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Old 05-17-2004, 06:19 AM   #1
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Small fire at Service Center at Jackson Center

...I was viewing the local news this morning and they reported there was a fire Saturday in the service center -- not many details. (Channel 7, Dayton Ohio)

They said the workers worked all day Sunday to get things back into operation. They did not report any details, like if they were in fact ready for work today.

They showed a 5-second video clip with smoke coming out of the first service bay near the front of the building. The bay next to it was open, and there was an older AS right in the doorway -- could not tell what year or model. At least that is what I thought I saw, in my half-asleep state. There was not much smoke coming out that bay, so It appeared localized and contained.

Just wanted to report what I had seen -- not to cause any panic -- it looked relatively minor.

-Rob
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Old 05-17-2004, 06:24 AM   #2
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That's great news..
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Old 05-17-2004, 08:27 AM   #3
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Jackson Center Fire

The fire was in the first bay of the service department.

There is some building damage.

Parts shipments will be delayed for a couple of days or so.

Fire Marshall is there at this time, Monday May 17th 10:30 AM, their time.

Andy
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Old 05-17-2004, 05:23 PM   #4
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Jackson Center Fire!

RV Business reports today, Saturday May 15th there was a fire at the Jackson Center Service facility of Airstream. There were no injuries and damage was centralized.
On-going service will be continued in other buildings on the Airstream Campus.
Some employees worked through the weekend to restore power and water to the service center.
RV Business reports that Airstream will complete all necessary service center repairs in a matter of days.
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Old 05-17-2004, 09:25 PM   #5
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Check the Airstream site

The Airstream site has an article on the fire. Click on the "Bee".
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Old 05-17-2004, 09:31 PM   #6
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Checked the Airstream site. Are they really selling pop rivets, pack of 50, for $2.00? I should stock up!
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Old 05-17-2004, 10:30 PM   #7
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Looks like it was more than just minor damage:

"JACKSON CENTER - The Airstream service center has been ruled a total loss, fire officials say, after a blaze struck the building Saturday afternoon."

Wapakoneta Daily News, Ohio
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Old 05-18-2004, 06:08 AM   #8
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http://www.airstream.com/company/news.html
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Old 06-03-2004, 03:43 PM   #9
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The cause of the fire.

For what it's worth dept:
I picked this up from Hunter's list serve. She is up at the Airstream Homecoming.

"A guy bought a brand new 28' at Paul Sherry RV and took his family on
the
first outing. The thing leaked pretty bad....so he brought it into
Airstream to
fix it. They fixed it and he went on another trip and it still leaked.

He was not happy and brought it back and his salesman got the top guy
to look
at it. They put it in the "find the leaks" machine and it leaked like
crazy
but they couldn't find where.

It was sitting in the service area over the weekend, plugged in and
water
shorted out the inverter (?) thing and it caught fire.

So, he's now shopping for a motorhome.... no, not an Airstream!"

Personally I'm not sure of this because I'm not aware of an inverter. The power supply is normally in a protected area, (in mine under the sofa) so I'm not sure how water could get to a level to cause a short and resulting fire.

Anyone else there at JC who could check out this story?
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Old 06-04-2004, 07:19 AM   #10
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...Well, being an owner of a 28', that sure hits close to home...
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Old 06-04-2004, 08:05 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcanavera
For what it's worth dept:
I picked this up from Hunter's list serve. She is up at the Airstream Homecoming.

They put it in the "find the leaks" machine and it leaked like
crazy
but they couldn't find where.

It was sitting in the service area over the weekend, plugged in and
water
shorted out the inverter (?) thing and it caught fire.
Assuming Hunter's report is correct should bring up the following questions:

=Did they leave the "find the leaks" machine running all weekend too?

=How much water damage is tolerated during a "find the leaks" test?

=If this is a possible "nature of the inverter" possibility will Airstream recall and replace all of them?

