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Old 05-21-2006, 05:55 PM   #1
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Considerations when buying an Airstream

I'm writing an article for Airstream Life on this interesting topic. I was wondering what things you considered when you bought your last Airstream. Price? Floorplan? Weight? Tow vehicle limitations? This article will try to be a buyer's guide for newbies who never owned an Airstream before and will focus on buying newer Airstreams rather than vintage one's.

Like my last article, I'd love to quote those with quote-worthy comments on this subject.

Thanks in advance.

Mike
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Old 05-21-2006, 05:59 PM   #2
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Hi Mike - We looked at trailers we could tow with our spare vehicles. A ford exploder with a stick and a little 6.... we've learned a lot since then. Several years later - we've learned an important lesson.....

Tow vehicles come and go - but Airstreams last forever! Buy what you need - not what you can (currently) tow.
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Old 05-21-2006, 06:22 PM   #3
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Get the trailer you will need in 5 years. If you get a trailer too small now because that is all you can tow/afford, chances are good you will be disapointed in your purchase. If you are planning to have two children, get a 25' coach, not the 19' Bambi you need now because you don't have anyone but you and your spouse.
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Old 05-21-2006, 06:47 PM   #4
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mello mike

My first and second travel trailers were a Playmore,22 ft and a Terry, 26 foot. Both towed like I was draging a stump behind me. The girls turned into teenagers and camping went by the wayside.
In early 2005 My beloved wife said she would like to get into trailer camping again. We went to RV shows and dealers. I would pull the selesman aside and ask this question: If I towed this trailer 5 to 6 thousand miles a summer how long would it last and what type of maintenance would I expect to perform. They all told me that in that time frame and number of miles the unit would be a shambles. The cabinets would be falling away from the walls and there would be leaks. In 10 to 12 years the roof would need to be replaced because the sun would rot it by that time(rubber), also depreciation would leave it in ten years worth about 600 to 1000 dollars. Then I asked what brand of travel trailer could I buy that I could possibly pass on to my kids and would not lose its value. They all said I would have to buy an Airstream.
So off I went.
I found this forum, the Airstream INC. website and the Vintage Airstream website. I was off and running. I found about the Combined Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. I found out about the rear end sag in the older units. I wanted a rear double bed or Queen with a center bath and the larger frame. I contacted GM for the rating on my 1990 GMC RALLY STX 3500 and weighed the van to see how much trailer I could get. Given these parameters, I ended up looking for a 31 foot Excella in the 1980s somewhere(the most trailer I could tow and stay below the Combined Gross Weight Rating). I found it on EBAY. A 1984 Excella 31 foot with a few changes and updates including a new rear Queen bed. Went to NJ to look at it and the wife liked it very much. We had seen a couple of the new CCDs and both she and I did not like them, but that was personal taste. She was amazed at two things:
1. The way it was appoited/furnished.
2. I was not trying to bring home another project/fixer-upper. I tend to do that. Go figure.
We spent that night in it in a NJ campground and continued home the next day. The only problem I have had with it was the junk ST tires, but I have taken care of that problem.
Hope this is what you wanted.
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Old 05-28-2006, 04:47 PM   #5
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wow

only three responses? Come on everybody, I'm sure there are more than only three opinions on this topic.
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Old 05-28-2006, 05:29 PM   #6
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Mike,

We got a 2004 22' CCD after alot of comparisons. Here is some of the things we decided on:

1. It had to be towed with our existing truck, a 1997 Ford F-150 Extended Cab 4x4 with a 4.6L V-8 and 3.73 rear axle ratio. Likely candidates were the 16', 19' and 22'.

2. We have 2 daughter ages 11 and 8 at the time. So while we considered the 16' and 19', we thought they would be too small using the "rainy weather scenario". The 22' seemed the best choice. Also, our first trailer was a 22' Jayco, so I knew I could maneuver the 22' Airstream into some of our favorite campsites. 22' it was. But which one?

3. We initially decided that the 22' Safari was going to be our trailer. This model was similar to the 2003 International AS model that had a sofa option. That was discontinued once the axle was redesigned because it would sit too high. We headed to Colonial Airstream in NJ to check out the floorplans, now narrowed down to the 22' Safari and CCD. My wife liked the Safari's warm colors, 4 CF fridge and slightly wider bed (52"). The wet bath's more efficienct use of space was a feature we like compared to our Jayco's Dry Bath.

