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Old 06-08-2012, 07:32 AM   #113
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Originally Posted by ROBERT CROSS
"I am surprised and thankful it still exists. It is kind of like buying a modernized 50's Ford. I think we forget (or never knew) just how bad those cars were, at least compared to modern autos."

Bruce,

I resemble that remark.

Bob
That is a beauty Bob!
She yours? Now I understand your Airstream disease a little better....
Bruce
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Old 06-08-2012, 07:55 AM   #114
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That is a beauty Bob!
She yours? Now I understand your Airstream disease a little better....
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Actually it belonged to the DW's Maternal Grandmother, so it's been in the Family since new, original un-restored. We are now the custodians.

It's good to have varied addictions.

Bob
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Old 06-08-2012, 08:05 AM   #115
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Actually it belonged to the DW's Maternal Grandmother, so it's been in the Family since new, original un-restored. We are now the custodians.

It's good to have varied addictions.

Bob
That is just way too cool! Keep her well and enjoy her. I love cars that have a known history.
Thanks,
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p.s. I hope she forgives me for my comments comparing her to modern autos....
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Old 06-08-2012, 08:43 AM   #116
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:7(

Sorry to see you leaving us.

Really enjoyed reading your posts and luved your cool combo.
Thanks, our combo was quite the head-turner

Safe travels...see you on down the road!
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Old 06-08-2012, 08:52 AM   #117
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I don't think it is easy for Airstream to secure dealers. A couple of years ago someone on the Forum said Airstream had stopped financing the trailers for the dealers. It was hard for dealers to get financing elsewhere. I don't remember who posted that, but I did notice when in Denver, the big dealer there had very few on their lot. In the past they had 10 or more. Last time I drove past there, earlier this year, they had 4 or 5 in view and in the past (2007) they had about the same number in back.

Airstream is not a big seller. They may be in the area of 1,400 sales/year, but even if twice that, when you divide it up, how many dealers could make it a major offering? You don't see many Ferrari or Lotus dealerships either. As long as Airstream is a small player, there can't be many dealers.

But that is no excuse for badly performing dealers.

At the risk of insulting Bob's wife's family Ford, I think Bruce was onto something. There is a difference between tinkering with an old design and a complete redesign. Keep the idea of wheels and a box with rounded off corners, but question everything, look at it as if you know nothing about the original, and kick the people out of the room who say things like "we tried that in 1974 and it didn't work". Airstream needs that kick in the pants, but unlikely it will get it in the foreseeable future.

That old Ford is well kept and pretty in its own way, but would you go back to those cars compared to the improvements made since?

Gene
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Old 06-08-2012, 09:29 AM   #118
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Reading this thread would scare me about buying an Airstream .

We purchased a new Classic 30 in 2005. Before buying I had done a lot of reading on various RV forums and was aware that all RV manufactures had quality problems. (At the time there were many complaints about Fleetwood.) But I figured that with a two year warranty I would get whatever needed to be fixed free of charge. The key was to make sure the work was done correctly.

We had no major issues; just a few minor issues.

When we purchased or second Airstream I guess I was naive as I bought it sight unseen form a dealer in Arkansas. I had a problem with the disc brakes but fixed under warranty; some other minor issues.

I came to the conclusion from my reading various RV forums that ALL RV manufacturers have quality issues. This includes Prevost; I read where one caught fire on it's first time out.

So I started with an expectation that there would be issues but they would be correctly fixed under warranty. That has been the situation in my case.

I also realize that over time all RVs are going to have mechanical issues. Airstream recommends that all seams be inspected every five years and repaired where necessary.

RVs will never be built to the quality tolerances of a car because RVs will never have the volumes to justify the automation needed to achieve those tolerances. Even then I have had warranty work done on my cars.

Airstreams are hand built; always will be because of the low volume. As others have said, the key is being able to get the service work done correctly and timely.
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Old 06-08-2012, 09:44 AM   #119
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I don't think it is easy for Airstream to secure dealers. A couple of years ago someone on the Forum said Airstream had stopped financing the trailers for the dealers. It was hard for dealers to get financing elsewhere. I don't remember who posted that, but I did notice when in Denver, the big dealer there had very few on their lot. In the past they had 10 or more. Last time I drove past there, earlier this year, they had 4 or 5 in view and in the past (2007) they had about the same number in back.

