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Old 03-31-2014, 12:23 AM   #1
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Just won 2012 Airstream EXT - few questions

Hi - I am SO excited. We just were the high bidders for a neat Airstream Interstate Extended version. I was wondering what the best way is to get internet while we are on the road driving. I noticed people talking about the TV's that come with the 2012, something about BlueRay/Samsung, etc. Are the tv's ok that come with the 2012, or do they need to be upgraded? I am now researching the Viper vs Drone alarm system! Trying to think of everything. Any advice would be appreciated. Is there any sory of mattress cover people commonly use when the bed is folded out? Any special sheets?
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Old 03-31-2014, 12:30 AM   #2
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Congratulations! I work close by in Belmont, and it is great to find another local Airstream owner.

No advice for your questions, we still depend on the flaky wifi at the rv parks or cell service, or...just enjoy where we are without the Interwebs.
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Old 03-31-2014, 06:14 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poodlelover View Post
Hi - I am SO excited. We just were the high bidders for a neat Airstream Interstate Extended version. I was wondering what the best way is to get internet while we are on the road driving.
While driving, try a Wilson cradle booster and external antenna. Cradle booster is an amplifier that plugs into your cigarette lighter outlet, so called because it sits on the dash and holds a Verizon jetpack. I think there are smartphone boosters as well.
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I noticed people talking about the TV's that come with the 2012, something about BlueRay/Samsung, etc. Are the tv's ok that come with the 2012, or do they need to be upgraded?
That's a matter of personal opinion. The ones with a built-in DVD player can't handle Blu-Ray disks, but that never bothered me; my collection has a lot more DVDs than Blu-Rays anyway. When I bought my Interstate, it didn't have a rear television, only the one in front, and the dealer added a rear television at no extra charge. He bought it at the local Best Buy, and got the best one of that size that was available off-the-shelf, but NOT the same model mounted in front. Since then, better televisions have come out, and I recently upgraded the rear television to an RCA 22" 1920×1080 HD with built-in DVD player. The screen is slightly larger, but vastly superior in terms of picture quality. It's the biggest one that I could get that would fit on the bracket without bumping the window glass.
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I am now researching the Viper vs Drone alarm system!
I went with Viper, but at the time I wasn't aware of the Drone system. The same night I bought my Interstate, some vile miscreant broke in and stole my Kenwood head unit (Fools. Like they could even use it…). The subcontractor that the dealer used for the repair just happened to be an authorized Viper installer, so I had them install the Viper system while they were repairing the dashboard damage and replacing the Kenwood unit.
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Trying to think of everything.
Good luck with that! If you can think of everything, you'll be the very first!
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Is there any sory of mattress cover people commonly use when the bed is folded out? Any special sheets?
I got by just fine for the first year and a half with nothing more than a lightweight double-bed-sized sleeping bag from Cabela's. My height happens to be just about perfect for using the bed; all of the pressure points on my body correspond to the thickest parts of the cushions, not the cracks between the cushions. Taller or shorter people aren't so lucky, unless they're really short and can sleep side-to-side instead of lengthwise. Why is it the ads all show the bed made up with the pillows on one side, when anyone who isn't a Munchkin has to sleep with their head toward the rear doors?

Anyway… Later I bought a 1˝" cooling-foam mattress topper that I could put sheets on; laundering a sleeping bag is a chore, so I reserve that for colder weather now, and use sheets alone in hot weather, or sheets and a blanket in milder weather. Other folk who find the bed less comfortable than I do have used a 3" or 4" memory foam mattress topper. Since your Interstate is an Extended model, queen size is just about a perfect fit; on mine, I had to get a "short queen" topper to fit the bed.
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Old 03-31-2014, 07:04 AM   #4
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

Welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us. Congratulations on your new baby. May you have many great Airstream adventures.

We most often get our internet access from a hot spot that we create with our Verizon smart phones. We also have a Wilson Range Extender for locations where the cell signal is not so great.

Many campgrounds provide wifi, but many times, it is marginal at best. the campground wifi is getting better as the demand increases. Last year we had campground owner tell us that he wasn't too concerned about providing good wifi as he felt that this "internet thing" was just a passing fad.

As to television reception, we have a 2012 23FB with the OEM Samsung 22". We are quite satisfied with it. Its antenna reception is very good. Many campgrounds have cable. We also have a 4TB external drive with several thousand movies and TV shows on it for times that we want to watch something and the is no external television reception.

