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Old 08-12-2012, 02:09 PM   #1
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Hello to all you Airstream Lovers.
I am seeking your knowledge and experience in the purchase of an airstream.
We live in Southern California and just visited the new Airstream vendor near us. The saleswoman gave us lots of info about what we could and could not tow with our 2002 Toyota Tacoma. We can tow up to a 23 foot airstream. We think that is too much airstream. Our question to you all is there much difference other than three feet between the 16 foot Sport or the 19 foot International or Flying Cloud? We would love to hear any advice on also whether to buy a new airstream or an older one.
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Old 08-12-2012, 02:40 PM   #2
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Welcome to the Airforums NatandShanna!

This will be a great resource for you to browse around while you make all those decisions. Everyone here will have a different recommendation due to each situation. I would suggest you pop in on a local rally and introduce yourselves. One great thing about us is we love to meet new people and show our rigs off. You can get some great ideas and make some new friends at the same time. Good luck and welcome aboard!

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Old 08-12-2012, 02:51 PM   #3
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Greetings NatandShanna!

Welcome to the Forums and the world of Airstreaming!

Quote:
Originally Posted by NatandShanna View Post
Hello to all you Airstream Lovers.
I am seeking your knowledge and experience in the purchase of an airstream.
We live in Southern California and just visited the new Airstream vendor near us. The saleswoman gave us lots of info about what we could and could not tow with our 2002 Toyota Tacoma. We can tow up to a 23 foot airstream. We think that is too much airstream. Our question to you all is there much difference other than three feet between the 16 foot Sport or the 19 foot International or Flying Cloud? We would love to hear any advice on also whether to buy a new airstream or an older one.
The size decision is a very personal one, and a choice that works for one won't necessarily work for another. I know that my partner and I would have trouble traveling in anything smaller than our Minuet 6.0 Metre (Airstream classes is as 20-feet, but it actully measures 19-feet 8-inches). A number of factors play into our satisfaction with the 6.0 Metre Minuet . . . it has twin lounges so we each have a comfortable place to lounge if the weather isn't conducive to being outdoors. The front lounge converts into an RV double-size bed while the side lounge converts into a plus size twin bed. The coach also has an exceptional number of windows making the interior light and airy . . . which makes the Minuet feel larger than it is. My suggestion would be to look at both the 16 foot and 19 foot Safaris to see what your reaction to the true feel of the coach . . . while assessing your initial reaction to each coach, consider where you would be able to relax during inclement weather . . . and also consider whether the bathroom and kitchen facilities are adquate for your traveling style.

When addressing the new or used question, there are a huge number of variables to consider:
  • Advantages of purchasing new
    • You will have the security of a two-year manufacturer's warranty on the coach. The only down side being that it can be difficult to find an Airsream dealer who has a competent service department.
    • You can begin traveling immediately with fewer concerns about potential failures that might interrupt your trip.
    • You will be able to learn the ropes of RVing without the additional pressure of needing to be an overall handy-person with the repairs that are going to crop up with a used coach.
    • You should have close to ten years before you will have to approach the replacement of a major appliance.
    • You won't have to worry about "ten-year" rules or similar policies that RV park owners can have that rescrict entrance to RVs newer than a stated model year (often denies admittance to RVs more than 10 years old). This doesn't happen frequently where I travel, but I have been questioned about the age of my Overlander at about six RV parks in the past 17 years.
    • You can special order an Airstream to your specifications.
  • Advantages of a Pre-Owned Airstream
    • The first onwer(s) have taken the major depreciation hit, particularly if the coach is more than three years old.
    • The previous owner(s) have likely addressed any problems with the coach through the OEM warranty. This isn't always the case, and sometimes an Airstream will find its way to the used market if it has had an unreasonable number of issues.
    • You can make modifications to make the coach yours . . . something that may be a little more difficult to approach in a brand new coach that you have purchased.
    • A visual inspection will likely help you to uncover design or quality control shortcomings.
I am sure that I have omitted some advantages and disadvantages, but there are a number of good arguments for both strategies.

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin
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Old 08-12-2012, 02:58 PM   #4
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

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

The 23FB is a great plan with a walk around queen bed. It is also a tandem axle unit. The Bambi 19 is a lighter single axle unit with a full corner bed, and has separate black and gray tanks. The Bambi 16 is lighter yet, but has a wet bath, and the black and gray tank is a combo.

Your choice will depend largely on your camping style and frequency of use. Avoid buying an Airstream to fit your current tow vehicle. Tow vehicles come and go; Airstreams last a long, long time.

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Old 08-12-2012, 03:17 PM   #5
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First, Welcome to the Airforums...you are in the right place to do research and ask questions ... good luck in your Quest for Aluminum!

