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Old 07-27-2015, 10:35 PM   #57
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Airstream seems to be in the classic downward quality spiral that afflicts so many RV manufacturers when they reach a certain point of success and either have to limit production or are forced into 'pushing the numbers' to meet sales quotas.

I saw this exact scenario with Monaco Coach about 10 years ago. I started on my RV adventures by full-timing for 5 years in a slightly used 1998 Monaco Dynasty 40' diesel pusher. If you are not familiar with the brand, Monaco had a long and proud history building one of the best production motor coaches in the US. They made both gas a diesel motor homes along with trailers and 5th wheels under the brands of Monaco, Holiday Rambler, Beaver Coach, Safari, Harney Coach Works and probably a couple of other names. All but Monaco were acquired thru merger or outright purchase of the other companies.

In the early 2000's, Monaco held over 50% of the large motor home market. As demand for product grew, so did their output, but due to the constraints of production, quality fell just like we are witnessing from Airstream today. It got to a point where warranty repairs on new coaches began to meet or exceed the warranty hold back that was built in to the purchase price.

At that time, around 2005, the factories began an intensive quality control program after realizing that any quality issue that was resolved on the production floor was far better than releasing a flawed product which a dealer then had to sort out. Quality DID increase, as did customer satisfaction.

That is until the corporate suite at Monaco Coach decided to go off into building fancy Class A exclusive RV parks and buying real estate to support them, which was one of the main reasons for their eventual demise. This fiasco, coupled with the economic down turn of the late 2000's helped to drive the once great company into bankruptcy and eventual dissolution.

Hopefully, Airstream will realize that it is far cheaper to find and fix any quality related issues before a unit leaves the factory, where corrective actions can be taken at a fraction of the cost of a retail level fix.


Lew Farber...RVIA Certified Master Tech...ABYC Certified Master Marine Electrician
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Old 07-27-2015, 11:41 PM   #58
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Originally Posted by lewster View Post
Hopefully, Airstream will realize that it is far cheaper to find and fix any quality related issues before a unit leaves the factory, where corrective actions can be taken at a fraction of the cost of a retail level fix.

I am part of the problem. I bought a 2015 25FB Twin and spent close to at least 80 hours and thousands of dollars repairing, rebuilding and upgrading the trailer. From a poorly designed changeover relay that left us without power the first two trips, plumbing leaks, hot water heater upgrade (in lieu of the required expansion tank), tires, real lug nuts, real mattresses, new converter, all the silly hardware repairs, etc. etc... Then after getting it right I sell and buy and 2015 30' bunk that I am essentially doing the exact same thing(s) to. At least this time I know what to look for, what needs to be done and it is much easier, though not any cheaper. The bottom line is that we the consumer for the most part are willing to rebuild, repair, upgrade, and maintain on our own time, expense and aggravation, the product for Airstream. I don't know of another product that has this kind of customer base. Not even Harley could take it without remaking themselves. Airstream does not have enough incentive at this time to do anything other than throw them out the door as fast as possible and laugh "LAUGH" in sheer utter delight all the way to the bank to the sounds of cheering shareholders dancing in the streets as the armored cars pass by.

This is a testament to one of the greatest brands ever and at the same time a very sad mockery for what it stands for.

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Old 07-27-2015, 11:56 PM   #59
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Wow, unfortunately some pretty scary stuff with these modern airstreams. I have seen some pretty bad quality on some items on a recent international I toured.

Do you guys think the 30 Classic would be better built?

Having watched this older video, I do have some questions:

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Old 07-28-2015, 12:00 AM   #60
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In a word...... no.

Originally Posted by Zybane View Post

I guess my main concern is a 2016 Classic quality really worth $130 grand.
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Old 07-28-2015, 05:34 AM   #61
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Originally Posted by Bobsprinter View Post
In reading the threads on this subject you would think they could never sell another airstream. I see so many on the road and read here of so many repeat buyers...something doesn't connect here.

