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Old 06-26-2013, 08:30 AM   #1
Rivet Master
1974 Argosy 20
2014 20' Flying Cloud
Kooskia , Idaho
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 4,591
2014 Flying Cloud 'Bambi' first report

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!

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Old 06-26-2013, 02:08 PM   #2
DKB_SATX's Avatar

2017 26' Flying Cloud
1976 Argosy 28
Alamo Heights , Texas
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 6,561
Images: 1
Blog Entries: 7
It's nice that you're enjoying it so, and if YOU haven't found any serious problems with it after the fine-toothed comb treatment, it's probably put together pretty well.

— David

Zero Gravitas — 2017 Flying Cloud 26U | Il Progetto — 1976 Argosy 28 Center Bath | WBCCI# 15566

He has all of the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire. — Sir Winston Churchill
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Old 06-28-2013, 09:10 AM   #3
2 Rivet Member
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2011 20' Flying Cloud
Beaumont , Texas
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 78
Nice review, shows your experience.
I have the same AS, about 2010. Couple notes you may check:
The main problem was back flow preventer on the black water flush. It is a poorly made plastics part that leaked flush water in the trailer. I replaced it with an elbow. You can find it with some difficulty close to the flush water inlet.
Subwoofer is hardwired and takes some juice even when the battery is on storage.
When I take off the front of the radio it does not take any juice.
Otherwise all minor repairs, I made over 40k MI in mine and it is great. Also, I changed the wheels to 16" rims and light truck tires, this may be the most important change I made.
Good luck with yours!
Bo Kral
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Old 08-14-2013, 06:54 PM   #4
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2014 16' Sport
Bexley , Ohio
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 38
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Just pick up my 2014 16' Bambi Sport last week. Mostly fine build quality with a few exceptions. The shower looks like it was caulked by a guy doing his first job. Silicone caulk smeared on the aluminium and on the fiberglass. Very hard to clean off the fiberglass. Several screws inside the shower are either in too deeply or not deep enough. One was pulling out enough that I had to screw it back in and found it would not hold. One screw is at such an angle it has damaged the surround. The radio is hard to turn off and controls are very small. The jack point for one side of the trailer is directly above the sewer drain pipe and impossible to get to. The cheap microwave must be a $60 Wall-Mart version at best. One power outlet is not on straight by about 1/2". The refrigerator compartment fan runs all the time, even when the unit is turned off. The interior lights are not LED's and are very harsh. Airstream cheaped out and does not have rock guards on the front, can't even buy them. I know the Bambi is not the top of the line unit but for $40K I feel they could do better. I knew about the rock guards but thought I could add them myself. The interior doors and fittings are all very well made. I think some better quality control is needed to catch these bothersome problems.
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Old 08-14-2013, 08:38 PM   #5
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2012 20' Flying Cloud
La Habra , California
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 879
Images: 3
We have a 2012 20 and please share what you have in mind regarding the refrigerator fan. Ours was guilt in very late 2012 model year and is OK, I'm not very impressed with build quality. We have uaws ours quite a bit however and are happy campers. We boon dock often as well and this summer we had a solar panel installed. We are very happy with it and didn't have any power issues in 10 days in the June Lake loop.
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Old 07-08-2015, 11:54 AM   #6
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2014 16' Sport
Vancouver , British Columbia
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 1
We have a 16' Bambi and just had our dealer install rock guards. It was a bit of a wait for the parts to come in.
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Old 07-16-2015, 05:03 AM   #7
'15 Flying Loud 20' Bambi
renderit's Avatar
2014 16' Sport
small city outside a big one , south of some, north of some
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 194
Just did a 10 day in our 2015 20'. The quality is higher than the 2014 16' we had but far from perfect.

Blackwater level does not work. We are going to try the Calgon treatment.

