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Old 03-31-2010, 09:13 PM   #1
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Newbie buying my first Airstream

Looking to buy my first Airstream- I'm not very handy so I'm planning on buying new- still debating on a 16', 19' or 20'.

The closest dealer to where I live is Southwest Coaches. So far they are helpful. Are there things I should specifically be looking for in a new purchase? For example, been reading about hitches, sway bars, etc., that sort of thing.

Been cruising through the forum as well, but appreciate your advice here!

Also looking for a new vehicle to tow the trailer as well and open so suggestion. I realize I will need a more powerful vehicle on the 19 and 20 then the 16.

Thanks again.

Paul
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Old 03-31-2010, 09:23 PM   #2
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

Welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

As to your Airstream choices. The 16 has a wet bath and a combination black and g.ray tank. The 19 or 20 has a dry bath and separate gray and black tanks. The 19 or 20 will take a little more of a tow vehicle, but not anything extreme. Your choice will somewhat depend on what type of camping that you plan to do with your Airstream.

Tell us more about your plans, and we can be of more help to you.

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Old 03-31-2010, 09:33 PM   #3
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I have two dogs traveling with me, 35 lbs and 15lbs. My goal is to take 3 months off this summer, writing a travel blog on mid-century architecture along the way, and travel cross country. I imagine I will be at parks mostly, an occasional National Park, rarely boondoggin (is that the term?) without hookups. The shower and the black/grey water tanks are concerns, but not sure how important that will be.

Other then this trip, probably do just 3 days trips now and then the rest of the year.
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Old 03-31-2010, 09:52 PM   #4
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With the two dogs, the 19 may be a better bet than to 16. The wet bath and the single tank are the main down sides to the 16. On a long trip, you will probably be happier with the 19 or 20.

I am also a fan of mid century architecture, especially commercial buildings.

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Old 03-31-2010, 10:12 PM   #5
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Just went through the same issues and settled on the 19'. The bathroom sink and vanity are separate in the 19' but not the 20' so that might be more convenient. We almost signed on for the 16' but the wet bath, etc. as moosetags pointed out was a major negative. Also consider the type of bed/mattress. With the 19' you get a real mattress. I believe on the 16' its cushions from converting the table. That can be tough on a long trip. Then again, as soon as we purchased the 19' foot we started dreaming bigger...... Only another foot and we could have.... If you head down that path the size of trailer you'll be looking at can grow and grow....

If you want to have some fun, explore all the myriad of threads on hitches. At the risk of getting some heat, I would suggest you take a look at the ProPride. Sean Woodruff was very helpful. You can google their site. There are more opinions about hitches then there are types of hitches. Enjoy.

As for Tow Vehicle, don't cut it too tight. You'll read about an 80% rule in many of the threads, but the bottom line is if you can, try to get a tow vehicle that is suffiicent that you won't have to worry about many of the issues that can arise.

Once you've decided on a trailer, tow vehicle and hitch, there are a myriad of new areas you'll get involved in as you outfit your trailer. You might want mirrors to give you more visibility. Try McKesh. You can google that but there are many helpful threads here on mirrors as well.

We added a wi fi in motion internet system as access to the internet will be critical for us for business as it might be for you. Many of the threads explore internet options but a key point is how critical is internet access for your business needs. We paired the wi fi in motion with a Verizon mi fi. The threads seem to indicate that Verizon has the best reception (we haven't had a chance to check it out yet) and the mi fi, rather than a mere air card, gives you a hot spot that can accomodate several computers or devices while outside the trailer.

There are many great checklists on this site as you start to buy supplies and other goodies. Surf the web, you can find great deals on stuff. The best deals by far, though, were all the finds in our attic, basement and garage that worked fine.

A word of caution. There is tons of great info on airforums and folks are incredibly helpful, but many of the answers don't always give you the writters perspective. So someone may recommend a certain product because they are quite mechancially inclined, or have a lot of experience, etc. but the answers don't always reflect that. So before proceeding try to understand where those offering info are coming from and make sure it is consistent with your situation.

