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Old 07-15-2012, 10:57 AM   #1
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1996 35' Land Yacht Widebody
OOLTEWAH , Tennessee
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Smile Single Female Needs Advice-please!

I am a single, disabled female in my early 60's. Used to having $ at my disposal, but, now oober broke. House is being foreclosed and I have made a decision. August I should get disability settlement (aBOUT $30k). I intend to fulltime it for a while and have always been an AS freak plus I like the idea of community. I hav been obsessing about a purchase-MH vs Trailer. I am leaning toward an approximately 1996 Land Yacht. i am scared of making a mistake because I will have a very limited income. If I buy a trailer I must buy a large tow vehicle as a daily driver. Trailers require repairs too. Any insight very much appreciated. BTW, the one I like the best is in Calif. and I am in Tn. Oh, what to do? Does anyone here with experience do inspections? They seem to be plentiful in al sstates. My concerns go like this:
1. Vehicle mechanical
2. Leaks
3. System issues; heat, HW, etc.
Neccessities already provided-
My Wish List

GENERATOR
HYDRAULIC LEVELER
SATELLITE
TAG AXLE
BANKS SYSTEM
AWNING
FANTASTIC FAN
FURNACE AND DUAL A/C
TOWING PKG. INCLUDING DOLLY
THANKS IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR INPUT
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Old 07-15-2012, 12:29 PM   #2
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First off, you DO NIT need a big rig to tow all Airstreams! Pleas do NOT make that mistake!! I tow my 2009 PanAmerica Toy Hauler with a Toyota Tundra because I have it. The PanAm is 35' long and GVWR is 11,500 pounds. With correct weight distribution hitch, you can tow your desired AS with many smaller trucks and autos. Contact Andy Thompsom of CanAm RV in London Ontario (Canada) before going ANY further! He has setup a Ford Taurus to tow a 35' AS Classic! Secondly, remember this: Airstreams are not cheap to restore or repair. The older they are, the more likely you are going to spend money on NEEDED fixes. Older AS are classy and all -- but you said, you are no longer flush with cash. Keep in touch with me, I've been feeding my two a little cash in the past few years and they are fairly new. But please call Andy, he advised me on both of my AS hitches via phone and email -- NO cost. When I went to his shop -- he fine tuned my hitch and improve the performance. Not all folks that sell hitches know what the heck they are doing.
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Old 07-15-2012, 12:40 PM   #3
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Just buy a used class c, meet lots of single women traveling and camping in them.
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Old 07-15-2012, 12:41 PM   #4
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As you don't state your limitation, I will say this: hitching/unhitching the AS is a physical effort. A motorized AS may be more suitable to your abilities.
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Old 07-15-2012, 02:49 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GunnerCoast View Post
$ at my disposal, but, now oober broke. 1996 Land Yacht.
i am scared of making a mistake My Wish List

GENERATOR not found on trailers, but very expensive to repair, $1000 not unusual bill at onan(400+ just to drop it and reinstall)
HYDRAULIC LEVELER- not needed or found on trailers, but very expensive to repair, just o-rings and seals over 100 each, you would own 4, labor to remove and install.
SATELLITE same on both but won't work on either if you park in the woods.
TAG AXLE - no longer available(from reading this forum)
BANKS SYSTEM a nice upgrade for more power, not needed with light weight trailer.
AWNING - available on both but takes at least two to do a repair
FANTASTIC FAN easy install can be found on either
FURNACE AND DUAL A/C found on both
TOWING PKG. INCLUDING DOLLY If you are willing to load and pull a trailer much easier to just pull a trailer and use trailer tower as daily ride, except when you park trailer near stores and can walk or bike.

THANKS IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR INPUT
If you don't do mechanical work, get the newest vehicle that will pull the newest trailer you can afford, keeping 50% aside for unexpected repairs. IMHO
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Old 07-15-2012, 03:08 PM   #6
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I dunno, I'd be pretty worried about making it work with 30k. Figure what, 10k for a reliable used vehicle & 15k for a trailer that won't need work, and you no longer have a cushion.

