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Old 07-21-2011, 07:38 PM   #1
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Are we nuts?

We're going to be full-timing when I retire in a couple of years, so we're researching all that we can learn. I've always liked Airstreams, even though I've never owned one or even camped in one. Finances dictate used vehicles.

As I read the specs on the current crop of Airstreams, I'm concerned that there isn't a lot of difference between the empty weight and the gross weight. Almost everyone agrees that a full-timing couple will have 2-3000 pounds of "stuff" with them (food, clothes, hobby things, lawn chairs, etc.). Granted, some of that can ride in the truck when traveling, but what do you do with it once you have set up camp and want to go sightseeing?

One of the big advantages of an RV, at least for me, is the ability to have a reasonably secure "home" while you are out seeing and doing things. I also don't like moving things out of the way. For example, the lawn chairs can ride in the truck while moving from one camp to another, and can be under the awning if we're in camp, but where do they go while we're out and about? Put them inside the door, and then move them when we get back? Put them underneath the trailer, and hope that a strong wind doesn't blow them away?

We toured the factory this summer, and DW is now more interested in an Airstream than she was before the tour, but we'd rather ask lots of questions prior to writing a large check than asking one question repeatedly afterwards.

David Lininger, kb0zke
AIR 54240
Heartland mpg 181 (sold)
1993 Foretravel U300 (for sale)
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Old 07-21-2011, 08:13 PM   #2
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Airstreams really don't have as much storage compared to the white box trailers and a fraction of what a typical Class A motorhome has. A small BBQ, chairs, tool bag and all the other stuff you'll want to take, all become a pain to shuffle around. It can be done (and is by lots of folks). Some go with a shell or tonneau cover on the truck and keep it all stored in the truck. At least you're on to one of the challenges of 'streaming.

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Old 07-21-2011, 08:18 PM   #3
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Security while camping has a lot to do with the campgrounds you frequent. Many have gates, guards, vehicle tags and security patrols. I have never had anything stolen while camping and I have driven out of a few RV parks because I did not like how they looked. I leave most things like chairs, coolers, and toys out. I will tuck the bikes behind the trailer and may run a chain thru them. I secure my hitch on the truck or in a tool box in the truck as you can't go anywhere without it. I don't advertise I have a Honda Generator in the tool box or chained under the trailer.

Airstreams are real travel trailers and are meant to travel in. Airstreams tow well and last a long time. The are designed to go down the road and to do it efficiently, which is how you have to camp in one. The are not a Condo on wheels and do not have a basement as many Class A units do. You do have to learn how to use a Airstream and this site is the second best place to do that, the first is in an Airstream.

Welcome Jim
Jim N5TJZ Air# 174
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2005 Safari 25 SS Traded
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Old 07-21-2011, 08:58 PM   #4
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A rule of thumb is about 1000# difference between curb weight (empty) & GVWR -- not quite as applicable to shorter trailers. And newer Airstreams have more options included as standard, giving somewhat less payload capacity. This still comes down to looking at each model's specs.

A listed tongue weight is for an unladen trailer. This may climb a couple hundred pounds as soon as you consider hitch bar, weight distribution/antisway gear, full propane tanks [all these previous are forward-situated and add disproportionately to tongue weight] -- and then your normal trailer loading adds something extra. Do the numbers for your situation. Get your ready-for-camping unit to a scale when it comes down to splitting hairs. Your results may vary but vintage Airstreams can come in as low as 500-600# tongue weight. Newer, recent era longer Airstreams are pretty easy to get close to 900-1000# tongue weight.

And this all leads to asking about tow vehicle payload capacity. Don't forget that the people aboard subtract from that. 3/4 ton tow vehicles don't give the softest ride (disclosure - I have a GMC 2500 Sierra pickup); 1 ton tow vehicles are harsher yet. There are always tradeoffs if you are seeking max toys. A Green Egg, motorbike or other unusual items should be added only after you figure in essentials.

Lucky for us it is more and more frowned on to haul around a lot of firewood.

