Here in our Forest City, Iowa, manufacturing facilities, we build our motorhomes start to finish, and manufacture many of our own components. Here’s why.
- We can specify the finest raw materials. (We don’t buy trim made from unknown or inferior metal, we buy specific aluminum alloy billets for each application.) Then we build components that meet our rigorous quality standards.
- We can engineer precisely what we need. Instead of bolting an off-the-shelf holding tank onto a chassis, we design and rotocast our own tank to fit precisely into its chassis. That precise fit frees up space for other things — like more storage. It also lets us distribute weight more evenly, which makes your motorhome handle better. An added benefit: if a part is needed years later, we can simply make one if it’s not in stock. Try that after a supplier changes tooling — or a manufacturer changes suppliers.
- We control quality more stringently by taking a “big-picture” approach. Training, certification and testing — of materials, prototypes, systems and motorhomes — are just some of the tools we use to ensure that every coach we build deserves to wear that Winnebago Industries badge.
We don't just build motorhomes, we build expertise.
At Winnebago Industries, we offer ongoing training to build the skills of the men and women who build our motorhomes.
- All welders, plumbers and electrical technicians are fully trained and certified.
- Our Customer Service facility has dozens of Certified and Master Certified Technicians on staff.
- The rigorous training and testing our employees must complete to earn certifications means your motorhome is built to last and meets our high standards.
Don’t use wood where you need steel.
Using inferior materials is an easy way to cut costs, but we believe the reduction in strength, durability — even safety — is simply too high a price to pay.
Our steel cab structure lets us mount our windshields automotive-style in non-hardening urethane for added durability, strength and safety.
Others use a rubber gasket to attach the windshield to the fiberglass front cap. For safety and durability reasons, the rubber gasket was dropped by the auto industry decades ago!
Steel Cab Super Structure
Our cab structures surround the driver and passenger with precision-machined, plasma-cut steel, e-coated, shaped and welded for added strength.
As this crash-damaged coach shows, some other manufacturers simply mount their fiberglass front cap to the sidewalls, without a full-steel cab underneath.
Seatbelts aren’t the only things that should be fastened securely.
We securely bolt our driver and passenger seat pedestals in solid steel.
Others simply mount their seat pedestals to a wood cab deck.
We use a steel firewall between the engine and passenger compartments.
Others use wood (used in covered wagons, circa 1870) in this critical application.
We use a specially designed interlocking joint to evenly distribute the weight of the roof along the entire span of the walls, so our “empty shell” is so strong it doesn’t need internal reinforcement.
Other brands simply screw their sidewalls and roof together. But with all the weight borne only by those screws, the resulting structure is so weak it requires interior walls and cabinets for stability. Which do you think holds up better over the long haul?
Because we use metal so extensively in our motorhomes, we have made it a priority over the years to develop our metalworking capabilities. Today, no other RV company can begin to match our capabilities, nor the expertise of our hundreds of employees devoted to manufacturing critical aluminum and steel components.
Our Creative Aluminum Products Company (CAPCO) division is a complete aluminum extrusion facility capable of producing nearly 600,000 pounds of finished aluminum products a week. We stock a variety of aluminum alloy cylinders (called billets) and select the best alloy for each application.
CAPCO also provides products like water heater tubes and powder-coated door latches to outside suppliers and original equipment manufacturers. (You’ll even find CAPCO-produced components in competitors’ products.)
To help minimize corrosion, metal parts and components can feature one of several protective coating processes.
Critical steel structural components are processed through a multi‑stage full immersion electrocoating (e-coating) system. E-coating is also used by leading automotive companies to protect their vehicles from corrosion.
The process involves charging each part with an electrical charge which attracts the protective coating, causing it to be “plated” onto the part. The result is a uniform thickness of the protective coating.
Components like screen doors are painted with a powder-coating process. A positive electric charge is applied to the part, which attracts the negatively charged powder particles. The coating is then baked on in heat chambers for an attractive, extremely durable finish.
Many of our competitors apply a simple spray-on paint that doesn’t reach or protect nooks and crannies.
Larger than two full-size football fields, our dedicated steelworking facility processes sheet, tube, and roll-stock steel. We use a vast array of computer-controlled lasers, turret punching machines and presses to manufacture parts to close tolerances not readily achievable with other methods.
