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A visit to The Mother Ship (TMS) - a last minute decision to go

Posted 08-03-2017 at 07:55 PM by mbubbaca

Some reflections on our visit to The Mother Ship. We drove about 4 hours from our week long stream side camp in Michagin to Jackson Center, Ohio. TMS is the only plant in the world that builds Airstreams.
They build them all here.
They build them mostly by hand.
There are pneumatic tools for riveting and some hydraulic sheet metal bending machines but most of the work is done by hand. They move the trailer by hand from station to station.
They build to order. There is no batch building. Trailers destined for international markets are followed by domestic models.
There is a 45-minute water pressure test. One employee stays in the trailer while it's bombarded by water to check for leaks. Hard to believe there are leaks when they get to the dealer and customer. But handmade will make for some variability from unit to unit.
We went through on a Friday, usually an off day for the line. But there was a lot of activity to see.

They are slammed with orders and working overtime. I was impressed by the dedication of the workers and the attention to detail that I saw.
It's hard to believe that some of the issues that are expressed on this forum site about new trailers can make it from the building line to the customer.
I would strongly suggest that if you are going to spend the money on a new Airstream, go to the factory.
My shinney trailer is 17 years old and I didn't see anything that tempted me. The floor plan I have is perfect for the 2 of us and 1 poodle. The weight is good for pulling and I can fit into most campsites.

Then there is the shop. I had made a list of little things I wanted to see before I bought them online. Latches, bumpers, new key blanks and other assorted hardware were all out and you can put your hands on them.
The staff was very good and went out of their way to try and help me be sure what I got was really what I wanted.
I had a latch issue with an overhead cabinet in the galley. They had what I needed and put me with a service tech for an across the counter conversation on what I needed to do.
Oh, if you're thinking of dropping by and let them take a look at something...think again. It was July and they were booked until October. So I bought the parts, picked some brains and will have some fun.
You might think you are in the middle of nowhere at Jackson Center, Ohio. Just an interchange or two in either direction there is all the stuff you might need.
It was a great experience and I strongly encourage anyone to visit, take the tour and spend some time.

You meet some nice people waiting in the customer lounge. If needed, you can park on site for free with service. They pick up your trailer in the AM and work on it. If they don't finish in a day, they bring it back to your site, you sleep in your own bed and it goes back the next morning.
Overnight parking is $10.00/ night with 3 point hook ups and good wifi if you're just passing through.

If you get a chance, go.
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  1. Old Comment
    This might be fine for someone that lives on the east coast but not on the West coast.

    I don't think I would drive to Detroit to see where my car is built, especially if I expected them to fix something only to tell me to come back four months later and they would take care of it.

    Inspect your trailer when you buy it and have faith that you have a good dealer that will take care of you.

    Posted 08-04-2017 at 11:17 AM by NoResults NoResults is offline
  2. Old Comment

    Much easier from East Coast..no doubt

    I agree that proximity to TMS is a big part of the go no go and visit before you buy decision. Dealer support is key. I purchased my AS in spite of my local dealer experience. I feel much better now knowing TMS is open to questions and support for my 2000 Safari than the dealer. Can you believe I was on the lot for 45 minutes walking in and out of inventory, asking at the service desk to call a sales person to talk to me ( 2 times the service desk called for a sales person to come to the customer service area). I was pretty put off by that. BUT once I made a connection with the local owners chaper I moved on the AS. This unexpected visit to TMS gave me confidence that AS workers...the people who build these by hand... are proud of what they do and will do what they can to make any AS owner happy. Give the dealer and TMS a chance to do the right thing...IMHO
    Posted 08-04-2017 at 05:32 PM by mbubbaca mbubbaca is offline

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