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Old 08-12-2011, 06:54 AM   #1
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Report: Five years with a Bigfoot 25RQ

Hi all! I haven't posted in some time. Some of you may remember that I sold my 34' tri-axle Limited and bought an '06 Bigfoot 25B25RQ new late in '06. The thread I started about it is here.. I returned here with a B-Van for a short time, but my interests wandered elsewhere.

I was traveling last week and had some time to kill on Wednesday, so I stopped at an Airstream dealer in Wisconsin while we were there... and looked at new trailers. Although I looked at nearly a dozen different trailers, the Flying Cloud 23' rear bath caught my eye. For a short time, I got serious about that trailer. I looked it over really, really well. It was a hold-over '10 model and reduced from the $58k sticker price to $49k. It's basically a recycled floorplan of the '77 Argosy 22' rear door trailer, IMHO one of the most efficient and best floorplans Airstream has ever produced.

I decided to stay with my Bigfoot. I was a little disappointed in some of the fit and finish issues on the Airstream... the tanks hanging below the belly in a galvanized box... and the corroded taillight housings. I'd spoken to another AS owner at a campground just a couple of days before, and he had the same corrosion issues... and told me he was quoted $340 EACH for replacement taillights. And the cabinetry had some minor fit and finish issues. I was kind of surprised at that in a trailer with a sticker price of $58k.

I'm probably jinx-ing myself, but after five years in the Bigfoot, I've yet to have a maintenance issue of any kind. Nothing. Nada. Ok, maybe not nothing... I have had to polish the chrome wheels 'cause they rust if not attended, and one of the bedroom window track drains has plugged up with crud a couple of times and required cleaning, and I did re-spray the steps with Rustoleum black paint. Other than that... nada. And the trailer has had some extensive use.

So... for the foreseeable future, there is still not another Airstream in the crystal ball for me. Literally, the only complaint I have with the Bigfoot is that because of its height, the frontal area of the trailer makes for a little harder tow than the Airstream, but it's still much better than most square-front SOBs. After five years' service, I am extraordinarily pleased with the fit and finish, towability and liveability of the 25RQ. I'm pleased that the new Bigfoot is in production again with the core trailer business. While I wouldn't try to lure anyone else away from Airstream, I would tell you that I don't think I'll be back in an Airstream any time soon.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled Airstream programming...

Roger
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Old 08-12-2011, 07:00 AM   #2
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We really like the Bigfoot's too and considered a couple before getting the Stream. Nice trailers but they don't "shine".
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Old 08-12-2011, 09:51 AM   #3
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Roger: While your Bigfoot may be better in quality than the current Airstreams (dammit -we ALL have to admit that they just aren't up to snuff!) maybe you could talk only about things regarding the Airstreams you've seen and the issues therein. THOR doesn't care about your good fortune with your Bigfoot - but they might take notice to the specific issues you can list from casual inspections of units you "might have bought if"......
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Old 08-12-2011, 10:50 AM   #4
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Since you've owned older trailers, why not the better-built Silver Streak, Streamline, Avion or Spartan over another A/S?

I did a search on "Bigfoot 25B25RQ travel trailer" and found some nice examples, but, still, it is a small trailer -- however well built (and it has a nice list of options) -- for those who want something larger (not just shiny).

From another angle it looks as though you just like to buy another one every so often. That may be more important to this thread than "A/S quality" concerns.

.
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Old 08-12-2011, 11:13 AM   #5
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Hi Roger...any thought that the "new" Bigfoot" may consider a larger TT...something between 25' and 30'?

A "walk around" queen would be good

Tom R
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Old 08-12-2011, 11:57 AM   #6
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If one is attracted to a premium trailer with the priority of low maintenance and reliability, it would be hard to do much better than a high quality fiberglass trailer. Casita, Escape also come to mind.

