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Old 06-17-2009, 01:20 AM   #1
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argosy vs regular airstream ???

Hello,
It has been a long while since we have posted on this forum. We have had some financial struggles the past couple years and we are still harboring the dream of getting a Bambi or another small trailer. I am not familiar with the Argosy trailers but I noticed that you can get an 18ft = 22ft Argosy cheaper than a regular aistream.

Oustide of the exterior painted finish, what are any other differences between the airstream and the argosy? Is it better off to hold out for an Airstream Bambi, or is an Argosy a much better value? Can you strip the paint on the Argosy and polish the exterior or does it always have to have a painted finish?
Thanks for the info,
Regards,
Steve
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Old 06-17-2009, 05:31 AM   #2
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Argosy vs regular airstream ???

Greetings Steve!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Small Fry View Post
Hello,
It has been a long while since we have posted on this forum. We have had some financial struggles the past couple years and we are still harboring the dream of getting a Bambi or another small trailer. I am not familiar with the Argosy trailers but I noticed that you can get an 18ft = 22ft Argosy cheaper than a regular aistream.

Oustide of the exterior painted finish, what are any other differences between the airstream and the argosy? Is it better off to hold out for an Airstream Bambi, or is an Argosy a much better value? Can you strip the paint on the Argosy and polish the exterior or does it always have to have a painted finish?
Thanks for the info,
Regards,
Steve

Some of us who own both an Argosy and an Airstream would find the choice between the two to be quite difficult. While the Argosy was marketed as a mid-price introduction to Airstream, production methodology and materials were quite similar. In many ways, the Argosy line was a test-bed for features that would one-day make their way into regular production in the Airstream coaches such as:
  • The front window configuration featuring the deep-wrap wing windows was pioneered by the First Generation Argosy coaches from the beginning of the line. This feature would become a feature of the up-scale Airstream coaches several years later.
  • The first application of the deep-wrap wing windows to a rear-bedroom coach was in the Argosy coaches from 1977 through the end of First Generation production.
  • The concept of a special model line featuring more compact dimensions of "European" coaches was first tried with the Argosy Minuet series from 1977 through 1979.
    • Argosy Minuet lengths were expressed utilizing Metric designations.
    • Coach widths were 7' rather than the 7' 8" of the standard Airstream and Argosy coaches of the period.
  • The concept of a motorhome produced using Airstream manufacturing techniques was first tried with the Argosy platform, and provided the basis for the "classic" Airstream motorhomes that went out of production in 1993.
  • The Second Generation Argosy was the test-bed for the bonded side panel construction methods that would later be applied to Airstream "SquareStream" coaches as well as Integrity fifth-wheels and the second generation Airstream motorhomes.
Some features tried in the Argosy coaches have not seen application in the regular Airstream coaches such as:
  • One-piece galvanized steel exterior end-caps were featured on all First Generation Argosy travel trailers but would not see production on Airstream trailers.
  • The aluminum composite floor panels utilized in many Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre coaches as well as some Argosy Minuet 6.7 Metre coaches would not see production in the regular Airstream line.
  • The vinyl-clad aluminum cabinetry of the Minuet series would not see any applications in the standard Airstream coaches.
There was one feature offered on Airstream coaches during the 1970s that was never offered on the Argosy, even as an option, and that was Excella HydroVac Disc Brakes. Most other Airstream features could be had on the Argosy coaches, but were often extra-cost options.


Commonalities between Airstream and First Generation Argosys were many, but included features such as:
  • Semi-Monocoque constrution utilizing a:
    • Steel ladder-type frame
    • Henschen DuraTorque axles
    • Dexter 12" electric drum brakes
    • Riveted aluminum exterior with aluminum sub-structure and vinyl-clad aluminum interior wall surfaces
  • Major, name-brand appliances including:
    • Dometic 2-Way RV refrigerators
    • Atwood or Suburban water heaters (typically 6-gallon for Argosy)
    • Suburban ducted furnaces
    • Peters and Russell Demand Water Pumps
    • Atwood or Suburban ranges (usually 3-burner in Argosy)
    • Armstrong Air Conditioners
    • Univolt power converters
    • Worthington Aluminum LP tanks
    • Thetford toilets and dump valves
    • Delta or Moen faucet sets
To answer your question regarding stripping and polishing an Argosy. Yes, it can and has been done. It must be kept in mind, however, that the paint may hide body damage that has been repaired with automotive methods including bondo that would not be friendly to polishing. The issue of the galvanized end caps also must be addressed in a polished Argosy -- typically, they are painted metallic silver on the few polished Argosy coaches that I have seen.

