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Old 01-29-2005, 09:54 AM   #1
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Thumbs up Green Peas Need Some Help

Following my recent retirement my wife and I decided full-time RVing during the summer months would be an ideal way to escape the heat, humidity, hurricanes and other plagues of Florida during the those months and form our own "Corp of Discovery". It didn't take long visiting RV dealers and shows to determine Airstream was the product we would like to own and the community to which we would like to belong. We realize there is a substantial learning curve and so we seek your communal counsel and direction.
1) The AS web site offers MSRP pricing but we have not yet been able to find the dealer or invoice price. It therefore leaves us feeling handicapped in negoiating for the most favorable purchase price on a new unit. Is there a source for the dealer costs or a reasonably accepted formula in determining mark-up.
2) In considering the various AS models, we were first drawn to the International CCD but upon a close inspection at a dealer found that microwaves are not an option and further there seems to be no good place for a tv unless you use their flat screen factory model which seems very pricey. Upon consideration, we have at this point settled on one of 3 Classic models, all essentially the same, either a 25', 28', or 31' model without a dinnette. We would be interested in your thoughts with respect to cost versus the benefit and comfort of a larger model versus the towing and handling ease of the shorter model. Again, being green peas, we have no prior frame of reference. Also in meeting with two different dealers the sales people with whom we've spoken, though friendly and helpful, seemed to be marginally equipped to answer certain specific questions about airstreams. For example, on any given model, can fantastic fans as well as sky lights be ordered? What is the generator prep package? Etc. Is there an individual or department at the factory in Jackson Center who can readily answer such questions.
3) We've been pricing Checy Suburbans. From what we hear they seem to be the vehicle of choice. We're interested in your thoughts concerning the Vortec 6000 on the 2500 4 wheel drive vs Vortec 8100 engine and any options that would be particually desireable and/or necessary in towing an airstream. Our plans would be to full-time mid-May through mid-October largely in the Rocky Mountain states, Pacific Northwest, and Canada.
Thanks in advance for any help you can give us. All the best to all of you.

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Old 01-29-2005, 10:21 AM   #2
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Hi, and welcome! You've come to the right place for advice! There will be a number of folks who can help you with pricing and in comparing Suburbans.

The best advice I can offer regarding size is that from 25' to 31' there's just not much difference in towability. That extra six feet makes almost no difference in driving or handling; however, there's a huge difference in liveability, especially longer-term.

Go find dealers that have different models in stock. There are several Airstream parks in Florida where you might go and introduce yourself and see if you can just look around models that interest you. Most folks will happily invite you in.

Go to rallies and do the same. Both WBCCI rallies and Forums rallies. At most Forums rallies, we schedule an afternoon of open houses for folks to wander through and see what everyone elses' trailers/mohos look like. It's a lot of fun.

You'll also find out what folks like and don't like about their specific size/model/year/amenities that may help you in looking for yours.

In the mean time take a look at every used Airstream regardless of year so you'll begin to understand what the similarities and differences are among them, and how they've evolved over the years. You may actually find that a used coach fits you better than what they offer in new ones, or that you find that you just HAVE to have that '57 Flying Cloud...

Good luck in your hunting!


AIR 2053 Current: 2006 Born Free 32 RQ Kodiak Chassis, & 1995 Coachmen B-van
Former Airstreams: 1953 Flying Cloud, 1957 Overlander, 1961 Bambi, 1970 Safari Special, 1978 Argosy Minuet, 1985 325 Moho, 1994 Limited 34' Two-door, 1994 B190 "B-Van"
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Old 01-29-2005, 02:13 PM   #3
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The only drawback of additional length is that is decreases the choice of stopping places while travelling. With my 22', I could go into most parking lots without worry and easily park on 2 end-to-end diagonal spaces. With the 25', I have to be a lot more careful what I am getting in to. By the time you get to 31', you have to be mighty careful where you go.

OTOH, the longer the trailer, the easier it is to back up. The longer trailer reacts more slowly. With proper towing equipment, the longer trailer pulls just as easily. With more length, you do have to be more aware of clearance when making turns; the longer trailer turns further inside the radius of the tow vehicle turn. It is easy to hit a curb or more on a right turn, especially.

With the exception of construction zones, I can't tell much difference in the 6" added width of my 25' over my previous 22'. The 25' does need better towing mirrors.

When it comes to long term living, the extra length really pays off. The 22' was confining after a week compared to the 25' which was not confining after a month (longest I have used it). The amount of storage in the longer trailer makes a big difference on longer trips.
John W. Irwin
2014.5 Touring Coach, "Sabre-Dog IV"
WBCCI #9632
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Old 01-29-2005, 02:32 PM   #4
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Welcome ride2k,

I'll try to help with some of your questions. First, you should be able to order a CCD with the microwave option, if one isn't available from stock. I checked into it for our 28' and a convection/microwave was available. Changing out our oven required getting the convection/microwave and a stovetop and some additional trim pieces. By the time it was priced out, it wasn't practical for us to switch out. I just picked up a microwave at Home Depot for $59 and solved our problem.

