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Old 12-08-2011, 08:35 PM   #1
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Full-Timing in AS MH?

I posted this on the MH subforum, and got a couple of replies, but perhaps I'd get a different perspective here.

We've recently found out that Airstream made motor homes, and some of them look a lot like Airstream trailers. Some of those came in DP variety, and that got our attention.

Does anyone full-time in a Classic DP motor home? If so, I'd like to hear from you. DW is concerned about storage space, and I'm more concerned with weights and engines.

As of this minute, with a couple of years to go before we need to make a decision, we're down to a DP motor home or an Airstream trailer. That's still subject to change, and which way we go may well depend on how DW's foot surgery went. If walking and climbing steps is a challenge for her, the Airstream trailer is pretty much our only option. If all is right in the foot, then there are more options. I mentioned to her the other night that "wouldn't it it nice if our choice was between an Airstream trailer and an Airstream motor home?" She kind of likes that choice, too.

So, let's hear the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Classic DP coaches. Should they be on our consideration list or not?
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Old 12-08-2011, 09:18 PM   #2
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We don't full-time but have spent six months each winter away from home. We enjoy the ability to travel very light.

If you could establish a "base camp" centralized to your travels to leave seasonal stuff behind (storage shed perhaps?) you could be comfortable in a smaller, more agile and economical rig such as an Airstream trailer. Otherwise the trailer would be a challenge for storage (not much), although many do it using the back of the pickup as the attic.

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Old 12-08-2011, 09:32 PM   #3
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You would also need a "toad", a small car to tow behind you.

Otherwise, every time you need milk, it's "OK honey, tie everything down, I'm a-takin' her to the store!"

That would be toadly un-cool.
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Old 12-09-2011, 08:24 AM   #4
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We've already decided that our FT rig will have something towing something else. Whether that's a pickup towing an Airstream or a MH with a toad, there will be two parts. One of the concerns is storage space. We've talked about renting a climate-controlled storage shed, but we could afford to give away last season's clothes and buy new for the next season for what that would cost.
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Old 12-09-2011, 10:02 AM   #5
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It is wise to not only plan for starting full-timing, but also planning for when it might end.

A reasonable rig that will not break the bank buying, maintaining, driving and parking but yet be comfortable for you, even in long stretches of bad weather.

Decide what essential stuff you need, or might need if you ever quit, and how to handle it. Take it or leave it somewhere.

Do you want to move around a lot, or stay pretty much in the same place. The size rig will affect your mobility and the cost of moving.

Am I a good mechanic or will need someone else to do repairs. Rv's are high maintenance. Simplicity matters.

These are some of the many factors that may help select a full-timing rig. You have indicated storage is a concern, that's why I suggested "base" storage rather than take it with you.

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Old 12-09-2011, 12:43 PM   #6
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In general the same FT problems posed by an Airstream trailer would apply, to wit that most fulltimers want more space and more storage. Most ft'ers use very large 5ers or class A rigs with multiple slides. Those in smaller rigs usually live alone.

Any older MH will pose chassis maintenance problems, and there's nothing about Airstream that makes it immune to that. You would want to be prepared for the expense and disruption that could be posed by an engine or transmission failure, and the cost of routine maintenance.
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Old 12-09-2011, 02:09 PM   #7
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I'll chime in on the "large is not necessarily better" side. I've spent the last four years living out of a suitcase, with one or two weeks worth of clothes. My 19' Bambi is going to to feel like it's huge. It will also curb my tendency to fill up any available space with crap I don't really need.

I've noticed that a lot of full-timers say that they rent a storage space to keep the stuff in they feel they just can't stand to live without, and then end up clearing it out after a year or so, wondering why they thought they couldn't live without most of what's in it.

In these days of electronic methods of storing documents and such, I really think there's not much you have to live with. Once upon a time, I'd have said I couldn't live without books, especially, and now I have an iPad with Kindle on it. Even my phone has Kindle on it, and I read standing in lines just like I always did with books, but now I don't hurt my back carrying around books in my handbag.

