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Old 10-06-2014, 07:03 AM   #57
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Trail manor still exists. Their QC used to be terrible, much worse than any AS I've owned. However new mngmt has evidently turned them around. The TM I owned, for example, had supports attached to the exterior. On mine there were four bolts holding this bracket. Three different types of bolts were used!, all rusty. Same for each bracket. Other details were just as bad. But, with new people running the place, the QC is greatly improved. So it can be done. Sorry to hijack. Jim
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Old 10-06-2014, 08:53 AM   #58
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"Quality" often means different things to different people.

In a sense building a trailer that is still routinely in use after twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty years and more is in itself its own kind of quality, a rare quality these days, that many Americans in their impatience don't really admire, value, or often even recognize.

Just sayin.
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Old 10-06-2014, 09:35 AM   #59
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Originally Posted by J. Morgan View Post
"Quality" often means different things to different people.

In a sense building a trailer that is still routinely in use after twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty years and more is in itself its own kind of quality, a rare quality these days, that many Americans in their impatience don't really admire, value, or often even recognize.

Just sayin.
And then there are some that believe "PERFECT" needs improving.

And near perfect only feeds sarcasm and things to gripe about.

We, for the vast majority, enjoy what we have, but if we really don't like it, we get rid of it and try something else.

Happens every day.

Andy
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Old 10-06-2014, 09:53 AM   #60
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Prediction: I predict that along with the increased space more modern automation processes will be introduced to the production of Airstream trailers. As an example during my tour I was impressed by how the windows and door assemblies were made almost entirely by hand. From cutting to final glass instillation. The time and number of employees required to complete this process would give a modern production manager the shakes. Automation would take out any human error, cut waste and cut production time. It would in the long run cut the cost of each window and door unit. Downside of this automation could be a possible loss of jobs. Several years ago Airstream did automate the cutting and drilling of panels. This has made for consistent placement of rivets and cleaner install of windows and doors. Personally I would like to see Airstream make a change in some of the materials used such as the floor. Will Airstreams ever be made by robots? It could happen. In my opinion it would make for a better and more consistent product. But at what cost? Part of the appeal is that they are hand made and not just some other cookie cutter made trailer.
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Old 10-06-2014, 10:52 AM   #61
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A fully automated build requires design considerations and modular assembly, if Airstream were to move to a fully automated assembly, they would no longer be traditional Airstreams.

There is a lot of truth to what Andy stated above. There is a kind of customer who is never satisfied, this kind will always feel that they have paid too much and were delivered too little. Often these kind receive the very best that can be reasonably delivered, but are never satisfied. (Forbid it if there is a real problem that one of these have to work through)

This used to be about 5%, it is rising though, maybe 10% now.

These kind live and die by the mantra that "the customer is always right", and every issue is an opportunity for an adversarial confrontation where they intend to see the mantra play out.

The real problem is, is that these kind ruin things for the reasonable customer, as the companies are forced to live in an adversarial environment.
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Old 10-06-2014, 01:18 PM   #62
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I remember a Jan 2012 Forbes magazine interview with Airstream president Bob Wheeler about Airstream. Pretty good hints here about how they might use a larger factory, including world wide expansion and a move toward a line of light weight Airstreams. Here's part of it telling of the future:

"FORBES: I’m going to ask you to look into your crystal ball, into the deep future: Where do you see Airstream headed in the next decade? What are you hopes and dream for the RV industry and for your company in particular?

BW: I always feel and I feel more so than ever that the best years of this company are head of us. But this is our 80th year. The big opportunity certainly there’s opportunities for growth in North America. We need to add more dealers in areas that are underserved. We have a whole plate of exciting new products that could change people’s perception of Airstream. But then there’s always growing markets where there’s demand but no supply. We have a distribution in Europe that is very limited that can grow.

We’re in discussions right now in China. We think Brazil is a good opportunity. Australia. These are places where people know the brand and are just as passionate about Airstream as American consumers. But the only way they can get the products is through grey market, or they have to buy one in the U.S. and import it themselves.

So that represents a tremendously exciting opportunity. Our goal is so that anyone in the world that wants an Airstream has access to one. That’s pretty bold and far-fetched. The industry is going to face some challenges in the next 10 years. CAFE standards enforcing smaller vehicles with less tow capacity.

The U.S. RV industry has to get serious about lightweight. Travel trailers in particular, and the tow vehicles people are buying. They’re going to have to follow the path that European RV industry has taken. I think the European RV industry is 15 years ahead of us here in the U.S., simply with the things they’ve done in areas like light-weighting."
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Old 10-06-2014, 01:32 PM   #63
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Morgan View Post
"Quality" often means different things to different people.

In a sense building a trailer that is still routinely in use after twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty years and more is in itself its own kind of quality, a rare quality these days, that many Americans in their impatience don't really admire, value, or often even recognize.

Just sayin.

That is correct.
It takes using the trailer to find the problems and get them corrected.
Then camping in a problem free trailer takes it to the next level of enjoyment.
With routine maintenance we can camp in our Airstream trailers indefinitely.
I don't think that can be said of wood framed or fiberglass sided or rubber roof trailers.
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Old 10-06-2014, 03:25 PM   #64
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I'm glad some owners have trailers with no problems. I wish we had had the same experience. We had lots of issues and because the dealer where we bought it was so bad, we took to the Airstream service center where they did very good work while it was still under warranty. It is not just a few people who have had problems—there have been many threads on the Forum with many people reporting poor quality and workmanship.