Airstream is not a big seller. They may be in the area of 1,400 sales/year, but even if twice that, when you divide it up, how many dealers could make it a major offering? You don't see many Ferrari or Lotus dealerships either. As long as Airstream is a small player, there can't be many dealers.

But that is no excuse for badly performing dealers.

At the risk of insulting Bob's wife's family Ford, I think Bruce was onto something. There is a difference between tinkering with an old design and a complete redesign. Keep the idea of wheels and a box with rounded off corners, but question everything, look at it as if you know nothing about the original, and kick the people out of the room who say things like "we tried that in 1974 and it didn't work". Airstream needs that kick in the pants, but unlikely it will get it in the foreseeable future.

That old Ford is well kept and pretty in its own way, but would you go back to those cars compared to the improvements made since?

Gene
Gene,
A couple of quick comments before I go back to work...
I know that in Motorcycle/Scooter world, the boating world and in the Automotive world many dealers use GE Finance to floor-plan their inventory. In early 2009 GE tightened up the money supply. There was a lot of that going on in those days.... I am guessing that all industries got hit to some degree, Airstream included.

I agree with the statement about bad dealers. In general bad dealers of luxury items do not hang around long. Customers spending hard earned money for luxury things demand service. Dealers that don't comply.... well you know!

As for Airstream's market share, I think that the funkiness is what attracted me to my Bambi in the first place. It might be interesting to see a new design but I'd be attracted to the old style myself anyway. I think of my Airstream as having soul and I like that! As much as I enjoyed my 2004 MINI it was not a vehicle with a lot of Soul. The original MINI's however had lots! There is no question an Airstream is not for everybody. Cost to own and some of the challenges of getting the trailer sorted put them out of the reach of many. I am sure that Airstream is very aware of the challenges associated with its products. They gave every indication (at the feedback forum at Alumapalooza) that they are constantly trying to address what owners see as shortfalls. They sounded very credible to me!
Remember too that many of have very good experiences with our purchases!
Mt critiques are in the nit picking category.

I just hope they continue to refine and produce what I believe is the worlds coolest trailer.

Bruce
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Old 06-08-2012, 10:00 AM   #120
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There is an assumption here that Airstream is building lousy trailers. We have bought a new 2007 Airstream, and liked it so we bought a larger 2012 Airstream. The first one was virtually trouble-free and a high-quality unit, the new one is more beautifully designed and finished. I have looked at many RVs, my impression is they are at the top of the heap and improving, nothing comes close in towing, design, styling, build, and pride of ownership no matter its age.

Corrosion and leaks will happen, as in all RVs. It's a matter of inspection and maintenance right from the get-go; the day you bring it home treat it for corrosion and inspect for leaks. You can only inspect for subfloor leaks by probing through the vinyl into the subfloor (at the edges where leaks happen) with a moisture detection meter. I found dampness below the door hinge (loosened after 6 months living in it) only with a meter.

The reality is you can blame the company, the dealer, and a full moon but its up to you to get things fixed while under warranty, then maintain your trailer, your house or your old Ford if you want a lifetime of use from it. No one does it better than Robert Cross, we can learn much from him.

There are lemon Airstreams and dealers out there, but certainly not all.

doug k
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Old 06-08-2012, 10:02 AM   #121
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Old 06-08-2012, 10:43 AM   #122
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As for Airstream's market share, I think that the funkiness is what attracted me to my Bambi in the first place. It might be interesting to see a new design but I'd be attracted to the old style myself anyway. I think of my Airstream as having soul and I like that! As much as I enjoyed my 2004 MINI it was not a vehicle with a lot of Soul. The original MINI's however had lots! There is no question an Airstream is not for everybody. Cost to own and some of the challenges of getting the trailer sorted put them out of the reach of many. I am sure that Airstream is very aware of the challenges associated with its products. They gave every indication (at the feedback forum at Alumapalooza) that they are constantly trying to address what owners see as shortfalls. They sounded very credible to me!
Remember too that many of have very good experiences with our purchases!
Mt critiques are in the nit picking category.
Bruce, I'm by no means unhappy overall, but I think the flooring and the plastic roof items could be addressed by Airstream without altering the character of the trailer one bit. In my case I'm on my third skylight. I've seen disposable plastic cups with more UV resistance than the factory skylight. This should have been abundantly clear to Airstream as early as 2006, if not earlier. Their program to identify these problem areas is grossly inadequate.