Unless anybody else has numbers to throw out there.
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Old 07-15-2012, 03:56 PM   #7
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Single Female Needs Advice-please!

Greetings GunnerCoast!

Welcome to the Forums!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GunnerCoast View Post
I am a single, disabled female in my early 60's. Used to having $ at my disposal, but, now oober broke. House is being foreclosed and I have made a decision. August I should get disability settlement (aBOUT $30k). I intend to fulltime it for a while and have always been an AS freak plus I like the idea of community. I hav been obsessing about a purchase-MH vs Trailer. I am leaning toward an approximately 1996 Land Yacht. i am scared of making a mistake because I will have a very limited income. If I buy a trailer I must buy a large tow vehicle as a daily driver. Trailers require repairs too. Any insight very much appreciated. BTW, the one I like the best is in Calif. and I am in Tn. Oh, what to do? Does anyone here with experience do inspections?

You have quite a decision to make, and it is one that many of us have had to make. Briefly, I considered a 24-foot Airstream Classic Motorhome before I found my 26-foot Overlander travel trailer. As food for thought, I will offer a few of the tings that played into my final decision:
  • Should a motorhome break down while enroute, what will you do for accommodations while it is in the shop. This thought came to me one day, and when I asked a couple of the local shops where owners of broken down motorhomes stayed, and all but one responded that they provided a free shuttle to a nearby motel.
    • When my tow vehicle broke down in 2008, Good Sam Motor Club towed my tow vehicle to a local shop and dropped my trailer at a local campground that was within walkng distance of restaurants and grocery stores. I ended up staying three nights as there was a glitch in getting the repair part for my tow vehicle.
  • Whenever you have your motorhome serviced by a mechanic, it likely at least part of the time that the mechanic will need to open the interior doghouse to access the motor. My thought was that each trip the mechanic made between motorhome and shop increased the likeiihood of grease/oil/dirt being tracked into the coach staining carpet and/or upholstery.
    • Another consideration for me, since I am not handy with motor/chassis repairs, was that I would be taking the motorhome to a shop and most likely leaving it for several days while the service is performed. When the motorhome is in the shop, the door will likely need to remain unlocked leaving your personal possessions open to theft.
  • Then, I began thinking about the need of a small car to tow behind. I didn't own one (a small, under 3,000 pound car) at the time and was not anxious to purchase anything much smaller than my Jeep Grand Wagoneer. I didn't rule the possibility out until I visited a campground and observed the contorsions that are required to get the car up on the tow dolly and properly secured . . . granted, it made a big difference in the design of the dolly as to how much trouble it caused during hitch-up. Something that I didn't have to consider in 1995 when I made my decision was that the tow doll/towed car did not require braking while attached . . . it is my understanding that it is now required to have braking either on the tow dolly or towed vehicle.
  • Longevity was my next consideration. Since the shell construction of the motorhome isn't terribly different (I was considering a "classic" model) between the trailer and motorhome, I began thinking about when the chassis wore out; and my conclusion was that since I would be hiring someone to do all chassis work that it would be quite an expense. With Airstream trailers, you can encounter several people towing Airstream trailers who are second or third generation of the same family to own the trailer. The tow vehicle for the travel trailer can be replaced with less difficulty, and on-the-road repairs are easier with a tow vehicle/trailer combination as the selection of repair centers for a light tuck or large automobile are much more plentiful than shops capable of servicing a motorhome chassis. In its life, my '64 Overlander has been towed by a 1957 Mercury Monterey, a 1970 Mercury Monterey, a 1975 Oldsmobile 98 Regency Sedan . . . . the original owners then sold the Overlander and it passed through two owners before I acquired it . . . since I acquired the coach (1995), it has been towed by a 1984 Jeep Grand Wagoneer, 1995 Chevrolet K1500 Club Cab Silverado, a 1999 GMC K2500 Suburban, and periodically a 1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible.
  • The expense for tire replacement also occurred to me. With the trailer and tow vehicle combination, I would have 8 wheels and tires to maintain. With a motorhome and dolly towed car, I would have 6 large truck tires, four automobile and two trailer tires. My research showed that it was marginally more expensive to keep tires on the motorhome combination, primarily because the ST series trailer tires need to be replaced in the fifth year of use if not worn out earlier while the motorhome's tires might last as long as 8 years if not worn out before that time.
In the end, I went with the trailer and tow vehicle because of the analysis that I had done for my situation . . . your analysis may differ. The decision has worked well for me, and when I finally settled on my ideal tow vehicle, the Suburban, I found a keeper and still own it having ordered it new . . . it is approaching 200,000 miles with no transmission or engine trouble other than timing gear and chain at 173,000 miles and a fuel pump at 185,000 miles . . . it is on its second set of Michelins (third set overall as the OEM tires just barely made it 40,000 miles) . . . my only issue was caused by an inopportune choice of one option -- four wheel drive -- it has been nothing but trouble and I have only needed it twice.

