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Old 06-22-2011, 06:23 PM   #1
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Smile Buying advice

First let me say this forum is great. The wealth of information posted is fantastic. We will be buying our first AS in the next few months and will be going to a dealer to look at the various models. My wife and I are looking for one that is between 19 and 25 feet but I find the various models almost overwhelming and not sure what would be the best for our purpose. For instance I note that the Sport does not come with front fenders or rear bumper; are they necessary? Is a rear ornament a necessity or is the one on the side sufficient. Is it better to buy a new AS that is a year or two old or buy the current year.

What options are a must?

Thanks
John
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Old 06-22-2011, 07:00 PM   #2
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Let me give you our short story on buying our Air Stream. Two years ago we looked at Air Streams, we felt that they cost too much for us due to never owing an rv. We ended up buying a 26 ft Keystone Bullet for $21,000 out the door. After making three trips from Calif to North Carolina and back the Bullet was starting to fall apart. Last Dec. we went back to the AS dealer and traded in the Bullet for a 2008 27' International CCD FB. It was like new, they gave me $18,000 trade in and we saved $25,000 off the cost of a brand new same model. We left Calif. the end of May this year and are in North Carolina right now. AS advantage---pulls far better than the Bullet--got 2.5 more miles per gallon--(the AS weights 3,000 more pounds) the quality of the AS is outstanding--
We looked at the 25 ft models, like the 27 ft due to the queen bed that we can walk around plus the extra 2 feet gave us a large closet and feels much larger inside.
Good luck on your search, we love ours.
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Old 06-22-2011, 07:13 PM   #3
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

First off, welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

We have a 2005 Safari 25FB, named Lucy, that we bought new five years ago. We have spent almost 900 nights in her, and have towed her 80,000 miles. Lucy has held up very well in the heavy use that we give her. I can highly recommend Airstream as a brand, and the 25FB as a livable model.

There are good used Airstreams out there. Shop new to get a feel for the market. Then shop the used market, and see what's out there for how much money.

Do your research, and take your time.

Brian
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Old 06-22-2011, 07:14 PM   #4
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Still have a lot of research to do...

John-

Welcome to Forums, but open-ended nature of questions implies you should continue doing research to narrow choices before you start to reach for wallet or pen... There are threads you can search (using blue tab above to right) like "New versus used" or "21 versus 25" and so on.. Here would be my list of questions that need answers as you narrow your search...

1. How will you use it? Couple or solo or family and kids? No pet or multiple large dogs? <General rule is to go as large as you can tow and afford based on group size and lenght of time to be spent indoors...> If you believe you'll be "boondocking" (staying in remote camping areas with no electrical or water connections..> you'll want larger holding tanks and solar electrical panels and system. If you are going to park it at nearby lake as vacation cottage, then IT hookups and large screen TV might be priorities...
2. What will you tow it with? A lot of crossover and mid-size SUV's can pull a 21' trailer safely, and get better fuel mileage. A newer wider 25' trailer will require 7500# of towing capacity (roughly) and that is going to mean larger V-8 powered truck or SUV. When you camp, do you plan to carry bicycles, boats or kayaks, generators or other bulky items <Think pickup truck/cover>
3. Where will it live when not in use? Storage charges remotely rise based on length, and ease of parking and access are inversely proportional to length.
4. Intangibles - Do you feel safer with double axles or single axles in event fo flat tire? Do you feel you need lots of storage space, or minimal space. Will you be OK with "Wet shower" (one where whole bathroom has drain on floor and gets wet during showers) or separate shower stall?
5. Is cost an issue, or just a "consideration"? New are going to be substantially more expensive than "2 or 3 years old".. New gets you choice of colors, options, peace of mind about no prior owner abuse or misuse, no dings and no dents and a manufacturer warranty honored by all dealers. Used gets you "Buyer Beware" status if something expensive fails.
6. Do you have lots of tools and like to work on machines and stuff, or do you have all mechanical service work on vehicles done by others.. Used trailers are easier to live with if you can use basic tools to fix things that will inevitably fail over time...
7. Is a dealer relationship important? Some are great, some not so great.. Some make their income on trailer sales, some on services and parts. You might find great deal on other side of country, creating some logistic challenges, but would that be an option? <The market for used Airstreams really is a national market, between classifieds here, at e-Bay and at RVTraderonline.com. >

