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Old 12-24-2010, 05:12 PM   #1
65th Anniversary CLIPPER
masseyfarm's Avatar

1996 36' Clipper Bus
Tub City , British Columbia
Join Date: May 2009
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Before you BUY!!! (Looking Back)


Motorhome Tales of Wisdom
I surprised Heather with an AIRSTREAM LAND YACHT CLIPPER RV.

By David xxxxxxx

Heather and I love to daydream together. "Wouldn't it be fun to have an RV and buy some land on a lake or near a casino, or even spend the whole winter in Florida" Heather once mused. "We could take the grandkids overnight to Rathtrevor, or for an extended road trip to Disneyland" We talked about traveling with the family, and letting our daughter and son-in-law use it on weekend camping trips. We immersed ourselves in the many fantastic possibilities while we sipped coffee on those rainy fall mornings.
So last over the winter, as I surfed the internet in search of our dream, low and behold if the perfect solution didn't appear right there on eBay. I thought, Woohoo! AIRSTREAM! I'm going to check this out. I was intending only to browse for information and look at the pictures. But there it was—a 1996 AIRSTREAM LAND YACHT CLIPPER, a super colossal MONSTER WIDEBODY LUXURIOUS DIESEL PUSHER motorhome. It looked brand new. The mileage was low, the price was dirt cheap, it was immaculate inside, and, when I emailed the seller, the salesman assured me,"you will not be disappointed"! I loved it. Only problem- it was way off down the East Coast in Melbourne, Florida.

I emailed the page to Heather that night, and when we discussed it the next morning before I went to work, we both agreed again it would be great to own a quality, luxury motorhome. That evening, pumped with dreams of the leisure life ahead and fueled by thoughts of not missing a "once in a lifetime opportunity", I returned to the eBay site and made a bid on that 11-year-old AIRSTREAM RV. Heather's going to be soooo excited! I thought.
With only 2 days until the auction end, I couldn't think of anything else but that beautiful AIRSTREAM LAND YACHT CLIPPER. Other bids were being made but my reserve bid was holding.

Barely able to contain myself, I watched till the auction ended and then called Heather on her cell and told her I had a surprise for her when she got home from BINGO
"David, I hope you didn't buy that damm motor home on eBay!"
Confident that Heather would succumb to the LAND YACHT's charms once she reviewed all the pictures and information I now had, I made the deposit with PayPal and then started doing research on how I was going to get this dream machine out of Florida, to our home here on Vancouver Island.
She pulled into our driveway within minutes of me making the deposit. "Surprise!" I called as Heather came through the door.
Her reaction wasn't what I'd hoped. Stepping inside, she gave me 'that shotgun look' that every BIG buck dreads!
How old is this thing?
"It's a 1996 dear. But-but it's like------ all brand new. Look—2 air conditioners, leather upholstery, oak cabinets, queen bed, 3 canopies! Never been used,--- well hardly!"
"Where is it? How are you going to get it to here? Who's going to take care of it? Where are you going to park it?" Who, what, why, where, when and HOW! And then the killer blow: "Can you cancel the deal?"
Unfortunately, in my rush to seal the deal, I'd missed the small notice at the bottom of the auction page: As Is—No Return.
Heather was not happy. But I was sure I'd done the right thing. She'll love it, I told myself. She just has to give it a chance.

The next few days changed from dream to nightmare! I just could not seem to get the information I needed fast enough. And to top it off, I realized we did not have our passports and this meant we could not fly out of Canada to Florida. The scramble went on and time was flying by. I managed to get some time off work and made arrangements for us to fly Southwest out of SeaTac in Seattle on a Friday evening.
We rented a car on arrival in Orlando, got to the Melbourne sales lot on Sunday and there it was. IT WAS BAUTIFUL. We were able to scout around the exterior of the AIRSTREAM and it looked great. Everything I had hoped for! Heather was warming up to the thought of "travelling in the lifestyle of the rich and famous".

Monday morning we arrived at the lot just as Ray was unlocking the AIRSTREAM door and he proceeded to give us the tour and explain how everything worked. Now we were back in dream land come true.
We did the pretrip and paperwork, took on water, and hit the road. WOW!!!!! We couldn't have been happier if we had just picked it up at the factory. It drove like a new Prevost and the comfort was way beyond our expectations.

Alas, as time passed, the RV didn't exactly cooperate with my plans to brag to Heather. It never actually broke down—but my wallet was always open, like a broken Louisiana levy, I was just not able to contain the mud flow. The price of fuel was comparable to buying gold bricks. A loose button on the TV made watching a hit and miss affair, the lights and reflectors were not quit up to today's standard, inadequate interior cooling for the Florida heat and humidity, rear camera parts unavailable, poorly positioned mirrors, broken oil cap on the front wheel, lack of a detailed owners manual, constant washing and waxing, etc and etc, and etc, and it still was not perfect. Once the maintenance roll started, it just never seemed to end. It got so that every time Heather and I passed Wal-Mart or NAPA, we needed to buy $250.00 worth of something that we just had to have. Then when I wanted to camp in the Wal-Mart lot to try to save a buck, she'd either roll her eyes, make a face, or flat out ask me if this is what I considered LUXURY camping. Sometimes I thought to myself "WHAT TO HELL HAVE YOU DONE!!!!!!!!".

