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Old 02-10-2014, 01:10 AM   #1
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Gonna bite the bullet and finally get one!

My hubby and I are nowhere near retirement, with two small kids and a dog. We want an RV as an alternative to tent camping. We have looked at new, used, and non-Airstream. For me, Airstream is Americana and everything else pales in comparison. So, we are pinching our pennies and hopefully by the end of summer will have a new-to-us Airstream!

In the meantime, I have been scouring the forums to glean some insight into Airstream ownership. We will be trading in the minivan for a truck, but should we take that step before or after finding "The One"?
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Old 02-10-2014, 05:16 AM   #2
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Welcome and good luck on your search. Keep us posted on your progress.

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Old 02-10-2014, 06:15 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by WisePharm View Post
We will be trading in the minivan for a truck, but should we take that step before or after finding "The One"?
Why? Unless you're planning in carrying large amounts of cargo, modern minivans make very capable and stable tow vehicles - more stable than many trucks, IMO. An added bonus is that they tend to be more fuel efficient when not towing, which is probably 99% of the time if you're not full-timing.

You can always give your minivan a try as a TV, if you then decide it's not for you after all, you can always swap it out later. Older Airstreams also tend to be lighter than the newer models. Our 34' looks huge, but weighs less than some modern 27' models.

We got three kids and tow our 1984 34' International with a Honda Odyssey. It's a great rig, stable as anything and with ample power.
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Old 02-10-2014, 06:34 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by WisePharm View Post
In the meantime, I have been scouring the forums to glean some insight into Airstream ownership. We will be trading in the minivan for a truck, but should we take that step before or after finding "The One"?
Two schools of thought on that one, but I vote "before."

If you get the tow vehicle first, you can spread out your purchases. Once you have the tow vehicle, there's no rush to get a trailer, and you can take your time to shop around. But if you get the trailer first, then you'll have to rush to get the tow vehicle.

If you get the tow vehicle first, you'll get used to driving it before you hitch up a trailer to it, and that will make it easier later when you do hitch up a trailer. And if you wanted to get ahead of the learning curve, you could rent a trailer (any trailer, maybe a U-Haul box trailer, for example) and practice all of the essential maneuvers before you have to perform them for real with your Airstream. Skill transfer between rented practice trailer and Airstream wouldn't be perfect— you probably wouldn't need a weight-distributing hitch with a rented box trailer for towing practice— but the practice in lining up to hitch up, backing straight or around curves, etc. would come in handy.

If you get the tow vehicle first, you do run the risk of getting too much or too little tow vehicle for the trailer you eventually buy, so it would help to have a good idea of what size trailer you'd be interested in.
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Old 02-10-2014, 08:33 AM   #5
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Welcome WisePharm from another Alachua county Airstreamer. You are at the right place to learn all about Airstreams. If you need help, just ask and you'll get plenty. Watch the classifieds here. We bought 2 trailers there within a 80 mile radius. There are some good ones and bad ones close by. You just have to check them out as they come up for sale.

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Old 02-10-2014, 10:07 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Protagonist View Post
Two schools of thought on that one, but I vote "before."

If you get the tow vehicle first, you can spread out your purchases. Once you have the tow vehicle, there's no rush to get a trailer, and you can take your time to shop around. But if you get the trailer first, then you'll have to rush to get the tow vehicle.

If you get the tow vehicle first, you'll get used to driving it before you hitch up a trailer to it, and that will make it easier later when you do hitch up a trailer. And if you wanted to get ahead of the learning curve, you could rent a trailer (any trailer, maybe a U-Haul box trailer, for example) and practice all of the essential maneuvers before you have to perform them for real with your Airstream. Skill transfer between rented practice trailer and Airstream wouldn't be perfect— you probably wouldn't need a weight-distributing hitch with a rented box trailer for towing practice— but the practice in lining up to hitch up, backing straight or around curves, etc. would come in handy.

If you get the tow vehicle first, you do run the risk of getting too much or too little tow vehicle for the trailer you eventually buy, so it would help to have a good idea of what size trailer you'd be interested in.
The biggest trailer I've considered is the FC 30 bunkhouse, but I'm really loving the EB 27. Since I have no experience towing, practicing with a rental trailer sounds like a great idea. I would rather tow with a truck than the minivan. Had a truck before and I miss the versatility.

Thanks for the advice!
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Old 02-10-2014, 11:35 AM   #7
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Like you, we are still in the kids and pets phase. We bought a 1995 f150 extended cab for 2K. It's an awesome tow vehicle, cheap, and a tank. We use it for all kinds of stuff. If you can afford it, I say get an older But in good shape truck and have both. One thing we love is because it's not new, we end up using the truck for dirty work and we don't care if it gets a ding or two when moving cubic yards of gravel, for example.
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Old 02-10-2014, 12:53 PM   #8
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Welcome WisePharm from a relatively new Airstreamer South of you in Sumter County! When we started looking to trade last fall we had no idea we'd end up with a shiny RV, but when you look at the Airstream details, there really is no comparison to the scads of white boxes out there. We were blessed with our "Pete", a Flying Cloud 27FB (front bedroom with twins) and couldn't be happier. This is our 5th RV and was a downgrade from us in rig size and we love it!