Not much official "advice" above, but one piece of advice I do share with friends is to avoid signing up for huge investment (whether cash or borrowed) for an unknown pastime.. In other words, if this is the very first RV/Trailer experience and you "think" you're going to enjoy it, buying an expensive new trailer and new truck could be a tough investment to recover from if you change your mind.. It is often easier to upgrade than downgrade later.. A used truck and trailer in good condition can be a good starter, and then upgraded as you learn more about exact needs. Starting with over $100K invested and deciding it is not really "Your thing" can be a very difficult situation to escape from... You can find a perfectly functoinal 25' trailer and tow vehicle for $50K combined as well, or even $25K combined with some research.. At the low end, you can sell for what you paid. If you are sure of your plans, however, getting it exactly right may make sense for you over the life of the trailer...

Good luck!
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Old 06-22-2011, 07:18 PM   #5
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since you are close, check out Colonial AS. I hear the are one of the best in knowledge and deals and service
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Old 06-23-2011, 09:02 AM   #6
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The Sport does not need a "bumper" and comes pretty much with all you need. A good set of mud flaps on your TV will protect from flying rocks. Our 22' does fine for us two and two dogs. We boondock a lot and have no issues.
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Old 06-23-2011, 08:46 PM   #7
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More buying advice needed

First let me thank all of you for your input it got be to thinking more and of course that led me to more questions. My wife and I will be visiting a dealer on Monday however I believe the best advice will come from forum members. I also apologize if these questions have been asked before, however they will help me in planning my expenses. My questions are in categories beginning with towing. We will be camping mostly in state and federal campgrounds also military sites.
Towing: I will use a 07 Yukon 4wd. Trailer size will be between 19 an 25 ft. will be towing in the mountains. I have the sway bars and the hitch for a reese (1975) Will I need to up grade?
Hitch: should it be electric or Hand crank?
Axels: 1 or 2 axles? I am concerned about sway,maneuverability and over all towing safety
Tires: Is there any magic number when tires should be replaced?
Spare Tires: do they come standard or are they an accessory? If so should one be purchased?
Jacks: Is a car jack sufficient for changing tires or is a special one needed?
Levelers: do they come standard or must they be purchased? Are they needed and if so how many? Do they require support under them?
Chock blocks are they standard equipment?
Brakes: drum or disc. I have seen both mentioned?
Awnings: What is the advantage of the one over the rear window and on the left side?
Rear bumper: is it necessary and does it add much additional storage?
Front bumper guards: How important are they?
Tools: What basic tools are needed?
AC: What is a minimum size AC for 90 degrees?
Heat pump: what do I need for low thirties high twenties?
Systems: Anything needed for the plumbing system especially the toilet?

As I live near the ocean is there any special coating needed to protect the aluminium from salt air?

