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Old 07-31-2008, 09:30 PM   #29
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There have been any number of people , including myself who have asked Airstream to provide a shell so that we could do our own interior and as far as I know ,all have been rejected. You are the first that I have ever heard of outside of commercial vendors that have been granted this privilege. I would be very interested to know what the approval process was and why like the rest of us you got more than just NO as an answer. If anything Airstream is inconsistent.
Nothing improves a seller's flexibility like a weak economy! If you want a "custom" design, seems like NOW might be a good time to JUMP.

I just hope they flip the positions of the escape window and the small bedroom window on newer 25 FB's - so that you can exit the window FROM the queen bed, not swan diving off of the end of it!

Paula
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Old 07-31-2008, 11:16 PM   #30
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There have been any number of people , including myself who have asked Airstream to provide a shell so that we could do our own interior and as far as I know ,all have been rejected. You are the first that I have ever heard of outside of commercial vendors that have been granted this privilege. I would be very interested to know what the approval process was and why like the rest of us you got more than just NO as an answer. If anything Airstream is inconsistent.
Airstream can be held liable, no matter who may build out a shell.

To minimize that liability, Airstream will only provide a shell to a dealer that has a long long history with an unblemished safety record, for their conversions or creations.

They also require that dealer to have an absolute intimate knowledge of the type construction, it's parameters, the pluses and minuses, and an absolute ability to create a design that can be safely towed, regardless of size.

I personally have knowledge of Airstream being sued, in spite of the fact that they had nothing to do with a particular conversion, since it was a used trailer, and sometimes, because it was an empty shell to start with.

If and when a conversion is made, and that trailer for whatever reason causes property damage or personal injury, because of loss of control, the person that became the victim, assumes that Airstream made that particular trailer, and so will his or her attorney.

It's not a matter of Airstream being found not guilty, because they had no part of the conversion, but the costs of having to go to trial.

People sue others for all kinds of ridiculous reasons, especially when they have a less than an honest attorney, and for sure if you have a business.

Papers are full of those stories.

Accordingly, Airstream has had more than it's fill of legal gymnastics, and therefore has decided to severely curtail who they may allow to purchase a shell, a long time ago.

Being one of the select few that can purchase a shell, we will not, under any circumstances, create an Airstream travel trailer, that in our opinion, is unsafe to use, and/or unsafe to tow. Nor would we purchase one, and in turn sell the empty shell to someone else.

That has taken many years of first hand experience with Airstream, that assures them of our abilities.

We have turned down several such conversions, that some movie people have wanted. They then find someone else to do it, that has the little to no experience, and that gets Airstream off the hook, because it's a used trailer.

But, if an individual made the conversion of a new shell, then the ball is back in Airstream's court again, and that is why the answer will always be, "NO."

There is a huge difference as to where liability can fall.

Modifying a new shell, creates huge liabilty for Airstream.

Modifying a used Airstream, has little to no liability effects on the factory.

It's not a matter of what Airstream would like to do, but it is a matter of what attorneys, just love to do.

Andy
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Old 08-01-2008, 12:47 AM   #31
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None of your business!

Hi, I know it's not proper to ask; And I don't expect an answer, but how much more than a stock trailer does it cost to make a custom new trailer? 50% more? Double?
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Old 08-01-2008, 02:12 AM   #32
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Hi, I know it's not proper to ask; And I don't expect an answer, but how much more than a stock trailer does it cost to make a custom new trailer? 50% more? Double?
It all depends on a person wants, needs and tastes.

Most importantly, their checkbook must be very healthy.

It's not unusual to spend $50,000.00 to over $600,000.00, to modify an Airstream trailer.

CNN spent well over that top amount, for just the electronics.

That Airstream, a 34 foot with a slide out, should start making the tours again, this fall, before the elections.

It was in our shop and took a little over 60 days to make all the modifications, and the installation of the electronics, inside and out.

Andy
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Old 08-01-2008, 03:03 AM   #33
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qdp,
what do you like about Airstream trailers?
Pete
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Old 08-01-2008, 02:08 PM   #34
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Great Threads, wow!

