How Travel Trailers are Made
350 hours well spent
Every single Airstream travel trailer is carefully crafted by hand, right here at our headquarters in Jackson Center, Ohio. And each one takes an average of 350 hours to complete – compared to about 50 hours for the typical white box trailer. Why? Because we build our trailers to last not just a lifetime, but for generations and generations to come. That's why they easily outpace the average RV lifespan of 15 years, and why 70% of the Airstreams we've created since the 1930s are still on the road today.
How Airstream Travel Trailers Are Made
We start with the frame
Airstream is the only travel trailer manufacturer to build the holding tanks (fresh water, grey water, black water) into the frame. It means we have to specifically design our tanks for their specific places, but the end result is a lower center of gravity, better aerodynamics, a lower overall weight, and better weight distribution. In fact, more than half of each travel trailer’s weight lies below the floor. And that means better balance, more stability, and a smoother towing experience.
We craft the iconic aluminum shell
An average of 1,200 square feet of treated aluminum is used in every trailer, and it’s this lightweight yet super strong material that sets Airstream travel trailers apart from any other travel trailer on the market. We cut, bend, and flex form the aluminum into the shapes we need, and then rivet those pieces together to form an outer and inner shell. Plus, the aluminum is treated to resist ultraviolet rays, mold, discoloration, cracking, flaking, and pulverization. The white enamel on the roof reflects the sun and keeps the inside of the trailer cool.
Then come the rivets
We use about 3,000 rivets to build each travel trailer. They’re attached to the aluminum by two riveters – one outside and one inside the trailer – working in unison with each other even though they can’t see or hear each other. Once all the rivets are secured and the seams are sealed, the aluminum body of the trailer acts as a “semi-monocoque” superstructure not unlike an airplane. It’s lightweight and aerodynamic for travel, yet built to support itself and maintain its integrity for generations.
We attach the entire structure to the chassis
We’re the only RV manufacturer who builds the entire structure of the trailer, lifts it up, and places it on top of the chassis. Why? Because it’s the only way to ensure we have the strongest, most durable structure possible, acting as one solid shell. No other RV on the market can be lifted by its roof, which is the ultimate testament to the self-supporting strength of the aluminum outer shell.
Each trailer is insulated like a home
Once we’ve built the outer shell and placed it onto the chassis, we install plumbing, wiring, and insulation. The EcoBatt® insulation we use is made primarily from sand and recycled glass, and certified to the tightest indoor air quality certification in the industry. It also meets or exceeds all industry performance standards. Once it’s all wired, plumbed, and insulated, an inner aluminum layer is riveted to the frame, which makes up the interior walls of the trailer.
We put the walls through a full hurricane test
Each trailer is rolled right from the production line to the water testing bay, where we spray it with more than 10,000 gallons of (recycled) water at hurricane-force pressure for 30 minutes. During the test, a quality control specialist is inside the trailer looking for leaks. In the rare case that a leak is found, we repair and test the trailer again before furniture is installed.
Everything has to fit through the door
The uninterrupted unity of the aluminum superstructure is what makes it so strong. That’s why everything we install inside has to fit through the 26-inch-wide front door. All of our furniture and cabinetry is handcrafted to work perfectly with the curves of the trailer. And it’s all made the same way as high-quality residential furniture and cabinetry: with wooden dowels and solid wood assemblies. We never use particle board or thin, flimsy paneling to build our furniture.
Quality control checks all the way down the line
Quality control specialists check every single inch of each travel trailer, testing the appliances, heating and cooling, plumbing, lighting, build quality, and more. Each trailer travels down the line with a verified record of what’s been checked and what needs perfected. Once that list is complete, we clean the trailer, apply a fresh coat of wax by hand, and roll it off the production line to an Airstream dealer.
Watch travel trailers being made
See the building process in action and
watch it all come together.
Environmentally conscious, always
It goes without saying that preserving the planet is one of our top priorities. After all, it’s our mission to help people explore it. So, we take care to make our manufacturing process as conscientious and zero-waste as possible. Our factory is Certified Green by TRA and has earned the highest possible rating, the Emerald Award, for resource, energy, and water efficiency and indoor air quality. And on the road, our aerodynamic travel trailers help you achieve incredible fuel efficiency.
How Nest is made
A fiberglass Airstream
Its fiberglass body and automotive styling make Nest stand out among Airstream travel trailers. And even though it’s made of different materials, we hold Nest to the same unrelenting production standards.
Crafted by experts
Nest’s fiberglass shell is molded, gel-coated, and sprayed by hand at Goldshield Fiberglass in Decatur, Indiana. Goldshield is a leader in fiberglass technology, and the only provider we trusted to meet our quality standards. Read more about how Goldshield makes the shell here.
Same quality interior construction
Once the fiberglass shell arrives at our factory, we install the floor, lower the body onto the chassis, and begin the process of assembling the interior. Just like our aluminum travel trailers, everything fits through the door so we never have to compromise the integrity of the Nest’s body.