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Old 06-15-2011, 10:11 AM   #57
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There was a previous post referencing our Airstream as a Lemon.
If you concede the fact that poor quality of "build" equals lemon then I will agree.
I have included just one photograph to illustrate the point, is this a design fault?, or poor build quality? Lemons can be produced by either. There is nothing inherently wrong with the design, so that leaves only the execution. Most of the other "bashers" have given similar illustrations.
We are not criticizing the product but the end result of the "build". This concern has been enumerated many times over in the Town Hall thread.
Other facets of the build relate to the quality of some of the components. A very minor example of this is fasteners. After eighteen Seasons with a vintage Safari I knew how problematic removing rusted screws could be. After getting the Classic home I was a little surprised to find that every external screw was base metal. Thirteen dollars at Home Depot solved the problem. Seems like a very insignificant concern, but is it irrational to expect more at our price point.

From the Airstream Home Page…"The Airstream philosophy has always been and will always be, Lets not make any changes - let's make only improvements!"

Another illustration was referenced as to the similarity of the boating experience to the Streaming lifestyle. I don't think the two are comparable. My boating over the years has been influenced much more by poor design than poor execution. I have gotten rid of boats because the design, ie, stability, ride comfort, performance, didn't meet my expectations, not because I was upset with the maintenance requirements. When you buy an inexpensive boat, you should realize you may need to spend more time with the upkeep, I have and I did. We don't have the inexpensive option with Airstream. Only the SOB option, and once you Stream that option just fades away.

Our "new" boat was purchased used in 09, considerable research done before buying. I was very impressed when I visited the factory in Louisville Tenn. Even more so when I read the mission statement.
We must take into consideration that AS production is a lot more than the 200 or so boats Allison builds per year. The physical plant and production procedures are in no way transferable, but the care and pride of build can, and should be.

"Allison Boats and our Spirit of Excellence"
"Each Allison boat is the end product of a unique and uncompromising synthesis of design, materials, and craftsmanship. Our totally new designs are developed to exceed standards of past models.

There is the endless process of testing, changing, and retesting. Efficiency, including unsurpassed fuel mileage, maximum strength with minimum weight, smooth and dry ride, more speed with smaller horsepower is a top priority.

The use of exceptional materials and quality craftsmanship, as well as advanced technology in construction, makes Allison the choice for a new sport, fishing or race boat.

Innovative techniques and inventions that are years ahead of the competition provide long term durability. Hand fitment of virtually every part of structure, superstructure, and each accessory assures the absolute highest quality boat available at any price.

Only Allison takes the care to design, engineer, and craft from the finest materials available a boat that will last your lifetime."
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Old 06-15-2011, 10:35 AM   #58
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I think the basic design of the Airstreams contributes a little to the unhappiness some folks feel when they encounter less than perfect execution and attention to detail in the manufacture. Airstreams look so good that you naturally have high expectations that anything that handsome must be of a piece and perfect in all the other details. I have a '78 Excella which I spend time maintaining, but which is basically sound with good quality original equipment. My goal has been to keep everything functional and to improve and upgrade to do justice to the overall design. That said, I believe folks are justified in complaining when they encounter shoddy workmanship. Airstream has no real competition for their particular type of product and that works against them as it does with any sort of monopoly. I think they could do better if they had to, without going out of business due to production costs, but they probably wont if they can avoid it. Kinda typical for modern day manufacturing.
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Old 06-15-2011, 12:15 PM   #59
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It is true that Airstream has no competition in this style trailer, but Thor Industries, the owner of Airstream, does have competition. But their products generally are average or below. The reason, I believe, is merciless cost cutting.

American corporations are obsessed with making quarterly numbers to show Wall St. they are always getting bigger and making more profits. In a mature industry it is impossible to significantly increase your numbers without cutting employees, hiring lower paid and less capable employees, and using cheaper and cheaper components. You could cut compensation for top executives and board members, but that doesn't seem to occur to anyone. This death of a thousand cuts to product begins to show after a while.

Bob's photo above shows one of the soil stacks (I think, I've never been on top of his trailer)—these are the vents for the black and grey tanks. For years they have been installed badly, didn't fit right and are so cheap they crack, most often in less than 2 years. You may not notice the leaks because they drip down the outside of the pipe, but inside the walls they can cause havoc. Despite the many complaints about this item, Airstream has kept doing the same thing for year after year (definition of insanity). By the time our Safari was built, it appears someone at the factory got the idea to slather more and more sealant around these things. It may work; our vent covers have not caused any problems. It sure looks sloppy and is the type of solution you use when the workers can't learn how to do it right and just tell them to put a lot more on. The original problem is the wrong sized part, a cheap part and poor workmanship. This type of problem happens a lot. If you crawl around on your roof you may see sealant slavered on all the things that pierce the roof—what you will not see is sealant used carefully. And despite all the sealant, both our fans and our skylight leaked. We have also had leaks in our front and rear panos and one Vista View window.

