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Old 01-19-2005, 04:29 PM   #1
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1985 25' Sovereign
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Cool Airstream Quality Control in 1985

I'm curious......When I took out my black and grey water tanks, I found a lot of spent rivits. Sawdust was also every where. Then when I took out the potable water tank there were more spent rivits and sawdust. The one that flipped my cookie was the "DO NOT USE" that was written on the side of my potable water tank with a marks a lot. You see; it was evident that my tank had been dropped at the factory and cracked. It was also apparant that they still used it anyway. Go figure! They must have thought that the general joe out there wouldn't take that type job on by themselves. At least not until the warranty expired. Mostly curious if others have run into the same trash?
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Old 01-19-2005, 05:13 PM   #2
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I can't speak to 1985, but I've found many many similar things on my 1997 Excella. The first trip we took in it was for 3 weeks duration, and by the time we returned home, there was a list of 56 things that needed fixing. Of that list, there were virtually no small items. Most were like: replace broken leaking skylight, replace shower head, reassemble and glue cabinet doors which are falling apart, replace shower door, rebuild commode stand, etc. Generally, craftsmanship was horrible. The upside is, Airstream is a lot easier to tow than say Holiday Rambler. You have to put up with some schlock to get some benefits.

On a side note, can anyone tell me why they mount the toilet with the seat nearly 20" off the floor when even handicap toilets in commercial buildings are only about 19". My feet dangle as I ponder the question! Oh no! my legs have gone to sleep!
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Old 01-19-2005, 06:48 PM   #3
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Talking Glad to see that nothing Changed

in the 10 years after mine was built. I documented a few of my recent findings in this thread a while back, every time I take something else apart I find another factory oopsie. But at least I know it is going back together better this time around.

Aaron
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Old 01-19-2005, 08:13 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Thompson
On a side note, can anyone tell me why they mount the toilet with the seat nearly 20" off the floor when even handicap toilets in commercial buildings are only about 19". My feet dangle as I ponder the question! Oh no! my legs have gone to sleep!
On some units, the black water tank was mounted directly under the toilet, above the floor. AFAIK all toilets were placed at that height for uniformity. Mine has the tank on top of the floor, a friend has a similar unit with the tank under the floor, both look the same, except his has a small compartment under his toilet.
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Old 01-21-2005, 07:38 PM   #5
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Rivet Q C and the 'Process of assembly"

I believe that I read last Spring, in Forbes with the Airstream cover & Wade Thompson, that one of the key processes at the manufacturing plant that helped the Company achieve financial success was implementing the remuneration to employes based on completed tasks. The more you complete, the more you get paid.

As this approach may increase production and reduce assembly billing time it is not conducive to "clean up" or great care along the way. Once something is assembled and covered over, any QC inspection (another task to complete) will not reveal the debris & quirks we, as restorers, discover.

