While waiting in Red Bay for service one of the good time killers is
a tour of the Tiffin Factory.
So today at 0930 I presented myself at the welcome center and joined
about 20 other folks for the tour.
It was quite impressive!
The first thing that I learned was that Tiffin Manufactures much of what goes
into their product themselves.
Unlike many RV Manufactures who purchase the cheapest that can be found on
the open market - Tiffin makes it all in house.
The woodworking is one example.
The carpentry shop was about the size of 2 football fields.
Tiffin builds all of its cabinetry in shop.
Tongue & groove, glued and screwed. The cabinetry is built to remain tight and not
start to rattle itself apart in two years.
All the cabinetry is marked with the number identifier of the coach that it is destined for.
The light in the far distance is the other end of the building and it is equally wide.
In another building Tiffin assembles the roof panels.
A computerized router cuts the channels for the rooftop
electrical conduits, the Air conditioner condensate drains,
the A/C supply and return ducting etc.
A thick fiberglass roof panel is glued on top, and the roof top
appliances (Satellite dome, A/C's etc) are installed.
Again - the roof has the number identifying which coach it will be mated with.
Elsewhere in the same building is the electrical shop.
Here Tiffin creates the 4 miles of wiring harnesses that will go into each coach.
Below each wire runs thru a computerized printer which prints the cable identifier number
on it (tells what that cable is for) plus the coach id number (again - what coach it goes to)
It cuts them to length.
Here you can see the printing on the cable.
Those cables are then taken by the guy making the harness and assembled
in the harness station.
Each wire enters the harness at a numbered spot and leaves at a numbered spot.
Below is one harness just beginning.
Below is another harness a bit further along.
Below is a completed harness being taped and wrapped with flexible conduit.
There are dozens of harness assembled for each coach.
Each is assembled for separate systems such
as home theatre, ceiling lighting, safety cameras, etc etc.
Tiffin also builds its fiberglass end caps.
If you had an accident and needed an old cap - they have the molds and can make one.
The fiberglass end caps are made at their plant about 20 miles away in Mississippi.
Tiffin also makes their slide rooms. (are you starting to see a trend here?)
Our last RV had all these parts made by outside vendors. Each time there
was a warranty problem the finger pointing began.
4 Allison Automatic Transmissions...
no Tiffin does not make those.
Thats a lot of money sitting right there in those 4 crates.
A stack of Michelin Tires.
Tiffin only installs Michelin on their Motorhomes.
So... Now its time to put all this together into a Motorhome!
Inside the plant the Chassis will be driven from station to station.
At each, certain work will be performed and then it will be driven to the next down the line.
There are 19 stations on the assembly line.
There are two side by side assembly lines. One is for the gasoline powered
coaches and the other is for the diesel pushers like ours.
Remember the chassis from the other day?
This one is transiting thru the welding shop and has the start of the
underside framing in place. This will form the start of the cargo area.
Here is a chassis with all the underside framing in place.
It is finished with the welding shop and now is in line to enter the assembly line
and become a Motorhome
Now it has the underfloor plumbing and electrical harnesses in place.
The Fresh water and waste water tanks are installed.
Now the tile flooring is installed.
Next some of the internal cabinetry is installed.
Next walls and then the roof is lowered into place.
Interior work is completed, the slides are installed.
Soon it is a finished Motorhome ready for paint.
The paint shop is several miles away. (another tour for another day)
After the paint shop - the coaches come back to the factory for some final touches
and the all important checkup and final cleaning.
One other point I learned is that Tiffin practices in line inspection and correction.
What this means is that quality exceptions are fixed immediately after they occur.
As a result the people most familiar with a product are those who fix it.
By the time the product gets to the end of the assembly line it
is generally good to go.
Here, at the last stop, they install the diamond coating.
Its a thick, clear, vinyl like covering that protects the front paint
from road hazards, stones etc.
The folks who put it on need extreme patience for when it is done there can be no bubbles.
We were encouraged to stick around, tour as much of the factory as we like on our own, and
ask any of the workers any questions that we wished.
It was quite an experience.
Outside, lining the "yellow brick road", are completed Coaches waiting for
delivery to their new owners.
This is the welcome center where you start the tour.
This is the Allegro that started it all.
This is a 1976 model, the first was built in 1972.
Note the 70's color schemes.
We've come a long way baby!