Nothing is level with anything else so we level from the table. Floor is humped left to right and front to back. I had to remove, plug and reattach the "drunken level" thermostat that an 8 year old could tell was off level (over 7 degrees!). Actually level seems to be a problem at the mothership. They need to require templates or something as NOTHING is even close. Speakers, heater vents, seats, etc are all off to the eye. You hold a level on them and you can't find the bubble.

NO laminate edges are done properly, most are burned and VERY sharp edged. All long edges have router slips on them which leaves a sharp "blade" in that spot. The burning comes from dirty rollers on the bit. Wears right through the color on the laminate. They are not setting the bit properly anyway, I'd just as soon they hand sanded the edge or left it rather than doing it wrong.

Refrigerator does not stay lit on gas. We may have fixed this but not sure.

Plug covers everywhere keep falling out. (Screw plugs both wood and plastic)

It would be a nice touch if the factory would have vacuumed the dust and metal shavings so they didn't cut me.

The factory installed reading lights and magazine rack on the end we prefer to have our feet so we could watch the tv from the bed instead of putting in a second. This is a personal preference thing so I don't hold it against them but the magazine rack was placed where it would be in my face if I slept that way.

Nothing here is a showstopper. It is just somewhat irritating that you have to pay so much for these and they can't do a better job. These are maybe 1/100 as complex as a car, cost more, and are built "good enough". Thanks to those willing to accept this I guess it's the new norm. We love the unit, the layout etc. and hope to have it for a long time despite these minor things.
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Old 07-16-2015, 07:06 AM   #8
'15 Flying Loud 20' Bambi
renderit's Avatar
2014 16' Sport
small city outside a big one , south of some, north of some
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 194
Some other items:

Door latch plate for bathroom- the screws to attach it poke out the bathroom wall.

AC very noisy, but it turns off which is a blessing/curse over the 16'. Blessing that you occasionally (very occasionally) get a noise respite, a curse in that it can jar you awake. It works very well though!

The toolbox light keeps getting jarred on. You see it from inside at night in the gap on the side of the sink cabinet.

Lots of wires and valves etc. in the toolbox which should have been covered.

The accordion divider would be worthless if you need the AC or heat. We don't plan on using it so no biggie.

The TV hold down latch is way too tight from the factory on both units. Easily fixed with a thinner rubber stop(s). But it takes a while to figure out which ones.

Closet is just barely wide enough for shirts. You are not going to use a door hanger system on these where you could on the 16.

Toilet is great for giants with no nards. The rest of us need some sort of step if you want your feet to touch the floor and a long bowl would be better. The sprayer only hits the back of the bowl, you need to clean it frequently.

There are so many pillows you can't find the bed! We leave half at home. Keep the big ones in there to pad your back if you want to watch tv.

The propane tank cover is not notched deep enough for the umbilical and emergency brake to pass through without getting cut. I am going to build standoffs.
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Old 07-16-2015, 07:20 AM   #9
'15 Flying Loud 20' Bambi
renderit's Avatar
2014 16' Sport
small city outside a big one , south of some, north of some
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 194
Now the things we love:

Frame as mentioned above. Heavy duty. Confidence inspiring. Awesome.

Outside bodywork is excellent.

Huge propane tanks.

Dual batteries came on it.

Rock guards hinged the way they should be.

Counter space! Probably the primary thing we like. The kitchen is fantastic! We have the oven and take a nice little LG Stainless Steel microwave we store in the shower while moving.

Huge fridge.

Bed I can sleep in fine. Same size as the 16 but with fewer obstructions.

Tons of storage. The underbed is almost too much. You could lose people in there! Lots of nooks and crannies in it for camp stoves, griddles, fishing gear, etc. (the door hinges are easy to knock off though, you get used to putting them back on quick).

Love the dirty storage bumper.

Windows are fabulous.

Unlike the 16' the screen door is very high quality and actually works with no gaps.

Great bathroom. Love the shower. It is VERY usable though we usually use campground facilities.

Love having a bathroom sink. The drain sticks up a bit, but works great.

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