Investors look for capital gains—buy stocks that rise quickly, then sell. Dividends are low and it is hard to live on investments for retired people if you rely on dividends. Other investors go for capital gains too. So companies like Thor have to keep their stock price going up and up. This means not investing in good employees, not investing in automation, not investing in innovation, and other cost cutting. It means for many companies buying back company stock to raise prices, a tactic that often does not work, but remains popular. Buying back stock leaves less money to invest in products and paying in dividends. For these decisions executives pay themselves tens of millions of dollars per year—do you see something wrong here? And don't forget part of their compensation is stock, so they want capital gains too.

There is another problem at Airstream. They have a real problem with change. The Service Center repairs trailers and has a pretty good reputation. The SC should know what design doesn't work, where there is poor workmanship and what parts are junk. I was told when I was last at JC they do have a committee with representatives from the SC and factory so this information can be passed on. I know people in JC follow the Forum to gather information (among other things). But the factory doesn't listen. Complacency? Bad leadership? I was also told they have QC people and I may have laughed when I was told that. When you have put in place QC engineers and committees to facilitate communication, but everyone knows the pressure from above is to cut costs, that pressure cancels out any committees or QC efforts.

A couple of years ago Airstream agreed to a place on this Forum to hear complaints and suggestions. That's the Town Hall Bob referred to. Airstream president Bob Wheeler participated. The outpouring may have shocked Airstream because they did not respond all that well and eventually closed the thread. Airstream used to go through PR people very fast and another one got fired—the Town Hall was probably that person's idea. I hope the results have been positive for newer owners and the product has been improved.

When stock price trumps everything, product suffers. Eventually sales drop and the executives move on and wreak havoc somewhere else. Some countries have reputations for superior products and they start exporting to the US. Those companies may get complacent and another country's companies take their place. Remember when RCA made the best TV's? That was in the 1940's and '50's. Later it was Sony, but Sony's time has passed and a few weeks ago we bought a Samsung TV. South Korea's companies are starting to do to Japan what Japan did to us—look at what is happening with Hyundai vs. Toyota.

Airstream does have US competitors who make innovative trailers, some clad in aluminum I believe. Their external design is unusual and appears to have a good coefficient of drag, maybe better than Airstream's. I just learned from a thread (maybe this one) that Germans make RV's. Airstream cannot be complacent or someday everyone who wants one will have a 40 year old trailer.

Gene
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Old 06-15-2011, 12:20 PM   #60
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Dang it, I'm a newbie AS owner. and now I'm depressed.

I KNEW this was gonna happen.
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Old 06-15-2011, 12:22 PM   #61
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Gringo, start drinking now. Tomorrow the hangover will make you forget about it.

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Old 06-15-2011, 12:24 PM   #62
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Nah, I gave up drinking years ago. I kept breaking out in handcuffs.

hey what kind of pills they giving out for depression these days?
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Old 06-15-2011, 12:39 PM   #63
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Yeah we have a new one on order and reading threads like this is a little nauseating for sure. It's our second AS and we know not to expect perfection even though we're paying premium price.

It's funny cause I'm not a fan of buying new but we are such AS fans that we knew exactly what we wanted when we saw a similar model. We also plan to full time in the future and know this AS will accommodate us so well, truly our dream home on wheels.

Other than a massive class A, the maintenance on those scares me to death, there was no other option for us.

Our delivery inspection will take all day. We plan to go over every inch of the AS and test every system before signing the paperwork. Also we will keep a running list of everything that goes wrong, no matter how big or small during the warranty period.

Wish us luck!
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Old 06-15-2011, 01:04 PM   #64
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It's the intelligent, reasoned, evidence-based posts like CrawfordGene's that keep me interested in this forum. Those relatively new to the forum may not know that the Airstreams sold here in Europe are of far higher specification than those sold in the USA. For example, they have galvanized frames and a 48 mm thick honeycomb sandwich non-absorbent floor, thereby eliminating the main causes of serious long-term deterioration in USA Airstreams. I have asked Airstream why the USA trailers are not similarly produced. I could not understand the reply. I believe the true answer lies in CrawfordGene's posts.
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Old 06-15-2011, 01:53 PM   #65
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The love of money is the root of all evil.....

or something to that effect.
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Old 06-15-2011, 01:56 PM   #66
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Nick, thanks for the compliment. You really need to increase your standards.

Canadian standards are also higher than US ones. You can order an Airstream built to Canadian standards, but special orders usually cost more. You could buy in Canada, or better yet, find a used one built to Canadian standards that is well kept. On some things, they do know how to make them better, but only do so because of government regulations and when their reputation suffers. Companies are still learning of the impact of the internet on reputation. The US is a hard country to get regulations passed that protect consumers.

