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Old 01-09-2012, 05:14 PM   #43
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In some places they have to use plywood because fiberboard (MDF) won't hold up. Drawer fronts would be one of those places. Wherever they could get away with MDF, they did. Partitions and the dinette table are MDF or fiberboard with Formica surfaces in ours. The shelves in the closet are MDF with the typical white surface. MDF is fiberboard, but there are other types too.

One reason screws come out is that fiberboard does not hold them well. They either back out or tear out. Early on our dinette table was found on the floor upside down because all the screws on the leg had ripped out of the fiberboard. We were on our way to JC for warranty work. I got the table upright and put the screws in with some paper around them to hold for a while and in JC they used bigger screws. Eventually bigger screws will back or tear out.

Gene
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Old 01-09-2012, 07:02 PM   #44
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Gene,

Marine-Tex works great for repairing those stripped screws.
Lots of other Stream'n use's too.

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Old 01-09-2012, 07:18 PM   #45
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Gene,

Marine-Tex works great for repairing those stripped screws.
Lots of other Stream'n use's too.

Bob
Thanks for reminding me about Marine-Tex. Good stuff. Used it a long time ago for many things. Will make a great addition to the Airstream tool box. I have some stripped screws on some cabinets and the closet door to fix from this last 3,000 mile trip. Seems like the roads are getting rougher, or something.
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Old 01-09-2012, 09:02 PM   #46
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Have been using it for years SR, comes in handy for so many different repairs.
Even fixed a cracked plumbing line fitting under the bathroom sink in the Classic.
3yrs still good. Sure saved time and a lot of work.

Bob
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Old 01-09-2012, 11:14 PM   #47
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MDF or Plywood Cabinets in newer Airstreams?

Just checked partitions, shelves, drawer fronts, cabinet doors, counter tops and found them all of plywood. Could not access the inside material of the dinette table but it is identical to the counter tops which are plywood.

No MDF in the trailer that I could find.

I don't know if this signals an improvement in Airstream quality. Our 2007 Safari SE was also of plywood cabinetry. But there are improvements in other areas. A new seal at the troublesome bumper leak area, rub rails around the centerline to help protect filiform, better detailing and some new gaskets at exterior fittings, overall better fit and finish, better quality fabrics, LED lighting with dimming controls, and some upgraded appliances make a better trailer.

We went through our new Airstream at the dealership with the experience of prior ownership and a fine toothed comb, and found no defects. Compare that with 15 on the 2007 Safari. After living in it for over two months we have found only one problem, an incomplete crimp of a Pex fitting which I was able to fix.

This is a new 25' model this year that addresses some design concerns of buyers.

All things considered, I have to think Bob Wheeler is listening and giving us a better product. We are paying a premium for these things though, those who bought years earlier got a bargain compared to these new prices.

doug k
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Old 01-10-2012, 08:10 AM   #48
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We both have 2012 Flying Cloud 25s. Mine is a 25B. The sticker in the shower indicates it was built in July of 2011. Yours has no MDF, mine has quite a bit. Are they built in different plants do you know? I thought mine was made in Ohio. Later today I am going to use a very small drill and drill the under side rear of the dinette just to make sure.

I know my dinette is wrapped on all surfaces with no edges showing. How did you determined yours was ply? Interesting thing here.
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Old 01-10-2012, 08:49 AM   #49
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Are they built in different plants do you know?
There's only one plant, and it's in Jackson Center, OH.

I asked in a thread who had what in terms of flooring, and to my mind, what I got out of it was there there didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason as to which ones got real plywood, and which ones got OSB.
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Old 01-10-2012, 09:29 AM   #50
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It is a good thing that plywood is being used now according to Doug. A definite and apparently recent improvement according to Redwood's report. Why did it take so long?

The relatively few improvements (plywood, LED's with dimmer, etc.) do not justify the large price increases since we bought ours. But those price increases predated some of the improvements. There was a post on an LED thread indicating the LED's were cheap and didn't last. So it seems Airstream is still trying to get the cheapest parts around and ends of paying for it in warranty claims.

It also seems the use of OSB was in relatively few models and now is several years behind us. The Sport models were the ones with OSB if I recall correctly. They were supposed to be entry level models with light weights. OSB is marginally cheaper though heavier than plywood. Saving $50 or probably less on a floor is a false savings if you have to replace the floor under warranty. One replacement cancels the savings on scores of others.

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Old 01-10-2012, 10:36 AM   #51
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Red', build date here is July 2011 and it's also a 25B. As I said I can't access the interior material of the table, but it is identical in surfaces and thickness to the counter tops in kitchen/bath which can easily be identified as plywood by looking at the cutouts under the sinks.

The shelf in the lower cabinet next to the toilet is machined out to take mounting screws and the plus of the wow can be seen. Again, identical exterior appearance to all the shelves.

I pulled out the furnace vent in the bedroom to see the plywood edges of the partition, assuming the other partitions are of the same construction.

There is plywood visible in the bath cabinet doors where they are machined for the hinges. The edges of all the curved cabinet doors reveal the plywood construction.

I can't find any MDF. The trim around the bath door opening is solid oak. I did drill a couple small holes under the bedroom TV to mount a portable vacuum and it is hard to tell what it is made of from that, but the heat vent cutout shows plywood.

The plywood looks like a Baltic birch product with many plys and plenty of glue I would assume. Different grades of this stuff and it is not expensive, but makes flat and stable cabinets. I don't doubt a strong glue smell when drilling into it.

Could you verify the material in the places I mentioned and let us know? Besides the closet shelf, where did you find MDF?