The choice between Argosy and Airstream, to me, is more an issue of personal preference than one of quality of construction. The same quality aluminum construction of the Airstream carries over to the Argosy as do the vast majority of the quality fixtures -- some of the features, however, may be options on the Argosy so won't be found on every coach. In a way, the Argosy permits one to own and Airstream that won't be like every other coach at a given rally or on a particular caravan -- yet you will have the same comforts and most of the conveniences as well. The less demanding maintenance requirements of the painted exterior also appeal to many Argosy owners.

Good luck with your research!

Kevin

P.S.: Personally, the Minuet 6.0 Metre was my preference over the vintage Bambi coaches because of its more attractive pricing in the market as well as the bright interior resulting from all of the windows in the Minuet -- the larger, more comfortable bathroom also helped sway me to the Minuet. The empty weight of the Minuet 6.0 Metre is about 800 pounds heavier than the empty weight of the first generation Bambi (1961-1963) -- keep in mind that the Minuet 6.0 Metre is about 3-feet longer than the first generation Bambi.
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Old 06-17-2009, 06:06 AM   #3
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I also have both the Argosy and the Airstream. Personally I really like the cream painted Argosy and have found it easy to keep "touched-up" and crisp looking with Krylon spray paint. During a very devastating ice storm a year ago the Argosy steel end caps came through without a blemish while my Airstream sustained some nasty dents from falling limbs. You will usually see dents in these vintage Airstream end caps, especially the longer ones. My 24ft Argosy weighs in (empty) at 3600 lbs. I'm certainly not a fan of the "fake" wood interior finishes, but they do hold the weight down to make it an easy tow with my Tundra. The appliances are the same in my Argosy as in my Airstream. For the money, if you can find a good vintage Argosy, don't let the paint keep you from buying it. Not really that much difference and you can always "make it your own" by adding what you like or changing the interior to suit your taste. Just look for a well loved trailer, Argosy or Airstream, and go camping.
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Old 06-17-2009, 06:34 AM   #4
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We originally wanted an early 70's, 22' Argosy with the rear door to tow with our (at the time) Nissan Mini Van. We looked at 3 or 4 and they were priced around the $3,500. mark. In the end we found the 23' Airstream at $6,000. There was something about the shinny aluminum and the blue "AIRSTREAM" name on the front and back.

The Airstreams are slightly heavier but no big deal.

Yes you can polish an Argosy. We have seen it done. The end caps need to be painted an aluminum color.
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Old 06-18-2009, 12:45 AM   #5
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Hello,
Thank you all for your responses. Sounds to me like there really isn't a disadvantage of the Argosy, unless you are totally stuck on the shiny exterior etc. I am really at a crossroads. We don't have much to spend, and I don't really want to exceed 22 feet max. I love the shiny look but, I don't mind the ease of the painted exterior as was mentioned, and it gives me the similar type of styling. It is hard to find a decent quality rig in AZ of either Argosy or Airstream.
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Old 06-18-2009, 08:03 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Small Fry View Post
Hello,
It has been a long while since we have posted on this forum. We have had some financial struggles the past couple years and we are still harboring the dream of getting a Bambi or another small trailer. I am not familiar with the Argosy trailers but I noticed that you can get an 18ft = 22ft Argosy cheaper than a regular aistream.

Oustide of the exterior painted finish, what are any other differences between the airstream and the argosy? Is it better off to hold out for an Airstream Bambi, or is an Argosy a much better value? Can you strip the paint on the Argosy and polish the exterior or does it always have to have a painted finish?
Thanks for the info,
Regards,
Steve
Steve.

The comparison, other than personal taste, is the same as a couple brands of cars.

Argosy = Chevy

Airstream = Cadillac

Many parts are exactly the same.

Andy
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Old 06-18-2009, 08:51 AM   #7
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I have owned and used 21' and 23' Airstreams and a '62 Bambi. I currently own a 6m Minuet. The Minuet is the best compromise trailer I have owned because:
1. It is light weight and towable with nearly anything.
2. It has a grey water tank. Rudimentary and small, but there. You are not going to be without your blue tank in a Bambi as there is no other easy way to deal with wash water. In the olden days, gray water could be run out on the ground so grey tanks weren't a big deal.
3. Have you seen the prices on Bambis that are usable? You pay a lot for that name and size.

