Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 03-28-2005, 01:39 PM   #1
Winnebago Master
 
John_Canfield's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Back at the ranch
Posts: 2,041
All I can say is wow! We got a private tour from Mark, the Visitor Center Manager that we pre-arranged a while ago. The tours don't officially begin until April 1, so we felt very honored to be accomodiated in a special way.

Too bad - NO PICTURES! Winny is very adamant about not having any unauhorized pictures released of the production process.

We began in the chassis prep area where the chassis are rolled or driven onto the line where the base structure is welded to the frame. It "ain't pretty" - not nice and clean like Big Bertha where the superstructure is placed/assembled to the prepped chassis. Lots of welding, grinding, sparks, and spray guns to paint the welds. A huge jig drops down from a trolly that exactly places and positions brackets and parts that are to be welded to the frame. There is no measuring - everything is exact and repeatable. The chassis prep area is where the HWH levelers and slide mechanisms are welded on. Mark said that there is an on-site HWH rep there to be the interface between Winny and HWH for issues or problems, or perhaps engineering feedback. By the way, the chassis prep area is not on the "official tour" - it is noisy, somewhat confined, lots of welding and grinding going on, and it would be difficult to manage 20 or 30 people in this area.

We then went to "Bertha", the huge assembly building. They run three parallel lines and assemble all of the Class A coaches in this area. One coach could be a Journey, the next one a Vectra, then a Meridian, etc. We saw the roof assembly being made, the walls being made, and everything dropped into position. I just can't even begin to describe everything I saw because I felt so overwhelmed with a sensory and information overload. It would take several days to get a real feel for the production process.

We did not go to the cabinet shop or stitchcraft unfotunately. As it was, our tour lasted about 90 minutes.

Random factoids:

Forest City is a very rural, small farming town. It is like the small hometowns that our country grew up with.

The factory employs about 4,000+ people. There is no collective bargaining (no unions.)

EVERY coach is water tested. This has been a question on the forums. Winny claims the equivalent rainfall of 50" per hour; upon questioning, Mark said the test actually runs about ten minutes, but is the equivalant of 50"/hr.

Yes, there are quality inspectors (also questioned on rv.net.) There are 15 in the chassis prep area, don't know how many in Bertha. I do not know the exact inspection protocol, but Mark said they have their inspection regimen and they focus on different things on a particular day. This means to me that there is not 100% inspection of every work process which is very usual and standard in manufacturing.

Random completed units (pre-paint) are pulled and sent onto the test track to I assume test handling and noise and whatever else.

Speaking of paint, full body paint coaches are sent a block away to the paint contractor (CDI) while partial body paint is done in-house.

There is a Winny-produced 22 minute video giving a nice overview of the manufacturing process. Maybe you can watch/borrow it from your dealer.

John
__________________
--John

2005 Horizon 40AD, 2005 Jeep Liberty CRD
John_Canfield is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-28-2005, 01:39 PM   #2
Winnebago Master
 
John_Canfield's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Back at the ranch
Posts: 2,041
All I can say is wow! We got a private tour from Mark, the Visitor Center Manager that we pre-arranged a while ago. The tours don't officially begin until April 1, so we felt very honored to be accomodiated in a special way.

Too bad - NO PICTURES! Winny is very adamant about not having any unauhorized pictures released of the production process.

We began in the chassis prep area where the chassis are rolled or driven onto the line where the base structure is welded to the frame. It "ain't pretty" - not nice and clean like Big Bertha where the superstructure is placed/assembled to the prepped chassis. Lots of welding, grinding, sparks, and spray guns to paint the welds. A huge jig drops down from a trolly that exactly places and positions brackets and parts that are to be welded to the frame. There is no measuring - everything is exact and repeatable. The chassis prep area is where the HWH levelers and slide mechanisms are welded on. Mark said that there is an on-site HWH rep there to be the interface between Winny and HWH for issues or problems, or perhaps engineering feedback. By the way, the chassis prep area is not on the "official tour" - it is noisy, somewhat confined, lots of welding and grinding going on, and it would be difficult to manage 20 or 30 people in this area.

We then went to "Bertha", the huge assembly building. They run three parallel lines and assemble all of the Class A coaches in this area. One coach could be a Journey, the next one a Vectra, then a Meridian, etc. We saw the roof assembly being made, the walls being made, and everything dropped into position. I just can't even begin to describe everything I saw because I felt so overwhelmed with a sensory and information overload. It would take several days to get a real feel for the production process.

We did not go to the cabinet shop or stitchcraft unfotunately. As it was, our tour lasted about 90 minutes.

Random factoids:

Forest City is a very rural, small farming town. It is like the small hometowns that our country grew up with.

The factory employs about 4,000+ people. There is no collective bargaining (no unions.)

