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Old 04-24-2011, 12:57 PM   #1
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More First Timer advice: 20FC, 23FBFC, 23 Int?

Hi All,

Brilliant forum you have here. Thanks for letting me use it to tap into the collective wisdom of the membership. I've picked up lots of info from other threads, and now want to get advice tailored to my situation.

I too am a first timer who's tired of tenting, who remembers fondly the trips in my grandparents' Airstream, and who's now got two kids 7 and 9.

I started by looking at other brands, but am generally unimpressed with what looks like cheap construction (not to mention ugly decors). Unfortunately my refined taste in TTs conflicts with my restrained wallet.

When I first started looking, the small 19' AS seemed like all we'd ever need, since compared to a tent it was truly palatial. However, I've started to realize that there is probably value in spending a bit more for a bit more space and utility.

So at this point, I'm considering a 20' Flying Cloud Bambi (love the kitchen, and it seems like all we'd ever need), a 23 FB Flying Cloud (like the larger bed; does a tandem really tow better?) or a 23 International Sig (love the ability to let the kids sleep separately; am worried about the smaller water tanks).

Going larger still would solve some issues (sleeping for kids as they older, etc.), but realistically I'm already hugely stretching the budget (which started at $25K but now has doubled. . .I'll pay for quality, but there's a limit to my banker's friendliness), and I just happen to have 24' of parking space for a TT at home.

Not having had a TT, I really can't say how we'd use it. But previously we'd go tenting twice a year. My thought is we'd now go with the TT on those trips instead, and possibly add a weekend or two more since it'd be more appealing than tenting.

I'd love to hear from forum members their thoughts and/or experiences with some of these models. I know the perfect trailer hasn't been built, that there are tradeoffs with all. But any advice would be appreciated. (Are AS TT really worth the premium - is their re-sale value really that strong? Are AS Sports as bad as one dealer would have me believe? The nearest dealer is 300 miles away - is that a deal killer? What am I overlooking?)

Many thanks in advance.
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Old 04-24-2011, 02:20 PM   #2
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No the Sports are not bad at all. Other than trying to steer you to a more expensive unit I can't imagine why the dealer would make such a statement. When we were looking in August of '07 the '08 Sports had just arrived. We were looking at the 17' or a 19' Bambi and decided the 22' was more to our liking for most bang for the buck. Almost 4 years later and we are still happy with our decision. The narrower profile tows like a dream and we don't need add on mirrors on the Ridgeline. And no, a tandem does not tow better, it will actually vibrate more when going over bumps as you get a double bump.
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Old 04-24-2011, 02:31 PM   #3
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If your stretching your budget, I suggest you look for a gently used model that is 1-4 yrs old. Especially if you are far from a dealer. From what we've seen the build quality is generally good enough that you'll likely have only minor issues to deal with and are things that you can repair yourself.

Since this is your first TT, the likely outcome is that you will likely want something else in a couple of years or sell out completely. An AS is a good choice due to their comparatively high re-sale value. However, they do depreciate just like anything else and the 1st 3 yrs is the worst. The less you lose, the better you'll feel about it all.

That being said. We really like our 23FB and it certainly makes camping real easy. Now that I have had it for a while I wish it was a bit more open and had different bed space. The queen bed is nice, but 2 twins would be better now that I camp and fish with friends more often. The tandem is good, but it does take more practice getting it in and out of tight spots. All of these things make me wonder if the sport would have fit our needs a bit better. I could care less about a bigger galley and an indoor shower. We try to cook and shower outside (or in public facility) as much as possible to reduce clean up/maint inside the AS.

Moral of the story. While it's not perfect, it is great. When I wish it was something different, I take comfort in the fact that I got a good price, paid cash, and would not take a huge bath on it if I wanted to sell.

Good Luck
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Old 04-24-2011, 04:03 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Hansom-Man View Post
...look for a gently used model that is 1-4 yrs old... AS do depreciate just like anything else and the 1st 3 yrs is the worst. The less you lose, the better you'll feel about it all.
^This. If you are only going to use it two to four times a year why are you considering spending more money than you wanted to? We found an '04 19 CCD for $22k and in most ways its better than new (tasteful and well done mods, improvements and the like by the previous owners - thanks again MOJO!) Your kids are still YOUNG. Toss 'em in a tent and the adults sleep in the trailer. Its an adventure and fun for them still.

