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Old 08-07-2009, 02:15 PM   #1
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From Airstream to T@DA Input please

I have been hunting down vintage Airstreams and came down to 2 possibles and now researching, my husband decided he may not be one to do renovating. This is a guy that he built me 3 houses himself. He is worried about the integrity of the trailer of the trailer frame and then wondering about the guts.
Now we are not trailerers as of yet, so we are green in this concept. I just know the reputation of Airstream and reading and reading here and all over the place. So now my husband asked about this T@DA. Another SOB that I need input to educate my husband. I found some reviews and they go both ways, good and bad.
I found that maybe for first timers that your forums thought find a good 92 Airstream model which I have found. For the money for a new T@DA, I can come pretty close in a 92 model 22' Airstream.
So all brilliant ones, educate me.........
Thank you,
From a future Airstreamer I hope?
PS I ran into a treasure as I was looking in backyards, a fellow that fixes up these airstreams, silver streaks, and streamliners.
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Old 08-07-2009, 02:29 PM   #2
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A friend of mine has a T@B and just bought a Minuet. I'll alert him to your post and you can also have a look at his blog posting of his recent trip across county in the T@B.

Renovating a trailer is very similar to renovating a house (I'm doing my 1890's Victorian while I tinker with my Overlander. The Argy is ready to camp). The thing to keep in mind is to keep it light. If he is as handy as you say you should try and get him to browse around here. There is so much info and photos that he will quickly be of the mindset that he can do it.

Good Luck.


here is the link to my friends blog. It's a very good read.
My First Trailer
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Old 08-07-2009, 02:40 PM   #3
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Hello BessieB - Welcome to the forums!

Yeah, eBay should generally be approached by those who have some experience and can inspect the purchase regionally before they lay their money down. Beyond outright fleeces, there is so much to regret later when condition is not as it was represented multi-states away.

T@DA? It's cousin T@B appeared on the scene a few years back. It's a glossy design but I've heard some fairly ho-hum workmanship issues about T@Bs. Guess I'd better hope for some input from those with more direct experience.

Reputation of Airstream? I'm not sure that a Consumer Reports ratings auto champ from 1992 would be in above average condition today. As member Nick Crowhurst says, "The price of freedom is eternal maintenance." Every 5 years of age will add to what you'll have to do. Units that lived in the Southwest have fewer water issues. Check the gaskets anyway to see if they're resilient or turning hard -- they can be replaced quite easily.

There are some good bargains to be had from that period. See if you can compare asking price from comparable age units in our classifieds to see if you're getting a deal. You'll probably feel more confident in the seller if they're an owner/user and not merely a reseller. Look deeply if the outside is gussied up nicely. There should be some clearcoat problems by that age, so I'd be much happier if it passed a mechanical and structural going over.
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Old 08-07-2009, 03:28 PM   #4
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Thanks

I have been trying to get my husband to look at this site to see all that is offered. I have confidence in his ability. But one site he looked at brought home a heavy duty project of a Flying cloud. What was good about this fellows pictures was the details of the guts. Wow!!!!!!!!!
So has anyone had issues dealing with even the insulations?
You guys are all great........
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Old 08-07-2009, 04:10 PM   #5
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Bessie, forgive me but my Nevada geography isn't that good (and it's Friday and I'm too lazy to mapquest Carson City). There are many WBCCI units around the country - but I know there are quite a few vintage Airstreams in the FCU. It might be a longish trip to visit some members of that unit, but there are a lot of experienced restorers in that group. Look at the bottom of the portal page and you'll also see many Forum Rallies listed. Find whatever is close to you and go visiting - especially if it's a heavily vintage unit.

You and your husband will get a wonderful introduction to the benefits and perils of renovating/restoring Airstreams. You'll also get a long list of things to look out for. Take a video camera if you have or can borrow one - that way you won't lose half of what you learn due to brain overload.

If your husband has built three houses, he definitely has most of the skills he needs. However, he may also just be "over it" and not want to get butt deep into another long term project. In that case, I'd recommend (A) a newer "ready to camp" unit and (B) one that is somewhat larger. For some reason anything bigger than 25' is not in as high demand, and you can often get quite a bargain on a 4-5 year old unit. It was also recently pointed out to me that the WBCCI news often has members who've aged out of camping and want to sell their pampered units to a good home.

