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Old 02-21-2011, 09:37 PM   #1
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Help a newbie -- basic information about vintage Airstream RV

I've never owned nor camped in an RV, and admittedly was never a big motorhome enthusiast before registering here this evening, though I've sort of been fascinated by them ever since I was a child. I remember watching The Long, Long, Long Trailer with Luci and Desi on TV late one-night as a kid, and later in my teen years catching some screwball with William Powell and Myrna Loy where they honeymoon in an RV, and finding some sort of curious appeal in the whole notion. But if I ever had any desire to join the retro road safaring summer sect, it was surely the Walt Disney cartoon 'Mickey's Trailer' that drew me in the most, with it's crazy mechanical futuristic novelties.. My father took me to a tradeshow once when I was very young, not out of any personal interest or actual consideration of purchase, but just because I was a weird imaginative kid who liked to run around and play by myself in furniture stores while my parents shopped, and I guess he thought it would be neat for me to explore all the different floor models and lounge around in the trailers. He was right, I had a total blast and remember the excitement to this day! Well fast forward many, many years with these thoughts not having ever crossed my mind.. The sudden interest has come back and I would like to get some very basic information to determine whether it would ever make sense for me to consider getting into this. I really haven't done any research beyond a bit of Googling here and there, but from what info I've gathered, I'm sort of looking at the 24' TRADE WIND - circa '65/'66, with it's retro-future space age design. It also seems to afford the most space, as part of this interest comes from the restoration and interior design end.

Now before I go much further, I grew up and live in the urban core of downtown Montreal, and so I would obviously only be getting use out of short weekend and summer camping roadtrips. I have absolutely no clue about the regulations regarding storage or associated costs, but with seasonal limitation playing a factor - (I imagine it would not be suited to Canadian winters) - six months of the year would be collecting dust in a garage. I wonder if anyone knows anything about normal parking laws (not necessarily specific to my location but common north american city regs) for leaving a trailer of this size on the street within daytime permit hours? Is a 24' trailer considered a full size motorhome? Would I be able to park it along the sidewalk during the day while running errands? What is considered a full-sized motorhome versus a weekend camper?

Now the biggest question.. would a 24' Trade Wind be allowed to park overnight in most designated campgrounds, or would I be restricted to trailer park camping exclusively? The latter seems much less glamorous and appealing to me, as what really stirred this up was the allure of hitching up and motoring through the national park corridors of Quebec and Ontario for weekend refuge and old-style wilderness camping amidst the lakes, trees and open sky. If there's absolutely no way I'd ever get away with forest camping, I'd really appreciate it if someone could inform whether ANY sized camper/trailer would fit my intentions? Most campsites afford parking for cars and passenger vehicles so I wonder where this would fit and whether it would be allowed. Every vintage ad I've ever come across in magazines, books, etc. always presents the image of secluded lakeside forest camping, with the dad behind his grill, etc. Is this an idealistic passe portrait of postwar American culture or what RVing is really about? I just have zero interest in spending my summer holidays in trailer parks, as I'd just as soon pack a tent and sleeping bag and do it the traditional way!

Finally, I'd like to ask some very general questions about the Trade Wind itself. Firstly - luxuries and amenities like electrical outlets, running water, showers, etc... Can anyone brief me on how it all works? Is it reasonable to expect to be able to retain all of these conveniences in a 24' trailer? What about the kitchen - would it be able to accommodate your avg. sized 14 cu. ft. refrigerator or am I crazy? What about installing stove/oven and dishwasher? Is this really overreaching? I don't want to invest in the equivalent of an oversized mobile home on wheels.. I'm specifically looking for a comfortable camper sized trailer for shorter 4-6 day retreats for two people, but I would like to get an idea of what I'd be able to do with one in terms of 'fix-up'. Well I guess those are all the questions I have to start with. I'd really appreciate it if anyone could take the time to give me a bit of general info on any or all of the above...

