Editor’s Note: The following article, authored by Lazelle Jones for the November 2014 issue of Family Motor Coaching magazine, offers an inside look at the Thor Motor Coach Chateau Class C coach, available with a full-wall slideout. The magazine is published by Cincinnati-based Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA).
It was destined to happen, and Thor Motor Coach (TMC) is among the first companies to do it. “Do what?” you might ask. The answer: To design, engineer, build, and offer a full-wall street-side slideout in a Type C motorhome.
Thor Motor Coach uses three different Ford chassis to create its Type C lineup, producing models with gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWRs) of 12,500, 14,500, and 19,500 pounds. Motorhomes based on the Ford E-350 chassis begin at 23 feet; next longer-length models, up through 31 feet, are built on the E-450 chassis. Super C motorhomes, which are longer than 31 feet, utilize the Ford F-550 chassis and are powered by the Ford 6.7-liter Power Stroke Diesel. (Chevrolet and Sprinter chassis also are available.)
The 31-foot gas-powered Chateau Type C is offered in three floor plans that can include either a single full-wall slideout or dual slideouts. The E-450 chassis used for these vehicles receives power from a 6.8-liter Ford Triton V-10 engine married to a 6-speed automatic transmission with tow-haul mode. The horsepower and torque ratings on the V-10 are 305 horsepower and 420 pound-feet, respectively.
Recently, I spent an entire day climbing over, around, through, and under the Chateau 31W, the full-wall-slideout floor plan built on the E-450 chassis. Comfortable and quiet, this large Type C can service the needs of a growing family, as well as empty nesters and/or those who want a quick weekend escape. The Chateau also will work beautifully for four-season motorhome enthusiasts, for it comes with heated holding tanks (via electric heat blankets).
The full-wall slideout is on the street side of the coach. When extended, it begins just aft of the driver’s seat and runs all the way back to the rear exterior wall. Its interior measures 18 inches deep and 268 inches long, with an interior height of 84 inches. TMC uses four 12-volt-DC electric motors to extend and retract the slideout; one is positioned on the top and bottom of each end. Microchips communicate between the motors to ensure smooth, non-binding operation.
Despite the slideout’s 22-foot-plus length, I didn’t experience any lag or lead at either end, or at the top or bottom, during extension and retraction. The patented 3TRAX wall slide system is operated using the Chateau’s two standard house batteries. This means you do not have to run the standard-equipment 4-kw Onan gasoline auxiliary generator to operate the slideout; the motorhome doesn’t need to be hooked to shore power; and the Ford engine doesn’t need to be running. The house batteries get the job done. A mechanical override is incorporated in the unlikely event any difficulties should be encountered during operation. The slideout comes with a single topper awning that covers its entire length.
Front to rear, the full-wall slideout houses a dinette; a solid-surface galley counter complex with cabinets, a double sink, a cooktop, and a residential microwave oven; a pantry; and a closet. Aft of the galley, also inside the slideout, are his-and-her wardrobes in the rear bedroom.
Handcrafted wood cabinets, doors, panels, and drawers line the interior from front to rear, with the wood choices being either cherry or maple. Three interior décor packages are currently available: Arabian Spice, Dark Rum, and Taupe Metallic. My review unit featured Oyster Bay décor, which is no longer available from the factory, although as of September 2014 some units with this décor still were on dealer lots.