Second, you can get the same bracket the factory uses for an LCD TV and do it yourself. It won't be tied to the stereo system for sound but cost's a LOT less than the factory unit. You can even get a larger display than they offer and still save $$$.

I believe you can order skylights and fantastic fans on any unit. Ours came with 2 fantastic fans from the factory.

I'll let others describe generator prep and tow vehicle recommendations.

Good luck,

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Old 01-29-2005, 02:56 PM   #5
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To park a 34 footer (really 36 feet) is not as hard as it would first appear, you just have to park farther out from the front door. We take up a row of parking spaces, at the back of Walmart or supermarket lots, with no problem getting in or getting out. It is true that the long ones go backwards much easier - this loooong beauty of ours gracefully backs any where with no unexpected leaps to either side.

For someone planning to go Full time, I would recommend looking at used Airstreams.. Ours is a 93, with NO worn furnishings, No dings, No broken anything, for less than half the cost of a recent model, and...... it is narrower. For living space, the wide body cannot be beaten, but for ease of getting round the country, towing with a standard width Suburban or similar, the widebody is not the best. I have towed 102 wide trailers, and I much prefer towing this narrower one. But of course, for every member suggesting narrow, another will be just as enthusiastic about wide body..

Another consideration for trying used would be that if you are unsure of your abilities to tow, and live in so small an area, Full Time, purchasing an older model, which will not loose much value if sold immediately, would seem wiser than purchasing a new model, and wanting to sell after one trip, as so often happens. In that regrettable circumstance, the no longer new trailer could loose $10,000 off it's value. That would be one heck of an expensive trip. Also, should you purchase an older model, you could then trade that one in, usually very fairly, for a new model should that be your choice, after your first period of Full Timing

'05 Cargo hauler gooseneck, carrying an '05 Jeep TJ, all hauled by an '05 C4500 Kodiak Truck
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Old 01-29-2005, 04:16 PM   #6
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I have available a 1987 34' Excella in perhaps the nicest condition possable as the owner stored it indoors and Walbernised 3 or more times a year to boot!. It is awsome and is located in Western NC zip 28710.
Price negotible, if interested contact me with phone number as well.
Can anyone give a value on a coach like this for us to use? It looks brand new -Whats it worth?
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Old 01-29-2005, 05:23 PM   #7
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Your choice of tow vehicle will depend in some measure on your choice of coach. However, all the choices you have listed are a good candidate for a 3/4 pickup, van, or SUV. I am not altogether certain that a 2500 series Suburban is rated for the weight of a loaded 34' Classic slideout, but you can check that out before you buy. For the combination of the mountains and a 30' or larger coach, I am pretty sure I'd want the 8 liter engine.

I think many of us bought our Airstreams for the reputation, the construction, and the legacy. We have come to love them for their livablilty.

You really need to spend some time inside these models - new or used. Think about where you will sit of an evening, where you will store your clothes, linens, blankets, books, and on and on, how convenient the counters are for food preparation, and how the shower and toilet accomodations might be. The differences between the models in these areas are much greater than will first appear.

Should you be considering a slideout model, there was a good thread some time back on the reasons why, and why not people bought or did not buy one.

Invoice or cost data is not available. There have been many reports that anything more than 15% off list is a great deal. You might do better than that, though, on a leftover model (the new '06 units will start coming along in about three months). Some of the more popular models are apparently hard to find for more than 10 - 12% off list, and it is not unheard of for a dealer to demand (and get!) full list.

There is a lot to be said for buying a late model used unit. Should you decide you made a mistake it will be possible to get out for a relatively small cost. Another consideration is that it is easier to trade up than down.

Good luck,

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Old 01-29-2005, 09:31 PM   #8
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1986 34' Excella
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Welcome green peas

Every reply so far has valuable information, really priceless. We are on the road for four months each winter in an older 34' excella and use a 3/4 ton chevy silverado with the duramax diesel for very well.

Excellent advice from Theo. The longer, the better, based on length of stay, and searching for a good used model is half the fun. After purchasing a used 12 year old, we have since upgraded where and when necessary over a six year period (new drapes, reupholstering, new carpet, new fridge and water heater, routine maintenance on all mechanical components and tires) and are very pleased with the results. Yet, our total investment is less than 25% the cost of a comparable new model, the utility is equal, and we have little or no downside depreciation. And the commentary about trading up has credibility if you become dissatisfied. One downside to a longer trailer...they are a more difficult as a resale because many people prefer to have smaller tow vehicles and prefer more remote campsites that cannot accomodate the length.

