Report on 2014 Flying Cloud 20'
In April I ordered a new 20' Flying Cloud 20' from Airstream Adventure NW, Boise branch.
First, the experience there was fine. I made one real visit to the dealership, made it clear that I was not a rookie at Airstreams (I have owned about 15 in the last 35 years) but that this would be my first brand new one. I have always owned vintage units. After the initial visit all negotiations were via email with some phone calls, but mostly email. The final deal was 20% off MSRP, plus full delivery cost. I am quite happy with the deal and the way I was treated with courtesy and honesty. They had one already on a dealer order, but it had not been built yet and so they could change the specifications up to the date of factory production. I wanted: Ultraleather, white countertops, and a conventional oven, as well as the inverter option. It was probably one of the first of the 2014's off the line, and has the new self closing drawers with full extension and the 1000 watt sine wave inverter.
I took delivery on June 14 and after the 2 hours of walk through and hitch up (using my old Reese hitch, the Andersen needs different frame brackets) and towed it home the 250 miles that evening. It tows fine, just like all other Airstreams I have owned. The old Reese works well, just not a solid a ride as the Andersen I have been using for the past year with my Argosy 20.
This past week I have been playing with it, of a course, and thought I would give my impressions of what I see about AS quality and things they have done, and need to improve.
First, I like the new 5" full box frame that is used on this unit. I have seen some recent 19' one with a 3" frame and a channel to boot. This frame is very stout for a 20' AS.
The holding tanks are ok in capacity at over 22 gal each, but the water tank is too small, at only 23 gal total. The gray and fresh water tanks have 12 volt
electric heaters. The pipes to drain the gray tank is fully exposed making the heater a bit less than useful. The black tank is above the floor, so it needs no heat, but has the same exposed valves out in the cold.
The new steps are good and solid, if somewhat ugly vs. the vintage steps I have been used to for years. The vintage steps are somewhat flimsy and wear out, and are very difficult to repair and replace. The new ones are better overall.
The build quality is very, very good, I have only found a few errors which are minor. The unit is clean everywhere, even in the far back corners under the beds and closets. Seams line up, cabinets are well built, everything fits well and looks good, at least on my close inspection so far.
The heat pump works well and delivers a good blast of very hot air. It is very noisy. The furnace (ductless in a 20') is reasonably quiet and heats well. The thermostat is not intuitive at all and requires much study. I would like two separate ones, one for heating and one for cooling,
The TV, stereo, DVD player etc. is, like most units today, over complex and difficult to figure out. The radio, especially, is better for 18 year olds with all it's disco lights and silly things it can do. It also in not even slightly intuitive in operation, just to turn it on and off is a challenge. In addition, it is very hard to turn fully off so it does not eat battery power at the rate of 0.8 amps. Turn the store/use switch to store and back and it comes on, inside the cabinet where you can't see it and know it is eating power. I am adding a positive off switch on it.
The LED lights, everywhere including the closets are nice, but AS should use the warmer color LED's not the bright white they have chosen.
The silly side venting of the refrigerator with the loud and energy consuming fan is just dumb. Bring back the full roof venting. I have already started modifications on that venting system to make it quieter and use less power, as I almost exclusively boondocks camp.
The door locks are still cheap RV quality and need improvement. There is only a 2 pin tumbler on them both the main one and the deadbolt.
The unit is simply covered with stickers inside and outside telling you that if you use it, you will die. Lawyer stickers I call them. I have removed about 30 so far, from the "Thor, America's RV value" (with American flag) to a big ugly green sticker telling everyone how "Green" the unit is, to tire pressure labels to Washington and Oregon certification stickers that it meets some code, (I live in Idaho) to RVIA association stickers and on and on. My unit now looks clean. I put the necessary ones inside on the back of a magazine rack by the entry door where they can be found but are not out in the hot sun fading and looking ugly in a few years. My car does not have stickers all over it (only the ugly ones on the visors about baby seats) why should my Airstream?
Overall, it is a fine unit. The build quality is very high, and I was worried about that, due to AS expansion. I just want to have a few things done better.
I am in Glacier National Park right now, a fitting place for a new Airstream. I am a happy camper, first new AS! Yea!