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Old 08-18-2016, 11:49 AM   #1
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2014 Interstate Ext. Coach
Antrim , New Hampshire
Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 21
Smile 15,000 miles & two windshields later

A long drive, all kind of road surfaces putting this class B RV through the paces. After looking at a one year wait for a Sportsmobile custom van, the decision was to purchase a used 2013 Airstream Interstate from an OH dealer with only 2,400 miles on the tach. This thing was looking like new inside and out, just perfect for our long trip with short stays. Of course, the two Lifeline batteries were toast. I checked the voltage while going through the vehicle on the lot, however a volt meter would not reveal that they can’t hold a charge, ........ they knew. So when buying a used RV have the dealer put an electronic battery tester on ALL batteries and proof that they are good.

We left home in May, going nowhere, no hurry to get there. Of 15K miles up top the arctic circle, only about 2,5K on freeways. Never a reservation anywhere, though proper timing had to be here and there. Just made it back to the Northeast with two new windshields, 6 new Michelin Defender LTX’s (chip & seal roads eat tires), a rear ALCOA hubcap, oil and all filters changed, as well as the usual little stone chips from the bumper all the way to the roof line. It is now a used AI.

Indeed, if you plan a trip to Alaska, do not drive with snow on the Alcan. They use mostly chips instead of sand to treat the road surface. The large, heavy over the road rigs do no slow down just for you. Yes, some of the flying stones sounded like bullets and the damage to the windshield later proved fatal. The second fatality was on Hwy 50, coming all the way from California through Missouri. Some single axle gravel truck blasting by me at high speed, tucked right in front and ............. b a n g!

From freezing temperatures over gravel and mud roads to five days in heat up to 108 degrees the Mercedes part performed flawlessly, even with engine temps up to 240 degrees. The dipstick hardly showed any less oil after the 10K interval. The only complaint is front wheel brake dust. Brakes perhaps a bit undersized for long downhills with the kind of gross weight the AI has, loaded with stuff. Gears do not hold the vehicle downhill, not even in first on a 20% grade. The only MBUS complaint I would have is that they treat this as a luxury vehicle and not as what it really is, a utility van. So an oil change on the left coast is $374.00, on top of that at a Freightliner dealer. Well, for that I can take care of it myself, even being on the road.

The AI part is a bit a different story with some substandard assembly methods such as thin lower body plastic panels and pop rivets without backing washer. The AI interiors are contemporary and quite nice (that’s what sold me) though cabinet doors are press wood with woodscrews (probably) tool drilled in, instead of using insert nuts. On miles of washboard gravel roads the result is filling empty holes with wooden matches and re-fastening wood screws, if you can find them. Yes, for the price of these things one would expect not to carry your toolbox everywhere you go.

Staying at most three days in any one place, this Class B Unit proved it’s worth. First of all you will get to camp sites where 90% of the road warriors, class A, B+, 5th wheel and large travel trailers cannot even dream of going. At BLM, USFS and some state park campgrounds in Alaska, YT, BC and the Western US. These were often the most picturesque sites, where anything over 25 foot or wider than a car would have a hard time to maneuver into.

We did upgrade the 12V system to a total of 250W solar, a Trimetric 2025 battery monitor, a 30A Morningstar controller and two Lifeline GPL-4CT’s all with new and appropriate wiring and fuses. This was mostly done with member input from this forum, a BIG thanks. This kept the fridge going, the phones and pads charged, occasional lights and heat and even two Nespresso’s in the morning.

During extended days of clouds, a short generator run would charge the batteries from the upper 70% full to around 90% or to the “float” stage. Anything more you’d run the generator forever, since the Magnum inverter/charger has it’s peculiarities in regulating the charging stages. The solar with the Morningstar would usually do the rest even on semi cloudy days. Three or more days of overcast would call for a one night plug-in, which meant commercial campgrounds where you are squeezed together. We would not let the the batteries go below 60%.

For extended travel, room is at a premium in these things, though fuel mileage is terrific @ 18.4 mpg’s for 15K miles. It is the perfect tailgating and short stays vehicle. An “all roads” RV it is not, 4WD would not make the difference. I could see an advantage with air suspension though not at a 5K upcharge. What about the competition? I guess all have their problems. Quality is a strange word within the RV industry, though there seem to be some custom builders who put out a better product for a price.