Personally, I'm gratified that the facility is still in operation and still in the USA.
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Old 01-21-2005, 09:44 PM   #6
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How many major products can you buy that are made in the USA with USA parts. My door lock had a deadbolt made of potmetal, it failed. I had a machine shop repair that and the main catch. My 94 has been to 49 statea in North America and all though central America as well as Canada. Sure we have issues but no more so than you would with anyother quality product. I have been more than pleased with how mine has held up to being pulled all over the place. It hasn't been babied but neither has it been abused. I have no desire to replace it anytime soon.
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Old 01-22-2005, 07:39 AM   #7
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As I get older I realize how many of the things that were once built in America are now being out sourced to third world countries. At one time I didn't give it much thought, but I now look for and try to buy things made in the U.S.A. As some one that works with my hands,to make a living and furniture that I hope people will enjoy for genrerations. I'm willing to pay more to know that all of the tags on the objects that I own don't say "Made in China".I take pride in driving my Suburban and towing an Airstream, both quality products. I waited a long time to afford a Martin guitar ( the last of the guitar companys to hand build in the U.S.A.) a HD 28 VR, for those who know Martins. A beautiful hand made wooden instrument. Just recently the bridge developed a crack all the way across the bridge pins. It was upsetting for something that cost so much. The nice thing is: Martins have a life time warranty to the original owner.They fix it at their cost, no questions. A U. S. company that takes pride in what they make and stand behind it. I get the feeling that Airstream really try to turn out a quality product and they do ,from what I've read on this forum, take pains to make the customer happy. I think they have a ways to go in getting the people on the production line to take the same pride in each of their indivdual jobs. The finished product is only as good as the weak link in the assembly. The QC guy can't be everywhere at once. So a worker that has no real pride in his job sweeps the debris down between some partition and it's covered over. Airstream has a big job in getting everyone involved in building that trailer to take pride in his or her job no matter how small. They also have an obligation to the customer not let some of these trailers leave the factory with some of the more blatant quality control issues that you hear about on this forum. I love Airstreams. When you see these big ( and small) shiney trailers rolling down the road they are a testament to what the American worker can do.
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Old 01-22-2005, 08:17 AM   #8
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Craftsman,
I am in full agreement with you. I work for a national commercial roofing contractor. We have a QC program in place, it is part of my job to see that the products we install are done correctly...the first time. I also have to see that the product is installed in a timely manner (production) We have had some crews that production was their only goal, but it bit them in the butt, when the company started holding bonuses until the job had been completed, and fully inspected. What really PO'ed them was when a job started developing problems 5-6 months down the road due to QC issues the company started "backcharging" the crews by withholding the cost of repairs from the next bonus check My goal on a job is zero errors (hasn't happened yet) and getting the project completed in the allotted production time. ( happened several times). I also am distressed by the lack of American made products. However we have nobody to blame it on but the American Public and their "Walmart" mentality...I want it at the cheapest price. Well guess what you got the cheapest price and the cheapest product for your troubles. And a house full of cheap crap! My grandparents had nice things in their house but the house wasn't crammed with stuff like people's homes today. Most of their furniture was handmade in the Amanda Colonies. But how many people today are willing to spend a month's+ salary for a plain wooden drop leaf table and 4 chairs. Prime Example: We love home made ice cream ( I know what I put in it and there aren't any chemicals or stabalizers) My old White Mountain Ice Cream freezer gear case is finally worn out after 15 years of twice a month use I can buy a cheap freezer made in china from wally world for maybe $30? that will probably last for a couple of years...if I am lucky. The replacement parts for my White Mountain are going to run me close to $75 with a replacement freezer costing over $150. And I am not even sure they are still being made in New Hampshire anymore. BTW Walmart IS NOT a place that I like to shop, but that is a whole 'nother issue.

Aaron (an American worker looking for American Made Products)
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Old 01-22-2005, 08:44 PM   #9
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When opening the access port below our water tank, we experienced the same thing - screws, metal cuttings, rivets, sawdust, plastic, and other stuff dropped out.

With our LONG list of warranty repairs, we hope we have caught and fixed the many quality issues. Even with that said, we still have to replace the floor.
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Old 01-22-2005, 11:30 PM   #10
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The '66 Overlander I'm currently refurbishing had an interesting installation technique - the drain line from the kitchen runs between the water heater and a partition, except there wasn't enough room. So, the installers beat in the sides of the water heater jacket to make room for the drain line. I think this is refered to euphemistically as "Concussion Engineering." This was all original equipment and original installation. My view on past Airstream quality control is that it ended when the trailer was turned over to the appliance installers. I think it must be better now, or at least I hope so.
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Old 01-24-2005, 01:13 PM   #11
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I also look for and purchase "AMERICAN MADE". Not much of it out there. I like wearing Converse old style tennis shoes. They are made in China now and distributed by a company in Kentucky. I guess if you want the product, on some things you'll just have to purchase it. Back to the QC question of Airstream. It doesn't seem like it would take too much time to sweep up after you make a mess. Hire a youngster to use a broom? I, as a blue collar worker am expected to get the job done on time and clean up after myself. So I don't buy it when it is said that they don't have time. Also as a blue collar worker I think too much emphasis is placed on the time line and not enough is placed on quality.
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Old 01-24-2005, 06:46 PM   #12
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I served an apprenticship in the Norfolk Naval Shipyard from 1965-1969 as a shipfitter, steel worker for the non-shipyard folks. The objective then was to do the job right, regardless of the time it might take. We understood that men's lives were at stake and the quality of work that we did may make the difference in men's lives. The Vietnam conflict was in full swing and our ships were daily in harm's way. If we saw something that wasn't right we would make the repair no questions asked, within reason. By the time I retired in 2000 as an engineering tech things had changed. We were so concerned with costs that we lost sight of the big picture. No one wants to train mechanics, but they want only qualified persons to do the work. You have to take the time to teach your mechanics that you expect and demand a qualilty product from them. Most mechanics want to do a good job and they take pride in their work. I have found that pushing them for more production can result in shortcuts that come back to bite you. Train your people well and let them do their job and you might be surprised at the quality of the end product.
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