Thank you- Andy's right. Commercial contracts, wholesaler, distributor, retailer, builder have agreements to not circumvent. Changing anything in product line increases liability. Cost factors are NOT, I repeat, not necessarily higher. Good design simply does not cost one cent more. Doesn't matter if its cheap fiberglass or carbon fiber.

So let's all just sit back and do nothing.

I never do stuff because its fashionable, or naysayers complain, or because its easy. I love to build, and like architect Ian, I believe we constantly have to push limits. All the time. A/S like Harleys, are stuck with too much of Wally's genius. I love nostalgia, but I know consumers want improvements. They haven't gone over the hurdle. Oh, COST! Oh, Liability! Oh, won't work! Oh, too hard to bring about! Oh, why change what's great! If you do not constantly seek to improve -you become obsolete.

that's why. Stressed skin construction is great. The monocoque chassis has evolved. The tech I'm talking about now with honeycomb/kevlar/carbon/carbon, interlink weaving, is a decade old. It's frellin' cheap, if you know where to go, how to manufacture it. Remember the '76 Mclaren F16B indy winner? Was it Rutherford? They put American building tech on notice with # 2 -hi gain, nonetheless. All Bruce was doing is copying Jimmy Clark, who had a bet for fun, and then just proved that design is everything. He won Indy in a tiny rear engined 2.5 ltr. Cooper, was it '65?

Stick to my argument: weight is bad, strength and rigidity better. And great design is indispensable, at any cost, in any venue.

I worked a while with X gravity cars, when some of the major car manufacturers, Porsche, Nissan, Volvo, VW, Chrysler, Bentley etc.. had their top engineers play around with --- soapbox racers. Right, four wheels, no engine lightweight. Reason they did this was not just for fun. Materials engineering, the synergystic forums that occurred, the competition, of ideas and execution, and damned right- the budget all contributed. This technology IS applied today.


What I love about A/S : The sense of applied thought to a built form. Round corners increase aerodynamics and distribute structural loads better than angles. relatively inert materials have longevity. It's not just the Wally God. Please. Every God needs minions and followers. All bow, ;^> #

I love the way a morning dew settles upon glistening silver skin. Yup, doesn't just get girls wet, either.

The passion my fellow owners attribute to our "tribe" is beautiful, engaging, exciting and -voluntary? . Tooling around in our cans, LOL! Ever notice how much tribalism exists in our society today. Everything from tattoos to concerts, to dress labels, (I wear Patagonia...) to forums like this, sharing has become predominant to the societal alienation of individuality, loss of characteristic personal expression. So we emblem our bodies, ritualistically dance half a mile away from a live band we can't see in concert, wait in line for days for the right to purchase a phone (!!!) and only let certain manufacturers -approved- of cloth touching MY skin. IN SOME WAY WE ALL GO BACK TO THAT ONE CAMPFIRE WHERE WE WATCH, LISTEN AND DANCE TO STORIES TOLD, SURROUNDED BY THE DARK. Tribal need.

I love hearing about efforts to custom build from a shell. And, even better, the voices that answer: "How dare he? -not approved! Too dangerous..."

Yes, guys and gals, here's why I love airstreams, because you and I exist right here. And I castigate our 'leaders' truly for their lack of insight, and fearful, reactive lack of vision in the position they are in. Not listening.

Btw, Andy, let's keep it in context....for $600K I'll give you a house in one year worth over one million, wheels not included. And it breathes under the moon in the pale, dark night.

Quentin
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Old 08-01-2008, 02:18 PM   #35
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...let's keep it in context...
yeah, i'm trying, and no offense but...

we are reminded that someone here thinks this unit is special...

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f351...l-l-43667.html

cheers
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Old 08-01-2008, 02:24 PM   #36
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When I was an Architecture student, I was full of piss and vinigar and wanted to change the world of design on its ear. Now I'm content to design buildings that fit the programme needs of their users while allowing me to design something that is pleasing to me. Never discount the importance of the level of comfort with the identity of a product for its intended user. Get the quality control back up, implement better electrical systems, etc. but be cautious of the wholesale change or the faithful may look elsewhere.
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Old 08-01-2008, 03:25 PM   #37
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I think the point that's missing is that Airstream is a company devoted to the evolution of Airstreams, like most companies that are selling an icon. No one said it better than Wally when he declared "make no changes, only improvements".

