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Old 01-07-2012, 11:02 AM   #15
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Considering Bob Wheeler's comment on lightweight trailers, I'm surprised AS hasn't begun the adaptation of the export models for use in the US and Canada.
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Old 01-07-2012, 11:38 AM   #16
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There are always trade-offs. I like the way my AS tows. How much stability will be sacrificed for weight?

Agree with what tpi wrote. Modifications are exponential to fuel prices.

Airstream (and other RV manufacturers) aren't being avant garde. They are at the mercy of massive global issues which are beyond their control.
I hate to say it, but many RVers dwell in some kind of la-la land. (And I am the guiltiest one of all). We love the lure of the open road, but what is at the end of that road? If the worse case scenario regarding fuel prices materializes, our fancy trailers will indeed be turned into guest houses and back-yard offices.

Like any CEO worth the key to the executive washroom, Wheeler is keeping his options open -
hoping to hang on.

As we all are.
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Old 01-07-2012, 11:41 AM   #17
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I think what we're seeing regarding weight is a prediction in the industry that fuel prices will rise very significantly over the next ten years.

This weight isn't going to be engineered out for status quo pricing of fuel.

I had read elsewhere where Toyota predicted Prius would be their biggest seller by 2020. Again in my opinion quite a bit of fundamental change in the fuel prices would be required for this to occur.
This is pretty well accepted, I think. Given the rapid increase in the use of oil in China and other developing countries, the demand for oil will increase - and the production rates are not going up.

This will cause significant upward demand on prices - and will mean that the vehicles needed to pull 9K lb trailers are simply uneconomic to drive much of the rest of the time.

- Bart
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Old 01-07-2012, 11:49 AM   #18
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This will cause significant upward demand on prices - and will mean that the vehicles needed to pull 9K lb trailers are simply uneconomic to drive much of the rest of the time.

- Bart
And what good is a trailer w/o a capable TV?

Will there be a plethora of brand-new trailers being towed by 20-year-old trucks? Better hang onto that 3/4 ton, y'all.

"This is pretty well accepted, I think. Given the rapid increase in the use of oil in China and other developing countries, the demand for oil will increase - and the production rates are not going up."

Wheeler mentioned expansion into the Chinese market. How ironic is that?

Canada has lots of oil, but we are at the mercy of the political puppets.
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Old 01-07-2012, 02:12 PM   #19
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"Wheeler mentioned expansion into the Chinese market. How ironic is that?"

With the added option/benefit of Chinese production.


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Old 01-07-2012, 02:54 PM   #20
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"Wheeler mentioned expansion into the Chinese market. How ironic is that?"

With the added option/benefit of Chinese production.


Bob
And "get it at the Wal-Mart price?"

I doubt it.
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Old 01-07-2012, 03:48 PM   #21
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Thanks for posting the interview.
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Old 01-07-2012, 07:18 PM   #22
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Streamline had aluminum cabinetry throughout their life. No rust, no rot, more interior space to the same and this adds structural strength. It isn't rocket science. A/S is long overdue for weight reduction, and would be a much better performer as a result. Wood, OSB and the rest have almost no reason to be in a travel trailer built for permanence (arguments about flooring being left alone here).

Thanks for linking the article. Sad that Europe is 15-years ahead and A/S-N/America is behind the curve.

But if they can get their act together about marketing used trailers as the bargain we all know them to be, (and be open about sharing renovation plans and upgrades, etc) then they'll build into a future that is self-sustaining as to demand. Would be great to see.

A Harley is a waste of money compared to what a travel trailer can be to a family or individual; a businessman or a ultra-sports competitor, a trailer able to last a lifetime and be rebuilt better than new with low costs of operation is an idea just in time.

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Old 01-07-2012, 07:21 PM   #23
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"There are always trade-offs. I like the way my AS tows. How much stability will be sacrificed for weight?"


From CEO Wheeler (again):
""The U.S. RV industry has to get serious about lightweight. Travel trailers in particular, and the tow vehicles people are buying. They’re going to have to follow the path that European RV industry has taken. I think the European RV industry is 15 years ahead of us here in the U.S., simply with the things they’ve done in areas like light-weighting".

Understanding that CEO Wheeler's statement was directed at, or about, the U.S. RV industry, perhaps it's time for AS to set an example. Airstream obviously already has the ability to produce lightweight 'European RV's', and have been for years at Jackson Center. If there were any stability issues in those lightweight models, I'm confident it would have become evident by now.

Regarding lightweight Airstreams in the U.S., they've already done that too. I own a 1968 24' Trade Wind that weighs virtually the same weight as my 2005 19' Bambi. In my opinion (and experience), the Trade Wind is a higher quality build, and tows as easily as the Bambi. I just towed a 2004 25' Safari with a Suburban (7.4L engine and a Hensley) from Anchorage to Seattle, and wished it towed like my Trade Wind.

