Airstream factory – Jackson Center, Ohio

My first RVing experience was in my grandparents’ 1971 Airstream. ImageMy then-husband and I borrowed it when we moved from Florida to North Carolina. After getting separated in heavy Atlanta traffic, we finally made it to our friends’ horse farm and set up shop.  When the shower pan leaked water all over the hallway, it was time to get it to an RV repair shop so at that point we vacated the RV lifestyle and moved into a mobile home on the property.  It was another 30+ years before I ventured into even THINKING about RVs as a viable roof over my head!

When a work project located us 30 miles from THE Airstream factory, I just couldn’t resist. Besides, it had been on my bucket list for “someday”, so why not? I had also read it was one of the best factory tours RVers should take advantage of, so off we went. Their website said they only offer 1 tour a day, at 2pm but we arrived 45 minutes early and entered the Service Center building. Parked out front were 4 vintage Airstreams.

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As soon as you enter, you are greeted by desks built like the ends of an Airstream RV.  It’s quite a thrill to be standing there looking at the aluminum clad walls and desks with the familiar logo.  Image

With plenty of time to shop, we walked around the gift shop, resisting the urge to pick up polo shirts and other trinkets with the Airstream logo.  Since we are VERY limited on storage space, our purchases are limited to NECESSITIES or a post card for our travel board. The furniture in the waiting area is the same kinds of couches and chairs that are installed in each Airstream. The TV stand looks like the rear window of an Airstream. The video that runs continuously  explains WHY an Airstream is a superior travel trailer.  Image

Once our group had registered (there were 45 on this particular day) our tour guide began his presentation. This gentleman began working for Airstream when most of the buildings on the complex were still cornfields.  He has been presenting the tour for the last 20 of his over 50 years working for the company.  He loves this company AND his job and it shows!

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After 45 minutes inside, we ventured out to the parking lot and on to the manufacturing plant where workers were in various stages of assembling the latest models. First we checked some of the units being serviced or refurbished at the service center.  RV owners come from all parts of the country to have their Airstreams serviced at the factory.

Some Airsteram owners will drop them off for a complete re-do that costs as much Imageas a new model because they want it done right, but they want to keep the vintage look on the outside! The above RV was a 1973 model!

No pictures are allowed to be taken INside the factory and we had to put on safety glasses and ear plugs which are given out in the reception room.  The walk to the factory gave us an opportunity to view some of the RVs waiting for their turn in the refurbishing area.  An RV park behind the service center had another 10-15 units with owners waiting for their turn to get into the service area.  Sometimes they will have a 3-4 day wait, but it’s only $10 a day for their space.

We walked past the VERY FIST Airsteram that ever rolled off this property. The originals owners’ estate had donated it back to Airstream to be placed in the future Airstream museum, which is still in the planning stages.  Many families have kept their Airstreams in the family and respect the icon of camping.

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Once we completed our factory tour our total time at Airstream had been over 3 hours and our legs felt like rubber bands.  Thank goodness we had worn our walking shoes!  If you are ever in the north central Ohio area, make time to spend an afternoon at the Airstream Factory. A quick exit off of I-75, it very easy to get to.

The tour is free and it’s well worth your time to hear a 100% Airstream fan share his heart & soul about the Airstream story of which he has been a critical and devoted part to their world-wide success. Wally would be proud … very, very proud. 

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6 thoughts on “Airstream factory – Jackson Center, Ohio

    • Visiting the factory increased Terry’s confidence in their construction. I have always liked the vintage look of ANY RV, but the Airstreams hold a special place in my heart. It was well worth our time.

    • Hi Jerry & Suzi! It REALLY was fun … as many times as we’ve seen and drooled over an Airstream, we were not familiar with how they are built. It was educational and informative as well as feeding our vintage fantasies 😀

  1. Very cool! Not sure when we’ll be in that area but it definitely sounds worth doing. I love the looks of the Airstreams, though I have found them to be rather dark inside. Has that changed with the newer models?

    • Jaimie, the interior look changes each model year. For 2012 they are combining a bright while cabinet with a black zebra-wood-look for the door. Both materials are a Formica-laminate over wood. They do not use any particle board.

      What I learned during this visit is that the name Excella (which seems to be the vintage Airstream I favor) simply described the wide blue stripe on the outside. Each model is identified by it’s length vs. the interior color scheme.

      The Classic, International, Bambi and Sport are the basic differences, all in various lengths being built today.

      Wally Byam’s premise was “Make no changes, just improvements” and that is followed to this day.

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