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Old 11-21-2012, 06:52 PM   #1
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Your one immediate upgrade / replace / correct on a new delivery

Reading through the forums for well over a year, it's become clear to me the general opinion is airstreams are much like other RV producers - they create a magnificent shell and then fill it with lower-end goods from other manufacturers.

For those of you who own a modern airstream, I would like to pose the question: what single item would you most recommend a new purchaser upgrade/replace or correct on delivery (or even go so far as to pay the $500 manufacture exception fee)?

Of note, off the top of my head and from reading the forums, I can see a list (with my own desirability rating denoted from low (*) to high (*****):

the bed mattress (*****)
some form of mattress mold/moisture control (****)
sealed/gel batteries (**)
upgraded inverter (**)
water heater expansion tank (****)
on demand water heater (*)
viable stove/range (****)
solar upgrades (amsolar, etc) (***)
$500 exception - upgraded solar wiring prep (****)
Zip Dee screen room (**)
Viable accordion doors (****)
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Old 11-21-2012, 07:21 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by IanPoulin View Post
Reading through the forums for well over a year, it's become clear to me the general opinion is airstreams are much like other RV producers - they create a magnificent shell and then fill it with lower-end goods from other manufacturers.
I don't understand this thinking.
First of all, I don't think of most "other brands" as having a "magnificent shell"!
Secondly, I have had my trailer for 9 months now and although I have a list of things that I would like to change (and in some cases have changed), I think it is a stretch to suggest that the parts and appliances are "lower-end".

I balance the posts that complain about price with posts that complain about quality and I get the sense that Airstream is trying to walk a fine line here....

If you are concerned about the trailer not being exactly what you want or need, contact someone like Collin Hyde and get something exactly the way you want it!

I personally accept that everything will not be exactly the way I might envision it and I am happy to change those items that displease me.... It is what makes our Airstream "Ours".

Bruce
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Old 11-21-2012, 07:28 PM   #3
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Personally, I think ownership of both new and older units is an evolution. We all personalize our coaches to reflect our individual styles, and levels of usefulness. Granted, there are a few things the factory gets wrong, actually have gotten wrong for a ling time, some people choose to fix/ replace these issues, while others just leave it and go on with their happy ownership.
Personally, mattress and carpeting are issues for me...
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Old 11-21-2012, 07:57 PM   #4
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So Bruce, in your nine months of ownership, what would be the number one thing for which you have wanted to change-out/upgrade (or even add), whether you have done so to date or not?

Atomic13 - What would you say is your concern with carpeting? The showroom models I've walked through so far, the key word to carpeting seems to be "none;" except the classic line.

-=-=-

Let me Caveat this thread with one thing. I recognize fully that in many (dare I say most?) online forum environments you tend to get the edges of the bell curve of owners or devotees. There are those who are die hard supporters and love to geek out with new or different ways to view or experience the product and its environment; there are those who are primarily on the forums to complain about something going wrong right now, here, today.

For most forums I've been involved with, the majority of satisfied participants of the topic really aren't that involved. Of course, for more unique or targeted audiences, that participation rate may increase - and may be so here.

My target with this question isn't to suggest or debate quality of the airstream; its to geek out and understand that with any unique product, the key becomes how you accessorize after purchase. In this case, accessorize means how you improve upon, upgrade or handle those issues that made the difference for you.
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Old 11-21-2012, 08:03 PM   #5
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I understand

It is a good shell. Better than others. I do agree on the mattress, why shouldn't Airstream strike a deal with Tempurpedic? I have to wonder if it wouldn't be mutually beneficial to both Airstream and the end user to offer high end upgrades. They're flirting with the idea with the Swiss Army and Eddie Bauer thing allready, right?
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Old 11-21-2012, 08:03 PM   #6
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My thing with carpet is this.... it all will eventually stink, and get icky. No matter what you do, it will get dirty. I have a classic.

These are campers afterall, and if you use them, junk gets tracked in, and its just easier to sweep it out. Rubber flooring is the way to go, it won't tear like vinyl, and comes in any pattern imaginable. Will never go bad.
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Old 11-21-2012, 08:20 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AtomicNo13
My thing with carpet is this.... it all will eventually stink, and get icky. No matter what you do, it will get dirty. I have a classic.

These are campers afterall, and if you use them, junk gets tracked in, and its just easier to sweep it out. Rubber flooring is the way to go, it won't tear like vinyl, and comes in any pattern imaginable. Will never go bad.
This leads to a tangential question - is the carpet and/or vinyl flooring both laid around features such as the beds, kitchen counters or tables; or laid underneath such that you need to remove such features to appropriately replace the flooring?
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Old 11-21-2012, 08:20 PM   #8
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OK Ian,

First on the list was increased battery capacity! I removed the group 24 AGM and replaced it with a 4D AGM Lifeline battery resulting in more than double the capacity.

