View Poll Results: Ownership
2005 and newer 44 48.89%
1985 - 2004 21 23.33%
Vintage restored by owner 22 24.44%
Vintage purchased restored 3 3.33%
Voters: 90. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 10-07-2014, 12:11 PM   #15
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I think Casita and Bigfoot are both quality brands.
My Forest River Wildwood 28RLSS on the other hand...
I think people who go from Airstream to another brand can really only go to Casita, Bigfoot, Escape, Oliver, Redwood, Tiffin Allegro, etc. and not be satisfied.
Keystone maybe. Jayco possibly. Forest River? Uh-uh!
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Old 10-07-2014, 12:38 PM   #16
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I fit into more than one of the categories in the poll, but I voted in the 1985-2004.

I have not owned an Airstream older than the 70's so I cannot compare them. But those older trailers were definitely built well.

I own my 5th and 6th Airstream now. A 1973 Excella was the first/oldest and the 2000 newest. The trailers I own now are probably my last.

It's my opinion that the build quality generally has improved over those years. Yes, there are some exceptions. (subfloor material has not improved, cabinets in the Safari are veneer over particle board crap, and filiform corrosion is a pain)

Each trailer had/has gadgets that were considered top of the line when they were made. That top of the line '73 had a gizmo mounted on the countertop that was a can opener, mixer, blender, and meat grinder all in one appliance. It had a 12v onboard generator that ran on propane. I thought it was wonderful at the time, but looking back we hardly used those things because it took to much time/work. The '78 had a electrical/water hose reel that recoiled when I pulled on it and then release pressure. That was really nice when it work, but it stayed broken a lot and eventually I could not get repair parts. The '87 had a thing between the axles that looked like a long piston covered by a rubber boot, that was supposed to make it ride better in some way (can't remember the function right now). It never worked.
I could go on and on, but the point I'm getting at is; as I have gotten older I appreciate simplicity and low maintenance. The fancy gadgets usually end up being problems that take away from the pleasure of camping/traveling.
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Old 10-07-2014, 12:55 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Ag&Au View Post
... I believe that when Airstream stopped being a family owned business and when it was bought out by a large RV manufacturer, the quality gradually sank to the industry standard, while the hype remains high. ...
A very good friend of mine (now deceased) was with Airstream back in the day. He eventually left Airstream and started his own RV business for the very reasons that you mention.

My RV experience was in sail, motor-sail, and finally trawlers prior to moving onshore and purchasing an Airstream. My boating experience had taught me to be self sufficient in maintenance and upkeep.

We were the third owner of our 2006 30' Classic, and what I have found on the travel trailer is not that different from maintenance and upkeep requirements on the boats. An Airstream travel trailer's perceived quality is heavily dependent on a lot of hand labor and a work force of varying skill levels, so we should not be surprised by what we see.

My only real gripe is how difficult it is to access various parts and locations when it does become necessary for me to repair something.
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Old 10-07-2014, 01:12 PM   #18
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A very good friend of mine (now deceased) was with Airstream back in the day. He eventually left Airstream and started his own RV business for the very reasons that you mention.

My RV experience was in sail, motor-sail, and finally trawlers prior to moving onshore and purchasing an Airstream. My boating experience had taught me to be self sufficient in maintenance and upkeep.

We were the third owner of our 2006 30' Classic, and what I have found on the travel trailer is not that different from maintenance and upkeep requirements on the boats. An Airstream travel trailer's perceived quality is heavily dependent on a lot of hand labor and a work force of varying skill levels, so we should not be surprised by what we see.

My only real gripe is how difficult it is to access various parts and locations when it does become necessary for me to repair something.


I'm guessing some of that may be inherent in the design, but taking the time to provide access hatches to important plumbing and electrical areas sure would make it a lot more serviceable.
I grew up around boats, and spent 5 years in the navy with both air and sea assignments. That experience makes landlubber designed travel trailers very annoying.
Trailers need to have something to sink into when things go wrong, then maybe they would be designed better.

Ken
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Old 10-07-2014, 01:24 PM   #19
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Trailers need to have something to sink into when things go wrong, then maybe they would be designed better.
Such as the endless quagmire of mediocrity that is the competition?
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Old 10-07-2014, 01:39 PM   #20
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Happy now, but later???

