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Old 08-18-2019, 11:38 AM   #1
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Airstream improvement suggestions thread (August 2019)

“Let's not make changes; let's only make improvements,” Wally Byam

It is in the spirit of this mantra by the Airstream creator and founder that I am proposing a thread series of improvement suggestions, for two reasons: 1) maybe such suggestions will be read by the powers that be in Jackson Center, and 2) there may some pretty good ideas to improve our own rigs either as DIY projects or with professional assistance.

As for the first reason, I have some indication that Airstream can listen and act. In 2016 I wrote to the VP marketing indicating that I didn’t appreciate that the hatch was only available on the short lived theme models (Eddie Bauer, Pendleton, Tommy Bahama) and although we were interested in an FB model with hatch, the then current Tommy Bahama style was definitely not our cup of tea, and that in our view the concept of hatch rimed with Airstream’s focus on nature, opening the trailer to the great outdoors— a distinctive and unique feature. I did get a reply indicating that it was an interesting suggestion and that he would take it up with his team. I don’t know how many others chimed in with this suggestion, but lo and behold, the hatch is now a feature of the 2020 FB models!!

True, demand for Airstreams is outstripping supply, and one could think that there is no financial incentive to make an effort to innovate, but having met some of the folks in the plant, there is definitely pride in the product. Sure there are production challenges, space challenges (being addressed with the new plant coming on line in 2020), manpower challenges (Honda down the road is/was paying more), and the service bays are booked for weeks on warranty work (which costs them real $-- if anything that is a QC incentive), but having a community like ours, actively feeding suggestions back to the folks making decisions on the 2nd floor in JC should be of value to them, if not to ourselves.

I think that many in this community would appreciate that this not become a bitching thread. There have been numerous (and sometimes very long threads on the quality issues). One can understand folks who have forked lots of hard earned cash for their cherished Airstream being pretty upset (to put it lightly) at finding QC problems with their trailer. If necessary we could start a separate bitching thread! But this is not it.

I will get the ball rolling with a BIG improvement suggestion, not the type than can generally become a DIY project (although some have tackled this). Your improvement suggestions can be as small or a big as you wish. And if this thread works, we could start a new one later, with the same title but with a different month, to be able to track them. In a posting you can link to a previous post, or copy parts thereof. The idea is to gather improvement suggestions in a few threads over time.
So here goes!

Any improvement suggestions?
-----------------------------------------------------------
Build the Airstream to last forever

Although non-airstreamers may think that they last forever, we know that they don’t; but they could! The Airstream's Achilles heel is the subfloor and frame which in time will degrade and, to put it bluntly, will rot. There is a solution and here are two pictures to prove it. This is a 23 foot trailer with the same Dexter torsion suspension system as an Airstream but with an extruded aluminum subfloor and an aluminum frame.

This was not possible in Wally Byam’s days but it is today. What difference will this make? Well, from a marketing perspective you could position the Airstream as a “heirloom” that you pass from one generation to the next (it’s the millennials who are taking up RVing and pushing demand—so demand should last for decades), and it protects our investment by putting a break on depreciation when we resell. And working on a vintage model will not mean replacing the subfloor and repairing or replacing the frame!

Will it add to the price of a unit? Possibly, but if another RV builder has taken this path, it is worth evaluating the cost-benefit for a product like Airstream which is in the higher end of the market. For a better look that the “all-aluminum” trailer:

Click on "Plant tour" on page:
https://www.livinlite.com/products/c...avel-trailers/
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Old 08-18-2019, 01:34 PM   #2
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I’ll be honest - I don’t get Wally’s vision there. No changes, only improvements? What if a change is an improvement? What if an improvement requires change? What the heck was he talking about anyway?

Call it a change or improvement - how about just constantly making the product better every time?

Is a coosa board floor a change or improvement?

Is having 2 doors on any double axle trailer a change or improvement?

Would selling them for half what they get now be a change or improvement?
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Old 08-18-2019, 01:50 PM   #3
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The biggest change would be an improvement in "Pride of Build"

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Old 08-18-2019, 02:11 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveSueMac View Post
I’ll be honest - I don’t get Wally’s vision there. No changes, only improvements? What if a change is an improvement? What if an improvement requires change? What the heck was he talking about anyway?
I think what he had in mind is that all improvements are changes, but not all changes are improvements.

