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Old 08-31-2011, 07:19 PM   #1
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1993 21' Sovereign
Longwood , Florida
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An old Texas saying

I'm not sure whether this post belongs in this forum. If it doesn't please forgive me; I'm relatively new to the site and am still kind of finding my way. Anyway, my wife and I, after nearly 40 years of camping in tents, either lightweight backpacking ones, or larger ones we used as base camps, decided early one morning this spring, in a campsite at 10,000 feet in Colorado, with the temparature at 26 degrees, that maybe rolling out of bed and making breakfast in a nice Airstream trailer would trump cooking oatmeal and making coffee while standing on numb feet in the semi-darkness wearing down parkas and ski mittens. So, we're currently searching for a hardly-used 19 or 20' Bambi in wonderful condition that will take the place of of both our large tent and the motels we stay in while traveling between our home in Florida and whichever high-altitude wilderness area we're headed for. While conducting this search, I've been thoroughly enjoying myself, reading my way through all manner of topics on this site. And I'd like to add that I've found the folks here, almost without exception, to be courteous, helpful, knowlegable, articulate and very often filled with good humor and a zest for life in general that's quite a rare combination, in my experience.
Now, I should say at this point that we are not approaching our Airstream search as total neophytes, because many years ago I did in fact own an Airstream trailer that, for a spell, became our full-time home. (So I'm hoping that gives me at least a bit of credibility and I won't get summarily kicked off this forum) It was a 1964 26-footer that I bought in 1977 for twenty-eight hundred bucks to use as my office because we'd just had our first child and we lived in a very small house. However, though the house was small, it was set on two acres of mostly woods, so nobody complained when I stuck the trailer in amongst the trees about 100 feet from the back door of the house. Very quickly I found that Airstreams were quite simple to work on: I replaced some questionable wiring; repaired a couple of leaky windows; and tore out the old furnace that was no longer functional and put in a new one. I remember that the company that made the furnaces in those days was located in St. Louis (we were living on eastern Long Island back then) and when I called them up they willingly sold me a new furnace directly, plus, when it arrived, they walked me through its installation over the phone. I had a friend who was in the carpet business and he came by one day with some industrial-strength carpeting left over from a theater job he'd just completed and laid it in my trailer. It was incredibly thick deep blue carpeting with a subtle wine-colored plaid that looked great against the wooden cabinets. He told me it would last forever. When I was working in the trailer late at night, especially when it was windy and raining, I felt like I was ensconced in the cabin of a sailing ship somewhere on the high seas.
A couple of years later we bought a bigger place on 3 acres of land, I moved the trailer and this time set it up about 250 feet from the house, next to my wife's vegetable garden. The house was a wreck in sore need of renovation, and while my wife and I renovated the place we, along with our little boy, lived in the trailer. We got our electricity from a heavy-duty extension chord that ran from the house, got our water from a similar length of hose, and dumped our waste into the house's septic tank. We also had the advantage of a washer and drier, and a shower, both located in the basement of the house, so I can't say we were totally cut off from typical domestic conveniences. We also had a small barn where we could store stuff, something I realize true full-timers don't usually have. When we moved to Florida, I sold the trailer, but my wife and I often would say that someday we'll get another one. That someday is now.
But what about the old Texas saying I put in the title line of this post? Well, it serves as a rather pithy reply to pretty much any question you're asked when the it appears that the asker's motives are suspect, and goes something like this: "Do you really want my opinion, or are you just looking for someone to co-sign your bull s***?"
That saying came to mind as I read a number of very well wrought comments, and, it seemed to me, some excellent advice, to a post concerning the purchase of a new Airstream by someone who'd never owned one before but, it seemed to me, had convinced himself that a new trailer was the way to go, since he knew he'd love living in it and was going to keep it forever. Having just witnessed someone I know quite well lose more than $50,000 on the sale of an RV he and his wife had bought new, convinced they were going to love it and keep it forever, used a few times, and wound up hating, I figured I'd put my own two-cents into the conversation. In my opinion (although I know the folks who sell Airstreams for a living will not be fans of mine for saying so) unless money is no object, you have to be crazy to buy a new Airstream, or any other trailer, especially if you've never owned one before. Other folks here have already clearly stated the reasons for this, so I won't bother to reiterate them. What I would like to say, though, as my wife and I look for just the right used Airstream for our needs, is a heart-felt thank you to the many people on this site for the plethora of invaluable information I'ver already gathered. Even though I've been there before, it was a long time ago, I was a whole lot younger, and I feel, as I get ready to re-connect with the Airstream world, that I'm in good hands.

