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Old 11-19-2012, 10:41 PM   #1
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Years and models and floorplans, oh my!

Hello all,

I'm looking to purchase a used Airstream trailer in great/excellent condition. That being said, I don't know much about each individual model, the benefits of Airstreams made in specific years, and the various floor plans. Rear bathroom? Rear bedroom? Is there an Airstream that has a full shower, stove/oven, and refrigerator along with a large bed? What does 'FB' mean after the footage? I was told bathrooms are causes of leaks, center or rear, but it's easier to get to/repair damage in central bathrooms. I was told by a different person that rear bathrooms have more space, though. Any frame/floor/etc. improvements/"downgrades" in specific years or with specific models? Thoughts?

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Old 11-20-2012, 12:18 AM   #2
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1988 32' Excella
Bonita , California
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I think your along ways away from this purchase. New, used, short, long, 60 years of manufacturing. I think some window shopping is in the future. Once you narrow down your likes and dislikes you will have a direction to look. Throwing a bunch of china plates in the air and asking which is a nicer pattern is a bit to general.

Happiness only real when shared.
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2/12/68 - 8/18/92
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Old 11-20-2012, 07:23 AM   #3
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Sounds like you're just starting to seriously look, a process that may take months or - in my case - years. First determine what size will work: your tow vehicle's capability, storage of unit, amount of people, pets & gear, where you'll tow AS & frequency of use & budget. That should narrow down your selections. Then decide if you want to invest time, money & effort in repairing or restoring or "just" maintaining a newer unit (budget usually affects this choice). Now go actually physically investigate the Airstreams you're dreaming about. This process will really narrow your search. Unless you buy new it's difficult to find the actual unit you've decided on, so usually more time elapses & you can refine your choice further. Good luck! (P.S. - FB means front bed)
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Old 11-20-2012, 07:38 AM   #4
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Easy answer first. The FB means Front Bedroom. They are very popular floorplans.

If you want to see the various floorplans offered over the years, go to to this Airstream page. There's plenty there to spend a few hours on. Each floorplan has it's own strengths and weaknesses. For pictures of more recent Airstreams, go to Colonial Airstream and go through their archives. They have a ton of pictures.

Speaking only in generalities...

From what I've seen, you're more likely to find twin beds in the more vintage Airstreams and larger beds in the more recent offerings (though twins remain an option in several models). Note that the larger beds are not going to be completely full size. For example the queen beds are 5 inches shorter than a true queen. I know Airstream offered a king for a couple years, though I don't know how many were actually made.

The smallest models have a wetbath, where the entire bathroom is the shower, however most have a separate shower. The size of the shower stall varies (both square footage and height) depending upon the model and it's location in the trailer. The overall bathroom size varies as well. A lot of the more recent Airstreams have a split bath where the shower is on one side of the hall and the sink and toilet are behind a door on the other. Two doors can then close off the hallway to give you essentially a full width bath.

Refrigerator size will vary, with the largest I'm aware of being 10 cubic feet. I belive ours is eight, which is enough for around a week's worth of food for three, which includes a fair amount of fresh veggies.

Given what you're looking to do (gleaned from your other thread) I personally would suggest models 25' and up. They'll give you decent sizes in the areas you seem to be concerned about.

But realistically, it's best to go look at as many as you can in person and decide what you want. I was fairly well set on a 28' but after much more looking and thinking, we decided on a 34'. We wouldn't have done that without having looked at the various models. You have a dealer in LA, go pay them a visit. I'm sure they'd be happy to let you look through their inventory. They also have a few used Airstreams on hand (at this writing) including a very sweet looking 25' in a discontinued floorplan. It does have the optional twins, so it doesn't fit your criteria, but might be worth looking at to see what you think of that design, as most did come with the larger bed.

Have fun on your searches.
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Old 11-20-2012, 08:44 AM   #5
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Another way of starting to get familiar with the various models of Airstreams that have been available over the years and their usages, would be to visit a Airstream rally put on by your local chapter of WBCCI. You can look them up on the website. There is a calendar of activities that are posted as well as a write up of the events on the individual unit websites, which are linked to on the website. Your conversations with the members, and having the ability to walk around in the various models, will help you determine what size and models would meet your needs. Good luck, and happy travels, on your departure on your Airstream journey.
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Old 11-20-2012, 10:17 AM   #6
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This is just like starting a class where you know nothing and everything is spinning in your brain. Your brain is trying to classify, organize and understand all at the same time and it feels like a jumble. After a while things start to fall in place, but there's always more information, some of it bad information and some good. We never stop learning and organizing.

So, take your time, read a lot and eventually some clarity comes.

Budget is a big deal for most people. Whether or not you have a vehicle that can tow it is another. You may have a tow vehicle that can tow a relatively light trailer, but not the one you want. So budgeting for a new (or gently used) tow vehicle must be considered.

You can look at Airstreams at some RV shows if an Airstream dealer is exhibiting there. There are plenty of rallies with various sponsors to visit—click on the rallies tab at the top of the Portal page.

Most trailers have the kitchen and bath at the center over the axle(s). These are the heaviest parts of the trailer and best positioned there. Some rear bath or rear kitchen models have had rear end sag, so watch for that. Looking at floor plans helps understanding, but walking through trailers is more real. Sit on the toilet and see if you fit—some baths are really small, especially if your tall. Lie on the bed and see if your feet hang over the end. Smaller trailers may feel cramped or claustrophobic. Larger ones may feel too much to maneuver and tow. Going through them will give you a chance to see how they feel.

Buying a used one may require spending more money, more than you anticipated, to fix things. It may need new tires, an appliance, a bed, etc. A 1970 trailer may seem cheap, but it will probably cost a lot to update and fix. New ones are very expensive. Ones a few to several years old will have depreciated a lot, but the good ones get snapped up fast, so you have to move fast.

