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Old 06-29-2011, 06:01 PM   #1
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Looking forward to fulltiming in the future....

Can some of you Airstreamers out there tell me why I should travel around this great country living here and there in an Airstream instead of a 5th wheel? I will have no plan, just doing as I please. I will be staying in cold and hot seasons. I have been looking into both but dont know which would be better. I really like the quality of the airstreams but I also like the roomyness of the 5th wheels. I guess im wanting to to tell me why I want an Airstream over a 5th wheel.

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Old 06-29-2011, 07:37 PM   #2
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An A/S has far better performance on the road than a square white box, be it conventionally-hitched or as a fiver. Aerodynamic shaping means less wind resistance from any direction, not just increased fuel mileage. The stability is unmatched.

All aluminum construction means a lifespan of 40-years +/- versus 7-15 years for a square white box. You won't be plagued by leaks and the roof seal problems either. The cabinetry and other furnishings will stay together.

Another way of looking at it: a square white box might be good for 60-80k miles. An A/S for well over 200k.

A square white box doesn't offer that much more room in man respects, but it is indeed much more expensive to heat & cool.

Each of the above can be gone into in detail. Recommend you read around on the site as aspects of your plans take your attention.

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Old 06-29-2011, 07:59 PM   #3
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This is something that we're looking at, too. As Rednax said, an Airstream has many advantages over a 5er, but then a 5er has advantages over an Airstream, as you mentioned. Obviously, there is no one right RV for everyone. Here are some of the things we're learned this past year, as we researched, in no particular order.

An Airstream is well built, and since all of the interior furnishings go in via the door (with maybe the exception of the refrigerator, a/c, and hot water heater), a renovation is much simpler than with most other RVs on the road. They are more limited on storage space than a 5er, which may or may not be an issue for you. They are built fairly close to the ground, which makes getting in and out much easier for those of us with many aches and pains. The current crop of trailers tops out at 10,000 pounds gross, so you may be able to get by with a 3/4 ton pickup/SUV. The factory is very supportive, and able to do refurbishings (although I have no idea what that would cost).

As you mention, 5ers are more roomy overall (since they are larger) and have far more storage space. Many offer built-in washer/dryers, either individual units or combination ones. All that space comes with a huge weight penalty, though. Any rig that is rated for full-time use (most aren't) will require at least a 1-ton truck, and most will require more.

While I'm on the topic of weight, the issue is not pulling, but stopping. Also, if you have an accident while overloaded you may be found to have contributed to the mess.

You don't say whether you will be traveling alone or with others, or with any pets. All can make a difference in your selection. You also don't say whether you are going to buy new or used. Spend some time in units that attract you, and pretend to use them as you would if you were living in it. "Fix" a meal, "wash" the dishes, sit at the table, "watch" tv, "use" the bath (including the shower and toilet).

Study the websites, go to shows and dealers, frequent the various forums, and make a list of manufacturers that build products that might suit you. Then go visit those factories. A factory tour will do more for you than anything else (as long as you have some idea of what you are looking at). Even if you don't, after a couple of tours you will begin to see how quality goes into (or doesn't) a rig.

Good luck, and have fun researching.
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Old 06-29-2011, 08:12 PM   #4
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it will be just me, possibly one other person. What I buy will be new and I wont be concerned with money. So, a nice new Airstream or a nice new 5th and a new truck.
What concernes me about the Airstream is no washer and dryer and the small water, grey and black tanks in the Airstream. You wont be able to dry camp long in an Airstream the way i see it. I aslo like a king size bed and I havent seen an Airstream with one.
Like you said though, the 5th wheels arent as well built i dont thint and the other things youve mentioned.
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Old 06-29-2011, 08:41 PM   #5
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Washer and dryer, big holding tanks, King size bed. Airstreams are not for everyone.

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Old 06-29-2011, 09:05 PM   #6
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I can tell you why we choose AS over the SOB's. Quality is better. We wanted to stick with a half ton truck. We love the look, cool factor of the AS. The AS community is a wonderful. We don't travel heavy and all the extra storage of a 5th wheel isn't needed. I like things simplified. No slide outs to break, less storage, less stuff etc.

We had a 25 foot and soon will be moving to a 31 foot that we plan to full time with someday. Well rounded trailer with a good amount of space for two people.
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Old 06-30-2011, 06:59 AM   #7
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I agre Airstreams aren't for everyone. That's why I'm asking questions. I probally live with a queen bedd but small tanks and lack washer and dryer is a tough one.
This will be my home and the thought of laundery mats 100% of the tine isn't a pleasant thought. I think I read Airstreams have 35 gallon water tank. That won't go far.
Thanks for the input everyone.
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Old 06-30-2011, 07:10 AM   #8
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Tank size varies by model. Our 31 foot will have a 54 gallon fresh water tank.

Your welcome, good luck in you research.
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Old 06-30-2011, 09:36 AM   #9
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You might read up on RV washer/dryers. The performance is barely "fair". The convenience is over-rated, IMO (We were also interested), as it is slow & time-consuming. When we full-timed we found that it was easy to wrap up several errands around laundromat use that were also thought tedious, thus in one or two hours could have all clothes cleaned, dried and folded besides the trips to the pharmacy or hardware store or gas station or car wash or what-have-you. Then, back to vacation . . . . Recommend posts on this appliance (as with all others) by RV Tech "Lewster".