We tow our 06 19' Bambi (4500 lbs loaded) with an 07 Tacoma Double Cab (6500 lbs tow capacity) with factory tow package. (07 was the year they got beefed up a bit.) We feel the Tacoma is a good match for our trailer. It's a great truck, but we would not want to tow a newer 23' with it. For us the max for the Tacoma on a newer Airstream (heavier than vintage) would be 20', and that may be pushing it, especially on long grades or mountains. (This is just our opinion from our own experience. Others may disagree.)

There are some important differences between 16' and 19' trailer Bambis as mentioned above...the balck/gray tank and bath setup. We have friends with a 16' and they love love love it...it suites them very well. So much depends on how you plan to use your rig...we do a lot of long weekend/4-night and 10-14 day trips but do not spend months on end in it.
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Old 08-12-2012, 04:43 PM   #6
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Thanks

Thanks for all of the info! We are really excited and can't wait to take it out on the road. I read on a forum that the Airstream's interior has a tendency of "falling apart" when it hits bumps...can this be true? Also everyone is recommending to us to rent one first and then buy....did anyone do this? Thanks!
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Old 08-12-2012, 05:02 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NatandShanna
Thanks for all of the info! We are really excited and can't wait to take it out on the road. I read on a forum that the Airstream's interior has a tendency of "falling apart" when it hits bumps...can this be true? Also everyone is recommending to us to rent one first and then buy....did anyone do this? Thanks!
Welcome to the forums! There are cases where the tow vehicle is over matched for the Airstream (F350 towing a Bambi) and the suspension is to stiff for an Airstream but we have a 2006 19" Bambi and have towed it over several bad roads and I was surprised how well it does. Some members may have had some quality control issues or are over hitched. Our is in very good shape and we have had almost 0 complaints on quality. 19"was the best size for us and if we ever move up it will be a 23" for the lounge but we love the size and the ease of pulling etc. we pull ours with a V8 Touareg and have 2 labs with us. good luck on your search and go back to the dealer and spend some time in different units to get a feel for them.
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Old 08-12-2012, 05:53 PM   #8
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Get the perfect sized Airstream, then find a great tow vehicle. You'll have the AS for decades, trucks or SUV's come and go.

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Old 08-12-2012, 07:14 PM   #9
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I agree with Paula. We had a lovely Argosy Minuet like Kevin's above. I fretted about towing the wider and longer 23' Safari that I'm sitting in now. It turned out to be a non- issue. I'm now thinking how nice a 25' would be - but that's getting big for some sites we love.

It is difficult to rent Airstreams. If you do find a dealer that rents them, choices of floor plan will be limited.

Finally, you should also consider a 20' (great galley design) and a 22' Sport as well. Similar weight to the 19' and different floor plans to fit your wants.

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Old 08-12-2012, 07:26 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NatandShanna View Post
Thanks for all of the info! We are really excited and can't wait to take it out on the road. I read on a forum that the Airstream's interior has a tendency of "falling apart" when it hits bumps...can this be true? Also everyone is recommending to us to rent one first and then buy....did anyone do this? Thanks!
We have a 2005 Safari 25FB, named Lucy, that we bought new in 2006. We have tow Lucy nearly 100,000 miles and have camped in her over 1,100 nights. Lucy's interior has not yet fallen apart, and has been over thousands of bumps.

Who exactly is the "everyone" that is telling you to rent and Airstream first? Probably not anyone who has attempted to rent one. You may possibly be able to rent an Airstream, but they are not easy to find.

Brian
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Old 08-12-2012, 09:52 PM   #11
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I agree with Brian, I have a 2001 25' Safari I bought new, and I may have tightened one closet door hinge screw in the 11 years and 75K miles I've put on it. It's the other brands, big white boxes, that come apart on the inside from normal highway travel.
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Old 08-12-2012, 11:14 PM   #12
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Greetings Natand Shanna!

Quote:
Originally Posted by NatandShanna View Post
Thanks for all of the info! We are really excited and can't wait to take it out on the road. I read on a forum that the Airstream's interior has a tendency of "falling apart" when it hits bumps...can this be true? Also everyone is recommending to us to rent one first and then buy....did anyone do this? Thanks!

