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Old 08-01-2014, 09:00 PM   #43
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Jim, I like your style. Sometimes you just have to shake up that jar of bees just to see what comes out! I did pull up the Raptor you mentioned. I think it might be more spacious than my current house. If not, it's close! Ok, maybe not quite, but that fella is big. I actually haven't poked my head into any triple-axle 5th wheels yet. Must be a sight to behold.

And I'm super pleased with my choice in truck. It most definitely is overkill to some degree, but I didn't want to skimp on payload. I'm treading too close to the dangerous topic of tow vehicles, so I'll stop there. Let's just say I love it and I'm not looking back! Never thought I'd spend quite so much on a truck, but the Longhorn really sang to me.

I'm curious, what makes the triple axle trailers pull so much better than a double?

Thanks!
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Old 08-02-2014, 07:48 AM   #44
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I hope I wasn't too hard on the smaller ones. Truth is, I still think the old 31' Excella's were about the nicest looking travel trailer ever made. Very nice proportions. The old 26's weren't bad, but looked a little short for their width. My grandfather bought an Excella new when I was a kid and it was the one that got me into Airstreams. Later I had one, and it was beautiful, but it was a '77 with the flexi-frame and it had sag, separation, and a whole host of structural issues from living a rough life. But anyway, nothing wrong with the tandems at all. Personally, I really like the 30' bunkhouse model since I have two kids.

Honestly, most of these trailer floor plans seem to be setup for a retired couple. No matter the brand. They are very nice for two, but most aren't setup for 3, 4, or 5.

But anyway, the deal with tracking on the triples is that they pivot about the center axle when turning. So what happens is you have to "scrub" the front and rear axles to turn them. Some folks will tell you that you can't park them because of that, but that's a myth. I'd heard all that before I got mine, and you'd have thought you needed a crane to move one. I found that if I just backed up like normal, it went right into the space just fine. Nice surprise Seriously though, if you do turn them sharply on dry blacktop, you can sometimes leave a few black marks. But as long as you have more than 15psi in the tires (you should be running 60ish or so) you will never roll one off the bead. They don't scrub THAT bad.

But, the converse of this is true also. When you're cruising straight down the road, the naturally want to track straight and true. Once you're out rolling with a triple, they really pull nicely. Any trailer will sway, but the triples resist it more than the tandems. It's just a nice side benefit of them. When I bought mine, I pulled it 700 miles home on just the ball (whole 'nother topic on here...not the best practice and always use a proper hitch). I made sure that anything loose and heavy was in the front to keep the CG proper. It pulled fine. In fact, I pulled it over I-40 from Knoxville TN to Statesville NC first to visit a buddy on the way home and thought "man these roads are twisty!" Turns out I'd just driven over the Great Smokey Mountains with a 36' silver tube with no weight distribution or antisway and it did very well.

I didn't want to spend as much as a Henseley Arrow cost at the time,and they weren't making the Pro Pride hitchs (both are projection types and highly recommended) yet. So I did some research and narrowed it to a Reese Dual Cam vs. the Equal-I-Zer. Both are good hitches. Arguably not as good as the first two, but they're solid reputable hitches. I got a 1400lb rated Equal-I-Zer and have been been pulling with it ever since. Just got back from a 2400mile trip where I averaged 12.2-12.3mpg towing the Avion, but that was running a lot of interstate at 75mph. I can get 15mpg with the Cummins pulling this trailer (grosses at 9600lbs but my wife loads it to about 11,000.....maybe not really but she doesn't leave much behind) at 55mpph on level ground.

The 34's are long rascals. And when it comes time to replace the axles, there are three of them. But you only do that every 15-20 years (the rubber in the axles wears out). Yes, you have six tires to replace, but that's only every 6-7 years or so. But there is also additional safety factor there too. With the Load Range D tires I run, I automatically have 50% more capacity than I need on the tires. I.E. I could carry the weight of my trailer on four tires and be within their spec with good tires....I have six of them. So the tires are more lightly loaded....less chance of heating up that way.

