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Old 12-07-2010, 12:46 AM   #1
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Full time alone in small trailer?

Hello. I am considering giving up permanent residence for an Airstream for maybe a year, then continuing to use it for road trips, moving transition, working on rent houses I own in FL, etc... I am really sick of motels and the time pressure they create by sucking so much money.

Anyway, it's just me and my mellow dog. I'd like to keep it small, to make driving easier and cheaper, and not buy a new vehicle. I have a 4.0L Ford Ranger now. Based on my experience towing utility trailers, I think I'd like to keep it small and 2-wheeled, as the 4 wheel trailers I towed seemed to really test the weight of the tow vehicle and had a steering mind of their own .

So, I'm thinking about a 19 or 20 ft model. I'm wondering about the demands of the more extensive than usual use I would be putting on one. Since I have no experience, used Airstream and especially Argosy trailers look perfectly good at $10k or so. However, what I have read so far suggests that getting a relatively new one, spending more like $25 or 30k, is definitely worth it for extensive use, and maybe even ultimately cheaper.

Any thoughts?
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Old 12-07-2010, 01:06 AM   #2
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Hi, Welcome to the forum. My opinion is that any trailer that can be properly towed with your Ranger would be fine for camping, but too small to live in.
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Old 12-07-2010, 01:37 AM   #3
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I disagree.

I have full-timed for five years in a 37' high-line fifth wheel (with Freightliner FL60 to pull it), and also 3 years in my 1998 34' Airstream. But my first full-timing experience was for 1-1/2 years in a 1966 19' Cortez motorhome (look it up, it was one really cool motorhome - much better than anything available today).

While it was certainly cramped, it's all in the attitude. If you put her in a really friendly RV park and relish living the lifestyle, your heart will be happy. For storage, put a camper shell on the Ford Ranger and a set of shelves in the truck bed on a slide-out tray. Fill the shelves with seal-tight plastic containers to store all your extra stuff.

If you need even more storage (for things you need to care for your rental properties), rent a local storage unit, or better still, get a used 6'x12' single-axle cargo trailer and use it for storage, parked alongside your Airstream in a pull-thru or double-wide RV space. It will pay for itself in storage unit fees and you can sell it when you are done for what you have in it.

You will only give it up when you are ready and I'm betting that won't be for a while.
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Old 12-07-2010, 07:15 AM   #4
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Thanks. I am a bit concerned about the small size, but not for storage. I can easily travel for a month with only a carryon suitcase - by car: a suitcase, food bag, briefcase, and two pillows. I just did a 6000 mile one month trip in my truck (with shell) carrying around sculptures, dog and dog accessories. I am a steel sculptor and have a bunch of tools for working on houses, so an additional 10x20 storage unit is a given. I don't have to haul around everything I own.

My concern with the size is more about whether the smallness in relation to even the studio apartment I am used to will be so small that I won't like it, and the functional limitations of the smaller bathroom and other stuff when not being plugged in. It seems doubtful to me that adding 6 or 10 feet would really make that much of a difference, since it is still tiny compared to a real house or apartment.

However, I haven't stayed in a trailer since camping as a kid, so I'm going on pure speculation. I'd like to rent one and try it for a few weeks, but the rental prices I have found for trailers that seem much crappier than Airstreams are insanely high, and it would amount to a large chunk of buying one.

Part of the idea for me is that I think the thing would pay for itself vs. what I'll save on rent and motel expenses. I pay over $1000/mo in Seattle, and motels avg about $45-50/night solo, even on a steady diet of Motel 6, which often has to be added to the cost of rent. A trailer that cost as little as $10K would definitely pay for itself in less than a year of wandering around. $30K would require more like 2 years or so of total use. I imagine getting a bigger truck of comparable quality to mine that I could haul a bigger trailer with would be another $10-15K, adding another year or more.