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Old 04-02-2014, 01:52 AM   #5
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Thanks for all the good advice, it is really appreciated. One more question, and I'm sure this is a dumb one, but how do we tow a car? How does the car attach to the Sprinter? Where would I buy this attachment?
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Old 04-02-2014, 01:59 AM   #6
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Oh boy.
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Old 04-02-2014, 06:42 AM   #7
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Thanks for all the good advice, it is really appreciated. One more question, and I'm sure this is a dumb one, but how do we tow a car? How does the car attach to the Sprinter? Where would I buy this attachment?
Despite ggoat's exclamation of dismay— I think he already knows this response will be long and wordy— you've come to the right place. I tow my car behind my Interstate. I can't necessarily tell you everything you need to know, but I can tell you what I know, which is at least some of what you need to know.

First, you need to find out if your car is towable four-down (on its own wheels). The best source is your car's owner's manual. Check it to see if towing four-down (also known as "dinghy towing") is listed in the manual, and see what it says. Do not confuse dinghy towing with emergency towing. They're not the same thing at all; a car that's capable of being dinghy-towed may not be capable of being emergency-towed four-down. There are reasons for that, but I won't go into them; this post will be long enough as it is.

If your owner's manual doesn't say anything about dinghy towing, the next source for this info is Motorhome Magazine's annual "Guide to Dinghy Towing." Each annual issue only lists that model year's towable cars, so you have to find the issue for your car's model year. You should be able to find it online; Google "20xx Guide to Dinghy Towing" where xx is your model year. For example, my 2013 Honda Fit is towable four-down; 2014 Honda Fits are not, due to a change in the transmission. Only models that can be dinghy-towed are listed; if yours isn't listed, that generally means it can't be dinghy-towed.

If the car is not towable four-down and it's front-wheel drive, you can get a towing dolly, a two-wheeled trailer that carries the front wheels of the car. No modification to the car is needed. The weight of the car plus the weight of the dolly must be within your Interstate's towing capacity of GCWR minus actual loaded weight of the Interstate. Tongue weight of a dolly is almost always within the receiver's tongue weight capacity.

If the car is not towable four-down and it's also not a front-wheel-drive, then you'll need a car carrier trailer, that puts all four wheels of the car up on the trailer. As above, the trailer plus the car together must be within the towing capacity of your Interstate, and this time you'll have to also be concerned about tongue weight; getting the car balanced just right on the trailer to make sure the tongue weight is correct may take practice.

In all cases, it's worthwhile to load up your Interstate to full travel loading— people plus gear plus full fuel, propane, and fresh water tanks— and go to public scales to find out your actual loaded weight, which is then subtracted from 15,250 pounds to find your true towing capacity. Extended Interstates also have a reciever capacity of 500 pounds tongue weight and 5000 pounds towing weight, so if your actual weight is less than 10,250 pounds, then 5000 pounds is the maximum for car plus dolly or trailer.

Assuming that your car IS towable four-down, you'll need three things for the car. The first is towbar baseplates. These are permanently mounted, and custom-fitted to the make, model, and year of the car. Installing them typically involves removing the front bumper and front body panel, unless you're looking to tow a Jeep Wrangler where it's a simple bolt-on installation.

The second is towing lights, meeting the requirements for trailer lights in your state (except backup lights, you can't back a toad/dinghy). Three ways to do this. First is to tap into the car's own lighting, with blocking diodes having two inputs (original car electrical and umbilical from tow vehicle) and one output to the lights. Second is to drill the taillight housings and insert separate bulbs for the towing lights. Third is to use magnetic mounted temporary lights, which I personally don't like. If you've got to permanently add baseplates anyway, might as well permanently add towing lights as well.

The third requirement is supplemental brakes. I went with a permanently-installed supplemental brake system that incorporates a vacuum pump tied directly into my car's power brakes. Removable systems that mount in the driver's footwell are more common, but have to be removed before you can drive the car, but have to apply a lot of force because they don't tie into the power brake system and have to make up for it with brute force on the pedal. My permanently-installed supplemental brake system also includes a breakaway switch, so if the car is disconnected from the motorhome somehow while the vehicle is in motion, it will brake to a stop automatically. I don't know if the removable supplemental brake models have that feature.

Fourth, you need a towbar— yes, I said above you need three things, but this is for the Interstate, not the car. I use a receiver-mounted towbar that remains hooked up to the receiver; that type tends to be easier to hitch up and unhitch than the bumper-mounted A-frame towbars.

Of course, you'll also need an umbilical cable, to connect the seven-pin connector on your Interstate to a six-pin (usually) on the car. Although depending on the way you hook up the towing lights, you might only need a four-pin connector on the car. If you use magnetic-mount lights and a removable supplemental brake system, than all of your wiring might be temporary as well; otherwise the connector on the front of the car is usually mounted under the front bumper.

