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Old 07-13-2012, 11:18 AM   #1
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Advice Please!

I'm 24 and have had roommates for the past few years. I have lived in a townhouse, and 2 houses, the current a 5 bed 3 bath that I love. Although I love my current large house with my master suite, large bathroom, and custom walk-in closet where my shoes can enjoy their space, I must move as I no longer work in the city where the home is located and my roommate situation has changed due to careers and life. I grew up in a small space so I do know what itís like to live in a small space. I am currently unattached and have no idea where I want attend college or live, but I currently work in Atlanta, GA.

Since I am unattached, searching myself for what I want to do and where I want to do it, and would like to try living alone, I thought that owning my own awesome vintage piece of Americana would be a fantastic idea. But is it actually? I really need some advice on this topic from full-timers. I have looked at a few 1970's 31' Sovereigns. I like the idea of the 31' bc of the extra space, but a 25í to 29í might be easier to tow/get around, although, I donít plan to drive around with it too much at least at first anyways. I really prefer the center bath models bc I want my bed in the rear. I donít have much experience with RVís at all really. I only remember an old pop-up that was in our yard for a while and the camper at my uncleís lake house, both childhood memories, and neither had plumbing. I would really like this dream to become a reality but would love some advice on the subject. Iím looking for a cheap lifestyle with an updated vintage Airstream. I love the idea of completely remodeling a vintage airstream thatís just a shell but I have neither the money, or skill required. So, I need an older Airstream thatís updated a bit and possible to live in.


Some of my questions and concerns are: 1) Is it easy to find a reasonably priced RV Park with hookups and Wi-Fi? (Iíd like to be at 500 a month or below) 2) If I parked in a friends yard for a bit is it possible to hookup plumbing and electricity? 3) How often do you dispose of your water tanks when full-timing? 4) If youíre parked at a park do you have to go to a dump station or does a full hookup site make that unnecessary? 5) Is it safe? Has anyone had theft problems with their Airstream and what should I do protect it? How much trouble does Mother Nature cause? Lighting storms, wind, cold, heat?... (We get all types of weather in Georgia) 6) How do you determine the best tow vehicle? (Iíve thought about BMW X5 or some other used SUV) 7) Insurance costs, title, and tag costs? 8) What are the biggest differences between a 70ís model and the brand new models? (Besides the huge cost difference of course) Please feel free to add any additional information or concerns I may not have thought of. I appreciate any advice. Iíve read through some forums and blogs but I canít find much info on hooking up electric and water/sewage at someoneís residence, and any info on maintaining water tanks, propane tanks, and electric are very welcome.


THANKS! I would like to make this a reality and have people stop looking at me like I may be insane. To me it's who wouldn't want their own Airstream and to live cheap and feel like nature is so close?!
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Old 07-13-2012, 11:47 AM   #2
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2) If I parked in a friends yard for a bit is it possible to hookup plumbing and electricity?


I'm not a full-timer but I think I can answer this one, having hooked up temporary office trailers at construction sites, which isn't much different. I'll leave the other questions to full-timers who can better answer.

Hooking up the water is easy. Regular blue&white potable water hose to an outside hose bibb on the side of the house ("bibb" is a technical term for a faucet with a screw-on connection). Electric is more difficult; you'd need to get 30-amp service from an existing junction box to a new service box, where you can plug in your shore power cable. That's a job for a licensed electrician. Sewer is easy, too; run your sewer discharge line to an existing sewer cleanout plug somewhere on the property (you'll often find them near the building foundation). all you have to do is remove the cleanout plug, and insert your waste line. You may not want to leave it connected all the time, though, lest a clogged drain cause effluent to back up into the yard through the open cleanout.

The technical problems are minor. You have to be more concerned with city ordnances. For example, where my parents live in southwest Oklahoma, the city requires any occupied RV must be at a designated RV park, not at a private residence or even a mobile home park. Also, where they live, an RV stored on private property must be on concrete, not on a gravel driveway or on the grass. Different municipalities will have different rules; check first wherever you decide to put down roots so the Sheriff's Department doesn't come evict you.
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Old 07-13-2012, 12:38 PM   #3
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Vintage (old) Airstreams in good condition have probably been refurbished, some poorly and some very well. The good ones are expensive but you must know what to look for. Rv's tend to require constant upkeep and repairs.

They need a substantial tow vehicle which may be quite large/expensive as a daily driver.

RV parks range from luxury to sleazy and are priced accordingly.

So a decent arrangement is dependent on your savings and income. Its not a cheap lifestyle, and usually results in a loss of investment if you decide to do something different. Don't take the advice of someone trying to sell you something before you take the plunge.

