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Old 02-08-2009, 04:19 PM   #15
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Old before New..

We started our Airstream life with our 63 Safari in 1989. I was always amazed and bragged incessantly about the fact that you wouldn't see any other 26 year old SOB still on the road. This was well before any experience with other AS owners or very many sob's for that matter. We were tent campers, boon-dockers. The 63 was our first trailer of any kind.
It was a long, gradual learning curve. Every Spring I had to set aside the first Month to getting the old girl ready to use. All well and good for the first 10 years but the older we both got the more of a PITA it became.

Finally in 2003, on the way back from Sampson State Park we saw a lot-full of shiny tubes in Darien Center NY, they were closed, but we stopped to look anyway. That was the straw! Within three weeks our minds were made up, and two weeks later we had our new trailer. Six weeks later the dealership was closed, our first hint of what was ahead for us.
Not even sure I can recall all the problems without checking our trip diary. Suffice to say I spent more time working on warranty repairs that first season than I spent getting the old girl ready in the last two.
You can't convince me there is any QC at the Factory level, very little worker pride in what they are building, don't believe me, climb up on the roof of a newer unit and see how your vents are sealed. How hard can that be, just take your time and do it right. A/C shroud cracked at all mount holes. Water pump wiring failed first time out. Front stainless rock guards scratched around all the mounts, rear bumper cover cracked in three places, never should have left the factory, let the dealer fix it Take a look at your cabinet installation, see how many "air" screws you find. How many latches have you broken because of poor alignment/assembly? Radio speakers with two of the four screws holding air. Pantry falls out the first time it's loaded because of improper slide installation. Aluminum trailer with NO stainless fasteners. All exterior fasteners rusting within the first year. AND THE BEST PART, can you say CORROSION! Can't remember everything, the more I write the Pister I get
I love my Airstream, and luckily I shouldn't have to buy another, it's the Factory's attitude that sucks, and thats just not acceptable. WWWD?

Bob
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Old 02-08-2009, 04:40 PM   #16
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Part of what motivated our decision to buy vintage (1967) was the concern about quality. If I'm going to open my checkbook and drop $50k on something, I'm going to be a wee bit sensitive about "warranty repairs." For that kind of jingle, I would expect the company to get it right. By the time we're done on our renovations, we may have spent as much as we on a new Airstream, but all of the design decisions will be ours. There won't be any compromises on quality. I guess one of my questions is with the technological advances, particularly those incorporated in other high end "platforms" like power boats, why can't Airstream offer a bit more value for the $?
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Old 02-08-2009, 06:16 PM   #17
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I suspect that if the MBA's were taught at MBA school that it pencils out better for them to focus on customer satisfaction, by superior quality of their product, most every product would be made with superior quality. (Remember, Quality, by definition, only means "meets specification"). A lot of the MBA's focus on their resume sheet, how many short term dollars they made for X company so they can get their resume into Y company faster, then on to Z company. Doesn't matter that they helped cause X company to go down the drain with the short term bump in profit, they are already over at Z company.
As it is whatever superior quality that is put into the product is usually done by the lowest paid people in the shop, to the point their bosses allow them to put in before they are told "You're taking too long with this, get on to the next, this meets our required "quality" specifications".

MOST MBA need to be taught to have some ETHICS first.If they had some we might not be in this mess with the banks,and Wall Street.
There sole job has been to seperate you from you money and tax $$$$$.They sure did a good job at that.
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Old 02-08-2009, 06:55 PM   #18
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FWIW, my parents still have a 1982 Jayco they bought new in 1982 that is still on the road and has only had the fridge die after 22 years-- that's it. It's a 27 year old RV this year.

Airstream is not alone in RVs still on the road after 25+ years, however the oooh/ahhh cool factor when they roll into a campground is not the same as an '82 Airstream pulling in.

Sadly, I think there is a lot to what Bob has said. I know I won't buy another new one having bought 2 so far, both problematic. Should I ever buy another RV, I would buy an Airstream, but most likely a pre-owned or vintage. I would not buy a third brand new one given what I have experienced, let alone read on these forums.
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Old 02-08-2009, 08:54 PM   #19
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Owning an Airstream is a bit like owning an old Harley. The coolness factor is way up there, however I spend every weekend fixing the things i know about and worrying about things i cant see.