I am puzzled by the entire design of the 12v electrical system of a travel trailer. I believe it is a throwback to early times and needs to be reconsidered. The simple answer is to switch the stock converter for a three step unit, I opted for a slightly different solution and replaced the converter with a marine charger with enough capacitors built in that it will run as a power supply too. I get temperature compensated three step charging, very robust construction and much faster charging of a discharged battery.

I spent this past Monday evening replacing the simple Attwood furnace thermostat with a Dometic single zone thermostat so that the entire hvac systems can now be controlled from one place. My 5' wife likes this as she can now reach the controls of the A/C.

I understand that Airstream has upgraded the mattress design on new all trailers product lines so that is off the list.

Bruce
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Old 11-21-2012, 08:32 PM   #9
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I would say carpet (should be a sweepable surface) , as well, but the new units I have seen do not have any. I'd say cheap bath sink faucet and plastic bowl, but the factory has upgraded those as well.
So, I have to move mine along to catch up with the product evolution.

IanPoulin,
The carpet is laid down in the empty shell, then the furniture (and appiances, and fresh water tank, et al) is installed on top. I'll probably put down a vinyl sheet or fake hardwood, but where the carpet transitions to the vinyl flooring in the bath area there's a step up of about 1/2", so I'll have to level it out first.
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Old 11-21-2012, 08:56 PM   #10
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I'll wear the interior stuff out as is, I like it and it's working good after 7 months total use. Otherwise:

Factory solar pkg, full awning pkg, upgrade wheels/tires to 16" Michelin XL, upgrade or replace all cheap plastic 11 FC/Int'l clearance lights and bases to new Classic lights.

Exterior RV water softener.

Propride hitch if can possibly work it into the budget. Andersen hitch if you can't.

Short wheelbase tow vehicle capable of doing the job so you can get around easily when you arrive at your destination.

doug k
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Old 11-21-2012, 09:02 PM   #11
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Personally, I wouldn't do any upgrades to a new unit unless after using it for a while I had a burning desire to add or change something. I had a motorhome for a few years and never did any upgrades or changes on it. I took trips with it and the trips were my focus. I wish I had taken more trips and I wish I had taken more pictures of the trips I did take.

Maybe I'd upgrade to a really good camera.

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Old 11-21-2012, 10:09 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IanPoulin View Post
Reading through the forums for well over a year, it's become clear to me the general opinion is airstreams are much like other RV producers - they create a magnificent shell and then fill it with lower-end goods from other manufacturers.

For those of you who own a modern airstream, I would like to pose the question: what single item would you most recommend a new purchaser upgrade/replace or correct on delivery (or even go so far as to pay the $500 manufacture exception fee)?

Of note, off the top of my head and from reading the forums, I can see a list (with my own desirability rating denoted from low (*) to high (*****):

the bed mattress (*****)
some form of mattress mold/moisture control (****)
sealed/gel batteries (**)
upgraded inverter (**)
water heater expansion tank (****)
on demand water heater (*)
viable stove/range (****)
solar upgrades (amsolar, etc) (***)
$500 exception - upgraded solar wiring prep (****)
Zip Dee screen room (**)
Viable accordion doors (****)
The very, very first upgrade, that's most important, you didn't mention.

Waterproof the trailer is always first.

Window, access door, entrance door and especially the sewer vent pipe cover gaskets.

Then, you can decide what you want to do second, without any fear of water (rain or melting snow) damaging what you already have.

Andy
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Old 11-22-2012, 05:36 AM   #13
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The first needed up-grade. Replacing the batteries that the P-lax converter ruined on the dealer lot. (pro-rated by Interstate)

Second, Installing a 3 stage IOTA converter.

Third, re-sealing the black tank vent.


Forth, replacing all interior and exterior fasteners with stainless. (taillights, clearance lights etc.)

And lastly...doing a thorough PDI, pretending I worked at Airstream and it hadn't left the Factory yet.

Bob
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Old 11-22-2012, 10:11 AM   #14
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I would caution against ranking upgrades based upon others personal opinions, unless your are in product improvement with Airstream (if they even have such a department. Sure, take ideas from the forums, but go camping and use your new trailer for a year and then decide for yourself. Most of the items on your list have proven to be quite acceptable in use on our 2011 FC23FB. In over 18,600 miles and 134 nights in all seasons and conditions, it hasn't leaked water, ingested dust (except for when we left the roof vents open on a long gravel road), caused sleepless nights on the original mattress, failed to cook our food, presented any problem in dumping the waste tanks, or had a tire failure with the original GYM's. My upgrade $$ went into a self-selected solar system (2 x 85 watt panels and a BlueSky MPPT controller) to better enable our preferred camping style. I installed AGM batteries when the original Interstates failed prematurely. I've made several small personal use improvements, and will continue to tinker (retired engineer). I am considering going to 15" wheels and tires for additional ground clearance. I could wish for better window opening mechanisms, and the entry door should open to the other side as it blocks one window when open.

All in all - a pretty good travel trailer and we've enjoyed it immensely.
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