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Old 09-25-2017, 01:00 PM   #1
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2018 Tommy Bahama Interstate
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Cool Our Journey Begins - 2018 AI TB Lounge

Apologies upfront for the long post. I tend to do this with all my initial threads as I join a forum. Just to give some background as to how I got here. In this case, I am going in all backwards into RV life… instead of researching the parks, facilities, things to know before you get an RV, etc… We just went and got one and now need to learn about it…

Never been one to camp but when I have done it, I really do not mind roughing it out. The idea of going out and seeing everything the USA and Canada has to offer has always been in my bucket list.

I had been looking at a Vistabule teardrop as a way to start small and see how things worked out. Well, my wife's idea of roughing it is staying at a hotel... so as much as I wanted that sweet looking Vistabule, it was a no-go with my wife.

I was not about to get a large towing vehicle to then get a large trailer... to me that was too much work and I worried about having to park, deal with the risks of pulling a trailer, balancing loads, etc. I know that there are things like a weight distribution hitch and sway control solutions to minimize the risk, but that was just not what I wanted. A small teardrop, I felt comfortable with... anything larger for towing, not so much...

So I started looking at what was the most effective, size wise, motor home that would provide some of the comforts that my wife would buy into, without scaring me to death driving it. Enter the Class B motorhomes. Long story longer... looked, did my spreadsheets, looked some more, YouTube videos, websites, etc. And narrowed everything down to something built on the Mercedes Sprinter. Selection came down to the Airstream and the Roadtrek. Roadtrek got eliminated after being able to see them side to side with the Airstream and not liking the interior build quality on the Roadtrek as well as the lack of safety features that were included in the Airstream. I mean, if I was seeing this on a new unit, what can I expect from the Roadtrek years down the line?? And I really liked their ETrek unit... but could not, for the life of me, buy it with so many issues that I saw and the lack of the security features.

Initially I was set on getting a 4x4 (and in the back of my mind, still wish I did) but came down to my senses that I was not going to go out that far into the unknown to need it... That and mixed feedback on harsher ride/softer ride (depending on the thread I read) that air ride was better, etc… still… I still have the feeling that I should have gone with 4x4… this one I might regret.

Also, initially, I wanted the normal unit and not have to waste money in any special edition version… enters the wife… she goes into a Tommy Bahama at the local dealer (Tampa RV) and falls in love with the darker tan seats, the matte cabinetry, and all the small details the TB has… on a purchase like this… best to get what the wife wants. Happy wife, happy life and all that.

We should get our Interstate in a month or two… as there was not one available (after we back out of buying a ’18 pre-owned unit with 3600 miles & without air-ride).

This is what we got: 2018 Airstream Interstate 3500 Lounge EXT Tommy Bahama w/ARS – US$149K purchased from TampaRV ( http://www.rvone.com/ )

So now I want to be ready for when it gets here…

1. What are the must-do mods (besides diesel and miles )?

2. Solar System Upgrades?
  • I already read that the first thing I should do is to get a decent solar controller: From this thread http://www.airforums.com/forums/f240...de-170658.html -
  • Victron BlueSolar 100/30 MPPT Charge Controller - 30 Amps / 100 Volts http://amzn.to/2ud3Bho $201.45
  • Victron VE.Direct Bluetooth Dongle http://amzn.to/2uOgKkF $59.90
  • Because I just got into this immense debt to acquire this AI... I can't afford switch over to full lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries and a trip to Lew... so I will follow the humble approach of doing the swap for Lifeline 4CT batteries in the stock location. And later add a second tray (will order that in advanced since these seem to be backordered from Airstream) and additional batteries to double the capacity.
  • Should I also look at a larger inverter now or wait for when I go with LiFePO4 batteries?? If I do it now, should I go with 2500 or 3500 watts? The plan is to be able to run the A/C for a few hours...

3. Chassis protection? Should I be going under and coating everything with paint or anti-rust coating?

4. Read several threads of broken headlights… will get the front cover with 3M clear protection film.

5. Plan to make the front seats work as two additional beds for when the kids come with us... using a similar setup as to what Roadtrek did or just wait for a similar solution that is coming from Airstream (I think I read or watched somewhere that they were coming out with something similar...)... or just make my own.

6. Memory foam top for the bed...can't be comfy with all the different contours the seats have. But then, how the heck do I put it away. These memory foam tops are super compact until you open them the first time

7. Lots of threads on what gadgets to buy for the kitchen... reading those.

What else?
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Old 09-25-2017, 01:29 PM   #2
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Re question #3, Fluid Film seems to have rendered every other kind of chassis protection obsolete. It's about the only treatment used these days here in Vermont.

That said, I haven't applied it to my '17 Lounge. With so much equipment hanging underneath, I simply will not ever expose this vehicle to salted roads.

Re question #1, I would prioritize eliminating parasitic electrical drain. An inside series-wired switch for the LPG valve should have been original equipment, and as you can see in another thread I'm chasing a drain apparently from the Fusion unit that will kill your chassis battery within days.

Good luck with the purchase. No doubt you and you wife will enjoy it.
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Old 09-25-2017, 02:47 PM   #3
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You've obviously done more homework pre-purchase than most people ever do post-purchase.