We bought our 2012 lightly used and it was a Colonial trailer, which I think means the dealer fixed problems the PO never saw. The PO really never used it or fixed anything...in fact she was afraid of propane and never used those appliances.
We are enjoying our trips; I have improved some of the features and repairs have only been minor. I have also struggled with accessibility for any work I have done, even though I was used to working in the confines of a cruising sailboat. I agree that Airstream does not come close to the maintainability of even lower quality cruising sailboats.
If I had studied this forum more carefully before I bought, I might have decided to pursue something else. I got out of boating partly because I was spending more time maintaining than sailing. What I read here leads me to believe that this may come true in the future with our AS. Seriously, check and recaulk quarterly or semiannually? Most RV appliances are considerably cheaper and less robust than boat appliances and I accept that Airstream should be expected to anything about that. But I would have hoped that I had a reliable shell. I guess time will tell.
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Old 10-07-2014, 02:02 PM   #21
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I agree that Airstream does not come close to the maintainability of even lower quality cruising sailboats.
This used to bother me with my Interstate as well, until I became philosophical about the whole issue. On a boat, voyage repairs require easy access lest you capsize or sink before you can fix the problem. In an Airstream, only two issues are really a matter of life and death: being able to shut off the propane before you asphyxiate or explode; and being able to shut off the electricity before you fry. And even in an Airstream, access is generally good for both of those.

While I wish one didn't have to be a double-jointed anorexic orangutang to accomplish some repairs, none of those repairs are so time-critical that you can't wait until you find a double-jointed anorexic orangutang to do them.
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Old 10-07-2014, 02:58 PM   #22
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The four areas to select from on the poll does not apply to us. We bought our 79 Overlander in 05. It was in immaculate condition inside and out. It had been in Arizona and Oregon. It had always been taken care of. We received all the paper work from the work that had been....all minor.

We have replaced the refrigerator, toilet, carpet, mattress, drapes, and converter. We changed the piping to pex. We rebuilt the water pump. We have polished twice with cyclo polisher. We got rid of the gaucho and bought two recliners. We have done all this work ourselves. This is what I call maintenance, nothing more. Doing what needs to be done and not putting it off can save time and money.

We have taken two trips to the west coast and places in between. We love Yellowstone...four times, Glacier, Colorado. It tows like a dream. She's our baby.

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Old 10-07-2014, 03:19 PM   #23
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There should be one more category in the poll.

"Vintage - not restored, but well maintained."

We are fortunate to have two Airstreams which would fit this category.
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Old 10-07-2014, 03:31 PM   #24
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There are plenty of 80's and 90's trailers that have been restored too.
And what year does "vintage" begin?
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Old 10-07-2014, 04:03 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Protagonist View Post
While I wish one didn't have to be a double-jointed anorexic orangutang to accomplish some repairs, none of those repairs are so time-critical that you can't wait until you find a double-jointed anorexic orangutang to do them.
Lol, after having to re-solder some joints in our copper piping that were in the fiberglass bathroom sink enclosure while on a trip 1000 miles from home, I get this completely. Since we ended up resorting to a tin pan to catch the drips until we could get home and fix it right, I agree with the second part of your statement as well

My policy has always been that as long as it is rolling along behind us, everything else is optional. Luckily we have only used it as a 'tin tent' once, towards the end of the floor replacement. Our trailer was also well cared for and came to us in camping condition. Although we did some big repairs to it, nothing that made us ever miss a trip. But I think we have a LOT less gadgets, and a lot lower expectations than someone who spent $70k for a trailer.
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Old 10-07-2014, 04:05 PM   #26
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We bought ours at age 15, well maintained... We have done cosmetic refurbishment (interior fabrics/blinds/carpet etc) and replaced faucets, fixed shower valves, etc.. We had to do a few other fixes like axles, resealing, holding tank valves over past 10 years, but nothing unexpected. We are glad to have purchased vintage, though sometimes miss new features like rear dinettes, more windows, wide body extra room, but price trade-offs were worth it...

