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Old 12-16-2013, 04:18 PM   #1
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Investigating Airstream

I purchased a towing vehicle in March, 2013 (2012 Ram 2500 Crew Cab, 4WD, automatic, 3:73 rear axle with the Cummins) as well as a 30 foot travel trailer (1995 Jayco Eagle 394 bunkhouse model). We spent the summer going about to different places; the furthest was 400 miles. I believe we would like to do more of this RV thing.

I have since heard quite a bit about Airstream travel trailers, and would like to be better educated. So, some questions. In asking, I am sure the answers are buried somewhere in here, but would appreciate being pointed in the right direction.

If you have experience with another brand, do you find Airstream easier to tow?

If you have experience with another brand, do you find Airstream results in better fuel economy when towing?

If you have experience with another brand, do you find Airstream exhibits considerably better construction (apart from tires, wheels, brakes, suspension, etc.)?

Would it be better to look at getting a new or used Airstream travel trailer?

Would it be better to go through a dealer or an individual if buying used?

If buying new, can you recommend a dealer in my area? I am in northwestern Pennsylvania.

I really like the layout of our existing trailer; it has bunk beds in the back corner for the kids. Is a bunkhouse layout common for Airstreams?

I really like the size of our existing trailer (30 foot). If I consider a used Airstream, are some sizes in far more demand than others?

How realistic is it to think I could find a well-restored vintage Airstream in the thirty-foot length range?

I will retire in about ten years. If I bought a new Airstream trailer and took proper care of it, is it realistic to think it would last as long as me (hopefully another thirty to forty years)?

Thanks much!

Kevin
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Old 12-16-2013, 05:36 PM   #2
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Answers to questions in order:
1. Yes. The ride is smoother. It is immediately noticable.
2. Yes. Fuel economy will go up 20%. We got 10 mpg towing our Forest River Wildwood 28RLSS. We get 12 mpg towing our Airstream Classic 30.
3. Yes, the construction is far superior. There is no particle board or MDF and none of the off-gassing associated with those products. Our Classic has solid hickory cabinets, Corian counters, and Moen faucets. The wheels, tires, axles, suspension IS better. Only Airstream has shock absorbers on all 4 like a car.
4. If you are paying cash, buy used. If you are financing buy new or nearly new. If financing, asking price always exceeds loan value on old Airstreams, so you have to have some cash even if you are financing.
5. It doesn't really matter if you buy from a dealership lot or an individual. You may be able to negotiate a better deal if buying from an individual. It just so happened that I bought both trailers from a dealership.
6. You are close enough to Colonial in New Jersey to make it worth the road trip. They are an awesome dealer whether buying new or used.
7. If it is a bunkhouse you want, you have already picked your Airstream and it will be new or nearly new. The Airstream you want is a Flying Cloud 30' Bunkhouse.
8. If you really want a bunkhouse you will not find an old Airstream to restore unless you gut and redesign. The bunkhouse is a newer Airstream layout/floor plan.
9. An Airstream is really an Heirstream. You will leave it to your kids or grandkids. I see full-timers in Airstreams from the 70's and 70's.
Go ahead and get you that 2014 Airstream 30' bunkhouse!
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Old 12-16-2013, 05:40 PM   #3
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Pics of a friend's brand new bunkhouse-
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Old 12-16-2013, 05:43 PM   #4
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Airstreams- there are no better trailers.
There is pride in owning something so beautiful- an American icon-
I love the art deco, retro cool styling that goes back to aircraft design in the 30's.
No other manufacturer has been building travel trailers for 80 years.
70% of all Airstreams ever built are still on the road.
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Old 12-16-2013, 05:57 PM   #5
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You will miss the walk around room and storage in that Jayco- but that's all you'll miss-
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Old 12-16-2013, 06:31 PM   #6
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Russell5000.
I see you found your way over from the TDR site

Happy hunting
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Old 12-17-2013, 08:59 AM   #7
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Thanks much, especially M. Hony. That 30 foot Flying Cloud bunkhouse looks awesome.

Yes, I am Cummins guy, and was referred to this forum by TDR members.

Appreciate all the insights.

I spent some time on the Airstream website last night. As is pointed out above, the Flying Cloud is the only model with the bunk floor plan.

My question is: are there any structural differences between the various "lines" of trailers? Is a Flying Cloud built as well as a Classic? It appears to me that the difference between the lines is interior stuff, but I can't really tell.

Anybody have any insights?
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Old 12-17-2013, 09:09 AM   #8
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We tried a SOB because of the extra room after we had a 30 foot 1975 Excella. The SOB lasted one season and we went back to Airstream. We now own a 2006 30 foot Classic. There is no comparison in quality. Also, when you pull a SOB into a campground - you disappear into the SOB landscape. When you pull an Airstream in, people take notice. I can't tell you how many times we've had people come to see our Airstream. Everyone loves them and you will too. If you want extra space, get a twin bed configuration - much more storage and walk space. Good luck!
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Old 12-17-2013, 09:58 AM   #9
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We have had 5 SOB trailers prior to the Airstream. Hands down, the AS tows sooooo much better than the SOBs! Gas mileage seems to be better too. We gutted and redid a '72 because we like the narrower body type - it's a lot of work but we are happy. New ones have many advantages over older trailers, such as room and more modern finishes. Older trailers have some advantages over newer trailers depending on who did the work such as better components (ie: we put stainless steel exterior water fill on ours. New ones are plastic...). We can NEVER see ourselves going back to any other brand of trailer!