EVERY coach is water tested. This has been a question on the forums. Winny claims the equivalent rainfall of 50" per hour; upon questioning, Mark said the test actually runs about ten minutes, but is the equivalant of 50"/hr.

Yes, there are quality inspectors (also questioned on rv.net.) There are 15 in the chassis prep area, don't know how many in Bertha. I do not know the exact inspection protocol, but Mark said they have their inspection regimen and they focus on different things on a particular day. This means to me that there is not 100% inspection of every work process which is very usual and standard in manufacturing.

Random completed units (pre-paint) are pulled and sent onto the test track to I assume test handling and noise and whatever else.

Speaking of paint, full body paint coaches are sent a block away to the paint contractor (CDI) while partial body paint is done in-house.

There is a Winny-produced 22 minute video giving a nice overview of the manufacturing process. Maybe you can watch/borrow it from your dealer.

John
__________________
--John

2005 Horizon 40AD, 2005 Jeep Liberty CRD
John_Canfield is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-28-2005, 02:20 PM   #3
Winnebago Owner
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Hermitage, PA
Posts: 59
John
Thanks for the tour. We went through the tour last april. All we got to see was Bertha and the outdoor areas. It sure is interesting and I got an appreciation of all the planning and work that goes into building a quality MH that I can afford. Winnebago does it real well.
THanks again
Bill
__________________
2004 Adventurer 37b

Toad - GMC Envoy
bsmith8 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-28-2005, 07:03 PM   #4
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Thanks John: Did you have the oportunity to inquire about the stress cracks at the bedroom slide on the 40AD? I will be there for work to be done on May 16. We're really looking forward to the plant tour.
Cliff Zimmerman
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-29-2005, 02:47 AM   #5
Winnebago Master
 
John_Canfield's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Back at the ranch
Posts: 2,041
Cliff,

Mark clearly did not want to get into any service issues. I sounded him out on a couple of other problems I have seen reported on the forums - lots of rust on somebody's chassis and somebody having A/C problems relating to the ductwork becoming separated.

He brushed those off with "I don't know about that." I was thinking about your problem, but decided asking Mark would have been pointless.

If they have to, they can replace an entire wall. Mark said they have done that in cases of accidents.

I'm sure they will get you fixed up. While you are waiting there is some shopping in Mason City (about 40 minutes to the East of Forest City) with Target, Super Wally World, etc.

John
__________________
--John

2005 Horizon 40AD, 2005 Jeep Liberty CRD
John_Canfield is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-29-2005, 03:35 AM   #6
Winnie-Wise
 
rvten's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Crossville, TN USA
Posts: 397
We did the plant tour in 2001 after buying our Adventurer. Took a road trip up that way. When radio stopped working figure would let them look at it and a few minor adjustments that were needed. (Need my radio so I do not have to listen to co-pilot) HA HA! Stayed in the customer parking lot out front. Eletric hook up. Had dinner and breakfest at there nice resturante accross the road. Not sure if it is still there.
__________________
Tom & Bonnie
2008 Winnebago Aspect 29H
A Class C Not a B+
2010 Ford Flex
rvten is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-29-2005, 05:27 AM   #7
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
It always surprises me as to the number of Inspectors they say they have inspecting the coach as it goes through production, because when it gets to the dealer or the customer, "the fix list shows a completely different picture". Evidently the inspectors missed a few things on our coach , my repair list was more then a legal page long and kept growing.

It's taken me more then 2 years to tweek our coach. I almost hate to write anything, but it's finely working as it was intended, "all systems are go".

If our Ford Explorer had as many problems as our Journey DL, Ford would have gotten it back long ago. Ford learned long ago, thats not the way they do business.

Tomcat F15
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-29-2005, 06:28 AM   #8
Winnebago Owner
 
El Jeffe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: El Paso, TX
Posts: 54
John, Thanks for the overview of the tour. As you organize your thoughts please update your Topic, I find it most interesting.

Larry
__________________
2002 Winnebago Journey DL 39QD

Aventa II Tow Bar/Apollo Braking
El Jeffe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-29-2005, 10:57 AM   #9
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
John:
Thanks for the input.
Cliff
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-29-2005, 01:12 PM   #10
Winnebago Owner
 
Lucchese1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Tehachapi, Ca.
Posts: 92
Great report John! We did the basic tour last November and were impressed as well, plan on going back for our 1 year anniversary service this sep/oct because I just had such a great experience with the servic eon our pick up trip that I want to be at the factory for the 1 year so it dosent take three or four weeks for a little part to be shipped-fixed on the spot. How do you get the personal tour or is it only for new buyers?
Also How's the new buyer waiting blues going!
__________________
Ben, Maryanne, Dominic & Vincent Lucchese

2005 40KD Horizon 400ISL
Lucchese1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-29-2005, 03:03 PM   #11
Winnebago Master
 
John_Canfield's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Back at the ranch
Posts: 2,041
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Had dinner and breakfest at there nice resturante accross the road. Not sure if it is still there. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>Tom - you must be thinking of "The Lodge" which is across the street from the Visitor Center. Yup - it is still there and we had a very nice lunch there!

