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Old 11-18-2012, 08:43 PM   #1
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Jacksonville , Florida
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How to Buy?

This is my first post. I just joined. Looks like an wonderful community. My Sweetheart and I are about to buy an SUV and a trailer. Looks like the Airstreams are the best. We are thinking a Touareg with the tow package paired with either a 23 or 25 foot trailer would work.
How old?
How much $?
Where to get one?
How about restoration?
Any thoughts on Towing?
FB or not?
Any advice at all?
Thank you.
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Old 11-18-2012, 08:59 PM   #2
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New or used? What's your budget? have you visited an A/S dealer or just looked on line? Any towing experience? Your questions are so open ended, they need further defining before you'll get more than general info. For prices, read the classifieds, e-bay and other ads to get a feel for the market for whatever it is that you decide will suit your needs. Use the search function to find previous discussions about each of your questions. There have been many threads about discounts off list if you are looking at new. Used? You get what you pay for - if you know what you are looking at.
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Old 11-18-2012, 09:14 PM   #3
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Hello,
I tow my 2012 AS 23D with my 2012 VW Touareg and it has worked wonderfully. You cannot use weight distribution with a Touareg. I think a 25 foot would be too much, in my opinion.
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Old 11-18-2012, 11:49 PM   #4
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Although a Tourareg is a great Airstream tow, it's expensive. A basic late model pickup with large V8 and 6 spd trans may be half the cost and will do well.

That savings will allow you to get a better Airstream, the 25' the largest of the small and smallest of the large Airstreams.

Front/rear bed so what, it's the living space that counts and that is best on either end, not in the middle (been there). You may get better views out the back with a front bed, but you also may get the back of another RV in many parks. The rear bed never has a bad view out the front.

A 25' Airstream with late model 1/2 ton pickup is a good match and you may never want anything larger. Many years and price ranges to choose from. Look for a good trailer first, a matching truck will be easier to find.

Airstreams are the best trailers but have their own weaknesses. Plywood underfloor rot from leaks and corrosion (metal trailer) most common issues. Older models may require extensive restoration, some requiring rebuild from the frame and axles up, including removal of the shell. That's a tough ticket for most. An expensive experiment if you're not up to it.

They also need ongoing inspection, maintenance, and repairs. But all RVs do, they don't weather as well as some may think they should. Covered storage is the best preservative.

doug k
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Old 11-19-2012, 01:24 AM   #5
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How to Buy?

Greetings Alexcoley!

Welcome to the Forums and the world of Airstreaming!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexcoley View Post
This is my first post. I just joined. Looks like an wonderful community. My Sweetheart and I are about to buy an SUV and a trailer. Looks like the Airstreams are the best. We are thinking a Touareg with the tow package paired with either a 23 or 25 foot trailer would work.

How old?
Age of the Airstream can be a determinant of initial cost, but also carries with it the potential for larger unforseen costs due to hidden structural issues . . . and the older the Airstream the greater the likelihood that there will be issues hiding below the surface that must be addressed for both safety and reliability. Also involved in the question of "How Old?" is the question of floorplan as certain floorplans can be typical of certain eras . . . as an example, I don't care for mid-bath floorplans so most of the Airstreams fitting my criteria were produced before 1980 (there are a very few exceptions).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexcoley View Post
How much $?
Again, price is a function of age of the Airstream, its condition, and its desirability to the typical Airstream buyer. Typically, a model that is a few years old to approximately ten years of age will yield the most economiclal overall price if you can find exactly what you are looking for that has been well cared for and maintained. I own a '64 Airstream Overlander (26-foot) that since purchase in 1995 has cost about $20,000 to restore . . . I was lucky (in the days before an active web presence of Vintage Airstream sites) to purchase an Airstream that was in excellent condition in which I could camp while restoring. In the 17 years that I have owned the Overlander it has never been out of service during the regular season (I generally schedule major work during the winter when it is often possible to get much better deals on labor).

