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Old 10-19-2007, 02:59 PM   #29
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2002 19' Bambi
Lafayette , California
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When we first considered an Airstream, I was redhot to get a vintage unit and fix it up. For pragmatic reasons, we bought new and that is now on its way to being vintage, even though it is still new for us. But I think those who have a functioning trailer and get a vintage one to redo may have the best idea. Very tempting, we have space in the driveway, and I have followed Boatdoc's progress with great envy, but, please, no one tell my wife I am thinking like this!

Good luck on your choice. You have received a lot of good advice!

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Old 10-19-2007, 03:22 PM   #30
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1972 29' Ambassador
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gee - it would be nice it it were only axles and a little POR-15 and new carpet and a good scrub, its turned into re-engineering 3 out of 5 bolts, outfitting for a sheet metal shop, paint shop, welding shop, hoist & derrick rigging, a slew of electrical and pneumatic tools begged, bought or borrowed, 7 new tires and counting, level 300 appliance studies, tow vehicle modifacations... and I best stop here before I think of more...

I would dearly love to do what I am doing on a 2002 or 2004 trailer - just to make sure it lasts untill I am 100 years old


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Old 10-19-2007, 03:39 PM   #31
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Sounds like, with all you are doing, it will last until you are a hundred years old!

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Old 10-19-2007, 03:43 PM   #32
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If you decide to buy new, take a close look at the cabinets in the Classics , Safari's and Internationals. The Classic's are the only new Airstreams with solid wood cabinets. Laminates are not going to hold up over the long haul. They fall apart and look like crap in a few years in a house with all the movement in an Airstream they're just going to have a shorter life. Particle board with wood tape as edges aren't my idea of cabinets. There are quality laminated wood cabinet but your not going to find them in an Airstream. I was in a Safari at a RV show in Delaware and the length of one of the walls was pulling apart with a 1/2 gap in the middle. You could see maybe 6 thin wire finish nails that was suppose to be holding the wall together. I don't want to offend anyone with a Safari or International but I've been a cabinetmaker for over 30 years and I wouldn't own a trailer with laminate cabinets. None of them, and Airstream is at the high end of travel trailer manufacturers. If you want to see quality laminet cabinet work , look at David Wynicks site. I believe he uses some laminates.
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Old 10-19-2007, 04:05 PM   #33
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Phoenix , Arizona
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New vs Vintage or used

We decided on a vintage unit mainly for nostalgia and stubborness. We like to attempt things we have never tried before. In most cases we have been successful. It is a great feeling of accomplishment to put life back into something old. I have always wanted an Airstream because I love the lines and they are not run of the mill or "typical". I could not justify the expense of a new one and opted for vintage. I have not been sorry, however I may have been a bit lucky since our AS was in very nice original condition when we purchased it. That being said, if you are not a handy person or brave enough to tread into uncharted water, I would recommend a newer unit.
Louis & Sergio

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Old 10-19-2007, 06:40 PM   #34
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Putnam , Connecticut
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The question is how will you use it, what will you tow it with, and how much do you want to spend. Buying a vintage and bringing it up to date could cast you 20,000 and a couple thousand hours. If you want to go camping split the difference and get the best trailer you can for what you want to spend. Get on at least one size larger than you think you need. Figure they lied about how much your tow can pull and get one one size smaller than that.
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Old 10-19-2007, 07:09 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Over59
The question is how will you use it, what will you tow it with, and how much do you want to spend....

condensing from her other posts...

single mom of an infant/toddler...

wants to travel 'cross country'

will tow with a newer mercury mountaineer v8...

tent camping (once?) years ago...

budget unknown...

does that read correctly drsbeddor ?

after finding this info i went back to the original question about flimsy cabinets and interior durability in a 40-50k trailer...

while i agree with craftsman that the classics with solid hard woods and composite counters will not peel or de-laminate....

not many (any) will fit the tow vehicle...

the modern safari line does have modular cabinets but the doors do work well and are for the most part durable...

much of the hardware is just barely adequate but it IS adequate....

and would seem a short twin axle weighing no more than 5,000 lbs loaded IS the upper limit regardless of year/model

it is ALL doable, but the learning curve is long...

i'd suggest being more concerned about...
-reliable appliances, batteries, tires and brakes...
-good sealing (no leaks) and gaining a full understanding of all the systems...
-not over extending the suv and
-learning to deal with ALL of the surprises of the rv life.

for example,
-if something breaks in your current abode, who fixes it???

we all started somewhere and while rv travel is liberating it isn't glamorous.

so it might be useful to RENT a class c moho and take a few short trips...

just to find out IF you like the journey and can deal with the surprises....

no, a white box isn't stylish and cool like an a/s but...

camping IS camping.

and state parks and rv parks and boon docking sites are 'equal opportunity adventures'...

even in walmart's shady lane villages....

also look carefully at budget issues. rv living isn't always cheaper than stick house living...

don't find out you are NOT truly cut out for this after buying a new 'stream...

the resale LOSS will make ya cry big time...

it isn't clear if 'full timing' or 'weekends' is your goal...

either way take a look at richL's weblog on full time a/s travel at Airstream Life Magazine

it's all there, from yosemite to defrosting the fridge to wheels falling off, camping in a friendly driveway and birthday cakes!

all of the true things that i am about to tell you are shameless lies. l.b.j.

we are here on earth to fart around. don't let anybody tell you any different. k.v.
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Old 10-20-2007, 05:41 AM   #36
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1961 26' Overlander
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all these posts and not a peep from drsbeddor...
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Old 10-20-2007, 07:53 AM   #37
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She must still be pondering...