I asked Wheeler several years ago whether they had quality control engineers. He said yes, but I then asked him where they were when they built our trailer. I asked him if the service center people and the factory people met to discuss issues which the mechanics well knew from fixing things. He said yes they did meet, but I suspect the factory people did not listen. Wheeler was hired to cut costs and some of his cost cutting was a disaster—OSB subfloors and front or rear end sag cost company a lot in warranty repairs, for example.

Yes, the basic design, created decades ago by Wally Byam, is very good. They tow easily and last a long time. But that doesn't mean present management can't screw it up.

They will not move south. They are in rural Ohio and there are plenty of workers who will take jobs at low pay. Thor Industries is very anti-union, but they can always find workers who will never be able to afford an Airstream.

I don't think the company has been a very good steward of Byam's dream.

Gene
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Old 10-06-2014, 04:39 PM   #65
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You could say that ALL RV's are hand made. Since most are assembled one piece at a time. Very little automation.
I fail to see what makes A$ so expensive.
It is certainly not the equipment such as water heaters, refers and the like. Since they use the same items you find in most SOB's.
it isn't the flooring materials or the plumbing materials. Not the propane tanks etc.. It's not the axles or tires.
Aluminum is one of the least expensive materials on the market today. That is why soda and beer cans are made of it.
So! What makes them soooo expensive?
It is that WE are willing to pay. And PAY BIG for that 9 letter word.



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Old 10-06-2014, 05:14 PM   #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TG Twinkie View Post
You could say that ALL RV's are hand made. Since most are assembled one piece at a time. Very little automation.
I fail to see what makes A$ so expensive.
It is certainly not the equipment such as water heaters, refers and the like. Since they use the same items you find in most SOB's.
it isn't the flooring materials or the plumbing materials. Not the propane tanks etc.. It's not the axles or tires.
Aluminum is one of the least expensive materials on the market today. That is why soda and beer cans are made of it.
So! What makes them soooo expensive?
It is that WE are willing to pay. And PAY BIG for that 9 letter word.



Sent from my iPod touch using Airstream Forums

Are the production people represented by a bargaining unit?

The AS is a luxury coach, and I suspect that the margin is...must be....significant enough to wash overhead. So, my thoughts are the price is reflected in high production overhead (this doesn't necessarily equate to "quality"), and management desire to make a profit to justify whatever their metric is for same.

Having started at the bottom of a bargaining unit workforce, and eventually making transition to management, I started noticing patterns of behavior. Monday and Friday production was always hampered by absenteeism; other production folks would have to "pick up the slack" (can still remember my buddy complaining the slackers got the slack, the workers get the work). Sometimes it was not their usual station, or even close. So what strikes me is something that happened years ago with me...a fittings guy, who was less than dedicated to good workmanship, would always blow Monday and Friday. The bargaining unit contract stipulated that the supervisor could only counsel IF the days were consecutive during the work week, unless there was a doctors note. As a welder, I had no idea how to fit a wall...and the result looked something like my AS lavy door.

Click image for larger version

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It became clear that our product sucked. I wondered who, in the private sector, would tolerate this? I guess I have my answer...me.
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Old 10-06-2014, 05:26 PM   #67
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So! What makes them soooo expensive?
It is that WE are willing to pay. And PAY BIG for that 9 letter word.
An Airstream trailer takes almost 5 times longer to produce than most inexpensive SOBs. You are not paying for materials, you are paying for labor.

It is Wally Byam's design that is the problem. Back in the day, labor was cheap and you could spend weeks constructing an Airstream and it didn't add much to the unit. Now production can't spend anymore than 5 days or the price per unit goes through the roof.

If the construction process could be automated the price would fall substantially.

But because customers like the original design the price stays high. Obviously the units could be improved with better QC, better materials and better appliances, etc but the price is never going to be competitive with an SOB.
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Old 10-06-2014, 05:32 PM   #68
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Originally Posted by Gene View Post
I'm glad some owners have trailers with no problems. I wish we had had the same experience. We had lots of issues and because the dealer where we bought it was so bad, we took to the Airstream service center where they did very good work while it was still under warranty. It is not just a few people who have had problems—there have been many threads on the Forum with many people reporting poor quality and workmanship.

I asked Wheeler several years ago whether they had quality control engineers. He said yes, but I then asked him where they were when they built our trailer. I asked him if the service center people and the factory people met to discuss issues which the mechanics well knew from fixing things. He said yes they did meet, but I suspect the factory people did not listen. Wheeler was hired to cut costs and some of his cost cutting was a disaster—OSB subfloors and front or rear end sag cost company a lot in warranty repairs, for example.

Yes, the basic design, created decades ago by Wally Byam, is very good. They tow easily and last a long time. But that doesn't mean present management can't screw it up.

They will not move south. They are in rural Ohio and there are plenty of workers who will take jobs at low pay. Thor Industries is very anti-union, but they can always find workers who will never be able to afford an Airstream.

I don't think the company has been a very good steward of Byam's dream.

Gene

That resembles my experience.
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Old 10-06-2014, 05:33 PM   #69
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TG Twinkie View Post
You could say that ALL RV's are hand made. Since most are assembled one piece at a time. Very little automation.
I fail to see what makes A$ so expensive.
It is certainly not the equipment such as water heaters, refers and the like. Since they use the same items you find in most SOB's.
it isn't the flooring materials or the plumbing materials. Not the propane tanks etc.. It's not the axles or tires.
Aluminum is one of the least expensive materials on the market today. That is why soda and beer cans are made of it.
So! What makes them soooo expensive?
It is that WE are willing to pay. And PAY BIG for that 9 letter word.



Sent from my iPod touch using Airstream Forums

Part of the high price is that we are still buying.
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Old 10-06-2014, 05:39 PM   #70
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Part of the high price is that we are still buying.
True, warts and all.
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