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Old 01-13-2013, 04:25 PM   #1
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Airstream suitability for my situation

Hi all,
Lately I've been looking into getting back into the RV Market. I would need a trailer for a bit of a unique situation. The basics:

-I Would be living in the trailer during work, for 5-25 days a month. Work is 12 hour shifts, not inside the trailer. Would be in the trailer the other 12 hours. I estimate annual usage is 175-225 days, with time in between spent at home in my large house.

-I Would move the trailer after every job, usually 100 miles or so, rarely 400 miles

-Trailer would be used year-round in Northern NM / Southern CO

-Water and sewage are taken care of on site, with basically no propane or electricity limits (very large generator, water and propane tanks available)

-Would be towed down 5-15 mile dirt roads maybe once monthly.

-Tow Vehicle has 7700 lb rating

So I've been looking into airstreams a LOT lately, and I'm trying to find out if they'd be suitable for that purpose. In the past, I used an Excel 5er that was great, but I'd really like to avoid having to purchase a big diesel truck just for towing.

The company I work for provides a Per Diem of $70 a day if I supply my own trailer, and I'm tired of missing out on that money and staying in a crappy rental 5er. I realize the Airstream is definetly not the most practical option, but for whatever reason I keep going back to them. Love the styling and the interior design, especially on the new ones. Maybe a new 23 or 25' classic.....but wouldn't be oppsed to a refurbished older model.
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Old 01-13-2013, 04:33 PM   #2
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Check out the 22' Safari Sport. Plenty of room if it's just you and an occasional guest. We've been down plenty of dirt roads with no problems and it's very easy to tow.
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Old 01-13-2013, 04:42 PM   #3
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I think your biggest problem will be winter temperatures. If propane and electricity is supplied that's half the problem solved. Other problems will likely be condensation and freezing water lines. The furnace should keep the water lines open, but you might want to augment that with some kind of barrier for the belly of the trailer. Maybe straw bales. I have never wintered in an Airstream, and the above is based on what I have heard from others and some common sense.
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Old 01-13-2013, 04:49 PM   #4
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I Would Recommend a Different Choice

As you explore this forum, you will find this question asked repeatedly through the years. Airstreams are wonderful to tow from place to place.
They are less suited for the nearly full-time living that you have described, especially in northern NM and southern CO.
Because of their aluminum skins and skeleton, they are more of a three-season trailer than others like the Arctic Fox for example.
The rounded shape of the Airstream that makes it more aerodynamic and easier to tow, makes the trailer more crowded inside.
Airstreams are charming, and they have an unmistakable mystique, and I would not own anything else for camping and going to rallies, but I would find a used four-season travel trailer if I had your needs.
Some travel trailers offer 2x3 wooden framed construction that offers more insulation and a frame that does not conduct heat and cold. They may lack the Airsteam's je ne c'est pas, but they offer a warmer habitat in the dead of winter. Just remember, Alamosa, CO is often the coldest place in these continental U.S.
This thoughtful advice is being offered from inside my Airstream in Mesa, AZ where I just went swimming in an outdoor pool and picked an orange from a tree outside my door.
This is what Airstreams were meant to do; transport you to warm places in the winter and the cool mountains of Colorado in the Summer.
Hope this helps.
Others will chime in and tell you that you have a romantically wonderful idea.
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Old 01-13-2013, 05:02 PM   #5
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How bad are the roads on which you'll be towing? Dirt roads are OK, but deeply rutted logging trails would likely be a problem. Airstreams don't have a lot of ground clearance; so if you would hesitate to drive a full-size sedan down the road in question, I'm not sure an Airstream would be the best choice.

Fifth wheel trailers usually have solid axles on leaf springs, which provides a lot more ground clearance; while Airstreams are lower and more susceptible to damage. Low hanging items like a spare tire/carrier, and sewer pipes and valves, could take a real beating.

Just a thought...