I don't like MDF for the reasons mentioned earlier, doesn't hold screws and is heavy (although these multi-ply wood products don't seem to be especially light either). I still maintain the Airstream is good value. There is a Earthbound trailer (they don't give those away either) down the row from here; let me tell you its plastic exterior curved panels and windows look weathered. There was a 30 year old Airstream here that was in beautiful condition. They had all the exterior panels replaced at Jackson Center, which is testimony how an Airstream is always repairable and worth the money.

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Old 01-10-2012, 11:27 AM   #52
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If fuel keeps increasing, our 'streams are going to have to go on diets.

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Old 01-10-2012, 11:28 AM   #53
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Trim is wood in ours. MDF trim is readily available, but maybe not in the colors and designs matching the partitions. Partitions appear to be fiberboard as is dinette table. I think the kitchen counter is also fiberboard. Formica edging continually comes loose from edges of table, kitchen and bathroom counters and has to be ironed on again. I believe I saw fiberboard behind the edging. I'm sure the curved upper cabinet doors are plywood as fiberboard couldn't as easily be formed that way. Not having been in the trailer for more than a few minutes since late October, memories fade. I think the bathroom door is a cheap hollow core one. The newer ones with windows in them would have to be a higher grade to support the window. The cabinet fronts as well as the drawers and doors would almost have to be plywood as fiberboard would not last very long, but I can't recall what I have. It would not surprise me that the sides and backs of the cabinets are fiberboard—many standard grade residential cabinets have wood fronts and fiberboard sides and backs with a plywood upgrade available. The curved sink cabinet would have to be plywood as I think that would be cheaper (for labor) than a fiberboard one.

Ours was produced early summer 2007.

It is possible they were switching from lots of fiberboard to plywood last summer as both your trailers were made about the same time. I'm not supportive of such coincidences, but it can happen. I doubt some days they use fiberboard and others they use plywood depending what they can get cheap, but such strange production approaches can happen.

It seems they look for ways to cut costs, don't test them and then find out some things don't work—too many warranty claims should warn them, but they are very slow to respond. But some things keep breaking and they kept replacing them—the shower head failed 3 times and the last time I went to Lowe's or Home Depot and got a better one for around $17. It has lasted 2 years and works better than the OEM ones which must have cost less than $5. Vinyl floors develop humps in cold weather states and provinces. They fixed it in the bathroom, but now it happens in the kitchen and under the table. They still haven't learned how to install a floor properly to prevent that—it requires better flooring workmanship and more labor, but then you don't get warranty claims. I could go on about this, but will stop.

Needless to say, reputation suffers and the cost of that is very high, but doesn't show up on balance sheets when sales are rising from 2008-09 lows. If you look at sales figures starting in 2008, they've doubled sales. If you use 2007, they are half. Depends what statistics you look at.

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Old 01-10-2012, 12:05 PM   #54
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Still looking for MDF and can't find any. Bath door visible through the hinge cutout, plywood at least a couple inches into it. Pulled out drawers, bottoms and backs plywood, steel sides, fronts same as exterior look,thickness as flat doors, which are plywood. Look under range to see four different plywood cabinet pieces and door all plywood. Pull out drawer above water heater and see much plywood construction.

Interesting Gene, our 2007 Safari 20 SE was built April 2007 and I looked for MDF that trailer as well and wasn't able to find it. Not in this depth though. Also had an iron-on counter top edge come loose but I am fairly certain they were plywood.

I read posts here in this over the last couple years about cheap Airstream construction. I'm looking at lots of metals and plywood very nicely assembled and wondering why, what do they want.

I do see the trouble sealing all those exterior openings against leaks as an ongoing problem that requires frequent owner attention and maintenance. I wish Airstream would simply set up a regular dealer inspection schedule for seals and leaks, although knowing the quality of some dealers that may not help much. The filiform corrosion problem remains unsolved and most surely a part of ownership of this generation of trailers. We may be painting them silver if we keep them a long time.

doug k
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Old 01-10-2012, 01:00 PM   #55
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Doug, maybe my memory is gone (my wife wonders about that). Maybe they have made them of different materials from week to week. If there are a lot of suppliers, a purchasing agent can get bargains, but frequent changes in materials can be difficult for workers. Because of low volumes and many models, workers have to be generalists to some extent. I don't expect they have many or any master carpenters, flooring experts, master plumbers, etc. A master carpenter/cabinetmaker knows the different qualities of various plywoods and fiberboard, but a journeyman jack of all trades may not.

Much has been made over the years of how Airstream makes everything itself (not true of appliances of course). That's not really true. At least some cabinets are contracted out. I wish the cushions had been because the workmanship on the coverings was awful. The fabric quality was low, the materials don't fit right and there is no lining. Hand made doesn't necessarily mean well made.

Workmanship may have improved in recent years because a lot of qualified contractors and subs have no other work and some may have been hired by the company. I don't know what wages Airstream pays. They have long been very, very anti-union and that usually means lower wages and benefits.

Dealers are (or were) paid by the company to do a thorough inspection of the trailers when they arrive from JC. It is obvious many dealers do only the most cursory inspection. Then when the owner returns with warranty claims, the dealer gets paid again for the repair they should have done at the inspection. This is different than the new owner inspection that you get when you accept delivery.

The company shoots itself in the foot over and over. It is slow to react to the obvious. It relies too much on history and an iconic design. Cost cutting destroys reputation. MiniCooper got away with that for decades, but in the end they failed and another company (BMW) had to bail them out.

Gene
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Old 01-10-2012, 01:28 PM   #56
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Bob Wheeler talked about the european rv industry being 15 years ahead of us. I assume he was talking about weight savings. It would be nice to know the weight savings in the european Airstream compared to the U.S. Airstream and how that weight has been saved. It would also be very interesting to see a side by side comparison of specs for the european vs. US Airstream.

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