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Old 03-30-2017, 11:04 AM   #1
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Exclamation Airstream Craftsmanship?

Well where do I start- Fore or aft? Starboard or port? Top or bottom? Doesn’t matter really because no matter where I look, after I’ve torn something down to it’s base, the level of craftsmanship on our 2017 Bambi is quite poor. I know that this topic has been addressed on this forum going back many years, but if every new owner kept mum, how would there ever be a force for change?
I am truly disappointed in the product AS lets roll out of their factory doors for sale. With the astounding, exponential growth in the RV world, quality has suffered across the board for many manufacturers; our last 2015 trailer began delaminating before the one year warranty expired and in general, the interior fell apart as glue failed and staples pulled away. As I have seen and talked to many owners both in FG forums and in real world camping, this is quite common for many late model units. While no manufacturer probably meets my standards, I think some other lines have actually improved their build quality since 2000. The real problem lies with my expectations being too high, although I really did expect much tighter tolerances and higher quality from AS.
IMO, an almost exponential demand for travel trailer’s is the main force behind an already poor quality in the RV manufacturing industry. I have read accounts of many RV manufacture’s inadequacy in supply satisfying demand of late. From what I can extrapolate from news accounts on the web, AS production roughly TRIPLED from 2009 to 2015 and they are not alone. “RV shipments through August 2016 totaled 290,852 units, an increase of 13% from the same period in 2015. Shipments in 2016 are expected to surpass 400,000 units, and reach the highest total since 1977. This would mark seven consecutive years of shipments growth as the industry has bounced back from effects of the Great Recession. RV shipments are predicted to continue growing for an eighth straight year in 2017. RVIA projects shipments will climb to 411,000 units — an all-time high. In 2015, RV shipments totaled 374,246 units, a gain of 4.9% over the previous year. This was the sixth consecutive annual increase.” (quote from RVIA; link at: http://www.rvia.org/?ESID=indicators)
Without any major changes in the method(s) and/or streamlining of assembly, the quality has to suffer as a result of a worker spending less time on each task with increased urgency to complete each task on the production line. In addition, Thor Industries’ management may play a key part in determining the overall build quality of all models; established and adhered tolerances may be too great for any worker to apply a high level of craftsmanship.
My issues can be categorized as follows:
1. Pervasive exterior rust and corrosion EVERYWHERE on the frame, tongue, hardware and components, with a thinner-than-paper coating of cheap paint applied haphazardly as “protection”.
2. Gaps, holes, missing fasteners and caulk throughout exterior and interior. Visible holes to exterior. Vent covers failing to close or latch.
3. A veritable rats nest of sloppy wiring and plumbing. Zero overall attention to neatness with regards to mechanicals. Missing insulators/tape, loose screws, loose GROUNDS, and barely hand tight plumbing connections.
4. Vibrating, loose, poor fitting interior panels. The front bed platform FALLING APART before it has been ever used. EPIC FAIL on the bed area!
5. Large 1” gaps at the interior corner of every Hehr window with foam and fiberglass insulation showing. Numerous cracks/abrasions in exterior rubber gaskets.
6. Poor design in dining table area with ridiculous hardware operation.
7. All interior mechanical, storage and some interior cabinets littered with debris and trash: wires, wood and plastic chips, aluminum shavings, plastic insulators, wrappers, oil, dirt and gunk! Filthy. (Has no one EVER heard of a shop-vac!???).
The unit has not moved from where it was dropped, straight from the dealer; I have yet to really test any systems or operation. Call me crazy I guess, but I don’t regret buying an AS. However my overall objection is the cost to quality ratio. I would be on the news giving interviews if the quality surpassed my expectations, and would be trumpeting the value of an AS, even at their published MSRP’s. For now all can do is fix what I’ve purchased and be thankful it isn’t worse (so far…). I am also grateful to have the skills and a commercial shop to manufacture what I need, and that my wife doesn’t read what I type on Airforums. Look for many more posts on my long list of mods to come.
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Old 03-30-2017, 11:55 AM   #2
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Yup, if you had done your homework and read the articles and watched the You Tube videos all explaining "Why you should never buy a RV", you wouldn't have bought one; even an Airstream.

