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Old 03-30-2016, 02:40 PM   #1
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La Canada , California
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Experience with Airstream Lounge as a Travel Vehicle.

Hello,

I have been thinking of picking up the Airstream Interstate Lounge. I have been trying to find user review on youtube (which seems like none exists) and reading a lot of stuff in the forum. We are a family of 6 with my kids age ranging from 2 yrs to 9 yrs of age. The reason for the Interstate would be as follow:

1) Tow race car to track and have a place to hang out or overnight in. (5-10 x a year)
2) Camping once or twice a year with family.
3) Any drive longer than 1 hour (Las Vegas, San Diego, Palm Springs, Mammoth) (2-3x a year)

One or two of the trips that we take yearly is to Mammoth during winter. That is a 5 hour drive from S. Cal. I wanted to utilize the Lounge as a travel vehicle, but the more I learn in this forum it may look like it's not a good idea to have the car parked outside in freezing temps for 2-3 nights.

So the questions are:
- Can I drive the vehicle in snow if I get the VB Air model and not 4x4 OR is 4x4 a must in snow?
- Can I leave car with water for 2/3 nights?
- If no water what can I expect as a problem if I leave the vehicle outside for 2/3 nights without any liquid in there?
- What other prep would I need to do in order for the vehicle to survive freezing temps for 2/3 nights? (10F is usually the coldest it'll get in mammoth)
- How much more work/preparation would it involve?

I am trying to see how easy and realistic it would be for me to use this vehicle. Am not retired and still run a company full time and having 4 little ones there is no down time for me. Things have to be easy for us or we won't use it just because due to lack of time/efficiency. Lastly I see us using this vehicle maybe 10-15 times a year and having our parents/siblings also be able to utilize the vehicle couple of times a year. For some more experienced people is it worth having an Airstream to utilize for my needs mentioned above or does the vehicle just end up sitting collecting dust?

Thanks!!!
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Old 03-30-2016, 03:21 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chaknchngo View Post
1) Tow race car to track and have a place to hang out or overnight in. (5-10 x a year)
An Interstate has a maximum towing capacity of 5000 pounds, but only if the van itself doesn't exceed 10,250 pounds (GVWR is 11,030 pounds, GCWR is 15,250 pounds). I tow a Honda Fit hatchback (GVWR 3500 pounds), and when I crossed the continental divide at 7280 feet I was still getting 15.3mpg after climbing over a mile in elevation from that day's starting point. I don't think you'll have much trouble towing a racecar.
Quote:
2) Camping once or twice a year with family.
Finding a place for everyone to sleep can be a problem unless you like piling together like puppies in one bed.
Quote:
3) Any drive longer than 1 hour (Las Vegas, San Diego, Palm Springs, Mammoth) (2-3x a year)
The longest I've spent behind the wheel in one day was fourteen hours, and the driver's seat was still just as comfortable in hour fourteen as it was in hour one. Driver ergonomics are excellent.
Quote:
the more I learn in this forum it may look like it's not a good idea to have the car parked outside in freezing temps for 2-3 nights.
I've been camping in my Interstate in below-freezing temperatures, and even when not camping it's parked outside year-round. If you're expecting below-freezing temperatures then winterizing the van is a must same as with any RV, but it's still perfectly usable as a van while it's winterized.
Quote:
Can I drive the vehicle in snow if I get the VB Air model and not 4x4 OR is 4x4 a must in snow?
Can't answer that as I've never driven in snowy or icing conditions in mine.
Quote:
Can I leave car with water for 2/3 nights?
Not in freezing conditions. Even if you run the furnace overnight, the tanks are under the floor and will freeze, as will the macerator pump. If you're hooked up to shore power (plugged in) then you can use the tank heaters as well as the furnace, and you only have to remember that the macerator pump is frozen and you can't dump the tanks until it thaws.
Quote:
If no water what can I expect as a problem if I leave the vehicle outside for 2/3 nights without any liquid in there?
As long as it's winterized you can leave it outside all winter if you have to.
Quote:
What other prep would I need to do in order for the vehicle to survive freezing temps for 2/3 nights? (10F is usually the coldest it'll get in mammoth)
Winterizing, as previously stated. Fill the diesel tank with #1 (winter blend) diesel to prevent gelling of the fuel. Don't start the engine until the glow plug light goes off, because the glow plug circuit also powers the DEF heater (DEF will freeze to a slush by 10F, but doesn't expand when it freezes, so all you have to do it melt it and you're good to go).
Quote:
I am trying to see how easy and realistic it would be for me to use this vehicle. Am not retired and still run a company full time and having 4 little ones there is no down time for me. Things have to be easy for us or we won't use it just because due to lack of time/efficiency. Lastly I see us using this vehicle maybe 10-15 times a year and having our parents/siblings also be able to utilize the vehicle couple of times a year.
Remember, it's not just a motorhome, it's also a van. You can use it as basic transportation around town as well as cross-country, and driving one is pleasant enough that you'll want to find excuses to use it.
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Old 03-30-2016, 04:56 PM   #3
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For 6 occupants, I can't think of a better roadtrip vehicle than a sprinter Class B RV. It is not big enough to sleep 6 comfortably though so I would think of it as a comfortable way to get the family from home to the condo/hotel. If you are into racing, you are good with tools and mechanical systems so you are way ahead of most of us. However, you really have to put in some time and effort to get to know all the systems and nuances of these vehicles. Not doing so will guarantee future damage with expensive repairs.
The extended length can occasionally restrict your parking options in inner cities, resort and beach areas. I always call ahead and ask and they will usually be more than happy to help you find a suitable parking spot. Good luck with your decision!
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Old 03-30-2016, 05:31 PM   #4
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Thanks for your inputs. As far as sleeping we would only utilize the vehicle for sleeping when we are camping. We would still pitch a tent and have the kids sleep inside the Lounge and the wife and I inside the tent or visa versa. We still enjoy the experience of tent camping.

