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Old 02-01-2007, 01:04 PM   #41
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Quality

What exactly is quality? Many of talk about “quality” but how many of us understand what quality really means. According to the gurus of quality management, it means conformance to requirements. It is not some nebulous touchy, feely thing.

Some basic requirements for an RV would be that it leak free, have reasonable load carrying capacity and be sturdy enough that it doesn’t shake apart on the first rough road. The first step in any quality program is setting requirements. Requirements must be measurable. It appears to the casual observer that not only does Airstream not have any effective quality control program; they don’t even know what quality means. Quality cannot be inspected in; it must be engineered and planned in. The US auto industry was in the same place as the RV industry in the 70s & 80s. Quality control was the “burned toast” method. By that, I mean they inspected after the fact, and then tried to fix the things that were wrong. Like burned toast, just scraping off the burn won’t make the toast really good; you have to adjust the toaster. In manufacturing, that means fixing the processes.

At GM, we too had water test, which was more severe than Airstream. We still regularly shipped cars that leaked. Offshore competitors, because they had their processes in control, didn’t need water test to ship leak free units. Not only did they eliminate the cost of water test, they were able to reduce costs by using assembly processes that couldn’t be used if you had water test.

The American auto industry has finally caught up, but is still paying the price with the consumer. Many of them still believe that the off shore manufacturers build much better quality, even though measurable tests show that it is not true.

I hope that someone like Honda or Toyota will get into the RV industry and show the current manufacturers that you can build quality at a completive price. It is NOT the workers’ fault if you have poor quality, it is a management problem. It has been shown many times that workers will do a quality job if they are given the processes and tools to do a quality job. Nobody wants to build junk!

Good quality doesn’t have to cost. Doing the job right the first time saves money in the long run. I would love to know what Airstream wastes on repairs that would not be required if they did the job right the first time.
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Old 02-01-2007, 01:07 PM   #42
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Well said.
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Old 02-01-2007, 01:23 PM   #43
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Jimmickle, that was a great post. I agree with you, but there is a perception out there that some of the folks on the manufacturing floor are just simply lazy. My example where someone bunched up their McDonald's wrapper and shoved it into an access hole that was mostly out of sight (until I did some work) is unconscionable and a good example of some of the attitude on the floor.

They call the workers at the factory "True Artisans" but in reality most real Artisans would take painstaking attention to detail, which we all can say from these threads alone is inconsistant at best, but improving...slowly, but improving.

I don't know if it's true, but I heard a while back that RV builders get paid and receive bonuses based on meeting or exceeding production numbers. If that is the case or even remotely true, that kind of compensation would be in direct conflict with building a well built unit, that has good fit and finsh, doesn't leak, doesn't corrode, etc.

I also read somewhere about Thor's warranty claims were farly high, so it's not just Airstream that is having this issue as you mention, it's the whole industry. The one thing that is really frustrating is the simple 2 year warranty. If Airstreams were truely built by Artisans, they could easily have a 5 year warranty, but the folks at Airstream aren't stupid folks, they know that the warranty claims tend to get higher after year two and with the current level of good service centers out there, it even lowers their exposure in some cases as most of us either try to fix it ourselves, drive a good distance to get a good repair or simply just accept it, having spent more than 2-3x what a normal RV costs.

My overall observations of the folks at Airstream is a 10. The people you deal with are truely great folks to work with. My overall observation of the quality of the products leaving the factory, overall engineering of the build and how well it holds up over the long haul would be a 5 to maybe a 6 out of a possible 10 (10 being meeting or exceeding), having owned both a 2003 and a 2004.
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Old 02-01-2007, 01:34 PM   #44
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Altamont-

You might want to do a search on solar and battery discharge or similar terms... There can be a number of causes for dying batteries, especially if left in remote storage lots...

1. Some gadgets, like propane leak detector or A/V stereo items might still draw power
2. There should be a "Main Power Cutoff Switch" that might also disconnect solar cell from bettery, if wired improperly
3. Some refrigerators have hidden switch to disable alleged defrost circuit, which draws power when active even if refrigerator is turned off.. (This is "ask me how I know" item..)
4. Battery may indeed have a bad cell in it, as many do when built...
5. There might be some obscure light in a storage compartment that was turned on by shifting boards or jack crank... (again, don't ask..)

An ammeter attached to power supply unit when all should be quiet is best way to determine how much electricity is going in or out of battery... Might also be worth removing battery and having local parts store test it for load and capacity...
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Old 02-01-2007, 02:52 PM   #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by altamont
Our 2007 Safari 27 FB SE LS seems pretty tight. We have only spent two nights and only 250 miles but are pretty happy so far. What we have found:

Water leak below shower door. What a surprise!

Cabinet doors over stove do not match. Very different colors. AS factory is sending replacement

Leaking petcock under trailer. Very slow leak but does cause the pump to cycle every so often.