Note: We've taken our 19-foot Bambi down some rough dirt roads, but nothing worse than you'd take a family sedan or station wagon on. If it looks like a 4WD trail, we don't even attempt it. However, that being said, we've stayed in some beautiful, remote spots, with all the conveniences of home.
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Old 01-13-2013, 05:18 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alumaholic View Post
As you explore this forum, you will find this question asked repeatedly through the years. Airstreams are wonderful to tow from place to place.
They are less suited for the nearly full-time living that you have described, especially in northern NM and southern CO.
Because of their aluminum skins and skeleton, they are more of a three-season trailer than others like the Arctic Fox for example.
The rounded shape of the Airstream that makes it more aerodynamic and easier to tow, makes the trailer more crowded inside.
Airstreams are charming, and they have an unmistakable mystique, and I would not own anything else for camping and going to rallies, but I would find a used four-season travel trailer if I had your needs.
Some travel trailers offer 2x3 wooden framed construction that offers more insulation and a frame that does not conduct heat and cold. They may lack the Airsteam's je ne c'est pas, but they offer a warmer habitat in the dead of winter. Just remember, Alamosa, CO is often the coldest place in these continental U.S.
This thoughtful advice is being offered from inside my Airstream in Mesa, AZ where I just went swimming in an outdoor pool and picked an orange from a tree outside my door.
This is what Airstreams were meant to do; transport you to warm places in the winter and the cool mountains of Colorado in the Summer.
Hope this helps.
Others will chime in and tell you that you have a romantically wonderful idea.

I have quite a bit of experience with the Nash/Arctic Fox line of trailer from Northwood. Their 4-season trailers are probably a perfect choice for what you are looking to do. Unlike many of the other SOB trailers, the Northwood products are very high quality and built well enough to take reasonable trips down unpaved roads. With that said, they are heavy for their length and you would be probably limited to something in the range of their 25S or 22H or G to comfortably stay in your tow vehicle's capability.

We had a 22H and loved it. We used it with 3 and were quite comfortable. It would be more than enough for one full time.
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Old 01-13-2013, 06:44 PM   #7
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Sounds like the oilfield. Or, gas. What I see "in the field" is extremely dust-covered. The gate guards I talk with note that one cannot keep the dust out. It's permanent, so-to-speak.

The pipeline inspectors I've talked with (sounds more like what you might be encountering) had to be quite careful about freezing temps, even with better built aero aluminum TT's like Avion or Silver Streak. That these were better than an A/S was a little beside the point. Any of them are expensive to tear up (the expectation that they will be kept/repaired/maintained to as close to "new" as possible) in comparison to more ordinary construction types of the better quality, (such as A-FOX).

IMO, the latter is easier to let go of after one has had the best use of it. One's feelings about a TT as a tool versus as a "possession" are important to explore.

An A-FOX would be my choice with no more than a single slide.

Suspension/brake upgrades, perhaps. There are some very good threads on RV.net about northern Yukon vacations (and other rough roads) with A-FOX TT's and 5'ers. Worth your while to do the reading.

Get the one you want. But no matter what it is, leave "room" (emotional and $$) to change size, brand, etc. It can take a few tries.

Good luck

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Old 01-13-2013, 06:44 PM   #8
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I own an Argosy 26'. In my opinion any A$ is not suited for the rough back roads.
My vote is for the Arctic Fox/Nash. The last time I looked the tongue weight dry was actually less than my Argosy for a unit of the same length. The Argosy tongue weight loaded ready for travel is 690#.
I lived in a 14' Shasta for 11 months thru the winter in Vancouver, BC back in the early 90's. An Arctic Fox would have been like living in the Hilton.
Good Luck!
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Old 01-13-2013, 07:34 PM   #9
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Thanks for the replies everyone. Radnax nailed it, I'm in the oilfield, specifically as a Directional Driller.

Sounds like good advice. I'll take a look at the Artic Foxes. I really liked the Excel I had, but not nearly as "cool" as an airstream.


It's difficult to turn away from the Airstream appeal though.....

As far as roads go, very rarely will I work anywhere that requires 4wd, and if it's muddy I just leave the trailer until it dries up.

I remember fighting with the frozen water hoses, but built some insulated and heated hoses that pretty much solved that problem.
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Old 01-13-2013, 07:47 PM   #10
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Bigfoot

You might also look at a Bigfoot made in Canada. The roof is all fiberglass and not rubber like the A-fox. Made for -20.
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Old 01-13-2013, 08:15 PM   #11
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I recently went through Williston, ND, which is the current drilling capital of the US. I saw thousands of trailers, mostly 5ers and some SOBs. Not a single airstream. It's a really tough life for the trailer so I would tend to go for the disposable kind. Airstreams don't qualify.
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Old 01-13-2013, 08:19 PM   #12
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As I've explored the forums, it seems like the biggest issues with low temps are:

-Lack of insulation and aluminums poor insulating charactaristics making the trailer hard to keep warm

-condensation

-Exposed pipes outside of the heated areas (would require heat tape)

So assuming eletricity and propane are free, and the exposed pipes wrapped in heat tape, the biggest issue would be condesnation. It's very dry pretty much everywhere I work, but a dehumidifier would probably be required.

