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Old 06-17-2013, 09:51 AM   #1
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Discouraged

Hi Folks,
1st post: We've been looking into TTs for a while, went to a few shows and discovered AS, recently found this forum.
After spending the weekend browsing here(doing due diligence)we're feeling quite discouraged about getting an Airstream.
Although there really doesn't seem to be much competition, we're getting the feeling that AS TTs are a lot of trouble.
I'm mechanically skilled(as a retired builder I do much of our maintenance and repair) but I really don't want to spend all my time addressing a series of problems, especially on the road.
Do "Streamers" get to enjoy RVing?
Any advice as we proceed would be appreciated.
Thanks,
callmeDave
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Old 06-17-2013, 10:06 AM   #2
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Dave, it all depends. All toys require maintenance. Perhaps you've already had experience with a boat or four wheeling or classic hot rods, and so forth.

If your wife hires a handyman because you hate tinkering around the house - then you'll hate RV'ing whether it' an Airstream or SOB. If you enjoy tinkering and have the money to have someone else do the big stuff... opposite answer.

Assess Yourself. Assess your spouse's "dream vacation". Assess 2 weeks in the rain with children who have no idea how to entertain themselves without TV (and your batteries are low on the RV). In addition, I strongly urge you to rent an RV and go on a trip for at least 5 days. It is not cheap, but it's a heck of a lot cheaper than having a piece of $60K yard art that you know you'll never tow again. Also sit with your kids and play Chinese Checkers, pickup stix, or some other board games - if your kids like these activities - then the time you spend burning marshmallows areound a campfire will be a good positive indicator for moving forward.

Get a gently used Airstream for lower maintenance. Go through a dealer who will TEACH you the ropes.

Oh, and most of all... it's GOOD you question yourself now rather than going totally impulsive and then regretting it later!

Sincerely, Paula
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Old 06-17-2013, 10:25 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by callmedave View Post
After spending the weekend browsing here(doing due diligence)we're feeling quite discouraged about getting an Airstream.
Welcome to the AirForums! Glad to have you with us.

The problem with the AirForums— and in fact any specialty forum (such as Fit Freak, the Honda Fit forum that I also participate in)— is that the vast majority of people who have no problems with their units are out enjoying them, not posting about them.

You'll read a lot about various problems mainly because the Forums are a good way to ask for help.

But you'll also read a lot about rallies, caravans, campgrounds, cooking, pets, desirable safety equipment, the best choices for generators or tow vehicles, and lots of other positive things that will help you make the most of Airstream purchase, ownership, and use.

And even if you focus on the negatives, such as holding tank odor, leaks, rear end separation, axle replacement, etc. you'll see that most AirForums posters approach these issues with a "can do" attitude. They don't say, "This is a piece of crap so I want to get rid of it and not deal with the problems." The attitude is more like, "I love my Airstream, warts and all, and want to make it better so I can get more enjoyment out of it."

And to put it into even sharper focus, the oldest Airstream that's still in use— not in a museum or scrap pile— was built sometime around 1938. Can't say that about Winnebagoes or any other brand of RV!
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Old 06-17-2013, 10:28 AM   #4
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Dave, if there are user groups for other TTs, check them out. I think you will find that Airstreams are better made than most others. Although my truck camper is not a TT, it is representative of the white box RVs. It's a Cariboo, although we like to call it a Cari-boo-boo because of the shoddy materials and workmanship. At the time of purchase, it was purported to be one of the best, but a short period of non abusive use proved that wrong in a hurry. There's a reason that brand is no longer around.

Don't give up. The suggestion to rent was a good one.

I would also point out that many of the posters on the forum have Airstreams that are decades old. Things wear out over time.
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Old 06-17-2013, 10:33 AM   #5
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The later model Airstream shell is unique among travel trailers. It is pre-coated aluminum panels cut and drilled, then riveted to an aluminum frame. Therein is the source of filiform corrosion problems at the cut and drilled edges, working its way under and lifting the clear pre-coat. Salt water exposure at coastal communities and winter driving initiate this process. The latest models have addressed some of it, but still requires washing, anti-corrosion treatment products, and repair as needed to prevent spreading. Our trailer is two years old, we do regular inspection and treatments, and have no trace of corrosion. We do not tow on winter roads and coastal exposure is very little.

Airstream floors are exterior grade plywood under a vinyl finish floor. Water leaks undetected and repaired will rot the wood over time. If it's not wet, it won't rot. We use a moisture detection meter during quarterly trailer inspections to probe under the vinyl. We found one small leak under a loose door hinge and fixed it promptly.

Virtually everything else in the trailer is standard rv stuff, water heater, furnace, plumbing etc. They are what they are.

Quality. Long and repetitious threads on this. Some are extremely happy, some are extremely unhappy. From my experience with two late model Airstreams, the present models are much improved, very well constructed. We have traveled in it a total of 12 months virtually trouble-free.

Maintenance. We do inspections and preventative maintenance on a quarterly basis. We treated the shell cut edges, drilled rivet holes, and fittings with CorrosionX and the underbody steel with Boeshield T-9 the day we brought it home and regularly since. We wax it at least annually to help repel dirt and seal any tiny scratches. Anything needing repair gets fixed. This takes little time and pays of well.

You would enjoy the Airstream's good towing characteristics and classic American appearance. They can be fun to own.

doug k
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Old 06-17-2013, 10:35 AM   #6
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Any time I become disenchanted with my Airstream because I feel something could have been done differently or made better, I go to an RV show and look at whats available. It doesn't take long to see how an AS is simply better for my needs.

Except some of those $700,000-$1,000,000 class A's are kinda nice!
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Old 06-17-2013, 10:43 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Protagonist View Post
Welcome to the AirForums! Glad to have you with us.