High-tech lasers allow greater design flexibility while creating stronger components, reducing waste and reducing cost by maximizing material utilization.
Robotic welding provides precise high-quality welds in crucial applications, reducing scrap and ensuring consistently strong joints.
The laser tube cutter can make the intricate cuts necessary for more precise joints. These joints are stronger and require less welding.
Other manufacturers rely on less-precisely cut pieces welded together with weaker butt joints.
Laser Tube Cutter
Turret Punching Centers
Our advanced software “nests” parts together for production purposes, allowing us to maximize the yield of parts produced from any given piece of material.
While some manufacturers use less-accurate manual saws or cut-off saws, our laser tube cutter precisely cuts structural tubing to length. It can also cut shapes into a tube, and even etches the length of each part directly onto the tube.
Our turret punching centers are capable of loading material, punching, shearing and sorting all the scrap in one operation. These machines will produce 440 tons of parts annually.
The inside story on our motorhome walls.
We revolutionized the industry with Thermo-Panel construction, which sandwiches metal framework, ducting and insulation between the interior and exterior walls. We’ve continued to advance our technology even as others try to copy it.
Computer-controlled routers create precise window and door openings, plus channels for the wiring and SuperStructure. This precision enables us to create an insulated thermal break between the internal structure and the exterior to prevent harmful condensation.
Others use less-accurate handheld routers to cut channels, windows and doors, which can lead to gaps in insulation, weak seals and poor durability.
Appliances & Cabinets Anchored in Steel
A laser projection system ensures correct alignment and placement of the steel panels mounted in the sidewall to serve as attachment points to securely mount cabinets and appliances.
Other manufacturers mount cabinets and appliances to cheap pine wood boards placed inside the sidewalls, or even screw their appliances directly to the sidewall. Which would you rather have: your cabinets and appliances mounted to steel, or mounted to wood?
We use calibrated pressure rollers and advanced adhesives to combine high-gloss exterior fiberglass, a welded aluminum support structure, high-density foam insulation and a finished interior wall into lightweight, durable and incredibly strong sidewalls and roofs.
Other manufacturers use cheaper vacuum-powered systems to apply less-precise pressure, which results in uneven bonding, reduced durability and weaker support.
Rubber tires? Great. Rubber roof? Not so much
All of our coaches are topped by a strong, durable fiberglass roof, backed by a 10-year limited parts-and-labor roof skin warranty.
Others typically use fiberglass only on their high-end models, with the rest receiving cheaper rubber or plastic membrane roofs, which are prone to chalking, fading, streaking, leaks and deterioration. If the coach you’re considering has a membrane roof, consider another coach — or consider an umbrella.
Unlike residential house furniture, or even the furniture used in other RVs such as trailers, motorhome furniture must meet a unique set of automotive, fire, crash and other safety standards.
And no one knows more about motorhome furniture than Winnebago Industries. The craftsmen in our Stitchcraft division have been building motorhome furnishings for more than 50 years. In that time, we’ve produced more than one million pieces of furniture, including seats, sofas and loungers.
Designing and manufacturing furniture specifically for our motorhomes not only helps us utilize space more efficiently, it has led to innovations such as our Rest Easy sofa, our BenchMark full-comfort dinette, and our new Extendable Sectional Sofa.
And like the many other components we build ourselves, manufacturing much of our own furniture allows us to provide replacement parts long after the original date of manufacture, something that third-party vendors typically can’t match.
We also don’t cut corners when it comes to what goes into our furniture. Like every other component, Stitchcraft furniture must pass our rigid quality standards before being sent to the assembly line.
To cover our sofas, chairs and dinettes, we use high-quality fabrics that must stand up to a variety of tests including abrasion resistance and colorfastness compliance to ensure durability.
Our passion for excellence doesn’t stop with furniture; Stitchcraft also produces soft goods such as window treatments, bedspreads, pillows and comforters that perfectly accent each motorhome interior. Others may have to settle for what’s available on the open market.
We feature plush UltraleatherTM that is softer and easier to clean than the regular fabric, leather or faux leather used by other manufacturers. And because it’s also more durable, you’ll be able to enjoy its beauty and comfort for years down the road.
Other brands use less-durable fabric, leather or faux leather that simply doesn’t hold up as well over time. This illustrates the impact of heat and humidity on lesser fabrics over an extended period of time.