As for planned obsolescence or build quality issues, I believe Airstream has implemented design and materials changes over past 40 years, and some worked out and others didn't work so well.. Composite sub-floors and lightweight frames not so great, while wide bodies and improved lightweight interior cabinetry have been better. Early disc brakes a little problematic, and some of the windows and door latches have been challenging.. You could plot "difficult era's" like the Beatrice years, or high growth years (lots of new hires and OJT issues) or even changes in suppliers or process (filiform corrosion in shiny parts or around edges of clearcoated aluminum sheets..). For me bottom line is that all trailers are going to need maintenance, and that Airstreams that are maintained will tow better and last longer and offer more functionality than any of their traditional competitors, but at a premium price. Every buyer has a unique "value equation" in their personal situation, and for many Airstream will work out well, but not all... Having owned an inexpensive beige box trailer before, we are very happy with our solid and dependable 25 year old Airstream..
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Old 10-07-2014, 05:10 PM   #27
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I've enjoyed the Airstream hobby for about 10 years. Our 86 was purchased new by my wife's folks and they did a lot of traveling in their retirement years. We plan to do the same in the same trailer. The trailer structure has held up pretty well.

I purchased a 66 Trade Wind to tinker with. I found may aspects of the 66 are better than the 86. For example:
The Alclad exterior skins are still in nice shape. The softer aluminum on the 86 shows minor hail dents.
The bath end cap is fiberglass and still looks good. The 86 end caps are thermo formed plastic and have stress cracks.
The floor in the 66 is plywood. The 86 is OSB.
The floor tiles are tough stuff. 47 years and still looking pretty good. The carpets in the 86 are long gone.
The vinyl clad interior skins are very robust and clean up nicely. Better than my 86 zolotone paint.
The metal locker door latches are robust. Mine are corroded some, but work well. Much better than my 86.
The galley sink porcelain is still in excellent shape.
The plastic wheel wells are thicker and stronger than my 86.
The 66 gaucho slide mechanism is very robust.
The bed frames and mattress supports are made much stronger than my 86.
The vinyl accordian door hanger is so robust I could do chin ups on it. My 86, no way.
The door knob latch and deadbolt are still working. My 86 was replaced years ago, and is starting to wear out again.
All the overhead 12v lights work, and the 4 position rotary switches still work. My 86 rocker switches fail from time to time.
My point is Airstream makes an American icon that is very expensive. I think the quality approach ought to be like the 60s, make it absolutely the best.

I get disappointed when improvements in Airstream design are known but not acted on. Subfloor material, rear bumper leaks, filiform corrosion, frame rust, cheap insulation and others. These design flaws could be corrected, but it seems Airstream is slow to act at times.

After the factory tour two years ago, I came away feeling the trailers are better than they were 20 years ago. I worked in quality for many years. I sure would be studying the warranty claim data and pressing for improvements.

Overall - New ones are pretty good, could be better.

David
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Old 10-28-2014, 09:46 AM   #28
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I came across this list in my PC today. I think I composed the list 2 years ago when the trailer was new. It was my first impressions after trading our SOB and camping a time or two.
1. The hitch on the Airstream is a little less finicky than our other trailer. It is easier to latch and unlatch from the ball.
2. The hooks on the safety chains on the Airstream are a little bigger and easier to hook into the holes in the truck bumper.
3. Reasons to love an Airstream
4. The Airstream propane bottles are larger and shiny. They also are wired into the control center so you know how much gas you have.
5. The cover over the propane bottles is much nicer than the white plastic cover on our previous trailer.
6. The panoramic windows allow me to sit anywhere in the Airstream and see out all 4 sides. The windows also provide more places for my cat to look out.
7. The LED clearance and marker lights are much nicer and prettier than the plastic ones on our other trailer. The retro style of the lights is cool.
8. The aluminum skin is prettier than a typical square trailer. The shape is an American icon. It is partly because of that shape that the Airstream tows much better and the truck gets better mileage.
9. The door latches, hinges, and locks on the Airstream are of a much higher quality than other trailers. They are more substantial, heavier, have a nicer feel to them. The lock cylinders turn easier. The keys go in easier.
10. The refrigerator vents, furnace vent, water heater cover, and range hood vent are silver instead of white plastic.
11. The Airstream has no white plastic that turns yellow in a few years.
12. The Airstream doesn’t have the plastic spare tire cover that rots in a few years. The spare tire is not even mounted on the bumper.
13. The latches and locks on the outside storage compartments on the Airstream are of a much higher quality and have a nicer, more substantial feel to them.
14. The Airstreams windows are tinted. They look nice and provide privacy.
15. The bumper storage on the Airstream is more useful than the square tube bumper on typical trailers.
16. There is no rubber roof membrane on the Airstream. No more climbing up on the roof to clean and treat it.
17. The awnings are of a much higher quality and are prettier.
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