I think the Airstream is aimed a bit differently with a healthy dose of style. While the Airstream hasn't been bad, it definitely has its hand out for a healthy dose of upkeep (most on mine third party appliances and the cheesy plastic roof accessories). Some of these fiberglass rigs are quite remarkably trouble free.
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Old 08-20-2011, 07:24 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by GREENovaters View Post
Roger: While your Bigfoot may be better in quality than the current Airstreams (dammit -we ALL have to admit that they just aren't up to snuff!) maybe you could talk only about things regarding the Airstreams you've seen and the issues therein. THOR doesn't care about your good fortune with your Bigfoot - but they might take notice to the specific issues you can list from casual inspections of units you "might have bought if"......
I don't know how to break this to you, but THOR doesn't take notice of anything... they just build what they want and we either buy them or not. If they were to take notice, over the past seven or eight years, they'd have found a different way to produce chrome taillights that don't corrode in a year. There have been threads about that and filiform corrosion ever since the models came out with the LED taillights and the new Al-Clad aluminum skins.

Airstream has an iconic style, but after over twenty years of owning Airstreams (eight of 'em last count), the wearisomeness of constant maintenance overcame my desire to be 'different'. I wanted a unit I could use, stay cool in the summer in and warm in the winter in, and not have to work on something on it constantly. Having a full-size 80" island queen is awesome, and having a shower I can stand fully upright in (I'm 6'5" tall) is pretty amazing too after having to either hunch over or sit to take a shower for all my Airstream years. Practicality, low maintenance, and liveability have overcome my desire for icon recognition.

The folks I was parked next to with the 27' AS in a campground in WI a couple of weeks ago told me he takes his coach to the dealer annually with a blank check and just lets them do what needs to be done. That's an interesting commentary on a $70,000 trailer. I suspect that very few of us would tolerate half the problems we've had with Airstreams if the same number of issues popped up in our tow vehicles, regardless of what that vehicle was or how cool it looked.

In any event, this thread isn't about Airstream bashing... folks wanted to know back in '06 why I was leaving the Airstream fold for an SOB... and I thought those of you who've been around a while would like to know what my experience has been with my Bigfoot now that it's been on the road a few years.

So after five years, I looked at the new Airstreams, and I'm keeping the '06 Bigfoot.

Rednax, while I love looking at vintage trailers, and have restored or at least improved and sold several (the Safari, Bambi, Flying Cloud, and Overlander) I just don't care to do that any more. I wanted a trailer I could use and not have to work on all the time with modern systems that I could source parts at any RV dealer on the road if something was a problem.

Tom, the "old" Bigfoot branched out into slab-sided, HEAVY 26' and 28' trailers with slides... and I think that's what got them into financial difficulty. 25' is about the max that the two-piece fiberglass shell system can be done with current technology, so I don't see anyone making a longer one in the near future... and my 25' does have an 80" island queen. It came with the standard RV queen, but I put an 11" visco-foam residential mattress in it. It's the same brand and model mattress I sleep on at home. That makes a HUGE difference in comfort on the road!

After having 16', 23', 27', and a 34' Airstream, I've hit on the 25' as the perfect combination of towability and liveability. I full-timed in my 23' Safari for a year, and it was just a little tight, but I just don't miss any of the additional 9' of "living" space that the 34' tri-axle had in my 25'.

So... there you have it...
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Old 08-20-2011, 09:45 AM   #8
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Rednax, while I love looking at vintage trailers, and have restored or at least improved and sold several (the Safari, Bambi, Flying Cloud, and Overlander) I just don't care to do that any more. I wanted a trailer I could use and not have to work on all the time with modern systems that I could source parts at any RV dealer on the road if something was a problem.

That is the point. It's what I did with our Silver Streak. Airstream is all too poorly made by comparison. I only needed the service of ordinary sources. The same is true from the Avion owners I've known.

Glad you have what you like. But not all aluminum trailers have the deficiencies of A/S. At 6'2" I had more than enough headroom in the shower, as did my 6'4" BIL.
Etc.