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Old 10-20-2007, 09:11 PM   #38
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1958 18' "Footer"
vista , California
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oh my gosh, thanks so very much for all the great replies. what insigth and "passion" you all have. now i know i'm in the right crowd. i was out of town at a wedding and only got to peak at the respond once...but, i just got done reading all it and now i have some more homework to do. oh, buy the way i have seen 4 AS within the last 3 days and i never use to see them. i take it as a good sighn that i'm getting closer. as far as what my plans are for the AS, i guess it's about making a romantic dream a reality. i want to do weekends down at the beach (always dreamed of ocean front property) and also longer trips to see the state parks and ultimately go on a real long journey across the country. ok, so now back to taking babysteps. budget is a factor and spending 40,000 to 50,000 on a trailer is out of the question. but, buying a pre-owned could be the ticket. i guess i could always upgrade a newer module with over time. all though my consern is that if i were to replace the interior with solid wood and upgraded material i would be adding more weight and could possibly render the trailer "unsafe" for road travel. anyway, lots to think about. again, thanks for all the great sharing.
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Old 10-21-2007, 02:30 PM   #39
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Grand Junction , Colorado
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Sandra, we've been weighing the same questions. Factors for us are our age, our money, how we travel, our truck (weight issues), time. I've owned three houses needing restoration or finishing. The first (100 year old Victorian) was a mistake because I had no time, little knowledge, and little money, did nothing much on it, sold it for a profit anyway. Since then I've restored one mountain cabin (70 years old) and am finishing another house (1983 log)—18 years of remodeling, a test for any marriage. Now I have the money, but am so busy with volunteer work I have no time for a trailer restoration. If you are an MD, I've never known one with enough time to do anything but see patients and fight insurance companies. If the Dr. in your forum name means you're a professor, time may be a little more available, but restorations can eat your life. Buying a restored one would work, but searching for the right ones (Airstream and restoration specialist) would be time (and money) consuming. At 67, the energy to restore just isn't there for me; when I was 42, energy was abundant. Knowledge of how things work and a lot of tools are also necessary. For the record, Barb is not as old as me by a lot and she would not like anyone to think she is in her 60's—she isn't. Actually I don't want to be that old either.

We thought about recent models, but they could be in Florida or Oregon or… Finding a volunteer to inspect it helps, but it is a hassle getting it and then towing it home perhaps thousands of miles and with no experience towing was daunting. Certainly, like any luxury item, the value drops a lot in the first few years, and if money were the only issue, I'd be in the market for a 3 to 4 year old unit, or like 2air suggests, a mid-90's—the latter have fewer weight issues. I imagine after 10 years they do have repair issues, though certainly not like a 30 year old, for example.

Restoring one certainly has the advantage that once you do it, you know, really know, what you have and how to fix it when something breaks. You may also never finish, or may take 5 or 10 years to do it, or begin to hate the Airstream and what it's done to you. If you've never restored anything, you may not realize the commitment in time and money. I enjoy working on a house, most of the time, but it can stress me out too. I do get a kick out of what I've done and praise from my wife and friends.

Budget is always a factor as you say. A travel trailer is a second home and the loan you can get on it is a mortgage. I think the tax law on this is looney, but there it is. Therefore, you can deduct the interest from income and possibly have itemized deductions from your gross income. My plan is a line of credit on my house which will give me more flexibility in paying it off whenever I want to and still give me the deduction for the interest.

I have been dismayed by the reports on the threads about warranty issues and product quality. Being a lawyer, I know how to get warranty issues resolved to my satisfaction, but it can be a pain. We live 230 miles from a dealer so I expect I won't be dealing with them often, though I have to find out where I can get warranty work done in western Colorado.

Looking at the 2008 models, we did not see issues with quality. Others report differently. though it may have improved for 2008 according to one thread. I don't think quality control on RV's in general is as good as it has become for cars and trucks (our standard is Toyotas), so we have to lower our expectations, though not happily. We were overwhelmed with picking out the model that worked for us best and learning stuff, so we may have missed problems. I didn't see the corrosion issues that were reported on earlier models and showed up even on dealer lots, but we may missed them. I'd check out the dealers very carefully. One we visited in Colorado we'd never go back to, the other was a lot better. Being in California, you may have more dealers closer, but also too busy for individual attention given how many more people live there.

