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Old 06-04-2008, 05:19 PM   #99
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Day 6

Sealant and water testing...

I'm told approx 7 tubes of silkaflex went to seal around the windows, rivet lines, and braces.

I forgot to get a shot of Cosmo under their "water test" rig, but here's a shot of it on the trailer next to ours:

After seeing the Main Assembly line water test booth, I would have to say that this test is by far less powerfull. As a quality engineer myself, I will say that I don't understand the test methodology nor the confidence rating of this test as compared to the main line water test booth.

One will simulate a heavy rain (high volume and pressure) at different angles covering the whole unit in what I would say is a boundary level condition, whereas the other is based on normal garden hose pressure feeding multiple spray nozzles at a concentrated location.

I would have prefered to have it tested in the water test booth on the line, but I am told they have never put a service unit into the water test booth. I don't know the reason for that. I drove 1200 miles to get here, can we at least test it in a boundary level condition just to make sure?

Too bad - The current service test rig doesn't adequately simulate driving rain (i.e. highways speeds in a heavy rain). This situation is what was occurring when we found the half of the leaks anyway, so the test environment does not reflect the actual field situation or boundary level conditions that we would be subjected to (worst case).

If it was me, I would have installed a variable pressure setup (think a pressure washer motor but used on the multiple nozzles to increase the psi on all nozzles) on the service test rig that would at least be equivalent to the pressure output in the main line water test booth. That way, you could achieve a boundary level test condition but remained portable for service use... have it variable if they wanted to simulate a gentle rain or use on fragile vintage units / windows, But that's just my opnion...
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Old 06-04-2008, 05:55 PM   #100
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While the forum has problems with my photo quota, I'll use photobucket for this instead:



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Old 06-04-2008, 06:58 PM   #101
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Sealtech testing

Kevin, I think you would be much more impressed with the testing that Airstream of Arkansas did on Soldiermedic (Steve's) trailer. It is listed in his blog. Go to Members List tab above on the toolbar and search for all posts by Soldiermedic. Once you click on any of his posts you will see his link to the blog on the repairs that AofA did to his trailer. Hope this helps. Happy Trails, Ed
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Old 06-04-2008, 08:00 PM   #102
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Originally Posted by BIGED52 View Post
Kevin, I think you would be much more impressed with the testing that Airstream of Arkansas did on Soldiermedic (Steve's) trailer. It is listed in his blog. Go to Members List tab above on the toolbar and search for all posts by Soldiermedic. Once you click on any of his posts you will see his link to the blog on the repairs that AofA did to his trailer. Hope this helps. Happy Trails, Ed
Agree in the concept. The next question to ask is why are dealers using different methods to diagnose and locate leaks? Why does mothership not use it? Any particular reason?

I think it would be prudent for mothership to evaluate all the methods (both developed at used at mothership and those by dealers and those commonly used in the industry, and make a recommendation to what test process / equipment to use moving forward. It may be a combination of tests, but some evaluation to be consistent would be nice.

But to my original point, I don't understand the difference in testing methodology used at the service center as compared to what is used in production. The adequacy and test limits are completely different, yet the trailer in for service should perform without leaks as designed when it left the factory when new, so why the difference in test regimen?

Now I understand things can shift and change when a trailer travels down the road, but if find a leak in the area that has been "tested", I will be sorely disappointed as this may have been avoided with the adequate testing at the service department in the first place.

Just my opinion, but open to any schools of thought I may miss.
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Old 06-04-2008, 08:57 PM   #103
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Airstream will never build a watertight trailer until they quit depending on water test and get their processes in control. We at GM didn't quit building leakers until we followed the imports and quit water testing.
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Old 06-04-2008, 09:18 PM   #104
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I assume yours is finished now.
I saw cowboy leave this morning and your unit was completed.
Mine was finished this afternoon. We depart in the morning. No damage just a floor replacement from carpet to pergo and some old age repairs. Mine is a 2002 classic.
I saw yours being worked on and the fellows here did an impressive job.

Good luck
dale
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Old 06-04-2008, 09:54 PM   #105
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I assume yours is finished now.
I saw cowboy leave this morning and your unit was completed.
Mine was finished this afternoon. We depart in the morning. No damage just a floor replacement from carpet to pergo and some old age repairs. Mine is a 2002 classic.
I saw yours being worked on and the fellows here did an impressive job.

Good luck
dale
Hi Dale,

Nope, not quite finished yet. I was gonna post more pics but the forum software has me at an exceed limit so I was too tired to use photobucket to host all the pics I had so I'll have to wait till the forum bugs are fixed or when I get more time to upload in photobucket.

They did start to insulate the interior again, so I think the leaks up front have been isolated and addressed, but I wasn't there when the shop closed as I was in the tour again today to see the difference between last week's shutdown to this week's production.

Also waiting on some other little items to be completed, minor changes and warranty work.

I'm hoping we can get back in the unit for tomorrow night and get back to Texas, but at the same time, I want things done right the first time, so.... we'll see.
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Old 06-04-2008, 10:10 PM   #106
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmickle View Post
Airstream will never build a watertight trailer until they quit depending on water test and get their processes in control. We at GM didn't quit building leakers until we followed the imports and quit water testing.
Hi Jimmickle,

It has been recently pointed out to me that trailer manufacturing in general is about 20 years behind in automotive technologies and manufacturing techniques. I'd have to agree with that.

That being said, I do appreciate the complexities and challenges in taking solid aluminum panels and making thousands of holes in it for looks and style, so leaks are bound to happen.

I just question if we can evolve the current testing practices and procedures to be more effective and efficient to better identify and address leaks and increase customer satisfaction and perception.

The trailer in it's basic design has evolved little since it's origins, however, I do think that testing, as part of quality control and verification, should evolve to continually to improve and reduce defects and known issue generation on generation.

