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Old 01-31-2012, 10:07 AM   #1
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New Vs. Old

Hello all,
It has been a long time since I have posted anything on the site. My wife and I bought a new home around two years ago. The same vintage as our 25' Tradewind: 1974.The last two years have been all about renovating our house and the Tradewind has been on hold. The new house does not have a space to store our AS so it is at an RV storage which makes it difficult to work on in the winter. It has been a source of anxiety for me because I Have not been able to sneak into our Tradewind and tinker. We were only able to use it once last May. We made a great trip out to Banff. We were able to use all of the appliances and plumbing and it all worked great! We lost our AC shroud somewhere between Saskatoon and Banff and our gas line was hanging under the trailer. Nothing a few rivets wont fix.
I have not been able to build a dinette or polish her or get all of the finishing touches I have wanted to in the last 2 years.. I have been struggling lately with this burning desire and hit the road again. But the unfinished biz on our AS has been driving me nuts! I thought maybe the benefits to a new "Plug and play" AS may be a better choice so we can really get out there and have some fun! The down side of this, is a very large payment for as long as 20 years as opposed to no payment but shelling out thousands for parts and thousands of hours of my time and energy. I think I finally figured things out this weekend...
We had an RV show that had our local AS dealer showcasing the new 2011 and 2012 line up. I have been looking at New Airstream's on a regular basis and before we bought our Tradewind we were going to buy a new Flying Cloud 25FB but got cold feet. They had a 25FB international CCD, an Eddie Bauer and a new Serenity at the show.
They are beautiful but they are very expensive and from what I saw there were flaws to the new ones.I was a lot more critical viewing these trailers this time. I noticed filiform on new Tailights and handles as well as on some lower seams on the trailers. Very minor but still present. I did not think that the fit and finish on rivets around front windows were very good. The Eddie Bauer edition had globs of Vulkem on rivets around the rear windows and did not look very clean.The sales rep had told me they put that on spots where the rivets were ground off center. My thoughts would be to replace those rivets during production and do the job right on a $100,000.00 trailer. Some of mechanical fit and finish on water heaters and plumbing left me with doubt as well. I am not a professional builder but I think some things could be better
I have always heard the debates on the 70's trailers on here but I think that there were a lot of better materials on the 70's compared to the new ones.Go into debt for an AS that will take 20 years to pay off and it may be in worse shape than my 37 year old trailer in less than 20? Doing research on here with our great network of owners has helped troubleshooting tremendously.This big issue is time,time, time! I told my wife that this summer the AS is priority#1. If I can build my dinette and Replace my AC and get some uphlostery work done I will feel better moving forward.We may not be able to go anywhere this summer but if we can throw some cash in the Tradewind and get results,I will be happy. One step closer to regular use!!
We are going to plan a trip to California for two reasons. One being We want to Vacation there ( the furthest I have been in the US is Chicago),and two, in order to get some of the parts we need or want to replace we need to see Andy at Inland in CA. Shipping large parts from California to here will bankrupt us! So we will not be going into hock for a new one and will slug it out on or Tradewind. When ours is done we will have one cool trailer...It may cost almost as much as a new one minus being chained to 20 year terms to own it. Sorry for the long post but my wife is tired of the Airstream talk these days (almost borderline obsessive compulsive!).I needed to let it out somewhere!
P.S.: Andy we will be coming in about a year...we will have a laundry list ready!!!
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Old 01-31-2012, 11:06 AM   #2
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Vintage Airstreams are the right choice, both financially and for personal satisfaction. The down side is, they take forever to be "done." Are they ever done? Zep
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Old 01-31-2012, 11:13 AM   #3
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They are beautiful but they are very expensive and from what I saw there were flaws to the new ones.I was a lot more critical viewing these trailers this time.
I used to think Airstream TT's were expensive and top of the line until I saw the travel channel's annual RV show (not to mention the 'Extreme RV' show). Now I know there's only so much you can do in an Airstream TT form factor and $50k to $100k isn't all that uncommon for middle class RV's.

When it comes to 'build quality' I note that the trips to the dealer with the new Airstream for warranty repairs is a tradition going back to the very early days. I also hear from a friend with a top of the line Class A about his woes.

Then I see shows on H&G or DIY where they get into houses both old and new. What's really a trip is the house hunting shows for places outside of the U.S. and Canada. These certainly help in getting a perspective if you keep in mind the sample selection criteria.

Oh, it also helps to own an equivalent year SOB to compare and contrast to the Airstream ....