Are there other lifestyles? Here's one. My wife and I are retired Navy, traveled the world on ships and planes. Loved the travel, adventure, and people we met, things we saw. Then bought an Airstream a few years ago to continue the fun.

doug & cheryl k
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Old 07-13-2012, 12:52 PM   #4
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All you need on the electric is a simple adapter that converts household electricity to 30 amp (or whatever amp you need). You can pick one up for $20 at an RV store or Amazon. I have one and use it frequently.
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Old 07-13-2012, 01:04 PM   #5
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All you need on the electric is a simple adapter that converts household electricity to 30 amp (or whatever amp you need). You can pick one up for $20 at an RV store or Amazon. I have one and use it frequently.
If you are talking about something that plugs into a normal 120V household receptacle and gives you the special socket that trailers plug into, no, that is NOT all you need.

Household circuits are typically 15 or 20 amps. Drawing 30A through them can be very dangerous.

A proper 30A trailer connection needs to be wired by a licensed electrician in order to maintain safety and your insurance.

But as was pointed out earlier in the thread, the real problem is that the majority of areas will not allow inhabited trailers on residentially-zoned properties. And don't think you can get away with it for long; no neighbour will like it enough to turn a blind eye.
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Old 07-13-2012, 01:14 PM   #6
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If you are talking about something that plugs into a normal 120V household receptacle and gives you the special socket that trailers plug into, no, that is NOT all you need.

Household circuits are typically 15 or 20 amps. Drawing 30A through them can be very dangerous.
NOT drawing 30 amps thru them. I've been using this for over 2 years:

Amazon.com: Progressive Industries 50-30 50 Amp - 30 Amp Compact Adapter: Automotive
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Old 07-13-2012, 01:29 PM   #7
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NOT drawing 30 amps thru them. I've been using this for over 2 years:

Amazon.com: Progressive Industries 50-30 50 Amp - 30 Amp Compact Adapter: Automotive
Getting back to the whole advice thing, anyone looking to plug their trailer into an outlet providing less than 30 amps will have to make some compromises, like shutting off the air conditioner every time they use the water heater, or whatever. For a brand-new full-timer, I wouldn't recommend it. That's something best left to more experienced campers who know what to expect.

Actually, the best advice I can offer is, before seriously considering full-timing, rent an RV (whether an Airstream or not) and live in it for a week or two. If you can't still be happy after a couple of weeks, then you certainly won't be happy full-time. And the money it costs to rent an RV will be a lot less than you stand to lose by buying one and then deciding to sell a month or two later if you see it's not for you.
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Old 07-13-2012, 01:45 PM   #8
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NOT drawing 30 amps thru them. I've been using this for over 2 years:

Amazon.com: Progressive Industries 50-30 50 Amp - 30 Amp Compact Adapter: Automotive
What you showed me is a 50A to 30A plug adapter, but I knew what you meant the first time. That item has a valid use at a campground where the 30A receptacles are all taken, but a 50 is available. No harm, no foul.

I'm sorry, but just because you have done it for 2 years without roasting yourself or another person, doesn't make it safe, or even right. It has the potential to kill.

I stand by my statement. If you are certain I am wrong, ask your insurance agent for his opinion. Even if he knows nothing about electrical, he will tell you this does not fly.
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Old 07-13-2012, 01:47 PM   #9
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The center bath is a good technical choice, but it'll be tighter on space while you're actually using the facilities. If I were looking for a longer 70s trailer I'd want the center bath as well, less for the location of the bed(s) than for the better weight distribution on the frame.

Unless it's modified, a '70s trailer will have small tanks. With full hookups, the only effect this will have for you is that you'll need to dump the blackwater tank more frequently (it's ok to leave the greywater tank open to drain when you have full hookups.) A pre-'74 trailer may not have a greywater tank at all unless someone has added one. Again, with full hookups that won't matter.

Around ATL the toughest thing to manage will be heat, I suspect. During the coldest nights of the year you'll have interior condensation issues to manage and burn through a lot of propane, but in the hot summer you'll definitely want to find a shady place to park an Airstream, with a 30A electrical connection and a reliable AC unit. On hot, humid days, a single 15k BTU has to work hard to keep a 31' trailer comfortable inside.

The X5 is doable, with some work to get an excellent hitch system set up right. Forums member withidl tows a 34' triple-axle Airstream with a V8 X5. If I were looking for an X5 for towing duty I'd want the diesel, but that's personal preference.

You've already received good advice on parking by someone's house. Basically you'd need to find someone who lives out in a rural area where there are few code restrictions on housing, which is likely to be a long way from central Atlanta. As far as productive use of time goes, you'd do better to focus on finding RV parks that offer full-timing options.

As far as differences, new Airstreams are a bit wider than 70s trailers and have a bit more square shape to the body where it curves from walls to roof. This yields a bit more interior space, both real and perceived. New ones are generally much heavier for the same length of trailer, and have bigger water tanks and more battery capacity (single batteries were the norm in the 70s, dual batteries are common now.) Very new long trailers can be found with 50-amp service and dual AC units (custom options). Almost all the new floorplans are center bath, and almost all the '70s models I see are rear bath, though the center-bath plans exist and become more and more common the later-model and longer the trailers get.