Anyway, in two weeks, we managed to not have the trailer get too small on us. If you're full timing, I'd think you'd appreciate the room. And with your truck, you can pull any Airstream easily. The extra 6" of width really does make a noticeable difference. I'd look at the newer wide body trailers and maybe start with a 27, but more realistically a 30' and 34'.

Here's a pic of my "long long trailer." The rig is 58' long, and in a tight campground you have to watch a little, but 99.44% of the time you never notice it at all. "Think of it as a train. 40 feet of train!"

Best of luck and welcome aboard. You're going to have fun!
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Old 08-02-2014, 09:00 AM   #45
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I had never had a camping trailer when I started my research during September 2012 while overseas by looking at the Airstream factory catalog. Unfortunately, the drawings of the cross frame bed models imply a walk around space between the edge of the bed and front of the trailer which does not exist. The salesman never mentioned that detail which became very important to us.

With the overhead roof lockers and barely a four inch wide floor space, I was unable to make the bed while standing erect. The crab walk down the bed without awakening my wife was not what I expected.

If we had selected the 27FB model at that time instead of the 25FB, we probably would not have the Classic now.

Just like several ice cream franchises with 20 or more flavors on display, there is a flavor for nearly everyone. The same is true for Airstream with four basic model lines (like Pinto, Ford, Mercury and Lincoln with ever increasing prices going up the trim line and nearly the same floor plans in all but the basic models).

We were having a major issue with a simple interior modification to the 25FB and I stopped by the local dealership again in May 2013 and on the used lot was #25 of 25 of the 2011 34' Classics. We had started the conversation about a different model and the 27FB floor plan with twin beds was under consideration.

I went home and brought my wife to see the Classic and the wood interior. We both liked the Hickory look, but this was longer than she wanted and would push the combined tow weight with the new truck to the limits if it were loaded. So we passed on the 34' and settled on the Classic 27FB.

After seeing the "hit" for the trade in to gain 2', twin beds in line with the frame and a wood interior, the $3,012 up charge at order time to go to the 31' Classic made economic sense as to get hit with a trade in penalty going from a 27FB to the 31' Classic later.

I agree that these bigger units seem to appeal to couples and due to the costs associated with the purchase price for both the trailer and tow vehicle, they tend to be older and have more discretionary funds available for this activity.

We are interested in comfort and space at these prices.

As the trailers get longer, there are more windows and rivets to leak someday. But they are all maintenance queens and so do require tender loving care regardless of size.

From my experience, I suggest spending a weekend or more at a dealership like Colonial that has examples of each floor plan in stock. Spend some real time in each one sitting on the furniture checking for comfort and the viewing angle for the television. Try and visualize where you and any others will spend a rainy day inside. Does the dining table have to be taken up and down two or three times a day?

If you are tall, make sure there is adequate knee room in front of the toilet when perched. Look carefully at the twin bed models and realize that a custom mattress can be much longer so the tall folks do not need to fold up like an accordion in the bed.

When my wife saw our new Classic, she fell in love with it more than I thought she would. She was concerned about the pantry issue, but has found out there is more than ample storage for food and all of our "necessary" stuff. She has enjoyed our few outings to date and is eagerly looking forward to our first multi-stop trip starting next week.

If she is happy........
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Old 08-02-2014, 11:16 AM   #46
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As others have said, go to a stocked dealer and spend lots of time figuring out what will work for your family. We went to our dealer (3 hour round trip) 5 times in 6 weeks and flipped between different models about a dozen times before we both agreed on a model that made sense for us. We found that none are perfect, but you can usually overcome the limitations in one way or another.
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Old 08-02-2014, 11:20 AM   #47
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If they still made a 34 slide-out...
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Old 08-02-2014, 03:11 PM   #48
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"Golden" advice

Agree that the 34' AVION is a great trailer IF you remodel it - If you hate the MacMansion style of most big 5th wheels... wow, are you in a treat when you see your first Avion. I refer to it as French Provencal Whorehouse.

