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Old 03-21-2007, 12:19 PM   #1
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Buying an Interstate

I am planning to buy a new 2007 Airstream Interstate. Its primary purpose will be touring the U.S. and Canada but we expect to spend our nights 50-50 between camping and hotels.
I would like to know what are the best options to purchase, e.g., generator make, awning, etc. I also would like to get some help in determining what is a good price.
Thanks
Bob
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Old 03-21-2007, 08:01 PM   #2
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B Van Information

The Interstate is a Sprinter B camper van conversion and shares interest with a lot of other manufacturers. You might find more information at this RV.net website on general questions that you have asked that are not Airstream Interstate specific.

http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fu...s/forum/21.cfm
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Old 03-24-2007, 03:29 PM   #3
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Also, I doubt you have that many options after you pick the brand of camper. For example you probably have the option of whether or not to have a generator, but not which brand.
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Old 03-25-2007, 05:58 PM   #4
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Skater, So true. This is it and its an either or choice to have it. The only major company converting campervans that give you choices for customization is Sportsmobile. However, when it comes to generators from Airstream last year you had an interesting choice between the Westfalia with diesel or the Interstate with propane. Those two conversions were so different that I doubt the generator would have been the decider. I believe the Sprinter conversions pretty much all use the 2500 kw Onan propane generator.

There seems to be a lot of opinions whether to have one or not at the Open Roads Forum. I opted for everything I could get on my Sprinter. Not ever having one before, and such a big purchase, I did not want to be left in the position of wishing I had made a different decision after gaining experience. So far our habits have been just about what doctorbob is anticipating. We tour, tour fast, and have stayed with relatives and in hotels about half the time. We camped once without electrical power in the Shenandoah National Park and the generator came in handy. We camped only once when it rained hard and the awning was worth every penny that one day we used it. We used the LCD flat screen TV to watch DVD not television. We've even done that right in our own driveway just for a change of pace. We have used the air conditioner with heat strip both ways, for cooling and once for heat when it was in the 40s even though we also have the propane heater and a tiny ceramic portable electric heater. With all those choices I was actually just curious about the heat strip. We use the refrigerator and microwave and plumbing facilities. The only thing we haven't used yet is the two burner propane cooktop because we alway cooked outside, including a breakfast when it was 27F outside in the morning. For the same reason we never set up the dining table stand and top inside.

Another controversial option is whether to have a built-in electric coffee maker. It seems to be about 50-50 with people. Fresh brewed coffee in the morning is a must with me and more so with my wife. We have one.

What I didn't get and it is more standard with 2007 models is a trailer hitch since I bought available off the lot. I am going to have one installed because I am thinking of adding one of those swing away carriers for outdoor gear such as bulky lawn chairs, etc. that have to be moved around inside. When underway touring, the bathroom pretty much becomes the storage area for those things.

What I had installed and probably don't need now that I have experience is a backup camera. We have very good convex mirrors on top of our regular rear view mirrors that work great. I think these are pretty much standard now with Sprinter. They weren't two years ago. They are a must in my opinion.

We take along no suitcases but we each have a small carry-on duffles that can be collapsed and day packs for overnight hotel stays.

Did I miss anything?
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Old 03-25-2007, 08:12 PM   #5
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I have a generator in my B190, and I mostly use it on the road to keep air conditioning going so my cat doesn't bake. (And since it's running anyway, generating more electricity than my A/C needs, I also run the fridge on 110 volt on the road.) But I found another GREAT use for it - when the power at my house was out for two days in February, it was great to fire up the generator, plug in the (home) fridge, and save all my food. It was also great to sleep in a place that had heat, even if I did have to leave the generator run all night (which only used 2 or 3 gallons of gas). So I would definitely recommend the generator option.