The story of QC and other issues is a long one. Threads about that go back to the beginning of this Forum. Some people decided not to buy Airstreams, or at least new ones, a couple of years ago because of complaints. Ten or twenty posted as much on one thread; figuring all the people who never or hardly ever post, but read threads, that meant scores and scores of lost sales. This was during the beginning of the big drop in RV sales (gas prices, then Great Recession) about 3 years ago, and that may have gotten the company's attention too. At the worst, annual sales dropped from more than 2,000 (2,400?) to around 700. it is possible when they were producing far more trailers, they didn't have good, experienced, well trained and well supervised workers and when they fired workers, maybe they ended up with the best ones. I believe half of the employees in the factory were let go.

Curious, I have asked on a couple of threads whether they are making them better now. There have been no responses. There are subforums on individual models and they were full of complaints in 2008 and before. Just looking at a few of the FC threads from 2009-11, I don't see the volume of problems that were experienced from 2008 back.

Maybe someone would like to read all the subforums and prepare a research paper. My hope is newbies have less to worry about than Bob and I and others who bought earlier in the last decade. You can look over the complaint threads and learn what to look for and how to fix it once your warranty runs out.

As mutcth points out in #40, perspective is important. People love their kids, spouses, dogs and friends, but none are perfect and all can improve.

Gene
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Old 06-15-2011, 02:31 PM   #67
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In another age, (thirty years ago, when living in Dallas), the 1980's were just upon us, and my business was doing relatively well.

We purchased a lake house an hour away from the city. We researched the house (the neighbor told us the previous owner built it himself with TLC), so we knew we were making a somewhat well reasoned buying decision. Our family was young (boy was seven and daughter was nine) and our familiy "grew up" for the eight years we owned it.

Looking back, it was an excellent decision as my adult children reminisce over the great times we all had at the lake house. AND part of that remembrance includes the stories of how Dad spent a good part of every weekend fixing this or that.

I look at our new AS (a little over a month old now) as another "lake house" type experience, although this geezer will get a two year grace period (warranty) before the honey do's begin.

My point? Ownership of any extracurricular activity (be it trailer, second house, etc.) should only be looked at, as a journey in which you collect special memories. And hopefully, they are good ones…the best type of investments one can make!

Nothing more. Nothing less.
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Old 06-15-2011, 03:59 PM   #68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrawfordGene View Post
Nick, thanks for the compliment. You really need to increase your standards.

Canadian standards are also higher than US ones. You can order an Airstream built to Canadian standards, but special orders usually cost more. You could buy in Canada, or better yet, find a used one built to Canadian standards that is well kept. On some things, they do know how to make them better, but only do so because of government regulations and when their reputation suffers. Companies are still learning of the impact of the internet on reputation. The US is a hard country to get regulations passed that protect consumers.

The story of QC and other issues is a long one. Threads about that go back to the beginning of this Forum. Some people decided not to buy Airstreams, or at least new ones, a couple of years ago because of complaints. Ten or twenty posted as much on one thread; figuring all the people who never or hardly ever post, but read threads, that meant scores and scores of lost sales. This was during the beginning of the big drop in RV sales (gas prices, then Great Recession) about 3 years ago, and that may have gotten the company's attention too. At the worst, annual sales dropped from more than 2,000 (2,400?) to around 700. it is possible when they were producing far more trailers, they didn't have good, experienced, well trained and well supervised workers and when they fired workers, maybe they ended up with the best ones. I believe half of the employees in the factory were let go.

Curious, I have asked on a couple of threads whether they are making them better now. There have been no responses. There are subforums on individual models and they were full of complaints in 2008 and before. Just looking at a few of the FC threads from 2009-11, I don't see the volume of problems that were experienced from 2008 back.

Maybe someone would like to read all the subforums and prepare a research paper. My hope is newbies have less to worry about than Bob and I and others who bought earlier in the last decade. You can look over the complaint threads and learn what to look for and how to fix it once your warranty runs out.

As mutcth points out in #40, perspective is important. People love their kids, spouses, dogs and friends, but none are perfect and all can improve.

Gene
"Canadian standards are also higher than US ones. You can order an Airstream built to Canadian standards, but special orders usually cost more."

Interesting...never heard that? What are some of the differences between the US and CAN models?
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Old 06-15-2011, 04:02 PM   #69
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The poor quality of ALL brands of travel trailers is, IMHO, a function of the fact that, to my knowledge, the Japanese have never started making them. U.S. car makers didn't get serious about quality until Honda and other Asian carmakers entered the U.S. market. My 2010 F150, purchased new in October, has had not a single problem and I can't say that about the new vehicles I purchased 25 years ago.
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Old 06-15-2011, 04:12 PM   #70
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Interesting...never heard that? What are some of the differences between the US and CAN models?

Hockey sticks and Molson's.... aye.
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