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Old 03-02-2021, 06:46 AM   #1
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Question Has camper quality and construction gotten any better in the last 10 years?

We have a 24ft 2011 Crossroads Zinger that we bought back in 2016. Since we got it, we have put around 15,000 miles on it towing it all over the country. I’ve also spent a ton of time just doing maintenance and repairs on it. When we got it, I had to put a new floor in the rear of it because the previous owner didn’t notice the leaky window seal for year(s). I was shocked at how cheap and shoddy the camper was thrown together…..the boards that make up the structure of the floor was some of the worst quality, oddball sized 2x2’s I’ve ever seen….only held together with some staples, and maybe a little glue spot here and there. At least I was able to reinforce everything with more wood and make it much more solid.


Then a year later I had to replace the entire front end of the camper because the front marker lights started leaking, and caused the front of the camper to start looking wavey and delaminating. The wooden frame on the front of the camper was the same way…..the cheapest quality wood you could imagine, just held together with a few little staples.
Not to mention the constant maintenance on all of the calking joints that seem to split, crack, or pull away. I’m sure the vibration from pulling it down the road, along with the summer/winter temp swings here in Missouri don’t help that.


When I first got out camper, I thought that maybe I just got a lemon….but the more I read and researched, it seemed like the majority of campers are like that. They are thrown together as quickly and cheaply as possible. I remember seeing that Youtube video where a team of 4 or 5 guys literally throw a 28ft camper together in a matter of hours…..after seeing that, it’s no wonder my camper is such a maintenance headache. Even my buddies triple axle 43ft luxury toy hauler is starting to fall apart on him….so it’s not just the smaller trailers.


So…fast forward 10 years. Are they built any better today? Do they use any better construction materials and/or techniques? I know there are a few high end brands like Airstream that are built to last…..but are most of the standards Thor/Crossroads/Coleman/Jayco etc, etc….still built as cheap and fast possible? At this point, I’m not sure if I’m better off to just keep repairing ours, or get something newer that “might” not be as maintenance heavy.
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Old 03-02-2021, 07:40 AM   #2
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Unfortunately that,s the nature of the beast. They require constant maintenance. And those with a wood frame in my experience seem to require more care. Staples pull out easier then from a aluminum framed camper. Also wood will soak up a "leak" where as the aluminum will not. There have also been cases of the welded joints on aluminum frames coming loose.

They have to be built with "lighter" materials so that they can be pulled down the road. Years ago a 21 foot camper weighed more than a new 38 foot camper. But people want bigger so to be able to pull them they have to weigh less so lighter materials.

Another thing is the "level" of the camper - entry,mid, high and luxury. The more you go up the better the quality of the rig.

And "price point" comes into play. The lower retail cost the lower manufacture cost the lower quality of the material's.

A few years back we toured a Forest River factory and a Crossroads factory and the only difference was in the level of campers being built. The assembly process was the same. We were told that from the time the frame hits the line until the finished camper rolls off the line took about 3 days. So as one comes off one end another one is started. At that time the "target Goal" was 12 finished campers per day at the Forest River plant.

Not sure where i read it but it said that pulling a camper down the road was like going thru a 5 magnitude earthquake then add a 20 mile per hour head wind while traveling at 65 mph while in the rain. So yes the do require a lot of maintenance.
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Old 03-02-2021, 09:33 AM   #3
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Thor/Crossroads/Coleman/Jayco/etc, etc are ALL Thor owned companies so I'd assume they all have the same profit/lose margins set by Thor. So they are all built as fast & as cheaply as possible so that hold together til the consumer gets them home & then the maintenance begins.
Rewind 10 years & I'm betting they are built with the as quality materials as was yours just painted a different color.
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Old 03-02-2021, 10:51 AM   #4
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Pick out any manufacturer of Rv's. They all have the same issues. (Even the Grand Design line of rv's) Maintenance is essential in all brands.

Besides the roof, the biggest problems is the lights on the campers. They drill a one inch hole for a 1/8" wire. So sealing of the lights is very important.

They don't make a maintenance free camper. The handier you are at repairing things is always a benefit.
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Old 03-02-2021, 01:13 PM   #5
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Even Airstream is now owned by Thor Industries. I have not looked at an Airstream in years but I have seen them advertised and for what they cost they better be higher quality that the majority of the RV industry.
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Old 03-02-2021, 01:46 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sjk1998 View Post
Even Airstream is now owned by Thor Industries. I have not looked at an Airstream in years but I have seen them advertised and for what they cost they better be higher quality that the majority of the RV industry.
We looked at new Airstreams at a rv show & HOLY CRAP!
I ask the salesman if that "Show price" was a misprint, he chuckled & I said "wow! the price for recycled beer cans must be way up" he didn't chuckle then.
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Old 03-02-2021, 04:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by travelin texans View Post
Thor/Crossroads/Coleman/Jayco/etc, etc are ALL Thor owned companies so I'd assume they all have the same profit/lose margins set by Thor. So they are all built as fast & as cheaply as possible so that hold together til the consumer gets them home & then the maintenance begins.
OK, that is quite a bit of a stretch. They may be owned by the same corporate but each has their own management, supplier choices (although they probably share supplier database), training, assembly and company practices. These all matter and make difference. I'm unable to say which is better but dropping all the companies to the same bucket just because of having one majority shareholder negates work and effort of everybody involved. Yaris and Land Cruiser aren't the same despite being both made by same company, having 4 wheels and an engine. Design details, work culture and quality standards are all that makes a difference between a rolling trash can and a solid trailer. None of them will be perfect from the factory but some will be manageable while other won't.
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Old 03-02-2021, 05:33 PM   #8
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OK, that is quite a bit of a stretch. They may be owned by the same corporate but each has their own management, supplier choices (although they probably share supplier database), training, assembly and company practices. These all matter and make difference. I'm unable to say which is better but dropping all the companies to the same bucket just because of having one majority shareholder negates work and effort of everybody involved. Yaris and Land Cruiser aren't the same despite being both made by same company, having 4 wheels and an engine. Design details, work culture and quality standards are all that makes a difference between a rolling trash can and a solid trailer. None of them will be perfect from the factory but some will be manageable while other won't.
Not all are under their own management.
In about 2016 Crossroads/Redwood was no longer an independent entity, they were placed under the management of Keystone.
Fairly certain all of them absolutely have a bottom line that must be met or be suddenly managed by one of the other Thor owned companies, sold or no longer available.
As far as appliance choices or any other equipment there's only a couple different companies offering these items & if you do a bit of googling you may find Thor owns some of those.
As for Yaris & Land Cruiser I don't even know what they are?
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Old 03-07-2021, 03:00 PM   #9
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Another thing to remember is the growing propensity for new RVers to tow with 1/2 tons pickups (and even SUV’s) is driving manufacturers to continue pushing for lighter and lighter units. This leads to poorer quality and flimsier construction. I do not expect this trend to reverse. If anything I see it getting worse.
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