Something else that I thought of, but didn't research when I was making my purchase decision involves insurance and registration. I suspect that the overall cost for insurance may be comparable, but the cost of annual registration could vary considerably depending upon where the vehicles are registered.

You will also find volunteer inspectors are listed on the Forums. Look on the home page for a link to inspectors where you can look for an inspector near the location of the Airstream that you are considering.

I traveled solo from 1995 through 2010, and thoroughly enjoyed the experiences. Hitching a travel trailer as a solo isn't particularly difficult as there are several varieties of mirror-type devices to allow you to see ball and tongue for alignment and position . . . or there are a number of cameras that can be located on the rear bumper of the tow vehicle and the ball and hitch can then be seen on a display near the driver. With an electric tongue jack, hitching is not terribly dificult as the jack does all of the work raising and lowering the tongue . . . the trick that isn't always obvious is to use the electric jack to lift the trailer tongue and tow vehicle high enough that the spring bars need very little persuasion from the person doing the hitching. There are also several groups for solo RVers . . . the one that I am most familiar with is the Free Wheelers, an Intra-Club of Wally Caravan Club Interntional.

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin
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Old 07-15-2012, 05:53 PM   #8
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Welcome aboard GunnerCoast,

First off where in California is the trailer that needs a looking over?

Secondly a trailer does take some labor to hitch and unhitch. Not heavy or strenuous but movement none the less. Really depends on what your disability is.
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Old 07-15-2012, 06:01 PM   #9
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Folloup

I whole heartedly agree with Mr. Allen and other that have responded, so far. You need to have a cash reserve and need to think of the issues that are going to be impacted by your abilities. A 22' to 27' Safari is compact and easy to tow. The longer, the harder to maneuver and back up solo. However, if this is going to be a more "stationary" home base, a 28' to 31' AS has good space and a homelike feel. I have met several women that enjoy hitting the road and AS life. See trailerchix for some active AS women.
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Old 07-15-2012, 06:06 PM   #10
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Saint Petersburg , Florida
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GunnerCoast View Post
I am a single, disabled female in my early 60's. Used to having $ at my disposal, but, now oober broke. House is being foreclosed and I have made a decision. August I should get disability settlement (aBOUT $30k). I intend to fulltime it for a while and have always been an AS freak plus I like the idea of community. I hav been obsessing about a purchase-MH vs Trailer. I am leaning toward an approximately 1996 Land Yacht. i am scared of making a mistake because I will have a very limited income. If I buy a trailer I must buy a large tow vehicle as a daily driver. Trailers require repairs too. Any insight very much appreciated. BTW, the one I like the best is in Calif. and I am in Tn. Oh, what to do? Does anyone here with experience do inspections? They seem to be plentiful in al sstates. My concerns go like this:
1. Vehicle mechanical
2. Leaks
3. System issues; heat, HW, etc.
Neccessities already provided-
My Wish List