Shorter AS keep a price premium and if you want bigger as the kids become teenagers you can sell/trade up.

my 2 cents
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Old 04-24-2011, 04:32 PM   #5
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I would think you would have to use it much more than 3 or 4 times a year to justify ownership, depreciation, and maintenance costs. And you should look for a few year old model to save many, many thousands of dollars.

I can speak for the current 20' model as we have one. The kitchen space is the big deal here, plenty of room for two to prepare meals.

The front bed works fine for two able-bodied people, with zero wasted space. It also makes an excellent lounge for a couple of youngsters (or agile oldsters) for evenings inside, good lighting and TV watching.

The dinette can seat four with comfort for meals (this IS a camper). It can also be converted to a lounge in the evening, then as a bed for sleeping. There is a screen between the two sleeping areas.

The bath is as adequate as any Airstream. The holding tanks are smaller the the big models, so if boondocking, you can work around it. You've got tent experience, so you know how.

My experience is towing stability is determined by tow vehicle stability (low center of gravity, independent rear suspension, stiff sidewall tires, a properly set up sway control hitch, and reasonable speed during unreasonable conditions). Little to do with number of axles.

The current 20' is an excellent camper for weekends, long distance travel, trips up to perhaps a month of decent weather. We have been on two trips of many months recently, and have found everything adequate except comfortable seating in the evenings. We need recliners to be happy on these long trips.

Doug K
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Old 04-25-2011, 06:29 AM   #6
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I've also been looking at this set of trailers for an eventual upgrade, after learning what we like and dislike about our Argosy. Here are my thoughts:

- 19' seems short on galley space plus is tight around the bathroom.

- Love the 20' wrap-around kitchen and nice bathroom. Wife wishes the fridge didn't jut above the countertop; makes it feel a bit constricted there. I think it will get tight in the back near the sink/stove with four inside. But for the two of us, if our Argosy got destroyed tomorrow, I'd be shopping hard for a used 20'.

- Really like the newer 22' Sports. Same easy-to-tow width as our Argosy with a similar layout. Long galley. Nice bathroom. Main complaint is that we wish it had the full-opening windows of the higher trim models. Might be a bit narrow with the family; I think the U-shaped dinette will be a squeeze for four.

- 23FB felt tight inside. Short galley. A fixed queen bed is tempting for two, but I wouldn't want to tie up that floorspace in a trailer for four. Dinette is tight due to wheel well intrusion.

- We are currently infatuated with the 23D Serenity (but can't afford it new and don't like the dark interior of the CCD models.) The front lounge is stunning with all the windows. Love the front dinette like in our Argosy. Has a surprising amount of sleeping options with that pull out gaucho. Wish the countertop was a bit bigger and it gets tight in the back, but might be worth it for the front.

As an advocate for smaller trailers, I hate to say this - but the 25' (which is actually 26') is the has-it-all-floorplan, especially with twins. But I don't want a wide-body trailer (the 25' and up are wider than the shorter ones, which are wider than the 22' Sport) and the length might be a problem in some of the state campgrounds we frequent - and it won't fit in the OP's parking spot.

Like others said, buy a 2-3 year old trailer. There's been a bunch of used 2007-2009 23D CCD trailers showing up in the classifieds, clustering around $40k. And spend a bunch of time at the dealer - get everyone inside and see how it feels.

Tom
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Old 04-25-2011, 03:38 PM   #7
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Are you considering having more children? If not, you may only need room for four, for a few more years. We have two granddaughters, ages 9 and 12; and they are already balking at summer roadtrips with us. Of course, your children may be more committed to camping. However, roadtrips with grandparents are optional, and they have already indicated their preference for time with their friends at the mall, etc. instead of a summer vacation with us. In about four more years, when the 12 year-old is driving, I imagine they won't even consider coming with us.

In any case, you may want to think more about how often you and your significant other will use your Airstream after the kids are gone. The tent option may cover the few years your children will be older and still camping with you; and you will probably have your Airstream with you long after your kids have left the nest.

Just another opinion...
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Old 04-25-2011, 11:01 PM   #8
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Well, I see there's a new book called "Selfish Reasons for Having More Kids" which I hear is a fabulous book that basically says relax, don't worry about your kids, and have more of them because they're fun, but I don't think I'm gonna' sell my wife on the idea.