While it is possible to get a lemon in an Airstream product as there is with any mass manufactured product, often the cause of problems with popped rivets and other maladies can be traced to one of several issues.
  • On an older Airstream or one that has sat dormant for a number of years, the rubber rods in the axle may have taken a set or frozen resulting in little if any spring action. When this happens, the coach will receive a very harsh ride that results in cabinet doors and drawers popping open while underway as well as popped rivets and the potential for body damage such as cracks in the skin near openings. Henschen DuraTorque axles were adopted as a standard feature in 1961 on Airstream travel trailers (there are a few exceptions to this "standard" in that the first generation Bambis were usually equipped with straight axles with leaf springs).
  • The ST (Special Trailer) tires that Airstreams usually have as OEM from the factory are notorious for construction that makes them difficult to balance . . . Then add to that the fact that most tire dealers take the position that trailer tires do not need to be balanced and the potential for damage from vibratiions created by out of balance tire/wheel combinations become an issue. Airstreams live longer healthier lives when they receive a smooth ride, and keeping the running gear balanced helps tremendously with this issue . . . in fact, many owners add Centramatic Balancers to their coaches to help insure that the wheel/tire assembly maintains as near ideal balance as is possible.
  • Airstream is among a very select group of travel trailer manufacturers that utilizes shocks on their trailer running gear. On an older Airstream, these components are often overlooked when servicing and may be non-functional. Another issue with shocks on an Airstream is the issue that develops when a "compatible" shock is utilized that isn't designed for horizontal mounting . . . try to change the geometry of a shock designed for vertical mounting so that it operates in a horizontal position greatly reduces the life expectancy of the shock absorber. Something that has happened when some owners have replaced the OEM axles, they may have been persuaded by one of the other suppliers of torsion axles that shock absorbers aren't necessary and an axle or axles may have been installed without shocks . . . the shock absorbers help to insure a smooth stable ride for the Airstream.
  • Over-hitching for the trailer/tow vehicle combination can also create a variety of problems. Prior to 1980, most Airstream product travel trailers were towed by full-size family cars with soft "boulevard" suspension systems. These automobile/Airstream tow combinations usually required a hitch equipped with 1,000 pound weight distribution bars. Today, most tow with either light-duty trucks or lighty-duty truck-based SUVs. These modern tow vehicles tend to have much stiffer suspension, and the necessity usually exists to compensate for the stiffer suspension by reducing the rating of the weight distribution bars. As an example, my Overlander was equipped with 1,000 pound weight distribution bars when I first brought it home. I was towing with either a 1984 Jeep Grand Wagoneer or a 1995 Chevrolet K1500 Z71 Club Cab Pickup. I utilized this stiff hitch setup until I attended the 1998 WBCCI International Rally in Boise, Idaho. It was there that I was educated about the possiblitiy of over-hitching. it was during my trip to Boise that a crack formed on the interior skin of my Overlander above the entry door. When I mentioned this to a Reese technician during open house, he offered to inspect my setup and he advised that with the bran new K2500 Suburban that I was utilizing as my tow vehicle would only require 600 pound weight distribution bars. I followed his recommendation immediately and the number of popped rivets and the incidence of cabinet contents being expelled onto the floor was reduced significantly. I also have not had any more cracks in the skin develop since adopting the lighter weight distribution bars.
  • There is some disagreement on this issue, but there has been some discussion that running too much pressure in the tires can also contribute to a rough ride characteristic that can impact structural integrity through vibration. It is only recently that I have begun adjusting my coach's tire inflation to the manufacturer's recommendation based on the scale ticket weight of my coaches. I can't say whether this has made a significant difference as I have only been following this practice for three seasons and I haven't noticed any marked difference in popped rivets or contents of cabinets being dumped on the floor while traveling.
I suspect that one or more of the above issues contribute to problems with cabinetry coming apart or skin cracking on the vast majority of coaches. There are, however, a few models in the not so distance past that did have some shortcomings in the engineering of cabinet attaching methods that permitted the cabinets to detach from the wall while being towed down the road, but it has been a few years since I have noticed repeated discussions of this particular issue.

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin
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Old 09-05-2013, 03:18 PM   #13
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I just read Kevin's info. I found the issue of spilled cabinets and popped rivets fascinating. We just purchased a 22 FB sport We use the "equalizer hitch" (brand name) and our 2013 Expedition is a towing package with tow hall and pulls to 9800 lbs. It has air suspension. I got home yesterday after a 4 hour pull to find everthing on the floor. We have had rivets replaced already. This AS is an easy pull, but single axle. I am wondering about the hitch or is it something we live with?????
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Old 09-05-2013, 04:15 PM   #14
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I just read Kevin's info. I found the issue of spilled cabinets and popped rivets fascinating. We just purchased a 22 FB sport We use the "equalizer hitch" (brand name) and our 2013 Expedition is a towing package with tow hall and pulls to 9800 lbs. It has air suspension. I got home yesterday after a 4 hour pull to find everthing on the floor. We have had rivets replaced already. This AS is an easy pull, but single axle. I am wondering about the hitch or is it something we live with?????
Which model of the Equal-i-zer do you use? They list sizes for 400, 600, 1000, 1200 and 1400 lb tongue weights. If you're in between on tongue weight with a larger tow vehicle, people like Andy from Inland RV seem to recommend going to the next lower size rather than the next higher. Hitch dealers often sell whatever they have in stock even if it's not the best suited to the trailer and tow vehicle.
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