And then there's the 1973 Argosy 26 some friends have parked in my yard to sell as they are retiring from RVing. It is so similar to my 75 AS that the differences provide instructive contrasts.
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Old 01-31-2012, 12:31 PM   #4
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1970's model Airstreams used a large amount of plastic components. Plastics were not as good back then and the applications were not proven out ahead of time. Now, 40 years later, A lot of the Airstreams from then have a lot of components that are failing now. Frequently you can not find new equivalents. Newer trailers use better engineered plastics and we know how to test them better now, so the expected reliable life of the new trailers should be longer than holding on to an old one that will be 50 years old ten years from now. The 1970's trailers also had smaller frames that the current trailers.
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Old 01-31-2012, 05:39 PM   #5
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I agree with you Zep. Like a house they never get done! I think that I can still replace some of the 70's plastic and poorly engineered stuff and make it a lot more user friendly. There is no doubt that the 70's trailers had a great deal of "design Fromage"! I will start posting photos when I get my Dinette underway. I still do love the well planned layouts on the new ones.The tough part is having a nice home,Tow vehicle and Toys and not living in a financial abyss. I refuse to buy any shape or form SOB. No matter how neat some of them are there is no substitute for an Airstream.. If I won the lottery tomorrow I would go and pick up a new Flying Cloud 25FB! Hey Bryanl, My tradewind came all the way up to Canada from Reno!
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Old 02-01-2012, 09:06 AM   #6
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One doesn't have as much into an old trailer, but what attracts me most in this (new vs. old) is that I can more easily dispose of the old trailer financially & emotionally. My repairs or upgrades may be poorly done (skill acquistion!), or, that I genuinely want a different floorplan or trailer size. Easy come, easy go.

The downside is that I may find a decent older trailer -- the perfect one! -- and, upon tear-out inspection find that it is in truth a basket case.

Still, that beats a finance note and vehicle depreciation any day, IMO.

I would think it is harder to argue that an older one is better assuming that one want the conveniences or electronics of todays models. My guess is that most of us fall in between on this. As others have said, regular projects once a certain age is past needs to be a source of satisfaction.

.
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Old 02-01-2012, 09:29 AM   #7
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With the best will in the world, I couldn't have taken on any restoration work, or even hardcore maintenance, of an older/vintage Airstream; I simply lack the skills, and indeed inclination, to undertake such projects.

Don't get me wrong, I greatly admire the work that people put in to keep Airstreams on the road, but that kind of commitment is way beyond me and I'm quite content to admit that.

So for us, going new was the only feasible option. Yes, it's expensive and yes, the depreciation is staggering but, we bought our Airstream with a view to it being the only one we ever buy and it's value isn't at the top of our priorities. I'll hopefully pick up the maintenance skill set to keep it on the road and whilst doing that, we'll enjoy our camping experiences, which is what it's all about, really.
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Old 02-01-2012, 09:43 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by MrUKToad View Post
With the best will in the world, I couldn't have taken on any restoration work, or even hardcore maintenance, of an older/vintage Airstream; I simply lack the skills, and indeed inclination, to undertake such projects.

Don't get me wrong, I greatly admire the work that people put in to keep Airstreams on the road, but that kind of commitment is way beyond me and I'm quite content to admit that.

So for us, going new was the only feasible option. Yes, it's expensive and yes, the depreciation is staggering but, we bought our Airstream with a view to it being the only one we ever buy and it's value isn't at the top of our priorities . I'll hopefully pick up the maintenance skill set to keep it on the road and whilst doing that, we'll enjoy our camping experiences, which is what it's all about, really.
Yours is the way my parents bought and kept their Silver Streak for 27-years. A sensible choice when one is clear on size and floorplan. On the other hand, not all used trailers need extensive work beyond appliance replacement, cosmetics (floor and furniture coverings) and perhaps electronics upgrades. Lower purchase price and then a "major" bit of work (as outlined) followed by projects tackled year-by-year. In order: Safety, reliability and comfort. Even for a family man this is do-able in the off-season by ones chosen repair/upgrade facility.

The complete suspension/brake/tire/wheel changeover might be big $$, but replacement of all awning covers would not. Something like clearcoat strip and removal -- with transport to & from the appropriate facility -- would be another example of off-season work. At the end of five years one could have a "new" trailer with otherwise full use. The delay in gratification is minor in comparison.

And projects like changing over to LED lighting on the exterior is par for any "challenged" owner: small beans work with big safety/reliability payoff.

.
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Old 02-01-2012, 10:03 AM   #9
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"I hugely enjoy Vintage Airstreams and look forward to seeing how they have been restored and renovated at vintage rallies we attend.
But my wife and I are really enjoying our lightly used 2007, our fourth Airstream after a 1976, a 2000, and another 1976.

We really enjoy the big refer that keeps things cold (what a concept!)
The water heater that you can turn on and off from inside the bathroom and run on 120AC or propane.
The dinette.
The walk-through, center bathroom.

We have yet to own a 60's and we skipped right over the 80's and 90's."
Quoted from a similar thread at:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f48/...old-75404.html
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Old 02-01-2012, 10:28 AM   #10
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Chefmardigan & all,

I'm currently of the opinion that the 3-8 year old Airstreams are the best deal financially as they are nearly identical in construction to the current production units and at the present time are being sold for far less than new. That's the way the market is now, at least, and I expect that it will change in a few years.