It sounds to me like you're on the right track and whatever else may need to be considered is fairly minor at this point. Once you get a feel for how you intend to use your Interstate longer term, then you can cross those bridges when you come to them (lithium, etc.)
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Old 09-25-2017, 03:57 PM   #4
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Re memory foam topper, you are right they do take up lots of space. You said you were a camper, so you might want to test out some of the camping pads to see if they work for you. We used 3 of the thermarest z fold pads for 3 years and thought they were OK. Finally we decided to convert our lounge to twin beds (still a work in progress). Well post description and photos when were finished.
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Old 09-25-2017, 04:07 PM   #5
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One more thing: new dually tire valves. Checking and airing up the duallys is a PITA. Heres a link:
http://yourtireshopsupply.com/produc...yvalve-dl1spal

Im assuming the 2018 still has the Alcoa aluminum wheels.
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Old 09-25-2017, 04:24 PM   #6
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2018 Tommy Bahama Interstate
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lineolated View Post
One more thing: new dually tire valves. Checking and airing up the duallys is a PITA. Here’s a link:
http://yourtireshopsupply.com/produc...yvalve-dl1spal

I’m assuming the 2018 still has the Alcoa aluminum wheels.
Added to the list!

Edit, yes, still has the Alcoa wheels.
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Old 09-25-2017, 05:31 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lineolated View Post
One more thing: new dually tire valves. Checking and airing up the duallys is a PITA. Heres a link:
http://yourtireshopsupply.com/produc...yvalve-dl1spal

Im assuming the 2018 still has the Alcoa aluminum wheels.
Ditto on the Dually Valves
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Old 09-25-2017, 07:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wachuko View Post

What else?
Binge read this thread:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f240...ng-100347.html

I apologize in advance for the headache....
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Old 09-25-2017, 07:38 PM   #9
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Welcome aboard. I hope you get a lot of use out of your new van.

You didn't go wrong with the air suspension. Given your wife's limited camping experience, I don't envision you camping down at the end of many washed out dirt roads. And with kids, you likely won't be venturing very far from Florida during their winter break.

As for upgrades, a new solar charge controller and 6v batteries will get you off on the right foot. Once you get a bit more experience actually using the van you'll have a better idea of where you need to expand the limits of the current systems. You seem to have realistic expectations so I don't expect you to freak out when your expensive new tow isn't optimized for exactly how you end up using it.

Since your wife sounds like she may have followed you into this purchase and isn't a super big camper, I would plan some early non camping trips to help show her the versatility of the van. Maybe you can go tailgate before a college football game, or take a weekend trip to a local casino, winery, or a charming little artsy-fartsy town.
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Old 09-25-2017, 08:12 PM   #10
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Welcome aboard. I hope you get a lot of use out of your new van.

You didn't go wrong with the air suspension. Given your wife's limited camping experience, I don't envision you camping down at the end of many washed out dirt roads. And with kids, you likely won't be venturing very far from Florida during their winter break.

As for upgrades, a new solar charge controller and 6v batteries will get you off on the right foot. Once you get a bit more experience actually using the van you'll have a better idea of where you need to expand the limits of the current systems. You seem to have realistic expectations so I don't expect you to freak out when your expensive new tow isn't optimized for exactly how you end up using it.

Since your wife sounds like she may have followed you into this purchase and isn't a super big camper, I would plan some early non camping trips to help show her the versatility of the van. Maybe you can go tailgate before a college football game, or take a weekend trip to a local casino, winery, or a charming little artsy-fartsy town.
You'll also find you can go places in the AI that you can't go in a larger RV such as the Blue Ridge Parkway or Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. Many of our state and national parks were built before there were Class "A" pushers with slide outs running around so the spaces tend to be tight and many parks restrict larger units (Big Sur in California comes to mind). Not a problem with your AI.
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Old 09-26-2017, 03:00 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by FlyFishinRVr View Post
Binge read this thread:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f240...ng-100347.html

I apologize in advance for the headache....
One of the first threads that I subscribed to when I got to this forum
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Old 09-26-2017, 03:07 AM   #12
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You'll also find you can go places in the AI that you can't go in a larger RV such as the Blue Ridge Parkway or Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. Many of our state and national parks were built before there were Class "A" pushers with slide outs running around so the spaces tend to be tight and many parks restrict larger units (Big Sur in California comes to mind). Not a problem with your AI.
This is the main reason I went with a class B. The test drive was great. It felt great on the highway as well as when we went through smaller roads. How it turns, ease of parking, etc. did not feel intimidated at all driving it.

And the suggestion of finding a spot/parking where the rear of the AI can overhang, to keep it from sticking out so much, was great.
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Old 09-26-2017, 03:13 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by LB_3 View Post
Welcome aboard. I hope you get a lot of use out of your new van.
...

Since your wife sounds like she may have followed you into this purchase and isn't a super big camper, I would plan some early non camping trips to help show her the versatility of the van. Maybe you can go tailgate before a college football game, or take a weekend trip to a local casino, winery, or a charming little artsy-fartsy town.
That is the initial plan!! Savanah, Georgia then New Orleans, will give it sometime to recover and also hit the Keys... and looking at some of the state parks as well. That should give us a feel for how to pack, if it makes sense to add one of those ARB Coolers to expand food carrying capacity... Then we can plan longer trips.
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Old 09-26-2017, 03:18 AM   #14
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Further down the road I want to also get a hitch trailer to carry my Triumph Thruxton motorcycle... and that might get replaced by a two seater scooter ... but no plans to add that for now as I do not want the hassle of having to unload it just to open the rear doors.

And I don't want to pull a trailer...that was the whole idea of buying this rig.
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