=What can be done by owners to "fireproof" the inverter area?
=What can be done by owners to "waterproof" the inverter area?

What is worse for Airstreams reputation, the fire or the leaks?
I think Moderator-Pahaska was going to the event too, perhaps if he reads this he can give us a more accurate report. Also would like to know more about the "find the leaks" process.

We have alot of electrically knowledgable members, (or did at one time), It would be interesting to hear how a water infiltration could spark a fire.
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Old 06-04-2004, 08:51 AM   #12
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electronic devices can short without blowing a fuse -- a shorted component can get hotter and hotter without the fuse protecting anything. electrolytic capcitors can actually explode.

Something designed to operate at 50 milliamps can suffer a short and consume a half an amp and get real hot. I put my finger on a processor once that was so hot it removed my fingerprint...it was well past 300 degrees, just as an estimation.

Water and high-power electronics like the converter is bad JU-JU.
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Old 06-04-2004, 11:05 AM   #13
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If it was an inverter it could have easily had a 100+ amp fuse, a lot of power even at 12v. Only a few of the components are rated to handle that power, the rest are smoke waiting to happen.

John
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Old 06-04-2004, 12:56 PM   #14
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Here is my take FWIW and if this story is correct.....

First, people make mistakes, just the nature of the beast. Problem is that even though compared with other years the current year and the past year's model (2004) were better than years before. That said there still are some issues that Airstream will work out I am sure. I have the utmost confidence in them fixing any issues to my satisfation.

I don't blame Airstream or Thor specifically for issues with coaches, I think I am blaming the industry at large. After reading the Forbes magazine article, the issue became quite clear.

Airstream, like other Thor and possilby non-Thor manufacs pay or give bonuses based on the number of coaches they can turn out.

I just wonder, given all the issues we've come across, if the issues that have to be addressed after production, get taken off the money put out to reward cranking units out. I would hope that they have that in place so that there are some consequences for turning out junk. I mean if I get paid to fly them out the door with little to no hit for issues that the company has to pay for to fix, I can see this continuing...I mean even the best QC person in the business wouldn't have found half the stuff I found since using the coach. I have to admit, that some of the issues are beyond Airstreams control, for example the fridge dies or the furnace. Those are 3rd party items, and the only way that can get better is if trends appear, Airstream drops the line and picks up a different supplier. When I see things like trim falling off, leaks being talked about, interior furnishings falling apart, plumbing leaks, electrical issues, door and lock problems, damaged floors...these issues sit squarely on the folks building these coaches.

Still, I wonder if they have a process in place that dings the production folks for each defect that they either overlooked or did poor workmanship on. I bet issues would start to go away fairly quickly if something like that were put into place....knowing that some issues will still come up, and hopefully, if true, not lead to fire or other losses.

Just a thought off the top......

Eric
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Old 06-04-2004, 01:16 PM   #15
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Eric,

Have you looked at Thor's annual report?? -- I do nto recall the number, but they have warrantee costs broken out, and across Thor it was a significant fraction of gross income.

Mine shipped with defects we pointed out while still at the factory. I did not want to make a big deal out of it on line, as I did not want them to limit customer visits to see trailers while under construction -- ours was at the end of the line, too, right next to the door...and I only have two explanations:

1) Production pressure.
2) Thor is gaming the system -- it is cheaper for them to let us find their visible defects than for them to employ better QC. It could be that we only catch a portion of them, thus saving them money in the medium and long run...than them catching and fixing *all* of them.

I have worked at an Aircraft Factory, which is a low volume critical quality type of thing -- each discrete step in the production required a QC sign-off.

One QC guy could cover several airplans during a shift -- we could not work as fast as they could inspect, so one inspector could cover an area -- I worked in the flight test area, and we usually only had one inspector covering eight crews or so. (A crew was 1 to 4 mechanics per airplane).