I really do need to talk myself out of this......but high quality trailers that my truck can tow are few and far between, even the lighest artic foxes and bigfoots are relatively heavy.

Keep the great advice coming people ! Thanks a lot !
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Old 01-14-2013, 08:49 PM   #13
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Directional, eh? I've hauled ya'll's equipment more than a few times.

I do see a few Airstream trailers in the Eagle Ford. One, a Bambi is a gate guard unit out near Cotulla. Has not been washed that I'm aware of the past nine months, so the dust on the exterior is layered. Another, a 30' slide, is in an RV park (work camp) near Calliham where it has been for a few months. Located at the eastern edge of that caliche pad, so that may help with the dust thing. But only one roof air . . I may note the date I see a second as there is no shade. These are "new" units (about ten years) as there are a few survivors from the 1970's around. But this is not a region that, economically, is populated by those with the $$ and temerity to do a full monte on a 40-yr old TT. Otherwise, there are uncounted of thousands of square white boxes out there.

jhawkins, there are some threads worth your while to read in the WINTER LIVING (name?) sub-forum. Some are current (such as the one by deauxrite living near the Grand Canyon this winter), and some are older.

There is consistency among the threads about what works and what doesn't. But, as a caution, the day the generator goes down (an hour after you leave for work) is the same day the electrical-heat protected things have a problem. I've not done this (yet), but my feeling/thinking is that electrical tape, et. al. is a backup to whatever else might be done to insulate the TT and connexions. You might eat up that $70/daily in advance by preparations (okay, maybe not, but A/S TT's are like sailboats: they eat money since doing it right is the high priority. On an SOB, anything good enough is good enough).

Note that southern CO is having an extended very cold pair of weeks just now. Or that Phoenix is having the coldest days since 1978. Weird weather.

Get an A/S if you want . . but be prepared to care more about little things that owners of other brands -- who expect to trade every five years or so -- don't worry themselves with.

The TT I've just bought (a 1990 Silver Streak) had a PO who used it out in the Permian Basin. I'm not close to getting dust out of it yet (a lot to do, all around, on a 23-yr old TT), and it was only out there for a few months. Between his employer and his tax situation, the payment for the TT was essentially made by others. If your situation is somehow similar then a nice used A/S of 28' or so may suit your needs. Take the sting out of the cost, so to speak.

Still, have a look at super slide TT's of around 24-26' in conventional TT's. Find a floorplan you like (that you have experienced by walking around inside), and look at the TT brands recommended above. There aren't many A-Fox dealers in the South Central US of which I'm aware, and BIGFOOT may not have any.

Take what time you can.

And just to forestall any other delays: PRO-PRIDE HITCH, DIRECLINK or MAXBRAKE brake controller, and conversion to 16" LT tires + wheels at the very beginning. Disc brakes are also highly recommended. Don't sweat the tow rating thing too much. How to set it up can move things around a bit. Stop by a CAT Scale at a truckstop, now, and get the solo weight of you, full fuel, and usual truck stuff aboard.

If the TT has leaf-sprung suspension, then a more advanced "equalizer" between springs to soften the ride (plus adding shock absorbers) will do wonders. Some other suspension "hardening" is also a good idea. (PM me for links).

And if someone invents a drilling rig pad that is dust-free or mud-free, I'd like to see it. I slid off a lease road last week and was lucky a bulldozer was nearby to pull me out. Then spent the rest of the day on a rig move in, literally, ankle-deep mud. A major oil company, an H&P rig, and everything otherwise first class. Weather takes its toll, quickly.

So where will you keep the three pairs of boots you'll have? Or wet & muddy gear? So long as you strip off outside I guess it'd work, huh?




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Old 01-14-2013, 09:27 PM   #14
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I would vote for one of these:

EarthRoamer


You can purchase one of the consignment vehicles for about half the new rate. It's meant to be 4 season and will take you off road without difficulty.
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