He was focused on the changes which are improvements (i.e. no "tail fins" on his Airstreams if we are to compare his product with those of the automobile industry of those years).
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Old 08-18-2019, 02:44 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
For a better look that the “all-aluminum” trailer:

Click on "Plant tour" on page:
https://www.livinlite.com/products/c...avel-trailers/
It is worth noting that Livin' Lite is owned by Thor, Airstream's parent company.

Tim
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Old 08-18-2019, 03:12 PM   #6
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Airstream improvement suggestions thread (August 2019)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
I think what he had in mind is that all improvements are changes, but not all changes are improvements.



He was focused on the changes which are improvements (i.e. no "tail fins" on his Airstreams if we are to compare his product with those of the automobile industry of those years).


Aha! Ok - then another way to say that is - no changes only for the sake of change....

That makes more sense to me. Thanks for sharing that!
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Old 08-18-2019, 03:24 PM   #7
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IMPROVE quality control, it's close to pathetic !!! Known issues such as frame separation (been known for several years) amongst others are well known to AS and they don't fix them, why the hell not.

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Old 08-18-2019, 03:35 PM   #8
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1-factory installed battery cut off switch
2-better batteries and inverter as standard
3-dedicated upright alcohol storage
4-pedestal tables only
5-better door locks and option for keyless entry
6-flooring that won't easily dent or be cut. (gray/black floor in our 2015 sport was excellent)
7-option for small awning on curbside like the street side one. That is super easy to deploy.
8-Positive physical cabinet door and drawer locks that are fully across the fronts to prevent opening on the road.
9-higher faucet and deeper sink in bathroom
10-easier 50 amp cord to use/with L bend to prevent stress
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Old 08-18-2019, 04:17 PM   #9
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1-factory installed battery cut off switch
I ask JC to install my battery disconnect in the battery box and they said the "law" will not allow them to do that. It would bypass the smoke and propane alarm system.
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Old 08-18-2019, 04:21 PM   #10
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Do away with sharps edges inside ALL Airstream models.
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Old 08-18-2019, 04:26 PM   #11
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I would like to see a well thought out wiring system. Maybe even harnesses and punch-down blocks. The wiring in an Airstream is so bad. Just rat's next after rat's nest. Most of the wiring is just lying on the floor or in the bottom of a cabinet.
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Old 08-19-2019, 10:15 AM   #12
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This are great suggestions Piggy Bank!
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Old 08-19-2019, 10:31 AM   #13
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Seems like making some of these changes, such as better organized wiring with punch down blocks would be pretty inexpensive from a manufacturing point of view, would boost the reputation for quality significantly, and would put Airstream WAY ahead of other RV brands in terms of the quality of build.



If I was in management at Airstream, I would be pitching these ideas to decision makers as an enormous return in reputation (ie, brand value) for a small additional cost. Having followed the forums for a while, it seems clear that there are a wealth of good thinkers and engineers among the AirForums group and I'm sure these folks would be proud for their great ideas to be incorporated into the product.
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Old 08-19-2019, 11:17 AM   #14
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We have had four new Airstreams since 2008 and quality has varied but overall ok. From 2019 FC perspective:
All aluminum chassis if it will withstand the weight on top vs roughness of the road. The smaller trailers should be easier I would think.
Flooring. Our 2019 FC has the feel of 3/8 plywood with the accompanying squeaks around edge areas in bedroom.
Temperature sensors should not be placed where a heat source will significantly affect them. I.e. next to windows, above water heater etc.
Bedroom TV should have vertical movement in order to get it out of walkway.
Door hinges should swing far enough to be out of the way especially wardrobe doors.
AC filters should be push in and pull out instead of remove screws to get to filter. Don't lose a screw or it doesn't seal well.
Shower doors dragging. We are 3 for 4 on that one. Design and have built as permanent fix.
A backing on the back of the sliding pantry so stuff won't fall in there requiring removal of the door.
Cover the many open gaps in storage areas with plexiglass. Things just fall in open areas.
Lights in upper and bottom storage cabinets/wardrobe in bedrooms.

Our last 2012 was a Classic but we went with a FC this time because it didn't appear AS has a good handle on the technology in the Classic. The switch to ALDE and, Firefly, and Czone should have had more R&D before rollout. Some dealers still cannot explain how things work.
Rear camera should have capability for more tilt outward instead of only down.

I have seen significant improvement in the under side of the body and chassis sealing gaps.
Most of the plastic faucet covers have a cheap look and feel.