"Like any CEO worth the key to the executive washroom, Wheeler is keeping his options open..."

I've met Bob Wheeler (a very likeable chap), corresponded with him on numerous issues, and have been to Jackson Center 4 times. The (my) jury is still out on whether he should have the keys.
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Old 01-07-2012, 09:22 PM   #24
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There are always trade-offs. I like the way my AS tows. How much stability will be sacrificed for weight?
....
We love the lure of the open road, but what is at the end of that road? If the worse case scenario regarding fuel prices materializes, our fancy trailers will indeed be turned into guest houses and back-yard offices.
Our 25' Airstream had (pre-new axles) a 5400 GVW rating; it weighed 4200 lbs dry. Tongue weight is about 450 lbs....

A 2010 25' Airstream weighs 5443 lbs dry... 25% more. GVW is now 7300 lbs, tongue weight w/ propane is 837 lbs (!).

I wonder what has been added to the newer trailers to add 1200 lbs...
hopefully, some must have gone into making the frame stronger, but that's a lot of additional weight in a 25' trailer.

I don't think adding 1200+ lbs to our Airstream will make it tow any better.

- Bart
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Old 01-07-2012, 10:53 PM   #25
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Production at 1,350 units/year according to Wheeler. That's half what they were producing 5 years ago.

We went to the Albuquerque RV show today. Lots of really big Class A's, C's and 5th wheels. So much for fuel economy. People seem to want lush accommodations, a condo on wheels, and that's what the industry gives them. Only one 20' Airstream was there.

It sounded like Wheeler was saying they build to order, so how can dealers have any inventory? I couldn't make sense of that.

One of Wheeler's great ideas was the Basecamp. There's been talk of lightening the trailers for years and the 2012 weighs the same as our 2008. We've seen the European models at JC too and somehow they haven't adopted anything from them. They are smaller than US/Canadian models to suit Europe's roads, don't have electric jacks and seem to be engineered for harsher weather. They also have hot water heat.

I am unclear what Wheeler has done other than cut costs and substitute cheap things to save dollars, though there may be some good things. I've met him too and he is personable and listened to my substantial criticisms, so I'll give him that. That he picked up an MBA at the U. of Buffalo shows strength of character because of the winters. I lived in Buffalo for 7 years, so I can appreciate that (my character is another question). I went to school there too and didn't even know they had a business school, but UB is not known for superior academics anyway. Wolf Blitzer went to UB also.

Wheeler has taken a lot of abuse on this Forum for years and the result has not been impressive. Things seem pretty much the same. They went to LED's, you can get 16" wheels with LT tires as an option, a window in the bathroom door, even higher prices. It appears QC may have been improved (had quite a discussion with him about QC) and maybe that is the one important significant thing.

I think the Forbes' interview was softball questions and Wheeler responded with PR answers. Some information, not too much.

Gene
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Old 01-07-2012, 11:27 PM   #26
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Gene,

I assume you didn't like Elma Mayter either, she and her friends always seemed a little pretentious to our crowd on Allen St.
Except for those who drove Saab Station Wagons of course.

Bob
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Old 01-08-2012, 10:01 AM   #27
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On the subject of weight.
My new 25 FC is made pretty much out of MDF, a rather annoying and grating fact that will bug me as long as I own the trailer. Hundreds of pounds could be saved by just using baltic birch ply in place of all that MDF.

The design is tilted heavily toward "land-based style", and steered far away from efficiency. The overhead cabinets are a study in material waste. (The International is a bit better with the sliding door in place of the big coffin doors.)

It's one thing to imagine expensive conversion to exotic composites costing millions. It's quite another to simply improve the current design and use some common sense engineering. In my view, they aren't even trying to be lighter.

I love my trailer, but I would love it more if it was 500 pounds slimmer. An easy target I think without going to exotic materials.
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Old 01-08-2012, 10:25 AM   #28
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A weight savings example from my last trailer. Before I bought the AS, I had bought a small 18 foot trailer last summer. It was new too. It came with a ridiculous dinette table which was freestanding on an ironing board style fold-up base. That base was steel, and the table top was thick MDF with laminate added. The table must have weighed close to 50# and was nearly impossible to fold up and take down without injuring oneself.

Ok, I took the table out all together. I went to the fine lumber yard and obtained a cut piece of baltic birch ply, shaped and sanded, attached an aluminum folding leg, two hinge points at the other end and put a receptical on the trailer wall. Painted it up nicely and saved about 45 of the original 50 pounds. The function was enhanced, the weight was reduced, and I even think the cost was less than the contraption they had used.

What's in my new AS? A huge, thick MDF slab for a table. Now that's simply stupid by any measure.
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