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Old 11-02-2012, 06:23 PM   #1
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Cool A lurker comes up for air....

While my new found focus today may be an airstream, I wanted to take a moment and give a brief toast to the Trotwood!

My earliest memory is from when I was about 18 months old and it came from a trailer trip. It's a brief glimpse memory of being held by my mother watching my older siblings splash water on a shore of a magnificent lake and wondrous backdrop. It's fitting the adult I am today is influenced by my earliest memory of Banff National Park.

Every creative adult I know has their childhood Peter Pan memories. Those memories that bring back the defining magic of childhood memories. For me it was a 1968 16' Trotwood my father purchased the year I was born. Towed by a '68 Dodge Monoco, I remember sitting up front in the middle, my father driving and my mother on my right, watching with fascination the lever of the manual brake override moving its path as my father wove through mountains.

That trailer made it to Vancouver from Ottawa; to Florida from Virginia Beach and to the beaches of North Carolina from Washington DC. I recall a campground in Florida with orange trees on the property, alligator warnings next to its lake and with an old railroad caboose a child could climb onto. In the Trotwood, up in the rear top bunk my parents would lock the ladder in place to keep my sister and I from rolling out. We slept, my sister and I, feet to head and each of us had a small window we could flip open which for me carried double duty -- to be able to let in the cold chill of the morning on my face and annoy my sister by chilling her feet. Those trips were the essence of magic for me.

After high school graduation, I tried to convince my parents to let me have that trailer, tow it out to Tucson for college where I could live in the magic and memories. I was terribly naive; thinking I could be fine in a big metal box in the Sonoran Desert without AC.

Now though in my 40s, I am coming full circle. I still enjoy backpacking, hiking, tent camping; but friends have conned me recently and hooked me on Celebrity cruises - the enjoyment of a floating hotel traveling to various locations. We stop on islands to hike, sweat and return muddy - but we return to comfort and warmth. I find I am beginning to seek the land equivalent; where I can still strap on a backpack, tent and sleeping mat and disappear a few nights into the wilderness, but to have an RV or trailer to return to when it rains or I want a bottle of wine with friends.

-=-=-=-

To the point, I am a forum noob. Hello! I may be a voice gone silent in six months time; but I doubt it. The desire is too strong. I want to re-drive those trips of my youth and find fresh new memories of Banff and Calgary. I want to ventured further north into Alaska and Denali; and if I can find a travel group willing, down to Yucatan. I'd like to winter in Halifax and summer in Tucson. I miss the distant monsoon storms and the brilliantly clear starry nights of Arizona.

So I figure there are four ways I can proceed -- I can (a) find a good stout vintage airstream for a good price and make her my own; (b) find a refurb opportunity and locate a competent company to do the work for me; (c) buy new at the dealers or (d) find someone who bought new within the past few years but for whom the reality of a trailer didn't quite click. Oh… and I need a tow vehicle… a Mini Cooper probably won't do it.

There is one issue that may make vintage airstreams difficult to work with. you see, I stand 7'0" in height (that's 2.14m to the rest of you. . .. (yes, I drive a Mini)) I've stood in new airstreams at dealers and it's passable -- I can even stand up straight in the skylights; for things such as food prep and cooking I am often hunched over to work at counter height at home anyhow. The concept of the airstream shower... that is going to be an adventure in Yoga self discovery... Based on lurking in the forums and doing research, I get the idea the vintage trailers carry a good 4-6 inches less headroom than the current stock - and that could force the issue to either (c) or (d).

Focusing on the more modern stock, the choice would then open up to use and amenities. Early on I would want to use it more for weekend getaway or three to four week vacation per year. Later, it would be cool to pack up and take an extended trip, using my skills as a programmer to take remote contract jobs and see me through some serious travel time. If I go non-Vintage I am currently focusing on the 25FB and 27FB models; the 25FB carrying a slight edge as I expect to be able to modify the bed setup to take a real queen-length mattress in that sideways arrangement easier than in the N-S arrangement of the 27.

While I do live in Richmond Virginia, the distance to the dealer is of consequence only in the reputation of their service department. Naturally when one scans youtube and the net, you find those who advertise well or word-of-mouth speaks, such as specific dealers up in New Jersey or down in Florida. Truth be told, when buying a travel trailer allows me to look at nearly any dealer as a delivery/pickup simply becomes a vacation trip on return home.