Rapid demand, manufacturers motivated by profits, poor morale, motivated and poorly paid workforces, non existant warranties, as dealers don't have service bays to complete repairs in a timely manner and warranty claims are only worked on if other customer service is completed first (warranty claims pay less than regular service work). Untrained service techs, the list goes on......

This isn't just Airstream but RV industry wide.

Wait until you try and find a campground to use her. If you haven't booked your spot by now! The last spot I wanted to get, I had to wake up at 6:45, syncronize my wristwatch's second hand to the computer clock, preload all my information and press reserve submit button, one second before the computer clock switched over to 7:00 am, when the reservation site opened.

It's the reason people buy an older Airstream as cheaply as possible, knowing that $10- 25,000 and countless man hours will be spent fixing it up. In the end my 310 turbo diesel motorhome is worth more than I bought it for; I know every subsystem in her, and know how to fix her, for a whole lot less than you spent on your 2017.

IMHO The best person to fix your AS is yourself; get educated and proactive; fix stuff before it breaks and for God's sake don't wait for your local dealer to do it for you. By the wording of you last sentence, you have figured that out.

Welcome to the insanity that is Alumunitus.

Cheers
Tony
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Old 03-30-2017, 01:14 PM   #3
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quality

Sorry for your issues, but I can tell you the picture of the water heater is familiar, I replaced mine and the door fit the same way, I shaved the metal that was not "straight" and the door closed even now. An Airstream issue that was provided by Atwood (or another make of water heater) You will enjoy the trailer, at some point, I hope. MPJ
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Old 03-30-2017, 01:26 PM   #4
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If it makes you feel any better, the older ones were no different. They to had their problems, though maybe different problems.

But, with the cost of a new trailer getting way up there, it is becoming more and more appetizing to look at a restored older trailer, or to even have someone restore one for you, than to purchase a new since the cost will be close and in the end, you get the trailer you really want. But, that too has its problems with finding a place to do it right (all say they do).

Good luck,

RIDEAIR
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Old 03-30-2017, 01:52 PM   #5
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Hi fellow Airstreamer.

I appreciate and understand your disappointment. Airstream owners expect to pay a tad more for a quality, long lasting product. We are owners of a MY16 30ftr, which was delivered to us with issues that our dealer had overlooked. I feel I must tell you in our case, our dealer has resolved to our complete satisfaction, each and every shortcoming we discovered (there were many) in our shiny new AS without a single objection or refusal.

I say this because it appears to me that you accepted from your dealer a defective AS only to later discover problems which you have aptly described. We accepted our AS and took it from our dealer just as you must have, only to later discover faults and misfits.

Now your relationship with your dealer and the AS factory is of utmost importance to you and your investment. I predict if you are patient, fair, reasonable and confine your comments to positive statements, you will emerge from repairs with your AS completely fit and finished. Most owners of new AS's will tell you when all the fixes are fixed, you will be fully satisfied.

