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Old 04-29-2021, 02:40 PM   #1
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Does a HIGH QUALITY Travel Trailer exist?

First off, please excuse my rant as I'm getting very frustrated trying to find a quality made, NOT adequately made TT.

Is there any such thing as a high quality travel trailer out there? Is there a manufacturer who has a consistent and stringent "Quality Control" program that every one of their trailers must pass?

I have looked at so many TT's and have not found one that would pass a QC test by any self respecting craftsman or anyone with any sort of pride of workmanship. Please don't tell me that craftsmanship isn't possible as they must keep prices low, I've worked in manufacturing and I know that you can have both. You just need to make the initial investment of time in setting up efficient policies, procedures and manufacturing processes. This investment usually has a 100% return in the first year by way of reduction in production delays and warranty claims.

The best of the worst trailers I've looked at would achieve a Grade C at best, most would be a D and many would be a F. North American Grade Schools rate a Grade C as "Adequate", This turns out to be the average best rating on the TT's I've looked at, can you imagine telling anyone that you are "Adequate" at your job, or anything in life as far as that goes. We're teaching a generation of workers that "Adequate" is acceptable, by continuing to buy and accept their subpar products, and then we complain when a much high quality product comes in from a foreign country, we have no one but ourselves to blame for accepting poor quality products. Good enough should never be good enough!!

Some of the best indicators of quality is to look inside cupboards, panels and storage compartments and look at the quality and attention to detail that the plumbing and electrical has been routed? Are there chaffing and crimping issues clearly visible? How many screws have partially or completely missed their mark. Another great indicator is have the pass through holes been accurately cut or just hacked in by someone more worried about checking their phone at coffee break. Can you imagine if the auto industry made cars this way?? Just look at the quality, fit and finish of a low volume $40,000 car as compared to a $40,000 TT.

Below is how I grade the trailers I've looked at and please let me know if I've missed a TT manufacturer that actually has quality, NOT just adequate quality. I would reallly like to buy a TT and have zero problems paying for quality, but not junk which is all I've seen so far.

Grade levels
A - Excellent
B - Very Good
C - Adequate
D - Marginal
F - Failure

Bigfoot = C+
Oliver = C+
Airstream = C to C+
Lance = C to C-
Arctic Fox = C to C-
Outdoors RV = C to C-
All others I've looked at = D to F

P.S. You would see a significant improvement in quality if the RV industry had a Lemon Law. The RV industry would initially falsely complain that a Lemon Law would add significantly to production costs which would have to be passed on to their customers, but the practice of competition would take care of most of that.

I'll conclude with one final statement; Can you imagine telling one of your customers that they have to pay more if they want the job done right?!
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Old 04-29-2021, 03:08 PM   #2
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What you want is readily available. Contact one of the custom trailer builders and tell them what you want. You will get it. You will also pay very dearly for it.
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Old 04-29-2021, 03:46 PM   #3
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What you want is readily available. Contact one of the custom trailer builders and tell them what you want. You will get it. You will also pay very dearly for it.
Any recommendations?
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Old 04-29-2021, 03:53 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowbird69 View Post

Grade levels
A - Excellent
B - Very Good
C - Adequate
D - Marginal
F - Failure

Bigfoot = C+
Oliver = C+
Airstream = C to C+
Lance = C to C-
Arctic Fox = C to C-
Outdoors RV = C to C-
All others I've looked at = D to F

[/B][/U]
You need to give a criteria for your grading system.

What is a failure for example - gas leak leading to death or an explosion?

What is the difference between Excellent and very good?

I had a Casita for 10 years - not one problem, how do I grade that with your system?

I have a ORV now - I'll wait more info before grading.
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Old 04-29-2021, 04:42 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by PS56 View Post
You need to give a criteria for your grading system.

What is a failure for example - gas leak leading to death or an explosion?

What is the difference between Excellent and very good?

I had a Casita for 10 years - not one problem, how do I grade that with your system?

I have a ORV now - I'll wait more info before grading.
First off, this is simply a forum for mutually beneficially discussion and exchange of information, NO need to use a sarcastic tone about whether a gas leak leading to explosion or death should rate a Failure grade or not, I think anyone with common sense would automatically know that it would be a Failure.

As you'll notice the fiberglass trailer manufacturers in my ratings are usually slightly higher quality than traditional constructed TT's, therefore they get a higher grade. I have not seen a Casita, therefore can not give them a rating, but have heard they are of similar quality to other fiberglass TT, and are of better quality than the non fiberglass TT manufacturers.

Below is a clarification as per your "good" question on Grade ratings:

Grade system criteria
Minor defect, 1 point per defect - mainly cosmetic in nature, but may lead to partial or complete failure far enough in the future.
Major Defect, 10 points per defect - Mainly structural and/or safety in nature and could cause a safety hazard and/or complete system/structural failure causing injury or death.

