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R Pod Plant Tour

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Sandpiper View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Sandpiper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: R Pod Plant Tour
    Posted: 16 Apr 2010 at 5:20pm
Mrs 'Piper and I were treated to a very complete tour of the R Pod factory in Goshen, In Tuesday April 13.  Our hostess and tour guide was the gracious Kristin Griffin, sales coordinator, for Forest river.  Before we showed up at the plant we had asked if it were permissible to take photographs in the plant and were told we couldn't so I left the camera in the car.  During the four hour tour, Kristin suggested I fetch the camera and take what every pictures I wanted within certain guide lines.  I was ecstatic because now we can share some of what we saw with the members of the forum.  
I hope the following pictures and descriptions will make you feel better about how your R Pods are constructed.  I know I feel a lot better about our 177 now that I have seen what I saw Tuesday.
What the pictures don't show is the dedication, determination, commitment to quality, and pride of the R Pod workforce.  I have spent 40 plus years in the industrial workforce and was very, very impressed with the people that build our R Pods.
So let the tour begin. 

One of the things that is asked repeatedly is "What is in the walls of the R Pod. 
This is the basic frame made on a jig out of welded square aluminum tubing.  I could guess at what the number of the aluminum  composition is but it doesn't matter.




The next picture is the opposite side of the same model of R Pod.






The frame is then filled with Styrofoam insulation as shown in the next photograph.
Notice how how the foam tightly fills the cavities.



Once the cavities are filled with insulation, the outside and inside coverings are laminated to the frames.  The coverings are made of luan laminated to either white fiberglass sheet for the outside or patterned material for the inside.  Once the "skins" are attached to the frames all openings are routed or drilled out.




These sides are now ready for the decals to be attached and then assembled onto the R Pod on the production line.  The  picture below is of the station where two ladies attach the decals.  Templates are used to lightly mark where the decals are to be attached and one lady does one side while a second lady does the other side.  Notice the yellow A-Frame with R Pod sides on both sides.  This operation is really something to behold.  Both ladies apply decals quicker than I can even think.   Their work is exquisite. 



The final assembly production begins with workers attaching the pre-assembled floor to the assembled under carriage as shown here. 




Once the floor is attached, the undercarriage is turned over and the tanks, tank plumbing, copper tubing and various wires are attached to the bottom of the R Pod.  The assembled axle unit is attached , the wheels and tires are attached and the unit turned back right side up.  The tires are placed into special dollies so the entire unit can be moved from assembly station to assembly station.




To the left in the above picture you can see some of the inside structure joined with the floor unit.  At each station, the materials, sub assemblies etc are staged and ready to joined to the R Pod at that station.
Here are some kitchen sub assemblies waiting to be installed at this station.



The partially assembled R Pod moves steadily down the line with more and more sub assemblies being added and more work being done.  Here is a picture of an R Pod with most of the internal structure installed and the two sides installed and attached to the internal structures.  To the left you can see an R Pod at the previous station with no sides installed yet.



Here is a picture of the final assembly line from station one to a point approximately 3/4 way through the line.



In the center of the above picture you can see a sub assembly of the rear door for a T series R Pod.  The Green item.  This is the door opened up and being pre-assembled to it's frame.

The picture below is the remainder of the production line showing the area where all discrepancies are corrected before the unit is moved to THE FINAL INSPECTION area where the final tags are attached and then the final-final inspection is performed by THE final inspector.  He checks the entire R Pod for any thing that might have been over looked or not corrected.  No R Pod leaves the production area until he gives it his stamp of approval.



The R Pod factory is now producing 24 R Pods a day five days a week.  The plant also makes the Surveyor line of Travel Trailers so the production time is split between R Pods and Surveyors.  Each line is produced for three weeks and then the plant is switched over to the other line for three weeks. 
And interesting thing about this plant is that the R Pods are actually inspected at each assembly station by crew chiefs and roving production supervisors  and each worker is a sort of inspector.  If a discrepancy is found it is marked with narrow strips of colored tape.  If the descrepency is serious the workers at that station are notified immediately and corrective action is taken.  If it is less serious the discrepancy is left until the R Pod reaches the last several stations where specially skilled employees work off the discrepancies and remove the associated tape.  If for what ever reason a very serious problem should occur and it will take a lot of time to fix, rather than stop the production line , the R Pod with the problem is removed from the production line and will sit "off line" until a special crew can fix what ever the problem is and then and only then will it be put back into the production line.

Every R Pod is pressurized with air on the inside and a soapy solutions is sprayed on EVERY place that has a penetration from inside to outside, windows, doors, hose hookups, antennas, air conditioners, vents etc and leaks show up as bubbles in the soap solution.  If leak is found it is sealed before the R Pod is allowed to move to the final inspection area. 