Airstream should really capitalize on the percieved quality reputation that it holds with the general public . I too was one of those as i have owned several SOB's and wished I could afford an Airstream. Now that I have crawled all through the ol girl and spent hundreds of hours literally since August of 08' i have a different view of things..

But... I wouldnt trade her away. Theres just something about Airstream.
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Old 02-08-2009, 11:30 PM   #20
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I say we rally at the Airstream factory and camp in the employee parking lot for a week. Maybe they will listen to their fan club if we visit once a year or so. Just kidding. I should watch what I say with this crowd...

Listen up Airstream, your fan club is talking. You all better put on a quality show or get booed off stage.

In this economy you as a company can't afford not to pay attention. Your potential customers are coming up to me and asking about the trailer I am working on. What would you have me tell them?
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Old 02-09-2009, 05:53 AM   #21
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Wonder what effect Wally's many trips had on Airstream QC? I bet he learned plenty from his own experience and his travel mates. This should have got back to the factory and resulted in many improvements.

Look at all the publicity, in prestige publications like National Geographic magazine, plus the advertising mileage they got out out of them, plus the quality effect on the product, could those trips be the reason Airstream is still in business when so many competitors have fallen by the wayside?

On the other hand, I don't think he cared what happened after 20 or 30 years. He wanted us to run the wheels off them when they were still new LOL.
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Old 02-09-2009, 08:08 AM   #22
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Oddly, I think you're right the trips proved or disproved design. Today, I know a number of Airstream employees that either still currently own or have owned an Airstream. Though I am not sure how many caravan like back in the old Wally days, if any, I am fairly sure they too have seen issues we see as well. Clearly though, that has not translated into better builds. I still subscribe to read the threads I linked in post #11 of this thread.

I think what we are all forgetting here is that it was a WAY different time when Wally owned and ran the company. Wally was an individual. Thor is a conglomerate of companies and though they may have a better pulse of the industry, they completely lack any micro management of the companies they run. Having read the articles on Thor during the RV boom Thompson and Orrington (I think that's the other guy's name) could care less what RV builder build or how they build it, as long as it sells, which is what I recall from a Fortune mag.

The issue has happened to many companies, Harley is the most popular folks recall. Then Apple Computer, now Apple Inc, is another. History is full of stories like these, some have made it out of it, some haven't. Failure to heed the warning signs could wind you up on a list like this:

15 Companies That Might Not Survive 2009 - Yahoo! Finance

Now again, I don't expect perfection, but I do expect a certain level of quality. If I pay for a premium product, I expect premium build quality. I know Andy from Inland and folks at Airstream get all riled up when I say, we paid Mercedes dollars for what in reality was literally Chrysler build quality, but it's true. Read the threads I posted and I challenge anyone to say otherwise having read each of the linked thread found in post #11 of this thread.

The mindset of the workers was never driven home harder than it was the day I installed a subwoofer under my front sofa. When I removed the front box cover I found McDonald's food wrappers balled up and stuffed into the routed out hole that connected the batteries and umbilical to the internal power grid of the trailer. Ignorant? Sure. Lazy? Without question.

Then, later on, I, like many of the rest of us, clean out metal shavings and sawdust for months after taking delivery...just a normal part of the process as some things work out as the unit moves right? Well, I found at least 10lbs or more of routed out sheetmetal, entire looms of unused wire balled up and other stuff left behind in areas they thought the average person would never see...and they were right, except I'm not the average person, I found a lot of the things they didn't think one would see. But one doesn't even have to dig, as Bob said, just look up on your roof or in your fridge exterior venting door for starters and you start to see it. Dig a bit and it becomes clearly apparent and don't even get started looking at the exterior finish as early as 6 months off the factory floor for white spider type lines......
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Old 02-09-2009, 09:17 AM   #23
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I think the modern Airstreams represent good design and suboptimal execution. As noted, if I'm going to write a check for $50,000 or $60,000 for a 25' travel trailer... it had better be "tight." If I had an experience like "Silver" finding food wrappers and junk stuffed into hidden nooks, I would have been seriously annoyed. C'mon, folks. A $50k+ trailer is not a trash can for assembly workers. This indicates to me that at least a few Airstream workers have a lousy attitude.