Kay
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Old 12-17-2013, 10:59 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RUSSELL5000 View Post
Thanks much, especially M. Hony. That 30 foot Flying Cloud bunkhouse looks awesome.

Yes, I am Cummins guy, and was referred to this forum by TDR members.

Appreciate all the insights.

I spent some time on the Airstream website last night. As is pointed out above, the Flying Cloud is the only model with the bunk floor plan.

My question is: are there any structural differences between the various "lines" of trailers? Is a Flying Cloud built as well as a Classic? It appears to me that the difference between the lines is interior stuff, but I can't really tell.

Anybody have any insights?
The basic bones of the Airstreams are all the same as far as I know. The only differences between the various models is the interior trims, and possibly the type of windows they use.

I have torn 4 different vintage ones apart, by the time the interior is all out they are pretty much the same under the skins. I chose to go vintage for a variety of reasons.

I have done plenty of work on SOB's and the Airstream is better built overall. Airstreams do have their own QC issues so don't expect perfection.

Aaron
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Old 12-17-2013, 11:30 AM   #11
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Kevin,

Welcome to Airforums. You're getting your feet wet pretty quick. This is a good gang and proud of their Airstreams. Lots of info here.

Gary

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Old 12-17-2013, 12:41 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RUSSELL5000 View Post
Thanks much, especially M. Hony. That 30 foot Flying Cloud bunkhouse looks awesome.

Yes, I am Cummins guy, and was referred to this forum by TDR members.

Appreciate all the insights.

I spent some time on the Airstream website last night. As is pointed out above, the Flying Cloud is the only model with the bunk floor plan.

My question is: are there any structural differences between the various "lines" of trailers? Is a Flying Cloud built as well as a Classic? It appears to me that the difference between the lines is interior stuff, but I can't really tell.

Anybody have any insights?
They are all built equally well I presume. I chose the Classic 30 because it was the same basic layout as our Forest River Wildwood 28RLSS in reverse- living room at he front instead of the rear- with the center walk-through bath- and because of the solid hickory cabinets and Corian counters. I think all or most Airstreams have Moen faucets, but some have laminate counters and cabinets instead of Corian and hickory. Even the ones that have laminate don't have that off-gassing smell that sob's have, and no Airstreams have that wallpaper with the thin strip covering the seams like sob's.
I made a list of things I like better about the Airstream and things I like better about the sob. There were 50-60 things on the list of things that I liked better about the Airstream. There were 8-9 things on the list I liked better about the sob.
Some people don't like the Classic because it looks like your grandparents trailer inside- the very reason I do like it. I am smitten with vintage/retro.
Others like the more modern, contemporary, European look- really sleek and elegant.
As I said earlier- if you want a bunkhouse your Airstream is already picked out. You just choose what color ultra leather you want.
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Old 12-17-2013, 02:54 PM   #13
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If you get an Airstream and decide to look at other models like the Classic be sure to check the empty weight vs gross weight. The Classics are a fair amount heavier and as far as I know have the same gross weight so they have considerably less useful load left. If you are packing for a family this might be a concern for you.

Also we went from a 28' toyhauler to a 25 Eddie Bauer. The EB is considerably lighter but it is wider than the toyhauler was. The EB is much more pleasant to tow and mileage is up around 1.5 mpg in my experience.

We haven't had the EB long enough to comment on durability but we do get some issues related to towing on rough roads but I don't see why this won't be the last travel trailer I ever buy.
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Old 12-17-2013, 04:25 PM   #14
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The 31' Flying Cloud and International trim lines have a GVW of 8,800 pounds while the two 31' Classics have a GVW of 10,000 pounds. Only the three Classic models utilize 5,000 pound rated axles. The net carrying capacity based upon optimistic Airstream sales literature

31 Flying Cloud 2,418 pounds
31 International 2,418 pounds
31 Classic 30 2,635 pounds
31 Classic 31 2,746 pounds

So the Classics come with 40 pound aluminum propane tanks versus the 30 pound steel tanks in the other two trim lines as well as a larger furnace. 35,000 vs 30,000 BTU rating.

The Hickory hard wood cabinets add about 800 pounds to the Classic 27FB and 1,000 pounds to the 31' Classic models.

Fully optioned, the Flying Cloud and International are nearly at the Classic prices. So the beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

Here is the Colonial Website link to download the 2014 Airstream brochure.

http://colonialairstream.com/Airstre...el_trailer.pdf

If you return there, you can peruse the largest inventory on hand of any dealership and see at least 60 photos of each unit. If you are nearby, go look at and sit in them for awhile to get the impression of what tickles your fancy.

Then spin your eye balls reading on this forum about all the models and everyone's experiences. All you wanted to know but were afraid to ask.....

Welcome!
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