Managed to stop by today, not closed, folks working, but Phil was not there.
Talked to Chris about the changes discussed in the email and where current production was.
There were 13 Drifter/Nomads in the shop, about a third had tents, one was old stock in for new windows.
As I "will be in the next batch" my guess is that they are in the 200-210's roughly. Output, they confirmed, is still about what we have seen for the last few years; one per month.
The aim of the streamlining is to make that 1 per week, but how far away that is... we will see.
What I did see is some of the improvements. The new door they are designing for the back is a trapezoid- no rounded edges at the top- and will be aluminum available with or without a window. My hope is that the glass is still fairly big, but I forgot to ask. My other hope is that it doesn't channel water into the camper when lifted, which the rounded top windows will do without fail. Once they can make their own doors, that should speed things up.
The new gray powder-coat is fairly light, here's a dark gray and light gray comparison.
Powder coating happens to the 2 parts (base and lifting portion of the roof) once they have been welded together from the cut & formed pieces they get back from the CNC company. Now that all campers get PC, I imagine there is no longer the stain-grade/paint-grade difference for protecting the protective wrap while assembling. Production might be a little more linear if everything has the same process. Forgot to ask how the PC was affecting turnaround, or if that was happening as fast as Vagabond could get them the parts.
The left photo has the older Frontrunner windows, there were no Tern windows mounted, but the hatch looks excellent. All are top hinged black doors with black trim and hardware, 2 locking twist handles that look to cam down to pressure the seals. They look to open about 130º on quality struts and are insulated.
The Tern windows use more latches, three on the bottom and two on the sides, which are not accessible from the outside. The struts will lock at the 20º & 40º positions, and 60º is the max opening, which is will make access through them difficult. Here's a stock photos of both-
The Tern door option is actually a retrofit, riveted and glued on to the original back. For the Nomad, it is fully reversible, for the Drifter, a notch is cut from the top of the opening which would have to be repaired if the back panel ever came off. The doors are pretty expensive, so they do not plan to stock them, but Tern has been responsive, so they shouldn't add much time to a build.
Things like the L-track, solar pre-wire and the fan (though not the concealed wiring) can also be added at any time, as the structure for it part of every build. Other options need to be finalized when the build is starting and dimensions are sent to the forming shop. This used to happen when the request for final payment was made, but it was acknowledged that those two events became unrelated. Going forward, the aim is to finalize the build when the batch it is in is ordered from the CNC outfit, and I assume the final payment requested.
Regarding part changes/ omissions in order to get individual campers out the door, it is really dependent on the individual build and its' particular holdups. If the new email address actually gets answered, this would be the way to go if folks have builds in the shop waiting on parts.
So, this still looks like a going concern, just a very slow going one. I'm not checking social media, so I don't know what # was last delivered or when that was, but until we see differently, one camper per month looks like the output. Luckily, most of these are going on trucks that can last a long time...
The shop is full of camper bodies in from raw to all-but-doorless stages and there is a good deal of stock on the shelves waiting for the time it can get installed. Reorganizing the build and streamlining the options looks like a very real effort to reduce build-times and not the sort of effort a company would make if it couldn't keep the lights on.
I would love to hear from them rather than having to drive 2 counties over to talk ( which has always been pleasant, candid and pretty informative), let's hope they are investing in communication as much as the build process.
I am personally still trusting that Vagabond will get me the camper that was ordered almost 3 years ago, perhaps before the end of year 4, so I'm not calling my CC company or a lawyer, but it is hard to keep faith at times. Hope this was helpful.