Of course newer trailers come with more modern gadgets. 70s units had 8-track tape players (in the fancy units) and some had stands for tube TVs. Modern Airstreams have CD/DVD players built in and wall-mounted flat-panel TVs. All the modern gadgets can be added to vintage trailers if you like.

The most important advice I can give is to learn as much as you can before you start spending money on the project.
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Old 07-13-2012, 01:49 PM   #10
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NOT drawing 30 amps thru them. I've been using this for over 2 years:

Amazon.com: Progressive Industries 50-30 50 Amp - 30 Amp Compact Adapter: Automotive
In ATL she'll need air conditioning for a big part of the year, and thus will need a properly-wired 30A circuit.
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Old 07-13-2012, 01:52 PM   #11
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What you showed me is a 50A to 30A plug adapter, but I knew what you meant the first time. That item has a valid use at a campground where the 30A receptacles are all taken, but a 50 is available. No harm, no foul.

I'm sorry, but just because you have done it for 2 years without roasting yourself or another person, doesn't make it safe, or even right. It has the potential to kill.

I stand by my statement. If you are certain I am wrong, ask your insurance agent for his opinion. Even if he knows nothing about electrical, he will tell you this does not fly.
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Do not run an AC through a 30amp plug adapter. You are just asking for an electrical fire. There are many things that work for a while and then a serious issue occures
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Old 07-13-2012, 03:03 PM   #12
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Greetings AirstreamNae,
I am not a full-timer but I hear your cry for advice. You say a lot in your post. You state that you are not that handy and do not have the funds for renovation but describe renovating it as if you would do it over time. That alone raises concern ongoing too vintage. Unless you know the person selling or happen upon someone selling their pet Airstream for a really good price I would avoid going too old with little money, handiness AND it being your primary residence. That said, all is not lost. Consider something like this from the classifieds:

http://www.airstreamclassifieds.com/showproduct.php?product=16244&cat=16

I am not saying to buy it but just consider that it is older but not too old. Using that as a reference, play with the price and think out the situation. Do you have $12K? In most cases, anything older than seven years or so requires cash. That is not a hard fast rule but I just bought a six year old model and it comes down to what they will loan out. Secondly, in one like the example vintage- 1999, you will have a 6300 lb trailer weight and close to a 700 lb tongue weight. The frame of the tow vehicle has to handle that tongue as part of payload and also the hitch must be Class IV and have at least that weight rating. The vehicle must also be able to handle pulling 6300 lbs. Most SUV's and smaller tow-like vehicles cap off at 5000 lbs. So, that leaves Pickup trucks and larger SUVs. Living in Atlanta, the traffic is, well, bad. An option might be to have it towed to a place and then work toward getting a tow vehicle. Personally, I would not choose an X5 because realize that you really need a V8, and although they do offer one, all BMW's use premium gas AND especially while towing.and the gas mileage is right in line with pickup trucks (most use regular gas) but with a lot less space and utility. Now, consider your vehicle purchase for towing or not.

Next, you will have something that may need replacing or fixed. Plan on having a few thousand for that. Atlanta Marietta RV Resort charges $530 month plus $80 flat fee on electric.

They have full hookup which by the way does take care of sewer, water, cable, trash, needs but not gas (propane) which is good for cooking and hot water. I paid $27 to fill a 30lb. tank recently. With three in my trailer using the facilities and dishes etc. We easily filled the gray tank (drain water) in 3 days. The black tank (sewer) was only about a 1/4 full if that much. I have 39 gallon tanks on a 25' BUT the tank size is irrelvant if you are hooked up all the time in a campground. You would just have to empty them every so often.

Basically, you are talking about having a stash of cash already to take this on or you best have one. It is certainly possible but would require a lump sum and would provide a challenge for you. You would HAVE TO become handy right away and want to do so or else fall to greater costs. An older AS may pose too much work to live in at the same time.
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Old 07-13-2012, 03:16 PM   #13
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Getting back to the whole advice thing, anyone looking to plug their trailer into an outlet providing less than 30 amps will have to make some compromises, like shutting off the air conditioner every time they use the water heater, or whatever. For a brand-new full-timer, I wouldn't recommend it.
Exactly, potential trouble. I have a Penguin 11,000 BTU unit AC that I have run on a 20amp circuit. I can do that because it only requires 13 amps or so to run according to specs. I just cannot run anything or much else.
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Old 07-13-2012, 03:39 PM   #14
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...Nae - Rodsterinfl gives good, sound advice, from our experience. We, too, have a 1999 unit and love every one of the 27,000 miles we've pulled her and camped in her. A childhood friend of mine has a 25' Safari and it's a nice place to live. As others have said, perhaps a rental of something for 2-3 weeks would give you a better "feel" of how the electric, sewer, propane, life-style works for you. Also look at rvtrader.com for used units.
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