As far as winterizing, is it just following the manual or is there more to it? This is what i've seen https://www.airstream.com/wp-content...terization.pdf.

Also has anybody have any experience in paying the storage fee at the airstream dealers where they store + clean/take care of your Airstream? I think Airstream of Los Angeles offers a "VIP" service that does that.

Thanks again!
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Old 03-30-2016, 06:26 PM   #5
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Good info above. Before letting parents/sibs take off in it on their own, I'd recommend having them take a trip w/ you first so they can learn all of the idiosyncrasies of operating the RV.
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Old 03-30-2016, 06:55 PM   #6
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Thanks for the all info guys.
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Old 03-30-2016, 09:16 PM   #7
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Re: snow. My Ext did fine in snow, I carry cables with me just in case but never needed them. I know sometimes they require chains on in CA so low profile may be worth putting in the back. Bottom line is you have dual rear wheels and 10k GVW so if roads are open you'll be fine.

Also: not sure weight of your car hauler (with tools, fuel, welder, generator, etc) I've pushed the 5,000 lbs tow limit multiple times. Your not going to go up the mountain at 75 mph loaded (found myself in truck Kane at 45-50 mph more than once) but maintained 15.5 - 17 mpg with a load. Click image for larger version

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Mike
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Old 03-31-2016, 07:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chaknchngo View Post
Thanks for your inputs. As far as sleeping we would only utilize the vehicle for sleeping when we are camping. We would still pitch a tent and have the kids sleep inside the Lounge and the wife and I inside the tent or visa versa. We still enjoy the experience of tent camping.

As far as winterizing, is it just following the manual or is there more to it? This is what i've seen https://www.airstream.com/wp-content...terization.pdf.

Also has anybody have any experience in paying the storage fee at the airstream dealers where they store + clean/take care of your Airstream? I think Airstream of Los Angeles offers a "VIP" service that does that.

Thanks again!
For winterizing, there are several variations the theme (numerous threads on this forum). On the water supply system, some folks pump RV antifreeze through plumbing and others blow pipes out with air compressor(that's what I did and it was easy). Using antifreeze causes an aftertaste in the water and the system has to be flushed for quite awhile afterwards when de winterizing. There are two sets of low point drains that have to be opened to drain lines completely. I disconnected the line to the water pump to help empty it. Also, the hot water bypass valve needs to be opened and the hot water tank drained when blowing out the lines.
For the black and grey tanks, I emptied and then filled with a few gallons of antifreeze. Then I ran the macerator pump for a few seconds to fill it with antifreeze. I'm sure I forgot to mention something so be sure to read some other threads on this subject if you end up buying an Interstate.
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Old 04-01-2016, 08:43 PM   #9
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We use our lounge for competitive sports with the kiddos, road trips and camping. It does well in the snow. We just took it to Colorado for a ski trip and the traction was fine. I would say better than most vehicles, but maybe not quite as good as 4 wheel drive. Our only issue was going up an icy steep driveway. As far as leaving the van in the cold, we emptied all the tanks before we hit the Rockies since we had rented a cabin.

We often sleep in the van during trips. We can fit 2 adults and a child on the bed and tuck one kid in a sleeping bag on the floor.

We have had ours for less than a year and have put 10,000 miles on it already.
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Old 04-15-2016, 10:37 AM   #10
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All what Protagonist said.

Here's my perspective from a motorsport point of view.

I tow my track car to events in the northeast, mainly at Watkins Glen. Typically 8-10 events, totaling about 16-20 towing segments.

The combined load of my trailer (trailex), car (track prepped e36 M3), wheels, tools and fuel is close to 4400 lbs. When I take my e90 M3 to the track tow load goes up by 600lbs.