I don't own a Mercedes; my father in law does. If he had found food wrappers on the inside of his car, he would have had an out-of-body experience. The only thing I want to find wadded up inside the of frame of a Mercedes are Detsch Marks.

All of the great design in the world does not matter much if you don't have craftsmanship in the execution. Great design does not compensate for inferior materials and slipshod assembly. The "genius" of an Airstream travel trailer deserves quality manufacturing. QC should be a religion in the Airstream plant. Oh, and there's no excuse for filiform corrosion, folks. There's no excuse for craptacular materials. If I were the operations manager for Airstream, I'd bring together all of the amazing renovation experts on these forums like TomW and Utee (and others), buy them lunch, and get them to tell me how to build a better Airstream... every month or two. I would crack the whip on QC... hard. I would go heavily in sustainable practices and materials... and work with marketing to make the Airstream the best engineered, best built and most sustainable travel trailer on the planet.
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Old 02-09-2009, 11:04 AM   #24
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Has there been any formal contact with the President of Airstream or VP of Engineering or QC Manager in regards to the concerns that are mentioned above? There has been alot of great information provided in this thread,but not sharing it with the people that can affect change probably is not going to help.Convincing people to not purchase an Airstream may get their attention at some point,but will not address your concerns. If we want to continue the tradition Wally started in 1931 it has to be through feedback from the people that use the product,but needs to be to the people that can make changes (MBA's, bean counters,line workers or whatever ).
I have a 1968 Caravel and I am proud to have an Airstream product.
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Old 02-09-2009, 12:30 PM   #25
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"It will be easier for me to rebuild my trailer than it will for Airstream to rebuild my opinion."

Interesting observation, Pepsi.

For me, however, it was wiser to get rid of my 2004 Piece of Crap and not have to deal with that arrogant group of Airstream management, and buy an RV from a company that respects its customers and builds a quality product. I tried for several years to give Airsteam's management a chance to rebuild my opinion, and all they did was tear it down, piece by piece.

So, I purchased a Newmar Kountry Aire, and couldn't be happier.

I expect there will always be some ongoing fixes needed in every RV, but this pretty much summarized it for me:

After buying my new Airstream, and seeing the 100 or so examples of shoddy workmanship in it (which should never have left the factory it was so bad), I was told by Airstream's management "you bring it back to the factory at your expense and we'll fix it to our satisfaction."

"We don't have any quality control function at the factory. (implied - we've been building them for over 70 years so who knows better than us what is required.)"

After finding several items that needed fixed on my Newmar Kountry Aire, I was told by Newmar's management "you can take it to your dealer, one of our authorized service center's, or bring it back to the factory for repair. If none of these are convenient with you, we'll work with you to find another RV dealer of your choice to do the repairs. We want your RV to be fixed to your satisfaction."

Don't tell me there are no other RVs out there that are better quality than Airstream. I know better!

Style points doesn't necessarily equate with quality.
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Old 02-09-2009, 12:49 PM   #26
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Has there been any formal contact with the President of Airstream or VP of Engineering or QC Manager in regards to the concerns that are mentioned above?
Silvertwinkie, you wanna handle this one?
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Old 02-09-2009, 12:58 PM   #27
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Airstream suffers from the Harley Davidson problem. You can ride iconic status for awhile, but eventually a lack of quality will kick you in the backside. I'm sure the H-D guys thought, hey, we're Harley. And yet a lack of quality nearly ended the company. Airstream is a fraction of the size of Harley and, frankly, the brand is not nearly as strong. When Airstream can pull half a million people to a place like Sturgis, SD....

I don't want to fan the flames of an Airstream versus "box" trailer debate. My wife and I chose a vintage Airstream... not to fulfill a lifelong dream of running a Magic Chef oven, but because it was a well built and stylish foundation upon which we could build something of impeccable quality. And frankly, the "same old box" styling (including interiors) was just not something we could "do."

I will, however, take your suggestion, Clipper and drop an email to the Airstream company president. If I were running, Airstream, however, I would be a frequent visitor to these forums. If I have to bring this thread to his attention, the problem is far greater than any one might resolve via a friendly email.
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Old 02-09-2009, 01:07 PM   #28
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Quality?

I bet that the president of Airstream and all his managment read the Airforums with their afternoon Martinis, their ass off at us for talking about QC and tell stories about all the bad things they got away with that day.Isn't that your job when your a MBA and run a corp.
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