Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Getting to Know Our Chassis in Gaffney, South Carolina

On our northward pilgrimage, we decided to make a pit stop at Freightliner’s Oasis Service Center in Gaffney, South Carolina.  If you have a Freightliner Custom Chassis then you have definitely heard of Gaffney.  Not only is there a service center in Gaffney but this is where the RV chassis’ are made.

The coach was in need of its annual service and we have always heard good things about the Gaffney service center.  Plus, when we were at the FMCA rally we had a Freightliner technician come by our coach and assess why our steering column does not move up and down like it should.  His free diagnosis pointed the finger at a bad shock and broken locking pin.  A Freightliner service associate assured us that if we came by Gaffney, they could fix the problem (for free).  And while waiting on service there was an added bonus . . . we could tour the Freightliner factory . . . and factory tours just happen to rock our worlds!

We arrived in Gaffney on Thursday and by Friday afternoon they had started on the steering column which is pretty good since we did not have an appointment during this busy snowbird migratory season. Freightliner allows people having work done on their coaches to stay overnight in the parking lot for free (and believe me it is just a parking lot).  The accommodations are far from fancy but seeing as we are going to spend over $1200 on service, free camping for 5-6 nights was not an offer we were going to refuse.  (FYI - each site has 50 amp electricity but no sewer or water.  There is a dump station with potable water as you drive in.) 

The service center holds about 25 rigs and can be quite crowded during the week.
Much quieter on the weekend.
At the Gaffney plant, Freightliner produces three different chassis – RV’s, school buses, and walk-in vans (like delivery trucks and shuttle buses).  This small plant is able to produce an average of 104 chassis a day which is pretty impressive for running just one shift.  The chassis assembly is fairly simple and I will simplify the process even more (after all, I am a woman who is NOT mechanically inclined).  Molded beams (or rails) are bolted together, the engine and transmissions are set in place, wires are strung, wheels are fitted and torqued, the steering column is mounted, fuel tank attached, and a few more utterly essential things are bolted, fitted, and zip-tied on.  The outfitted chassis is driven to the back lot where it waits to be put on a flatbed truck and shipped to someone who will make it look like an RV, school bus or UPS truck.    

Photos courtesy of Freightliner Custom Chassis since photography inside the plant is prohibited.  

Chassis' are built from the bottom up so in the initial stage of construction they are upside down.
They get "rolled over" and construction is completed.

The tour really helped us understand more about our coach, unfortunately you are not allowed to take pictures on the tour so bear with the lack of visuals from inside the plant.  Since the chassis is something you really don’t see unless you are crawling around under your coach, it was great to see it put together from the ground up.  We had a great tour guide who has been working at Freightliner for 16 years and started on the floor so she really knew her stuff.  

Chassis anyone?
A few years ago, we visited the Tiffin Motorhomes factory in Red Bay, Alabama and saw how the motorhome is assembled on top of the chassis.  Now we have a much better understanding of our motorhome and the intricacies that allow us to drive our house down the road.

Once the chassis arrives at the motorhome manufacturer they begin putting together the skeleton of the coach,
Eventually, the inside of the motorhome starts to take shape and the chassis seems to "disappear."

Since our service is not yet complete, we will spend the next few days cruising around Gaffney and, no doubt, find stuff to do.


  1. I've been to Gaffney and their service was first rate. Not cheap, but it comes with great peace of mind. Next time, I'm going to visit the factory. Who knows, maybe they'll give out free samples? ;c)

  2. We want to attend the Freightliner school. It seems that we have much to learn.


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