Personally, if I have a usable camper, I wouldn't stay in a hotel, but that's just me.
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Old 03-29-2007, 11:14 AM   #6
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As I understand it, you are all recommending to go "fully loaded" on options and the generator is a must. I am looking at other Sprinter conversions but we have an Airstream dealer less than 10 miles away so that is animportant factor. We are planning to visit a Roadtrek dealer soon to make a comparison.
Has anyone experience with remote purchasing, e.g., from an online dealer?
Thanks for all the info
Bob
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Old 03-30-2007, 08:04 PM   #7
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Bob,

Maintenance for the Sprinter engine, drive train, etc. has to be performed by a Dodge dealer with trained mechanics for working on the Sprinters. Usually the selling conversion dealer can't help you with that unless they are also a Dodge dealer equiped. About all they warrant is the conversion stuff put into the van and even the things like the fridge, generator, etc. will come with a packet of warranties that you would have to deal with directly with the manufacturer or go to a local service that knows how to service them. So, if you get a very well built and put together conversion van you may not likely ever go back to them.

I bought my Pleasure-Way Plateau Sprinter from a dealer that was getting completely out of motorized RVs and going back to selling just trailers, Pickup campers and 5th wheelers. Because of that I save a tremendous amount of money taking the last new conversion van off his hands. I'll never go back. If I need specific conversion van service there is another dealer in my Twin Cities area that will provide it. I know Leisure Travel Vans and Pleasure-Way vans have factory gurus that can be reached for help. I would guess Airstream would have the same kind of service and I have noted many of the trailer owners here have taken their trailers to Jackson, OH, the mother ship factory for service.

There is one guy from North Carolina that found a better deal from Van City in St. Louis, MO than his local dealer. If you check there are few dealers nationwide that sell B conversion vans so I suspect quite a few buy long distance. The bottom line is if you can save thousands of dollars on the deal and get the model you specifically want it might be worth the long distance. Most talk about flying one way picking up the van and using the trek back as their first camping trip. There are a lot of dealers on the Internet that routinely work with long distance purchasers and have a wide variety of models to choose from. I suspect you can strike a better deal finding what you want already sitting on a lot than ordering special.

As for "must" a generator is a nice accessory. I used it once to power my 110V air compressor that I carry with us to pump up a low tire. Ultimately I had to replace the valve stems on a factory recall at the Dodge dealer. We used it once at Shenandoah National Park without electrical hookup. So far every other campground we've stopped at has had electrical hookup. As Skater mentioned it is a handy emergency generator for home power outages. This year we want to camp at National Forests and state parks on Minnesota's North Shore. Those places do not have electrical hookups and we may need the generator.

If you are experienced you can be more discerning about what you need. I wasn't so I took everything available. It seems most B vans are sold fairly complete and not stripped down. The best thing to do is try to look at the major B converters and decide. That would include Airstream, Leisure Travel Vans, Pleasure-Way, Roadtrek and Great West. That would be my recommended list from my research. Sportsmobile is a company that manufactures conversions to your design. Their website gives you a complete kit of information to be your own designer if you are so inclined. I'm an architect and think I am more than capable but it seemed like too much effort when there were already a lot of ready to drive models that met my desires.

That help?
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Old 03-30-2007, 08:46 PM   #8
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This may qualify as "on-line" experience at buying an Interstate. I checked in with dealers in Washington State, California, Texas, and North Carolina. The Washington State dealer offered a low price, but I then thought of flying out there from Virginia, and driving back. Was not ready for such a maiden voyage. So I settled for Out-of-Doors Mart in Kernersville North Carolina. The price was about 1000 bucks higher.
Since then, I have made two trips to NC for under the Airstream warranty work (air conditioner crapped out). I also stopped by Oasis in Tucson for some warranty work.
So far, the warranty work has been free of cost, and that means a lot.
The coach has held up well and we have around 25,000 miles on it.
That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
regards
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Old 04-04-2007, 08:56 AM   #9
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choosing an Interstate

This is my first post. We bought a 2007 Interstate last year after a long time tent camping. We would not be happy without the generator - what if we were not at a place with electricity and could not make coffee! We chose the model with the bed in the rear as we have a dog who needs to go out in the morning before the bed is decommissioned and with the bed in the center we would not be able to get out the door. The only issue with this configuration is that the heater is under the bed when it is made up. Makes for a toasty bed but not as much heat in the rest of the vehicle (we have been out when it was 10 degrees F.). We got a register deflector to send the heat toward the front. We also have some screen cloth to hang up with magnets if we want the doors open when there are bugs. We haven't used the awning yet, the paperwork with it says that it is not for rain. What have experienced users found?
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Old 04-08-2007, 07:17 PM   #10
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Awning not for rain? That's interesting. If it is a Fiamma awning it should work well in the rain. That is when we pull the awning out.

