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Old 03-28-2010, 02:07 PM   #1
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Airstream Interstate to Alaska

I have purchased a shiny new 2010 Airstream Interstate 3500 (2008 Sprinter chassis) and will be driving it from Oregon to Anchorage in mid to late April. I’ve driven both the Alaska Highway and the Cassiar a few times before but this is different. I’m really excited to get my hands on this rig and hit the road but I’m a little nervous about some aspects of the trip. The vehicle is brand new and I’m to sure what to expect in terms of early problems especially knowing that good Sprinter techs. will be few (non-existent?) once I leave the US. The vehicle will go on a shakedown run from Eugene to Boise to Seattle so it will have over 1K miles on it before I depart Seattle so hopefully the early problems will have already popped up and been resolved.

Here are my questions:
What can I expect for road conditions in the later part of April for the Alaska and Cassiar highways? My previous trips were in the summer or the dead of winter (that one was interesting!)
Are there any especially good RV centers along the way for parts & accessories and/or service? I’m interested in any places in Oregon, Idaho, and Washington as well as in BC. I don’t necessarily expect Sprinter or Airstream Interstate experience particularly in Canada.
Any experiences with AS Interstate that might be helpful?
Are there any especially good resources for helping me plan this trip?
Am I, as my wife claims, slightly out of my mind?

Thanks in advance for any comments,
WS in AK
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Old 03-28-2010, 02:10 PM   #2
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Greetings and congratulations!

We have had an 06 Interstate for 3 years, and love it. Have not been to Alaska, so can't help you with any of that, but we have put 70,000 miles on it and couldn't be happier.

Have a great time, and travel safe,

Maggie
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Old 03-28-2010, 02:39 PM   #3
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As much as I would tell anyone to go to Alaska I don't think I would suggest taking a NEW Airstream there as it's first trip. It is not uncommon for 20 to 30 mile sections of the road to be under construction/repair as soon as the weather permits. This will take an tremendous tool on your new rig. At these sections they built a dirt road alongside the construction. This is fun.

The tongue of my trailer was sand blasted to primer after our trip. I can still find Alaskan dirt in behind things, and even under the banana strip vinyl 5 years latter.
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Old 03-29-2010, 07:43 AM   #4
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Angry Sorry I shouted!

If I could figure out how to edit my original post, I would used a smaller font.
Sorry!
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Old 03-29-2010, 08:26 AM   #5
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We have heard very mixed information over the past few years about road conditions and traveling in Alaska. The most positive stories have come from other itty-bitties like our Interstate---such as Roadtrek, Pleasureway, Chinook, etc., owners. They report the trip to be very doable and well worth the time and effort. May be another situation where small is better.

This is a trip we want to take at some point, and would love to hear about yours, wayneskid.

Maggie
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Old 03-29-2010, 09:11 AM   #6
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Wayne,

We took a brand new 1999 Cutter diesel 35ft pusher single slide as faras Whilehourse Youkon, in 2000. Sure we encountered some road construction, some frost heaves, but mostly the roads were great. We only suffered a windshield crack, and had it fixed in Whitehorse.
We have some friends just spend the entire summer in Alaska last year. They, and 4 other busses,(Prevosts) had no trouble at all.
I would not hesitate. We are going next year.
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Old 03-29-2010, 10:24 AM   #7
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Keep in mind the tow vehicle is not the one that will take the hit. It is the trailer. The nature of the rock up there is completely different than what you find in the lower 48. It is much softer and brakes up into small pieces and DUST. It is the DUST that will sand blast the front of the trailer.

I made large mud flaps before we left. I made them only 3 inches off the ground and they acted like a vacuum cleaner to spin up the dust.

As we started up the Cassiar there was a rig about 100 yards behind me. As soon as we hit the new chip stone repair section he was a mile behind me just so he could see.
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Old 03-29-2010, 12:54 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HowieE View Post
Keep in mind the tow vehicle is not the one that will take the hit. It is the trailer. The nature of the rock up there is completely different than what you find in the lower 48. It is much softer and brakes up into small pieces and DUST. It is the DUST that will sand blast the front of the trailer.

I made large mud flaps before we left. I made them only 3 inches off the ground and they acted like a vacuum cleaner to spin up the dust.

As we started up the Cassiar there was a rig about 100 yards behind me. As soon as we hit the new chip stone repair section he was a mile behind me just so he could see.
He's talking about an Interstate, a Class B. Might be one of those times when those (ugly, IMO) wrap things to protect from rock chips would be in order, though, to protect from rocks from others.