The problem with the AirForums— and in fact any specialty forum (such as Fit Freak, the Honda Fit forum that I also participate in)— is that the vast majority of people who have no problems with their units are out enjoying them, not posting about them.

You'll read a lot about various problems mainly because the Forums are a good way to ask for help.

.....!
So true. Nobody posts, "MY AS is working just fine."

We had a few "issues" with ours when we first bought it (lightly used) but have had few problems since then. And it's all relative-- compared to maintaining a swimming pool, a house, a yard, a boat.....

Not to mention the wet tent, rocks-in-your-back type of camping, or not having things the way you like them in motels and restaurants.

We love 'streamin'!
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Old 06-17-2013, 10:55 AM   #8
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Winston Churchill once said "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." That could be paraphrased to apply to Airstreams.

To more directly answer your question, we have a 38-year-old Argosy (more or less an Airstream with paint instead of clearcoat) and in a little over 2 years have made 20 camping trips totaling over 8,000 miles. We're just "weekend warriors so this is nothing compared to the miles some of the other AIRForums members cover, but my point is that our vintage trailer, while requiring some maintenance, is still a fun, reliable travel trailer and we spend much more time enjoying it than maintaining it.
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Old 06-17-2013, 10:59 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by callmedave View Post
Hi Folks,
1st post: We've been looking into TTs for a while, went to a few shows and discovered AS, recently found this forum.
After spending the weekend browsing here(doing due diligence)we're feeling quite discouraged about getting an Airstream.
Although there really doesn't seem to be much competition, we're getting the feeling that AS TTs are a lot of trouble.
I'm mechanically skilled(as a retired builder I do much of our maintenance and repair) but I really don't want to spend all my time addressing a series of problems, especially on the road.
Do "Streamers" get to enjoy RVing?
Any advice as we proceed would be appreciated.
Thanks,
callmeDave
We've used our Airstream three or four times already this season, and we're going camping this weekend and next weekend. No problems (well, other than the engine in our truck, but that's a known Ford issue rather than a problem with the Airstream) at all.

It's like a house - it's going to have problems from time to time. That's just how it is. But if you keep up with the maintenance, they generally don't turn into big problems.
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Old 06-17-2013, 11:17 AM   #10
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If you look below my name, my trailer is ALUMINUM OBSSESSION.
When I bought this trailer, I personally have put on a complete front end on this trailer. Being a licensed Class A heavy equipment and Automotive mechanic I appreciate the overal construction of theses trailers. I have worked on the inside and outside of it!!! This trailer Had Jacknifed . Some people thought it wasn't repairable. Including my DAD!!
However it is 90% finished ,and right now instead of completely finishing it . I'm using it whenever I can. The little things will be done when I retire!! Most trailers would be used as scrap, if they sustained the damage my trailer had.
Because these trailers are well made/not perfect!!
And because these trailers are so endearing, alot of us will rebuild them back to life!!
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Old 06-17-2013, 12:10 PM   #11
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"Do "Streamers" get to enjoy RVing?"

4 to 6 months a year in a Airstream for us. 25 year old Airstream. Very few problems once we got it ready to start with. On the road in 5 years and about 40000 miles we lost a thermostat once (80 bucks and 1 hour at a Winnebego dealer) a WH once (finished trip heating water on the stove). had a mishap that destroyed the 7 pin connector (I replaced it in a walmart parking lot in Alaska), and I replaced a 12 volt outlet in NewMexico.

We have enjoyed every mile and every day of the journeys.

Headed out northeast for 3 months the end of this week.
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Old 06-17-2013, 12:30 PM   #12
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We have had very few problems with the Airstreams we have had. The first one needed work, but it was usable. The second was pretty much trouble free. The new one has had a few minor warranty issues that were quickly and easily fixed.
It has already been said, but people without problems usually don't start threads.
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Old 06-17-2013, 12:54 PM   #13
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Depends on your point of view. I like the challenge. I'm probably going to end up tweaking and improving my trailer until it's about perfect, and rarely take it out. Just dump money into it. (don't tell my wife) but in the long run, I like the challenge of learning a new skill and improving on something. I used to build RC airplanes. It was kind of a let down when I was done. I wasn't really interested in flying them. Keep in mind, this is a build site. Oh, there are a couple of rallies and forums (to which I still haven't been) and fun social stuff (of which I'm great at a party - but i don't seek them out). The majority of this site is like a mechanics resource forum. Don't judge the whole of Airstreams by that. It's a mixed bag. You could just go straight to the rally forums and not read anything else and come away with the opion that streamers do nothing but party. Go ahead and look up the forums for anything that is a couple years old, any trailer or rv, and you'll find the same.
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Old 06-17-2013, 01:20 PM   #14
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Quote:
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...but people without problems usually don't start threads.
It would be a pretty boring forum it everybody just posted "another great trip in our Airstream!"

As we are getting ready to embark on a 2+ week trip in our 1956 Safari, I find I post a lot more when we are in the midst of a restoration (been through two, #3 is on temporary hold due to a move & #4 is waiting in the wings) for help & encouragement than when we are out enjoying the fruits of our labor ~ people post when they either need help or can provide help.

I can tell you, modern (& vintage) Airstreams are built much better than 99+% of other vintage trailers out there...they all need some work after many, many miles & nights out - but Airstreams can almost always be brought back to comfortable working order - not so with others.

You won't see as many SOB (white box) restoration forums because with a lot of them, by the time they are paid for and needing restoration - it's better to just buy a new one.

Check the info under the member profiles in the left column - you'll see many members with multiples and most of the folks with major restoration threads are working on trailers older than any other brand still on the road - two out of three of my trailers are older than I am!

Shari
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