Part of this can be accomplished with evolution of tools, processes, and procedures. That is why I question the current water testing method at the service center. There may be some good reason for their current practice, but I don't know it.
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Old 06-04-2008, 11:00 PM   #107
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hi bandit

i agree with jim...

in reality the factory water testing IS silly, outdated and an accommodation to the "every unit is different" build philosophy ...

and many holes and other surface breaches happen way after the rain booth.

just LOOK at some of the shell things done after the water test...

as for taking service center unit over there, well imagine the logistics...

they'd have to STOP production and MOVE units just to get a customer unit IN the shower...

the service center and factory are 2 VERY DIFFERENT operations, with different objectives, bosses and routines...

while the pressurized testing is impressive and finds LOTS of air leaks...

not everyone in the a/s business (the experts) agree it's the best method...

since some of those air leaks NEVER allow significant water entry...

after a really good pressurized testing and sealant application imagine driving a few hundred miles and retesting...

there would most surely be MORE air pressure leaks in NEW locations...

cheers
2air'
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Old 06-04-2008, 11:22 PM   #108
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hi bandit

i agree with jim...

in reality the factory water testing IS silly, outdated and an accommodation to the "every unit is different" build philosophy ...

and many holes and other surface breaches happen way after the rain booth.

just LOOK at some of the shell things done after the water test...

as for taking service center unit over there, well imagine the logistics...

they'd have to STOP production and MOVE units just to get a customer unit IN the shower...

the service center and factory are 2 VERY DIFFERENT operations, with different objectives, bosses and routines...

while the pressurized testing is impressive and finds LOTS of air leaks...

not everyone in the a/s business (the experts) agree it's the best method...

since some of those air leaks NEVER allow significant water entry...

after a really good pressurized testing and sealant application imagine driving a few hundred miles and retesting...

there would most surely be MORE air pressure leaks in NEW locations...

cheers
2air'
Hi 2'air

Look at Ford's lately? 2008 SDs are now at employee pricing to get them off the lots....

I'm not suggesting to have my unit tested in the both in production, but suggesting that the tool/jig they currently use in the service center be more reflective of boundary conditions, such as driving in hard rain, etc, which is why I suggested evolving the tool to have increased pressure.

I understand the different objectives, of the 2 shops (manufacturing and service), and did not question that. I question the adequacy of the tool used in service.

Perhaps there is data that supports the fact the current service setup is adequate, who knows. My Inital perception is that the current setup does not reflect real world conditions where leaks were shown, i.e. in heavy rain while driving.
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Cosmo the Custom 2008 27FB Intl CCD
Maxwell the 1964 Globe Trotter
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Old 06-04-2008, 11:31 PM   #109
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ok i c your point bandit...

some days the wind blows really hard in j/c and IF they do the lawn sprinkler testing then...

well the water does move harder!

imagine having the sprinkler test in jan/feb...

it would be an ice n snow cone maker!

cheers

2air'

btw when i purchase the 05 ford the dealer give me 'x' plan pricing which is part of the employee scheme...

all i had to say was i knew someone, who knew someone, that worked for ford...
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Old 06-05-2008, 07:38 AM   #110
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FWIW, my unit, during production went through that water testing machine. I don't know if it found any leaks during the test, but I can tell you of the one it missed.

I think the test is important given the climate in which has been pointed out (that RV building is 20 years behind the auto industry). My thought is they are even further than 20 years behind.

Now I know Jackson Center would say, yea, but our workers are artisans. We'll, when you are paying upward of $40k+ for the average Airstream, that becomes more of a conv excuse, than an answer.

Back to my unit, I had to caulk my streetside wheel well. Why? We'll during the build, someone forgot to put ANY caulk in the well trim. No leaks while parked, but if towed in the rain......

The water test unit on the production floor, if you've ever seen that unit, does not do a really great all around test. If it did, that might have been found, or at the very least, go figure, someone takes a hose to the area of the wheel well, since that is also exposed to water and check. No where during that test I saw when I was at the factory did they test the wheel wells at all and I am not sure they do to this day.

The unit they tested your machine with, I would have had even less trust in because that doesn't seem to have the pressures that the unit on the production floor uses.

IMHO, the bottom line, and I hate to sound like a broken record, is quality. If you take your time and build them right, it is true, water testing would not be needed, but more of a PR or safety net. If they take their time and build them slowly, and listen to the customers, the money and success follows. Case in point, if you read some of the QC threads, you can see that some issues have crossed at least 5 model years. I know the folks at Airstream read these forum pages regularly and, then there is the warranty claim data, so there are just no excuses....and don't even get me restarted on the corrosion issues. These have been well documented since at least 2002 or 2003.

So, the Reader's Digest version of all this is that the water test is just a symbol of an overall larger problem, not just with Airstream, but with the industry in general. I read a comment on the corrosion thread today that was interesting. Could you imagine what would happen to the RV industry if the Japanese got into the RV business?
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Old 06-05-2008, 07:49 AM   #111
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Airstream is denial when It comes to leaks, which seems to be one of the biggest complaints. When are they going to start sealing in between the panels during assembly, This would absolutely stop the bulk of the leaking problems
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Old 06-05-2008, 10:37 PM   #112
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Without comment on current practices, I can only say that the white sealant AS used in the mid-70's, on the inside of the panel seams was top notch!

I've been replacing all the vents with new Fantastic Fan vents in our 78 Ambassador, and when I'm removing the old vents, I find the white sealant still 'playable' and in place after 30 years! And no leaks! Our trailer has been stored outside for many years, and I'm amazed that the sealant hasn't deteriorated during all the hot and cold weather cycles it's been subjected too!

Maybe AS was in tune more with 'Quality' than 'Quantity', 30 years ago...
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