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Old 10-11-2016, 12:01 PM   #1
Continents Collide
1985 32' Excella
Spring , Texas
Join Date: Oct 2016
Posts: 123
Airstream vs. Slide out TT


We are new so go easy on us.

We are in the process of shopping for either a TT or Airstream as we will be quitting our jobs and going FT next June. We are in Houston right now and will be spending at least 10 months on the road, if not longer, heading up through CO, WY, MT into Canada and then down through WA, OR, CA and then onto the rest. We will be working while travelling as well - some remote and some orchard/brewery work as well

We have two dogs - one 70lbs and one 53lbs who will be with us and that is our cause for our question. Do we go for an airstream which is way cooler but limited space or for a TT with a slide out with extra space for the dogs?

We have our eyes on a 1969 Sovereign (5100lbs) which would require a little work (which is fine) but want to make sure that we could live in there happily. Also, it wouldn't come with an awning but we could add a vintage awning instead of zip dee as we will be staying in certain places for more than a few days.

The real question I suppose is, why should we go with airstream over a TT?

Thanks for your help in advance!


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Old 10-11-2016, 12:17 PM   #2
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2005 30' Classic
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Lorain , Ohio
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The RV Industry's Dirty Litle Secret: Quality

Many RVs are financed on loans as long as 10-20 years. Many RVs don't last nearly that long.

"After owning four RVs and looking at hundreds more, (as well as visiting various RV "factories" and seeing how they are screwed together) I can say I have learned a lot about the RV business. A lot of it is like touring a sausage factory - there are things you wish you hadn't seen.

The dirty little secret of the RV industry is Quality. Very few RVs are quality made and very few outlast their payments. Let me explain."

Read the full write up here

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Old 10-20-2016, 06:30 PM   #3
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Welcome, M&M. When you are looking to go full-time you really need to spend a lot of time looking at all sorts of coaches and then talking about how each one might or might not fit your plans. Don't worry about the price or condition, just look at floor plans. While you are going from dealership to dealership and show to show you can be talking about what you think your full-time life will be like. We spent about three years doing those two things, and settled on our Foretravel MH as the best choice for what we expected. Things have changed somewhat, and the MH is no longer the best choice for us, so it is for sale and we'll get an Airstream, probably without slides.

There are two of us and one cat, so interior space isn't that much of an issue. As I said above, look at everything you can with an eye toward how that floor plan would work for you. Do your dogs take over the sofa at home? If so, they will probably do the same in your coach. Where will you sit? Can you see the television from there? Easily? Don't assume that you can keep the dogs outside all the time. Some parks forbid that. Better to assume that the dogs will be outside (on leashes) a few times each day to do their "business" and then will return inside. That will also happen on rainy days, so give some thought to the floor covering near the door. You probably don't want carpet there.
David Lininger, kb0zke
AIR 54240
Heartland mpg 181 (sold)
1993 Foretravel U300 (for sale)
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Old 10-20-2016, 07:09 PM   #4
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High Springs , Florida
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Something to give strong consideration to between the white box folks and Airstreams are the cargo capacity and the tankage. A lot of Airstreams are extremely lacking in capacities when it comes to full time use. It works for us, right now, with our current travel style, but it does have it drawbacks.
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Old 10-20-2016, 08:35 PM   #5
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2015 23' FB Flying Cloud
Walnut Creek , California
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Research, research, research. It is said that ASs are not four season trailers. Too much thermal path provided with the aluminum frames. There are other issues as well, but nothing that can't be addressed with DIY skills. An AS can be taken apart and rebuilt better than new. In the process, that four season issue can be addressed.

However, there are advantages to fifth wheel toy haulers. The biggest being more space to live and carry stuff. Additionally, an SOB can be scrapped and replaced for less cost than a new AS. A series of trades might well keep you in a new rig as long as you are on the road.

So - you tell us. Which is best for you? My guess is that if you want to regularly travel and live a light footprint lifestyle, the AS can be a good solution. However, if you need space and don't move around a lot, the SOB may prove a better choice.

Good luck with your research. Pat
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Old 10-20-2016, 09:24 PM   #6
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Battle Lake , Minnesota
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Our Airstream Owner's Manual advises our trailer is designed for recreational use, not full time living. We are in it six months a year, I agree with them. However, for that six months it suits us perfectly, easy to tow and travel and handles like dream.