GENERATOR
HYDRAULIC LEVELER
SATELLITE
TAG AXLE
BANKS SYSTEM
AWNING
FANTASTIC FAN
FURNACE AND DUAL A/C
TOWING PKG. INCLUDING DOLLY
THANKS IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR INPUT
Hi Gunner,
You're going to get quite a few remarks towards AS Trailers, and AS motorhomes. Quite frankly, it's going to be a toss-up. You'll have to consider your disablity when hitching tow vehicle and trailer. As well, since AS really hasn't been in the business for motorhomes for a number of years, and haven't made the Classic MH for even longer, you're going to have to consider repairs/replacement of parts. It's a never ending cycle.
With your future $ in the pipeline, this is going to be a tough decision. Trailer, Tow vehicle, there isn't an automobile out there that can two a travel trailer, so you're looking at trucks, which involves a higher step-in. Yes, Can-Am in Canada has hitched quite a few AS trailers to autos, but since the auto really isn't rated for towing (lbs) then transmission, brakes, etc., it's a tough call.
Keep looking, SearchTempest Online Classifieds Search - All the Classifieds. One Search. will look through each and every craigslist posting closer to your home in TN. Theres are lots of fellow Airstreamers that will go inspect the AS if you're unable.
Wishing you the best of luck in your decision.
Thanks, Derek
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Old 07-15-2012, 06:33 PM   #11
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I have both AS trailer and SOB MH.

There are lots of advantage in the MH but also disadvantages.

We normally take the MH and pull a Jeep Cherokee both AS & MH are 31ft and no slide outs.

The AS has more internal space but no gray and a small black tank.

A slide out is nice but requires more air-conditioning and heat due to increased space and air loss around the seals. Majority of AS do not have slide outs.

Up keep on MH & Jeep is more expensive than P/U and trailer.

MH gets 6.5/ 7mpg pulling the Jeep, P/U gets 11/12mpg pulling the AS.

Having both and think of going full time I would probably go for the trailer since it would be the more reliable of the 2.

I would also plan to be in a warm climate in the winter no fun being snow bound and freezing pipes in the winter.

There are many good campgrounds for $400/$600 a month plus electric and propane.

Considering I pay over $250 a month in property tax that would make full timing less expensive.

There are other forums that have dedicated full-timers that could give you good advice.

You might check this one out.

RV.Net Open Roads Forum: Full-time RVing

Do ask plenty of questions of those that have been there done that.

Best of luck.

ON edit I forgot to warn you expect to pay around $2500 to set up your tow vehicle if you plan to pull one with a MH.
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Old 07-15-2012, 09:00 PM   #12
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I am responding to your post with a gut reaction so take it with a grain of salt and consider it.

I love our Airstream (it is a 2008) but owning a trailer and tow vehicle are an investment. There are things to fix and maintain on both and if you don't know how to fix things yourself, the labor is expensive. If you are on a very fixed income, I think you may be surprised by the cost of owning/maintaining a trailer.

Paying a mechanic to fix things is not cheap and things do go wrong - read some of the posts on this forum.

Just do your research before you embark and understand what costs you may encounter - either with an old AS or a new one. They both have issues.

Don't mean to be a downer - just being realistic.
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Old 07-15-2012, 10:18 PM   #13
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Fulltiming Female 60ish Checking In