As to "space" keep in mind that a pickup, for a full-timer, can have the bed configured in any number of ways for storage. There are many types of bed covers, toppers, capsules and the like. The topper on my 8' bed DODGE has just over 170 c/f available. It came with a factory plastic bedliner and I used covered, stacked plastic tubs which would easily slide around to suit needs. With a trailer of this type one is not limited to pickup trucks, either.

Is the desire to re-create a house the goal? Isolation? Our 34' was more than big enough for two people and a pet, but, IMO, the "goal" is to be outside as much as possible, in congenial surroundings. For those wanting a fake fireplace and some Barcaloungers to while away the nights at the Wal-Mart parking lots, a house on wheels makes more sense. For someone traveling but to one, two, three places in a years time a 5'er in that instance is likely okay.

The best test of an RV is it's connection to the outdoors: tremendous views from any angle while seated. Compare square floor footage to window dimensions as a ratio. An aero aluminum trailer will pretty well beat anything. If I haven't full view of my surroundings, it's the wrong RV.
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Old 06-30-2011, 10:07 AM   #10
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Since money will not be a concern, I recommend a nice new mid-level to high-end class-A motorcoach; within that genre you will surely find the quality and amenities you are looking for.
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Old 06-30-2011, 10:15 AM   #11
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Good points rednax. I haven't full-timed (6 months out a couple times) but seen many who do. It looks to me the least successful in terms of travel and adventure are those with the largest rigs, fifth wheels with big tow truck and the spouse following with a car suitable as a daily driver. The smaller trailers are more likely to be moving about simply because its easier and less expensive. That takes a "make do" mindset. What can I get along without, rather than what do I need.

Of the smaller units, Airstream tows best, is more durable or at least more repairable, looks and feels really good parked with nature (as compared to a fifth wheel with its ugly stickouts), and is a constant source of pride no matter how old it is. Airstreams are timeless.

Airstreams are not for everyone, but with a few material sacrifices and the attitude of an adventurer, they can provide you with a unique and rewarding retirement experience.

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Old 06-30-2011, 10:18 AM   #12
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Well we loved our Airstream and still love them but after being on the road an extended period last year and deciding we would sell our home and full time we decided to trade the stream in for a HitchHiker 5th wheel. That was last October, we are now in the CO mountains for the summer heat. We have already 20,000 flawless miles on this rig. NUWA has been in business building 5th wheels in Kansas for full-time use longer than any 5th wheel company.
This unit being 35' by far is easier to cool and heat than our AS was having so much more insulation.
As for leaks? I have had non in the new one. We bought the Airstream new in 2007, the front and rear pano windows leaked, the rear band leaked and rotted the floor under the dinette, the Dometic fridge would not stay cold, the Dometic AC would not cool adequately in temps over 90 (aka summer), shower leaks, sealing around waste vents every one to two years, (we don't have to do that now) and of course on the top of crater lake our Actibrake failed and locked up...
All this in three years on a new unit. Granted, we use our trailer for traveling not a driveway ornament but after paying 60+k we expected "Airstream" quality and feel we didn't get it. The biggest deal for me was the rear band leak rotting the floor and AS not using any sealer. They knew of the issue along with many others and chose not to fix them on the assembly line.
We also had a marathon blowout, not the Airstreams fault *but* it took out the wheel well which is *plastic* that was fun trying to patch up in the pouring rain so we could continue on..

I know this sounds like a b*tch session which I guess it is but these are real problems not to be glossed over as normal maintenance. I still think Airstream is cool and I miss the one we had for the cool factor but that's all. Wait, they do tow nice in wind and you can sneak them into allot of small spots too.

Phil
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Old 06-30-2011, 04:27 PM   #13
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A little about me, 51,I have never married and no kids, (I am not a loner or hermit either). We moved around my growing up years so there is nowhere I really can call home. I have been in Ga. since 78 and worked for the same company since 80. I have never traveled so when I retire I want to travel around the US living in my RV.Im sure I will be staying at places different amounts of time depending on how well I like where Im at.
Ive never been in an Airstream but I did work at a Avion dealership a year in high school.


Rednax: Yes, a house like goal is what I want seeing how I will be living in it. So comfort, convenient and quality and the basics are what I want. I am not interested in the Walmart parking lot thing unless its a brief stop to or from somewhere.

fmrcaptevil: I thought about the class A motor home but I think it would be much easier pulling and maneuvering an RV than pulling a small car with a huge motorhome, but I could be wrong.

nsteel: I believe you must have had a lemon Airstream as most are not as poorly built as the one you had. I have looked at the Hitchhiker on the web and are aware of their quality And if it is a 5th wheel that will the Nuwa is one that will be considered.

Do any of you out there do what I am talking about? Just traveling aroung in your Airstream? I mainly read about you living in your Airstreams but it sounds like there parked in a permenant place and dont really move around.

If I was to have an Airstream and want to stat in Texas or Arizona for a summer would the air conditioner keep it cool in that kind of heat?
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Old 06-30-2011, 05:48 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by sutallee View Post
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If I was to have an Airstream and want to stat in Texas or Arizona for a summer would the air conditioner keep it cool in that kind of heat?
If I were fulltiming in my trailer and not bound to one spot for work reasons, in the summer I'd avoid Texas and any part of AZ below about 6000 ft like the plague. And I'm a native Texan, by the way.

The AC can keep it livable if you have enough shade on the trailer's skin. A good-quality white trailer would be a better choice for long stays in hot places, I'm told. I'm looking forward to someday having the freedom to take my Airstream where it's cool in the summer.
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