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Old 03-10-2014, 07:01 AM   #1
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Full-Timing and Airstreams for Beginners

First off, I'd like to apologize if there is already a thread out there that covers all of this! I'm lookin' to buy my first Airstream, and trailer for that matter. I'm lookin' at anything 1970-80s, 23-31ft, so yes, I know that it's not going to be perfect inside and out. That being said, what are some things to look for when buying an Airstream? I'd like to buy one that's pretty much ready to roll, and renovate on the inside. I noticed a few of the one's I'm lookin' at "need a new fridge" or "fridge doesn't work". Is that an easy fix and is it inexpensive? Do hook-ups normally come with the trailer, if not, how do I go about getting them? Some trailers I looked at say they are ready to be polished.. Is that something that needs to be done in a shop, or is it something I could do? Also, is that expensive (and necessary)? Please, any advice y'all have on all this, would be greatly appreciated!

What are some good tow vehicles? I'm lookin' at a F-250 gasser, 4WD. Lastly, any other words of wisdom about full-timing? What are some good campsites for long term stays? (I'm looking at bein' outside of Nashville, TN) I'm also thinkin' about getting myslef a dog to bring with since it'll otherwise be just me. Is that a good or bad idea? I had a dog all my life, so it'd almost be weird not having one. (Note, this is the first time I'll be living alone.)

Thank y'all who do answer in advance!
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Old 03-10-2014, 07:21 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrising View Post
First off, I'd like to apologize if there is already a thread out there that covers all of this! I'm lookin' to buy my first Airstream, and trailer for that matter. I'm lookin' at anything 1970-80s, 23-31ft, so yes, I know that it's not going to be perfect inside and out. That being said, what are some things to look for when buying an Airstream? I'd like to buy one that's pretty much ready to roll, and renovate on the inside. I noticed a few of the one's I'm lookin' at "need a new fridge" or "fridge doesn't work". Is that an easy fix and is it inexpensive? Do hook-ups normally come with the trailer, if not, how do I go about getting them? Some trailers I looked at say they are ready to be polished.. Is that something that needs to be done in a shop, or is it something I could do? Also, is that expensive (and necessary)? Please, any advice y'all have on all this, would be greatly appreciated!

What are some good tow vehicles? I'm lookin' at a F-250 gasser, 4WD. Lastly, any other words of wisdom about full-timing? What are some good campsites for long term stays? (I'm looking at bein' outside of Nashville, TN) I'm also thinkin' about getting myslef a dog to bring with since it'll otherwise be just me. Is that a good or bad idea? I had a dog all my life, so it'd almost be weird not having one. (Note, this is the first time I'll be living alone.)

Thank y'all who do answer in advance!
This is the right place to find your answers, however if you search this site you will answer most of them. Also check out The Vintage Airstream Podcast | Vintage Trailer Restoration & perhaps read "Restoring a Dream". The era of trailer you are considering will likely need a lot more than just a fridge (however many have great fridges, but rotted out floors) so check things out very carefully.
Good luck with your search.
Colin
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Old 03-10-2014, 07:36 AM   #3
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jrising,

Welcome to the forum! Everyone has to start somewhere and when making the plunge we all have lots of questions. From the tone of your post, it appears you haven't had prior experience with owning an Airstream or maybe any other trailer so your learning curve will be steep. However, don't let that discourage you it just means you'll need to invest lots of time exploring this forum before investing in either a tow vehicle (TV) or trailer (AS or TT).

You will find lots of good information here although it will be interspersed with lots of opinions as well. As an example: owning a dog. I love dogs/cats/birds, etc., but I happen to spend winter in an Airstream Only park that doesn't allow pets. You'll have to decide whether having a dog is worth forgoing some parks that may not allow them.

Any TV you select will need to be compatible with the TT you decide to buy. No one will be able to tell you whether you should buy a F-250 until you know what AS you will have. I happen to own a F-250 that is my TV for my 30' Classic.

Much of what you decide to buy will depend on your budget. If you can tell us exactly what you have in mind when you've narrowed your choices we can respond accordingly.