Another recommendation on used; it seems to be better to buy a unit that has been in service regularly, so that all the minor things that can and will go wrong have been subjected to regular attention. The model that our " aging parents" left sitting for the last ten years, unused and in pristine condition, now being sold by a family member as a perfect original might turn out to be from Elm Street.

By necessity, the 96" wide older models do have a narrow aisle, and four months is a long time, so make sure your marriage is solid. Every trip between the lounge and the bathroom can result in
a) an uncomfortable trip similar to negotiating the aisle around the
stewardess and the steam cart in an airplane, or
b) a sexual encounter resulting in steamed windows.

Spend plenty of time outdoors.

The model that richardt has described might be worth a look-see. But the more units you examine, and the more questions you ask, the better prepared you will be for a positive outcome. An added bonus that we never considered....our 1986 will be vintage eligible in 2011, if our thirty year marriage lasts that long. Of course I'm only kidding. We've been married 14 years.

Best wishes to both of you in your search.
Patagonia, Az
South Bend, In
DeTour Village, Mi
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Old 01-30-2005, 09:34 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by drcharles2
By necessity, the 96" wide older models do have a narrow aisle, and four months is a long time, so make sure your marriage is solid. Every trip between the lounge and the bathroom can result in
...a sexual encounter resulting in steamed windows.
I'm convinced. I'm sticking with the narrow Airstreams.
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Old 01-30-2005, 10:36 AM   #10
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Wide bodies

As I said above, I don't find the wide body (102") trailer a bit harder to tow except in the occasional tight construction zone. I have encountered a couple of places where a temporary swerve in the lanes while between a schoolbus and a garbage truck made things pretty tight for a few moments. In balance, however, I would insist on a wide body trailer (96 or later) for anything approaching full timing.

We were discussing trailer widths a few weeks ago at a rally when a lady with a narrow body trailer very innocently remarked "John, I really crave your 6 inches." She then turned bright red amid the gales of laughter and she still can't face me without turning red.
John W. Irwin
2014.5 Touring Coach, "Sabre-Dog IV"
WBCCI #9632
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Old 01-30-2005, 03:30 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by richardt
I have available a 1987 34' Excella in perhaps the nicest condition possable as the owner stored it indoors and Walbernised 3 or more times a year to boot!. It is awsome and is located in Western NC zip 28710.
Price negotible, if interested contact me with phone number as well.
Can anyone give a value on a coach like this for us to use? It looks brand new -Whats it worth?
May be hard. Here's a 1990 from
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Old 01-31-2005, 10:04 AM   #12
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Having just gotten a new 2004 25' CCD, it is equipped with a microwave, and 2 fantastic fans. What bothers me is driving with the wider body, two too-close incidents while my husband is getting used to the extra width. A good place to check out Airstream are the many RV shows. There was a factory rep who answered a lot of his questions, and referred him to the person in the factory who could answer other questions.
I cannor emphasize how great the people were at "Happy Camper" ,south of Ft. Worth, TX. They really worked hard to ozonize out the new smells for a week, and make sure no other smells were introduced, including propane or cleaners. They were VERY understanding and spent a lot of time making sure we knew everything about it before we left. We are really happy with them. Now we just have to make room for it with big brother ( 1971 31') and all the cars. sigh. I am blessed with tolerant neighbors. the 28' would have been more liveable with the seperate bedroom but this has much more closet space. Hopefully with several coats of AFM sealers and futons insteand of synthetics we will be ready to go. oh and putting in the electric cooktop and convection oven! Ahh...the washer/dryer? little things like that.
But the wide body is really scary when driving. silver suz
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Old 01-31-2005, 11:02 AM   #13
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My wife and I full-timed almost 10 years in a 32foot 1989 excella 1000 with dinette. If we were doing it all over again we would buy exactly the same unit. One thing to consider is that the 32' has more interior storage space than the 34'. In the 34' the third axle eleminates the under-closet area (where we have our water filters and accumulator tank) and the dirty clothes hamper in the bath. All you get, in our mind, with the 34' is about 2 extra feet of empy space in the living area.

We are both small, by todays standards, and have had no problems with the isle width. Do consider twin beds, much easier to make up than the full bed - plus twins give more cabinet space in the bedroom area.
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Old 01-31-2005, 11:38 AM   #14
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The 34' may give you a little more hanging storage in the wardrobe. On the down side, it also gives you 6 tires to replace rather than 4.

If you plan on towing in the mountains, you might consider a diesel-powered tow vehicle, being turbocharged, they loose very little or no power at high altitude, have more torque than any gas engine, and deliver better economy.

If you must have an SUV as opposed to a pickup, then the Ford Excursion is your only diesel-powered option. We have a '99 Classic, tow with a 6 liter Excursion. Mileage is from 11 to 14, depending on terrain and speed.

I can echo the cost effectiveness of purchasing used!

Good luck, whatever your decision.

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