The Airstream factory tour is a must see for any RV enthusiast. Airstream travel trailers are easily recognized among recreational vehicles by the silver color of their aluminum construction. In production since 1931 when Wally Byam leveraged the rounded shape and low profile to make a stable trailer that could easily be towed. Each Airstream travel trailer has been manufactured largely by hand in Jackson Center, Ohio for over sixty years.
The Airstream factory is free and open to the public. Tours are given weekdays at 2:00pm, except on holidays. There is a campground on-site for a very reasonable ten dollars. Jackson Center is a small Midwestern town of less than 1,500 people located about seventy-five miles northwest of Columbus, Ohio.
The Airstream factory tour begins with a twenty minute introduction to the history of the riveted aluminum travel trailers. Then the group is escorted through the factory lines where various components are crafted and assembled. Throughout the Airstream factory tour the travel trailers can be seen making their nine day journey through the production area.
Be prepared to experience a real factory tour – complete with the provided safety glasses and hearing protection. The tour winds around the parts and pieces and within arm’s reach of the workers and materials. Fortunately the tour detours the rain tunnel that provides a real waterproof test of the aluminum shell.
After about an hour of wandering through the factory with narration explaining the different steps and processes, there is a brief break and then the opportunity to continue with a brief tour of the assembly area for the Airstream interiors in the Mercedes-Benz touring coach.
Due to the popularity of Airstreams, they are typically ordered and made specifically for the customer. The factory does not customize the trailer, but the serial number is designated for a specific customer. Some customers have been known to take the Airstream factory tour nine consecutive weekdays to see the progress on the trailer being built for them.
There is an Airstream store at the entrance to the factory and includes branded apparel, accessories and collectibles. Replacement parts are also readily available. The store is open to the public, and many of the items are also available online at the Airstream Store.