Also, there are many years of information posted in numerous threads that provide guidance on the questions you've posed. I suggest you spend lots of time on this forum and use the search feature at the top of this page to get to specific answers to the questions you may have. Another example: Search pets or dogs and you'll have enough information upon which to make your decision.

Good luck and happy hunting!
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Old 03-10-2014, 07:46 PM   #4
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[QUOTE= Lastly, any other words of wisdom about full-timing? What are some good campsites for long term stays? (I'm looking at bein' outside of Nashville, TN) I'm also thinkin' about getting myslef a dog to bring with since it'll otherwise be just me. Is that a good or bad idea? I had a dog all my life, so it'd almost be weird not having one. (Note, this is the first time I'll be living alone.)

Thank y'all who do answer in advance! [/QUOTE]


Are you looking at staying primarily in one location or are you planning on traveling? Most fulltimers travel and head south in the winter where it is warmer. Be aware that Airstreams are really three season RVs and are not ideal for very cold weather.

The Escapees organization primarily supports fulltimers. Here a link to the Escapees Discussion Forum that contains advice on fulltiming in all types of RV's.

Airforums will provide you with advice specific to Airstreams.

Many fulltimers have pets including dogs. Some parks do have restrictions on the breed (no vicious breeds) or size (no dogs over xx pounds). Many parks have pet areas to exercise your dogs.
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Old 03-12-2014, 02:33 PM   #5
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I also started with a dream, but no practical experience with my own trailer. I began my journey by visiting the Alumapalooza rally at the home of the Airstream in Jackson Center, OH in May of 2012. I see you are in PA so it might be doable for you, too. You can go to rallies without a trailer; I stayed in a nearby hotel. The info I picked up from owners, the factory, seminars, and looking at actual trailers in the open house was very valuable. I also visited the alumafandango in Denver that year. Locally, I went to local rallies and talked to owners. I lucked out by connecting with the San Diego Wally Byam club through craigslist, of all places.

Another thing you 'gotta have' is the Airstream for Newbies book. I think it is available on the Airstream site and/or through Airstream Life. It is my 'bible' and answered a lot of questions for me. I will use it forever for the checklists.

I have lived full-time in my trailer for a year now and it has worked out really well for me. I found the park by doing a search for RV parks and Mobile Home parks, since they have long term sometimes.

I have a 3/4 ton 2500 Dodge Ram and the towing is pretty easy. I hook it up and tow it on my own. The backing it up into my space is still a work in progress! But my license plates says it all. The trailer is 1GYPC(heart) and the truck is GYPCFUN.
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Old 03-12-2014, 03:40 PM   #6
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This forum is absolutely the best resourse you are going to find anywhere. I bought my airstream motorhome last fall and have spent the winter reading everything i could get to here and i would be lost without these fine folks here on the forum. So read, read, then read some more right here. You have a thousand questions right now and will have a million once you have pulled the trigger but eventually it will start to make sense. Dont consider your questions to be dumb or feel afraid to ask, everyone here has started out somewhere just like you. The veteran streamers here show a great deal of patience and seem to ALWAYS be willing to help. Its a bit scary and very unfamiliar at first, but once you start learning the terminology and the componants of your airstream, it will start making sense. Then the fun begins, you start your repairs and renovations and then hit the road. Good luck, and always turn to this forum first when you need help!
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Old 03-12-2014, 05:30 PM   #7
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Selingsgrove PA...

I've been fulltiming since 2005. I too jumped into it with no extensive trailering experience. I was in my mid 50's and had no debt, good income, and could afford to make a BIG mistake and back out gracefully, or otherwise, without suffering. I'm not planning on going back to sticks and mortar any time soon. However it isn't for everyone and it's my humble opinion that anyone who tries this will be much happier if they do have two things:
  1. a realistic assessment of your own character and your weaknesses. Will I be OK if I'm totally alone for 4 days - or I accidentally camp somewhere where I don't want to associate with the locals? If I get a flat tire will I really be able to change it myself if I'm thirty miles from the nearest services? Am I going to hitch up by myself - when it's 40 degrees and in a driving rain? (Many campground limit the amount of time you can stay.) Can you squash a spider with your bare hands? Do funny noises in the night terrify you?(squirrels on the roof... or the occasional raccoon... and once in a while a deer whacks his antlers on your awning pole!)
  2. the other thing you need to face it financial reality and have a "back OUT position". I don't think you're wrong to want an inexpensive "starter" Airstream... but if you've NEVER lived alone... you might have an easier adjustment if you got a newish SOB (Square old box) trailer and work up to an Airstream after six months to a year.