I have a solar unit but the batterys seem to loose their charge. I don't know if I have a bad cell in a battery or the stereo amplifier is just always on. I need to check more.
.
You know this shower leak issue with me goes all the way back to 2001 with my new Safari. It continued in 2004 with my Classic. I fail to understand why this continues to be a high failure item (at least here at the Forums). Somebody is not doing their job right or they have a real engineering problem here.

I can't speak for the Safari's but the hickory interiors on the Classics provide a real challenge for some dealerships. A lot of folks do not like the variance in colors on the individual panels that make up a door or table. I know my dealer has had to ask for replacements due to the variances in the hickory colors.

Leaking petcock is also one of those unexcusable problems that if a trailer is being pressure checked, this should be found.

Someone has already noted the various items that constantly draw power. The anti-condensation switch on the refrigerator is a real power sucker and is easily left on. Also note that if the trailer is going to sit unpowered for a length of time you need to turn the master disconnect to the off position.

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Old 02-01-2007, 04:23 PM   #46
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We took delivery of our 2007 34' Classic on January the 4th and have been in it since we got it. This is our fourth Airstream and our first Classic. I love the hickory interior - the variances in tone are simply beautiful. So far, we have had no problems to speak of with Coco Kitty. No shower leaks (wish that were true in the CCDs). The fit and finish is above and beyond our expectations - which were high. We plan to spend most of the rest of 2007 in it and maybe all of 2008. Will keep this thread posted of any problems that may develop.

Pecos Pete
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Old 02-01-2007, 04:24 PM   #47
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The only way to be sure that here is no draw from the battery is to put a master switch ON the battery, like the people who have classic cars that are driven infrequently do.

Some uneducated law writer made it a requirement that the propane leak detector not be turned off by the "master switch." Result: Dead battery in a short time, even with the master switch off.
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Old 02-10-2007, 09:02 PM   #48
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Initial Quality of Basecamp

Took delivery of a 07 Basecamp in December. Have not used it yet due to work schedules. Bought it primarily to move from tent camping to hard shell camping and to be able to carry my toy on board...a big Harley Davidson. I took it in today for warranty work at local Houston dealer. Most of the issues are related to the seals around the doors damanged or adheasive is failing. Some poor bondo "rework" on the inner layer door edges as well. Also, the fiberglass panels behind the wheel wells look like they were hand trimmed and very uneven. I could hand grind them myself, but noted it on the warranty to see how the dealer does. Also, the sliding doors in the galley come out of their tracks easily.

I was responsbile for auditing product quality at the end of the line (BMW Z3 and X5 in South Carolina) a few years ago, and with a new model introduction, I understand the issues with first production. The key is, will Airstream improve the build quality as they go, and will the dealer warranty service folks be able to repair the issues effectively. A trip or two to the dealer is expected, but persistant issues will tarnish the reputation.

One interesting point. I bought the optional loading ramps after speaking to the Airstream design engineer to load my Harley on board. They indicated they had done so themselves successfully. When received, the ramps were rated at 400Lbs max each. The bike weights in at 800 lbs!! So I bought a new ramp set up which is capacity rated for a large bike (1500 lbs). Has anyone loaded a "toy" in the Basecamp and if so, how did she do?

Martinto
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Old 02-10-2007, 10:18 PM   #49
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Martinto....

I think you are the first Basecamp posted to the QC threads ever....I am eager to hear more about you and others that have these units and how they perform.....
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Old 02-11-2007, 01:15 AM   #50
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Room enought for ???

Martinto -

Welcome, and glad to hear that you have a Basecamp. WAY COOL!

Took a look at one at the local dealer, and while it seemed in interesting concept, I AM attached to my 34'er....!!! I couldn't see myself wedged in the BC, much less adding the family to the mix...

Is there room for you AND the bike, say for instance, if you are hauling accross the country, in a downpour, or on the way to a bike show where unloading is impractical? Now, I know you said you hadn't yet had a chance to use the BC, but wondering if you had considered that scenario or similar, given the size of you bike and etc... Just curious.

Enjoy that BC, and that Harley. Be safe!

Axel
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Old 02-11-2007, 09:07 AM   #51
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martinto

It will be just my wife and I enjoying the BC as the youngins' are no longer underfoot. We are moving from tent camping to the BC, to a product most would consider the minimalist approach. It's the toy hauler aspect on a lightweight multipurpose platform that most appealed to us. (My wife refers to the BC as George Jetson's horse trailer! That's ok because Harley's are often referred to as "iron horses".)

As to the experience of toy hauler, camping and bad weather...not to worry, this pristine piece of art can withstand the elements parked outisde...what some may consider, another "work of art"!

I'll keep you all informed of how our adventures shake out.

Martinto
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Old 02-19-2007, 03:07 PM   #52
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2007 23' Safari SE/LS Quality

At Silvertwinkie's request, my trailer has a manufacturer date of June 2006. We purchased it off the internet from Bates RV Exchange in Florida in November 2006, and took delivery in December 2006.

I had already started a discussion in the 2007 Safari SE area on what we found on delivery and first use when I received Silvertwinkie's request: http://www.airforums.com/forum...tml#post344041

So, to not be posting things twice, I'll just keep my input on that thread. I hope that's okay with everyone.

