C. #6022
Big Sky factory tour--initial report

Jo-Anna and I were able to get a tour of the Big Sky factory yesterday--the first tour they have given of the Big Sky plant. There were about 20 rigs in various stages of production. One of the more finished units was serial number 125, so they have broken the 100 unit mark with production. The lighting in the plant was spotty--the workers had shut the lights off when they closed down for the weekend, and the sales rep who gave us our private tour only turned some of the lights back on. But I think we were successful in recording a good deal of what we saw. I concentrated mostly on what would be hidden under the floor or behind the walls of a finished unit. That took a long time to record, so even taking one hour and 45 minutes of the sales rep's time on a Friday afternoon, we never did make it to the fully furnished units at the end of the line. Maybe Richfaa or others can check that end of the line out when they do their tours later this Spring.

As I posted on the thread giving some responses to the questions people asked in advance of our tour, Montana has already made changes in the color schemes. They have dropped the Twilight Meadow decor option and are replacing it with a darker scheme called "Midnight something"--the rep didn't know the full name. We only got a glimpse of some of the wallpaper border and didn't see any furniture--we'll try to post pictures of what we saw once we get back home next Tuesday.

As I also posted on that other thread, Montana has added another electrical outlet in the bedroom closet, on the street side, so that people can plug in electric blankets or Cpap machines without having to trip over the cord. Wish they had put it on the side of the bedframe, but I appreciate that at least it's closer that the outlet in the closet up near the TV.

Got to see the new shower up close. As has been reported, it is still a two piece unit, but the rep emphasized why there is no need to caulk the seam to prevent leaking. The bottom piece encompasses the bottom 10"-12" of the shower, with the second piece being the walls of the shower. The top part sets on the bottom base, and behind where they meet is a 1" "flange" [actually, the base unit extends that 1" above the point where the shower walls rest on the base]. What this means is that any water that leaked under the meeting point of walls and base would come up against that 1" "flange." Rereading what I just wrote, I can see that my description sucks, but I was convinced that water wasn't going to climb up that 1" and leak out.

Lots of things that I saw "behind the walls" surprised me--but may not be as surprising to those who know more about what is behind the walls of the 3400. Let's see where to start. OK, I was surprised to see the converter placed on the floor under the steps up to the bedroom--thought it was supposed to be behind the fuse panels above the washer/dryer closet. May be a project trying to get in there and do any work on the converter--not clear to me how to get those steps out of the way, short of digging thru the carpeting to get at all the screws that hold it in. Anyone solved that problem in the other Montanas?

The water pump is on the floor between the converter and the furnace. It's mounted on rubber feet, so no need to put a rubber mat under it to reduce the noise level. I'll need to run our unit during and after the PDI to see how noisy ours is and will decide then if it's worth trying to cushion the water lines to cut down further on the noise level.

I spent some time tracing the incoming main power cable looking for a good place to splice into it so that I can hook up a Surge Guard. Turns out in the Big Sky that the main power cord runs under the floor and then pops up out of the floor under the steps to the bedroom, runs about 10" over to the wall of the washer/dryer closet, and then runs in a notch up that wall to the fuse panel. Doesn't leave me much room to get at it and splice into it. Is that the way it is in other Montanas and, if so, how have people spliced into it?

Most of the rest of what I did during the inspection was to try to record as much as I could about where the electrical and water lines were routed thru the rig in the event I need that info for future improvements or repair projects. I'll review my video and see if anything else strikes me as new. Plus feel free to post any questions you have and I'll try to answer them.

Bottom line--Jo and I are still glad we went with the Big Sky, and glad we had this chance to take the factory tour just one week after our unit came off the line so that we could find out how it was constructed--before there are too many running changes to make a tour fully relevant.
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Old 03-31-2007, 02:44 PM   #2
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Thanks for the report.

As you proceed through this great adventure, your video will be priceless.
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Old 03-31-2007, 03:21 PM   #3
Montana Sky
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Down the Road
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M.O.C. #889

Fantastic report!!! Thank you for taking the time to give your first hand knowledge and thoughts on the Big Sky! Don't you just love how the folks at Keystone go out of their way for us owners!!! I look forward to hearing all about your first trip in your new coach!
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Old 04-02-2007, 05:14 PM   #4
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Location: Oceanside
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David, on our 3400 that area behind the steps is accessible by removing the side panel from the convenience center in the basement storage area. I saw a newer 3400 where it's not as accessible from that direction as ours is. Also, if the BS has the cold air return grille in the steps' vertical surface, that is removable.

I was under the impression our converter is behind that fuse panel. Now I'm going to have to check that out. Being below the steps would make it much easier to build in my autoformer. I've not tried that, thinking the converter is in a difficult to access space.
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Old 04-02-2007, 05:38 PM   #5
David and Jo-Anna
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Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Green Valley
Posts: 1,618
M.O.C. #6022
Steve--I was surprised to find the converter on the floor under the steps to the bedroom--from what others had said about their 3400s, I expected to find it behind the fuse box in the space above the washer/dryer closet. While it's easily seen in it's position on the floor, I'm not sure how easy it will be to pop of the cover and insert a smart IOTA charging chip given that the steps seem to be fastened in there very securely. Have you heard of anyone being able to pull those steps out of there?

I suspect there would be some difficulty getting access to the main power cord from the side panel behind the water convenience center. The water pump is near that side opening, there are water lines and furnace ducts coming thru there, and it's generally a very crowded piece of real estate. If there isn't an easy way to get the steps out, I might get at that space by cutting out the thin "wall" between the basement storage area and the space under the steps.

Has anyone tried that?
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