If the quality is so bad you would think Thor would know it and do something about it. And maybe they are working on it?

Maybe commenter was right when he said the folks with a good experience don't speak up. We've had our 2016 GT a couple of weeks and had a few little things (including my error a few times) but nothing has shown up yet of the magnitude described. No heavy rain yet however.

Only real problem we are having is living in such a small space. That will take getting used to.

Drives like a dream. Visibility for touring is fantastic.

If there are essentially trouble-free owners of Interstate purchased new out there, can you weigh in?
One has to wonder how a thread can wander from this Airstream Interstate question to where it is.

Nonetheless, our 2007 Airstream 20' Safari was well built and our 2012 Flying Cloud is much nicer construction. The downward spiral must be occurring in the last couple of years. We have looked at the latest models and would buy one in a heartbeat if we needed one, but the 2012 Flying Cloud was excellent from the factory and remains so with regular inspections and upkeep.
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Old 07-28-2015, 05:50 AM   #62
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I've been on these forums for 6 1/2 years, and these kinds of issues have been talked about here since before that.

I don't think it is rocket science, how to insure work is done properly and completely at every step.....many of us could probably put that in place, and certainly JC could.

I don't get it, and the lack of inspections/corrections must be something sanctioned from the top

These chronic and longstanding issues don't speak well to many things......but all that said, I still love my Interstate, and the quality of life it has allowed is absolutely immeasurable.

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Old 07-28-2015, 05:59 AM   #63
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Funny thing or maybe not so funny is that after reviewing forums for several other brands the complaints are almost identical to the common issues discussed here. I do not think that Airstream has a monopoly on QC problems. It seems to be indicative of current manufacturing and management practices industry wide.
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Old 07-28-2015, 07:07 AM   #64
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Factory tour.

Hi, I just recently took the factory tour and there were things that were improved like the routing of panels for all of the cut-outs. Better sealing of the body to the frame. But, as an assembly plant, I saw way to much waste of product and time. Some people were constantly working and others seemed to have nothing to do. Parts were stacking up and collecting dust and new parts were being made in more numbers than trailers being built. Bottom line, for an assembly plant, it was too un-organized. This could cause lessor quality. In the end, they all looked pretty. Airstream, in my opinion, needs someone from Ford or Boeing Etc. to clean up their assembly line process. If properly organized, they could produce more trailers and have better quality at the same time. Management at Airstream should pay a visit to other factories and assembly plants. Mac Tools, Ford, GM, Boeing, or even the Tillamook Cheese factory. I'm sure that Airstream could learn something from all of them.

Note: Airstream is going through an expansion process now. And this could be part of what I saw.

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Old 07-28-2015, 07:27 AM   #65
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Unfortunately "need is the mother of invention" and Airstream just does not have a like competitor at this point. I grew up in the Semiconductor/Chip business and it wasn't until the Japanese began entering the market that production efficiency and quality improved in the US. Airstream runs the risk of being complacent and betting that no competitor will appear. No CEO should get a raise betting on that!!!
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Old 07-28-2015, 02:21 PM   #66
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Originally Posted by 73shark View Post
And for those that have never worked in a production enterprise building something, you can't inspect quality in to the product. It has to be built in. Some mfg used to claim that they built the quality in their product. Can't remember who tho.
After many years with a Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award winning organization I can say with some authority inspecting in quality, and especially final inspection is a colossal waste of time and money. Quality must be engineered into the process and designed into the product and there has to be total commitment extending all the way from the CEO to the cleaning crew. Too many companies feel that level of effort is too expensive in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. Inspecting in quality can easily increase unit costs to build 25 to 50% but unfortunately that appears to be the standard of practice in the RV industry. As a result they can get away with it.
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Old 07-28-2015, 02:59 PM   #67
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There is an elephant in the room when it comes to AS quality and that is the fact that there is an almost cult like acceptance of a less than perfect product based on the reputation, history and unique style of an Airstream. The perceived value of an AS travel trailer is the best marketing tool Thor has!