First on your list should be to get some up close and personal time with RV's in general and Airstreams in particular. To that end Selingsgrove PA isn't the end of the world, but you can see it from there! I can tell by your references to hookups that you don't have hands on experience with an RV trailer.
BASICS: all newer trailers have a white water tank, a gray water tank, and a black water tank... very small ones sometimes combine the gray & black into one tank. White water is clean & Drinkable, Gray is used water - from the sinks and shower, black water is used from the toilet. They also have batteries and propane tanks. Batteries provide limited DC electricity, Propane is used for the stove furnace, and for the "gas" side of the refrigerator. You can "boondock" or live without hookups for a few days to a week or more with stored white water, full propane tanks and good batteries that are fully charged. RV refrigerators and toilets are different from home appliances!

When you pull into a campground you can often select what level of hookups you want and will pay for. The basic three hookups are electricity, drinking water and water/sewage disposal. Newer campgrounds often offer internet hookups as the 4th hookup. For water, you hook up a "white hose" to a spigot - almost all campground water is fit to drink. If you have a water hookup you can shower, do dishes, cook and flush the toilet without being restricted by the number of gallons in you white water tank. Electric - you use a long 30 amp extension cord to plug from a pedestal to your supply outlet. You can run an air conditioner, and recharge your batteries as well as using all the normal electric stuff. Disposing of water and waste is very important because when you shower or wash dishes the water goes in the gray tank, the toilet is placed over a black tank. You actually have to hook up a "slinky" hose (or Sewer Solution, etc.) to drain your waste water - and you have a gate for the black and gray tanks that allows you to control which you dump. If you fail to dump your tanks, gray water comes up in your shower and black waste... well you can figure that out right? If you're super squeamish what ARE you going to do if (er WHEN) you have to replace the black tank gate? (I'm to squeamish to think of inflicting that chore on anyone else!!!!)
You're almost half way between two good places for Airstreamers to visit. First is Colonial Airstream in Lakewood NJ... Where you'll see mainly new Airstreams, but they DO take in used ones too. Even if you're not considering new, getting the right layout for long term comfort can't be done without walking through several layouts. Colonial has more Airstream stock than anyplace but the factory. The other place you should look to visit is Penn Woods - an Airstream only campground N.E. of Pittsburgh in New Bethlehem PA, just off of I-80. I've only been there twice and both times there were a few older Airstreams for sale because the owners had aged out of traveling.

Of course it's a bit of a ride but you could visit the "mothership" Jackson Center, Ohio and take a tour of the factory. That's NW of Columbus OH.

Look at the section on upcoming rallies. Lots of them welcome visitors - and Airstreamers are more than glad to show you around their trailers and explain what's involved in towing, maintaining and camping in an RV.

Good luck, you've found a good place to start.
Paula
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Old 03-21-2014, 12:57 PM   #8
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Jrising,

I am right there with you...I'm a newbie that just took the plunge and bought a 1998 Safari 25ft. I didn't have a lot of time to spend driving around regionally to see trailers and attend rallies, so I just spent a lot of time reading the forums and asking questions. I still have a thousand questions, which I guess is the fun of it. Always something to learn. But the knowledge I gained gave me the courage to make a solid decision.

If you'd rather avoid a fixer upper, in terms of electricity, plumbing, axle and all that, I'd stick with more recent years, like the 90s if they are in your price range.