Depending on the supplemental brake system you use, you may also need a brake controller mounted inside the Interstate. My supplemental brake system doesn't need a brake controller; it's activated by the brake light wiring, so if the brake lights come on, so does the supplemental brake.

There are several compnies that make the necessary components for towing. The only ones that are custom-fit are the baseplates. Blue Ox and Roadmaster are the main players in that field, with the widest selection to fit your car. One caveat; the two compnaies use different connecting devices, so if you get Blue Ox baseplates you'll need a Blue Ox towbar as well, and if you get Roadmaster baseplates you'll need a Roadmaster towbar.

That's a lot of information to digest all at once, but now you know as much as I do about towing a car behind your Interstate.
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Old 04-02-2014, 01:49 PM   #8
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poodleover, Protagonist did a good job of covering all the basic information. You will see a decrease in fuel milage. You will probably see an increase in stopping distance, even WITH the supplemental braking system, depending on your speed and stopping force. We for over 20 years always had a Toad but when we downsized, we kept the Jeep Wrangler with its equipment and planned to use the Interstate a bit and see if we really needed to have a Toad.

Last fall for a weekend rally of 3 days with friends we did not leave the campground, no Toad necessary. Last fall next we were in Branson and knew we should have a car. Enterprise Rental for 4 days was about $150 so we rented. We just came back from 3 weeks to Florida and states in-between. Never really needed a separate car. Learned to drive in the city and park on the city streets. Not a big deal IF you keep your eyes open and look for end spaces. We had considered renting again from Enterprise but never really needed to on this 3 week vacation.

Would I like to drag along my Jeep behind the Interstate? Yes and No. Its a pain when maneuvering sometimes with a 24' RV and an 18' or so with tow bar behind. I have no problems getting into parking lots without the Toad and only some more time spent on vacation this summer will determine if I spend the $$$ to prepare the Interstate to pull a 4600# Toad or not.
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Old 04-02-2014, 02:07 PM   #9
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Would I like to drag along my Jeep behind the Interstate? Yes and No. Its a pain when maneuvering sometimes with a 24' RV and an 18' or so with tow bar behind.
One main reason I outfitted my car to pull it behind my Interstate is that I live along the Gulf Coast. In the event of a hurricane evacuation, I want to be able to take both vehicles, even with me as the only driver, rather than leaving either vehicle to the mercy of the storm. The reason I tow my car along with me when I go camping is twofold: (1) to get plenty of practice, before having to deal with the bumper-to-bumper madness that is a hurricane evacuation; (2) to use the car as a de facto trailer, so I can carry more stuff on my trips without having to clutter up the interior of the Interstate while en route. But, when I don't take my car along, I remove the towbar and install a cargo tray on the receiver, so I can do the same thing, storing the outdoor stuff outdoors while en route to make more room inside.

Outfitting a car to be towed is almost as expensive as buying a trailer to carry the car, and more expensive than buying a dolly, but has the advantage that I don't have to find a place to store a trailer or dolly. But the first year that I owned my Interstate, I had a daily driver that wasn't towable. I never felt that I was constrained in any way. You can rent a car from Enterprise for a LOOOOONG time for what it would cost to outfit a car for towing. So unless you're going to travel a lot, and frequently need a car to avoid having to break camp to go somewhere, you're probably better off not towing a car. Rent one when you need one.

The potential need to evacuate for a hurricane is the ONLY reason I traded in my non-towable car for a towable car and outfitted it. But having spent the money for that reason, it would be a waste not to take advantage of the capability the rest of the time, so I tow more often than I really need to. It's all good practice.

As for the fuel economy, in my case (toad's GVWR is 3500 pounds, and I have yet to load it to GVWR) even before getting a RennTech ECU tune I would get approximately the same fuel economy towing at 60mph as I would NOT towing at 70mph. So towing didn't cost me more fuel, just more time on the road. Your mileage may vary, as they say, depending on what you tow and how fast you go.
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Old 04-02-2014, 03:52 PM   #10
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As to television reception, we have a 2012 23FB with the OEM Samsung 22". We are quite satisfied with it. Its antenna reception is very good. Many campgrounds have cable. We also have a 4TB external drive with several thousand movies and TV shows on it for times that we want to watch something and the is no external television reception.

Brian[/QUOTE]

How about telling us more about your "4TB external drive and 1000+ movies and TV shows." We're off in the boonies right now with our limited supply of DVDs.
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Old 04-03-2014, 12:57 AM   #11
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What amazing informative answers, thank you! After reading how to tow a car I think I'll take the rental car suggestion. Looking forward to learning from this group
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