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">It always surprises me as to the number of Inspectors they say they have inspecting the coach as it goes through production, because when it gets to the dealer or the customer, "the fix list shows a completely different picture" </div></BLOCKQUOTE>I did not count the inspectors, but I saw and talked to one that was stationed at the end of the chassis prep area. We chatted with her after she had a line worker attending to a problem she discovered. VERY few things that are mass-produced have a 100% quality inspection. You would not want to pay the bucks for the product necessary to support 100% inspection of each process. Typically in a manufacturing process, quality inspections are done on a sample basis that is determined statistically. This is an entire career field.

I am absolutely convinced that Winny cares about the product that rolls out the door, but they must a) make an appropriate return on the shareholder's investment, b) remain competitive, and c)produce a product that permits a & b while satisfying for the most part their customers and distribution pipeline.

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">How do you get the personal tour or is it only for new buyers?
Also How's the new buyer waiting blues going!
</div></BLOCKQUOTE>Ben - about the tour.. I think we just got lucky. When I talked to Mark about a month ago we already had a trip planned to Perry, GA and Ohio and I told him that we could not be there during the official tour season. I had no idea that it would be a private tour until yesterday morning when Mark said, "let's get into my van." It was a rare thing indeed when I was "in the right place at the right time."

Waiting on the coach is really difficult. I got really excited today on the Interstate when I told the DW, "look - it's a HORIZON going west!" So now I'm having these thoughts like, my coach gets built, and the delivery guy wraps it around a a bridge column on the underpass before he gets to Lazydays; or the coach gets to LD and everything is screwed up on it and it doesn't have the right options, etc, etc. I hope I can get through this and not need therapy

I'll try to jot down a few more thoughts about the tour in the next day or two. Sorry the first post wasn't more organized, but that's just the way the brain works sometimes.

John
__________________
--John

2005 Horizon 40AD, 2005 Jeep Liberty CRD
John_Canfield is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-29-2005, 03:13 PM   #12
Winnie-Wise
 
The Shadow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Southern Ontario/Palmetto FL
Posts: 354
I have to say that reading all the glowing words makes me wonder if they are talking about the same organization that made my coach. Sure doesn't sound like it.

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Tomcat F15:
It always surprises me as to the number of Inspectors they say they have inspecting the coach as it goes through production, because when it gets to the dealer or the customer, "the fix list shows a completely different picture". Evidently the inspectors missed a few things on our coach , my repair list was more then a legal page long and kept growing.

It's taken me more then 2 years to tweek our coach. I almost hate to write anything, but it's finely working as it was intended, "all systems are go".

If our Ford Explorer had as many problems as our Journey DL, Ford would have gotten it back long ago. Ford learned long ago, thats not the way they do business.

Tomcat F15 </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
__________________
2011 Itasca Impulse 26QP Silver, 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited V6 Active Drive II
The Shadow is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-02-2005, 03:48 PM   #13
Winnebago Camper
 
Horsepowerfan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Weare, NH, USA
Posts: 27
WOW! Thanks for the great report, John. It was a very interesting account indeed.

It's disappointing that there were no photos allowed, but I think I read about that somewhere. I hope I too can take the tour sometime in the future. For now though, I'll just have to see if I can get my hands on a copy of that video!

ps. I only had to wait a week to pick up my coach since it was in dealer stock. I thought I would DIE waiting! I can't imagine what you are going through waiting so long for yours, but I can relate. I hope time passes quickly for you.
__________________
Jim & Linda
'03 Winnebago Adventurer 35U (W22)
'06 Saturn Vue Toad
Horsepowerfan is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Our coach had a "Hicup" today! FIRE UP General Maintenance and Repair 11 06-19-2014 12:14 AM
Factory order stuck at factory? WineLuvrs Winnebago General Discussions 28 07-13-2013 08:42 PM
WINNEBAGO FACTORY TOUR DVD emmmw Winnebago General Discussions 9 12-01-2007 04:00 AM
Got a build date; factory tour John_Canfield Winnebago General Discussions 13 03-24-2005 02:01 PM
We were all over a Horizon 40AD today and had a good test drive John_Canfield Winnebago Class A Motorhomes 11 02-13-2005 05:48 AM

» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Disclaimer:

This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by Winnebago Industries or any of its affiliates. This is an independent, unofficial site.


Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 01:50 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.