It's also pretty easy to see that if you reupholster the couches/benches, get rid of the drawer pulls, take off the applied moldings and refinish the REAL wood hardware, and get rid of the bronze-antiqued mirrors (gag!) you can have a really nice trailer. Frankly it has better bones (floor & frame) than a comparable Airstream.

It's not unusual to be able to get your hands on one for around $10K either - so if you're not handy, and not TOO ambitious you could pay someone else to rehab it and still pay less than a newish 30-34 Airstream.

Hate to be disloyal but my FINAL Airstream might end up being an Avion.

Paula
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Old 08-02-2014, 03:47 PM   #49
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Followed me home..

Enroute from Its second home in North Central Texas, on day of purchase, found a place in Texas where I could pull over... To get an Arnold Palmer iced tea... On way back I snapped this pic after remarking out loud.."oh my God! What have I done NOW?!?!?!?"
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Old 08-02-2014, 04:05 PM   #50
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You have bought a beautiful trailer-
That's what you have done!
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Old 08-02-2014, 05:10 PM   #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foiled Again View Post
Agree that the 34' AVION is a great trailer IF you remodel it - If you hate the MacMansion style of most big 5th wheels... wow, are you in a treat when you see your first Avion. I refer to it as French Provencal Whorehouse.


I just fell over.
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Old 08-02-2014, 10:13 PM   #52
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Bought our first of any kind RV, or Airstream. Went with the 30ft Flying Cloud with just about every option. Added 16" tires and rims, two Honda generators EU 2000, for portability, and the recliner option, so grand kids can bring their air mattresses and sleeping bags, when they leave we put the recliners back. At this time cannot get recliners in a few 30 ft models, after 4 months, no issue in pulling parking, or space awareness. PM, me if you want to chat a bit.
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Old 08-02-2014, 11:27 PM   #53
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Now.... I can't vouch for what the French place looks like..gonna trust you on that one.
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Old 08-03-2014, 08:18 AM   #54
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Old 08-03-2014, 10:30 AM   #55
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Oh boy, that FPW comment was definitely worth a good chuckle. Thanks for that, and it actually did conjure up an image for me. I'm anxious to go googling Avions now to see what happens

Channing, that's a smart looking rig you have there. May have to throw the 34 into the hat. I'm quite handy, but don't particularly want to go down the road of refurbishment quite yet. And, right, wrong, or indifferent, we are drawn to the 2015 models. I really like the ducted air and oceanair shades on the Flying Cloud now. We will likely go new, unless the right one finds us in the meantime. I may have to talk you into getting in touch with me the next time you are up this way for a visit.

Hi Jim, that's also a great looking setup. I am not too terribly knowledgeable about what the Avion is, so I will do some research. Thank you for explaining the more about the characteristics of a triple axle. I bet it does track fairly smooth and straight. I'm curious, what brand truck cap do you have? From a glance, it looks like either a Leer or ARE. Are you happy with it? I have a Mega Cab, and there aren't a ton of options for me Do you really see 15 MPG with the trailer at 55?? That's fantastic.

He have been spending a fair bit of time at Airstream dealers for the past year. As I might have mentioned, the folks here locally at Vogt know me by sight now (though I might stand out from their average customer here in Texas). Can anyone recommend other dealers we might be able to visit within 3-4 hours of the DFW metro area that may have a larger selection?

You guys/gals are the bees knees for giving such entertaining insight. Virtual beers / Arnold Palmers to all.
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Old 08-03-2014, 11:38 AM   #56
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You're making me thirsty!

Ha on the styling! To each their own. Actually, I think those new Signature trailers look a lot like the early 70's Airstreams, that were styled after the inside of a 747. No wood, but lots of polished metal and plastics. I think they're cool too. I really liked my Excella. I had wanted to sand the vinyl stuff off the interior walls and polish them. But it needed a new frame to be roadworthy, and I just didn't have the time then to do it. I sold it to a nice couple who were going to do a full shell off redo.