I don't want anyone to think I'm complaining because we wouldn't have bought 4 if we didn't like the product.
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Old 08-19-2019, 11:53 AM   #15
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IIRC, Airstream had composite flooring in some of the Argosy lines.

My list would look something like this off the top:

Composite/long lasting sub-floor

Better fit and finish, as well as sectional quality control (it doesn't pass step 6, it doesn't go to step 7) and the person doing the QC has final say, not production manager.

Far better water testing (the water tunnel is a good start, but it can miss a good deal as folks here can attest)

Thermopane windows, better insulation, etc. It's unconscionable that a 76-100+k trailer is not a 4 season (in reality) trailer How can other RV builders do it for less of a cost than Airstream?

Better engineering (one example-- stop using double stick auto adhesive tape)!

Thicker gauge alum panels. Anything more than pea hail causes significant damage. Trailers should be able to withstand at least 1/4 sized hail or at the very least fair better. I mean in a world where the 100 year storm is every few years now, why not make a trailer that can take a bit more of what mother nature is throwing at it.

Better front protection (rock guards) that can protect the more of the front, particularly the center that gets road rash easily

The main doors HAVE to seal better.

The cross-framing should be increased to make the floor more solid. To much flexing.

Lower the model counts. There are just way too many-- 8 trailers and 5 touring coaches. Each with a few different configs. A tell tale sign of having too many models is the poor QC leaving the factory. 13 overall models, on a hand built assembly line?!

Bring back larger than 30' trailers. The 34' tri-axle is/was a beauty.

Do far better product testing ensuring quality parts go into the build. Don't settle for off the shelf parts if they don't meet criteria... that makes customers test subjects (IE: Alde, Zip Dee power awnings, countless tank sensors, etc)
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Old 08-19-2019, 11:58 AM   #16
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And just to add to Piggy Bank's list:
Offer as an option an off-road lift kit, just as many other brands already do.
Add a twin bed option to the 23FB trailer
Eliminate the 8 foot wide Bambi and Caravel 22. It's too close to the 20' and 23' trailers
Bring back the 7'-3.75 wide body from the Sport 22, but with Caravel features
Stop focusing on dinettes and offer a lounge/sofa, particularly a jack knife sofa that makes into a bed. Many gripe about the dinettes, particularly the U-dinettes
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Old 08-19-2019, 12:49 PM   #17
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Airstream improvements

Great thread to stimulate everyones brain!
The flooring idea is the best upgrade but here is some more.

I would add the need for electric stabilizing jacks to the list.
Also a trailer attached roll out electric cord for easier hookup.

Slide out for the smaller trailers for a queen bed and storage.
More usb ports.
A Levelmate Pro for every trailer.
A bluetooth camera on the trailer for hooking up to the TV. (I may add that on mine next week!)
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Old 08-19-2019, 12:52 PM   #18
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Hail Damage Protection:

Hail Damage Prevention:

Airstream and Zipdee could come up with a Hail Cover that could be set up within Seconds or Minutes. (Similar to their Funky Awning.)
It can be done.

Hail is the Airstreams worst enemy and biggest Weakness.

I would pay more for this.
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Old 08-19-2019, 03:18 PM   #19
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There was a similar thread on AA last week. My comment there is repeated here; we have a LOT of smart users and owners. Airstream should initiate a "Consumer's Panel" that meets periodically (face-to-face in JC or online) to discuss some or all of these ideas, as well as current issues. The time is ripe with a new factory, new models, more employees.
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Old 08-19-2019, 04:39 PM   #20
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1) Eliminate open area behind the toilet paper holder. Based on past posts, I am super careful when installing TP i.e. ensuring TP holder tube is firmly anchored in its bracket.
2) Switch to piano hinges (like on my bathroom door) on all doors and cupboards and get rid of those big, in-the-way European hinges that get hung up on everything.
3) Figure out how to keep the sliding cupboard doors (above sink and dinette) in the international models from sliding open during travel. I love the ease of access but hate having to tape the doors when breaking camp. (Love the lighting in cabinets though!)
4) design storage bins to custom-fit all interior storage areas.
5) my light switches for dinette, in cupboard above dinette, hall light and outside light over door and awning switches are in a terrible location. (Vertical to right of drop down counter at front door). Move them topside above kitchen counter closest to door where I can see them without having to kneel with a flashlight. Labeling them would also be brilliant.
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