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Old 08-31-2011, 07:41 PM   #2
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

Welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

Sounds like a plan. Best of luck at finding the perfect Airstream for you. We're glad that you have found these Forums useful.


SuEllyn & Brian McCabe
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Old 08-31-2011, 07:48 PM   #3
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I'll co-sign and offer my opinion. An Airstream is better than any tent I've ever stayed in for sure.

Work is never done, so take time to play!
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Old 08-31-2011, 07:58 PM   #4
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Welcome! We bought a gently used 19' Bambi and love it! We were in Colorado this week and the heater was sooo nice! Good luck with your search!
Get involved and sign up for a Rally!
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Old 08-31-2011, 10:21 PM   #5
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Welcome and good luck in your search!

Visit our crazy full-timing blog (us,kids and dogs living the dream):

Join us at the TAC Walt Disney World Rally, November 4th - 10th, 2012:
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Old 08-31-2011, 10:42 PM   #6
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Welcome. I too have found people here to be very helpful and quite nice even though I might not deserve such nice treatment at times.

We camped out of a tent and for many years after that out of a tent trailer which was real luxury by comparison. When the weather gets real bad, or just sort of bad but decides to stick around for many days, a trailer is a real step up. Why not do it all in an Airstream?

With your experience, you will be helping us soon. Thanks in advance.
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Old 09-01-2011, 12:02 AM   #7
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You will enjoy your new way of camping, the comfort level mostly, buy there are things you will miss about tents too.
Your opinion is valued, please not your opinion of someones else's opinion.
Click To See Me Wet
1989 Airstream 345 Liberator...
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Old 09-01-2011, 10:59 AM   #8
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"Do you really want my opinion, or are you just looking for someone to co-sign your bull s***?"

Too funny.

Don't forget the other (and better built) brands of trailer for consideration. Best trailer sometimes comes down to condition and distance.

Although I didn't at first, I know believe that the middle 1970's Avion trailers may rank highly on the best-built list (brands change over the years, and quality may go up/down), and, as they are not perceived as attractive as some other brands/years/models are at an excellent price.

In particular I would direct your interest to one currently for sale in Florida. I favor the 31' length (comparable to a 29') as it was the largest offered until Fleetwood bought the company a few years later. Granted, the price is low (really low) and there may be issues not apparent. But what is shown would be good enough for me to travel and take pictures.

1973 31' Avion at Trenton, FL

A used trailer is my thinking, too. But only back to about this point of time as separate grey & black water tanks became the norm. (On Avion it is 1972 and later. The 1972 still has the highly raduised curves plus the two tanks; a rare year. At least two 25' are for sale in the US at present).

Good luck on your search.

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Old 09-01-2011, 11:54 AM   #9
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Well, yes ... welcome!

I've spent a lot of time under canvas ... or in more recent years, nylon. Lotsa' car camping and zillions of miles of backpacking. But I agree with you, that it's nice to wake up warm and dry and be able to cook, eat brakfast, shower and change clothes in comfort. Then make up a little lunch and go for a nice hike or bike ride, knowing that when you get back, the aluminum tent will be there waiting - with a cold beverage, warm furnace, hot stove top, whatever you want.

I will say this: Airstreams are terrific for travel. But if you want / expect to sit in one place for a long time, there are far cheaper alternatives, with more storage, larger tanks, etc. So I went through what you're going through, and I bought a nice, gently used Airstream that I love. Will I ever buy a new one? Maybe someday. But not for now; the one I've got is terrific, and only twelve years old.

Hope you find what your'e looking for. Deciding and then finding is half the fun!
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Old 09-01-2011, 01:32 PM   #10
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I gotta remember that saying!

