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Old 04-09-2007, 05:25 PM   #1
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If Not Airstream then what?

Hello to all:

Ok, first let me say I am not trying to start anything. But... I am trying to do my homework before plomping down 30K+ for a TT. So here goes:

If you could not buy an Airstream, what would you consider?

Now, this is not a money discussion. Cost is an issue of course, bu I am simply trying to see what you guys think are be nearest and best competiters. So, I can hear you thinking "Why you ask, weird one?" Honestly. it is so I can selfishly compare the results to help me make my final decision. Until I look at what you guys think of as the competition then how can I be sure. I am looking at a Bambi Safari SE 19ft and a Safari 25 FB. So, what out there comes anywhere close at any price point for any reason? I am looking at new or lightly used and less than 5 years old at this time. Thanks for your responses.

Randy Brown
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Old 04-09-2007, 05:29 PM   #2
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I would consider a Holiday Rambler Alumilite, basically luminum-framed and bonded bodies. They are very good, as far as SOB's go.
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Old 04-09-2007, 05:35 PM   #3
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No guessing about it

Holiday Rambler!
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Old 04-09-2007, 05:36 PM   #4
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Then nothing.

Since I choose Airstream, I have one.

Knowing myself, if I had ended up with something else, I know I would have wondered why I did not buy what I really wanted, and would have regretted doing so.

Tom
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Old 04-09-2007, 05:40 PM   #5
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I would by a pre-owned Airstream or Argosy before I bought SOB (some other brand or some other box).

Having bought 2 new Airstreams, a 19' and a 25', I would skip the 19' if you have two folks and a pet. The 25' is more than ample for 2 and 2 pets. If it's just you and maybe a pet, then the 19' is nice, but again, the money issue to me is a simple one, buy a preowned one, or by a model year or two behind the current where the bigger discounts are. You'll still take a bath on it just like a car, particularly for the first 3 years, but either an untitled model year or two and/or a pre-owned, you won't get as soaked!

Just my .02
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Old 04-09-2007, 05:49 PM   #6
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To all:

WOW!!! What great and quick responses. To be honest, I have loved airstreams since I saw my first one as a boy in the 50s. But... I never want lust to rule me too much. All the responses so far and to come are really appreciated.

Randy Brown
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Old 04-09-2007, 06:05 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brownrandy
If you could not buy an Airstream, what would you consider?
Earthroamer (EarthRoamer Home Page) - way cool...but way too much money.

T@B - cute, light, cheap. But just too small for more than 2 people.

Other than that, there just wasn't anything else out there that caught my eye.
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Old 04-09-2007, 06:20 PM   #8
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As far as new trailers go I always liked the Hi-Lo Hi-Lo Trailers.
I've been in 20 year old units and they appear to have held up well. Lots of sizes to choose from.
I think they even have their own version of a caravan club.

Tom.
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Old 04-09-2007, 06:39 PM   #9
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Let's see...a $30k Airstream or ????

hmmmm....

How about a vintage Airstream!

Or two!

Shari
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Old 04-09-2007, 06:50 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Nugler
As far as new trailers go I always liked the Hi-Lo Hi-Lo Trailers.
I've been in 20 year old units and they appear to have held up well. Lots of sizes to choose from.
I think they even have their own version of a caravan club.

Tom.
I'm not sure about the Caravan Club but for those of you who don't know, Hi-Lo was once owned by the founding fathers of Thor. I know it's not part of the corporate umbrella at this time.

I had a Hi-Lo for 14 years and it was a well built trailer. That lift system was pretty flawless and as long as you had a charge in the battery, there was no issue about that side of it. It had a steel frame and an aluminum styrafoam core that made a heck of a comfortable trailer. It had a one piece aluminum roof over a plywood base. No leaks on this trailer. I had a 21' unit that was cooled with a 6,000 BTU air conditioner.

What sucked was the lack of a sturdy awning and the constant need to make up the beds each night. After 14 years, we decided to buy an SOB. What a mistake that was.

They make Hi-Lo's in different flavors. The full featured unit is fairly pricy. They hold their value well. I paid $8,200 for mine in 1982 and sold it for $5,200 14 years later. Keeping it in the garage or under the carport when not in service kept it looking pretty nice.

