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Old 04-21-2004, 10:27 PM   #1
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If YOU were an A/S engineer

What would you do to the Airstream design to improve it?

I would look at the weight and try to lighten it without taking away structural integrity. It seems that the tow vehicle requirements discourage a lot of people from getting an Airstream.

Dennis
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Old 04-21-2004, 10:35 PM   #2
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Well, since you asked!

- Get rid of the cheap windows that the non Classic/CCDs get.

- Get the dual step for all coaches

- Install the front bay windows in all models

- Charge less for it!

- Install LP meter on all coaches

- Install comfort controls on all models

I know there are a few more, but I can't think of them now.
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Old 04-21-2004, 10:59 PM   #3
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How about a dinette table that doesn't wobble.

And baffles in the freshwater tank to minimize the effect of the water
pushing the trailer all over the road.

A sink big enough to wash a pan.

An exhaust duct in the shower to the stove fan.

A quiet stove fan
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Old 04-21-2004, 11:08 PM   #4
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Engineering Dept. ?

Speaking of Airstream's engineering dept. Is there one?

Quote:
Airstream Engineering Dept.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
I do not recall ever reading of Airstream having much of their own Engineering Dept.

Once Thor took over maybe Thor has a in-house Eng.Dept.??anyone know? But I am more interested in pre-Thor.

They may have well used a consulting firm.
Perhaps on components they used the suppliers engineers.?

I wonder if they made or paid for specs on parts and then shopped bidders, or otherwise.?
Take their aluminum wheels for instance, we can safely surmise they bought them from outside source. Did they just shop for one on a vendors inventory list, or did they design and have one specially built? If the latter were they (AS) fickle and switched suppliers for the best bid? (Same wheel specs different maker).

As a vintage owner/refurber the knowledge of AS procurement habits might be an important clue in searching out "trivial" parts.
Such as door glides, cabinet latches, gadgets & gizmos that even Andy doesn't have.

Much of the furniture and case goods in the 70 era seem to have been shop-built (in AS factory) but the design work of these items, who knows, and the suppliers for the plastic moulded parts I am guessing was outsourced.

As for the more structural engineering I have never seen much discussed either, oh lots of conjecture, but I wonder if a windtunnel was ever used, just curious how much engineering was actually used...or needed.? Regardless it seems that things worked out pretty well. Except for the rustability of the frame. And that may or may not have ever even been considered. After all marketing probably came first engineering at best second


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Old 04-22-2004, 04:03 AM   #5
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1. Corrosion resistant frame. How about a galvanized frame as an extra cost option?

2. Rot-resistant floor. How about dipping the plywood or OSB in one of the new, safer, chemicals? (i.e not CCA)

3. Stainless steel fastenings on exterior fittings like light covers and antennae? The zinc electro-plated steel screws corrode within a few years. Stainless fastenings are very little more expensive when purchased in bulk, and there are very few of them.

4. The fresh water tank filler to be on the other side of the trailer, where the water supply will be.

5. Ducted wiring runs, accessible for maintenance and upgrades.

6. Plumbing pipes to be accessible for maintenance and replacement.

7. Access plate to maintain dump valves. I could hardly believe the instructions in the manual.... "first take your aircraft style snips and cut a large hole in the bottom of the trailer...."

8. Reliable level gauges for the tanks

9. Shock absorbers that can be removed without removing axles or bending brackets.

10. Entrance door hinges that can be removed and maintained without cutting holes in the inner skin. Captive nuts would deal with that.

11. An intelligent 4 stage battery charger and converter as a factory option. (This may be already an option, I don't know)

12. Windows bolted in with stainless nuts and bolts. The existing plated self-tappers make it very difficult to clean the outside of the window frames without injury to one's hands, or tearing a cloth etc. They also look horrible.

13. Overall, a recognition that any part may need to be replaced or maintained, and that the engineering should reflect that reality.

Is it likely that these changes will be made? That is up to the people that buy new Airstream trailers. Airstream has to make a profit, or it dies. Changes will be made if those changes are deemed to be priorities in the minds of potential purchasers. If potential purchasers walk into a trailer with a salesman, and indicate that their priorities are Corian counter tops, Moen faucets, slide-outs, and the fabrics used on the furnishings, then the company will respond to that. If enough potential purchasers ask the salesman about the sort of items I have listed above (frame corrosion, etc), then Airstream will respond. That is my understanding of the working of a market in a capitalist economy. Airstream makes a wonderful trailer. How it develops is up to the buyers of new trailers, which excludes me! Nick.
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Old 04-22-2004, 05:17 AM   #6
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I don't know if Airstream uses customer Focus Groups, like many other companies do. Does anybody know? If they don't, they should.

Personally, I'd be willing to pay more to get some of the upgraded materials and construction that have been suggested, and I bet if you got a group of owners together you'd get an awful lot of invaluable suggestions for improvement.

John
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Old 04-22-2004, 07:12 AM   #7
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If I were an Airstream engineer...........
I would bring back the old floor plans of the 50-60-70's area.
Try to use "Space age" materials where ever possable to keep it light.
Go back to the curved Corning windows....
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Old 04-22-2004, 07:18 AM   #8
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One thing

ON BOARD GENERATORS!

