Monday, December 5, 2011

Roughing it Smoothly

As told by The Cowboy. (That means this is a lengthy post. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back and be prepared for more cowboyisms.)
We had the opportunity to stop on our way south and see how and where our BABY (Phaeton) was born. For any of you that are not familiar with a Phaeton, it is one of the models of motorhomes built by Tiffin Manufacturing.
DSC_0013The Phaeton motorhome has out sold ALL makes and models for the past 6 years in a row.
Bob Tiffin started building motor homes back in 1972 and he had one thing in mind. “To build the very best motorhome possible and then back it up with unparalleled warranty” Now in its 40th year and with Bob and his three sons operating the business they have established the standard by which all others are measured. Sorta follows my motto “Fast is good but accurate is better”.
You pull down these tree lined roads that lead to the little town of Red Bay, Alabama, just across the Mississippi state line. There it is Red Bay (Don’t blink) it is a very small town and about the only thing there is the Tiffin plant. But WOW!!!!! What an operation. This is a family owned and operated manufacturing plant and everyone is welcome to stop and take a free tour. I promise “You will be impressed”.
To watch as the bare bones chassis is taken and transformed into a Beautiful motorhome right before your eyes, to watch how all of the people interact as a team.
The way they are able to take sawmill run lumber, sheets of fiberglass, iron of all shapes and turn it into a rolling “Land-Yacht” is truly amazing.

The tour starts you out with a short video of the history of the company and the area of Red Bay.

Then off to the Wood Shop
They actually take rough cut sawmill lumber and work it down into some of the finest quality cabinetry I have ever seen.
More Friendly Faces
They form and make all their own Corian counter and table tops. It is scrolled, it is formed and it is edged and polished to something you would expect in a brothel in Dallas.
As we saunter on over to the assembly building we pass the frame shop where the frames are straightened and fitted for the different models they will be transformed into.
Once we are in the assembly building the coaches are lined up and it all starts to take shape.
The tanks are plumbed in place.
The prefinished floors are bolted on.
A couple of HUGE N.C.C. routing machines are busy carving out the walls while another one is working on the roof.
In goes some of the major interior walls, bathroom, wardrobe, etc... Then the walls are hoisted in place and bolted down. Now the roof is slung overhead and set. The coach is pushed from stage to stage and it must remain at any given stage a minimum of 90 minutes. (Bob does not want his people to feel pushed or hurried). Now we are at the point they set the front and rear end caps. Then it is over to the next building and the basement doors are installed. Then back into the assembly hall for furniture, slideouts, etc...
Now you have a completed coach that looks terrible (All Grey).
So it’s off to the state-of-the-art paint shop. This is a massive plant down the road about 8 miles. The coach is masked and sprayed many, many times to get all of the different designs and colors.
Now back to the main plant for final inspection and Diamond Shield is installed on the front cap. They have a SWARM of people going through the coach inspecting, measuring and detailing anything they may find.
I understand that I can’t possibly do justice to this operation with just a few words and pictures but I hope I have given you a small insight into how it is to see where your motorhome was born.
Anyone that is having a coach built at Tiffin can actually go in each day and watch every part of it being made. After the guided tour you are welcome to wander anywhere in the plant and watch or even speak with some of the employees. I was impressed with the ones I talked to. They really want to do a Great job and they understand “Nobody ever drowned in his own sweat”.
To  view all of the photos that we took you can click here.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this nice trip through the Tiffin plant. Since I'm considering buying one of their motorhomes, this was helpful. I appreciate your sharing!