Jack
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Old 04-09-2007, 06:57 PM   #11
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Randy,

We looked at other trailers before purchasing an Airstream. It's not a sin to educate your self to what is out there. I have my bias, and so does every one else. We owe it to ourselves to keep an open mind.

Sam
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Old 04-09-2007, 07:08 PM   #12
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I look at RVs all the time. Airstream is one of the better built ones out there. I have yet to see an SOB that has taken a rollover survive as well as an Airstream in the same situation. Also how many 20,30,40+ year old SOB's do you see out there? And they made a lot more of them than Airstreams. Now that you know why I own one... Other brands that I can recommend, if you can find a recently used Sunline, they are no longer made but were very well built using conventional wood frame construction. Big Horn by Hearland RV makes an awesome 5ver for the money. Their TT line is called Sundance, not quite as nice but still good. Travel Supreme is another premium brand that I was impressed with the durability, fit and finish of it. Holiday Rambler has been mentioned. Big Foot is another one, not often seen on the East Coast. I stay away from anything built by Fleetwood, as far as I know they don't have a premium brand My opnions...yours may differ. Interesting thing to note, the largest of the Hi-Lo's (28') weighs in at about what my 1975 31' Airstream does and it doesn't have to be run up.

Aaron
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Old 04-09-2007, 07:35 PM   #13
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The Casita always caught my eye for a smaller trailer. Never seen one up close though.
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Old 04-09-2007, 07:40 PM   #14
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Airstream vs ?

I asked the same question on the Fiberglass RV site and got this answer. I hope it is ok to quote.

Michael,

First, with a 6300 lb towing capacity (or higher depending on year model) your Tundra is well suited to tow any of the trailers you're considering.

I don't pretend to be a know-all end-all, but I bought my first Airstream, a 1970 Safari Special 23' single axle trailer in 1987 and sold it in 1994. This might get a little lengthy, but I’ll share the comparisons I’ve been able to draw.

Since 1997, I've had and used a '61 Bambi for 3 years, a 325 moho for three years, and a 1994 34' Limited tri-axle for three years. Interspersed there I've aquired and resold a '77 Argosy Minuet 6 metre, a '57 Overlander 26', and a 1953 Flying Cloud 21'.

I've also had a veritable parade of fiberglass trailers since 1980 including three Scamps, all three 13, 16, and 19', a UHaul CT 13, a Trillium 4500 briefly, a Love Bug II 18', a Burro 17' widebody, and now an '04 15B17CB 17' Bigfoot and an '06 25B25RQ 25' Bigfoot; most of them in the past four years. Why I’ve had all these trailers is a long story. I won’t bore you with it here.

I bought both of the Bigfoot trailers last year. I bought the 17’ Bigfoot to replace the ’02 Scamp 16’ Custom Deluxe side dinette in May. I wasn't looking to replace the Scamp, but this trailer popped up for sale at a really good price. I bought the 25' in September after attending the Bigfoot Owner's Club Rally in Rapid City with the 17' and seeing several 25' trailers there. I sold the 34' Airstream immediately after buying the Bigfoot 25'.

Asking how they compare is like asking how the Chevy and Ford products compare across the line. They're all different, at different price points and with different features. You wouldn't buy an Ford F550 dump truck to haul your kids to school and you wouldn't buy a Chevy Malibu to run a construction business. Trailers have pretty much the same range of options. Is a Chevy Topkick truck better than an F550? It's all in the eye of the beholder and the jobs you want them to do. If they're similarly equipped to do the same job, it may boil down to the one you like the looks of better, or who gives you the best deal.

It is difficult to directly compare aluminum monocoque design, molded fiberglass, and stick built trailers. Each brand and each model has its own strengths and weaknesses. I'll try briefly to give you an overview though... but since I'm not much on stick built trailers, and you didn't ask about them anyway, I won't discuss them.

First, all manufacturers use the same appliances, fixtures, plumbing etc. etc. etc. so there's no advantage from one to the other except for model variations in the appliances used, and that depends of course on how expensive and large the trailer is. Construction quality (and simplicity of system design for repairs later), layout (including bed size, location, and amount of storage), and cost are the three features I look for.