A = 0-2 points
B = 3-5 points
C = 6-10 points
D = 11- 15 points
F = 16+ points
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Old 04-29-2021, 04:47 PM   #6
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NO need to use a sarcastic tone about whether a gas leak leading to explosion or death should rate a Failure grade or not, I think anyone with common sense would automatically know that it would be a Failure.
I don't know how to do that. But I could say that there is no need to be so thin skinned. But I won't.

I was just pointing out that your scale did not have a criteria for the grades.
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Old 04-29-2021, 04:50 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Snowbird69 View Post

A = 0-2 points
B = 3-5 points
C = 6-10 points
D = 11- 15 points
F = 16+ points
2006 Casita = A

ORV TT 23rks 2017 = A
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Old 04-29-2021, 05:33 PM   #8
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I don't know how to do that. But I could say that there is no need to be so thin skinned. But I won't.
I wasn't being thin skinned, I was simply pointing out that the purpose of this Forum is for free and open information exchange, by definition, sarcasm does not lead to open and productive information exchange. It was not necessary to make such a statement unless you are the type of person who only feels good about themselves by pointing out a flaw or a far reaching omission in what someone else has said.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PS56 View Post
I was just pointing out that your scale did not have a criteria for the grades.
I was stating that this was a "good" question, no sarcasm intended.

However, the point of my post wasn't intended to get into the extreme details of the grading system that you asked for, but to simply voice my disappointment in their quality as a whole, wonder why the consumer continues to support it through their purchases, and finally, to see if there is any quality manufacturers out there that use a QC check list on every trailer at every stage of construction.

Finally, I'm happy for you that you haven't noticed any problems with either of your TT's.
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Old 04-29-2021, 05:51 PM   #9
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My grading system is a bit more leinent as the trailers built today are better than 10 years ago imho. At least the features are. These features include Solid Entry Steps, USB charging ports, Solar, LED lights to name a few. My 2011 5th wheel had lights that got hot. The plastic light covers discolored. It also had the crappy spongy entry steps. I think the TPO and PVC roofing material is better also.

I rate the Rockwood/Flagstaff trailers that I have seen a solid 'B'. Now that is higher than the Arctic Fox I have seen which I rate a 'C-', although the Arctic Fox is supposed to be better.
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Old 04-29-2021, 05:53 PM   #10
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My Forest River Wildwood looks like the finish work on it was done by a group of kids taking one of those classes that Home Depot used to conduct where the kids would build a bird cage or something and went home with an orange apron.

I love the trailer, great floor plan. Tows reasonably well. AC seems to work well, lot of great features. I love that it is setup for my CPAP machine.

But the doors on the storage units under the dining room table benches and the couch would not stay shut. Not just not stay shut while going down the road, but literally, the couch would fall open if you walked too close. The catches were so poorly mounted that they were useless. (Velcro seems to be working wonders.) I am probably going to mount a support on part of the framework of the couch before it breaks when I sit on the couch.

The smoke detector is mounted on the ceiling where the slide goes in & out, it was not properly mounted and fell off, got caught when opening the slide, and damaged a piece of trim on the slide.

This past weekend, another trim piece fell off the slide. Must have bounced under the slide during the drive. When I opened the slide, it ripped a big hole in the vinyl floor.

The gas stove has an issue with the grille bouncing out of place when going down the road. There may be a simple solution for this, but I don't see it yet.

This is probably a dealer issue as opposed to a Forest River issue, but discovered that the nuts holding the battery cables down were not even finger tight.

None of these items would probably meet a lemon law claim, but they are annoying. I can only imagine the problems the manufacturers are having getting quality workers. And obviously, the dealers can't find good mechanics to do maintenance work.
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Old 04-29-2021, 06:16 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by carybosse View Post
My Forest River Wildwood looks like the finish work on it was done by a group of kids taking one of those classes that Home Depot used to conduct where the kids would build a bird cage or something and went home with an orange apron.

I love the trailer, great floor plan. Tows reasonably well. AC seems to work well, lot of great features. I love that it is setup for my CPAP machine.

But the doors on the storage units under the dining room table benches and the couch would not stay shut. Not just not stay shut while going down the road, but literally, the couch would fall open if you walked too close. The catches were so poorly mounted that they were useless. (Velcro seems to be working wonders.) I am probably going to mount a support on part of the framework of the couch before it breaks when I sit on the couch.

The smoke detector is mounted on the ceiling where the slide goes in & out, it was not properly mounted and fell off, got caught when opening the slide, and damaged a piece of trim on the slide.

This past weekend, another trim piece fell off the slide. Must have bounced under the slide during the drive. When I opened the slide, it ripped a big hole in the vinyl floor.

