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Old 07-04-2016, 09:59 AM   #15
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2015 30' FB FC Bunk
2013 27' Flying Cloud
Vancouver , Washington
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QC Issues

We had a 2013 27' Flying Cloud that we dearly loved. No major problems with it at all. Not even very many minor problems. I think the Dealer did a pretty thorough job prepping it before we took possession.

We traded up to a 2015 30' Flying Cloud Bunk model and it was a slightly different story.
While the only major problem was the water pump going out, it seems sometimes like a never ending litany of small problems. Loose hinges, weak drawer closures, electrical issues, etc. Nothing to dampen our love of our AS, only slight irritations.

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Old 07-04-2016, 10:17 AM   #16
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"Quality control" or "quality assurance" or whatever you want to call it has been a problem in the RV industry for many years. Part of the problem is a lack of competition. Part of the problem is that those who buy new coaches don't really do their due diligence when it comes to buying. Part of the problem is the dealer system.

Lack of competition? How many travel trailers are NOT made by Thor or Forest River? Not many. Thor owns Airstream and just recently bought Jayco. Trying to decide between an Airstream and an Open Range? Thor doesn't care which one you pick because they own both brands.

Due diligence? How many Airstream owners bought their coaches solely on the basis of stories of Airstream's high quality 30 years ago? I don't know if the quality of the coaches coming off the line today (well, tomorrow) is as good as it was 30 years ago. I suspect that today's coaches are rushed through a little bit faster than they were back then and that is likely to result in somewhat lower quality. Airstream is, by all accounts, selling everything they can build, and I don't hear about many of those being returned. Most brands are selling for 65-75% of MSRP, while Airstreams are selling for more like 85-90% of MSRP. If the others are making a profit then it seems that Airstream is making plenty. I don't know if that extra profit is at the dealer or factory level, and it really doesn't matter. Whoever is making that extra money should be making sure that the coach is perfect BEFORE it leaves their custody.

Dealer system? How many dealerships are only one brand? Dealers don't want to fix the factory's errors. If they see too many expensive problems with one brand they simply steer their customers to another brand. If a dealer makes enough on an Airstream sale he may be willing to spend some of that on fixing things, but he would rather wait until the customer files a warranty claim and then have the factory pay for it.

I'm still wanting to buy a used Airstream, but I also understand that I'm buying a used coach that will have some problems. It is my job, as a buyer, to make sure that the coach I buy is as good as it can be, and anything I find wrong is mine to fix. Should I happen to inherit a huge sum (not going to happen) and I would decide to buy a new Airstream I would expect that someone would go over the coach and fix anything wrong before I take possession of the coach.

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Old 07-04-2016, 10:41 AM   #17
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AS quality control

I built my own trailer from the bare shell, and I have some quality control issues as some here would describe them.

Some of my "blemishes" I account to character, others I fix in their due time. There are always compromises, and there are always times when I say "why didn't I do that differently". (Every night I look at a vent cover I got a little crooked, it bugs me, but not so much that I have fixed it yet )

The short answer is there will always be QC issues with any product. Some buyers will get more than their share, and some less all to differing degrees.

There is some consideration that a buyer should expect more quality from a product that commands a premium price tag, but a lot of this premium goes into the production of a trailer skin that is much more expensive to make, and a lot more durable than more traditional boxes that will have about a ten year practical lifespan.

Would I pay $130,000 for a camp trailer? Lol, no way. But if I were too do so I would prepare myself to take the good with the bad, and I would understand that the more complex the beast, the more issues that there will be.

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Old 07-04-2016, 10:46 AM   #18
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I've had no problems. Only thing we've done is adjust the door.
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Old 07-04-2016, 11:01 AM   #19
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AS quality control

As far as I know all travel trailers are hand made. There are no robots or automated equipment in the factories.
They are all assembled by men and women, one screw, staple or rivet at a time.
I chose to spend less money to have the same "issues".
We own a '74 Argosy 26'. I have put a lot of work and money into this rig. When I read here that people with units no older than 5 years are having the same problems as I found on my 42 year old coach I wonder what has changed at A$. Not much!
They still have problems with water entering on the rear above the storage compartment ahead of the bumper. They still have problems with water in the belly pan causing the frames to rot away and holding tanks falling out. Have they not heard of drains and ventilation?
For the price of an A$ I could buy a new SOB every 5 years and be ahead of the game because most new units come with at least a 1 year warranty.
But I have always been one to drive a Toyota and not a Lexus.
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Old 07-04-2016, 11:58 AM   #20
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We've had two new Airstreams, both excellent. Our 2012 was delivered with no defects fresh from the factory, assembled beautifully, and has had nothing come loose, no failure of original equipment and no corrosion anywhere in nearly five years of extensive travel, over 1,000 nights camping.

We tow it with a softly sprung 1/2 ton truck, connected with flexible w.d. bars, do not carry excessive loads, and inspect, maintain, and treat it with corrosion preventive products on a routine schedule.
Doug and Cheryl
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Old 07-04-2016, 12:04 PM   #21
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The fact that some owners have all sorts of issues and some have none points to a lack of QC. You don't see Toyota Camry owners with vastly varying experiences.