The interstate will have no problem towing at a modest pace of 65-70 mph while returning a consumption level of 13-15 mpg. On some really steep grades a lower speed must be expected. The 8 mile climb on I80W in the poconos drops us down to 50-55 mph for example.

If you tow, get an transmssion oil cooler.
Get a scan gauge to measure you overall vehicle engine load.
Use the manumatic to upshift and downshift .

In the paddock the interstate makes an excellent, comfortable and clean haven from the track environment. My wife will often lay down to relax between her driving sessions. I have used the front lounge area for student debriefs. Meals is like camping out.

Since we started using the interstate, we have not used a hotel near the track in 3 years. We stay at local campground and thus combine our love of track driving with camping.

For the annual 6 Hours Of The Glen race, we camp inside the track confines. Usually its my wife, daughter (12yo) and I and the Airstream is perfect for us three. Often we have friends drop by and we can host 2 friends in the front lounge area while the kid is in the back.

In late November 2014 I took the Airstream to Lime Rock Park to attend an American Endurance Racing event as a driver of a 4 driver team. At night the temps in the paddock got down to 17*. I ran out of propane for the heater the first night (that's when I discovered that my propane gas level indicator was defective - it read full) and was reasonably comfortable the second night bundled up under heavy blankets. I had no water for the bath room as the unit was winterized and went old school with some empty water bottles.

In 2014 we took a 42 day, 8600 mile road trip with 4 people and for one week we had 5. For when we go on extended trips, with the possibility of having extra guests, we tow a tear drop trailer for more sleeping and refrigiration space.With a lot of people, you have to get creative and tolerant with packing, personal space and activity coordination. The interior can get cluttered very quickly.

To date the Interstate has worked very well for us and has exceeded our expectations as a mulitpurpose vehicle.
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Old 04-15-2016, 10:47 AM   #11
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Here's some pix:

Click image for larger version

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Cooking in the rainy paddock at Watkins Glen
Click image for larger version

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Infield Camping for the 6 Hours Of The Glen Race
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Old 04-15-2016, 11:27 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiato View Post
All what Protagonist said.

Here's my perspective from a motorsport point of view.

I tow my track car to events in the northeast, mainly at Watkins Glen. Typically 8-10 events, totaling about 16-20 towing segments.

The combined load of my trailer (trailex), car (track prepped e36 M3), wheels, tools and fuel is close to 4400 lbs. When I take my e90 M3 to the track tow load goes up by 600lbs.

The interstate will have no problem towing at a modest pace of 65-70 mph while returning a consumption level of 13-15 mpg. On some really steep grades a lower speed must be expected. The 8 mile climb on I80W in the poconos drops us down to 50-55 mph for example.

If you tow, get an transmssion oil cooler.
Get a scan gauge to measure you overall vehicle engine load.
Use the manumatic to upshift and downshift .

In the paddock the interstate makes an excellent, comfortable and clean haven from the track environment. My wife will often lay down to relax between her driving sessions. I have used the front lounge area for student debriefs. Meals is like camping out.

Since we started using the interstate, we have not used a hotel near the track in 3 years. We stay at local campground and thus combine our love of track driving with camping.

For the annual 6 Hours Of The Glen race, we camp inside the track confines. Usually its my wife, daughter (12yo) and I and the Airstream is perfect for us three. Often we have friends drop by and we can host 2 friends in the front lounge area while the kid is in the back.

In late November 2014 I took the Airstream to Lime Rock Park to attend an American Endurance Racing event as a driver of a 4 driver team. At night the temps in the paddock got down to 17*. I ran out of propane for the heater the first night (that's when I discovered that my propane gas level indicator was defective - it read full) and was reasonably comfortable the second night bundled up under heavy blankets. I had no water for the bath room as the unit was winterized and went old school with some empty water.

To date the Interstate has worked very well for us and has exceeded our expectations as a mulitpurpose vehicle.

It would have been perfect to have had an AI when my wife and I were doing track events. I enticed one of my bosses to do track events back in the nineties. He had a class A diesel pusher and when he took it to an event, it was heaven. Especially those early spring events when it can be rainy and cool.


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Old 04-16-2016, 12:34 AM   #13
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Thanks for all the feedback! I just ordered one should take delivery in couple of weeks. Also ordered the Futura trailers which should be coming in June. The question now is towing. Thanks for all the input guys.
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Old 04-18-2016, 07:15 AM   #14
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It would have been perfect to have had an AI when my wife and I were doing track events. I enticed one of my bosses to do track events back in the nineties. He had a class A diesel pusher and when he took it to an event, it was heaven. Especially those early spring events when it can be rainy and cool.


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Jerry,

The van has been amazing for track events. Early last season the first two events at the Glen were miserable. Rain. Wind. Temps in the mid to high 30's. Damp and cold and the only escape was the airstream.
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