Happy hunting! Paula
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Old 08-07-2009, 04:57 PM   #6
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So you say go to a rally? I didn't know what the WBCCI
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Old 08-07-2009, 04:59 PM   #7
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I didn't know what the WBCCI was so thanx for pointing that out. There is a rally coming up here later in the month which isn't a huge drive and they are going to be in a pretty place.
So you advise hitting a rally? Also, should I e-mail the group here?
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Old 08-07-2009, 05:18 PM   #8
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As biggoofball mentioned, I own a T@B. I also just put down a deposit on a 1977 Argosy Minuet that I'll be picking up at the end of the month. Since I've also shopped the T@DA, the T@B's bigger brother, I'll give you my $0.01:

I'm not going to blast the T@DA or dismiss it as a SOB. Both my T@B and the T@DA have some great advantages:

- They're basically brand new, even if you bought used, so there's no heavy lifting involved there.
- The T@DA has a bathroom (some T@Bs do now too) with a cartridge toilet. There's no gray tank. There are advantages to that simplicity, but it sure won't have the capacities of the 22' you mentioned.
- Both the T@B and T@DA have, if you get the right floorplan, one of the biggest beds I've seen in trailerdom. We sleep in a king at home, yet are thrilled with the bed in the T@B. (In contrast, we'll sleep in separate beds in the Minuet.)
- The T@DA weighs very little, with light tongue weight, so you can tow it with almost anything that can tow. (The T@B is even lighter, and its surge brakes mean you don't need a brake controller. Since I sometimes borrow tow vehicles from the office, that was a big plus for me. The T@DA uses normal electric brakes.)
- I've been pretty happy with the quality of my T@B. The T@DA, being newer, seems to have a few more workmanship bugs, from my reading of the Yahoo T@DA list.
- Both AS and T@B/T@DA have very active owner communities.

But, to get that big bed, you wind up with no other place to sit. (Another T@DA floorplan solves that.) Headroom is tight, as is the bathroom. The T@DA isn't as "cute" as the T@B, so fewer of them have sold and resale will be tougher. (There are T@B owners, like myself, who think the T@DA is fairly ugly.)

To be honest, after spending five weeks with my T@B (chronicled in the blog Skip linked above), we came back ready to buy a bigger trailer. I seriously entertained getting a T@DA, since in some ways it compared favorably to a 16' Bambi CCD (bigger bed we could share, more counter space, simpler systems, less weight.) But we went with the Argosy because for not much more weight, we got a ton more space. (Plus, with the aluminium floors, they won't rot.)

I think you need to decide three big questions:

- Do you essentially want to do no work at all? The T@DA will allow that. A 1992 Airstream can need considerable work and there is more to keep up.

- What do you want to tow with? I'm not one of those folks who say buy the trailer first (since you'll fall in love with it and keep it a long time) and then buy a tow vehicle. My wife drives our tow vehicle everyday, and its daily fuel economy, comfort, and dynamic safety override what size trailer we camp in on the weekend. Needless to say, there are different tow vehicle demands between a T@DA and a mid-90s (a heavy decade for AS) 20-something foot Airstream.

- How long are your trips, and what creature comforts do you want? We've toured plenty of 25' Airstreams. They're damn nice. I covet a 25' FB someday. But we still had a pile of fun spending five weeks in our T@B, even though it was more like camping than being at home.

Hope this helps.

Tom
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Old 08-07-2009, 05:44 PM   #9
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Thanx Tom,
I did read your blog. I will print out your input for my hubby to read. My husband is a hunter and would really love a trailer in the colder weather if and when he gets a tag. He was thinking when he retires, we will do touring around this great country. We are real campers with the tent and all that and thoroughly enjoy that, so any trailer is an upgrade for us. We have a truck full sized. What's an FB?
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Old 08-07-2009, 06:07 PM   #10
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Not all vintage Airstreams turn into shell-off restorations. Ours needed the floor replaced and the frame welded up in places, along with a new axle and new appliances. However all that work was spread out over 5 years, and we enjoyed the trailer every summer while fixing it up. On top of that, I did most of the work, with help from friends, and shopped out the axle replacement and frame welding. It wasn't as expensive as it sounds.

It's entirely possible to find a well-loved Airstream that is in excellent condition and be using it the weekend after you bring it home (we did). After that you just have to keep after it. I think for a 40 year old trailer, I'm pretty happy with the amount of work mine needed, and it's done now. When we want to go camping we put water in it, hook up and go.

Just so you know, your choices aren't limited to buying a new trailer, or getting a full-on restoration project. But finding the right trailer can take time - it took us more than 6 months of looking to luck into the right trailer!
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Old 08-07-2009, 06:20 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BessieB View Post
He was thinking when he retires, we will do touring around this great country.
We have T@B friends, who I met at a T@B get-together. As mentioned in the blog, we ran into them in the Grand Tetons in the middle of a 14-week long trip. I asked how it was going - and they wanted a bigger trailer. Setting up and taking down a bed every morning is a pain. Also, although I like the T@B's fit and finish, some things (like the cleverly-designed windows) are less than robust for long term use.

Quote:
What's an FB?
FB = front bedroom, like Canoestream has above. Currently Airstream's most popular model. We like that design because it actually would give us a bed big enough for both of us to be comfy. FBs are all newer models, but some older trailers have a freestanding "queen" 60" wide bed in a rear bedroom.