The gas stove has an issue with the grille bouncing out of place when going down the road. There may be a simple solution for this, but I don't see it yet.

This is probably a dealer issue as opposed to a Forest River issue, but discovered that the nuts holding the battery cables down were not even finger tight.

None of these items would probably meet a lemon law claim, but they are annoying. I can only imagine the problems the manufacturers are having getting quality workers. And obviously, the dealers can't find good mechanics to do maintenance work.
IMHO - I agree with you about the industry having problems getting quality workers, but its the responsibility of management to train and motivate their poorly motivated workers into highly motivated workers, instead on placing more importance on quantity over quality.

I once worked for a man that I still highly respect for his ability to lead and motivate his staff into an incredibly productive and high quality manufacturing facility. He used a simple concept that many manufacturers use of pay by the piece, but he didn't let his greed rob his staff by constantly reducing how much he paid them. He paid his people by the piece they produced, however each and every piece must pass QC by an initial department manager and then a general manager. He would have monthly competitions that paid bonuses to the Team with the highest QC and productivity. I spoke with many of his ex employees after he sold the business and many said it was the best place they ever worked and would even take their work home with them so to speak in the way that they said they would catch themselves thinking about how to do their jobs better even on their days off. How often do you hear that now a days.
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Old 04-29-2021, 06:46 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Snowbird69 View Post
I wasn't being thin skinned, I was simply pointing out that the purpose of this Forum is for free and open information exchange, by definition, sarcasm does not lead to open and productive information exchange. It was not necessary to make such a statement unless you are the type of person who only feels good about themselves by pointing out a flaw or a far reaching omission in what someone else has said.



.
Sarcasm, like thin skin is a matter of opinion. You might feel I was being sarcastic; but I know I was not.

But saying you needed a criteria is a fact.
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Old 04-29-2021, 06:47 PM   #13
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I think you need to lower your expectations. Plain and simple it's the nature of the beast. RV's will never be built with the same quality as say a smart phone or some other product that doesn't require multiple suppliers where quality can range from junk to perfect and everything's thrown together in a semi controlled atmosphere.
Just because you think it can be done doesn't mean it will ever happen.
All one has to do is look at all the irregular finishes, lack of high quality components installed and the overall design and it's easy to see that all RV's will fail much faster than other products that are built under much tighter control.

RV;s are not for those that require perfection. They're a rolling box full of mostly inferior products of which most would never buy but for the fact that they're in the RV.
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Old 04-29-2021, 07:12 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Snowbird69 View Post
IMHO - I agree with you about the industry having problems getting quality workers, but its the responsibility of management to train and motivate their poorly motivated workers into highly motivated workers, instead on placing more importance on quantity over quality.

I once worked for a man that I still highly respect for his ability to lead and motivate his staff into an incredibly productive and high quality manufacturing facility. He used a simple concept that many manufacturers use of pay by the piece, but he didn't let his greed rob his staff by constantly reducing how much he paid them. He paid his people by the piece they produced, however each and every piece must pass QC by an initial department manager and then a general manager. He would have monthly competitions that paid bonuses to the Team with the highest QC and productivity. I spoke with many of his ex employees after he sold the business and many said it was the best place they ever worked and would even take their work home with them so to speak in the way that they said they would catch themselves thinking about how to do their jobs better even on their days off. How often do you hear that now a days.
I understand - I spent some 25 years or so in manufacturing.

One of the issues is that todays workers do not want to get their hands dirty, hard work involves using their thumbs on their iphone. Training good workers are difficult, and you have to keep them around.

I am in a totally different environment today, but found myself running a business almost 2 months ago. Very small business, we have 3 fulltime workers, contract out some very special skillsets when we need it. I recognized that we were not paying the staff what I consider a fair wage considering what we expect of them. I handed out 7 to 15% raises this afternoon. I can't afford to lose them - training replacements would be a chore, if I could find people willing to step into this stressful environment.

As I guy who has a few thousand dollars of tools in my garage, who has machined parts to go in scanning electron microscopes and corrosive salt mines, with a hobby in woodworking at times, I understand that it takes some skill to install a cabinet door, drive a few thousand screws a day to assemble products, etc. You have to train people, they have to want to learn the skillset, and they need to have time to develop the skills needed. Of course, as an old engineer, I know you have to design the process to have quality as well. Fixtures that enable the worker to make high quality products. Processes that can be reproduced time after time.

The first time I struck an arc to weld, the first time I used a band saw, the first time I installed a door knob, it wasn't all that pretty. (OK, maybe it still ain't pretty.) But with a little bit of experience, it does get better.

Based on some of the comments here, I guess we, the consumer, have just gotten used to crappy quality and have set our bar way too low.

Guess I need to plan to make the upgrades to my TT as I go along to bring it up to my standards.
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