As Joemikeb said, Quality must be engineered into the process and designed into the product and there has to be total commitment extending all the way from the CEO to the cleaning crew.
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Old 07-28-2015, 03:51 PM   #68
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Originally Posted by dkottum View Post
One has to wonder how a thread can wander from this Airstream Interstate question to where it is.
What are you saying here? This thread is clearly about Quality Control, hardly a question, and as the title stands, opens the thread up to a free for all.

I haven't said much here on this topic since others have expressed mutual opinions, but let me say that in our first year of ownership, I had so many issues, I had to keep "a list". The quotes are for a reason. Some items dropped off the list as they were resolved, and but they were always replaced by others. "The list" became a standing joke amongst our friends, to the point that my wife and I started referring to the Interstate as the lemon. Far more time was spent at the dealership than actually using it as a camper.
Since we had spent a large chunk of our retirement funds on this lemon, we were not happy then, and since then, the sour feeling never totally went away.
The dealer - who has become a good personal friend of ours - has been very sympathetic, and even offered us a Grand Tour in exchange, hugely discounted. As things currently stand with Airstream quality, I would definitely not go down the same path.

Update: I should add something else that may surprise everyone else as it did me: the dealer offered me a 4x4 version of the Grand Tour, complete with Air Suspension. I would have to wait some extra months for it, but he told me it is available for special order. That was very tempting, especially for forestry roads here in the southwest. But having been bitten twice (our previous Flying Cloud was also full of issues) we turned it down too.
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Old 07-28-2015, 04:26 PM   #69
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Originally Posted by AWCHIEF View Post
Funny thing or maybe not so funny is that after reviewing forums for several other brands the complaints are almost identical to the common issues discussed here. I do not think that Airstream has a monopoly on QC problems. It seems to be indicative of current manufacturing and management practices industry wide.
True enough, but isn't it reasonable to expect that for maybe 3x the price, a higher level of quality should be part of the equation?

I have heard some folk describe the Airstream as the Rolls-Royce of travel trailers and that is sort if what I anticipated when buying ours.

Of course if one hangs out on a Rolls Royce forum if there is one, it might turn out to be a mirror image our our Airstream forum!

I wonder if I would have bought the Airstrem had I spent much time on this forum first! Probably I would! My rationalization would have been that usually it is only the people with bad experiences that post about it!

I will say that we have had very few complaints with ours - but then that could be the advantage of buying one a couple of years old, the first owner had to deal with most of the quality issues!

Having owned ours now for about 6 years, I do wonder at times if I should take the plunge and buy a new one.

Basically what stops me is:

- filliform corrosion. It's one thing on a ten year old trailer (I have some) but I sure would be ticked off to experience it within a year or so of buying new as I think some folk have had happen.

- wooden floors. Maybe it is just me, but I can't see spending over $100k (especially now with the dropping Canadian dollar!) on such a nice unit but then having a wooden floor subject to rotting when (not if) the trailer leaks - the water will sooner or later wind up at floor level and do its dirty work!

- Quality issues - although I guess that is mostly just niggling little things that I could live with, and in many cases would just fix myself as we do not have a dealer that close to us.

When people speak of lists of problems, I well remember when my dad bought his first Japanese- made auto. (A long time ago!) In that era he told me that with every new North-American car he had bought, inevitably he had a long list of problems the day he brought the car home. With the Japanese car, he couldn't get over the fact that he had no list to deal with - nada!

I suppose comparing Automobile quality with Airstream quality may not be totally fair, but if we don't expect quality we won't get it!

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Old 07-28-2015, 04:33 PM   #70
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I was at Foley RV— AKA Airstream of Mississippi— earlier today, and had a chance to talk to the service manager at length. He indicated to me that of the Thor brands they sell, they perform fewer warranty repairs on the Airstreams than they do on the Colemans and other brands. Make of that what you will.

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