We use multi-density foam construction, combining different density foams to provide the perfect balance of strength and softness to maximize comfort and durability.
Some manufacturers use single-density foam that is less comfortable and prone to breakdown, causing lumps or permanent impressions.
Our basic dinette uses a solid plywood base for a strong, durable foundation. Note the thick, supportive back cushion. Our BenchMark full comfort dinette even features innerspring cushions.
Oriented stand board is cheaper, which is undoubtedly why this manufacturer uses it. The thin backrest cushion provides a visible clue to their corner-cutting habits.
From traditional to contemporary, the custom hardwood cabinets that grace many of our models provide a stylish accent to each coach’s interior, and feature beautiful and durable stile-and-rail construction similar to that found in fine residential cabinetry.
These well-built hardwood cabinets are created by our own skilled artisans for the same reason we build our own furniture: motorhome cabinets are subject to a unique set of challenges and requirements, and most “off-the-shelf” cabinetry simply doesn’t cut it.
We use genuine select hardwoods like cherry and maple, so when we say “cherry,” you know you’re getting the real thing. Some manufacturers take cheaper softwood like alder, put a cherry stain on it and call it “cherry.”
Our cabinets are finished with hand-rubbed stains and durable catalyzed finishes to bring out the natural beauty of the wood.
While the beauty of our cabinetry is readily apparent, you won’t see the “space balls”— small compressible spheres of rubber that we insert in the slots of the cabinet door frames to allow for normal expansion and contraction as temperature and humidity change. This extra step, which many manufacturers skip, protects the doors from the warping and cracking that might otherwise occur, and helps to eliminate rattling as well.
We use more durable, full-extension metal drawer slides that allow drawers to open fully for easy access and full use of storage space.
Others use cheap plastic slides that easily break, and limit how far the drawer can open.
We manufacture components like water tanks, luggage compartments, heat ducts and wheel wells in our rotational molding (rotocast) facility. Here, polyethylene powder is placed into specially shaped molds. These molds are heated, changing the powder to liquid, rotated to distribute the liquid evenly, and cooled to produce the hardened seamless parts.
We produce more than 3.5 million pounds of rotocast goods annually, each component designed to precisely fit its specific application. And because we own the molds, we know parts will be available for years to come.
Shower stalls, dashes, bumpers, trim pieces and compartment doors are created with highly efficient thermoform processes in our 72,000 square-foot plastics facility.
We start with high-impact ABS plastic that can stand up to the rigors of life on the road and maintain its original luster for years to come. Thermoforming machines heat the plastic sheets and place them on molds while applying a vacuum to shape the part.
Other manufacturers use low-grade and less expensive styrene material that’s less impact-resistant than ABS plastic, and trim by hand to less-precise tolerances.
When it comes to wiring, nobody is more current.
We use resettable breakers for 12-volt circuit protection whenever possible. They cost a bit more, but since they don’t require one-use fuses, end up being far more convenient for you.
Others use cheaper inline fuses that must be replaced when blown.
We follow automotive standards for secure and reliable 12-volt connections. Wires are clearly labeled for easy identification, and crimped and spliced using an advanced solderless welding process and heat-shrink covering that virtually eliminates failure.
Others use twist-on wire nuts or simple butt connectors, which are more prone to failure. They also do not label (or even color-code) their wiring, making trouble-shooting or repair more difficult and expensive.
7-Pin Tow Connector
Our coaches are wired for, and include, a 7-pin towing connector, so you can take full advantage of trailers equipped with backup lights, electric brakes (with appropriate controller) or other accessories.
Others use cheaper 4-pin connectors that may require an adaptor or extensive re-wiring to utilize some trailer features.
We use PEX residential-quality tubing in all of our water supply systems. Quick-disconnect and compression connectors at key locations ensure sturdy, leakproof connections, and — in the unlikely event service is ever necessary — make reconnecting or replacement a snap.
Advanced Sonar Technology
All our motorhomes use our advanced TrueLevel sonar technology sensors to provide precise holding tank level readings.
Competitors use probes inserted into the tank that quickly corrode and provide inaccurate level readings.
We use a spin-weld process to literally fuse the fittings to our water tanks at a molecular level so they actually become part of the tank. Waste-water tank drain fittings are threaded and sealed to create a strong and durable connection.
