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Old 12-10-2019, 10:13 AM   #1
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Is there a way I can import a newer airstream from the usa to the uk and still tow on?

I am wanting to import a newer airstream (2000s) from the usa to the uk. Here they are so expensive but after having a good scout I have realised I could afford a newer airstream but only if I purchased via America. I am unsure of the rules regarding towing, size ect. I also have a pick up truck that I want to use to tow my airstream. Is this possible to do? Or can I only do this with the vintage airstreams? Please help!
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Old 12-10-2019, 11:17 AM   #2
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Typically, the Euro construction codes for towables are different. Hitch is usually a surge type, smaller connector. Trailers have different reflector markings, lights. And the trailers are lighter. Not sure how easy it would be to make the changes.



Perhaps you could discuss with an Airstream dealer in the UK?
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Old 12-10-2019, 12:14 PM   #3
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Hitch, connector, brakes, marker lights, weight...all good things to look into with regards to your local codes. I also think the UK/European trailers are generally narrower to meet the road standards and the electrical is wired differently 230V vs 120V.

The vintage Airstream trailers are narrower than the current models which is what makes them desirable in UK/Europe. They usually are due for a restoration as well, so the electrical and appliances can easily be made adaptable to European standards at that time.

I would also guess, by the time you add in shipping & taxes on a "made for America" model Airstream and made the electrical/towing changes, your price would be higher than a "standard" UK/European model. Your best bet would be to find a gently used UK/European "newer" model to purchase from someone there - they will have already taken the "new" hit in the cost. BTW, most people consider newer Airstreams "so expensive" here too.

Good luck!

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Old 12-10-2019, 03:49 PM   #4
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Hi

120 60Hz -> 240 50Hz conversion means replacing the A/C unit(s). Same thing with the microwave. You would need a different converter / charger. On the up side, a 20+ year old trailer may need them replaced anyway.

Sewage management in Europe is different than in the US. They seem to all use cassette toilets rather than black tanks.

At some point (depending on model) the "wide body" trailers came out. I would *not* want to try to tow a 8.5' wide trailer through some parts of Europe.

As mentioned above, signal lights / hitches / brakes / tow vehicle cables are all different in Europe.

How much of that *must* be done before you can get it off the boat is unclear to me.

Some basic math:

$25,000 2000 Trailer in reasonable shape
$ 9,000. Two new A/C units, installed
$ 1,000. Small stuff like new breakers
$ 1,000. Transport to the port in the US
$ 3,500. Transport over the ocean
$ 1,000. Transport in the UK to get it to you
$ 2,000 Plumbing
$ 4,000. Surge brakes (a guess)
$ 1,000. Paperwork / registration / title
$ 1,000 Inspection(s) / certifications
$ ?????? Trip to the US to see the beast and do the paperwork
$ ?????? Other stuff
$ ?????? Renovation
$ ?????? Taxes

Roughly $50K to $60K before it gets to you. Maybe another $15K to $25K to polish it up inside. You might well spend another $10K on the trailer to be more sure of it's condition. All of the numbers are *very* rough and depend on a whole bunch of things ..... Figure a year or two to get it all to come together.

Bob
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Old 12-11-2019, 10:35 AM   #5
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Uncle Bob , I respectfully , wonder where you get your A/C's and breakers for the panel. $10,000 seems like a military contract price. The last A/C I bought about 4 years ago was well under $1000, and if I were to guess , there's only about 6-8 breakers in my 25' AS. Probably the worst scenario would be $12 each.
Another real possibility is a 240V-120V transformer customized to be used just for the AS. Probably way less than $500 for a 5KVA xfmr.
Better yet , send me the $50-60K and I'll deliver it to Stoke-On-Trent .
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Old 12-11-2019, 10:59 AM   #6
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Great idea

There is a thread on an AS that was imported to France. You may not get much which applies to the UK, but it's background on some of the logistics issues.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f210...lu-175788.html

Pat
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Old 12-11-2019, 11:08 AM   #7
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......just don't forget to add the 25% 'dumpage tax' that has recently been added to any vehicle import under 30 years of age into the UK from the US (it is supposed to cover steel, but also covers any vehicle with a steel frame).