Have you taken a look at some of the blogs, both here and out on the interwebz? Dreamstreamrs has a lot of common sense stuff on their home page, for instance, for whether you're in an Airstream or any other kind of travel trailer or motorhome.

The only thing I am still trying to figure out how to lighten my load with is my sewing machines, which is one way I make a living. But I'll get there.
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Old 12-09-2011, 02:15 PM   #8
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It seems to me, from what I've seen of full-timers, that it's a combination of memorabilia, seasonal items, and stuff for hobbies or part time jobs that takes up the space. Even if you only go duck hunting once a year you need a place to put the decoys.
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Old 12-09-2011, 02:38 PM   #9
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Space ... the final frontier. Too much space just encourages those of us who (ahem) tend to have too much stuff. Too many nooks and crannies allows my wife to forget that rocks must stay in the wild (as opposed to being carted across country under the seats of the truck!). Who really needs four folding chairs when the need only arises upon the arrival of strangers at the campsite? Two chairs 95% of the time make it hard to justify two more for the occasional visitor. Do we really need two TV's? Radios? A suit? Ties?

Full-timing is the art of making-do with a lot less than we once did and feeling good about the process. I'm still working on that...
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Old 12-09-2011, 03:05 PM   #10
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Having walking or climbing troubles I would think the MH has many advantages. As far as getting in & out I don't think MH's & TT's differ.

Our children are grown and on their own so it's just the two of us in our AS/MH and in our situation we would not have anything else. There's alot on the subject of MH's vs TT's here on these forums and it prolly boils down to what works for you. We don't full time but we're on the road alot, had this MH about four years now and never have used a toad. For the times when we knew we would be stationary for ten or more days we rent a car for that stay. Has worked well for us.

As far as storage space goes ours is a 1990 345LE and we have not really needed more space when you combine all the interior and exterior space available on ours. We've learned from each and every trip and it seems like we carry alot fewer things as we learn.

Have to agree with what was said above that it is a must about having mechanical knowledge for any type of rig, unless you have $$ to burn. Ours is older and requires frequent maintenance, mostly preventative, and as long as you stay on top of that the rest is up to ole Murphy. This applies to anything mechanical be it car, truck, MH, whatever.

Another thing to consider for full timing is weather you have full hook-ups available. I myself would not want to be dumping tanks frequently with any option available except full hook ups. This wont differ between MH or TT except I think the holding tanks are generally larger on the MH's.
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Old 12-09-2011, 04:01 PM   #11
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The question of a MH or a trailer is always a difficult one. There are many many motorhomes on the roads, so they must satisfy a lot of folks, but not me. I have had 3 motorhomes, a 28' Argosy, a 31' AS, and a 26' GMC. I also have had about 15 AS trailers over the years, so this is from the perspective of one who has experience with both kinds of vehicles.

The problem for me is that the maintenance on the basics of the motorhomes (brakes, engine, transmissions, and all the various sub systems) is not either easy, nor fun for me to do personally, and is difficult and expensive to have done professionally. If you are full timing they have your home, as well, when it goes into the shop for repairs. And there are always repairs, especially on any older Motorhome. In addition, those repairs become more difficult as time goes on, as the parts, often not common when new, are increasingly hard to find as the rig ages. Have fun finding parts or service on the air suspension of an older AS motorhome. Yes, it can be done, someone always can fix it or substitute parts, but those people are not easy to find. Expenses are often quite high for mechanical repairs on older motorhomes. Add to that the fact that many mechanics have not seen things like older carb engines in years, and don't know how to work on them. What? No computer port to tell me what is wrong? I have no idea then....

Now, with a trailer you can replace most all the mechanical parts associated with towing at once, simply by purchasing a new tow vehicle. It will be up to date, technologically, and service processes will be known for 10 years or more. You can drop the tow vehicle off at a shop and usually it will be repaired in a few hours, if not, you can still go back to your trailer (home) and wait it out. If you want new seats, new brakes, new engine, new transmission, and on and on, you just trade the tired old ones in, all at once. You get the new tow vehicle, keep your old home.