Thanks everyone for the fabulous advice and encouragement! Some questions come to mind:

1) Are there things I need to make sure a new AS comes with that you wouldn't live without but which aren't standard on, say, Flying Clouds and Internationals? I don't want to buy but then make some newbie mistake like finding out plumbing costs extra.
2) The 23D (what's the "D" stand for anyway?) International Signature looks nice but that interior does look dark. Has anyone seen inside the Serenity?
3) The small water tank on the 23 International. What's up with that? Why smaller than a 23FB Flying Cloud? Is that an issue, or red herring?
4) Buying new long distance. . .any advice? Frankly it's a bit weird doing this all by Internet. Are there pitfalls to buying from a US dealer and importing to Canada? (I'll check to see if there's a thread for that).

Thanks, all!
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Old 04-26-2011, 12:32 PM   #9
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D = dinette. There are 23' Flying Cloud floorplans with a lounge/couch in front instead.

I've been in the Serenity. It's much lighter than the wenge interior in the CCD Internationals. You'd think the white-ish cabinetry would be cheesy but it actually is nice. They're the first AS decor scheme that my wife actually finds appealing.

Tom
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Old 04-26-2011, 10:18 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Supercharge View Post
Well, I see there's a new book called "Selfish Reasons for Having More Kids" which I hear is a fabulous book that basically says relax, don't worry about your kids, and have more of them because they're fun, but I don't think I'm gonna' sell my wife on the idea.

Thanks everyone for the fabulous advice and encouragement! Some questions come to mind:

1) Are there things I need to make sure a new AS comes with that you wouldn't live without but which aren't standard on, say, Flying Clouds and Internationals? I don't want to buy but then make some newbie mistake like finding out plumbing costs extra.
2) The 23D (what's the "D" stand for anyway?) International Signature looks nice but that interior does look dark. Has anyone seen inside the Serenity?
3) The small water tank on the 23 International. What's up with that? Why smaller than a 23FB Flying Cloud? Is that an issue, or red herring?
4) Buying new long distance. . .any advice? Frankly it's a bit weird doing this all by Internet. Are there pitfalls to buying from a US dealer and importing to Canada? (I'll check to see if there's a thread for that).

Thanks, all!
Spend some time on Colonial Airstream's website. They do a great job taking pics of every model in inventory. You can get an idea of all the different floorplans and color schemes.
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Old 04-28-2011, 09:58 AM   #11
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In addition to the floorplans, carefully consider the tongue weight and tankage. The lighter tongue weight and larger liquid capacities tipped us to the FC23FB. The three sided access queen bed is a big plus, and the full width rear bathroom is wonderful. Yes, the kids (our grandkids) will have to sleep on the convertible dinette, but it is camping, after all. The tandem axle provides a much better suspension, especially on rough or washboard roads.

Good luck in your shopping.
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Old 04-28-2011, 03:19 PM   #12
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In addition to the floorplans, carefully consider the tongue weight and tankage. The lighter tongue weight and larger liquid capacities tipped us to the FC23FB. The three sided access queen bed is a big plus, and the full width rear bathroom is wonderful. Yes, the kids (our grandkids) will have to sleep on the convertible dinette, but it is camping, after all. The tandem axle provides a much better suspension, especially on rough or washboard roads.

Good luck in your shopping.
Common down. I've got a nice washboard road to try out your suspension and pit it against mine.
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Old 04-28-2011, 10:40 PM   #13
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Tandem axle much better suspension? As in every bump times two?
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Old 04-29-2011, 07:08 AM   #14
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Supercharge, You have alot of decisions to make. I just wish we could have afforded an AS when our kids were young! We do have the Inrternational CCD with the dark interior, which at first I wasn't keen on, but with two black labs (and probably rescuing a yellow lab soon), the dark interior has been a blessing...doesn't show marks etc. And I have lightened it up with pillows, light colored bedding, bright throw rugs. After each trip, I do a thorough cleaning of walls, cabinets,etc. anyway, no matter the color of the interior.
About the tandem, well in the event of a blow out, we still have a tire to safely pull over at the nearest exit instead of on the roadway (unless they go at the same time!)
Just some thoughts...
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