Our coach tows nicely and is within all the specs for what our 1/2 ton F150 can handle. Compared to how our other 3 towables actually towed, I am very pleased. There are lots of threads on Airforums for you to study on picking a tow vehicle. Please do your research carefully and setup whatever coach and tow vehicle you end up with properly for a safe experience.

But most importantly, get an Airstream as soon as you can afford to and get out there and enjoy time with your family!
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Old 02-10-2014, 01:23 PM   #9
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I owned my original Argosy for more than a month before I bought a TV. We weren't ready to go anywhere yet (that was a busy spring!) but the right trailer turned up close to home in a search and I went for it. A neighbor helped me get it to the storage space that another neighbor had told me about, and all has turned out well.

Just as a guess, I think that way more pickups are produced by the 3 US-based producers in a single year than the number of all the Airstreams ever made, and there are way more potential tow vehicles than just pickups out there. Also, consider the fact that my 1975 Argosy is just a young'un compared to many of the vintage Airstreams out there in regular use. If you set the average length of time people own a tow vehicle at 7 years (probably shooting high there) it's already outlasted 5 tow vehicles and it keeps on camping.

So, finding a good tow vehicle is much easier than the right Airstream, and is a much shorter-term decision as well. If you find a phenomenal deal on a tow vehicle you're sure will suit your needs before you find the Airstream, go for it. I'd say put more effort into choosing the Airstream for now, buying a tow vehicle is like ordering off a big menu, there's something out there that'll do nicely.
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Old 02-10-2014, 02:41 PM   #10
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man, we need a sticky thread or something on this TV choice topic...it is just dawnting at first.

My wife and I have a 3.5 year old son, 1 year old daughter, and a boston terrier....bought our 30FC BH 11/2013 after showering this site with 1,000 posts worth of questions (well, not all questions, but you get the point).

Anyway, if it helps, I kinda dilute the TV discussion down to what all parties seem to agree upon and it is worth noting where parties sometimes disagree:

1) Agree: TV axels should be rated to handle the total ACTUAL weight of the tongue of whatever trailer you get...that means whatever trailer it is, loaded with the stuff you actually use, the hitch installed, kids, dog, other stuff in truck....all that added up must work out by the numbers set by the manufacturer for the axels (terminology I recall is GVWR= gross vehicle weight rating). Whatever you buy, and however you plan, you should not exceed these numbers. Have not found anyone on here to ever disagree with that.

2) Some Disagreement: "Towing Capacity" - or how much weight can the TV pull (if I recall passenger weights as well factor into this as well. When you look at the manufacturer's numbers for "towing capacity" - some say it is not a good idea to exceed this, others on this forum have stated that this number is not at all as iron clad as the GVWR. I am not an expert and am not telling you which camp is right or wrong, but just highlighting that there seems to be some disagreement on this forum about this....those camps may help clarify the specific reasoning for this...I recall some discussion about it when I was considering but it seemed fairly general (as far as I can recall) - but those folks surely can elaborate.

3) 4x4 - most like or prefer, but not categorical - many say you need it, many will not....I think each person has to figure that out for themselves - I back my trailer up across my front yard to my back yard across grass and my 4x4 lets me do this without shredding the grass, so that is nice, and I use mine for other reasons benefiting from the 4x4 (backing bass boat into primative boat "launches" for example) - there is no categorical answer here as far as I can tell in the forums, it is quite clear that not having it will not be a disaster...a reasonable worst case scenario is being stuck for a bit and significant inconvenience...but many have used 2x4 without any problems for years....

4) SUV vs. VAN vs. Pickup Truck - This one is easy enough, one can intuitively choose which suits them best within limits, some of the numbers for GVWR if they spell out to be "heavy enough" then this will rule out arguably many SUV's except for like a suburban 3/4 ton (which can now only find used) or 3/4 ton or 1 ton vans. Other factors often discussed are storing gas considerations, bikes, generator, or other uses of the vehicle besides for leisure including daily driver considerations.

I am NOT an expert by ANY means...I only offer you these observations from my lengthy reading and discussions on here and other contributers can help...but I figure it helps to identify the key questions for your own considerations and further discussions.
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Old 02-10-2014, 03:36 PM   #11
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Buy more than you expect you will need. I did this with my 3/4 diesel, and 30 ft FC. If you told me two years ago I would "overbuy" I would have never thought it was the case. By shopping last years model and ordering new, I felt it was a ten year plus ownership, with only "hurting once" leveraged over a longer span of time. I have learned through years of observation, many folks buy two or three AS ending up with a large AS and larger TV. Go slow but think long term.
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Old 02-10-2014, 06:06 PM   #12
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What PharmGeek stated above is excellent advice to get you started in the right direction! Do your homework and make an educated choice.

First, before choosing the tow vehicle, you must know the weights and capacities of the trailer you will be towing.

Welcome to the forum!
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Old 02-10-2014, 06:44 PM   #13
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What kind of vehicles do you already own?
Whatever you already own may work for a tow vehicle.
I made a vehicle I already owned work because I refuse to buy another vehicle.
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Old 02-10-2014, 08:20 PM   #14
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I made a vehicle I already owned work because I refuse to buy another vehicle.
Please tell me it's not the Road King!!!
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