Sure, trailers can need repairs too, but they are not as common, nor (usually) as difficult as the ones on a complex combined unit, the motorhome. Yes, new tires, brakes, and a few other things can go wrong with a trailer, but they are not in the same category as when on a motorhome.

Common interior things like furnaces, refrigerators, AC units and water pumps are about equally trouble prone on both kinds of RV's and are about equally easy (or difficult) to repair.

So, after years of RV'ing I have found the trailer best for me as I don't like to try to maintain old "heavy metal" of an older motorhome. Oh, and did I mention that it is expensive... and motorhomes depreciate more like tow vehicles than Airstream Trailers do. My '83 310 motorhome cost the original owner over $100,000, it was 10 years old when I got it for $31,000, and I sold it 15 years after that for $12,500. In contrast, I have made money on many of the Airstream trailers I have owned over the years, selling price vs. purchase price. (in truth, many were fixed up a lot while I owned them). But the motorhomes just were a downward spiral.

All just my experience and opinion. Your milage may differ.

More things for you to consider.
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Old 12-09-2011, 05:39 PM   #12
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I just recently purchased my 89 345LE AS motorhome. I will not retire for another 9+ years. I'm already calling my moho, my 'Mobile Retirement Villa'. Now, I am single, so I don't have to worry about anyone else.
Storage in mine is quite substantial, but I've already realized that I can't take it all with me. I've got plenty of time to figure out what goes along, and what gets donated to my local charity.
Yes, there will be problems with the moho, as there will be with the tow vehicle or trailer.
Owning an Airstream Classic Motorhome is a labor of love. I've got to replace tires at the moment, fuel pump this weekend, get the transmission fluid changed, probably go ahead and change coolant, change oil, figure out why gen-set won't start.
But, this is my dream RV. I've had njmerous pop-ups, one 'tiny' SOB trailer (think 13.5 ft, self-contained no less) but have dreamed of owning an Airstream since I was a kid. I still have this 'stupid' grin on my face each and every time I walk past the 'beast'.
This is purely a personal choice. There will be lots of opinions, issues of health between you and your spouse as well.
I've got 2 wonderful friends who full-time in their MASSIVE 5er (39ft long!, triple slides) but this has been their home for 7 years now, and they don't ever see replacing it. It was manufactured just for this couple.
All I can say is 'Decisions, Decisions, Decisions'.....
If you'd like to PM me, I'll be happy to offer more.
Thanks, Derek
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Old 12-09-2011, 06:51 PM   #13
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Depends on your mind-set, we don't tow anything, but seem to survive after seventeen years on the road. What we have done, is check the rental car outlets and see when they have a weekend special if we need some serious running around to do. The 310 is no big deal to get in and out of parking lots as long as you plan ahead.
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Old 12-09-2011, 07:00 PM   #14
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Can I ask a stupid question?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kb0zke View Post
I posted this on the MH subforum, and got a couple of replies, but perhaps I'd get a different perspective here.

We've recently found out that Airstream made motor homes, and some of them look a lot like Airstream trailers. Some of those came in DP variety, and that got our attention.

Does anyone full-time in a Classic DP motor home? If so, I'd like to hear from you. DW is concerned about storage space, and I'm more concerned with weights and engines.

As of this minute, with a couple of years to go before we need to make a decision, we're down to a DP motor home or an Airstream trailer. That's still subject to change, and which way we go may well depend on how DW's foot surgery went. If walking and climbing steps is a challenge for her, the Airstream trailer is pretty much our only option. If all is right in the foot, then there are more options. I mentioned to her the other night that "wouldn't it it nice if our choice was between an Airstream trailer and an Airstream motor home?" She kind of likes that choice, too.

So, let's hear the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Classic DP coaches. Should they be on our consideration list or not?

What is a Classic DP coach?
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