Like Stefrobrts mentioned above, used trailers come in a wide range of condition. Take your time and look at a lot of trailers. It took me 6 months to settle on the T@B (and find what we wanted used), and I spent a year looking for the Argosy.

Tom
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Old 08-07-2009, 07:50 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stefrobrts View Post
Not all vintage Airstreams turn into shell-off restorations. Ours needed the floor replaced and the frame welded up in places, along with a new axle and new appliances. However all that work was spread out over 5 years, and we enjoyed the trailer every summer while fixing it up. On top of that, I did most of the work, with help from friends, and shopped out the axle replacement and frame welding. It wasn't as expensive as it sounds.

It's entirely possible to find a well-loved Airstream that is in excellent condition and be using it the weekend after you bring it home (we did). After that you just have to keep after it. I think for a 40 year old trailer, I'm pretty happy with the amount of work mine needed, and it's done now. When we want to go camping we put water in it, hook up and go.

Just so you know, your choices aren't limited to buying a new trailer, or getting a full-on restoration project. But finding the right trailer can take time - it took us more than 6 months of looking to luck into the right trailer!
I happen to agree with this, a lot. My Argosy was ready to go when I bought it. The 30 yr old fridge went right away though, So I installed a new one. The Overlander needed a couple of things and is now just being customized to suit our needs. Click on the links in my signature to see them. I think you'll agree that you don't need to get something that needs to be gutted.

Oh, and thanks for chiming in Tom!
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Old 08-08-2009, 10:18 AM   #13
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TAHDAH list

Hi,
I joined the TAHDAH list and a couple of reminders here as I was perusing the messages. Problems with the plumbing in the shower and stuff going on with the kitchen faucet and under the sink. So if I remember right about other input about the quality of the parts used.
So the shower was a cheap shower with sloppy install it seems. And I had input about the quality of plumbing fixtures used.
Also another weather stripping issue.
Any issues that arise with the airstream, especially when new?
thanx,
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Old 08-08-2009, 12:25 PM   #14
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

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

In the end, you have to do what is right for you and your hubby. But, I will share our Airstream experience with you.

A little over three years ago we decided that we might like to try RV traveling. We had never owned an RV before, and had only tent camped when our four sons were young. We started researching and talking to people who were experienced with RVing. We got all the RV magazines and started reading. We visited several RV dealers and looked at all types of RVs.

We decided to do the travel trailer thing. We wanted to travel as light as possible and we already had an adequate tow vehicle. Since we planned to travel the USA extensively, we wanted to get something that we could be comfortable in for long trips.We had several things that we really wanted. They were a walk around queen bed, a sizable refrigerator with a separate freezer door, a two bowl kitchen sink, and a separate shower that is not in with the toilet and lavatory.

We looked into renting a travel trailer to see if we even like the RV thing. We found that it would cost almost $4000 to rent a travel trailer for a month, and that we would have to travel 400 miles to rent it. We decided that we would throw caution to the wind and buy a travel trailer.

In all of our extensive shopping and researching, The Airstream 25FB was the smallest travel trailer available that met all of our criteria. Our research also disclosed that Airstream was about the only travel trailer that had any resale value. The 25FB had been introduced in 2005, so there were not any used units to look at. We started shopping in May of 2006. We found several new 2005 25FB's at various Airstream dealers in the east. We then started shopping price and got the best deal from the Airstream dealer in Alachua, Florida. This also happened to be our closest Airstream dealer (300 miles away).

We picked up our girl on June 1, 2006, and named her Lucy. We started traveling in Lucy the day we got her, and never looked back. In the past three years we have spent 425 nights in Lucy and have towed her over 50,000 miles.

Lucy has been in all the lower 48 states. We have been out camping in Lucy for as long as seven weeks straight. We absolutely love our RV travel and can't wait for our next adventure. Lucy has been perfect for us, small enough to go anywhere, and large enough to be comfortable for very long trips.

Lucy has held up very well under this intense use. We've replaced a lot of tires, and she has suffered numerous rock dings, but has performed like a champ. Lucy's maintenance and repair issues have been few, and we are very satisfied with her durability. I'm not entirely sure that if we had purchased a lesser travel trailer, that it would have held together under our hard use.

25FB's like Lucy have been out for five years now, and I'm sure that there are good used ones available these days. I realize that these will probably go for substantially my than a brand new T@da, but I feel like you would be getting substantially more for your money. This is especially true if you really plan to use the thing. There is also some real resale value with the Airstream that you are not likely to find with any other brand of travel trailer.

Please excuse my verbosity: I tend to ramble on. Good luck in your search for the perfect RV, Airstream or otherwise.

At Lucy's request, I am posting a couple of snapshots of her. She is quite vain and loves seeing her pictures on the Forums.

Brian
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