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Old 03-20-2009, 04:28 PM   #1
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NeWBiE LooKing to Make the Jump!

Hi, I'm Jane, and I don't have a trailer yet, I don't even have a truck, but I am working hard to build my online business, paying off my credit cards, and looking forward to stepping off the "day job" hamster wheel, ditching the over priced SF Bay area rent, and hitting the road, with satellite internet and solar panels. I produce subliminal, self hypnosis and sound therapy CDs and MP3s, and also republish spirituality public domain books, so part of my loosely laid plan is to perhaps make the rounds of New Age Fairs and book stores for promotional work, then maybe take the travel expenses off my taxes

I guess until that happens (2 years?) I will lurk, gather info, ask questions, and get as knowledgable as possible, before hitting the road.

I think the things worrying me the most right now is...

1) Scared of water damage and rotting floors. Is that really common in Air Streams? I see a lot of 80's Excellas in my price range, how big of a problem might that be?

2) I live in California, and all the Airstreams I see for sale online are in other states. In California everything is more expensive, they are raising taxes, and if I buy one, I will have to register it here, even though I will be high tailing it ASAP! Solution?

3) I'm used to living in small spaces, but the trailers under 30 ft seem cramped, and I am tempted to get a big one, even though I have never towed anything! Some of the smaller ones might be OK, if I take out those twin beds that are common in the middle, and replace them with dressers and/or desk, but will that be really hard? A sin? Ruin resale?

4) The cost of buying a used Airstream and remodeling it a little, with satellite, solar panels, maybe a composting toilet (I'm a Greenie ) Also the truck.... I'm thinking diesel, then I can do bio diesel, but is that expensive? What am I thinking? Like $50,000?

Thanks for reading, thanks for your patience, and thanks for any advise or encouragement you might have!


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Old 03-20-2009, 04:38 PM   #2
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Welcome from the Florida Panhandle

Welcome to the Forums, Jane. We glad to have you with us.

You have found the right place for all of the Airstream information that you will need.

Your plan is doable. Just hit some of the past threads that will address some of your concerns and questions.

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Old 03-20-2009, 05:41 PM   #3
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Another welcome from Florida. Just keeping questions - answers and opinions are sure to follow.
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Old 03-21-2009, 12:24 AM   #4
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Welcome to the forums! Lots of good information here! Here is a older thread but has lots of good info for the prospective Airstreamer!

A great way to look and get a feel for what will fit your lifestyle is to attend a Airstream Rally. Folks will welcome you! Just introduce yourself and that you are looking! There is one coming up the weekend of April 10 at Casini Ranch along the Russian River out of Napa area. Not too far from Bay area. Take a look at the Rally Calendar link at the top and click on it. Then click on the rally to go to more information. I am sure a post in the thread will give you ideas.... you can ask about joining the potluck in the evening on Saturday if inclined. Usually at rallies folks have their Airstreams open for visitors and rally folks often wander from trailer to trailer to see what cool new things folks have done to theirs. It is also a great place to ask lots of questions and see everything from vintage to newer rigs!

Anyway welcome, and ask all your questions! Many of them, like trailer length are completely personal preference.

If you like vintage you can find interesting things here: Vintage Airstream Photo Archives

Here is a site that has floorplans and pics of "newer" rigs: Fred's Airstream Archives - Travel Trailers and MotorHomes For Sale

Have fun looking!

Mrs. NorCal Bambi traveling in S Tardis ~ from the great State of Jefferson
My blogs: Yreka History
Siskiyou County Camping
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Old 03-22-2009, 07:55 AM   #5
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I noticed the Rally at the Russian River, and thought about it, but I work weekends (the entire weekend, straight through, Sat 9 am- Mon 1pm) and April 10th is not enough time to get the weekend off. It would be perfect, since it is only 35 minutes from me!

How do you like your 22 foot trailer? I would love a roomy 30 footer for full timing, but realistically, a smaller one might be more affordable, towable, etc. I think a smaller one might be liveable, if I could take out the extra bunks, and put in storage.


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Old 03-23-2009, 12:13 AM   #6
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Someday I hope I will love our 22 footer... it is currently on the project list for restoration. The trailer is off the frame and waiting... hubby promises this summer he will get the frame done and the shell back on!

The two of us travel in our 16' Bambi and love it! If I were full timing I would likely want something a little bigger. Not so sure I'd go over 25... unless one is a real pack rat it may be large enough for one. I lived in a 25' 5th wheel one year and it was just fine. I'd make a list of the amenities you care about most... and go with that! You will do well to look at trailer plans and pictures of interiors and see how one can be altered to fit your needs! If you plan on staying fairly "put" then go larger. If not, then consider a smaller trailer ~ at least to begin with ~ you can always "upsize"! The larger the trailer the bigger the truck you may need to pull and the fewer places you can drive if site seeing...but you can go anywhere those great big C class motorhomes go.