If I was installing an engine, the QC guy would be pretty much hovering over me -- if I was screwing a floor panel down, he would be nowhere in sight...
and would only inpect things before I started and after I was done.

Any rate, QC this way fits a low-production environment and also only adds an incremental cost...

And another thing -- we would never leave an airplane plugged in and powered up unattended inside a hanger...we turned stuff off if we were the last ones out, and we disconnected the batteries, so nothing bad could happen...
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Old 06-04-2004, 01:32 PM   #16
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I hear you clear on that. It would seem to me that if they are spending so much on warranty work, every dollar they saved in warranty work by doing it right the first time would:

1) Build stronger customer satisfaction and retain customers to the brand--not to even mention doing a job worthy of the higher cost of these coaches.

2) Save the company money by giving the folks responsible, be it a supplier or a production team a hit for each defect found.

3) Create less customer frustration as there are not dealers spread out like let's say a Chevy or Ford dealership.

Maybe my expectation is too high and that this last article if true, just kind of hit home. After all we've now owned 2 Airstreams in less than 2 years. Nobody is perfect, but I as I said, perhaps it's just me and my expectation...possibly they are not realistic or too high?

At any rate, I still love our Airstream and I do have confidence that whatever I come across will be taken care of....and I am sorry for hijacking this thread...it's just that when I read this, it kind of struck a cord with me.

Eric
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Old 06-04-2004, 04:07 PM   #17
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Warranty Costs

According to Thors 2003 annual report they paid the following in warranty expense (this is all of Thor, not just Airstream):

FYE 2001 $12,187,000
FYE 2002 $22,971,000
FYE 2003 $35,047,000

Their warranty expense as a percentage of sales was:

FYE 2001 1.5%
FYE 2002 1.8%
FYE 2003 2.2%

And their warranty expense as a percent of income before taxes was:

FYE 2001 28%
FYE 2002 28%
FYE 2003 28%

As a percentage of sales, not bad. As a percentage of profits, huge. Their warranty expense also has a "hidden" cost - customers that will not come back. I'm sure they would love to reduce their warranty expense, if it can be done at reasonable cost.

As a reference, Winnebago shows $10.7 million in warranty paid in 2002 and $11.5 million on 2003, or 1.3% and 1.4% of their sales respectively. This may imply that their products are better, or that they are stingy in taking care of warranted problems, or their accounting practices differ... who knows.
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Old 06-04-2004, 04:22 PM   #18
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I wonder how the numbers relate to the 2 year warranty? If you had warranty work done on a 2001 unit in year 2003, the numbers would be included for the 2003 year, right? So, 2004 units with warranty problems would go through year 2006?
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Old 06-04-2004, 04:27 PM   #19
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Here's my take on QC (although this is somewhat generic and can apply to many businesses.

I think we reach a balancing act where they build in a certain amount of warranty work into the production equation.
You can bet someone has already done the cost calculation which says if I add X amount of quality control time into the production then the offshoot is a minus factor to the amount of product output. From that equation they then compare the cost of warranty work against the cost of lost production using more QC.

Bottom line its cold $$ and cents. Obviously the dealers don't mind doing some (within reason) of the QC since that work is billable and helps support their service depts.

There were those business owners like Wally who would literally tear out a defective component on the production line and demand that it be done right. Now he knew it had some effect on production but it was his company and the buck stopped with him. Today its stock options, stock prices, shareholder value etc.

Nobody wants to take responsiblity and no CEO could stand up in front of the stockholders and tell them that profits are down because he decided to slow down production to make quality better, especially if quality on the most part is pretty good.


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Old 06-04-2004, 04:30 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmac
According to Thors 2003 annual report they paid the following in warranty expense (this is all of Thor, not just Airstream):
This is an important statement because Thor sells a potful of other stuff, some of which can't stand in the shadow of an Airstream (I know cause I owned a Thor SOB).

Unless we knew what A/S's numbers are, this comparison may not be germane to the discussion.

Jack
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