We did not consider the Interstate at the time we bought our Sprinter because they only had the mid bed option. You confirm what we felt about the mid bed layout. It kind of splits up the campervan.

Good point about the coffee.
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Old 04-09-2007, 08:33 PM   #11
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I can't imagine having a camper without an awning.

I don't trust mine, but that's because it's 17 years old and the fabric is tearing at both ends. I use the MacGuyver repair method - duct tape on the tears, replaced annually. Even still I'll leave the awning up in light rain and wind... Slope it so the water runs off.
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Old 05-04-2007, 05:02 PM   #12
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Airstream Interstate

Hi Julie,
I also have an Interstate purchased new last November (2006 model). I traded in our 28' Classic Trailer and Chev. Suburban after my husband passed away. I have no prior experience with a generator, but note that the manual recommends "exercising" it for two hours once a month. I suppose this has to be done, but doesn't that use a lot of propane? And how does one go about checking the oil and/or sparkplug? I'm finding the recommended maintenance schedule quite intimidating. Everything about the generator (except for the startup switch) seems so inaccessible.

I have the rear dinette model, and I, too, wondered about the furnace being under the bed, but I haven't used it yet. Fortunately, I'm short enough to sleep on the crosswise rear sofa and don't have to convert the dinette each night.

I noted also that the awning's stated use is for sun, not rain. I've used it twice (a Dometic A & E) and was quite happy with it until I attempted to roll it up after the last use at our unit rally. The Gear Assembly Loop (the thingy where you insert the crank) cracked in half and fell on the ground. There I was with ten feet or so of awning hanging from the side of the van, wondering how I would get home. Fortunately, some of my friends were still around and, using a socket wrench, were able to retract the awning. Since the lockpin couldn't be readily removed, the socket only fit over the hex gear about 1/8 in. and kept popping off. What a job! Anyway, the replacement of the broken part has been added to the many things I mean to discuss with Airstream factory people who are supposed to be attending the B-van rally in Hilliard, OH, later this month. I feel very strongly that this part should be made of metal, not plastic! My van has been in one shop or another (Airstream or Dodge) for a total of 28 days so far! I'm not exactly a happy camper!

On the other hand, if I ever get all the problems worked out, I know I'll just love it. It's a giant step backward from the luxury of the Classic trailer, but it's well worth relearning my old camping habits in order to have the convenience of only one vehicle to manage. I'm glad to see we're finally hearing from more Airstream Interstate owners on this forum.

Carolyn
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Old 05-04-2007, 08:27 PM   #13
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Carolyn,

The maintenance schedule is in place so that you actually 'use' the appliances every so often. Generators need to be 'exercised' as stated, but be sure that you run it with a load, such as your roof air conditioner or microwave. This will also give the generator section, not just the motor a good work-out. LP generators don't really use that much fuel for the exercising routine.

A & E (Dometic) has been gradually replacing most or their running parts like gears with nylon or plastic lately. I have had a number of electric awning failures that were caused by drive gear cracks. It required replacing the entire motor drive, so in trying to save a couple of bucke by using cheaper parts, they are setting themselves up for much higher warranty replacement costs. I don't get it?

Your broken gear should be covered under warrantyand hopefully thay will fix it for you at the rally.

Enjoy your Interstate. My Sprinter has 75,000 miles on it and is doing great! I'm sure yours will also.
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Old 05-05-2007, 08:54 PM   #14
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Things like awnings (probably Fiamma), generators (Onan) refrigerators (Dometic), etc. are common with many RVs. You cannot fault Airstream for failures of those items. And, of course, the Sprinter itself is not an Airstream fault if something goes wrong. If your upholstery, fit and finishes and cabinets fail you can fault Airstream.

It is good to exercise the generator and have confidence in its operation. It is better to know it will run than to get out on the road and have it fail or not start. Frustrating I know. I am down a half tank of propane and have only used it for two hours in a camping situation. I always try to get an electrical hookup campsite.
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