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Old 08-20-2011, 12:09 PM   #9
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Nice to hear from you, Rog!

I think it's good info to know. Most people can admit AS aren't perfect, and unfortunately not as close to perfect as you might like for the price! And not everyone wants a project. Some folks just want to travel and enjoy.

If you're ever out here in the NW, you're still welcome to drop by a forum rally
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Old 08-20-2011, 12:27 PM   #10
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Gosh, I think I will stay with our Safari 20 SE. At least as trouble-free as the Bigfoot, but we still have style.

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Old 08-20-2011, 01:24 PM   #11
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Nice to hear from you, Rog!

I think it's good info to know. Most people can admit AS aren't perfect, and unfortunately not as close to perfect as you might like for the price! And not everyone wants a project. Some folks just want to travel and enjoy.

If you're ever out here in the NW, you're still welcome to drop by a forum rally
Thanks Steph! It's great to hear from you too. Thanks for the invitation!

Again, my point wasn't so much about QC at Airstream (that's been covered ad nauseum) as what's going on with other quality manufacturer(s) that was able to draw me away from Airstream and the comparatives that, so far, will continue to keep me distanced from Airstream and my reasons for my choices.

And, after checking out new Airstreams, I find that the reasons I went to Bigfoot five years ago remain sound, and the unit I bought continues to satisfy.

Rog
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Old 08-20-2011, 01:51 PM   #12
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85MH325:

I share your concerns about AS quality control (or lack thereof). I can say from my experience over the past three years that new product from AS has improved on the margin. I have looked extensively at AS dealers up and down the West coast and in NJ from 2009 to the present. The "new" trailers I initially saw on the lot were 2007, 08, and 09 models. The collapsing economy caused unsold inventory to remain with dealers for a long time. I was not that impressed with the fit and finish of what I saw. But having read extensively on this site nothing I observed in the way of gfi receptacles askew or corrosion on outside lights came as a surprise.

I bought my first AS, a 2008 25' Classic, last summer from CT's last AS dealership. The owner had just bought eight remaining ASs as part of a package deal to obtain a car and truck dealership he coveted. He was selling off the AS inventory at a substantial discount and then closing down the AS side of the business. I got the 08 Classic at 40% off msrp. As most first time buyers I had high expectations about my AS despite the pessimism many express here. There were fit and finish issues: one of the window seals was peeling away, weak batteries from sitting on the lot so long, and a failed piece of shower door hardware. I noticed all of these problems with my walk-through. In contrast to the worst horror stories that was largely the extent of my problems in the next six months of use when most quality control problems emerge (the only additional problem was a calibration issue with the fresh water sensor).

I would have been a happy camper with my 25' Classic to this day if an elderly gentleman did not run into it at 50 mph without braking, honking, or trying to evade. Fortunately he survived the encounter with some bruising from his seat belt and air bag. Needless to say that AS was totaled.

I found myself unexpectedly back on the trailer market. I looked at ASs competitors. Bigfoot was going through reorganization so I focused on the "synthetics" such as Earthbound and Evergreen. Even though I looked at 6-7 examples of each brand I did not find they had any comparative advantage on the quality control side of things. One real problem with synthetic materials is that their light weight comes at an obvious price -the doors and walls necessarily lack the structural integrity of higher mass building materials. Cabinet doors at times would not return to their proper position in part because of the limited amount of structural strength.

I continued to look at ASs. It was now the spring of 2012 and I was impressed not only how they stacked up in comparison to some of the high quality alternatives but also I saw fewer obvious fit and finish problems than in 2009/10. I also liked the incremental changes AS was making to all its trailers (features such as the media system upgrades and changes in the organization of the dump system for gray and black water tanks). I ended up using my insurance check to buy the 23' Flying Cloud with the back bathroom that you almost purchased. I have to say that this trailer in 2012 appeared to be put together more carefully than the ones I examined when I started my investigations in 2009/10.