Did we make the right decision? Absolutely, there is always someone who did not do their homework and that is an opportunity for those who want an Airstream Interstate at the right price or any RV for that matter.

Happy travels
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Old 08-18-2016, 02:39 PM   #2
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2017 Interstate Lounge Ext
Northern , California
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Thanks very much for taking the time to write this up.

One reason I got the AI was to take it up to AK next summer to visit relatives and show my daughter the sights along the way, so I'm always very interested to read stories about how these little beasts hold up on trips like that.
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Old 08-18-2016, 02:43 PM   #3
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Thanks for sharing your experiences. It is great learning experience for those of us still early in the ownership of AI.
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Old 08-18-2016, 08:46 PM   #4
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Felix - thanks for sharing the details of your experiences. We drove up to Alaska in 2014 and now have over 75,000 miles on our AI.

That upper cabinet doors are actually a soft plywood. I had one door come off on a rough road and discovered they were fastened with screws that were too short. I replaced all the screws with longer versions, just long enough to not penetrate the outer laminate surface. I also added Gorilla, poly glue to hold everything tight. No more problems 50,000 miles later.


- - Mike
2013 Interstate Lounge EXT on 2012 Sprinter
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Old 08-19-2016, 09:22 AM   #5
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2014 Interstate Ext. Coach
Antrim , New Hampshire
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..........there we go, I knew somebody had a working solution

Got another one:

While on the road the water system developed a very slow leak. About every 10 or so minutes the water pump comes on for just a second to re-pressurize the system. Now if I leave it sit like that I will see water on the ground near the exhaust pipe coming out from underneath. It's is running from the top of the black water tank..

It is not the lines to the sink and showered, no leak where the pump is, so it must be the line going to the toilet.

The question is how do I get to the space below the toilet to inspect the line? Where does it run from the pump?
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Old 08-19-2016, 07:20 PM   #6
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2011 Interstate Coach
Muskogee , Oklahoma
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Quote:
Originally Posted by felixkagi View Post
..........there we go, I knew somebody had a working solution

Got another one:

While on the road the water system developed a very slow leak. About every 10 or so minutes the water pump comes on for just a second to re-pressurize the system. Now if I leave it sit like that I will see water on the ground near the exhaust pipe coming out from underneath. It's is running from the top of the black water tank..

It is not the lines to the sink and showered, no leak where the pump is, so it must be the line going to the toilet.

The question is how do I get to the space below the toilet to inspect the line? Where does it run from the pump?
If the bath is on the curbside, like my 2011 lounge, I believe, if I recall correctly (it's been a while back) you can access the connection to the toilet by removing the grey plastic cover that is behind the 2nd row seat. It has two parts, and is held in with screws. Remove the top first (this covers the black tank vent that goes through the roof), then the bottom, and you should be able to see where the pex runs from the pump on the streetside, under the floor, to the back of the shower stall, and into the stall to the back of the toilet. Possible causes are a leak in the pex connector, as I think there is a 90 degree adapter the two go into (there should be two connections), or the valve, or the toilet. Or a hole in the pex itself. It also could be the connection to the valve and water is running down the pex to outside the shower. But it should be easy to see.
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Old 08-21-2016, 04:23 PM   #7
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2014 Interstate Ext. Coach
Antrim , New Hampshire
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Originally Posted by gmillerok1 View Post
If the bath is on the curbside, like my 2011 lounge, I believe, if I recall correctly (it's been a while back) you can access the connection to the toilet by removing the grey plastic cover that is behind the 2nd row seat. It has two parts, and is held in with screws. Remove the top first (this covers the black tank vent that goes through the roof), then the bottom, and you should be able to see where the pex runs from the pump on the streetside, under the floor, to the back of the shower stall, and into the stall to the back of the toilet. Possible causes are a leak in the pex connector, as I think there is a 90 degree adapter the two go into (there should be two connections), or the valve, or the toilet. Or a hole in the pex itself. It also could be the connection to the valve and water is running down the pex to outside the shower. But it should be easy to see.
OK your tip got me to the (almost) right place in no time. Once open, I pressurized the system and after two hours there are a few drops on the ground.
It could be one of the pex fittings though it IS NOT the ones I can see and not from the valve. Obviously there is another elbow from the line going down vertically and then across the floor over to the pump compartment. It's got to be down there

So the next quiestion, is there a way to expose that elbow?
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Old 08-21-2016, 04:47 PM   #8
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2006 22' Interstate
Mont Vernon , New Hampshire
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Hi Felix....