And finally a disclaimer. I'm almost as green as you and learning as I go along as well. So if my advice is wrong .... let me know! Good luck. Its all quite addictive and never ending. And exploring the threads is always a lot more fun than the day job!!
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Old 03-31-2010, 10:38 PM   #6
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I went with a 19' CCD and love it. Not much camping yet but love the size and style of the 19'. It has what I need/want and it will be easier to tow etc. I might go larger someday but for noe the 19 is great for me. I have 2 labs and another half and we all fit in nicely. The bed is perfect for us and the dinette is huge when made into a bed/couch. Both dogs and us fit up there fine for a movie. Go and spend some time in the units and get a feel for the space. Have fun shopping!
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Old 03-31-2010, 10:42 PM   #7
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Welcome....
I have a 25' Safari SS and full time 5-7 nights a week. When I retire, I will purchase a 23' FB. My unit has a corner bed and it is a deal breaker for me. I prefer to have a neat, well cared for enviroment, so keep the bed fresh and neatly made. Trying to keep the bedding neat is difficult. I'll never have a corner bed again. The dinette in my unit is used for my on campus after hours office and of course eating. My dogs 12 - 18 lbs spend their nights on the sofa in a doggy cushion. Tweets, the canary, spends most of his day on the kitchen sink faucet and his evenings on top of the television. We get along well with our Safari. I think you would be better off with a larger unit if your travels last for several weeks or months. I would be interested in the opinion of others.
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Old 03-31-2010, 10:49 PM   #8
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Welcome to the Forums Paul! The adventure begins! Your plan sounds interesting and lots of fun.

We find our 2006 19' Safari SE (rebranded to today's Flying Clouds) perfect for our type of travel/camping. We are two humans and two 35 lb dogs. We do lots of long weekend trips and sometimes go for a couple of weeks at a time with no problems re space...in fact we usually end up taking more clothes and food than we need. And we could go for longer periods with no hesitation.

We didn't like the common gray/black water tanks on the 16' and we wanted a separate bath and shower instead of a wet bath (we had a wet bath in our previous small motor home).

We tow with an 07 Tacoma V6 double cab with a factory tow package, so it's not a big truck, and we are well within the 80% rule. We use an Equal-I-Zer hitch set up which is very easy to master. We do just fine with this setup. Both 16's and 19's are easy to tow and will fit just about anywhere you want to put them, which can be an advantage sometimes.

The most important thing is to do your research, buy for your personal needs and the way you plan to use is...and most of all have fun! Happy trails!
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Old 03-31-2010, 11:05 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the good advice!! Was concerned about the corner bed in the 19' and being right next to the bathroom (smells??) is that an issue??

Does anyone have a 20'? Wondering if there's much difference between the 19 and the 20. I really like the small size of the 16' cuz it will force me to travel light...but I understand the concerns about the wet bath.

Again, appreciate all your comments, very helpful!!
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Old 03-31-2010, 11:09 PM   #10
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hi paul welcome

lots of good advice so far.

the 16 is made with an OSB subfloor.

when it gets wet, there will be issues.
_________

16/19/20 all single axle trailers.

folks think towing will be EASIER but that notion fades quickly

and they're ALL basically the same size in the rear view mirror.

also keep in mind a/s counts the TONGUE in the length listings...

so the INSIDE is typically 3 ft smaller than the listed length.
_________

pay attention to the CCC (payload) for the trailer.

some units only allow for 1-300 lbs of gear.

that's NOT MUCH for a national tour.

pots/pans/clothes/food/water/gear/tools/toys/beer/cheetoz...

the point is THINK ABOUT THE GEAR u will want/need/hope to take along.

don't forget the toys/beer and cheetoz.

generally 2 axle units will have MORE space and PAYLOAD available...
_________

same drill with the tow vehicle ((will it have payload/capacity for ANY of the gear?))
_________

while many folks ARE HAPPY with their tiny trailers...

4 MOST folks those units are THE gateway drug and lead to other things...

don't ASSUME a new unit will be trouble free, warranty YES but trouble free no...

in fact a 2-4 yr old unit MAY already have ALL of the new trailer BUGS fixed (by the last owner) ...

and will be significantly LESS money than new and depreciate LESS in your hands...

some reading to help with the deliberations...