As for the floor, this is 2012. At least offer a very rot resistant or rot proof floor as an option. Looking at the design of these trailers, how can these floors not get wet during their lifespan? Buying an Airstream I gratefully gave up wood walls and ceilings. Lets go all the way. Get it done Airstream!

These two areas would go a long ways to improving the owner experience. Disclose filiform corrosion as a nature of the beast, fix the plastics and the floors, and cut half the major complaints on this forum. Fix the dealers and cut another quarter.
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Old 06-08-2012, 11:08 AM   #123
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Bruce, I'm by no means unhappy overall, but I think the flooring and the plastic roof items could be addressed by Airstream without altering the character of the trailer one bit. In my case I'm on my third skylight. I've seen disposable plastic cups with more UV resistance than the factory skylight. This should have been abundantly clear to Airstream as early as 2006, if not earlier. Their program to identify these problem areas is grossly inadequate.

As for the floor, this is 2012. At least offer a very rot resistant or rot proof floor as an option. Looking at the design of these trailers, how can these floors not get wet during their lifespan? Buying an Airstream I gratefully gave up wood walls and ceilings. Lets go all the way. Get it done Airstream!

These two areas would go a long ways to improving the owner experience. Disclose filiform corrosion as a nature of the beast, fix the plastics and the floors, and cut half the major complaints on this forum. Fix the dealers and cut another quarter.
One of the suggestions I made at the owner feedback session was that Airstream provide a venue for owners to make suggestions about the product directly.

I believe that the current flooring is pretty good. It is a marine grade plywood at least....

I love our Airstream!

Bruce
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Old 06-08-2012, 11:14 AM   #124
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It probably is good plywood. But look at post after post of photos of rotten floors in late model trailers with this plywood. I've seen some here in southern CA where we have dry climate. The floor is literally black with rot. I'm very careful about watching mine for first signs of leaks (and I wish I didn't have to be so careful). But not everybody can be as thorough, with remote storage, busy lives etc. The product needs to be suitable for typical use. Its definitely a weak point.
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Old 06-08-2012, 11:16 AM   #125
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Gene,
A couple of quick comments before I go back to work...
I know that in Motorcycle/Scooter world, the boating world and in the Automotive world many dealers use GE Finance to floor-plan their inventory. In early 2009 GE tightened up the money supply.…

I agree with the statement about bad dealers. In general bad dealers of luxury items do not hang around long. Customers spending hard earned money for luxury things demand service. Dealers that don't comply.... well you know!

It might be interesting to see a new design but I'd be attracted to the old style myself anyway. I think of my Airstream as having soul and I like that! ….

They gave every indication (at the feedback forum at Alumapalooza) that they are constantly trying to address what owners see as shortfalls. They sounded very credible to me!

I just hope they continue to refine and produce what I believe is the worlds coolest trailer.

Bruce
Bruce, I don't know whether Airstream had an agreement with GE Finance. Thor was cash rich going into the Great Recession and was able to lend $20 M to Camping World, so Thor may have done the financing. I was under the impression that the largest auto companies financed dealer purchases because it was pretty lucrative and helps move inventory. Whatever the source of money, financing money dried up, slowly loosened after a few years, and is now drying up in Europe again. Whether the contagion spreads here is still up in the air.

Some bad dealers live on. Maybe Airstream cannot recruit dealers easily and maybe they are incompetent in doing so. In one case, a long standing personal relationship between a dealership owner and a Thor executive protects a bad dealership. It is nice to be nice to your friends, but if it hurts the company, that is a conflict of interest. With few dealers nationally, there is little competition to enforce high standards. Thus, it is up to the company and they aren't doing it.

You may have misinterpreted me on design. Like just about everyone on this Forum, we are entranced by the cool factor. But things like thermopane windows, better brakes, proper seals for all seams and penetrations, state of the art insulation, need to be addressed. Airstream seems to have 3 styles—

1. Old Aluminum—interior walls, but other finishes are cheap looking—Formica covered walls and cabinets are practical, but don't match the aluminum exterior walls. The puck and reading lights look great, but it took years before a dimmer was included. And by including cheap RV fixtures in some places (in ours, over dinette table, kitchen counter, bathroom, etc.) you ruin the look. The bedspread was out of the 1950's. But this is what we have in an '08 Safari SE. Of all the styles this was the best for us. I continually think about painting the partitions. To me this style embodies what Wally was trying to do—modern for the 30's and 40's and practical. Inspired by the same design that made aircraft so appealing and practical as a sturdy and lasting structure.