Maggie
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Old 03-29-2010, 01:25 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by doug&maggie View Post
He's talking about an Interstate, a Class B. Might be one of those times when those (ugly, IMO) wrap things to protect from rock chips would be in order, though, to protect from rocks from others.

Maggie
That's twice I stand corrected to you.

Hopefully those considering the trip with a trailer or a car in tow will read this.

defendwally.org
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Old 03-29-2010, 02:17 PM   #10
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You might take a look at these folk's blog, Gundyville On Wheels. They fulltime in a Dutchstar 43' diesel pusher and have travelled back and forth to Alaska over the past two years. Their archives are full of the stuff you are looking for, particularly about repairs and road conditions enroute. Good luck to you. I made a similar trip over the Al-Can to Whitehorse, Yukon Terr. in 1973. I do hope conditions have improved. That early in the year you can expect lots of mud and snow to contend with, usually. Friends in Western Canada have just returned home to bare, dry ground, a first this early in the year in their experience. As the saying goes, "your mileage may vary."
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Old 03-29-2010, 02:35 PM   #11
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If it still has the allseason tires, you might want to try mud and snow tires. Also learn how to turn off the traction control if you get stuck. Check in at the Sprinter forum. zz
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Old 03-29-2010, 04:18 PM   #12
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Howie,

One of the biggest rock throwers we have ever encountered is the full rear mudflap on the rear of most Class A's. Our Cutter diesel didn't come with one, but Charley Burke when he was at American Way RV in Boise shipped us one. We thought we were hot stuff, with Airstream Mudflap, but all it did all the way up the Al-Can was dragg when traversing dips in the road tossing stones all acrossed the front of the Cherokee, peppered the paint and took out headlamps, foglamps..
IN 2002, we dispensed with the FLAP, going up north to Yellowknife NWT where the last 42 miles into the capital wern't paved, with our Blue OX towshield, and a windshield padded vinyl cover we had our local upholsterer make, the towed car, a Range Rover, sustained no damage covering 5200 miles round trip.
An Interstate shouldn't have any trouble. Tire sizes are somewhat commom, clearbra or bugshield will be needed since the bugs up there are huge and numerous.
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Old 03-29-2010, 08:22 PM   #13
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I replaced the drivers side turbo hose end with:

DODGE FREIGHTLINER SPRINTER TURBO HOSE REPAIR KIT : eBay Motors (item 390159806614 end time Mar-02-10 12:21:54 PST)

I only had 5K on the clock but it's cheap insurance. Another tip is to read the Airstream manual. I came from a Roadtrek but this vehicle is significantly different that even after the orientation, I reinforced it with a good reading of the manual so I didn't screw up any systems. I verified the settings on the converter, (Tripp Lite DIP switches). I also carry a spare tube of Sikaflex 221, (Airstream recommended), in case of any leaks. I also like to carry spare fluids, (Oil - Mobil 1 ESP, Transmission Fluid MB 236.14, GO5 Coolant), because you'll rarely find these at regular auto stores.
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Old 05-09-2010, 02:27 PM   #14
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Thumbs up Home!!!

I and my various co-pilots covered 4105.4 miles in 13 days with clear sailing all the way! This is my 5th road trip in or out of Alaska over the 35 years I've lived here and this one was by far the easiest of all. The timing of the trip couldn't have been better; there was very little construction, the roads were clear, there was virtually no tourist traffic and very little truck traffic. To top it off, the weather was unbelievably good for virtually the entire trip. The most serious problem with the Sprinter was a failed parking lamp which was duly reported on the instrument panel. The auto parts store in Whitehorse didn't have the "official" WY5W lamp so I bought a 194 lamp for less than $2 and it works fine. I'll gather up all my fuel receipts and post the trip mileage results here but I can say the best tank was around 18.5 mpg and most were mid to high 17s. I was driving at the speed limit most of the way after the first 1K miles.

As for the behavior of the Interstate on the road I can't overstate what a pleasure this rig is to drive.
I encountered some really strong gusting side winds and while you could feel the gusts, at no point did the vehicle feel even a little bit scary. On another section of the trip I pulled a (lightly loaded) 6 X 12 UHaul trailer for part of the journey and it felt great. I just love the solid, competent feel of this vehicle. It feels so well balanced it's easy to forget you're steering 6 tons down the road.

I'm a picky guy and I did find a few Airstream bits that could have been done better. These are very minor details and nothing I didn't expect. All things considered, both the Sprinter and Interstate elements of this rig are very nicely engineered and implemented.

WS back in AK!!
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