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Originally Posted by Alexcoley View Post
Where to get one?
There are many different ways to locate any Airstream to purchase. There are Airstream dealers in most states where both new and used Airstreams can be purchased. Some of these dealers have a web presence and actively sell Airstream products via the Internet. The quality of Airstream dealers vary widely just as is the case in the automotive industry. Since we are dealing with a mobile product, many find it advantageous to travel for the best deal on a particular unit while others search out dealers with the best reputation for service after the sale. For new coaches, you can begin your search with the Airstream corporate website . . . then visit the websites of the larger Airstream dealers to become familiar with the market . . . at least on the surface. A number of these Airstream dealers with web presence also list their used inventory on-line as well as their new . . . some even will ocassionally have Vintage units in their used inventory as well.

For a previously owned Airstream there are also many options. One of my favorites is to become acquainted with members of your local Wally Byam Caravan Club International Unit. Often when members of a unit decide to retire from traveling, they will offer their Airstream for sale via their Unit in hopes that the Airstream will continue to be used in club functions. These Airstreams that have belonged to retiring WBCCI members have often been lavished with the best of service and have been lovingly cared for throughout their lives. Many units post their Unit Newsletter on the Internet, and these postings can be found via the WBCCI website. There are also classifieds on the WBCCI website. Should you find that your tastes wander toward vintage, The Vintage Airstream Club Classifieds may offer some interest as well - - I found my 1978 Minuet through a classified on the VAC website.

You have also likely already discovered the active Classified Section here on the Forums. Many of the Airstreams offered through the classified section have been owned by knowledgeable members who are either narrowing the focus of their collections or moving to a larger or smaller coach.

There is also the possibility of E-Bay as well as Craigslist and other on-line sources, but great buyer caution needs to be exercised with these sites as scams do get reported an a fairly regular basis. Another comparatively recent addition to the Airstream marketplace is AirstreamsForSale.org. Local "Trader" publications can be an asset as well, but in today's market, it appears that the Internet is quickly taking over that segment throughout most of the country . . . I found my 1964 Airstream Overlander via a local "Trader" publication in 1995 . . . but the times have changed considerably since then . . .

Periodically, Airstreams of all ages can be found in the classified section of larger metropolitan newspapers, but this can be hit or miss depending upon which region of the country you may be shopping.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexcoley View Post
How about restoration?
Restoration can be a daunting task for a do-it-yourselfer who is not familiar with RVs prior to beginning the process. An ambitious do-it-yourselfer can find great enjoyment in restoring a Vintage Airstream, but has been said many times here on the Forums expect the process to take twice as long as first estimated and cost two to three times as much as estimated in the beginning.

There are many shops, both small and large, around the country that either specialize in Airstream restoration or Vintage RV restoration. There are also specialty shops that handle only specific portions of the restoration. As an example, I am not a do-it-yourselfer, but found that my preferred floorplan limited me to a Vintage Airstream. I basically operated as my own sub-contractor and hired specialty shops to perform my restoration:
  • Ace Fogdall RV, Cedar Falls, IA: Handled chassis repairs, rear end separation repair, installation of new appliances (air conditioner, furnace, 3-Way Dometic Refrigerator, water heater, water pump, power converter, water supply entrance, shore power entrance, fresh water tank, furnace, installed new ZipDee awnings, etc.)
  • P and S Trailer Service, Helena, OH: Handled the exterior restoration including polishing to original sheen and new Plasticoat.
  • Fowler RV Interiors, Symsonia, KY: Arlene and Henry Fowler handled most of the interior restoration including rebuilding the refrigerator cabinet, manufacturing a new top for the coach's original dining table, refinishing all of the original golden oak cabinetry, installing new floor coverings, replacing all soft goods (including cushions, upholstery, and draperies), and painting the interior aluminum walls (unfortunately, the second owner of my Overlander decided to paint over the mint original wall surfaces with barn paint).
  • Kamper Supply, Carterville, IL: While not Airstream specialists, they have highly skilled craftsmen in their shop who do exemplary work, They have installed a new blackwater tank, new toilet, overhauled the brakes and bearings, resealed the seams, and chased several electrical gremlins.
  • The only restoration that I had some difficulty arranging was the restoration of the bathroom fixtures. My local plumber facilitated the process when he recommended a bathroom fixture refinisher that he worked with on many projects. As it turned out, the refinisher was a collector car enthusiast who was anxious for the challenge of working on an Airstream . . . and the results were fantastic.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexcoley View Post
Any thoughts on Towing?
I don't believe that you would notice a huge difference in towability in the 19-foot through 30-foot range. For many, including me, the 25 or 26 foot coaches seem to be a wonderful compromise between space and maneuverability.

