Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Factory Tour at Tiffin Motor Home

We love factory tours, so of course we are going to take advantage of the Tiffin Motor Home Tour while we are waiting around Red Bay. You get to see all the stages of building a motor home, starting with the Freightliner chassis. Mark is checking over this one especially close, since it is the same one our home is built on.

Inside the factory, we got to see the floor as it was lowered onto a chassis right beside us.  This is a great tour where you are walking on the factory line, and allowed to take pictures of everything.

After the sub-flooring, comes the prefabricated tile surface, with all the notches cut out for appliances and some cabinetry.  Giant suction cups pick up the floor to move it onto the chassis next.

It was interesting to see some of the parts that are hidden, but are very important in the life of someone that lives in an RV.  These are the big holding tanks that are waiting to be secured underneath that chassis.

This large machine is computer programmed to cut away all the nooks and crannies needed for wiring, windows, vents, etc.  While it cuts, it also vacuums up the dust.  With all the sanding and cutting happening in this building, we were amazed at how little dust was in the air.

We could see another aspect of the motor home that it usually takes a trip up the ladder to view.  This is a completed roof assembly with its air-conditioners, television satellite and antenna, vents, and wiring waiting to top off a coach.

In another part of the factory we walked through the cabinet shop where the inside components were being built.

There were a few computerized machines making mass-production cuts.

But we were amazed that most of the work was being done by real people with their real hands. One of the things that we love about our coach is its solid wood cabinetry, and these people are artisans in our eyes.

The furniture is stained and finished, and then secured to the appropriate part of the motor home. This is a large slide-out unit (minus its drawers and cabinet doors) ready to become a wall in a new coach.

By this time the coach has walls, but we can see straight through it because there will be a large slide-out unit attached to both sides. The driver's-side slide has been assembled in another part of the plant, and now is rolled to its new home, ready for installation.

This picture shows the smaller back slide, being lifted into place by pulleys and held by a big yellow strap.  It will meet up with the opening in the back, and secured to the slide rails that will bring it in and out (hopefully). Mark was checking out the placement of those slide motors, since that is why we are visiting Red Bay.

Because we were allowed to walk anywhere, and ask any questions, we could see the progress from both sides.

Next step is the front windshield and end cap.

We could see the line of motor homes in their various stages of production all the way to the end of the building.

The next section of the building looked a little like a spaghetti factory.  Bundles of wires were hanging in organized mayhem everywhere. Each wire is ran through a machine that stamps its function and size every six inches, so there will be no confusion when hooking things up.

Specialists then make sense of that tangle of spaghetti to put together wiring harnesses for specific motor homes that are headed their way down the production line. It's hard to believe that our coach has two miles of wiring hidden inside, while the longer motor homes will have over three miles.

Tiffin will assemble 12 motorhomes per day, so there are a dozen tubs of wiring that will be filled and emptied each day.

At the end of the building there is a group of motor homes that just arrived back from their painting facility. These coaches were going through their final inspections and clean up. We were free to walk through all of them, getting to see the different models that Tiffin builds.

Outside are the motor homes ready to be shipped to their waiting customers.  Tiffin only builds coaches that have been ordered by individuals or dealerships, so there are no orphans here. The parking area is painted yellow for a reason, as this is called the yellow brick road.

Those bright and shiny coaches look much different than this Tiffin Allegro motor home parked next to the visitor center.  One of the first models they made here in Red Bay, it was top of the line in the 1970's with its green shag carpet.

This is actually our second tour of the Tiffin factory.  We were here a year and a half ago, when we were shopping for our retirement coach. This time we had a new perspective, having lived in one of their motor homes for over a year now. We were also inspired to return for another tour because we got a free night in their campground with our signed tour coupon. Even without that inspiration, we would highly recommend this tour!

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