There's a world of difference between the evolutionary approach, used by Airstream, and the innovation approach, which is what I believe Quentin is suggesting.

If you walk into Airstream and start telling them all the things that are wrong with what they've done for the last 50 years, I'm not suprised you got the cold shoulder.

You could approach this like Bert Rutan, or any of a long list of other innovators. Don't try to sell the idea to Airstream, they'll never buy it. Try selling it to any of a thyousand private investors who will give you the money to build a prototype, in exchange for stock in your company.

If your ideas are right, then you and your investor will be make money hand over fist.
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Old 08-01-2008, 03:39 PM   #38
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You could approach this like Bert Rutan, or any of a long list of other innovators. Don't try to sell the idea to Airstream, they'll never buy it. Try selling it to any of a thyousand private investors who will give you the money to build a prototype, in exchange for stock in your company.

If your ideas are right, then you and your investor will be make money hand over fist.
I couldn't agree more. If you want a radically different product, then a radically different company is probably necessary.

A sticking point remains being able to build, using a Rutan-like approach, something that can be sold in volume at a low enough price. Modern materials are great and composites can produce wonderful shapes, but they are still being applied mostly to very low volume and expensive products such as Rutan's aircraft, racing yachts, and race cars.

As for riveted aluminum skins being out of date, Airbus has managed to use them successfully to compete with Boeing which still builds mostly in aluminum.
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Old 08-01-2008, 04:55 PM   #39
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Trying to influence a company with a highly successful product to alter their direction significantly is not likely to happen. They sell a lot of Airstreams so they can't be that bad or be that out of touch with what the general public actually is willing to shell out their hard earned dollars for.

If you truly feel as strongly about what you think the trailer should be as your opening post suggests then you should consider putting your money and your expertise to the real test and pull a "Wally". Bite the bullet like he did and risk your personal wealth to start your own company. That is where the rubber truly hits the road. There are lots of RV manufacturers who have cratered in the last year so production facilities and a willing workforce are out there just waiting for someone like you to come along. I'm sure there are various government programs available to help but it is going to take a ton of money from investors to pay the bills till this thing is up and going. But turn your ideas into action. Your decision process is the only thing between attempting this or not. You will never know if it is going to be successful or just a wish list until you give it a shot. Go find a bunch of people willing to buy into your ideas and get them to invest money and their energy and go for it.

Barry
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Old 08-01-2008, 08:25 PM   #40
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Trying to influence a company with a highly successful product to alter their direction significantly is not likely to happen. They sell a lot of Airstreams so they can't be that bad or be that out of touch with what the general public actually is willing to shell out their hard earned dollars for.

If you truly feel as strongly about what you think the trailer should be as your opening post suggests then you should consider putting your money and your expertise to the real test and pull a "Wally". Bite the bullet like he did and risk your personal wealth to start your own company. That is where the rubber truly hits the road. There are lots of RV manufacturers who have cratered in the last year so production facilities and a willing workforce are out there just waiting for someone like you to come along. I'm sure there are various government programs available to help but it is going to take a ton of money from investors to pay the bills till this thing is up and going. But turn your ideas into action. Your decision process is the only thing between attempting this or not. You will never know if it is going to be successful or just a wish list until you give it a shot. Go find a bunch of people willing to buy into your ideas and get them to invest money and their energy and go for it.

Barry
Now that sounds familiar....Barry,

Several years ago, a group of guys here in Hood River got together and thought that they could do a better job of designing and building composite drones (the type that the military are currently in love with!). They pooled their meager resources and created a business plan and a company. They chose Hood River because industrial rents were affordable and there was a highly skilled labor force ready for the taking that was completely familiar with composites (Hood River was a hot bed of innovation and production in the sailboard industry before most of the production went to Thailand). It is also the windsurfing capitol of N. America.

