2010 Vacation Day 13 - The Factory Tour

On the road by 7:00 am. We are not totally certain how long it will take us to get to St. Frederic and the factory, so we are allowing some extra time. Drove right up Hwy 201, on what is called "The Old Canada Road". Apparently Benedict Arnold and his troops, in 1775, followed the Kennebec River, on their way to Canada. The highway follows the river most of the way. It is a great drive, and very scenic and very Maine as well.
Lots of wild forest all around. The road goes up and over numerous ridges, which offers amazing vistas when crested. Through the border no problem, I think the border agent was more interested in the Alto than us!

Made it to the factory at 10:30. Dominique gave us a wonderful tour of the manufacturing and assembly area, explaining the concept and prototyping of the three original Alto designs. The prime consideration in the final design selection was the overall aerodynamics of the shape. The teardrop is the natural shape of water falling smoothly through air, and this turned out to be the best. The rising roof is also unique to the industry, and of course, very practical. A number of aspects of the overall design are now patented, a wise idea. She also explained to us the sourcing of the aluminum material, the creation of the aluminum sheets, and how they are cut to shape. We then watched a number of Altos being assembled, the roof and walls being fitted with assorted lights and accessories, the wiring is then fished through the sheets themselves. The aluminum frame with the bottom sheet, the walls and interior cabinetry are first assembled together, then the back wall and hinge are installed. Lastly, the roof and side glass, now one large piece, is lifted into place and mated with the rest of the Alto.

We were very impressed with the whole process. It is very much a team environment, and pride of workmanship is very evident. It is cool to see the varied states of assembly, and to see inside the guts of our trailer. It is completely a hand assembled product, and the superb quality of construction reflects this.

While we were with Dominique, our Alto was backed into the final inspection and service area. We have decided to purchase the bike rack for the Alto, and the guys are installing it. As well, an improvement modification was added to the lifting strut supports, to beef up one of the joints. We were having some difficulties with the kitchen drawers warping, so those were modified as well. When they were working on the struts, one of the guys noticed that our cabinet door was loosening, so he put in a quick fix for that also. So not only did we get a tour of the factory, a number of little improvements were made to our Alto at the same time. Now that is excellent customer service, and all part of that pride of workmanship I mentioned earlier.
We are staying this evening in Kinnear Mills, at a campground called "Camping Soleil". Quite a large place, with a good deal of seasonal sites. It is very evident that this place is very well run. Very clean and organized. We picked a nice little site, then just chilled all afternoon. This is very much a seasonal campground, almost with a cottage like atmosphere.
not a bad site...
very homey neighbours...
nicely decorated...
and all the modern conveniences...

4 comments:

  1. I don't recall the bathroom wall being that high in the photos I've seen. I wish they'd create a slide out for the kitchen (and/or bathroom) for this. Jim - roughly where are you guys located? And do you know of any other Alto blogs, etc? I've been searching the net for a long while and think I've exhausted my search for new photos/videos. Also, do you happen to know of any other owners in the states preferably in the Midwest? I really need to see one. Thanks

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  2. Hi Lisa,
    I suspect you may never see a slide out in an Alto The design concept is all based on small compact size, aerodynamic shape and light weight.

    We are located in Ottawa, Canada, a bit of a hike from the Midwest. I don't know of any other Alto blogs. The company has only recently begun selling to the States, and as there have only been a little over 200 made, spotting one is relatively rare, even in Canada, and especially in the States.

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  3. That's probably a model R1723 being built. It has a bath/shower combination and hence higher walls.

    Contact the manufacturer - they have a referral program with current owners in the US willing to "show off" their Altos

    Mark

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  4. It's actually a 1713, the 1723 with the shower has lower walls, which does seem somewhat odd. The 1723 also extends past the edge of the couch, which eats into the kitchen area.

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