I'm NOT a millionaire, but I'm not hurting for cash either. If I were in your situation I'd would NOT buy an Airstream PERIOD. Reasons: Money, stress, drama, exhaustion.
  • IMHO the classic Airstream Mohos are durable, but they are CLASSICS - which means someone with a lot of money or mechanical skills should own them. The new cutters? Well I've seen $150K ones sell for $15K. Everything negative about moho's that others have said, really applies - they are YACHTS "a yacht is a hole in the water surrounded by wood or fiberglass into which you pour MONEY"! You either have to have a toad - or at least a bike/motorcycle just to go to the store and buy groceries! Go price tires for a moho. It'll convert almost anyone into "trailer trash".
  • On your budget you might be able to buy an Airstream but in a year you'll end up needing to park it permanently, and unless you've got family with lots of land and loose zoning regs - that ain't cheap either!
  • As a fulltimer you wear out stuff faster than just weekending - I'm living in a 25 foot 2006 Safari FB SE. My water heater is on borrowed time, and the air conditioner while doing well, should be expected to live only one to three years more - I can't replace these with cheap home appliances without destroying the residual value of the trailer. I've already put a new regulator on the propane tanks and replaced the skylight. I also dinged the steps badly and replaced them.
  • Just today I was going down a narrow country road and was crowded by an oncoming vehicle. It had rained for 3 nights, and I put the truck on the edge of the pavement and the Airstream started to go into the ditch. I love my Bigass 2500 Silverado Diesel - cause I just kept pulling and out it came with nothing worse than a lot of mud in the wheels and on one of the jacks which didn't even bend. I missed a roll on the side and having my unit totalled by a HAIR! I shook for about 5 minutes but continued on to my destination. I was almost too exhausted to unhitch - and literally took a cool shower and flopped on the bed for 2 hours to recover!
  • the cost of traveling continues to go up and up - gas prices WILL hit $5 per gallon next year if not this one.
  • Electricity in campgrounds is getting more expensive too - and more and more campgrounds are metering the electricity
  • NO travel trailer or moho is an "investment" - they all depreciate! (Possible exception is the Casita - a tiny fiberglass egg about equivalent to a 16' Airstream that seems to only lose about $500 per year)
  • damage happens - and on an Airstream it is expensive to repair. I live with "patina" on a segment that would cost $1400 to replace (and would probably get re-patinaed within six months!)
  • 4 years ago you could camp at Virginia Highland Haven - an Airstream only campground - for about $12 per night, now it's $25 if you don't own a share - that's mainly taxes and utilities increases.
If you don't climb up on the roof twice a year and re-seal the seams you'll get leaks. I got them - my own fault - due to "delayed maintenance" (too effen hot to climb up on the roof and roast my fast fanny!) Cost a pretty penny to fix. Now I just get second degree burns twice a year - or RENT a garage for $50 for a weekend so I can work in the shade.

You DO have to do repairs and upgrades - more frequently if you fulltime. In a small space, stuff gets more wear. I've got a 2006 - and need to consider redoing the upholstery on the dinette - just due to wear and a few spills, etc.

I had a 22 foot, and upgraded to a 25 FB SE, and as they always say - you want it smaller when you're towing and bigger when you're parked. It's a lot easier to just take off and go when you've got a little unit, but STAYING downsized is a challenge. I literally need to go through my undies drawer because I bought a new pack and have reached the CRAM IT IN point on the drawer. I've toyed with the idea of getting a 30 ft Serenity with the recliners. And if I really, really, really wanted to do it I could without endangering my retirement. But... I know part of the fascinaction is just the "new shiny" factor.

Honestly I could live through three "mistakes" with Airstreams to find that "perfect" one. You might find that an Airstreaming lifestyle is PERFECT, but if it's not, what is your fallback? Social Security disability - which you might be getting - isn't all that generous.

POSITIVE SUGGESTION: I've heard - but don't know for sure - that there are retired people who spend spring, summer and fall at Virginia Highland Haven... and when the park closes for winter - they go down to the nearest middle sized town and live in rent subsidized senior housing. If anyone out on the forum can confirm that, please respond to this nice lady!

I know I'm being a "nattering nabob of negativity" but in the last six or seven years since I started fulltiming I've seen SO many people who've started out with a bright shining dream and six months later are in a never ending nightmare because their health took a turn for the worst or they didn't do enough looking at the potential downsides - I just want you to have a good contingency plan. Feel free to PM me if you'd like. I'll be glad to call you and discuss the real nitty-gritty.

Paula
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Old 07-16-2012, 01:26 AM   #14
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Looks cheap from the outside, but from the inside (actually doing it) there is more to work on given the size of the vehicles versus a stick-built house. For example, my electricity costs for a 150 sq/ft trailer are near $100/month on the Gulf Coast (I keep it cool inside, and am even parked in shade . . but the relentless humidity is hard to control), and there is always a list of things to work on (most of it small stuff, but that can add up).

I would never consider a motorhome as the initial expense, operating expense, and repair expenses are much higher on a per square foot basis. One can live in a trailer and not even own a tow vehicle (hire out moves to pros), or one can change tow vehicles as needs dictate.

I would look more closely at "park model" trailers (non-Airstream) for extended living on a fixed budget.
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