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Old 12-24-2009, 03:58 PM   #1
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Quality Control, How Important

I have become more discriminating towards RV's and my money since the meltdown. Over the years I have noticed folks discussing quality control issues all the way from poor engineering and execution to sloppy workmanship including inferior materials. Almost all folks across the board, when purchasing a new TT, 5r or MH expect a year of debugging, some of which is major. We have walked into new rigs and seen inferior materials, sloppy woodwork, wiring exposed and numerous things I would not tolerate in a stick and brick home or automobile. As the Industry moves towards the second phase of the Meltdown and its recovery the time for remaining Manufacturers to begin building anew is at hand. What would you say to them, what advice would you offer? Was the level of QC and workmanship OK before and is it just what we need to live with or could it be improved? How are your "buying" habits affected since the "Meltdown" in regards to RV's and QC? Perhaps they will see this.
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Old 12-24-2009, 04:17 PM   #2
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I believe that the RV Manufacturers did very little actual development themselves. They depended on others to innovate and then bring the innovations to them. They primarily concentrated on floorplans and decoration. In the majority of cases the MH purchase selection is made by the Wife and is based on floorplan and decorating appeal. If you stop to think about it, virtually nothing has been invented by the RV Manufacturers. In a sense, it is almost a shame to call them Manufacturers, they were decorators and assemblers.

I think this will change. Spartan has a new Chassis that is designed to let the Manufacturers concentrate on the "House". It includes the normal chassis but also, engine, radiator, storage, front cap, electronics, tanks, dash, front seats, etc. I believe that with that part of the MH they are much better companies at quality control and actually perform many engineering functions that the RV companies do not. This frees the RV Manufacturer to concentrate on what they were doing anyway in the form of floorplans and decorating and will allow them to develop processes and systems to insure better quality and reliability.

The interesting part of this new type of chassis from the chassis manufacturers, it lowers the cost, or threshold if you will, to enter the market for newcomers. I look to see many newcomers when the market recovers that will start from that base and build up without the baggage that current manufacturers carry. I can envision the house portion being made on an assembly line and being lower and "knitted" to the chassis as a complete unit.

That "not invented here" syndrome has killed many companies and I expect it to kill more in the RV Industry. It's hard to teach an old dog new tricks!
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Old 12-24-2009, 04:24 PM   #3
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There are a lot of things that are better in the RVs than a few years back. But the manufacturers are cutting too many corners to provide a real quality product. But there were a lot of innovative ideas in the older RVs that have gone by the wayside for the sake of glitz.

Quality control does not mean much at all if you do not have any quality to control. The accountants want the biggest shiniest box possible for the lowest $$$. Engineers want a well built box for a reasonable cost.

The consumer needs to start demanding a better built product and leave the sloppy and poorly built units on the lot.

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Old 12-24-2009, 05:13 PM   #4
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But if you build "crap" we as consumers will end up buying another RV within a short period of time. That must be what some producers think we RV consumers will do. Just keep trading up, thus producing another sale. It may not be from company #1 but another brand. Lets face it, there are brands out there that are targeted to certain "Price Points". For the most part you get what you pay for. I have always said "fit & finish" must be the #1 objective to both the buyer and the maker. If your at a RV show and see moldings or trim pieces coming off, wobbly drawer slides, mis-aligned latches.....what do you think will happen after a few 1000 miles of road travel to your unit. I don't care how much my wife likes a floorplan, if it is 2nd rate construction or materials for that price range, I'll just walk away. I will not compromise quality. Lets hope that with the down-sizing of the RV industry, quality and detail increases...
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Old 12-24-2009, 05:56 PM   #5
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i was in qc for a gmc/chev up fitter.to me the qc/mgmt have to change their attittude from hurry up lets get it outta here to would i buy this product. it's a whole lot easier to fix some thing at the factory and probably sometimes cheaper than having the dealer fix it under warranty.next thing,if the workers arent happy how is the cust. going to be happy with shoddy work there's alot people outta work get the one's that would be happy to come and do a good job. sorry to rant.i have more to say but dont want to offend anybody nothing can be made perfect but shoddy work is shoddy work people need to take more pride in their work. look at the details
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Old 12-24-2009, 07:13 PM   #6
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Attention to detail, and genuine quality control and engineering for a LONG TERM product has been pretty poor in general. Especially in terms of weather proofing - just read the boards, and look at most any RV older than 10 years or so, and see the comments related to water intrusion damage - damage that is so typical as to where and how it originates is shameful for those that make them and accept payment for them!

Added to that, is the too frequent mis-match of chassis to the "box" that is next applied to it, and you too often have an unsafe and poorly handling final package - that TOO is too frequently evident in the various brands forums of boards like this one.

I'd venture to say that IF the major designers, engineers, and CEO's of these RV's had to actually travel and LIVE in a typical 10 year old model of their own manufacture for a significant period of time, the more conscientious of them would most certainly be better off from the experience - and so would their customers - especially if they ALSO had to experience the "adventure" of dealing with the typical service, repair and maintenance of what they themselves have designed, built and sold!
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Old 12-25-2009, 08:11 AM   #7
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I think the customer (us) is the biggest enemy in RV quality. Many (maybe even most?) of us demand all the latest geegaws and give our money to the company that supplies the most for the lowest price. That is not conducive to a quality product.