Think of it this way. Airstreams are for travel, the others for transporting lots of stuff between RV parks and staying there awhile.
Doug and Cheryl
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Old 10-20-2016, 09:32 PM   #7
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Full timing in a 50 year old AS wouldn't be my choice unless it had a complete rebuild, including an addition of a gray tank.
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Old 10-21-2016, 09:23 AM   #8
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2012 28' International
Greensboro , North Carolina
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I think DanB deserves a big "thank you" for a well written post. IMHO he is right on the money regarding the state of the RV industry writ large. I see some interesting parallels with this "Tiny House" movement with regard to the quality/longevity of the elements used in the manufacturing process (and that many of them are built on the same kind of chassis as an RV). Of course, they aren't bouncing down the highways from pot hole to pot hole. Prior to buying my first Airstream I did look at a number of SOB's. Frankly, I was appalled at what I saw with regard to both the quality of the materials used and the corners that were cut...not to mention materials. I've now bought two brand new Airstreams, and while there have been some quality flubs here and there, the structural integrity of the trailer has been rock solid. Yes, I pay strict attention to leak potential! AirForums has served as a huge resource for what to look for and how to fix it. In the Army we call it PMCS (Preventive Maintenance Checks and Service). I honestly believe that if you own an RV (ANY RV!), you need to have a good basic knowledge of how to fix stuff and keep bad things from happening. Like correct torquing of wheel lug nuts, weight distribution, and safety factors. There are folks who buy their RV to tow it up to "the lake" and leave it there for the summer. It's not for travel. So, maybe a genormous 5th wheel with 6 slides, an outdoor kitchen and outdoor 45" flat screen TV setup is what they want/need. I use my Airstream for travel and I've found it to be outstanding. I've done a LOT of customizing so I can be off the grid and have all the systems work all the time. If I had a delaminating trailer with an EPMD roof I would NEVER have sunk a dime of added cash to upgrade a system in a trailer that would in all likelihood fall apart by year 5. I just don't know what to say about "corporate responsibility" to the consumer from the RV industry. IF there were a Lemon Law for RV's that approximated the automobile industry (and there should be), I'd predict a number of these folks would shut down. On the other hand, if I wanted to have a guaranteed source of income, I'd situate myself close to a few big RV campgrounds and be a specialist in "slide repair." I have lost count of the number of times I've seen people stuck because they can't get the slide closed. I guess the RV industry at large has as their motto "caveat emptor." Sad.
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Old 10-21-2016, 11:51 AM   #9
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IMO, if you are going full time, you need a reliable trailer. Making a 47 year old trailer reliable is challenging/time consuming/expensive. A lightly used Airstream would be a good idea. You skip the massive price depreciation and hopefully the previous owner has fixed the issues. There are also quality box trailers out there (better than Airstream when it comes to QC or technology) that are more of a 4 season trailer. When it comes to interior/exterior storage (or separate sleeping quarters) box trailers easily win.
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Old 10-21-2016, 12:02 PM   #10
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I've owned 2 SOB's prior to the AS and the AS is hands down a better built unit. That being said, if I were to tow with a pickup I would most likely move to a 5th wheel. Why? Because of the storage in a 5th wheel. Most 5th wheels offer a huge amount of storage including a washer and dryer. If I were to do a long trip or full time then that would be my choice. A huge bedroom, bathroom with a tub, island kitchen etc. Some of the 5th wheels even offer heated "basement" storage. But no matter what you buy you should be good at DIY. Every unit I have owned including the AS needs constant up keep and work. I always travel with a tool bag, electrical meter and a caulking gun. and caulk. There is always something that needs fixing.
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Old 10-21-2016, 05:35 PM   #11

2006 30' Classic S/O
Merced , California
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Why not rent an Airstream, take a trip and live in it for a week and then make your decision?
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Old 01-20-2017, 11:44 PM   #12
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Kleimanr- do you know of any such rental service that is reasonable? If so, I think that is a great idea.

I'm in love with AS but am pushing myself to think with my head and not my heart, so I am looking at what's else is out there. I am more limited as I need something that will tow LOADED under 3500 lbs... which very quickly put the 16 Bambi as one of the best contenders.

But... there are a couple models from Jayco and Rpod that seems to be worth considering.
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Old 01-22-2017, 08:22 AM   #13

2006 30' Classic S/O
Merced , California
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Check out Airstream To Go. They have a site near Tucson AZ and one near Los Angeles. Might be others, but this one is run by a past official from Airstream.
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Old 01-22-2017, 09:51 AM   #14
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There are a few Airstreams with slide outs

Zipdee awnings have been used by AS for decades and do have a vintage look.

Sail on silver girl. Sail on by. Your time has come to shine.
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