Smily
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Old 04-22-2004, 07:24 AM   #9
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Door

I'd re-engineer the door so that it opens from the other side, as compared to it opening from right to left. Currently, if it opens going down the road, the wind will catch it and slam it open, damaging the shell. If it opened going down the road, and the wind forced it back shut, that would be a good design.
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Old 04-22-2004, 07:38 AM   #10
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If I were working for Airstream

I think I would make Management more aware of this Forum, considering the number of both new and used pruchasers, and convince them that each and every one of the ideas listed in this thread and others has merit.

Knowing that any change or improvement has an inherent cost, I would strive to offer as many "options" (Aluminum Alloy Frames, Bonded Flooring, Cathodic Protection, Door Improvements, and so on down the alphabet) as possible on new trailers AND make kits available for retrofitting to older trailers. Sure, you would have Bambis ranging from $20,000 to $50,000, but it would allow each purchaser to decide which of the individual (and costly) add ons should be included on their own unique RV.

Now.....if only we could get the Lawyers to find a way to remove the onerous "manufacturer liability" costs tacked onto such products, we might actually have a movement.
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Old 04-22-2004, 07:46 AM   #11
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Airstream engineering...

This is interesting. Airstream's engineering department in the old days consisted of two parts: Wally Byam and his ideas, and WBCCI caravans where they were real-world tested. Broken pipe frames in the 40s led to the development of the Airstream frames of the 50s. Space heaters worked, but were supplanted by forced-air furnaces in the marketplace. Iceboxes gave way to electric refrigerators which then became two and three-way devices. Solid axle, leaf spring combos broke frequently enough that Wally turned to the Henschen axles. Wiring and plumbing were run where they needed to be for the model and floorplan that was designed.

All frames and bodies of a specific size weighed the same. Weight is saved or added by how you design and furnish the interior, and it remains so today. Rich wood cabinetry and premium upholstery carry a weight penalty. Space age interior materials have yet to prove themselves in long-term use. Plastics age and get brittle. I had to replace the trim piece around my hallway skylight last week as the old trim was yellow and falling out in chunks.

I've seen two new CCD units with stress checking in the acrylic panels already; particulary the curved piece at the door and front bedroom. Someone just posted a photo of a Safari 'contact-paper' covered cabinet where the adhesive is allowing the finish to move... but the cabinets weigh less than the 'classic' wood cabinets. Everything one adds has a weight penalty. Lightweight is a nice perk, but consumers are demanding high quality, luxo-units, even in the small Airstreams.

Glass is heavy. Lighter weight windows subtract pounds. Bambi and Safari owners don't want to lug around a 6,000 lb trailer! The new trailers are already 30% to 40% heavier than trailers of similar size from the 60s!

Focus groups? The auto industry uses them all of the time. Their single largest contribution to automotive engineering was that each passenger now has his/her own cup holder and private cubby.

The folks who subscribe to this forum in aggregate probably know as much if not more about the design, construction, function, and shortcomings of the design as the folks who work at Airstream. I suspect though, that a 'focus group' of average buyers wouldn't do much more than demand larger refrigerator-freezers, new colors of Corian, and central vacs... the public (and sales) are feature-oriented.

Generally speaking, very few buyers really understand the difference between a single overhead cam and dual overhead cam engines. All they know is whether or not their engine is big enough to drive a six-speaker stereo with a 100 watt amp!

I like nick's ideas about the stainless fasteners, galvanizing the frames (ala land rover series refit frames), and rot-resistant flooring. Great longevity ideas with no weight penalties. Baffles for water tanks is a great idea.

Someone who buys a new $75k RV every five years really doesn't care how long the frame will last, as long as it lasts just long enough to trade it back in, and they're the folks who drive sales.

Roger
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Old 04-22-2004, 08:25 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cosmotini
What would you do to the Airstream design to improve it?

I would look at the weight and try to lighten it without taking away structural integrity. It seems that the tow vehicle requirements discourage a lot of people from getting an Airstream.

Dennis
All-aluminum frame and spars. Anything that is now steel, can be made out of aluminum. Anyone care to guess how much weight this would save? Any weight saved at 10 feet in the air would help any tracking and swaying problems also. I think even the axles could be made mostly of aluminum, I know the outer tube could be.
Terry
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Old 04-22-2004, 08:31 AM   #13
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It would not be a weight saving, but would slow or prevent the rust if a Stainless steel frame was used in lieu of painted cold rolled steel. MY 89 RR had that and the frame showed no rust even with WI winters.

I would think that the cost differential on this would be lower than an Aluminum frame IMO.
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Old 04-22-2004, 08:33 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robandzoe
I'd re-engineer the door so that it opens from the other side, as compared to it opening from right to left. Currently, if it opens going down the road, the wind will catch it and slam it open, damaging the shell. If it opened going down the road, and the wind forced it back shut, that would be a good design.
The reason the door opens backwards is so it will clear the awning when it is open, and to keep from damaging the door when someone opens it into the awning. This is not a problem with SOB's with straight sides, as the awning mounts are just moved a couple of feet forward so the door can open normally.
Terry
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