We like to travel to remote places and that means lots of miles, water storage, 2 batteries, some PV, enough space to not get claustrophobic over weeks of time, a queen bed for two tall people, small enough to fit in FS campgrounds and to tow on windy, narrow roads in places like northern Canada or Alaska or here in the Rocky Mountains, and the lightest weight possible for gas mileage and to fit our truck capabilities. A Safari SE 25' FB looks like the best for us. We are also willing to pay more for front and rear panoramic windows because they will make the trailer feel bigger inside and besides, they are so cool. And the SE has an aluminum interior, not cloth on the walls (dirt and dust and odor catcher). Besides, the aluminum interior is traditional and really cool. The cabinets are ultilitarian and function over form is important to us. The solid wood and Corian (I think) countertops on the Classic are nice, but about a ton, literally, more weight. Thus, the International does not seem to deliver much more value for the price. We didn't like the slider doors on the cabinets on some models—sliders generally stick a lot (for ex., patio doors) plus the hole in them for fingers, caught and broke one of my fingernails right away when we were looking at them. The salesman said it had happened to him too. We didn't like the mattresses Airstream uses, but others will love them. We'll get a foam pad of some sort to put on top it to lessen the hardness—some buy a new mattress, but that's a lot more cash. I didn't think the cushions on the small sofa were very comfortable, but any alternative didn't work. Picking a model is a compromise.

I'm sure whatever you do, you'll want to make changes to make it your custom trailer. I'd really like one to be 20' on the outside and 27' on the inside, like the Dr. Who's Tardis. This requires me to discover how to manipulate the space-time continuum, something I don't have the time to figure out right now.

I have been reading Mark Polk's "The RV Book" and it's quite good. Woodhall puts out 'The RV Handbook" which goes into excruciating and necessary detail how things work and how to fix them, or at least talk to a mechanic with some knowledge. This forum provides more information than anyone can read and find even with the search option. Sorting out fact from bias from BS can be difficult, but life is like that. I have learned a lot from all the passionate Airstreamers and thank them for it. You've had a lot of good advice already. Making sure your tow vehicle will handle what trailer you want can be a very challenging task. It's absolutely necessary for safety and stress reasons. We bought a new, bigger truck, but it has limits, especially to payload. We're about to take the plunge and be aluminized.

Take all the time you can. It's easy to get excited, especially when at a dealer amongst all that shiny aluminum. Prices are high and having a relative monopoly on this style means I will look at investing in Thor Industries because they must be making a bundle. This decision-making adventure made us look carefully at who we are and what we want at this stage of our lives, and for the future. It is important to get it right the first time because the wrong Airstream is an expensive and depressing choice. Learning all this is work, and the maintenance necessary is important. I think where you live means you won't have to winterize, but you will have to go through everything annually anyway. It's a big change. Good luck.

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Old 10-21-2007, 02:50 PM   #40
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I am a gaurdian to a disabled fellow and with his back pay for SSI went searching for a home for him...we looked at fifth wheels first and got dis-couraged...and then one day while wandering down a street in a antique district-walked right by one (airstream) that had a for sale sign 1970 International Land Yacht...This home came to us we did not have to look and I know it was a God-send...we paid quite a bit for it but the whole thing was in working order and had only two former owners...they are such a hobby to have, you know your doing a good thing by taking care of them and making upgrades. And you always get the admiration of others. It's great living in a 'warm fuzzie!' lol
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Old 10-21-2007, 09:50 PM   #41
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thanks Gene,
i have all the time on me to find the right one...however, like you said it is easy to get caught up in all the silver!! i think i have narrowed it down to the Safari SE 19'. it's the perfect size for my TV. i like the 25' but, that is too heavy. the 19' feels good. it will be cozy with my two dogs and my son but, that's what it is all about. i agree about the panoramic window but, i have not seen a later model with them. what year did they start making you know? the pre-owned from 3-7 years ago that i have seen only have the small windows. oh, i'm a chiropractor and even though i only work part time because of my son, i still don't have the time for restoration and sertainly don't have the experience only the fantasy. i'm already looking at camp sites to reserve!! i figured " if you build it they (it) will come". thanks again for your insight and good luck with yours.
ps. i am 42 and i wish i had the energy i had at 22.
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Old 10-21-2007, 10:35 PM   #42
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Yreka , California
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It is all personal choice...


We have vintage, and small! It is great for us! And I love our little Bambi. Towing isn't a huge deal with our vintage vehicle either. However, we did a complete frame off restoration. The good news is, my hubby knows the trailer inside and out fairly well after rebuilding her! So, when something breaks or goes wrong... only can blame ourselves. It was less expensive for us to go this route than to purchase new. We also have confidence in what our trailer can and cannot do. As we chose to keep the interior original we don't have some conveniences that newer models do... but it is compensated in many ways. For example, our fridge works on convection, so no drain on battery, but it keeps food nice and cold! But smaller than newer models of the same size offer.

It all boils down to what you want. You can have vintage and all the newer stuff inside, many have gone that route. Just depends on if you are willing to do the work, or pay for it.

Lots of good advice on this thread. I agree with 2Air, rent a MoHo or trailer and give camping a good try. See how it goes. It is a big commitment if you actually use your trailer. I hate to see so many trailers just sit in a parking lot... many are like boats, they just sit in the marina and aren't used more than once a year... camping brings lots of good times and friends. Well worth the price any way you go!

Mrs. NorCal Bambi (traveling in S Tardis ~ from the Great State of Jefferson)

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