Mrs. NorCal Bambi traveling in S Tardis ~ from the Great State of Jefferson
My blogs: Yreka History
Siskiyou County Camping
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Old 03-23-2009, 01:01 AM   #7
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I see the attractivness of the long trailers also. It just seems so hard to imagine living in a smaller space. But if you really are planning to go fulltimeing you should consider the cost and mileage of your tow vehicle and how much space you really need to be comfortable. If you are going it alone it can be done with very little space. It just depends on what you can find comfort with. I wouldn't go with less than 24' as a single person and 28' as a couple. Everyone has different needs and wants, though, so you have to consider what you want and need to be comfortable. There is lots of information on fulltiming here if you look for it. I would start there, and refine what you expect from the whole experience.

Bio-diesel is a good idea, where it's available, but how far out of your way can you go to locate it before its green factor has lost all of its green appeal? A standard diesel will get you better mileage, and increased longevity over a gas engine, typically. A gas engine is more easily serviced at a greater variety of places than diesel is. weigh these things for yourself, and then decide what will work for you.

I have a '64 Safari, and a Toyota tacoma 4 door truck. I get good mileage when I'm not towing and I can handle 4 passengers and a driver. I would have a very hard time downsizing to fit into it fulltime though. I enjoy several hobbies that take up some space, and some would have to go...

I believe in traveling light as a general rule though. So I tend toward smaller tow vehicles and trailers. The fulltime lifestyle is inherently a low-impact exercise in itself, so I don't think it's as necessary to try to lower your impact on the planet further. If you are living in an Airstream fulltime, you are doing great at this already.

You can remove bunks and such as needed and it won't impact the resale value of your trailer much, if at all. It's much more important to think of the pleasure you will get from it while you use it. Put in a desk, add some creature comforts. If you want to lower your impact further, you can change to LED lighting, go with a propane radiant heater or a wood burner, find campsites with a bent towards environmentalism and support them with your dollars.

There are countless ways to go, but you will ultimately decide what is going to work for you, and hopefully, it will be a wonderful experience for you.

Good luck and WELCOME! Rich
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Old 03-24-2009, 08:07 AM   #8
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Thanks for all your replies! I have been rethinking the diesel, as I have also been researching tow vehicles too... wonder if anyone is having luck towing with a hybrid? I am not totally stuck on being 100% green, but I like the concept, and guess I think "we" (the world at large) need to start somewhere with getting onto the next step, as far as how we get around. One interesting thing I've run across in old threads, is don't overdo the tow vehicle, or you could wreck your tailer? Hmmm, who would've thought? Also, the idea of towing with a Crown Vic, interesting!

I have been living full time in a very small house (325 sq feet) basically a 12X16' main room, a small bathroom and small (5X5) entry hall, so I'm used to living "self contained", and am fairly stripped down as it is. But a lot of the TTs I've seen have like closet space for 2 sweaters and a coat, and drawer space for underwear and one pair of jeans, and maybe room for 2 pairs of shoes.... sorry, I need more clothes, not for vanity, but for practicality! Also, I have a pet lovebird and 2 canaries, and I need enough room for their cages. So, your average "sleeps 6" have fun on the weekend smallish trailer would need some revamping.

I think I will take your suggestion to check out the Casini Ralley Friday night, just to see what other people have done with their trailers.


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Old 03-24-2009, 09:03 AM   #9
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Hi, Jane

Here are a few thoughts concerning your question regarding the size of TT (travel trailer) to get.

My feeling is that a lot of people just getting in to trailering want to have a small trailer because they want to tow with a smallish TV (tow vehicle) that they may already own. It's tough to overcome that feeling, because we tend to generally like what we already own. Or, they may think that the difference in gas mileage from a small TV to a large TV would make it unaffordable for them. Either of those thoughts could be true, but, at least for the fuel cost part of it, look into real examples of what you might spend given the actual miles you may go. The relatively small difference may surprise you.

But I would also strongly encourage you to go to some dealers' lots and just sit in a few trailers of varying size for a while (alone, without the salesperson distracting you), not just plunk down, look around, and leave. Try to imagine them being your "world" for a little while, spend some time. After I did this exercise, I quickly changed my mind from wanting a < 20' unit to wanting the biggest I could get!

It's funny, but I also noticed that in terms of used TTs at least, the larger ones always seem to go for less than the smallest ones. This is due, I imagine partly because of what I talked about two paragraphs up, or the fact that when gas was cheap, many more of the larger ones sold.

Lastly, as a green person, remember that due to the massive change in demand from big, fuel hogging vehicles to smaller more efficient ones, there is a zillion of really good, and surprisingly inexpensive used trucks available now that make excellent TVs. If you really believe in "recycle, reduce, or re-use", consider "recycling" one of those trucks to do your travels in. If you aren't using it as a day-to-day driver of the two hour commute each way, you will save money by buying a good used truck, and be able to tow anything you want to.

And if you consider yourself a SuperGreenie, you may want to consider converting a good used truck to "dual fuel", which only means that you can run on gasoline or CNG (compressed natural gas). That isn't as popular an idea as it was in the last decade, but the reasons are still as valid...