The main initial purpose is wandering, as I have friends all over the country, and I would like to see parts of Canada again and get out all the way to Newfoundland this time (probably leaving the trailer in Nova Scotia for the last bit though). After the nomadic period, I would use it to take my time finding a place to live near Abq, NM, or possibly even keep staying in it somehow for a while. After that, it would probably only be used for camping, road-tripping, and house fixing.
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Old 12-07-2010, 07:25 AM   #5
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After 10 years of full-timing, I believe the old saying that "the secret to living in a small space is to live outside of it." To me the greatest benefit of living in my TT is that I can park it where I have streams, lakes, beaches and mts. and move to have the best weather. I sleep inside, and spend time inside at my computer desk, otherwise I'm out-of-doors.
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Old 12-07-2010, 11:09 AM   #6
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You might want to also consider the fiberglass trailers, like Casita, Boler, Scamp, Burro, and the like- they are light to tow, pretty leak resistant, and maybe not as pricey as an Airstream. I don't think your Ford Ranger will be able to safely tow a 20' Airstream, but it MIGHT tow a small fiberglass unit or metal "canned ham". Best of luck, and have fun with this! -tim
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Old 12-07-2010, 11:43 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tphan View Post
You might want to also consider the fiberglass trailers, like Casita, Boler, Scamp, Burro, and the like- they are light to tow, pretty leak resistant, and maybe not as pricey as an Airstream. I don't think your Ford Ranger will be able to safely tow a 20' Airstream, but it MIGHT tow a small fiberglass unit or metal "canned ham". Best of luck, and have fun with this! -tim
I 2nd this option and would also add the iPod models that are real nice and built for smaller tow vehicle. Some of the larger 20-22 foot models I have been in are on par with Airstream in comfort. Very practical.
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Old 12-07-2010, 12:11 PM   #8
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The official tow capacity of my truck is 5,620 pounds. I gather that max GVWR is supposed to be 80% of that. This would seem to put 19' Airstreams (~3,800 lbs unloaded) in my range if I didn't load one up with too much stuff. I found weights on 20' Argosys from the 70's that were about 1,000 lbs lower, which would seem to be definitely in the range. Is there some other factor I am missing?

I'll try looking up the other brands. Thanks.
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Old 12-07-2010, 02:09 PM   #9
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if you are camping in cold weather, go with the other brand, airstreams are very cold in the winter.
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Old 12-07-2010, 02:40 PM   #10
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I have been looking at the others, and I like the Egg Camper and Casita molded fiberglass types better than the R Pod, which seems much less durable. The better insulation value is a plus, and bringing the trailer weight down would probably mean easier towing and better gas mileage. An older one might be so cheap that I could get one almost financial risk free compared to what I thought I might have to spend... if it was acceptably functional. Unfortunately, I haven't seen one in person yet. I've seen a newer 16' Airstream though, and was put off by the microscopic bathroom.
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Old 12-07-2010, 05:22 PM   #11
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One trailer you should consider is the Bigfoot 17.5. They have a sterling reputation for quality and durability, plus they are light weight and tow easy. Some Examples:
http://www.rvsjunction.com/view_rv_details.php?RID=993

http://www.rvtraderonline.com/find/listing/2009-Bigfoot-Ind-25B17.5FB-97784661
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Old 12-07-2010, 06:37 PM   #12
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Just had to add my two cents worth! My wife and I lived on a 30' sailboat for five years and fondly look back on it as one of the best times of our life. I would guess that our boat had about the same amount of room as our 20" A/S. For two of the years we both had full time jobs. One of our rules was - if you get a pair of socks you have to throw out an old pair! We spent two winters in the water in New England. In the morning the sheet would be frozen to the hull and you would have to peel your way out. Our A/S is much, much warmer! Don'tcha just love sea stories!
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Old 12-07-2010, 06:51 PM   #13
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We (my wife, medium size dog and me) bought a new 16' Bambi sport this year and pull it with a Tacoma 4.0. We just returned from a week in Bend Oregon and have spent another week this last summer plus several two and three day trips. We love our little trailer, did I say little, and it works great for what we do. It would be a challenge to live in it full time. The Tacoma pulls it just fine but going north from Sacramento last week with a head wind we were down to 10.8 mpg and the best we got on the way back was 16.1 from Sacramento back to Bakersfield. A friend at work pulls a 28' square box trailer and he only gets about 8 to 9 mpg. Great trailer for us and short trips but I am certain you would need something several feet bigger to live in.
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Old 12-07-2010, 09:21 PM   #14
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Go with "glass" class

Quote:
Originally Posted by tphan View Post
You might want to also consider the fiberglass trailers, like Casita, Boler, Scamp, Burro, and the like- they are light to tow, pretty leak resistant, and maybe not as pricey as an Airstream. I don't think your Ford Ranger will be able to safely tow a 20' Airstream, but it MIGHT tow a small fiberglass unit or metal "canned ham". Best of luck, and have fun with this! -tim
I agree with this idea. You'll be able to pull easily, and if you get a larger one (16' and up) you'll get a bathroom. Check out my website link at the bottom of this message (bolerama.org). You can see how many different companies have made fiberglass trailers over the years. Bigfoot trailers are top-notch, four-season TTs.

Best wishes in your search,

Lisa
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