Fiberglass trailers are (generally) smaller and lighter weight per foot than late model Airstreams (that may not apply to vintage Airstream trailers which were lighter by up to 50% than current construction), and are easier to repair when damaged. They're hail resistant. There are no caulked seams to leak (although there ARE leak points around through-hull cuts), and no seam rivets to pop (although Scamp uses through-hull rivets to mount cabinets). They generally have insulation (if they have insulation) that is some sort of non-absorbent foam. The fit and finish quality ranges from crude to extremely well done depending on make, model, and age. There are currently several fiberglass trailer manufacturers in business all over North America. Except for Bigfoot's 21 and 25' trailers, and the Escape and Scamp 19' fifth wheel offerings, all of them are 17' or less in length. They will run, on average, about $800 per linear foot new.

Airstream has trailer sizes ranging from 16' through 34' and they run, on average, about $2200 per linear foot for a new trailer. The aluminum used in the wide-body trailers and late narrow bodies is very thin and susceptible to hail damage from anything larger than pea size hail. Therefore, insurance rates are through the roof. I have full coverage on both of my Bigfoot trailers for over twice as much as the value of the '94 Airstream 34' and my insurance costs for two trailers are less than half that of the '94 Airstream alone.

Aluminum is hot in the sun, and a 13k btu A/C unit couldn't keep up in the 34'. The 325 moho had two 13k btu units and they struggled in direct sun. The 11k btu unit in my 25' Bigfoot is more than sufficient with the better insulation and dual-thermopane windows. Airstream has an advantage in over-all height with the rubber-torsion axles. It had two steps to get in; my '06 Bigfoot 25' has three; however the '05 model had only two. My 34' Airstream had two forced air furnaces, a heat strip and a catalytic heater installed. When it was cold, all four ran to keep it warm. The Bigfoot generally does OK with a heat strip, but the single furnace kept it toasty with little effort in windy 10* weather last October. The ’02 Scamp was also very good with heating and cooling. The ’87 Burro was drafty because of poor door fit and Plexi windows, but had fiberglass batting insulation similar to what Airstream uses. Later Burros used the same insulation Scamp uses.

Airstream uses genuine wood cabinetry in it's trailers, and the cabinetry is gorgeous. Bigfoot uses beautiful wood doors, and drawers, but uses some wood products for cabinet framing. They use the same appliances. The Airstream 34’ weighed 7700 lbs dry at about 230 lbs/linear foot on average and the Bigfoot 25’ weighs 5300 lbs dry about 212 lbs/linear foot. The Standard Scamp equipped similarly will weigh about 2300 lbs. The Burro 17’ was (guessing here) around 2000 lbs as equipped without A/C. That puts the standard 16’ & 17’ fiberglass trailers at around 150 lbs per linear foot as a round number.

The Airstream weight per linear foot stays pretty constant across their line. The wide body trailers will weigh more per linear foot of course. The Scamp 16’ I had and the Bigfoot 17’ both have dry weights of about 2800 lbs as equipped (with all options) at an approximate 170 lbs/linear foot.

The biggest factor for me was features per dollar. A new 25’ Airstream Safari will run you about $60k. I bought my new Bigfoot 25’ rear queen with all of the same features for about half of what the same Airstream cost. The “wow, look at the Airstream” factor wasn’t worth $30k to me.

A new, loaded Scamp 16' custom deluxe, Casita, Eggcamper, or Escape will run you about $12-17k compared to $33k for a 16' Bambi. I think you'll find the fiberglass trailers to be more rugged long-term, and much more simple to perform repairs in and on. They all use rubber torsion axles and have similar features. Resale will be easier for the fiberglass trailers as they just don't cost as much to begin with, so the market is larger. The initial depreciation will be significantly less as well with the FGRVs.

So, if you want value for the dollar, IMHO Airstream isn't close. If shiny aluminum is what you're after, though, you'll pay what they ask.

Sorry to be sooooo long winded… but you DID ask!


When plunking down lots of $$$ it is always good to ask. There are always cultists that think that only one thing is right and true. An informed decision is always better.
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