So you now have the import duty and then the dumpage tax and the two together represent a near 50% mark-up.
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Old 12-11-2019, 11:18 AM   #8
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Unless you don't mind spending money to make all the necessary conversion requirements, go for it.

You are better off buying one from overseas than trying to bring one from the US.

The only practical use would be if the AS is stationary, then all you would need is converting the power.

What is your reasoning for doing so if you don't mind me asking?
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Old 12-11-2019, 11:24 AM   #9
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I think your biggest problem is going to be the tow vehicle, you can tow a trailer (caravan) upto 24' (or 7m) long excluding the draw bar and I think roughly 8' wide, over that you need a 3.5 ton truck, a long wheel base rear wheel drive transit will do. BUT the hitch weight is the killer, most UK vehicles have tiny hitch weights compared to the US, a Land Rover (or similar) is 150kg, so well below the hitch weight of a US Airstream hitch weight. A Ford Ranger Wildtrak has the best hitch weigh of 225kg, not sure of its total towing capacity or vehicle class though. I wouldn't worry about electric brakes as they are legal in the UK providing you use the right controllers, and the tow ball size doesn't matter if you are towing with a commercial vehicle as weirdly commercial vehicle towing kit doesn't have to be type approved. You may have to put amber indicators on the Airstream too.
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Old 12-11-2019, 12:27 PM   #10
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no, not feasible. The EURO towing specs are very different than NA.

the MAX hitch capacity is VERY low.
it was designed this way to STOP normal people from towing larger trailers. They also dont have the same 7 way connector as the EURO std was not designed to work with the modern brakes

The electrical and plumbing standards are different. EURU does not allow grey/black tank dumping or hoses. They only support the cassette system.

thus it is neither simple/nor practical.
'AS does make one model for the UK. just google airtream uk
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Old 12-11-2019, 01:07 PM   #11
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I checked UK towing regs. it appears that a Bambi or Sport model are legal regarding width, length & weight. Another benefit would be that many SUVs are capable of towing these lighter trailers, perhaps a Toureg or Range Rover even a diesel Sprinter van that could be sourced in Britain saving shipping and any import duties.
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Old 12-11-2019, 03:56 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dieppe9 View Post
Uncle Bob , I respectfully , wonder where you get your A/C's and breakers for the panel. $10,000 seems like a military contract price. The last A/C I bought about 4 years ago was well under $1000, and if I were to guess , there's only about 6-8 breakers in my 25' AS. Probably the worst scenario would be $12 each.
Another real possibility is a 240V-120V transformer customized to be used just for the AS. Probably way less than $500 for a 5KVA xfmr.
Better yet , send me the $50-60K and I'll deliver it to Stoke-On-Trent .
Hi

First off, you can't run a 60Hz motor on 50Hz power. There just isn't enough iron in the beast. Second off, simply *finding* an A/C unit that will fit is not at all easy. The power center and wiring will all have to be pulled and converted to European standard parts. That includes all the outlets and switches. Not a small task at all ....

The Dometic Penguin's are $1,500 each for the US version before you pay anything for the install. If somebody is doing the work for you, chances are each one will cost you over $500 in labor .... it does add up.

Bob
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Old 12-17-2019, 11:56 AM   #13
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I would not recommend this.

I live in Cornwall, England, and have owned, maintained and towed an Airstream in Florida for the past 20 years. Based on that gained experience and knowledge I would not do as you suggest. The Euro Airstreams have aluminium sandwich construction floors, alleviating the Achilles Heel of USA built Airstreams - floor rot from water ingress. The width accords with the U.K restrictions, and they are designed to be towed with European vehicles.
The only way I would import a USA Airstream would be, as suggested above, to take it on a low-loader from the arrival port to land where it could be used as a static cabin. That would be a load of fun.
Nick.
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