Again thanks to all in advance for your assistance and patience

John
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Old 06-23-2011, 09:42 PM   #8
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Lots of different opinions and answers.
What is the rated towing capacity of your Yukon? I have a friend that tows a 25 footer with a Yukon with the big engine and a 6 speed automatic and all wheel drive. It seems to tow fine. He has some worries about the transmission heating on long grades. But he towed it over some mighty hills this spring and it stayed within acceptable limits.
I tossed the 20 year old Reese that came with my used trailer and bought a Reese
dual cam hitch. I tow with a heavy truck. My friend with the Yukon uses a Pro Pride and I think that is a good choice for the Yukon.
I have only towed 2 axle model Airstreams. Several of my friends who bought small Airstreams to start with have upsized after a year or 2. I really like my 25 footer. Depends on you and your use. We go on Caravans and are out for up to 4 months at a time.
Tires are a controversial issue. If the trailer you want can be had with 16 inch wheels be sure to get them. That way you can run better tires than are avaliable for 15" wheels.
My impression is that both the spare tire and the carrier are accessories. Never bought a new Airstream. You either have to carry the spare in the Yukon or have the accessory carrier under the front of the airstream. If you get stuck with 15" wheels and the trailer tires you certainly better carry a spare. (or 2). If you get a light enough trailer to run LT tires in 15" or get the 16" wheels you will be much better off for tires.
Car jack might not work. I use a bottle jack with a special adaptor the keeps it from slipping on the edge. If you have a dual axle trailer you can get a wedge that lets you pull one wheel up on it to get the other off the ground. For me the bottle jack with the adaptor is the way to do. But if you try to use the bottle jack without the adaptor it can slide off and go right through the trailer floor.
Airsteams do not have "levelers". They have "stablizers". Difference is you have to get the Airstream level buy blocking under the wheels on the low side and with the jack. Then you lower the stablizers at the 4 corners to keep it from rocking.
My older Airstreams came with chocks. do not know about the new ones. Camper world is a good source.
Not sure what the current status of the Airstream disc brakes are. They had trouble with the pumps, amoung other things. On the last caravan one disc brake owner had to change a caliper in the campogrund after getting it airmailed in. I pull with a 2500 diesel with disc brakes and keep my drum brakes set light. no question good disc brakes are better than drum, but ....
The awnings on the rear and the left side block a lot of sun from coming in the windows and from heating the airstream side. plus they let you leave the windows open and not worry about rain and they do not blow off the trailer as often as the big awning on the other side when the wind hits.
I like the bumper storage. I have a carrier under the trailer for the sewer hose and carry the electric cord in the bumper.
not sure what a front bumper guard is. the corner projectors are nice to have but not totally necessary. the rock guard for the front window is necessary.
tools? take that up later.
AC Airstreams soak up the sun. I only have older airstreams. The AC is marginal at 90 degrees. Get the bigges one you can get in the size trailer you are buying.
Do not know about heat pumps. Use the Surbaban propane furnace. heats instantly and with warm heat. had a heat pump in the house and took it out. hope the Airstream heat pumps are better.
Plumbing system should come complete and ready to use. You do need the hose and fittings for dumping.
Probably a good surge protector for the electical system. additional water pressure regulator and a filter.
I do not think there is a additional special coating avaliable. Use a good polish that is safe for the clear coat. Airstream sells one.
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Old 06-24-2011, 10:49 AM   #9
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Buying advice

I appreciate the input. I will need to buy a hitch however I am leaning towards the reese especially if it will do the Job at a quarter of the cost. Looking on the Colonial RV website it looks like new RV's all have 15 inch wheels but come with the spare tire and bracket.

I do believe the dealer relationship is important however I will continue to look at private sales as they might be less expensive then a dealer. Again any other ideas or suggestions are greatly appreciated
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Old 06-24-2011, 11:11 AM   #10
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If you will really work the classifieds on this site as well as craigslist and a couple of others, you may find pretty much what you are looking for without paying for a brand new one, unless of course you just really want a brand new one. I spent about 9 months searching every day before finding our 5 year old Safari 23 less than 75 miles from where we live at a very decent price and it had only been used a dozen or so times in those 5 years. And it's all in the timing. I responded to an ad on here less than three hours after it was posted, got my deposit in and the PO was great to work with.
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Old 06-24-2011, 02:27 PM   #11
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Buying advice

We have not decided as to a new or use. I suspect we will a better idea after we visit the dealer on Monday. IN the mean time I have been looking at various classified. one of the members recommended The jaXed Mash Combined For Sale Listings as good site. It is a great site as it lists all of the sites together (ebay, craiglist etc.) I have also been checking various dealer sites for used AS. I am nervous about the adds on Craigslist because of the number of scams not only including AS but RE etc. Half the fun for me is the search but my goal is to own one by Oct of this year

Again thanks for all of the info.
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Old 06-26-2011, 06:46 PM   #12
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Bill answered many of them, but here is another take...