The key is finding a suitable tow vehicle/trailer match, and this can be substantially different for different people. My usual rule of thumb is to look at the tow vehicle's factory trailer tow rating then take 80% of that figure as a maximum that I would want to tow with that vehicle. My first two tow vehicles that were purchased new for the use were asked to tow at their stated maximum trailer tow capacity . . . not a pleasant picture . . . always worrying about whether there would be enough power for mountain grades as well as whether there would be sufficient cooling capacity. When I purchased my third new tow vehicle, I didn't take any chances and chose one where my Overlander is 61% of its rated trailer towing capacity and 200,000 miles later I am still thrilled with my Suburban. In between the tow vechiles that were purchased new, I have had several that were purchased used . . . but they all had big block V8 motors with differential gearing of 3.90 or 4.10 so the Overlander wasn't a problem for those three vehicles. My current vintage tow vehicle, the 1975 Cadillac Eldorado is limited by its 2.70 final drive so the Overlander can't be paired with it for mountainous trips.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexcoley View Post
FB or not?
This is a question that only you can answer after sampling the available floorplans and deciding for yourself whether the front bedroom, rear bedroom or center bedroom best fits your traeling desires. I think that most of us who have owned Airstreams for several years have strong preferences for one floorplan over another so it is very difficult to suggest a floorplan to someone. There are good points and bad points for nearly any floorplan . . . and to a degree, these relate to use and conveninece for a particular travel style. A couple who travels together and never has overnight guests will likely have a different favorite floorplan than a family or someone who full-times. My suggestion would be to look at as many Airstreams as you can to get a true impression of the acutual coaches. Check out the Forums for rallys near you as well as the WBCCI website for rallys near you. As a general rule, Airstreamers are always happy to share their enthusiasm for the Airstream lifestyle whit those whom are considering acquiring an Airstream.

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin
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Old 11-19-2012, 07:00 AM   #6
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Welcome Alexcoley!

Kevin (Overlander64), you took away all of our fun! You covered it all and then some!
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Old 12-03-2012, 05:56 PM   #7
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Many Thanks

Thank you all so much for contributing.
We think the 25' Safari with the bed at one end and the dinette at the other and the kitchen and bath in the middle is going to work best for us. The Toureg has a 7700 lb capacity so we thought we would focus on a 1999-2003 edition of the 25' Safari A or B model as the weight seems to move from 6300# to 7400# in 2004. Any ideas on tow capacity set up and where to buy would be appreciated.
Thank you.
Kind regards
Alex
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Old 12-03-2012, 07:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexcoley View Post
Thank you all so much for contributing.
We think the 25' Safari with the bed at one end and the dinette at the other and the kitchen and bath in the middle is going to work best for us. The Toureg has a 7700 lb capacity so we thought we would focus on a 1999-2003 edition of the 25' Safari A or B model as the weight seems to move from 6300# to 7400# in 2004. Any ideas on tow capacity set up and where to buy would be appreciated.
Thank you.
Kind regards
Alex

Keep in mind that the published weight of a trailer is the "dry weight" and when you start to load up with gear, food, etc you can often go up about 1000 or more lbs. I'm not familiar with VW's but a quick google search told me that they advertise a 7700 tow capacity but only a 616 lb tongue wt. Usually the tongue wt. is about 10% of the rigs total weight. There is also some question about the capacity of the VW hitch. One site said something along the lines of " Volkswagen claims in numerous pieces of literature that the Touareg can tow 7700 pounds, but the owner's manual indicates that the Touareg should only tow Class I or Class II trailers which are a maximum of 2000 and 3500 pounds respectively. [need to confirm owner's manual quote] It's conceivable that the Class II limit is a function of the hitch, not the vehicle itself. If this is the case, it 's possible that Volkswagen may eventually introduce a different hitch that allows the Touareg to realize its full towing potential. "

The newer trailers tend to be heavier than the older ones. I have a '73 overlander that dry is advertised as 4800 lbs give or take. I figure the trailer weighs closer to 6k on the road and my truck is rated for 7300 with a V8 and a tow package which is about as good a margin as I could hope for. Just be careful you don't get too much trailer for that vehicle, it could be dangerous to drive or could damage the drivetrain of an expensive vehicle.
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:33 PM   #9
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ALex-

Trailers are listed with both empty weights and GVWR or maximum loaded weights. Be sure you know which when you look at a trailer.. GVWR includes water and propane and holding tanks full, and is both a measure of axle/tire load and towing load.. Enough people on this site tow 25' trailers with Taureg's that if your heart is set on Taureg, it will probably work with good hitch setup...