5 meter Langford Nahanni

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Old 07-22-2011, 07:36 AM   #5
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Since 2006 the Airstream 34 classic has a gvwr of 11,500 lbs and a net carrying capacity of about 3,000 lbs. With full water and propane tanks and my stuff in our trailer I still have about 2,000 lbs or remaining net carrying capacity. If I fulltime I suspect that I will add another 1,000 lbs to the trailer.

I know of a couple who increased their gvwr of a 2006 Airstream 34 to 12,500 lbs by having Jackson Center put on heavier axles and recertifying the gvwr. They did this because they want to do a lot of boondocking and wanted many AGM batteries for their solar system.

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Old 07-22-2011, 07:46 AM   #6
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Welcome to the world of Less is better. As in our case have been full timing for four or five years now, and the storage has become less and less, and thats better while just keeping the essentials. Ours weighs 4600 lbs, but the Airstream tows just like butter. Get some 'coil over' shocks for your vehicle, that will help.
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Old 07-28-2011, 06:34 AM   #7
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Ten years Fulltiming in an Airstream

Fulltiming living in an Rv, Airstream or not, is as unique to the individual as the fingerprint.
Everyone plans..and then adapts their plans as they learn what works for them.
Full time living was not at all like a camping trip. For us we used all the storage our 34ft Excella offered.
We had the solar system, the macerator, the quiet generator, the catalytic heater, the bikes (2), four good folding camp chairs, the weather station, two cbs plus a short wave radio, two computers plus printer, clothes and footwear for all seasons, a ladder, a small charcoal grill, an air compressor (useful in Alaska ), a selection of good cooking pots, first aid supplies, a huge tool box filled with drills,rivits,saws,etc., and a myriad of our things.
We weighed ourselves every other year. We paid religious attention to our tire wear. We had the axles checked and adjusted.
We camped everywhere, Mexico, Canada, state parks, truck stops, Elks clubs, etc. We were never robbed or broken in to. We never flaunted stuff either.
If it felt wrong we moved but that was rare.
The Airstream trailer is a tough durable travel partner. It was built to be on the road. We towed it with a Ford dually 1ton 350 with a Reese Class 5 hitch.
It is good to gather as much info as you can. You will make it your own in the end by doing it.
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Old 07-28-2011, 07:53 AM   #8
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kb0zke, you mentioned lawn chairs.....some floorplans provide lawn chair storage, just inside the entry door (finally got one with that feature, and love it).
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Old 07-28-2011, 08:50 AM   #9
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As much as I am tethered to this forum for advice on camping,there is a drawback of a mountain of information.True,the more you know about your subject matter the better,but don't get sucked into the vortex of too much information. The key word here is basic.Brakes,tires,maps,and of course Walmart.A picture is worth a thousand words.In this case a movie'The Long Long Trailer'.In this farce you will see what not to do and what will make you happy.Wave to me.Richie Rich.
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Old 07-28-2011, 02:37 PM   #10
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Re: Are we nuts?

I don't think anyone has answered your original question, "Are we nuts?"

Yeah, probably, but you've come to the right place--so are most of us. Welcome to the forums!
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Old 07-28-2011, 04:08 PM   #11
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Re: Are we nuts?

Heck yeah! Anybody who has an "I, thou relationship" with a hunk of aluminum is NUTS! (Welcome to the nut house)
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Old 07-28-2011, 04:21 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by fmrcaptevil View Post
kb0zke, you mentioned lawn chairs.....some floorplans provide lawn chair storage, just inside the entry door (finally got one with that feature, and love it).
I thought zip dee chairs only fit in the classics, I'll have a similar sofa as you. I had no idea they fit in that space. Cool.
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Old 07-28-2011, 04:21 PM   #13
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Oh and I think your nuts too, but so are we. Welcome!
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Old 08-27-2011, 08:41 AM   #14
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If everybody is "nuts" then that is the norm and two standard deviations away from the " norm" is what we, the now normal population, consider those who are "nuts"; True or false! (haha)

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