We started the day with a visit from Norris, the service writer here at Tiffin. We went through our list of repairs and put us on the “official” waiting list. We can check in a week to see how close we are to getting in the repair bay.
After that we headed to the Paint Shop to see the new Tiffins getting their four coats of paint. We drove over to neighboring Belmont, MS (just a couple of miles) and checked in the watchman station to get our safety glasses and ear plugs.
He then invited us into the plant and told us to walk around, look wherever we like, and feel free to talk with the workers. We were shocked. No tour guide, no safety issues, no camera restrictions, and the freedom to talk as long as we want to the workers. “We're proud of what we do. We want you to ask about what we do here at Tiffin Motors,” was his reply.
Most of the paint shop employees are young people in there early twenties. Many of them girls.
We were told the young have better eyesight to catch paint flaws and to mast carefully and better hand coordination for the meticulous work. They spend many hours on their knees and running up and down ladders. They certainly take pride in their work.
It takes about a week from start to finish for the four coats of paint at a price tag of approximately $10,000. The unpainted manufactured coach enters the building to get its first coat of paint – the primer.
The next coat is a base color.
If some pictures look a bit dirty, we had to shoot through windows. Many times they were coated with paint.
After the base coat the graphics are masked for painting. This is very amazing! Young guys and gals crawl all over the coach applying tons of masking tape to outline all the graphics. We just kept asking, “how do you know where to apply the tape?”
Cutting the pattern
After all the tape is applied and the windows, wheels, rubber gaskets, etc. are masked the coach enters another paint booth. This spray booth too is very high tech with little or no over-spray or paint fumes. Everything was so clean.
The bays were so clean…no dirt anywhere.
They use gallon cans of paint.
Soon after the graphics are painted, including the small sign - “Tiffin Motor Homes Red Bay, Alabama” all that tape and paper had to be removed.....jeesh! We had to laugh at one of the girls removing the tape. He fingernails were BLACK from pulling off all that tape. She says she scrubs them constantly but has to live with it....ha ha!
Taking off the tape for inspection.
These graphics are then inspected and any defects are marked for repairs. That 's the next visit to the paint booth – repair painting.
They inspect the entire coach with a blue light.
Masking the mistakes.
All the places this coach needs a touch up.
The motor homes then receive two coats of clearcoat protective paint. Then comes the dirty part – buffing. The entire bus is hand buffed....wow! After that, the coaches receive a “super” clearcoat. This makes the coach really shine!
Next stop is final finish were they are cleaned inside and out, awnings added, wiper blades and a final inspection. They are now ready for shipping!
All the motorhomes are already sold.
Before we left, we asked to meet the brains behind this operation. Does he look familiar?
Another building on the lot is the tile shop.
This is were the tile floors are manufactured. Individual tiles and porcelain tile inserts are glued to a ¼ inch plywood floor. Over 3000 pounds of tile, glue and grout. They are then loaded onto a trailer for shipping over to the Red Bay manufacturing plant.
These two factory tours were very interesting and the work these people were doing was amazing. I was surprised to see that the motor homes are practically hand made. A tremendous amount of hands-on labor go into each unit. It takes about 3 weeks to build each coach and then a week to paint. Tiffin is completing about 10 units per day. That's a big bunch of money driving out of little Red Bay, Alabama each day!
Spent the evening sharing life stories with Cathy & Dan. We toured the Paint Shop with them this afternoon. A wonderful couple. They are “part-timers” meaning they still own a home and only travel part of the year. Dan still wo, wo, wor, wor....WORKS! Ouch!!!!!
Thanks for stopping by. Y’all come back.