I'll agree with Paula on the older Avions. The 70's models did have that styling, and maybe even into the early 80's. Mine was one of the last ones and I wouldn't call it the FPW. It does have hard wood cabinets, so if you don't like hardwood, then it's not for you. They did use real hardwood cabinetry...no particle board. The older ones were stained very dark inside, and didn't have the windows of the newer ones. Mine (an '87) has the "Picture Window" in the living room that is pretty big. Close to 2.5 wide by 4' deep and larger side windows all around so it really brightens it up a lot. It's every bit as bright as an Airstream without the vista-vue windows (the four eyebrow windows up front in the living room that some of them had). Vista Vue's really brighten them up.

One other advantage I'll give to Avion is their suspension. Only the mid year 1988's went to the rubber axles like Airstream. From about '78 or '79 until mid year '88, they used "Adjust-a-Ryde" suspension. What that is, is three Dexter axles (with the big brakes) cut in half and a pivot point welded onto the end of each half. So you get six swing arms. The trailer has three main frame rails, and the pivots attach to the center rail. Outside, there are six individual leaf spring packs, with six shock absorbers. So you get six wheel independent suspension. But with the metal springs and not the rubber suspending medium, it basically lasts forever. You don't have to replace them. And the ride is spectacular. I won't say it's any better than the Airstream, but I've pulled 500 miles before with something laying on the kitchen table and it was still there when I stopped. Hard to beat that. Cayo still makes these, so if you ran over a cinder block or something (I don't know how else you'd every break one), you can get a replacement. Just a nice side benefit. The older trailers used Mor-Ryde (sp?) suspension, which is even better. It's very rugged.

As Paula mentioned, the frames are a lot heavier on them too. Mine has three six inch box section rails making up the main frame, with two six inch box sections forming the tongue. There is also an 8" deep suspension frame where all the suspension bolts to, and this frame is welded underneath the triple rail main frame. So where you have your maximum bending stresses, you have 14" of steel. Avions never sag or separate. They are very stout. The older Avions were on average a little heavier than Airstreams of the same vintage because of the heavier frame. But it wasn't a lot....maybe 300lbs or so. By the mid 80's, Airstream had gotten heavier so that if you compare an '87 Avion to an '87 Airstream, they're abut identical. I think the Airstream may actually be 100lbs heavier or so.

I didn't set out to get a triple. I just kind of fell into it. But I'm glad I did. I was actually looking at a '78 Airstream Sovereign at the same time as my '87 34X. I had actually intended to probably bring the Sovereign home. But I looked at both trailers, the Sovereign had been reaxled with the wrong axles and brakes and had some other issues, and I really liked the other trailer. So I got it. Been pretty happy with it.

If you don't mind a used one, I would recommend looking at some newer used 34's.

But if you want to go new, I think you'll be very happy with a 30 foot flying cloud. I really like the bunkhouse model. Have you looked at one?

Airstream Flying Cloud Specs, Airstream Travel Trailers | Airstream

If you can, upgrade to 16" wheels with E rated tires at the factory. (whole 'nother thread).

Oh, and yes that's a Leer cap. I just took the emblems off. It said Leer in about four different places, and I didn't like being a rolling advertisement for them. Ten minutes with the hair dryer and they all came off. It's worked fine. I'd like to get those mounts on top of it for the bicycles. Dagnab bikes are always in the way and I hate eating up 2/3 of the truck bed with them. Leer has a plant not too far from me so it was even made locally

Yep, I have routinely gotten 15mpg with it...if I can run that slow. Most of the time you're running faster than that. Mine seems to like 1850rpm, which is about 63mph. Once you start going higher in the rpm, the mileage drops off exponentially. But, to compare, a friend just got a new Ram with the HEMI gas engine and he gets 7mpg towing with it (though he's got a Carriage 37' 5er that you could put my Avion and your Airstream inside of ....) But he got 12mpg with his diesel.


I'm intrigued now and am going to go out in the driveway and see if I can find those French girls Paula says are in my trailer....
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