So here is a company with a capable staff of composites experts and they land a nice contract with DARPA to develop a new type of drone wing. They succeed wildly and get a bigger contract and what do you think happens next. They were bought by Boeing last week for some huge sum of $$$$$$.

Building a better mousetrap is what America is all about. You have a great idea, write your business plan, secure some financing, and then GO FOR IT! In this great big world of ours, there are few places where this can still happen....and the good old US of A is the BEST for it.

There are folks out there who will pay the extra bucks for an innovative, cutting-edge product....even in the RV industry. Look at Newell Coach. They make the most creative luxury motor home in the world.... in both the construction and design of the units and with a price tag of up to $2 million they can't pump them out fast enough!!!!!

The towable segment is ripe for this kind of innovation with the emphasis on design, build quality and uniqueness. I'm planning on a re-do of my 19CCD with carbon fiber/balsa core cabinetry, hydronic heating, better space utilization, cutting edge electrical and electronic systems, high-end, hi-tech appliances and much less weight. I'm fairly certain that a limited production model with these types of design and build features would succeed!
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Old 08-08-2008, 07:53 AM   #41
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Rivet details and pictures!

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In response to those who wanted more information about the purchase of the shell only -

... In April we ordered a 31' classic shell. The shell actually includes the subfloor (and everything below it), all tanks (water and propane), all windows, outside door, the furnace, and a few other things. We ordered the shell before it went into production, so we had the factory install some of the windows and the rest were shipped with the shell for Timeless to install later. We were also able to order the outside door with a round window...
Please send more details and pics as you get updates! This is SO very exciting

I hope you will please share what the unit delivered to Timeless cost you without shipping fees? Did Timeless tack on fees over and above what Airstream charged (besides shipping, and not including your custom work or design fees - I basically mean "middleman" profit)? Forgive me, I do not usually ask such direct questions. Knowing the base cost can help me and anyone else considering this route to set a budget for the rest of the customizing.

I am VERY interested in this path for my next Airstream. I hope Airstream and Timeless (or other trusted companies) will continue this relationship.


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The towable segment is ripe for this kind of innovation with the emphasis on design, build quality and uniqueness. I'm planning on a re-do of my 19CCD with carbon fiber/balsa core cabinetry, hydronic heating, better space utilization, cutting edge electrical and electronic systems, high-end, hi-tech appliances and much less weight. I'm fairly certain that a limited production model with these types of design and build features would succeed!
Looking forward to reading about your design choices, materials used and why, costs, and of course PICTURES!

I hope you'll share as you go
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Old 08-09-2008, 12:48 PM   #42
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Airstream shell

I'm giving you some dollar figures because several people have asked, but, I never want to appear like I am trying to be elitist. We saw an opportunity to buy the camper of our dreams (Airstream), can afford to make it our very own, and plan to keep it for a very long time.

The cost of the 31' Classic shell was $44,286. That includes the entire shell (of course), the windows, door, belly pan, potable water tank, black water tank, gray water tank, fresh water filler neck, air conditioner (both upper and lower units), furnace, 2 vents, and everything from the subfloor down (axels, wheels, etc.) We paid about $1,700 in freight from Ohio to Colorado.

I have no idea how much of our cost was for A/S and how much was the mark-up for Timeless. It really doesn't matter to me. Timeless is the dealer and they can profit how they choose. It's up to me to decide if it was worth it and so far it is.

I can tell you how much I expect our custom job to add on to that based on the written estimate (another $120,000), however, the statement made by someone else earlier is correct - in a custom job the buyer determines the price based on the personal choices made. For example, my kitchen sink will cost about $800 once installed. But, it's a deep, stainless steel farmhouse style 2 bin sink that I picked out after a lot of searching and it's exactly what I want. My cabinets are solid wood made on site to fit, and my counter top is stainless steel.

We still have to buy the hitch, a generator if we decide we want one, and a satellite.

Timeless has been great. They said to pick out what I want and they will find a way to build it in. For that reason I am getting a stainless steel desk that converts to a dining table, custom storage, bamboo floors, etc.
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