Thanks!!
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Old 02-21-2011, 09:45 PM   #2
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I'll take a crack at a few of the questions.

The 24' is not an outsized camper by any means and should fit in many forest campgrounds. My 25' unit does, and is not restricted to commercial RV parks. In the RV scheme of things I'd consider it medium size.

The kitchen will not accommodate a 14 cubic foot refrigerator. While I'm not familiar with the unit in question I will guesstimate it will include about 5-6 cubic foot. It should be plenty for your 4-6 day trips with a little strategy and planning.

The trailers will come with a stove and oven generally. A 24' trailer almost never has a dishwasher. Some very large motorhomes do, typically near 40 ft. long.

The trailer will have electrical outlets, and a shower with hot water. The 120 volt electrical outlets will not function unless plugged into "hookups" or a generator.

This will get you started, I'm sure others will offer valuable advice and pointers.
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Old 02-21-2011, 09:52 PM   #3
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

First off, welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

As to your questions, a 24' Airstream is fully livable at a camp site. The RV refrigerator in a trailer that size would be a 7 cubic foot at the max. A dishwasher is not realistic in a trailer of that size.

You should probably go to an Airstream dealer and go through some new trailers of various sizes to get an idea of what features fit in what trailers.

There is also plenty of info on these Forums. Read to your heart's content.

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Old 02-21-2011, 10:00 PM   #4
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Thanks so much to both of you for your help!

I guess the functionality of outlets would be rendered useless in a campground if requiring generator power... that means conveniences like shavers and hairdryers, electronics (stereo/phono) and even... the refrigerator would not be of much help, right? That's kind of disappointing to learn. Do most people purchase portable generators that they supply themselves, and would personal units be sufficient and sustainable enough to power all of these appliances?

Thanks again!!
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Old 02-21-2011, 10:10 PM   #5
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The refrigerator runs from propane and will be fully functional without electric hookups.

My trailer uses a Sony car stereo which runs off the 12 volt batteries.

Small 120 volt articles (cell phone charger etc) can be powered from an inverter which runs from 12 volt batteries.

High draw appliances like microwave and hair dryers are most practically run from hookups or a generator.
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Old 02-21-2011, 10:11 PM   #6
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Propane

Welcome to the forums....you will find all the answers that you need right here.

Most refrigerators are dual powered. They use propane when not hooked up to electricity. Water heaters and furnaces are usually propane as well as the cooking stoves and ovens. Air conditioners need 30 amp hookups. The lights and fans are usually dc working off the battery unless hooked up to electricity.....so you have several systems for the things you need. You may want to leave the hairdryer at home if you are boondocking. As for the dishwasher......that just might be you. Oh, and don't forget you can install solar panels as well.

You are going to love your Airstream....I just know it. paula
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Old 02-21-2011, 10:28 PM   #7
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OliverB... Welcome to the Forums...you are in the right place to get all your questions answered...

While many public campgrounds do not have any hookups at all, some public campgrounds have electricity and water hookups and once in a while even a sewer hookup is available...most campgrounds have rest rooms of one type or another and some have showers and flush toilets as well (in case you do not wish to use the facilities in the trailer). Trailers have a 120v system for when you have electric hookup...but you will also have a 12v system that runs off the trailer's batteries. The 12v system is typically not enough to run high-draw appliances, but the fridge on 120v or propane. AC and higher wattage appliances (toasters, hair drier, toaster over, etc, will require either electrical hookups or a generator (although you can find some appliances that run on 12v). Most trailers have a propane oven...and a propane water heater. You might be surprised how many amenities of home you can have while camping! You just have to think about them a little differently. Solar powered battery packs are frequently used as well...to augment the propane and electrical systems.

We have a 19' Bambi, but it's been our experience that both state and national forest campgrounds can accommodate far larger rigs...certainly as large as 24'...older campgrounds may be a little less forgiving in terms of rig size...and some have posted size restrictions. We have never have a problem because we are "too big"...in fact, our rig's size has been to our advantage at times when everything but the smaller sites were taken. We rarely stay in commercial RV parks.

