Saturday, May 25, 2013

Tiffin Motorhome Factory Tour - Red Bay, AL

NOTE:  We took the tour on Friday, but there was too much to blog about then, so I am preparing it for today. 

Tiffin Motorhome gives a factory tour every morning starting at 9:30 AM, Monday thru Friday.  We have been busy the last few weeks and were unable to make the tour, but since all the work is finished, we decided to take it today.

We arrived just in time and met Brenda & Floyd who were giving the tour today.  There were four others there waiting and we watched a film about Tiffin.  Originally, the factory had been a cotton mill and storage area, but was converted in 1972 to change over to motorhome production.  The current president of Tiffin was in charge of the cotton mill and also a building supply business.  He bought some chassis from a motorhome manufacturer who went out of business.  Five motorhomes were built the first year and production has grown since then, with the line producing 12 mhs a day now, with a capacity of 18.

 The old storage building has been converted to the woodworking section of Tiffin.  They make every cabinet and wood component from scratch in this area.  It looks like a mess, but they have modern planers, sanders, computers, etc. to make it a highly efficient part of the business.

Tiffin Cabinet Factory

 More woodworking and cabinet production areas.  Many of the workers didn't wear a mask, but they have them available and are encouraged to wear them.  I know I would have the best mask on if I worked in that area due to the dust.

Tiffin Cabinet Factory

Brenda, the tour leader, is a retired high school history teacher and really knew her stuff.  She kept up a line of chatter and moved the tour along very well.
Brenda, Tour Leader

 I was especially interested in checking the diesel motorhome chassis over since mine is closed up and not viewable.  It was really interesting to see the chassis up close and personal.

Diesel Motor Home Chassis

 These are water tanks for gas powered motorhomes waiting to be installed on the assembly line.  These tanks tend to be smaller than in the large diesel units.

Fresh Water Tanks for Gas Motorhome

Floyd is explaining what the different tanks are in a motorhome,  fresh water, gray waste water and black waste tanks.
Diesel Holding Tanks
Tiffins manufactures the majority of the pieces that go into the motorhomes right there in the plant.  They have a power glide diesel chassis that is made on site, all the cabinets, walls, floors, ceilings and many other components.  They import the windshields from Turkey, and use local suppliers for a few components.  In addition, they keep the dies needed to make parts for old motorhomes, so that is great for owners of these units.  Not all manufacturers do that and it's impossible to replace old parts for those types.

Side Wall Construction

Assembly Line

Assembly Line

It is estimated that there are over 2 miles of electrical wiring in a typical motorhome.  Tiffin has fashioned large boards with pegs to arrange the wires in the proper order and length.  Then it is wrapped to keep the wires together and placed in the proper place on the chassis.
Wire Harness step

Wiring board here is in the process of being set up for a motorhome, all neatly wrapped and ready to go.

Wire Harness area

Seal Coat application

1976 Allegro Bay

1976 Allegro Bay interior

Old Gas & Diesel Pumps
Tiffin motorhome employs over 1,500 employees in three different locations in the area.  The factory has from 700-800 employees, the service center over 500 and the paint shop a couple hundred.  Then they have office and support staff like truck drivers, motor home delivery people (40) and others.  To say they are a big deal to the city of Red Bay and the surrounding area would be an understatement.

Tiffin only assembles sold motorhomes and it takes about 2 months to order, build and deliver a motorhome in case you want to get one quickly.  

That was our morning, how was yours?


  1. Jim has always wanted to take a tour of a fifth wheel manufacturer but we haven't got it one yet. It wouldn't be near as involved as a motorhome I'm sure.

  2. The factory tour is interesting, and it's nice that they allow visitors to see all aspects of it. You aren't restricted to a specific path, and can ask any worker any question. Hope we get a chance to have dinner with you folks while we're both here.

  3. We are here in Red Bay and look forward to the tour, again. I learn something every time. Excellent recap. If I do another post on the tour I am going to send folks to your blog!

  4. Great post! I love taking factory tours too. Another thing I have to add to my bucket list...who would have thought that Red Bay would have been on the list but I this and the cave restaurant are a must see.