Thanks for your thoughtful and detailed comments. I predict you will emerge from repairs fully satisfied. Your challenge today is to motivate your dealer to do what needs to be done, just as he has previously promised Airstream he would. Best wishes to you!
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Old 03-30-2017, 04:58 PM   #6
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One thing I truly appreciate about the forums is the wonderfully varied but (mostly) intelligent, insightful and experienced comments. I find bits of wisdom in most all the replies, so thank you. The truly IRONIC thing is, I told my wife after looking at many many AS TT both new and used over a period of years, is I didn't think I really had the time to spend overhauling a used one. And now I'll probably spend that much time on...a new one!😂( Okay those are just laughter tears- really....)
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Old 03-30-2017, 06:07 PM   #7
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I'd be fired in a week at Airstream, because I wouldn't let substandard workmanship go out the door.
Today, it's all about the bottom line, I'm sure the men and women on the line don't like it either, but the boss is saying, "Move, move, move. Let the dealer fix it."
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Old 03-30-2017, 06:18 PM   #8
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About the hot water access door which I pointed out to the dealer, be said, " It's best to leave some things alone." He also said the only cost reimbursement from AS for repairing the windows would be, "the cost of an individual sheet metal screw or rivet."
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Old 03-30-2017, 07:25 PM   #9
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If new buyers would seriously inspect the trailer and demand that all issues be fixed to the customers satisfaction before exceptance it might force Airstream to do something about their shabby QC. As it is they have no reason to improve their product. They continue to roll crap off the line and shoppers snap them up. That said I love my Airstream warts and all and would buy a new 26U in a heart beat if I could afford one.
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Old 03-30-2017, 07:30 PM   #10
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It matters not to you about the cost your dealer bears to fix or replace defective basic construction failures such as you describe. Your dealer has an absolute obligation to make repairs unless you caused the defects.

Use caution because a 'do it yourself' strategy may weaken your argument for warranty fixes.

If your dealer is not responsive to each and every one of your issues, elevate your problems to the factory. There are experienced and willing people there who can help you get repaired. Expect nothing less than a satisfactory solution that works for you. Patient insistence on your part should bring you success.

Make the warranty work for you because that's exactly what it's for!
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Old 03-30-2017, 07:54 PM   #11
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Airstream Craftsmanship?

I'm on my maiden voyage in my 26u down in Florida. It's a little hot so I fire up the AC. I won't cool down I can here the compressor kick in. Good thing I ordered the 2nd. AC. How in the heck does an AC get past QC, I mean turn it on check with an infrared thermometer and see if it's in range with the thermostat.
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Old 03-30-2017, 08:09 PM   #12
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Thank you all for the kind encouragement. I undertook this thread to lament the quality level of current production, at least as far as our unit was concerned, and to at least forewarn others in a pre or post purchase state. And to admit that my expectations were a bit too grand. (That shiny gleam got in my eye and I was blinded long enough to sign the check. &#128521 Although disappointed, I am not particularly angry at the dealer or Thor; yes there is a warranty but I don't expect much from either party unless there's catastrophic failure. (I think my issues are very minor compared to some of the new Basecamp owners.) I have many years experience in the high end, custom fabrication industry, with access to a full mig/tig metal shop as well as fully equipped wood shop. I can also have CNC work done if necessary. We plan on customizing this sport on the interior to be virtually unrecognizable from it's OEM state. So any warranty work to correct these issues would simply be a waste of my time in pursuing. We are extremely busy running numerous businesses and will focus on fitting these modifications in as I can time management wise, but in the meantime I'd like to do a little camping!
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Old 03-30-2017, 08:47 PM   #13
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Don't let them off the hook! Make the dealer/AS fix every damned one of the issues to your satisfaction. If everyone will force the issue, eventually the CFO will get the message that they're loosing money due to quality issues.

For a bit of fresh air, I have a new custom truck camper that developed a leak that left if left uncorrected would cause some serious damage. When I called the builder, they said they want it back to fix it, find out why it happened, and make sure no one else has the problem. That's what I call integrity. AS needs to learn from these folks!!
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Old 03-30-2017, 09:18 PM   #14
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I agree with Drathaar: ďDon't let them off the hook?Ē Airstream Inc. has too often ignored high quality, and expecting higher quality is why we buy their product. Unless we consumers force them to correct the defects, their poor quality practices will continue. I suggest you write to Bob Wheeler telling him about the defects, and ask him to look at the economics of their products from the viewpoint of the consumers. No company would survive in business very long if the consumers had a better choice. They know that, and they also know we will continue to accept shoddy workmanship. So, what is a better alternative?
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