Most towns have some sort of restriction on if or how long you can park a trailer on a street...or even if you are allowed to store it within sight from the street...others are less restricted. Many owners must store their rigs off-site in a storage facility when not in use.

Hope this helps...trailing, and Airstreaming in particular (of course we are biased) is a great experience....

You can visit our travel log below to see how we travel and where we go... (We are a bit behind with trips at the moment, but stay tuned!) And enjoy!
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Old 02-21-2011, 10:34 PM   #8
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Thanks so much for all the help!!

Last question I can think of for now... BBQ'ing is important to me and I wonder how you would keep meats frozen and safe on longer trips if only afforded the space for a 6-7' undercounter fridge which surely would not accommodate a freezer?

I was really hoping to invest a lot of time into a full reno and fix up project - lay down teak wood flooring and cabinetry, retiled bathroom, new appliances (was looking at the Big Chill undercounter model) and sink and the works. Basically gut the interior and go crazy rebuilding from scratch! I was really hoping to be able to wire phono pre-amps and speakers to run my KLH turntable through. It'd sort of be a forthcoming birthday present to myself and a fun project to work on... I'd like to turn this into my own mid century bachelor camper!

It sounds like I might have some trouble realizing some of this if relying solely on a low-voltage inverter (I'd be surprised if it could sustain all of this) but I admittedly know absolutely nothing about solar panels. Perhaps that's something to look at... though the idea kind of sounds like a contrasting eyesore against the small camper.
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Old 02-21-2011, 10:41 PM   #9
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I forgot mention that

You will meet the nicest folks when you are camping.....that is one of the best parts of traveling in a camper.

Regarding the redo's....you will want to keep the weight down so go slow on heavy wooden flooring and cabinets and tile in the bathroom might not be the best choice....the trailer flexes a lot going down the road....something like a 3.5 earthquake.

We have two sound systems in our Airstream....one surround sound system that pulls some power when we are on the "grid" and an alternative car stereo when boondocking....and remember to have fun! paula
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Old 02-21-2011, 10:43 PM   #10
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Thanks TBRich... you snuck your post in befor eI could respond but I appreciate your suggestions!

Are portable generators a viable option? speaking of sewage and flush toilets... how exactly does THIS work in an Airstream? I'd really like to refashion and customize to best suit our own independance, without having to rely on public use of facilities as I'd really love to be as sustainable as possible and preferably avoid the larger public campsites (if at all possible) in favor of more remote forested areas that don't draw crowds. If it were only possible to 'modernize' (albeit not aesthetically speaking) in order to accommodate all these conveniences, it would truly be fantastic!
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Old 02-21-2011, 10:49 PM   #11
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You will meet the nicest folks when you are camping.....that is one of the best parts of traveling in a camper.

Regarding the redo's....you will want to keep the weight down so go slow on heavy wooden flooring and cabinets and tile in the bathroom might not be the best choice....the trailer flexes a lot going down the road....something like a 3.5 earthquake.

We have two sound systems in our Airstream....one surround sound system that pulls some power when we are on the "grid" and an alternative car stereo when boondocking....and remember to have fun! paula
Thanks very much!