2. Modernistic—the Internationals seem to be where this style is concentrated with translucent cabinet doors and plastic looking cabinets. I think some have aluminum exterior walls like the SE too. The fabric used has some more contemporary designs. I know a lot of people like this, but it appeared too cold for us and those cabinet door sliders can bite fingers (ask me how I know).

3. 1950's—Classics seem to have this. Dark wood, flouncy decor, heavy feeling. A 1950's Ford is more attractive than this to me.

I'm sure this can be better defined, but this is a start. Does each of these have unity of design in a particular group? For ours the answer is no. Have they maximized the design possibilities? I think not. The Old Aluminum could use Art Deco principles to provide unity. I must admit the improvements to ours that we have done have not been done that way.

Beyond looks, the hidden things matter. Some of this I already stated, but there are more. I am glad they are listening at Alumapalooza. I spent 1 1/2 hours with Bob Wheeler several years ago bending his ear. He appeared sincere and wrote a lot of things down. But were they adopted? I haven't bought a newer trailer, so I can't say. But are the water pumps now mounted so the filter can be accessed from the door, or are they still mounted so the filter is hidden in a mass of wires and tubing? Turning them around would also make it much easier to add a bypass kit. Are they mounted on rubber to quiet them? He wrote those things down, but was anything done? I gave many more suggestions, but I can't remember which ones.

Tires were a big item at Alumapalooza, but tire problems have been known for years. Airstream started offering 16" wheels and LT tires as an option 3 or 4 years ago—I think it started only if you brought your trailer there for service and only with Goodyear LT tires. Then they added Michelins after they told me they couldn't. Why don't they just make this original equipment?

Follow up is hard. Who has the time or resources to see if they are adopting things they say interest them at individual encounters or Alumapalooza?

It seems most of the ideas and suggestions come from owners, not from within. And it seems there are people within who are stopping change because they don't like change, fear costs or are shortsighted.

So the basic design is timeless. Wally had it right. After his death, the company was sold to Beatrice Foods and quality slipped a lot. Then Thor was founded and bought Airstream. Quality improved, but Wally's idea to constantly improve and innovate has been weakened and maybe lost. It seems there may be roughly equal forces in administration that are pulling different ways—no change, cut, cut cut costs—and innovators who see long term. So things move ever so slowly and many people who would have bought Airstreams, read about the problems, and go elsewhere. These kind of conflicts are common in corporations or any human institutions. I have no idea whether Wheeler is trying to manage this conflict, or is on one side or the other. His job is dependent on Thor's leaders and he has to do what he can without losing their support, so blaming Wheeler for everything isn't fair.

Gene
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Old 06-08-2012, 11:24 AM   #126
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Subfloors have been an issue for a very long time. The following is what is being used now. I don't know when they started using this, but it is not marine plywood as I understand it.

The problem is not just the subfloors, but that they are not sealing the trailers accordng to modern principles.

Gene

"Plywood Flooring—Travel Trailers
Airstream currently uses plywood flooring on all products.
The flooring is Sturd-I-Floor (APA), Exposure 1, with WPB (water and boil proof) type bonding adhesive.
The flooring is 19/32” (5/8”), tongue and groove.

"Bond Classification
Exposure 1 panels have a fully waterproof bond, WPB (weather and boil proof), and are designed for applications where long construction delays may be expected prior to providing protection, or where high moisture conditions may been countered in service. Exposure 1 panels are made with the same exterior adhesives used in exterior panels. However, because other compositional factors may affect bond performance, only exterior panels should be used for permanent
exposure to the weather.

"Plywood Glue Bond: Durability Classification
· All APA trademarked plywood has a 100% fully waterproof glue line.

"American Plywood Panel Bond Durability Classification
Exposure 1 Plywood manufactured with the same fully waterproof glue as used in Exterior plywood, these panels should only be used in applications where their ability to resist moisture and weather during long construction delays is required prior to them being protected.

"Summary— Exposure 1 rated plywood uses the same bonding adhesive as exterior plywood. Exposure 1plywood is designed to use in humid conditions and will tolerate getting wet for prolonged periods of time."
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