4. Once we looked at the interiors of the Safari and the CCD. Things changed. I liked the bare aluminum walls compared to the pink "fluffy' walls. "A guy thing" maybe, but my wife liked the CCD as well. We also loved the windows. The front panoramic windows and the large double dinette window let a lot of light in. The interior colors (white, black, aluminum and lemongrass green) as well as sharp contrasts in those colors really gave the trailer a contemporary look that appealed to us. Also, the interior was designed for easy cleaning. My wife loved the generous galley with counter space and the deep sink. The 22' CCD won out over the Safari. Even with the smaller bed, smaller refrigerator, a somewhat worthless desk and a bigger $$ price, we decided that we would enjoy the CCD better than the Safari. And after two camping seasons, things have worked out well with some creative modifications.
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Old 05-28-2006, 06:44 PM   #7
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Comments from a "Newbie" - still looking.

I am a single person, over 60, and retired. My first consideration was how much can I afford, or how much do I want to invest in the whole rig! In my case, I decided that I should limit it to about $15,000 for everything. About $5000 for the TV and $10,000 for the AS. I found and purchased the TV for $5300, a 1994 GMC 3/4 ton Suburban w/factory tow package. A real black beauty, ordered from the factory by long-term Airstreamer's and well cared for and maintained. Found it on the classified on this Forum. I have looked at several AS's, starting with 25ft'ers, and after seeing several of those, now I'm looking at 30-31 ft'ers. the 25's are just too small....I am thinking that, if I like it, I will just do it full-time, and 25ft is just too small! And, who knows, along the way, I might just meet a female travel partner and the 31 ft'er will be perfect! And, if I don't, oh well! Bill
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Old 05-28-2006, 07:19 PM   #8
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Considerations when buying an Airstream

Greetings Mike!

When I began my search for my Airstream, it was my second foray into the travel trailer market. I had wanted an Airstream when acquiring my first coach, a brand new 1980 Nomad Light Weight Special, but Airstreams were out of my price range and the Argosy had gone out of production a few months earlier. After a horrible experience with the Nomad, I knew that my next RV would be an Airstream.

In 1995, I decided that it was time to purchase an Airstream. After looking at the new coaches and finding that the Safari line wasn't available with a rear bathroom, I soon realized that I would be looking for a used coach with my required rear bath -- the side/mid-baths just seemed claustraphobic to me in every coach I looked at, particularly the 25' that was my desired length.

After several months of looking, I thought that I had nearly settled on a 1978 Airstream Caravanner. I was scanning the local shopper newspaper when I ran across an advertisement for a 1964 Airstream 28'. It was a bit older than I had been considering, but decided to check the coach out before making a final decision. It took me a very short time to decide on the coach as it had the features that always intrigued me about Airstreams -- luxurious rear bath, center twin beds, door-within-a-door, and double-jalousie windows next to the entrance door. I left a deposit that day and returned the next weekend to tow the coach home.

Several months later, I was headed to my home in far Southern Illinois when I stopped to visit a friend of the family who helped to fill in another part of the story of the coach. Growing up, I was introduced to Airstreams by a friend of the family who always owned Airstreams -- and at the time, I had assumed that this coach was very similar to the one that I remembered from my youth in 1964. As it turned out, this coach was the one that our family friends had when they invited me on my first camping trip in 1964.

At the time that I purchased the coach, I was fairly certain that it was at the very upper limit of my then brand new tow vehicle's capability (it was rated for 6,500 pounds), but the coach was just what I had been trying to find. After learning that the coach scaled out at 6,100 pounds when loaded for my typical vacation trip, I relaized that the K1500 Z71 would be of limited use, and traded it after 3 years and 45,000 miles on a new K2500 Suburban that is still going strong after 161,000 miles.