Finally, I need to find the proper tow vehicle. My city car is a Mini (yes, I shoehorn into a Mini; and quite love it - my current one is my fourth trade-up.) Prior to Minis, I drove Dodge Ram trucks; but both (one manual and one automatic) ended up have horrific transmission problems. I know I don't want to overpower an airstream with a vehicle too harsh in ride, suspension, etc. - but all the same, I would like to make it over the US and Canadian Rockies with little effort. I am not adverse though to owning the airstream before owning the tow vehicle; even if the airstream sits in a gated storage facility for a period of time; slowly depreciating its life away.

So... greetings! I may ask a ton of questions, be redirected to tons of search queries repeatedly, try to understand systems and engineering before I am an owner - but if I can learn enough to run my first trip without any hitches (so to speak...) all the better!

Ian
Richmond Va
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Old 11-02-2012, 07:00 PM   #2
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Welcome, Ian.

As a long time Ford owner, I will recommend their trucks to you as a tow vehicle, or possibly even the now discontinued Ford excursion diesel. ( I do know of one for sale shortly here in the Atlanta area along with a beautifully redone 29' or so Airstream (not mine). If either of those interest you, send me a PM.

Again, welcome
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Old 11-02-2012, 08:12 PM   #3
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Welcome!
Of the 4 ways, you'll just have to decide that yourself. We were lucky with ours. Vintage that had been very well maintained.
Drove to Banff and Jasper this Summer. A great vacation and really broke in our 75 Sovereign. Had been there as a Honeymoon trip 32 years ago in a pup tent...
Our TV is a Ford F350. We can go up or down anywhere with no problem.
Good luck on your search!
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Old 11-02-2012, 08:23 PM   #4
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Welcome! I lived in Richmond for years, loved it. We tow with an e-350 van. My advice to you is to spend time in as many different Airstreams as you can and see how the various configurations work with your height. Good luck! I met an airstreamer who was 6'8" who said his 4-5 yr old airstream worked great for him. I hope you can find one which works well for you!
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Old 11-02-2012, 08:42 PM   #5
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Hello Ian. Welcome to the Forums! That's some story. Persistence pays off.

Choice (a) can carry unbelievable amounts of work. Your choices (b) and (c) could cost surprisingly similar amounts. If your experience with choice (c) isn't what you want, backing out will cause you to suffer the 1/3d depreciation the moment you drive it off the lot. I bought new in 2005 after spending 18 months on a never ending Argosy project. Happy all the way...

Choice (d) has a lot going for it. Be prepared to spend a fair amount of time in research and monitoring prices closely in our classifieds. Beware of eBay and Craigslist -- each the potential refuge of scoundrels in their own ways.
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Old 11-02-2012, 08:51 PM   #6
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Welcome to the Forum...awesum 1st post!
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Old 11-02-2012, 11:45 PM   #7
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Ian,
Welcome to the forum. We took option 'd' and found a lightly used late model Airstream. We have a 27FB with a 'Real' queen size bed (north - south configuration). It works great for us and since it is a walk around bed, it is easy to use. We pull it with a 5.7L Tundra with ease over the Sierra's and other mountainous terrain. The smooth ride also make the Tundra a good daily driver, but it does drink a bit more gas than your Mini. What ever choices you make, we hope you have as much fun as Becky and I have had since we got our AS.

Happy trails,
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Old 11-03-2012, 12:28 AM   #8
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Ian

Welcome to the world of Airstreams. Sound like you really enjoyed your childhood traveling in a trailer. I am not sure that most kids today would appreciate it the way you did, but then again you never know with kids. Most of them won't ever get the chance.

Your height will add an interesting dimension (pun intended) to finding the right Airstream for you. Off hand, I would say that you may want to look for a gently used one around 25 ft long or less. Maybe you could then install a skylight in the kitchen area to provide some extra head room. I love my vintage Tradewind, but the sofa beds are short and the shower is shorter still.

I am not too far away in Lynchburg. One of my sons lives in Richmond. Send me a pm sometime if you would like to get together or would like to chat on the phone. I will help you all I can. I really enjoy a good challenge.

Dan
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Old 11-03-2012, 12:37 AM   #9
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I have the 25 FB, and I'm 5'6". I would strongly recommend the 27 FB because it's a real queen not a short one. The extra room in the bedroom will come in handy - you'll be able to put your shoes on sitting on the bed.

As for the shower, take the door off and replace it with a curtain that's long enough to tuck in and velcro to the pan at the bottom... It'll give you a bit more room so if you sit, your kneecaps won't bump the door open, also when you use the seat to wash your feet... well you can imagine!