Take your time and really look around at what's available, and you will find THE unit, the one that is destined for you. Your "harmonious hardware", if you please I say far away too, because some places, Ohio for example, seem to have far more than their "fair share" of TTs, and therefore may have better value for you. And consider that if you don't want to drive that far, trailering may not be for you after all...

Cheers and the best of luck with whatever decision you make!

If it's to be, it's up to me.
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Old 03-24-2009, 01:25 PM   #10
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Jane, if your timeline is around 2 years, and you are going to "hightail it as soon as possible" out of California, why not figure out where your base of operations will be for when you travel around the country, and register your trailer in that state? Make the move, then get the trailer, save on the taxes, etc etc etc.

The best advice I saw above was go to a dealer, and spend hours sitting and moving about in different sized trailers. My wife and I were wanting something in the mid-20' length, until we did that... almost went for 34' for space and comfort, but decided on a 32' instead, with a front gaucho, rear bedroom, and side dinette (not the slide out, don't like those). So go look, and be patient, and be very, very realistic about how much space you want for your business, comfort, and birds. Then get the biggest you'll be comfy with, you won't regret it.

When you haven't towed a trailer before, there's not a whole lot of difference between learning with a 25' or a 32'... its all new... and once you learn it, you won't have any difficulty.

Good luck, and welcome to the Forum!
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Old 03-24-2009, 02:33 PM   #11
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Here is another angle to consider. What if you found a nice trailer park or mobile home park, bought a 30+ foot trailer and made that your home? If rent is as high as you say, your lot rent + trailer payment could be hundreds of $$$ less than you are spending now.

Others have stated that it is no harder to tow a large trailer than a small one once you learn how.

A 30+ trailer and a diesel truck is an excellent combination and very popular. In most peoples' opinion you really need a truck, van or Suburban to handle that size of trailer.

And as has already been pointed out, there are some great bargains in the large trailers and large trucks.

Oddly enough when I search for trailers all the good deals seem to be in the west. California, Oregon and Washington. Of course I live in the east LOL.
Living in the trailer park of sense, looking out the window at a tornado of stupidity.
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Old 03-24-2009, 10:51 PM   #12
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Thanks y'all. I've gone to some RV dealers (not Airstream, at least a 2 hour drive) and the 30' do seem comfy. I did look at I've gotten used to small spaces, but having a sense of freedom is facilitated by the actual ability to physically move about, unimpeded, sooo, since part of my goal is to free myself from day job bondage.... I am getting the sense that a 25-29 ft, arranged to my needs, will be good.

I think if I can work a double income for a year, I can buy cash a decent used trailer, and a good truck. I want as little baggage as possible, and that means financial. At one RV dealer, there was a Ford dealer next door, and the 1/2-3/4 tons were going for as much as $50,000! Hmmm, I'm not expecting to make 6 figures, so used it is!

I've thought of buying/registering the trailer/truck in my new base state, probably TX or NM, but right now, not sure how I can manage flying across the country at the drop of a hat to look at used trailers and trucks. I guess it will all shake out, when the time comes. I will also have to get the solar, satelite and interior done, so I will probably have to bring it back here (and pay inflated California prices) to work on it.

I am going to try and get to that Russian River ralley, and hopefully look at some rigs to get ideas.

Ganaraska, that's a thought, but a 30' trailer in a park around here would go for 6 figures. I have been tied down for so long, doing 2 jobs, I want to go, go, go! Don't want to be stuck with funky neighbors!

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Old 03-25-2009, 03:28 AM   #13
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Something not discussed is the weight of the trailer. You mentioned an 80's trailer. They tend to be very heavy and will require a good amount of horsepower. Most of the new age folks you are talking about catering to live in mountainous regions and you will be dragging a good amount of weight behind you up and down the mountains. The largest trailer in 1958 weighs as much as the smallest produced in 2008. Materials have gotten very heavy as the trailers have been built. There is a lot to consider here. I do not think a restoration is in your cards, so you might have some hard choices to make in terms of tow vehicle and years you choose.
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Old 03-25-2009, 10:04 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by 62overlander View Post
The largest trailer in 1958 weighs as much as the smallest produced in 2008.
I've heard this statement before, but forgive me for questioning it a bit. I fully agree that vintage trailers are lighter. My current daydream is to get a 64 Bambi II since it weighs under 2000 lbs dry. That opens up a bunch of tow vehicle alternatives.

But using the weights table posted on Morrison's Airstream Page, a 57 SOTR weighs 3860 lbs dry weight. (It didn't list figures for 58.) That weight doesn't include air conditioning so add some weight for that.

By contrast, a brand new 16' Bambi CCD weighs 2825 lbs dry including its standard air conditioning. That 2800 lbs would get you a 1960s 19' Globetrotter. (It's impressive that you can get 10 more feet for another 1000 lbs in the SOTR.)

There is more interesting stuff in that table. A 1985 Sovereign 25' side bath, a trailer with a rather nice floor plan (rear bedroom), weighs in at 4900 lbs. That's not too bad, given that a new 25' International Signature is around 5145 lbs dry. That is about 1000 lbs more than a 70s 25' Tradewind.


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