Randy
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Old 03-03-2007, 07:34 PM   #53
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Quality was great except for one thing......

Well, yesterday my wife and I excitedly drove to the AS dealer 2.5 hours away from home to pick up our new baby. A quick walk though showed everthing to look wonderfully done, until my wife noticed the "kaleidescope aluminium", which was supposed to be along the galley wall in our 19' CCD "Ocean Breeze" was missing. If you're unfamiliar with the Ocean Breeze package, it is very similar to the QuikSilver but offered in Internationals of all sizes in 2007. When reviewing pictures sent to me a few weeks ago by the dealer, I had noted they installed the wrong table, which I called and asked for a replacement for. That was replaced by the time we arrived. The Kaleidescope Aluminum, though, was the one thing that made my wife say "this is the one. We get this trailer in our size" when we looked at a 23 of the same decor. A call from our sales person to "Al" at AS revealed that it was supposed to be installed, but was left off for whatever reason. This was the first 19' Ocean Breeze produced, so no one at the factory questioned it. Can't be added without removing the galley, wardrobe, too much work for the dealer. So we were offered $1000 off to drive off with it, or order another and wait again. I have to admit I was dissappointed it was missing too, but would have taken the money and ran. As I was about to say "OK, that's fair, let's hitch 'er up", those words that make all men cringe "could we have a few moments to discuss this alone, please" echoed in the small room. Long story short, we asked them to order another one, drove home and the wait continues. But you know what? We're going to have this for a long time, it had better be right. 10 years from now, as I sip my coffee and look across the galley at the shiny swirly aluminum, I'll be glad I waited. Right?
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Old 03-03-2007, 10:56 PM   #54
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10 years from now, as I sip my coffee and look across the galley at the shiny swirly aluminum, I'll be glad I waited. Right?

i'm reasonably sure it isn't aluminum but a plastic laminate.

cool looking but may not last 10 years.

cheers
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Old 03-04-2007, 12:23 AM   #55
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i'm reasonably sure it isn't aluminum but a plastic laminate

Say it ain't so! I love my swirly aluminum and I would wait for it too! (you go girl!)

Finncrew
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Old 03-04-2007, 08:56 AM   #56
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Originally Posted by jonyama
This was the first 19' Ocean Breeze produced, so no one at the factory questioned it.
So, how do they know what to build if they don't know what they are supposed to build?

I think they owe you more than an apology, and how many months will you have to wait for another unit?

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Old 03-05-2007, 09:33 PM   #57
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Wait?

We'll find out how long we have to wait in a week or two. In the bigger scheme of things, not a big deal - we probably would only been able to get out for a weekend or two before Memorial Day weekend anyway. They say it's aluminum with a machined "swirl" and a special coating to keep it shiny - I'll tell more when I get it - If there was anyone with a QuikSilver or an Ocean Breeze they could say if it is or isn't - if we're going to wait for 8 weeks or more for plastic, I will be dissappointed! Jon
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Old 03-06-2007, 07:23 AM   #58
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We're taking delivery on out 25" Ocean Breeze this Friday so I will check out the aluminum wall to see if it is really aluminum or plastic. That one wall was one of the deciding factors for us too - so I think your wife made the right choice!!
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Old 03-06-2007, 10:07 AM   #59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmickle
The only way to be sure that here is no draw from the battery is to put a master switch ON the battery, like the people who have classic cars that are driven infrequently do.

Some uneducated law writer made it a requirement that the propane leak detector not be turned off by the "master switch." Result: Dead battery in a short time, even with the master switch off.
jim-- it's my understanding the reason the propane detector remains on is that unless it is it will become inoperative due to foreign materal collecting on it's sensor. That said, I have found that left connected it will completely discharge a single group 24 battery in about 30 days. Also I have disconnected mine in the last 2 trailers when parking for extended periods of time with no aparent problems.---pieman
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Old 03-29-2007, 12:58 AM   #60
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2007 16' Bambi QC issues

Took delivery of a 2007 16' CCD about a month ago. Have spent every weekend in it so far. Overall the fit and finish has been good but we have had a couple of issues:
1) The faucet leaks in multiple places and needs to be replaced - getting serviced
2) This is more of a design issue : The refrig fan is really loud and after searching for the on/off switch described in the manual we called AS only to find out they removed it on the 2007 model. Many thanks to this thread
http://www.airforums.com/forum...lly-11811.html
which showed me how to install a dual ultra quiet fan system. AS should really deal with this at the factory and switch fan vendors.
3) The sony 10 disc changer in a word sucks. OK so I am a bit of a gaget person and a 10 disc changer seems so 1990 but never the less it barely functions and I hear lots of feedback through the speakers when the CD spins up. Ripped that out replaced with an Ipod soon to be replaced with Sonos.
4) The refigerator door didnt close so I had to add a spacer to make it fit.

With all that said - I love this trailer -its my first and I dont mind working on it a bit but for the $$ I would expect a bit more quality. And the fridge fan is just poor vendor choice the slinex fans are super quiet.
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