I've never driven with anything hitched behind but is it really tought to tow around? Would laying wood flooring really weigh it down that much if the original floors were stripped- even a lighter laminate teak hardwood maybe? I would've thought that more weight would translate to more stability on the road.
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Old 02-21-2011, 10:57 PM   #12
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Oliver welcome from a fellow canuck.
I have a couple of questions for you. What kind of tow vehicle do you have? You will need some sort of larger pick up truck to tow with. I ask this because you posted in the motorhome section. I hope you realize that a tradewind is a trailer and must be towed. It is not self propelled like a motorhome.
Secondly have you ever towed a trailer before? I can assure you that downtown Montreal is not the place to learn. It's not even a good place to take it. I have an extensive history towing trailers of all sizes and have towed through Montreal and don't want to do it again any time soon. Living there you know what I'm talking about. The driving habits of the Quebecers are a little aggressive to say the least.
Third do you have a place in mind to store the trailer when not in use? Once again downtown Mtl is no place to park a trailer or to store it in between uses.
Lastly are you handy at renovations? you expressed an interest in a mid 60's vintage tradewind. Unless you can afford to buy one completely renovated you will need to do a lot of work to a 46 yr old trailer to make it usable. Also do you have a place in mind to do the repair work?
Now to answer some of your questions.
To park your trailer and tow vehicle on city streets is allowed but keep in mind you will be 45 ft long and take up at least two or three spots. Most folk don't take their trailers in to large urban centres. Some cities like NYC do not allow it.
As others have said the 24 ft will be able to go to almost any national or provincial park. They are the most secluded but power and water hookups are limited and not usually conveniently located. Extra hoses and power cords are needed.
The trailer itself is equipped with a propane stove/oven, furnace and water heater. These three appliances need no power to operate only gas which you bring with you. The fridge is small like others have said and runs on electicity when available or gas when not.
There is a connection point for water if available and if not you have an onboard fresh water storage tank and a battery operated water pump to pressurize the water system. You will have a kitchen sink, bathroom sink, toilet and shower. Ther is also a storage tank for your waste water from the toilet.
Fresh and waste water tanks vary in size as do the propane tanks but conceivablly you can camp for several days if you are conservative in their use.
A battery powers all the lights, radio, roof vent fans, stove hood fan and furnace fan. Once again conservation is the key to longer stays. This battery is recharged from you tow vehicle while driving and with electricity when available. Solar panels can also be added to do the same thing.
I would suggest you rent a trailer or motorhome first to get your feet wet before plunging in head first and purchasing an expensive unit.
Good luck with your quest.
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Old 02-21-2011, 11:30 PM   #13
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Hi wasagachris, and thanks so much for the nice welcome!

To answer your question - I have never towed anything in my life! I'll be turning my Volks in when the lease is up next month for (probably) a Passat wagon. Otherwise, I have a vintage '67 Plymouth that's in the garage right now being worked on, though I would certainly never attempt to use it as tow car of course! Wow, I guess there really is a lot more to consider as I never thought about the power needed to drag a trailer around... do you really think a truck is necessary? If so, I'm out of luck... what about a larger station wagon or mid-sized SUV? As I mentioned, I'm trading in a lease shortly and still have some considerations. I don't think I'd go for a full-on truck in the city, but I wonder if an SUV might be the answer?