I agree with your assessment on new vs. used. When we bought ours, we had never camped (tent or otherwise). Our pupose was to have something to live in onsite while we built a rental-then-retirement house in Colorado. We had no idea if we would like RV'ing, and it was certainly the concensus of everybody who knows us that we don't seem to be the types.

However, we fell in love with it bringing it home to Houston from Atlanta, where we bought it 6-years used for $21K. Promptly pumped $5K into complete cosmetic renovation and now escape in it every chance we get.

While we have yet to build the Colorado house (economic meltdowns can do that to life-long dreams, ya'know... do those clowns in Washington understand why they are so universally reviled?... but I digress), we've begun to think that if we can ever build it, we'll make it our sole abode in retirement, and become snowbirds in the winter ("Hey kids, make sure your house has a 30' driveway or we're not visiting!)

Our friends have a 40' motorhome that they just traded up for a 44'er. When we heard what his trade-in price was (vs. the original purchase) we thought:
1) Wow! he got hammered! and
2) hmmmm.... maybe when we're really old, one of these monsters might be kinda nice - but DEFINITELY used.

Anyway, just my two bits.
Hey, its the only way to be sure!
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Old 09-01-2011, 06:46 PM   #11
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Berlin , Maryland
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I respect your position however my wife and I just purchased a new AS so I guess you can call me crazy. That said there are many reasons to buy new and just as many to buy used. Money is only one factor in the decision, as to losing 50K on a sale, ever play the stock market or see your 401 K melt down? My point is: what may work for one may not work for another but sometimes if you don't take that first step you will never know.

Good luck on your search
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Old 09-02-2011, 07:52 AM   #12
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1993 21' Sovereign
Longwood , Florida
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First of all, thanks to those who have offered suggestions. I appreciate all of them, and, as I continue to work my way through various forums, am so grateful I found this site. (Yesterday I read all about axle replacement, something I may be faced with if we decide to go vintage.) And, just to clarify, I have absolutely nothing against a new Airstream, especially if a person has some experience with them, knows what he or she wants, and is reasonably certain they're going to keep it for a good while. However, as an example, a new 19' Bambi, including tax (7% where I live) will cost somewhere in the neighborhood 50 grand, even with a discount. In contrast, we just missed an '05 19' Bambi CCD in perfect shape - and I mean perfect; the stove and oven had never been turned on - that was used twice and stored under cover that sold in less than one day for $26,500. The guy who owned it lived an hour and a a half from us, but by the time my wife saw the add on Craigslist, someone from California bought it over the phone, jumped in his TV, and drove across the country to Florida in three days to pick it up. I was next in line and if he hadn't shown up, it would have been mine.
As for the folks I know who lost 50 grand on an RV, (@urnmor) I'm well aware of stock market losses, 401K tankings, and $600,000 homes that are now worth $250,000. But, my point is that unless the amount an expensive RV will depreciate in 1-3 years isn't that much of a big deal to you, why not buy one that's a couple of years old, in great shape, for literally half the cost of a new one? No one knows what the stock market will do in the future, but only someone who isn't paying attention doesn't know about vehicle or RV depreciation.
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Old 09-02-2011, 08:40 AM   #13
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Don't "Short Change" Yourself...

Having read your description, I am reminded of when we offered to help dear friends who had declared themselves ready to quit sleeping on the the ground.
Since they were backpackers and very austere in their camping, I took them to an Airstream rally to show them the smaller vintage and new Airstreams they could pull behind their Tahoe.
The lady was polite but her disinterest was obvious.
She perked up as she gazed to the far end of the rally and said, "What's that?"
I said, "Why Linda, that's a big, honkin' motor home. You don't want one of those. You wouldn't be able to get into the back country you love so much."
She said, "Take me over there."

They bought a 40' Monaco and a new Jeep Cherokee tag-along, hit the open road, and full-timed for almost 5 years.

Back to Airstreams: Expand your search to include longer trailers. We really like 27 footers for a number of reasons.
Ken L
2007 Classic Limited 30 (Sold)
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Old 09-02-2011, 09:09 AM   #14
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I understood your point but the same can be said for most fixed assets from cars to boats however not all of us are that concerned about depreciation especially if you keep things long term. INMO it just comes down to different philosophies.

Also remember that if some of us did not buy new there would not be used ones to purchase.

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