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f483...-me-41624.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f368...eed-31784.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f48/...ize-60345.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f48/...ize-30863.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f42/...ing-29019.html

i realize u aren't planning to full time, but many issues are still relevant...

and in SOME sizes floor plan makes a huge difference.

cheers
2air'
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Old 03-31-2010, 11:41 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pspaul View Post
Looking to buy my first Airstream- I'm not very handy so I'm planning on buying new- still debating on a 16', 19' or 20'.
Paul
Hi, new or not you better be, or become, a handyman or keep a pocket full of cash. RVs are in constant need of minor repairs or adjustments.
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Old 04-01-2010, 01:08 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by pspaul View Post
Thanks for all the good advice!! Was concerned about the corner bed in the 19' and being right next to the bathroom (smells??) is that an issue??

Does anyone have a 20'? Wondering if there's much difference between the 19 and the 20. I really like the small size of the 16' cuz it will force me to travel light...but I understand the concerns about the wet bath.

Again, appreciate all your comments, very helpful!!
The corner bed is sometime is a pain to make until you have system worked out, but if you're not a really tall person it's totally adequate. We both sleep in ours, along with the dogs,...it's snug but we get along well. Lots of people take issue with the corner bed...we think it efficient use of space.

We have had a few odor issues, but no more than other trailers... air flow is important especially when you use vents, etc. That you will be able to work out, too between finding the right tank treatment chemicals, and the right combination of vents open, fans running, etc.

We have friends how have a 20'...they like it a lot, and the floor plan is nice with the dinette on the side and an L-shaped kitchen. The bed is in the front which is basically the same bed that's in the 16' but in the front...and of course a little more room. Worth looking at for you if you want a little more space.

Traveling light is a plus no matter what size you have. We periodically go through what we haul with us and eliminate the stuff we never end up using. It's amazing the stuff you think you're going to "need" and never do. That makes more room for things you really do need like generators and fuel (if boon docking or dry camping), BBQ, tools, fire wood (if you don't want to buy it at the campground), etc, etc. We have one tote that is just for things we must take but hope to never need...like bottle jack, jack stands, emergency markers, extra extension cord ... you know the roadside emergency stuff. It's all a learning process that we all go through. We have a tonneau cover on our truck bed that helps us keep our tow vehicle loaded with just the essentials, too. If we had a full sized shell, I'm sure we'd just fill it with "stuff".

As many Airstreamers will tell you, the journey is (or can be) as much fun as the destination...so enjoy!
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Old 04-01-2010, 05:57 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pspaul View Post
I have two dogs traveling with me, 35 lbs and 15lbs. My goal is to take 3 months off this summer, writing a travel blog on mid-century architecture along the way, and travel cross country. I imagine I will be at parks mostly, an occasional National Park, rarely boondoggin (is that the term?) without hookups. The shower and the black/grey water tanks are concerns, but not sure how important that will be.

Other then this trip, probably do just 3 days trips now and then the rest of the year.
You might look nto the army corps of engineers for a place to be as you go. They provide livable places with power somtime and water and you just Trade out some work with them idea way to go.
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Old 04-01-2010, 07:19 AM   #14
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ditto to blmitch on trying them out. we sat for hours at the dealership, scoping out several different ones. decided against that brand. went back another weekend and sat in Airstreams, checked them out. did it again another weekend.

ditto also to tbrich -- we love our corner bed, no problem making it, and it sleeps great (with replacement mattress).

Had wet bath on first Airstream - a pain. Always clean, for sure, but a little more washing down than we would otherwise intend for our washroom.

Two axles is great, very steady following the truck wherever it tows. 2air touched on this, mentioned single axles don't tow easier. We've met oldsters who towed 17' single axle over 35 years -- they would laugh telling about how it hopped around behind them, compared to their longer trailer.

We use verizon and sprint air cards and are able to connect almost everywhere in the country with one or the other or both. Exception: some state parks are not close enough to any cell towers. So we take the laptop to town, buy a cup of java and enjoy great signal.


Welcome to the forums, we'll all look forward to hearing how you do.
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