If you have the time I would spend several months reading the forum and going to rallies and getting a sense of the condition / market value of the differnet used AS's on the market.
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Old 03-24-2014, 09:21 PM   #9
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Cool

Quote:
Originally Posted by trvlbuttrfly View Post
I also started with a dream, but no practical experience with my own trailer. I began my journey by visiting the Alumapalooza rally at the home of the Airstream in Jackson Center, OH in May of 2012. I see you are in PA so it might be doable for you, too. You can go to rallies without a trailer; I stayed in a nearby hotel. The info I picked up from owners, the factory, seminars, and looking at actual trailers in the open house was very valuable. I also visited the alumafandango in Denver that year. Locally, I went to local rallies and talked to owners. I lucked out by connecting with the San Diego Wally Byam club through craigslist, of all places.

Another thing you 'gotta have' is the Airstream for Newbies book. I think it is available on the Airstream site and/or through Airstream Life. It is my 'bible' and answered a lot of questions for me. I will use it forever for the checklists.

I have lived full-time in my trailer for a year now and it has worked out really well for me. I found the park by doing a search for RV parks and Mobile Home parks, since they have long term sometimes.

I have a 3/4 ton 2500 Dodge Ram and the towing is pretty easy. I hook it up and tow it on my own. The backing it up into my space is still a work in progress! But my license plates says it all. The trailer is 1GYPC(heart) and the truck is GYPCFUN.

What are the good/safe parks that you have found in California? Any suggestions for the Los Angeles area?

Thanks!
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Old 03-27-2014, 05:44 PM   #10
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Two years ago my wife and I bought a 1993 Sovereign 21. Since then we've traveled about 21,000 miles with our Airstream, and in 2013 spent 4 months living in it, primarily in the mountains of the west and northwest, as well as along the Pacific coast. We had an absolutely wonderful time, but rather than make this a long, rambling discourse on our adventures, I'd like instead to briefly answer a few of your concerns/questions:
1) As others have suggested, spend a bunch of time on AirForums reading everything you can. There are lots of very knowledgeable people here from whom you can learn a great deal.
2) When you do get ready to buy a trailer, avail yourself of the folks on here who volunteer to check out used trailers for others. We did that and it saved us from making a very expensive mistake.
3) Buy a trailer that's as close to turn-key as you can afford. You may spend a few thousand more than you'd planned but you will easily save that and lots more by avoiding costly repairs and replacements.
4) No matter what anyone on here says to the contrary, overkill trumps under-powered when it comes to tow vehicles. We tow with a Dodge Ram 4x4 with a 5.7 Hemi engine. It's pulled our Airstream up very steep mountain roads (kept our trailer calm and steady going down them) without ever breaking a sweat. So, your choice of a Ford F-250 4x4 is a good one. I've only had to use the 4-wheel drive on our truck about 8 or 10 times so far in all our travels, but when we needed it we really needed it and were damn glad we had it.
5) A dog is a great idea for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is that they're marvelous traveling companions. Ours is a 95-pound Rottweiler that we rescued. I mention his size because all three of us fit just fine in our Sovereign 21.
Good luck, and if you have any questions please don't hesitate to give me a holler. If I can help in any way I'll be happy to do so.
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Old 04-07-2014, 07:19 PM   #11
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Oh Yeah!

I am right there with you ..

I just purchased a 76 trade wind and i have no idea what i am doing. I am going to live in it full time for at least a year to start. I am soooooo looking forward to it...putting solar panels on the roof, new flooring, a insta hot water heater...its a lot going on with my Studio on Wheels.

I have an abundance of repairs which are driving me a bit insane...a ton of questions about this and that...but i like to tinker so i am doing a lot of it myself.

I have a 100lb red nose pit bull that has been my travel buddy for over 5 years now..and i think i am going to be just fine with him by my side. I, personally like to change the scenery out my window as often as possible so it is a miracle it has take me this long to do this.

Hope to see you out there....and welcome to streaming....
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Old 07-05-2014, 11:27 AM   #12
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1992 21' Sovereign
Monroe , Maine
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Do you still have your 21' Sovereign? We are trying to figure out how the flip up table beside the door should be attached. We have the table but the attachment(s) appear to be missing. PO did not know. Any help / photos would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 07-09-2014, 08:52 PM   #13
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1975 25' Tradewind
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Well mine had an L bracket attached that flipped up and made it slide.
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