My three main reasons for choosing Airstream were:
  1. My early memories of that first camping trip in the 1964 Overlander when it was new and I was five years old.
  2. The rear bathroom with center twin bedroom floorplan -- the front lounge was another of the points that I prefer about Airstreams (I never cared for the dinetted in my Nomad).
  3. The Wally Byam Caravan Club International -- there was never any question in my mind whether I would join as it was something that I had learned so much about from our friends. The fact that I was somewhat younger (11 years ago) than the typical member never made any difference -- I have enjoyed every activity that I have attended.
Kevin
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Old 05-28-2006, 10:27 PM   #9
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Reasons why I chose my 22' Safari....
1. The 25' seemed SO HUGE
2. When I sat in what turned out to be "our" Airstream, I sat at the dinette, looked around, and said "this is it! If I were to get an Airstream, this would be it."
3. We got what we thought was a really good deal cost wise

We are a family of FIVE squeezing into this 22' beauty, but like my husband says...."we bought for tomorrow".

We knew we would NOT buy a "new" TV to pull with so we knew our limits. A 25' would have put us at our max-or thrown us over, I cannot remember. None the less, what we had to tow with was IT.

So far, we've managed so well it's not funny! I was concerned our first time out that we'd be cramped, but we managed fine and have done great every since. We have not ONCE regretted our decision to go small.

The counter space in the 22' is awesome. The wetbath, which at first I didn't like, now I really love. The bed is a great size-even though we sleep on a king at home! And I DO sleep better in "Margo" than I do at home!! She is the perfect camper for us! Short and Sweet!
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Old 05-29-2006, 12:49 PM   #10
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Greetings Mike,

For as long as I can remember, I have loved the size, shape and Americana icon that an Airstream has. When we began looking almost a year ago, to my delight, the only trailer our Honda Pilot could tow was a 16' Bambi. We opted for the Quicksilver Anniversary edition and LOVE the trailer, but have had more than our share of repairs and fine tuning.

We waited over 3 months for its arrival and have only been out on 4 trips, but seem to come home with great memories and a laundry list of repairs.

A little less than impressed with the service and initial quality. We didn't realize there would be so many faults in the craftsmanship.

Brigitte C.
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Old 05-29-2006, 12:55 PM   #11
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We have owned two Airstreams (a 1995 21' Sovereign and a 2005 16' CCD). There are many factors that go into buying an Airstream, as mentioned in earlier posts.

For me, the single greatest factor was the Airstream reputation of towability, and not being affected by cross winds and bow waves from semi trailers. My experiences with two back up this reputation 100%.
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Old 06-14-2006, 01:14 PM   #12
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Hi Bridgette. I just bought a Quicksilver. Can you tell me what faults you are referring to? Is there is anything I need to look out for?
Thanks!
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Old 06-14-2006, 02:30 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FiveGreers
We are a family of FIVE squeezing into this 22' beauty, but like my husband says...."we bought for tomorrow".
Wow! How old are your kids and how creative are you in your sleeping arrangements? We have a 22' CCD for the four of us and it's tight for us. We've done the adult/child and head to toe arrangements. My kids are 13 and 10, and they are starting to complain about the tight sleeping quarters. We have a cot were thinking about using to free up some space on the dinette sleeper. Do you use a cot in the open floor space? Tents? Sleeping in the TV?
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Old 06-14-2006, 09:48 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rseagle
Wow! How old are your kids and how creative are you in your sleeping arrangements? We have a 22' CCD for the four of us and it's tight for us. We've done the adult/child and head to toe arrangements. My kids are 13 and 10, and they are starting to complain about the tight sleeping quarters. We have a cot were thinking about using to free up some space on the dinette sleeper. Do you use a cot in the open floor space? Tents? Sleeping in the TV?
Our kids are 14, 11, and almost 6. The 6 year old is so tiny, he fits (and loves) sleeping next to the bed between it and the "dresser". We make a pallet several blankets thick, and he loves it! Our two older girls will sleep either way-head to toe or in the same direction, on the dinette.

During this past spring break, I let the 14 year old bring a friend. DH couldn't take off work, so it was me and four kids. I had my youngest two in the bed with me and the older girls slept on the dinette. I think I decided that next time, I'd bring a tent for them, only because they "wanted their own space" and with me cooking and what-not, they didn't get that.

One more major advantage we have is my parents....they have a 30' Excella- ! The kids LOVE to sleep with gahmee and papaw! So when we camp together, they take turns spending the night.

The cot sounds like a great idea. I had thought about getting one of those thermrest self inflating mattresses for the floor, but just haven't done it. When my younger two sleep on the dinette together, I take a blanket and stick it in the overhead cabinets and then drape it down to the floor-they love that-it's like their own tent inside the A/S!
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