Another Interstate owner near by in Mont Vernon...

Happy Travels!
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Old 08-21-2016, 06:03 PM   #9
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2014 Interstate Ext. Coach
Antrim , New Hampshire
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmillerok1 View Post
If the bath is on the curbside, like my 2011 lounge, I believe, if I recall correctly (it's been a while back) you can access the connection to the toilet by removing the grey plastic cover that is behind the 2nd row seat. It has two parts, and is held in with screws. Remove the top first (this covers the black tank vent that goes through the roof), then the bottom, and you should be able to see where the pex runs from the pump on the streetside, under the floor, to the back of the shower stall, and into the stall to the back of the toilet. Possible causes are a leak in the pex connector, as I think there is a 90 degree adapter the two go into (there should be two connections), or the valve, or the toilet. Or a hole in the pex itself. It also could be the connection to the valve and water is running down the pex to outside the shower. But it should be easy to see.
OK your tip got me to the (almost) right place in no time. Once open, I pressurized the system and after two hours there are a few drops on the ground.
It could be one of the pex fittings though it IS NOT the ones I can see and not from the valve. Obviously there is another elbow from the line going down vertically and then across the floor over to the pump compartment. It's got to be down there

So the next quiestion, is there a way to expose that elbow?
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Old 08-21-2016, 06:16 PM   #10
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Mount Washington , Kentucky
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Felix,
Good fix for the cabinet doors. I stopped by Antrim in my 2015 3 weeks ago to visit my wife's alma mater, doesn't look very good but brought back many great memories. Keep up the travels. Any issues with MB DEF system during your tours?

jp
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Old 08-21-2016, 06:39 PM   #11
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2014 Interstate Ext. Coach
Antrim , New Hampshire
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Felix,
Good fix for the cabinet doors. I stopped by Antrim in my 2015 3 weeks ago to visit my wife's alma mater, doesn't look very good but brought back many great memories. Keep up the travels. Any issues with MB DEF system during your tours?

jp
..........ha, ha, ha, Antrim is where my PO Box is. We just don't have post offices in every town her in NH. But then we also have no sales taxes and no income tax, besides that, most of us live in the woods somewhere.

No problems with the DEF system, just fill it with every oil change. Then the 3500 is a 3/4 ton "truck" where regulations are not quite as stringent (yet) as say a Golf TDI. Mercedes sells many many vehicles with the 3.x V6 Diesel engine, all over the world. So by now they would have figured out to sell a solid product
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Old 08-21-2016, 08:30 PM   #12
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15,000 miles & two windshields later

Quote:
Originally Posted by felixkagi View Post
OK your tip got me to the (almost) right place in no time. Once open, I pressurized the system and after two hours there are a few drops on the ground.

It could be one of the pex fittings though it IS NOT the ones I can see and not from the valve. Obviously there is another elbow from the line going down vertically and then across the floor over to the pump compartment. It's got to be down there



So the next quiestion, is there a way to expose that elbow?

If it's of any help the 2015 parts manual has a diagram of the freshwater plumbing system here:
https://www.airstream.com/wp-content...Parts-Book.pdf
Check the diagram on Page IV-6.
Have you checked the connection at the back of the toilet?
Otherwise you may have to crawl underneath with a flashlight to look around.


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Old 08-21-2016, 08:56 PM   #13
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2011 Interstate Coach
Muskogee , Oklahoma
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Quote:
Originally Posted by felixkagi View Post
OK your tip got me to the (almost) right place in no time. Once open, I pressurized the system and after two hours there are a few drops on the ground.
It could be one of the pex fittings though it IS NOT the ones I can see and not from the valve. Obviously there is another elbow from the line going down vertically and then across the floor over to the pump compartment. It's got to be down there

So the next quiestion, is there a way to expose that elbow?
Not sure to be honest if you can't see the leak. You may have to remove the seat and/or the front plywood cover that is next to where the cover was located in front of the shower.
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