Thanks to all of you! In the last few days I have spoken with K&H and with a Marvin Windows distributor. K&H recommended SoftLite vinyl. They did recommend Barrington, which is the low end. I got concerned about that, but they say that while it is Barrington, they are modified for K&H with some customization of weather seals and construction. The supportive "thing" that sits inside the window that can be aluminum, vinyl, or stainless steel is stainless and in one piece that curves around the window instead of being cut up into pieces and glued or hammered together. Marvin stressed this as a big feature with their windows, but SoftLite does the same.
Marvin wants to take out the entire window frame, all the old wood, interior and exterior, to ensure the integrity of the installation. K&H wants to blow insulation around the old pulleys and rope then install the new window. Marvin really disagrees with that. However, the inside wood is in very good shape and tailored to the house. K&H is sending their measurements guy who has 40 years' experience not just with measuring but with evaluating structural integrity. They assure me if they see any issues during measurement or when taking out the old windows that they will address it immediately. K&H also says that the age of the house indicates the window frame is not just cut out, but was built in and framed as part of the original construction/architecture of the house and really doesn't recommend ripping it out unless it is damaged.
I like the Marvin Windows but had them price me with fiberglass and wood rather than wood with aluminum cladding. I loved the wood with aluminum cladding and how it's constructed separately, not just aluminum glued or hammered onto the wood. Just too expensive for me.
But I got real sticker shock on the fiberglass, which came in at $53K, with a discount to $40K if I signed right away for an additional 5% off - total of about 20%. I just can't afford that. Also I don't want to rip my house apart that much.
I've signed a contract with K&H. They offer a lifetime warranty on the windows that extends to any owners in the future. So even if the vinyl fades, I'm covered. They say replacements run them about a week, so you aren't sitting around for several months if there's a problem. Installation gets a 3-year warranty. I quizzed him about problems being blamed on an expired installation warranty. He said that in the 60 years of the company, that has never been an issue and gave me a long list of references. He was a very straight-shooting guy the whole time we spoke and very knowledgeable, plus they have excellent reviews.
K&H installers work directly for the company, receive extensive ongoing training each year, and they pay them a premium to keep the talent around.
The Marvin guy was great. As I said, I liked their high-end product. He was not at all pushy and understood when I told him it was just too much money, though I could see the value. His company is very new and they use Anderson Renewal-experienced installers, but they don't have the same training as K&H and work as contractors. Also, I wasn't sold that fiberglass was that great an alternative to vinyl. The wood and aluminum? For sure if you've got the money.
I feel good about my decision. K&H took my numerous calls, answered my lengthy questions with what I felt were good answers. I'm looking forward to my new windows. Thanks again to all of you for your input