I really haven't had a chance to explore any practical details about storing or parking the trailer int he city. This really was an impulse notion that struck me this past weekend! The sunshine, warmer weather and melting snow these past few days gave way to thoughts of spring and summer, and inevitably of holidays, bbq's and camping! I'd been planning several 'big' trips for next year, and was reconsidering whether an investment like this might be more fun and I got myself really psyched on the idea. I'd really love to try and make it happen, even if not the most practical given my circumstances, hehe! As far as the stock appliances and such you mention, can these be replaced with any contemporary alternatives, as much as I fashion myself an enthusiast of retro-fitted culture... I'm not all that keen on cooking and laboring with 45 year old kitchen devices! As mentioned, a big part of the fun for me in taking on this project would be to be able to completely strip and refurbish to create my own personal space. It'd very much be my own ambitious project. As to how handy I am in this department... not very! But I don't mind contracting the work and I've worked indirectly in related fields so the resources are there.
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Old 02-21-2011, 11:35 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OliverB View Post
I've never owned nor camped in an RV, and admittedly was never a big motorhome enthusiast before registering here this evening, though I've sort of been fascinated by them ever since I was a child. I remember watching The Long, Long, Long Trailer with Luci and Desi on TV late one-night as a kid, and later in my teen years catching some screwball with William Powell and Myrna Loy where they honeymoon in an RV, and finding some sort of curious appeal in the whole notion. But if I ever had any desire to join the retro road safaring summer sect, it was surely the Walt Disney cartoon 'Mickey's Trailer' that drew me in the most, with it's crazy mechanical futuristic novelties.. My father took me to a tradeshow once when I was very young, not out of any personal interest or actual consideration of purchase, but just because I was a weird imaginative kid who liked to run around and play by myself in furniture stores while my parents shopped, and I guess he thought it would be neat for me to explore all the different floor models and lounge around in the trailers. He was right, I had a total blast and remember the excitement to this day! Well fast forward many, many years with these thoughts not having ever crossed my mind.. The sudden interest has come back and I would like to get some very basic information to determine whether it would ever make sense for me to consider getting into this. I really haven't done any research beyond a bit of Googling here and there, but from what info I've gathered, I'm sort of looking at the 24' TRADE WIND - circa '65/'66, with it's retro-future space age design. It also seems to afford the most space, as part of this interest comes from the restoration and interior design end.

Now before I go much further, I grew up and live in the urban core of downtown Montreal, and so I would obviously only be getting use out of short weekend and summer camping roadtrips. I have absolutely no clue about the regulations regarding storage or associated costs, but with seasonal limitation playing a factor - (I imagine it would not be suited to Canadian winters) - six months of the year would be collecting dust in a garage. I wonder if anyone knows anything about normal parking laws (not necessarily specific to my location but common north american city regs) for leaving a trailer of this size on the street within daytime permit hours? Is a 24' trailer considered a full size motorhome? Would I be able to park it along the sidewalk during the day while running errands? What is considered a full-sized motorhome versus a weekend camper?

Now the biggest question.. would a 24' Trade Wind be allowed to park overnight in most designated campgrounds, or would I be restricted to trailer park camping exclusively? The latter seems much less glamorous and appealing to me, as what really stirred this up was the allure of hitching up and motoring through the national park corridors of Quebec and Ontario for weekend refuge and old-style wilderness camping amidst the lakes, trees and open sky. If there's absolutely no way I'd ever get away with forest camping, I'd really appreciate it if someone could inform whether ANY sized camper/trailer would fit my intentions? Most campsites afford parking for cars and passenger vehicles so I wonder where this would fit and whether it would be allowed. Every vintage ad I've ever come across in magazines, books, etc. always presents the image of secluded lakeside forest camping, with the dad behind his grill, etc. Is this an idealistic passe portrait of postwar American culture or what RVing is really about? I just have zero interest in spending my summer holidays in trailer parks, as I'd just as soon pack a tent and sleeping bag and do it the traditional way!

Finally, I'd like to ask some very general questions about the Trade Wind itself. Firstly - luxuries and amenities like electrical outlets, running water, showers, etc... Can anyone brief me on how it all works? Is it reasonable to expect to be able to retain all of these conveniences in a 24' trailer? What about the kitchen - would it be able to accommodate your avg. sized 14 cu. ft. refrigerator or am I crazy? What about installing stove/oven and dishwasher? Is this really overreaching? I don't want to invest in the equivalent of an oversized mobile home on wheels.. I'm specifically looking for a comfortable camper sized trailer for shorter 4-6 day retreats for two people, but I would like to get an idea of what I'd be able to do with one in terms of 'fix-up'. Well I guess those are all the questions I have to start with. I'd really appreciate it if anyone could take the time to give me a bit of general info on any or all of the above...

Thanks!!
Hi Oliver,
Welcome to the Forums. As you've noticed you can get a lot of answers from members here. I grew up in Montreal & now live in Plattsburgh, NY. Camping year round in these jewels is possible & the Adirondacks are nearby so don't be shy.
Colin
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