From Meh to Freakin’ Awesome

Check out our full photo gallery of the build process!

We decided on a Tiffin Motorcoach for many reasons: the interior layout, the incredible customer service, reliability, and many standard features like full-body paint, led lights, 10-gallon hot water heater, and Corian counters. One of the bonuses of buying a Tiffin is that you can watch your coach being built at the factory in Red Bay, Alabama. Actually you don’t have to be an owner, anyone can come to the factory to join a daily tour or wander around.

A bare-bones Ford F-53 class A motorhome chassis.

At the start of the assembly line, a bare-bones Ford F-53 V10 class A motorhome chassis with 24,000-pound gross weight rating and 252-inch wheelbase.

Tiffin has been doing this so long that they will give you almost a minute-by-minute build schedule for your coach a couple of weeks in advance. We had decided way back when that we really wanted to watch our build; everyone that has done it says it is a wonderful experience.

We bought our plane tickets and breathlessly waited for March 3 to arrive. Mike got a bad stomach bug three days before our expected flight but recovered in 48 hours (whew!). Then DC expected snow, a lot of snow. Our flight was cancelled two days in advance and we were re-booked on a flight for three hours later. THAT flight was cancelled several hours later and this time we were not automatically rebooked. Mike spent two hours on hold to get to customer service (the web did not help us this time) and re-booked for a 7:30pm flight that same evening. Then I got the stomach bug. This was not turning out to be an auspicious beginning for our new journey. By Monday afternoon, I was kind of okay, so we headed off to the airport. We made it a good two miles before I was not okay anymore so we turned around and came home. After some discussion, we rebooked for the next morning at 11:30. That was enough time for me to recover enough to travel. Off to Alabama we went!

It really was an amazing experience! Within four days, the RV went from a bare chassis to an unpainted completed motorcoach that’s been inspected multiple times.

At assembly station #3 receiving linoleum tile, after the frame has been welded together, and wiring, tanks, and sub-floor installed.

At assembly station #3 receiving linoleum tile, after the frame has been welded together, and wiring, tanks, and sub-floor installed.

Red Bay works from 6am to 3pm but to keep the schedule for each coach, workers will work overtime if the coach is not where it’s supposed to be by the end of the day. On the first day, I was a little surprised when all of a sudden almost everyone stopped what they were doing. One of the guys explained, saying it was breaktime. Everyone gets a break from 9-9:10, then lunch from 11:20-12. It makes sense when everyone has to work together in an assembly line.

Getting up at 4:30am to get to the plant by 6am is exhausting but I’m sure I’ve had a grin plastered to my face all day while we’re there. Everyone we met at the plant was crazy friendly! Lots of “where y’all from?”, “is this your unit?”, “is this your first?”, and just some random conversations, grins, and lots of positive feelings from everyone. If you see something “off” with your coach, they will fix it. We got lots of pictures and videos in case we need to find a wire, pipe, or duct in the future but it’s just a kick watching everyone put our motorcoach together! We’re only staying for one week so we’ll miss out on the painting.

Main furniture and plumbing installed, and side walls attached.

Main furniture and plumbing installed, and side walls attached.

If things get a little slow, you can wander around the plant and watch the roofs being built, slides being put together, walls being cut out, etc. If you ask someone a question, they are happy to answer you and give you a few minutes of their time. I don’t know if it’s the South or the Tiffin employees, but it was a very friendly environment.

Watching Tiffin build our RV has made us even more excited to get started! Only a few more weeks until we pick him (her?) up!!

Roof and ceiling being lifted into position.

Roof and ceiling being lifted into position.

 

It really is incredible watching all the required parts and pieces being assembled in parallel throughout the factory, arriving at the motorhome at the right time and place for installation. As we wandered around the main plant, we saw our coach number, 96857, on roof frames, furniture, boxes of wires, and more. We were able to see how our raw materials enter the building, are assembled into completed components like walls, then transported—sometimes by forklifts, sometimes by overhead cranes—to the station where our motorhome would be driven to next. It’s clear that the employees work very hard, and they were all so patient with us customers getting in their way, asking questions, and watching them work. I’m extremely glad we were able to make this trip happen, and amazed and appreciative of Tiffin’s willingness to allow customers full access to their factory.

Be sure to check out our full photo gallery of the build process! It includes over 50 photos from start to finish, covering three days of work. Next up is a week in the paint shop for seven coats of paint in four colors, then a week of final finishing and touch-up, and then it’s shipped (driven, actually) to Lazy Days in Tamp, Florida, where we’ll take delivery the first week of April. We can’t wait!Mike

Near the end of the assembly line, receiving final interior components, testing, and quality checks.

Near the end of the assembly line, receiving final interior components, testing, and quality checks.

Watching the RV Build in Red Bay, Alabama

8 Comments

  1. Jennifer   •  

    Hello! Just found your blog via RVillage. We too have a Tiffin – and 3 dogs! We’re not full-time but we’re heading out for our 2nd big trip in April. We’ll be on the road until August/September. Congratulations on your Tiffin and maybe we’ll meet up somewhere along the road.

    • Kathie Fischer   •     Author

      Hi Jennifer! If we’re in the same area, we’ll definitely need to meet up! We’re looking forward to the new life and meeting lots of great people.

  2. Lynn   •  

    Hi! I just discovered your blog. My husband and I just bought our first motor home – a Class A Winnebago Vista, 31′. We’re not going full time (just yet); can’t bear to give up our large, comfy home. We’re still waiting for our tow system to be installed and change out the bare bones radio in the dash for XM and CD. We went through the same spreadsheet analysis as you – it’s a real journey! We hope to start our first big trip soon – leaving the Texas heat and heading to the northwest. Excited about the new journey!

    • Kat   •     Author

      Hi Lynn, congratulations on the new motor home! We looked at the Vista and really liked it, but since our dogs are sofa and bed hogs, it just wasn’t big enough for us. It looks like a great coach. Sounds like you’re picking a great time to head to the northwest and get out of that heat. Can’t wait to hear about your journeys west since we want to head in that direction. Have a fantastic time, we love it so far!

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  4. Paul   •  

    Hi, i’ve been interested in a Tiffin for the same reasons you mention but i don’t like the first 700 break in miles to be driven to Lazy Days by a stranger that will not care for it the way i would. Was that your only option? I know this is normal but i just read rv-dreams June 6 2016 blog post (last paragrah) about this and it made me worry about this, thanks.

    • Kat   •     Author

      We also looked at Sherman RV in MS and Davis Motorhome in TN. Both are Tiffin dealers and very close to the factory. Their prices are great and they both have good reputations.

      We were going to buy from Sherman originally. However we had so much we had to do in FL (drivers license, domicile, insurance, etc), it just made sense to go with Lazy Days.

      There will still be mileage on the Tiffins at Sherman and Davis, but it will be lower miles since they are much closer to the factory.

      If we ever get another Tiffin, it would probably be with Sherman or Davis.

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