My initial thought was that QC went down after Wally Byam passed. Then I saw photos of the frame on some 60's trailers and I'm now thinking QC has always been lacking. I consider Wally Byam a marketing genius (at the same level as Steve Jobs). He made a beautiful shiny trailer with various glaring design flaws into an icon. The frame issues showed up in early 70's after gray water tanks were added. Over 40 years has passed and the issue still persists. We still have dozens of threads on whether/how to use a bike rack safely. Everyone knows what the problem is. No one cares to fix it. Why would they fix the problems when people not only will buy it at a ridiculous price, but are also willing to defend the company?
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Old 07-04-2016, 12:18 PM   #22
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We have carried two bikes on the Airstream Fiamma bike rack on the rear of our Airstream for several years, all over the country many times with no issues whatsoever.
Doug and Cheryl
2012 FC RB, Michelin 16, ProPride 1400
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Old 07-04-2016, 12:21 PM   #23
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I think one big difference is Automobiles these days are built almost entirely by robots controlled by highly sophisticated computers with all tolerances being constantly being checked by lasers. If cars were built by hand customer satisfaction would not be nearly as high. Part of the ongoing Airstream factory updates is the use of more automated assembly techniques.
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Old 07-04-2016, 12:46 PM   #24
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AS quality control

And they are built in the tens and hundreds of thousands per model per year at a labor cost per unit of a fraction of what a trailer can be made.

Comparing a high volume car QC to a low volume trailer is not even within the realm.

And while it is true that all trailers are built pretty much by hand, it is also true that many box trailers are built in jigs utilizing component construction.

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The fact that I am opinionated does not presuppose that I am wrong......

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Old 07-04-2016, 12:55 PM   #25
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AS quality control

Any time you have a low production, high model and size mix, it's a QA challenge among other things.

That said, our AS only had a few minor issues, like the rear bumper leak, which a repair facility fixed for free when they were doing maintenance. The inadequate solar pre-wire we ignored when we installed an AM Solar kit. The rest of it is small potatoes. Tightening screws and maintaining batteries is no biggie.

All we mostly do is just improve things...PP hitch, better batteries and charger, on demand hot water, Ham radio gear, etc.

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Old 07-05-2016, 12:08 AM   #26
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We have a 2016 Flying Cloud deliver last July 16th. So far 7500 miles on the road & 99.9 percent perfect. Great trailer, no issues, very happy!
BTW, some people just like to complain so filter them in your quality control assessment.
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Old 07-05-2016, 05:16 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by kapt59 View Post
I was interested if all of you would care to comment on what your opinion is of the factories quality control on new rigs. Good, bad or otherwise?

It seems only after you have had you rig a short while you begin to notice items that don't seem right?

Or perhaps the opposite, it is truly perfect?

What has your experience been in your first 6 months or so? What have you noticed that you would say slipped by the QC process? Or perhaps you don't have any?

My $0.02 - it's fair but inconsistent. I believe I've read that you have one of the new 26U models and have had your FW tank seemingly disconnect and warp your belly pan. That would be disheartening for sure!

Others might end up "luckier" with far fewer, far less serious failures.

My (then new) 2012 27FB Flying Cloud was apparently one of the luckier ones. I've had a few minor things go wrong, all fixed under warranty (which is why I bought new) but generally it's been somewhat trouble free.

When I was having some custom work done in 2014 (before the factory expansion) the tour I took was fascinating but a little concerning. Very little demonstration of modern manufacturing tools and techniques. I failed to take the tour this year (back again for more custom work) so I don't know if that has improved as production has increased. But either way, the inconsistency is just frustrating and inexcusable. They still are great trailers and I love mine - it's just not right that "Sally" can buy one that's trouble free and "Johnny" can buy one that's a lemon, and "Frankie" gets one that's ok but has 100 missed minor errors in production.

And on that last point, I strongly disagree with the notion that the dealer "owns" getting it right before you buy. That just reinforces bad behavior in production. You get one chance to build quality in to a product. Perhaps a better use of a full inspection and dealer prep would be to create your discount sheet. Not just free warranty repairs but a disconnected FW tank is repaired for free and worth a 2% discount on purchase price. Leaky window earns a point. Each missed rivet is a $100 discount. Failed electrical connection a 5% discount, etc.

Finally - the view in the forums is skewed. It's human nature to raise issues more than to praise what's working. Especially in forums like this where you can come to get advice. We are also a small subset of the total AS population. Let's say they build 60/week * 50 weeks that's 3000 units a year. Since I've been on the forums, AS has added nearly 15,000 new customers. Are there maybe 500 new Airforums members in that same period? So take some of the flaming with a grain of salt. But know, as you've personally experienced, quality is inconsistent and if you get one of the less lucky trailers, it's no fun.

Be kind and firm and get what you paid for while under warranty. Document everything. I love AS and look forward to a day when they build them right consistently.

Good luck!
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Old 07-05-2016, 07:58 AM   #28
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I agree 100%.

It is apparent (based on what we heard from the Airstream execs at the Lewisburg rally), that they are well aware of the need to set the bar higher when it comes to quality. When a VP says, "we are the cream of the crap," (exact quotation with regard to maintenance issues), it's pretty obvious they get it. The forthcoming "5 Rivet" designation for high quality dealerships and a commitment to better training for maintainers is surely a step in the right direction. It was also comforting to hear that they have brought someone aboard to focus solely on the long-standing owner's manual issues, wherein what you read in your manual doesn't apply to your model -- are good news. While this shouldn't have happened in the first place, someone is obviously listening. It was also clear from comments made from the stage that the right people are reading what we post here.

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