Since one of my hobbies is furniture making I was interested how the cabinets were made.  I learned that only defect free wood ( the name of which has escaped me) is used to make the frames and the frame components are joined together with pocket screws not with staples as I had thought .  Some of the frame work for walls, bed and seat supports etc are stapled but the "furniture " is joined by much better pocket screws.

All sub assemblies whether floors, exterior wall frames, internal wall frames, internal furniture and frames are all made in jigs so there is no variation between one and the next. 

To say the least I was quite impressed with the plants attention to quality and my comfort level with the R Pod and how it is built was improved considerably. 
If anyone has any questions please PM me or post and I will try to answer your questions.    I am going to make another post about the repeating  questions that have come up on the forum.






Sandpiper
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david950 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote david950 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Apr 2010 at 5:32pm
Wow, what a treat!  I love going to factories of all kinds.  Seeing anything made is always cool and interesting.

I think I'm surprised at how many there are!  Of course, at 24/day, 5 days/week, approx. half of the year, we're talking about approx. 3k/year, which isn't a ton, I suppose.  Still, it looks like some bizzaro scene from the "Clone Wars" or something.

I have a couple of questions:

I see all of the rPods sitting with wheels under their jacks - don't they come without these?  I understand they may be there for ease of movement within the plant, but it seems strange they take them off before they ship 'em out.

Did you happen to ask about the over-80" triple light in the rear?

Thanks for the great pics!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Sandpiper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Apr 2010 at 5:39pm
david950
I noticed the wheel on the jacks also but with all there was to try to adsorb I failed to ask why they aren't included with the Pod.  The wheels used in the assembly process are different than what you would get if you bought the one for the jack that is furnished with the Pod.  There is a post on the forum for the source of the  jack wheels and I think it is about $11 or $12. Do a search and you should find it.
 Yes I did ask about the "over 80 light bar" but didn't get an answer.  I was told it is being researched and an answer will be forthcoming.
Sandpiper
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pepperpod Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Apr 2010 at 5:48pm
Sandpiper
Thank you so much for the pictures and great info.  If you put your "seal of approval" on the construction, then I feel much better about my Pod.  I am sure that others feel the same.
Pepper,Coach,and Henry (a very brave little Maltese)
R Pod 172

The rewards of the journey far outweigh the risk of leaving the harbor...unknown
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Post Options Post Options   Quote david950 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Apr 2010 at 5:53pm
Sandpiper,

Thanks for the response.  I've seen that post and do plan to buy a wheel.  I have no issues with the personalization and maintenance required of an RV owner - I've been a boat owner long enough to understand that - it was just a D'oh! moment to see all those rPods sitting on those jack wheels.  I found myself thinking of the last box on the ship out checklist - "remove jack wheel" - LOL!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pepperpod Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Apr 2010 at 6:05pm

And another thing.........LOL  When I looked at the MPG today at the dealership, I looked closely at the lights on the outside.  There are 3 large red lights near the top at the rear.  The fenders have a smaller red light on the front and back of each fender. Now that I think of it, I think the one on the front of the fender is amber.  Not sure.

Pepper,Coach,and Henry (a very brave little Maltese)
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Post Options Post Options   Quote tedbear Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Apr 2010 at 6:21pm
The jack does not retract high enough as it is, as many people have reported it scraping the ground (happened to me once, too).  I added a wheel to mine anyway just to test it, and it touched the ground when the camper was hooked to my car.
 
Perhaps if one could cut some of the lower jack post off, it would allow room for a wheel?
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Ratdog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Apr 2010 at 6:39pm
Originally posted by pepperpod

And another thing.........LOL  When I looked at the MPG today at the dealership, I looked closely at the lights on the outside.  There are 3 large red lights near the top at the rear.  The fenders have a smaller red light on the front and back of each fender. Now that I think of it, I think the one on the front of the fender is amber.  Not sure.

You're correct. The "80 inch rule" requires amber lamps on the front fenders and red lamps on the rear fenders. That's in addition to the 3-light bar on the coach.
 
You don't happen to know the width of the MPG coach (not counting the wheels/fenders) do you?
 
Take care,
-- Steve

Steve, Anne, and Paige the Rat Terrier
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Post Options Post Options   Quote R&T's Pod Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Apr 2010 at 7:16pm
Great Pictures and Great Report!  Thanks!
Rob
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Post Options Post Options   Quote GrandPod Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Apr 2010 at 7:30pm
Wink Wow!! Super report Sandpiper. Just like being there myself. Thanks for sharing.
 Tom
Tom And Linda
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