Your Reese is OK for a smaller trailer.. The super heavy hiches like Hensley are really for larger and heavier model trailers..

THousands of owners tow with single axles, and are prepared to need jack and spare if they have a flat.. You can roll slowly on double axle with 1 flat tire, and you can soal avod need for jack with double, by rolling god wheel up onto a block.. Two are more stable than 1, but trailer is going to be larger and heavier, so it may be a wash. THe Tahoe can handle any of them, unless it is really old and poorly maintained, or has had overheating problems...

THe electric jack on front of trailer is nice (few of us would go back to a crank..) but not necessary.. Electric ones have a light for night work, which saves holding flashlight in teeth...

THe extra awnings are just for shade.. More shade is good if you go to hot places (they do get hot in sun over 90 degrees..) and especially if you stay places without power to run A/C.

If you don't have a spare, emergecy road service people (like AAA) aren't going to be able to help you (ask me how I know...). We purchased a wheel and used best of leftover tires from replacement of entire set of 4 after freeway blowout. Wheel is identical to Toyota small pickup or 4 Runner wheels.

The 13K BTU A/C's are OK in coler climates. If trailer is large (25') you'd prefer the 15K BTU version for hot southwestern or southeastern states... Most have option for electric heat rod in them for cool temps, but below freezing you'll need to run furnace to push warm air under sub-floor and keep pipes and tanks from freezing...

Old disk brake setups from '70's are mostly irrelevant.. Newer Kodiak style uses electrical hydraulic pump activated by brake controller.. Drum brakes will fade eventually when hot, and may need adjusting, and disk brakes have slight lag but more grabbing power and ability to control without locking up or fading... You'll find believes in either mode of braking...

Sounds like questions getting more precise which is sign that research is going well...
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Old 06-26-2011, 07:50 PM   #13
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Take your time

THINK. Think long and hard about how often you will use your trailer, and what kind of camping you will want to do. Some people are happy as clams in 16' and others feel cramped in a 34' tri-axle. (It's expensive to change your mind after you buy... ask me how I know.)

Visiting a dealer is a wonderful idea. Colonial definitely has more in stock models than anything else. Leave your checkbook and charge cards HOME for the first visit. Duct tape your hands together so you can't sign anything too. You should make at least two to three visits before you commit.

Take off your shoes and really tour each unit you're interested in. Sit on the throne...knee room? Try the shower for height and elbow room, etc. Try the bed, and imagine changing the bed linens (you'll see how the sideways queen is a PIA.) Do you want two sinks or or one big lobster bowl? How much refrigerator space do you need?

Heating/air conditioning. Most new units 25' and up have a 15K air conditioner & heat pump unit. The heat pump works fine down to about 36 degrees F. After that you'll need to use the propane sucking furnace, or if you have hookups, a space heater or two.

Have as much fun looking as buying!

Paula
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Old 06-28-2011, 02:19 PM   #14
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Went to the dealer

Again thanks for all of the advice. It has been most helpful. Claire and I went to the dealer, Colonial RV, yesterday in N J. As mentioned in the thread they do have a lot of models. We looked at the 19s to the 25 foot trailers. I like the 19 but we will probably settle on a 25 because of the twin beds. The doubles and the queens do not leave a significant amount of room to maneuver around or to climb over someone, especially in the dark. It also appears to be more spacious, at least that is the perception we both left with.

Now we have to decide on used or new and method of payment. Private owner or dealer distance or close. Probably go close if we buy from a dealer because of service.

I should also note the sales associate was very professional and in both of our opinions very, very knowledgable.

Now the game truly begins.
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