These also have an outside shower. In a campground - use only wearing a bathing suit! But it's real handy when the neighbor's kid gets "skunked".

Safford RV is only about 50 miles north of you - but their stock of Airstreams is limited.

If you want to see an awesome stock, it's got to be Colonial Airstream - Lakewood NJ - but you might want to wait a week until they get electricity and phones back on.

You can rent a 25 FB at the KOA in Virginia Beach - you'll see why the sideways queen is a PITA.

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Old 11-03-2012, 02:00 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by HiHoAgRV View Post
Welcome to the Forum...awesum 1st post!
Concur! You have an engaging writing style, Ian. I hope you will apply it to more travel musings, regardless of what trailer you choose.

I have the 27' FB and the Queen bed seems like an ocean to me at 5'9".
Like Foiled Again wrote, it is nice to be able to sit on the bed and look out the window, get dressed, etc.

Also agree with Aviator re: a Ford truck. I know another trailerite whose Dodge Ram cost thousands in repairs after a relatively short time trailering.

Anyway, welcome to the AS world....or "the agony and the ecstasy" as I like to call it.
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Old 11-14-2012, 12:16 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Scott J-24 View Post
Ian,
Welcome to the forum. We took option 'd' and found a lightly used late model Airstream. We have a 27FB with a 'Real' queen size bed (north - south configuration). It works great for us and since it is a walk around bed, it is easy to use. We pull it with a 5.7L Tundra with ease over the Sierra's and other mountainous terrain. The smooth ride also make the Tundra a good daily driver, but it does drink a bit more gas than your Mini. What ever choices you make, we hope you have as much fun as Becky and I have had since we got our AS.

Happy trails,
Scott J --

I'd like some more information if you have it regarding the queen size bed difference between the 25FB and 27FB models. The measurements on the lot and in the modern brochures suggest they are the same size beds; so I assume you had a modification done to the bed platform of the 27FB to draw it out to a full sized queen mattress length. I've done some forum searches (ie, '27FB queen' and '27FB "full queen"') to no avail regarding post purchase upgrades.

Would you, or anyone more skilled at the forum boolean search have links saved regarding such an endeavor?

Thanks,

Ian Poulin
Richmond Va.
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Old 11-14-2012, 12:21 PM   #12
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From the rest of the replies; thanks for the welcomes. TouringDan - I will probably PM you sometime soon; once the holidays die out a bit. Foiled - thanks for the info on the 25FB at the Va Beach KOA -- I'll give them a call and see come spring if I can schedule out a long weekend there to thoroughly go through all the modern systems.

If there is a blog function to the forums - most of this type have them, perhaps it would be worthwhile to write about the entire process from T -24months (my goal) to the final selection. There is definitely a lot to consider, question and ponder about.
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Old 11-14-2012, 10:50 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by IanPoulin View Post
Scott J --

I'd like some more information if you have it regarding the queen size bed difference between the 25FB and 27FB models. The measurements on the lot and in the modern brochures suggest they are the same size beds; so I assume you had a modification done to the bed platform of the 27FB to draw it out to a full sized queen mattress length. I've done some forum searches (ie, '27FB queen' and '27FB "full queen"') to no avail regarding post purchase upgrades.

Would you, or anyone more skilled at the forum boolean search have links saved regarding such an endeavor?

Thanks,

Ian Poulin
Richmond Va.
Ian,
We didn't make any mods to the support board under the bed, but that would be a good mod to make. If you sit at the foot of the bed, there is some 'sag'. This would be an easy mod and would provide better support.

As I recall, the 25'FB configuration has the queen bed in an east-west layout. I don't think the full size queen would work unless they make a 25'FB with a north-south layout. I believe the problem is due to the curvature of the internal skins where it touches the head of the bed in the east-west layout.

Good luck on your hunt,
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Old 03-28-2014, 05:42 PM   #14
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. . .. and the lurker is now treading water; looking to the horizon for adventure.

With many thanks to Foiled Again and her messages of answers and help over the past few weeks, tomorrow morning option (d) becomes an official reality. Payment has been made, docs signed; now I just have one final walk through to learn all I can and I drive back to Richmond in a 2011 Aistream International Serenity 28' .

… alas I have to work Sunday this weekend at the bank… so the inaugural trip report, and all the odd discoveries will come with it later!

Cheers all,

ian
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