You are on the right track by being willing to ask questions and many will be answered here. Browse through the various topics on the Forum page and you will find out a lot and become aware of the debates that go on endlessly But no one can know everything and at some point we have to take the leap and hope for the best. Good luck, keep studying and there'll be no term paper.

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Old 11-20-2012, 12:38 PM   #7
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We understand how you feel. We felt the same way when we started looking in 2011. All the advice above is sound. Lin and I physically looked at a few while haunting this forum and the listings. When we settled on "needing" a rear bedroom Queen it made our hunt a lot easier. I then established an upper limit of $30,000 for a used unit, and the field became even smaller. We found (and YOU will find) the perfect Airstream after a few months of research. Keep at it. Enjoy the ride.
Greg and Linda Heuer
'99 Excella 30 w/HAHA - The Silver Otter
'08 Chevy LTZ 2500HD 6.6 DuraMax
TAC VA-18 | WBCCI 1927 - Unit 149 | AIR 53869
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Old 11-20-2012, 05:35 PM   #8
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RUMSHIP, I too think I'm a long way away from purchasing an Airstream, not because of my lack of Airstream model knowledge, but because I can't find a place to live in it! I'm hoping to set up shop in Long Beach, CA for 3-5 years, (yes, living in the Airstream non-traveling for now!) but the only RV park here has a six-month limit! I was told there might be residential mobile home parks in Long Beach that have a few spaces for trailers, but I have yet to come across any! I really like what the 2008 Safari 27FB and 2009 Flying Cloud 27FB look like (I've seen many videos/photos/stats), so I think I'm on the right path... Although I think those two are some of the most coveted Airstreams, so they may be difficult to come by...

Red Rocket, Unfortunately I don't have years... I'm hoping to be moved in by August/September 2013. Of course I can wait, I'd just probably have to move back into my parents house in LB for a bit, a big deal beings that I've been up and moved out since 17! *chuckle* Of course I'll never just settle, or purchase without really understanding what I'm purchasing... I'm just feeling around right now. I'm still looking at those park models once in a blue moon, but I don't think those are portable a la Airstream trailers, and I do want to travel once I'm done with my full-time LB livin'...

Kyle, Woah! Thank you for that list! I have been looking for something like that for WEEKS! I kid you not! That is a LIFESAVER, THANK YOU! I see that the Flying Cloud of late (2009 - ___) is very similar to the Safari of yesteryear... (____-2008). I love both of those models, the 27FB specifically. I will definitely be headed to a dealership soon to poke around... Do you think Airstreams will have better pricing at an Airstream specific dealership, or a RV dealership with several brands?

dwightdi, An Airstream club?! I should have known! This would probably be very helpful for me, thank you! I will poke around at the upcoming events...

CrawfordGene, You're absolutely right! I literally started off my Airstream search not knowing anything about them other than their obvious 'beauty'! So thanks for being patient with me. This website is insanely useful, and the users have already provided me with so much help! As far as a tow vehicle, I have none. I am planning on purchasing an Airstream from the southern California region and living in it full-time, non-traveling, for 3-5 years! I will then have enough money saved by that time to buy a nice tow vehicle. I have many people who have F250's and similar who have volunteered to tow it for me to a trailer park in the area. Budget-wise, I was looking to spend $30,000, but I think I'm going to up that to $40,000 as the Airstream will be like a house to me for many years, and as such should be a halfway decent trailer with home-like accommodations. Thanks for all your assistance with the kitchen/bath issues... makes sense! And I am tall... 5'11", so I will definitely need to see how comfortable these trailers will be for me!

Silver Otter, Thank you! It's always nice to be reminded that at one time everyone was a newbie to Airstream life! Thanks for the encouragement.
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Old 11-21-2012, 09:04 AM   #9
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At 5'11", you're a little bit taller than Barb and me (she's 5'9" and I am right between) so you'll have the same issues we do. Trailers with a corner double have 2 issues—a very short double bed and a bathroom with a door that doesn't open all the way and bangs into your knee when you're sitting on the toilet. There were some models with a king. They may as short as the queen though and may be hard to find and much longer than the 27'.

The queens are also short, but adjustments can be made by lengthening the bed support (the plywood sheet underneath), putting a standard queen mattress topper on the OEM mattress (it is uncomfortable anyway and needs a topper; you'll have to cut the topper at the curve in the corner), and pulling the mattress away from the head of the bed and stuffing something in between the mattress and the wall. Then you can use standard queen sheets.

Parking it can be an issue as you have found out. I stay away from LA, so I'm not familiar with the area, but maybe you have to go a little further from Long Beach to find a long term campground. How about your parents' driveway or backyard? A lot of towns and HOA's have restrictions on RV's, so that may be an obstacle. The distance you may have to go to park one may become a problem, but it may only mean a longer commute. That may be a problem or not.

Living with your parents depends on how you all get along. Parents sometimes have a hard time believing you are not 4 years old. I hope you don't have that problem because it can make someone move out very fast.

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Old 03-16-2013, 04:23 PM   #10
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I'm 5'10, find no problem whatsoever with the corner bed -- in fact we love the coziness of being tucked in the corner. I agree completely with Gene, our knees do bump the toilet compartment door, but only if we need to close that door -- we don't really need to.

The big benefit of corner bed/corner washroom is gaining more space for all the other activities of daily living -- relegating the bed and washroom to corner positions at the rear offers the best use of space for everything else in the remainder of the space. We spend most of our bed time sleeping, and don't spend much time at all in the wash room.

Just another perspective on the corner stuff,

Jim N5RTG & Deb N4RTG
WBCCI #4822 - SKP #094415
find us here
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