Sunday, July 08, 2012

More about Panchitos

More about Panchito's
Yesterday, New Mavicita captured pics that tell the story about MsTioga's work at Panchito's Body Shop. Panchito's is closed today [Sunday]. This gives us a chance to catch up on what is going on.

Dear Readers:
I usually keep my daily posts short. Today's post will be long. I've got a lot to share with you, and hope that you stick with reading this post to the end.

Fleetwood Industries:
Fleetwood is the company that built MsTioga. At one time, Fleetwood may have been the largest manufacturer of motor-homes and prefabricated houses in the World, certainly the largest in the USA. The Fleetwood company did not survive the economic collapse of 2008 and filed for bankruptcy in March, 2009.

During my early years with MsTioga, I toured a few of Fleetwood's Southern California plants. My background is in metal-goods manufacturing. And I believe that what Fleetwood built in the way of a production line that produced a complete motor-home in only 3+ days in the plant was phenomenal. A chassis entered the plant at one end of the production line, and about 3-days later, a complete motor-home, ready to be sold, emerged!

However, with that said, I believe that Fleetwood as a company did not possess a high level of engineering values. Fleetwood engineering, directed by company management, made some terrible, supposedly money-saving decisions that proved to be terrible for their customers.

It is my opinion, that hardly any of Fleetwood's RVing customers really know how bad the RV that they are driving is. Much of the Fleetwood's construction during the 1990s was made up of "alternative to plywood materials".  Was Fleetwood trying to save money? Probably. However, as you may learn by looking at the pics below, this decision sometimes produced unexpected results!

Walls built with paper core:
The pics below reveal how Fleetwood built the house section of MsTioga with a paper core. This core is actually some kind of processed paper, which is turned into a plywood alternative. What was produced was a wall that had very little resistance to destruction by rain entering the paper core.

Fleetwood compounded this engineering disaster by the use of aluminum extrusion on the corners of the house section of the motor-home. Unfortunately, the caulking used underneath the aluminum, was not always successful in keeping out the rain water! When water entered the wall, the result was often de-lamination of the wall's fiberglass cover. Failure of the complete wall, could also result

A little crack
I noticed a little crack on MsTioga's right side wall and asked Pancho to check it out. In the pics below you see what Pancho found. A wall made of paper. No wonder the wall cracked!
Paper wall core revealed

Close-up of paper wall core

Unfinished fiberglass/resin patch

Pancho working on fiberglass patch

My first experiences with plywood alternatives
Were you with me back in 2003 when MsTioga and I traveled into the forests of Washington State? Up there at a Forest Camp, we replaced the cab-over floor which was constructed with the same plywood alternative shown above.

Fleetwood's engineering specified that the exterior cab-over clearance lighting be provided with wiring thru holes in the cab-over ceiling. These 1/2" holes were supposed to be closed with caulking. Unfortunately, production failed to close these five holes. And when MsTioga's former owner left her out in the rain, water dripped thru these un-caulked holes and in time, destroyed the cab-over floor.

If real plywood had been used, there would have been deterioration due to the water entering thru the un-caulked holes. But not complete destruction of the cab-over floor. Also, more importantly, plywood is much, much stronger that this paper-board alternative.

Note: You may read about our July, 2003 adventure in the forest rebuilding MsTioga's destroyed cab-over floor by clicking [here].

Decision to go all-fiberglass
My experiences with Fleetwood's terrible decision to build motor-homes with plywood alternatives caused me to decide in 2007 to convert MsTioga to an all-fiberglass motor-home. This conversion was done by Jose the Fiberglass Guy in early, 2007.

You may read about Jose and MsTioga's fiberglass conversion by clicking [here].

Now in 2012, we have highly tweaked our all-fiberglass decision with a re-designed fiberglass roof and fiberglass body work in Panchito's Body Shop.
Panchito sprays primer paint

Helper Pedro working on Tioga's oxidized windshield frame

A comment about keeping customers off the shop floor
In the United States, there is a practice at auto-repair shops to keep customers off the shop floor.
I will not give any business to a shop that prevents me from having free access to the shop floor.

It is against your best interests, to have work done on your vehicle without you watching every single thing that is being done. All manner of bad work may be done to your vehicle when that work is hidden from your watchful eye.

There is a lame reason given for keeping you off the shop floor which blames insurance regulations for this evil practice. Don't give any work to shops which prevent you from watching what your mechanic is doing to your vehicle.