Don't get me wrong. I liked all of my Airstreams, was a real brand loyal type. I enjoyed towing the Bambi behind an IH loaded with an Alaskan. I shudder to remember the mileage I got when I look at today's gas prices. The trick is to decide what you want and keep looking until it shows up.
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Old 06-21-2009, 06:33 PM   #8
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I'm in the same boat - narrowed it down to a 60's narrow-body Caravel or a 77-78 Minuet 6.0 with the Al floors. Both can be pulled by my minivan. Ah, decisions:

Minuet: Bigger, front wrap windows, same weight, gray tank (!), more counter and storage space, no rot floors (if I find one with the composite floors), would probably get it painted silver, removing any impulse/need to polish

Caravel: Costs more up front (about 2x) but probably get more future investment back out of it (the world's best Minuet seems to top out at $9k), shorter (fits in smaller parking and camp spaces), love the hardwood interior and non-tambour doors, also has lots of street side windows, seems to be easier to find

Got to look at both (been in a Caravel but not a Minuet yet) and then continue the hunt...

Tom
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Old 06-21-2009, 06:52 PM   #9
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I only have an Argosy and still want more Airstreams ( I have a big yard and want it all Silver and white.) I love our Argosy. I am in the process of stripping and polishing mine for the past few weeks. http://www.airforums.com/forums/blog...-nick6930.html I love the large windows on the Argosy and now the new Airstreams. It is great sitting on a rainy day and looking out at everything. It gives a airy and open feeling.

The biggest thing is to shop around and allow yourself a little extra financial room for those fix ups that need to be done before going camping. It is amazing how all the little things add up (ie. wheel chucks, stinky slinky, BBQ, awnings, power surge, plumbing stuff, smoke and CO detectors, mattresses, curtains, water hoses, propane tanks etc.) The list went on and on. I did not expect that myself. I do not regret a thing. In fact leaving tomorrow for a few days of camping and polishing.

Good Luck.
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Old 06-21-2009, 07:15 PM   #10
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It seems the Argosy is practically as good as an Airstream at a friendlier price. In the case of the Minuet maybe better, as you can tow it with a smaller vehicle.

I would advise against trying to polish an Argosy. To me the painted finish is one of the big advantages. You can repair and repaint as you can an automobile, which is much easier and cheaper than repairing an airplane which is what the polished jobs amount to. You can have your choice of colors. The paint will polish up a lot easier than aluminum will, and if the paint is shot you can repaint easier than you can polish.

The plain fact is that stripping and polishing an Argosy is going to be an even bigger job than polishing an Airstream. Personally I would be happy with the painted finish.
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Old 06-21-2009, 07:26 PM   #11
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We thought we wanted an "Airstream" also, but went to look at the '78 Argosy 22' 6.7 Minuet and I loved it from the time I saw it down the seller's driveway. We only wanted to see what the inside looked like and we bought it without looking any further. As someone else said earlier, we actually feel a little more special at campouts because we stand out whereas the others don't. We know this is not our last Airstream, so I'm sure we'll have a tin can one of these days. Right now, we're happy with the Painted Pig!
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Old 06-21-2009, 07:28 PM   #12
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The difficult thing is if the paint is not that good, it is extremely expensive to have it proffessional repainted. I have been getting quotes of $7-10k to have it done right. My paint was peeling all over and the PO had painted te caps a different coor white so it looked junky. I know that others have done it themselves and I was planning on trying it myself but after seeing the clean aluminum I decided to try polishing. For me it is scary going through all that work only to screw up the paint with a roller. I still may end up trying painting it myself. Either case to repaint you are going to need to remove large amounts of the painted areas anyway.

I know first hand that it is a pain to strip but I don't regret the project so far.
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Old 06-21-2009, 08:52 PM   #13
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Argosy's are airstreams, just like the base camp is. Comparing them to car brands is a matter of choice. We have had an Argosy and 2 silver airstreams. I would love to own an Argosy squarestream, as they are cool looking.

Whih ever one you choose, it is still an airstream.


Marie
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Old 06-22-2009, 11:34 PM   #14
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The only disadvantage I can see is that someone might call Argosies "Fakestreams." But I can live with that.
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