If just one "assembler" would offer a line known for high quality rather than high style, we would have a chance to vote with our dollars and maybe show there is a demand for quality even if the RV was not the most stylish, with the biggest LCD tv and largest fridge? Actually there are a few builders who do that. Lazy Days (Class C) is one and Born Free (Class B) is another. But the Class A market seems to be driven primarily by styling and high tech flash.
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Old 12-25-2009, 08:58 AM   #8
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The problem is quality cost a bit more and too many new RVers look at big and flashy and low price. As mentioned, they learn and move up to a bit better in a lot of cases. The age range of the market has moved down to younger buyers needing more room for the kids. They have less money and look for BIG. Also, the manufacturers need to realize that the population growth in this country is very low (like 1.3 replacement rate), so they do not have an endless supply of new and unknowing customers.

But you do have to have Quality before you can have Quality Control.

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Old 12-27-2009, 11:57 AM   #9
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Some years back, I was at the Louisville RVIA show and talked to the CEO of, I think, Rexhall (sp?). My memory of the conversation was that he exported to Europe and the business there was different than the U.S. Here, he had to spend time to present a new gadget each Fall at the big show. In Europe, the manufacturers come out with a new model relatively infrequently but concentrate on improving their existing model as much as possible during the span of manufacture.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RV Roamer [Gary] View Post
I think the customer (us) is the biggest enemy in RV quality. Many (maybe even most?) of us demand all the latest geegaws and give our money to the company that supplies the most for the lowest price. That is not conducive to a quality product.
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Old 12-27-2009, 06:30 PM   #10
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ok, here's my take. and i'm sure i'll catch a lot of flak. freightliner says they build a chassis in 2 hrs! fleetwood and winni say they build a coach in 3 days! quality control? i don't think so. after a couple years on these forums its obvious they all have problems, even the high end ones. JMHO so don't expect me to bantter back and forth. dave
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Old 12-27-2009, 07:15 PM   #11
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There was a time when you could walk into a dealership and know what "class" of RV you were looking at. Most people knew they could spend more money and expect a better unit. Now days , unless you study, you have no idea where the model stands in line of quality and price.

A good example of this is the automotive industry. Let's use Honda as an example. Back in the 70's you could purchase a Civic. You knew it was below an Acccord in price & quality. The same STILL holds true today! Honda built their reputation on realibility and people knowing their product.

Now days the most important thing a manufacturer can do is "Come out with a New model" every year so the salesman has something to "SELL". How many salesmen can actually tell you how the unit is built or what type of covering is on the roof, and why it is used over another product.

Most of the time it is glitz or gadgets, which don't really impress me as I'd rather see a well built unit that is reliable. I guess that's why I still drive an 01 unit. I just don't see or know of any Quality Coaches being built that doesn't have to rely on looks or a new nameplate.
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Old 12-28-2009, 07:51 AM   #12
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Thumbs down

I agree with the QC problem as mentioned above regarding things like weather proofing. Most of the manufacturer's brag about how they test each RV in their weather chamber by pummeling them with high pressure water to simulate a rain storm. This might be true in the short term, but that doesn't even come close to a rain storm that last's for hours or even days. A short downburst of rain, even windblown rain, isn't nearly as devastating as a long term rainstorm.

For example, our rig has survived short many downbursts, but during a full day worth of rain, with enough blowing where the rain got under the slide awning it caused a big problem. Even after the storm water, not alot, just set there laying up against the weather seal along the top of the slide. The main seal did it's part but the water seeped under the seal where the top of the slide meets the vertical aluminum frame. Some of this water worked it's way inside and soaked the paneling on the inside and leaked down the walls. The only way to prevent this is to pull the slides in. So during a rain storm, where we can't get out we are stuck with a scrunched up home with no room to move around because the slides are all in.

Granted my coach is almost 6 years old, but for a vehicle that costs over $100,000 I for one expect more. Plus having only a 1-year warranty for something like this is ridiculous. I guarantee if I ever decide to get another, when I go looking for our next rig, I'm going to be pretty picky. Of course the worse part of about it is, you don't know or can't tell how long this stuff will last.
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Old 12-28-2009, 12:07 PM   #13
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Another issue in RV engineering and design, is allowing for inevitable condensation - even the most leak-free design will develop inner wall condensation - worse in some climates and seasons than others. If no proper venting is built into the design - and I don't know of any that DO, even a leak-free RV will eventually develop inner wall moisture damage and mold - stick houses provide foundation and roof vents to deal with this - but apparently the RV industry hasn't figured it out yet...
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Old 12-29-2009, 08:09 AM   #14
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I've noticed when condensation shows up in our rig it's almost always related to the corners and joints. The common denominator is this is where the aluminum, in my case, framing is. It makes sense that the metal will carry the cold from the outside to the inside. Knowing this, I wonder if there's anything that could be done during manufacturing to alleviate at least part of this phenomenon. Like maybe a layer of insulating foam material between the metal and the fiberglass exterior and/or interior.
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