Others use silicone sealant to "glue" their fittings on, which results in a fitting that is more likely to leak or work loose.
We make a big deal out of little things.
Fit and Finish
Fit and finish refers to how well parts fit and work together (for example, how well doors or panels line up, gaps in trim pieces, etc.). A high level of fit and finish requires high-quality parts, assembled with skill and care.
Large or uneven gaps and excess filler or sealant are often clues to poor quality fit and finish. The result is a coach that is less tight and is more prone to rattles, squeaks, leaks and excessive wear.
We specify a tough epoxy coating on critical fasteners to improve their holding strength and provide corrosion resistance for added durability.
Competitors use hardware-store grade fasteners.
We protect the underside of our coach floors with a durable aluminum skin that adds strength, resists moisture and protects against the elements.
Some competitors simply paint exposed plywood, while others apply a cheap woven material, similar to landscaping fabric, that does not provide the protection of a metal barrier.
Double Slideroom Seal
We use a double-bulb wipe seal that squeegees our sliderooms each time they cycle in or out. The double bulbs lock out moisture when the room is completely extended or retracted.
Competitors use cheaper seals that are less effective and less durable. You won’t really appreciate the difference until the first time you’re camped in a driving rain!
We place the dipstick in an easy-to-see, easy-to-reach location so routine maintenance is just that: routine.
Other manufacturers place their dipsticks in hard-to-find locations at odd angles, turning something as simple as checking the oil into a complicated production.
The showers in most of our models feature glass shower doors that stay shut with a positive latch and easily wipe clean.
Competitive models often rely on cheap shower curtains in tracks that have mind of their own. They are difficult to clean, which can lead to mildew.
One of the joys of RVing is cooking. We pay close attention to how we mount our stoves, making sure they’re flush with the counter, with no exposed sharp edges or places for food to get trapped.
Like a kitchen remodeling nightmare, this stove is mounted below the counter, inviting spills that will never be fully cleaned up.
It’s a fact of life: the harder it is to do something, the less likely it is to get done. So we make it easy to keep an eye on important things — like air filters, and oil, transmission fluid, coolant and brake fluid levels.
Check the fluids? Just get on your knees, reach in, up to the right, now back down, behind and — ouch! that’s hot! And the air filter? Forget it.
Few companies go to the lengths we do to test our products. None go to the heights.
We test raw materials. We test prototypes. We test finished parts. We test completed motorhomes. Heck, we even test our testers. All to ensure that every motorhome that rolls out the door meets our standards for quality, performance, durability and safety.
We may be the only motorhome manufacturer with our own proprietary test track. And while we’d never wish a 30% grade, 6-inch bumps and 4-inch chuckholes (among other hazards) on anyone, it’s comforting to know that your motorhome is built to take everything this scientifically designed nightmare can dish out.
Every prototype, whether a part or a complete motorhome, is thoroughly tested before it’s put into production. Here, our custom shaker machine puts a coach through the equivalent of 40,000 road miles in one week
Throughout the manufacturing process, parts are checked for proper function, alignment, stability in heat and cold, color match and trouble-free operation. Here, our component shaker tests a door assembly.
Salt Spray Fog Chamber
To help ensure that paints and finishes will stand up to the challenges of the road, our gravelometer pelts parts with pebbles and stones.
We go to great lengths to protect our metal components against corrosion. Then we check our work by testing corrosion resistance on key parts in a salt spray chamber to ensure ultimate corrosion protection.
Our Hot Room test facility accommodates full-sized motorhomes, allowing us to test cooling systems and insulation in sustained temperatures ranging from 55° to 120° F. This helps us perfect heating system designs and maximize performance.
Prior to shipout, every motorhome undergoes a high-pressure water test to check for potential leaks. 250 spray heads deliver a powerful, concentrated spray at a rate equal to 50 inches of rainfall per hour. At some other companies, the “water test” consists of a sprinkler on a garden hose. Seriously?
Structural integrity, appliance and cabinet attachment, impact absorption and more —& given all the reasons to drop-test a new model, the question becomes not “Why do we do it?” but “Why doesn’t anyone else?”
Prior to delivery, every coach receives a front-wheel alignment and undergoes a comprehensive 113-point inspection, so your motorhome is ready to hit the road when you are. Other manufacturers expect their customers to do their final testing for them.