After only three camping trips my experience only reinforces that initial positive impression. I haven't had any problems to take back to the dealer except for one of the blinds has a jammed cord that I can't fix. I did have a problem with the furnace setting off the smoke alarm but that was quickly solved by disabling the alarm and running the furnace for a couple of hours to burn out the residue in a new firebox.

Of course my experiences with two "new" AS trailers and what I observed on different dealer's lots could be unrepresentative of AS product as a whole. But the changes I saw did coincide (taking into account expected lags in getting any organization to change) with an effort by Thor management to at least "appear" to communicate with its costumers on this forum. And we all know that quality control was the issue that was raised at the top of the list. I don't mean to suggest that there are not MANY problems that remain with ASs - wood floors, corrosion, and the like. Yet it does appear that some changes for the better have been made.
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Old 08-20-2011, 02:03 PM   #13
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85MH325:

Of course my experiences with two "new" AS trailers and what I observed on different dealer's lots could be unrepresentative of AS product as a whole. But the changes I saw did coincide (taking into account expected lags in getting any organization to change) with an effort by Thor management to at least "appear" to communicate with its costumers on this forum. And we all know that quality control was the issue that was raised at the top of the list. I don't mean to suggest that there are not MANY problems that remain with ASs - wood floors, corrosion, and the like. Yet it does appear that some changes for the better have been made.
That's quite a story! The new trailers I saw on the lot were, in fact 2010 and 2011 hold-overs... so its encouraging to hear that things may be beginning to look up into the 2012 model year for Airstream.

I'll check back again in another five years and see how they look by then!

Roger
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Old 05-18-2015, 07:03 PM   #14
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Ten years with Bigfoot... and moving on

Hi all!

Well, I'm resurrecting an old thread. I didn't quite make it ten years with my 25RQ, although I have made it ten years with Bigfoot as I had a 17CB for a couple of years before I bought the 25RQ.

Last June, I attended the Midwest Forums Rally at Moraine View with the 25RQ and got to see several new(er) Airstreams. I'd been thinking that perhaps it was time to reconsider buying a new one. Fortunately, I chatted with a number of friends there with Airstreams and came to my senses after hearing story after story of leaks that couldn't be found and stopped, continuing issues with corrosion... plumbing problems, and poor fit and finish. I was amazed to hear the same old stories again and again.

I had planned to keep the Bigfoot, but I was doing research for my 85 year old father trying to find a motorhome with fewer steps for my 83 year old mother than the class A they have currently... and found a Born Free 32RQ motorhome at a price I just couldn't pass up.

So... finally, after nine years, I'll be selling the Bigfoot 25RQ and moving back to a motorhome. For those of you who remember some of the early Moraine View rallies, I had an '01 Born Free 23RK for a couple of years that I loved... but the over-cab bed just didn't work very well for us. This '06 Born Free is on the Chevy Kodiak C5500 chassis and has a rear island queen.

So in summary, during the entire nine years of owning the Bigfoot, I've done exactly seven maintenance items to it. I had the Dometic refrigerator recall done. I had all of the through-hulls on the roof resealed at seven years just as a precaution against roof leaks. We didn't have any, but I didn't want any to start. While it was at the dealer, I had the deteriorating inexpensive and generic bathroom ceiling power vent replaced with a fantastic fan. The A/C unit blew a fuse, and I had that replaced at a dealer. I replaced the propane regulator a year ago. I just replaced the folding entry handle yesterday, and after nine years, ordered new awning material to replace the original awning that is starting to delaminate on the weather wrap. That's it. That's the sum total of maintenance I've had to do to that trailer in nine years. I think it's been a pretty impressive run. Hopefully the next owner will be just as pleased.

And THAT, my friends is the my final update on the Bigfoot 25RQ. It's been a nearly ideal travel trailer. I'd recommend it to anyone. Hopefully this Born Free motorhome will be as reliable and trouble-free. I'm not betting on it, but I'm hopeful.
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