The wide body trailers offer considerably more usable space and despite all the quality problems are likely to be in better condition than an earlier trailer, especially if they were owned by someone who held the dealer's feet to the fire for warranty work in the first two years.

I'd love to have a vintage trailer but don't consider them the best deal financially.
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Old 02-01-2012, 10:31 AM   #11
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

First off, welcome back to active Airstreaming. It sounds like now that you have your house in order, it's time to consider your Airstream endeavors.

I will share my old vs. new Airstream perspective with you. Let me start by saying that I greatly admire the vintage Airstreams, and would really like to have one, but it doesn't really fit my camping style and life priorities.

In my perception, there are two kinds of Airstreamers, the 'ends' people and the 'means' people. I fall deeply into the latter category. Airstreamers in the 'ends' category possess and maintain their Airstream for the pleasure of having and using an Airstream. Folks in the 'means' category possess and maintain their Airstream for the purpose of travel and camping. There are also many Airstreamers that fall somewhere in the middle between these two categories.

Our dear Lucy is a 2005 Safari 25FB that we purchased new in 2006. Since we have had Lucy, we have spent just under 1,000 nights (990, to be exact) in her, and have towed her almost 90,000 miles. Lucy has been in all of the lower 48 states. We prefer new or late model Airstreams for our purposes.

A vintage Airstream would not really fit our style, as we don't want to take the time to restore and maintain a 35 year old Airstream. Life is short, and we want to spend it traveling and camping.

Keep in mind that this is my perspective. Each Airstreamer has to choose their own style, and select their "perfect Airstream" accordingly.

These Forums are great resource to get all of the different perspectives, but in the end, only you can choose what is right for you. Good luck in your endeavor.

Brian
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Old 02-01-2012, 10:45 AM   #12
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In Summary...

...I agree with Moosetags,
We have had two vintage Airstreams for me to restore and renovate, but...
we bought this one to use.
Since we purchased it in August 2011, we have been in it 40 days and 40 nights!
(And I haven't had to fix or replace anything!)
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Old 02-01-2012, 10:46 AM   #13
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The nice thing is that with an Airstream trailer you have the option. You can make a vintage Airstream just as good as a new one or you can just buy a new one. And each of us gets to make our own decision. You can't do that with a TV. You have to buy new or next to new to get all the advantages and safety features the new TV's have.

If I did not have the skills to renovate a vintage Airstream I would probably either buy new or buy a vintage trailer that has already been restored, especially if I was in it for the long haul.

Dan
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Old 02-01-2012, 12:04 PM   #14
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New vs. Vintage ... with a twist

Chefmardigan,

I also am a new Airstream owner and did four months of research preparing for my purchase, and completely understand your conundrum. While I don't have direct experience of restoring a vintage trailer, I did have good conversations with experienced vintage owners and restorers.

Like you, I wanted a trailer that was ready to use immediately for family fun and that was rock-solid reliable. What I came to learn was that restoring a vintage A/S can be no joke, both from a time and financial perspective. One restorer I met even gently joked that the reason you see so many half-finished vintage Airstreams for sale is that people lost patience and/or ran out of budget. Yes, I could do a lot of fun work myself on interior restoration and even systems upgrades, but what really spooked me was the cost of major repairs like floor replacements, requiring a shell lift-off and hence a full shop and a pro at upwards of $50/hour. Frank in Baltimore showed me some truly spectacular vintage restorations in progress, which I could well be interested in some day, but currently lack the funds for.

I decided I'd look for a gently used, later model year trailer that maintained the classic Airstream look but offered modern systems (like 39 gallons each on black and grey water tanks). I also looked specifically for either a CCD or Limited model that offered the beautiful interior aluminum wall skins; a classic vintage look but on a modern trailer.

New Airstreams certainly are pricey, but I found in my research that, like in cars, there's a steep drop off in value after the first three years or so, then flattens out into a stable value for quite some time. So I settled on the mid 2000's as a model year goal, noticing that, for example, a 2005-6 28' International was a good 30-50% less than a new one, but not that much more than, say, a late 90's model (the price curve was flattening.

I ended up finding a wonderful 2005 28' CCD in great condition (the owner lovingly maintained it, even taking the Camping World RV technician class!) for a great price (and way below the estimated full cost of buying and restoring, say, a 1960s Overlander or a 70's Sovereign), and it's ready to roll for this year's camping season with my wife and two daughters, including BASH III.

In short, I think you might find late models are a great value, offering much of the vintage charm (although not the full Vintage experience that many prefer, I readily admit) and all the utility you need for family fun right away.

As to the quality issues, I guess I'll start finding that out soon, but after six years of good use, my 28' CCD is still in great shape, and I plan to keep up the maintenance.

Cheers

Jim
Arlington, VA
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