We sailed the LAND YACHT into the prevailing wind across America and arrived home with ear to ear smile lines pemenantly outlined in our Florida tans. But the cash just kept flowing to the negative. Nothing serious, but everything just cost megabucks more than I had ever anticipated. The VISA bill came and I just wondered if I should have maybe bought a canoe to start with, instead of a YACHT.
We went ahead and planned the high YUKON trip for the summer. To hell with the cost, but the $ continued to flow every day. We hit the road north and picked up a spare rim and tire before leaving Vancouver. I also packed a third battery bank just in case! We had all my tools and half my shop in the basement of the AIRSTREAM as backup systems just in case. Everyday on the road north was something new. The YUKON DIAMONDS broke both windshields and the lightbar grill, new alternator, air suspension arm, no engine power after service in Fort St. John, overcharged for the oil, broken battery post, fresh water tank leak, squealing fan belt, etc and etc and etc, and the price of fuel was just HORRENDOUS! I knew I should have bought oil stock before the trip.

Looking back, my autonomous decision to purchase the motor home was not all a bad idea. Flowers, candy, earrings—all make terrific surprises. A monster widebody RV requires a lot more deliberation and input—not to mention cash—from both spouses. Good intentions notwithstanding, I failed to treat Heather as an equal partner in our marriage. The money I spent was not all mine, but ours. You'd think that after 38 years of marriage, I'd have learned that lesson already!

If I'd been really listening—and thinking!—I'd have realized our shared daydreams of family camping trips didn't mean Heather approved of buying a luxury mobile home. Those dreams were just that—dreams. But I chose to hear what I wanted to hear. I became so caught up in my dream plans that in some ways I stopped thinking about the possible downside expense of owning another home on wheels that would be subjected to the equivalent of an earthquake, tropical storm, and hurricane, EVERYDAY it was on the road.
Fortunately, Heather forgave me. And I did manage eventually to outfit the LAND YACHT to exceed even her level of satisfaction. It is now the most gorgeous RV we could ever dream of owning. . I am convinced that there is nothing left on that AIRSTREAM that I could possibly spend money on.
Yeh sure David!!!!!!!!!

We have had some of the best experiences in our memories, seen fantastic landscapes and enjoyed many new friendships, and have great tales to tell that are one of a kind
When I go to bed at night now I sleep with the dreams of past pleasures on the road. The joy of being together, of seeing and camping this great country and experiencing the people contact as we travel and camp and shop the Wal-Marts and SAAN stores of the big and little towns of our nation.
I do not have to write motor home on my forehead to remind me of the pitfalls of this impulsive purchase, and yes, I now have a financial situation that I will never be able to spend more than $50 without first begging for a loan from Heather. I've also renewed my commitment to listen not just to what Heather says, but to what she means? whatever that is?????

I haven't stopped bringing home little surprises for Heather though. But now I make sure it's a little something from the VV Boutique, a Double Whopper, or a $5.00 LOTTO Crossword.

I am a great guy eh!
I did this summary up for Heather after the first year of ownership. Is is for your entertainment, and consideration before buying anything.
When we look back now, after 3 years of ownership we thank our lucky stars we made the move. It was one of our best purchases ever!

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Old 12-24-2010, 07:28 PM   #2
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Morrill , Nebraska
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Great Story!

I spent over 2 years working in Richmond, B.C. in the early 90's. As a matter of fact I spent 11 month's living in a SOB there. It's where I met my wife, we've been together over 18 years.
You live in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I have and will continue to visit "Beautiful British Columbia".

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Old 12-25-2010, 06:26 AM   #3
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Great story!! Thanks for sharing the pitfalls as well as the joys of ownership.
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Old 12-25-2010, 06:31 AM   #4
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2005 30' Land Yacht 30 SL
Rockford , Michigan
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David, I loved your story & can I relate...
John & I (Becky) took a similar journey about 6 months ago. We, too dreamed of camping & traveling the country in style. We looked at all types of RV's. John surprised me one day when he wanted to look at Airstreams. We really liked the classic with the slide. Thought it was big enough to stay in for awhile. But, it was too heavy for our 4 Runner. He liked the idea of getting a new truck to tow with. I didn't like the gas milage. So, I started the internet search. Low & behold, the perfect, like new, low milage Airstream Land Yacht was at a dealership in FL. After many emails & phone calls, getting all the information, we took the plunge. The information was similar to yours. "You won't be disappointed." "You won't be able to tell it from new."
"It's perfect." Etc. Etc.
So, we drove to Fl. (only about 1400 miles for us) traded in John's BMW & went to meet our "like new" MOHO. My first impression was the thing "reaked", to use one of my Mom's words, of moth balls . The sales person's comment, "that's not a bad thing it keeps the mice & snakes out." O.K. let me just run away right now. Can't do that because we just traded the car in & we also had that "no refund" sale. So, we kept inspecting. The moth balls didn't really seem to work....I found mouse poo in every low nook & cranny. John found the more important things...a belt that needed to be replaced. After a long day we drove the "thing" off the lot. We didn't exactly sail was more like we bounced home. It was the bumpiest 3 day ride ever....Once home John took it in & it needed airbags in the shocks (?). Who knew there was such a thing? I spent a good week cleaning & ridding it of the moth ball smell. Next came all the hidden expenses. A new car that was towable, a tow bar, base plate, electrical connections & don't forget the cement pad to park on.
Finally, we're ready to camp. Our first adventure was over the 4th of July week in a campground in Ludington, MI. Turns out this was the best/smartest thing we've ever done. The ride was smooth(er) & the Airstream is very comfy.
Next comes our trip south for part of the winter. We'll see how comfy it is for more than a week at a time. I'm quite sure we'll love it....we've become quite fond of our baby. (As of now, unnamed)
Enjoy your travels. Thanks for the great story.
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Old 01-01-2011, 06:00 PM   #5
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2004 30' Land Yacht 30 SL
Sarasota , Florida
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Great story, David. Thanks for sharing!

And best of luck to you, Becky and John, in your 05 Land Yacht. I have the same model in an '04. So far, so good. George in Florida
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