As for the "where to buy" question, there is a national market for those popular trailers... You should try classifieds here (there is one for sale listed now in vintage section..) or try "searchtempest" to expand geography of craigslist listings, or maybe rvtrader dot com, though they have a lot of new dealer inventory listed.. Be prepared to move quickly (have financing figured out) but not so quickly you aren't protected from fraud.. Arrange independent inspection (even if just someone laying hands on it and verifying registration..) and be slow to wire $$ until you know exactly who you are wiring it too...

>> Airstreams all got wider in 1995, and extra width added to empty weight of the trailers...
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Old 06-01-2013, 06:37 AM   #10
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You certainly know your way around Argosy's Kevin and wish I could have the benefit of your advice too ! Joined Air Forums in '09.Have bought-new 1978 30' RB Argosy Dbl. and 1976 Cadillac Cpe de Ville with same engine as your Eldorado. Am old South African living in Johannesburg, but have rig stored in Apache Junction, AZ. Am obliged to dispose of rig and it needs some repairs before advertising and has stood last 9 + 10 yrs. in CA and AZ. Only used on Xmas visits to USA except for April '91 to Aug.'94. Can u help ? 'Cheetah'(Thread under,General repairs- "for local advice near Mesa,AZ." May 3oth) Excuse my 'Dummy' method of contact ! Robin Hilton Anderson.
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Old 06-01-2013, 10:58 AM   #11
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Cheetah, does your trailer happen to be located at the storage facility east of Idaho and North of Baseline by the Caterpillar heavy equipment dealer?
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Old 06-02-2013, 04:27 AM   #12
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Hello switz,
No. My unit is with Boat & RV Storage; 1380 E.Baseline Ave.-cnr.Cactus St. Apache Junction. 85219.
Google Earth shows it in the NW corner of their lot as separate adjacent units.
What, may I ask is your interest ? Cheetah.
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Old 06-03-2013, 07:01 AM   #13
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Just wondered if your equipment was in the same storage facility. I would gladly have given you a visual report when I hopefully put our unit back in this week.

My trailer has been in the dealership since 30 April for a thorough first annual inspection and some custom cabinet work while we were overseas. I thought all would be ready on 25 May when I landed in Phoenix. Obviously, it was not done.

I had to immediately proceed to another location to oversee scheduled repairs. It was just as well as the cabinetry was not completed until last Friday. (And my name is not Robinson Crusoe who was the only chap I know of to get things done by Friday). I fly back to Phoenix tonight and if the cabinetry passes inspection tomorrow, will retrieve the trailer and put it into the storage unit until the weekend.

If I can be of help, let me know as I will be in and out of the AJ area all summer.
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Old 06-27-2013, 05:44 AM   #14
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Question How to Buy.

Hello switz,
I have just had bad news as psa is 25,2 and have to consider reluctantly letting my rig, as pictured alongside Cheetah username, go, as is where is, soonest! If you could come back with a direct address would forward info. and pictures to you, in case you might know of someone willing to make an offer. You know where it is parked already and I have a person in A.J that would be prepared to receive the keys and show you the interior if I DHL them to him. Have had an offer of purchase for both vehicles from a dealer which is very low, considering the origonal condition of the bought new 1978 Argosy, which has been little used except for April '91 to Aug. '94 when my wife and I stayed in it whilst the tumultious General Elections took place in South Africa. John Geraghty of Trailer Life Magazine motoring consultation fame rebuilt the Cpe de Ville's engine to standard with G.M parts at his Pasadena shop in 1994 and fitted a 3" new Cat. Conv. along with a free flow muffler at the inflated price of $5,552 ! Trans. also rebuilt just before, and plus most engine accessories replaced with G.M. rebuilt units. Thanks, Cheetah. <randerson@iburst.co.za>
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