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Old 08-06-2018, 07:54 PM   #1
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1988 29' Excella
Austin , TX
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Hello from Austin, TX

I just joined the forum today and thought I'd take a minute to introduce myself. I'm from Austin, TX and I've hardly ever gone camping - much less owned an RV. A couple of years ago, I had the idea that when I retire that I would like to buy an RV and travel for as long as we both enjoyed it. Once we got tired of traveling, we would sell the RV and go back to our "normal" life.

I'm soon to be 62 years old and have not yet retired but my better half and I are both currently doing computer work out of our home (which means we really can do our work while traveling). I've lived in my house for 25 years and we've spent a large chunk of the past 10 to 15 years remodeling. It looks great but I'm afraid I'm getting a bit tired of the projects and want to get away. So, my retirement idea has turned into an obsession for the past 6 months or so. I started researching RVs and fell in love with Airstreams and of course, this led me to this site and I've been reading everything I could find on what living on the road means, what to look for when buying an Airstream, what features/layout (I think) makes the most sense for us, costs, potential problems, etc. etc. And the more I read, the more I want to do this.

Of course, this was my idea and not Karen's (my better half). She's been a bit less enthusiastic about the idea than I have but she has pretty much come around (or perhaps just succumbed to my constant, single minded talk about Airstreams). Anyway, she's great and despite being nervous about it, I think the idea of a change does appeal to her.

I'm now getting (a lot) more serious with this endeavor and I'm trying to put together a plan of action. I really want to run out tomorrow and buy an Airstream and just take off but that's probably a bit hasty. So for this week, I'm taking my '99 Expedition into the shop to get it running (it's just been sitting in the drive way for the past few years). With that done and if the mechanic gives me a thumbs up on it's condition, I'm going to start serious looking for a trailer.

I have a hard time deciding exactly what Airstream to get, but I've kind of settled on a late 80's or a 90's model. One that is in good enough shape to use as is but also one that I could later fix up to suit our tastes. From what I've read, the frames are a bit more solid during those years and hopefully I can find one with a good, solid frame. I believe I'd like one that is around 30 foot long but this is where I really don't know enough to make an informed decision. In particular, when I look at anything longer, all I see is this long tail end that I figure is going to get drug in and out of every gas station we stop at. And then the flip side of that is how short is too short to live in. I don't know but 30 feet sounded like a good compromise.

Anyway, probably way too much information for an introductory post but I did want to say HI to everyone.

John
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Old 08-06-2018, 08:30 PM   #2
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1966 22' Safari
1955 22' Flying Cloud
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Welcome to the obsession. We retired a few years ago and the word Airstream wasn’t even in our vocabulary until the last year we worked. We got interested, started reading about them, and got really excited. We both retired on New Years Eve and in April we were on our way to Sacramento to pick up our 66. My wife was far less excited then. But all that changed on the way to California. Good luck and happy hunting. Bubba
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Old 08-06-2018, 08:54 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forum. Good resources here.

Caution - wives often like to keep the nest they have worked long and hard to establish. We have some friends that live on a boat. The wife has kept her town house. It's not always that way, but often your dream is not hers and much of the issue is - you want to get away from it all.

So - consider starting slow. As in, don't sell the house. An older 27-30 is not terribly expensive. If you buy with care, you can get one that just needs some elbow grease applied. But it takes real care, because a bit of rot can be a lot of rot and that can be a multiple year job to renovate.

Good luck with your adventure. Pat
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Old 08-06-2018, 09:09 PM   #4
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Georgetown , Texas
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My wife and I just moved to Georgetown so just down the road from you. We too had never had any experience RV’ing but decided to take the leap last week as we bought 1958 22’ Airstream. It’s usable as is but not to our taste so we have lots of plans to refurbish. I have some renovating experience (not RV) and we are excited to make it our own. Holler if you ever have any questions or want to meet up.

Matt
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Old 08-06-2018, 09:35 PM   #5
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1988 29' Excella
Austin , TX
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Thanks!

I should point out that I'm not an impulsive person. I tend to think things through way too much. So with that said, I'm not selling the house and taking off anytime soon. My rough plan is to get an AS and take some short trips to see how we like it and to get our legs. A weekend here, a week there, take a month and travel to visit friends/family. If all goes well, then maybe we can consider leasing our house out and traveling for a longer period of time.

If Karen is not onboard with it, I know she'll let me know and it's a NO GO without her. We'll see how it goes but she's got more of an adventurous spirit than I do so I think we'll both be fine. One of the reasons for looking at an older AS is that I don't want to invest a lot of money until we know exactly what we're getting into.
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Old 08-06-2018, 09:39 PM   #6
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1967 17' Caravel
Austin , Texas
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My wife and I recently got the bug and I purchased our 67 Caravel from my uncle. One year of total renovation and we have our cozy little hotel room we take with us. By the way, we are in Austin as well. Definitely go for it and buy the best condition trailer you can afford.
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Old 08-06-2018, 11:26 PM   #7
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2018 28' International
Heart Of , Texas
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Wife and I are just east of you in Pflugerville, TX. We are in the same process for the right Airstream. As someone pointed out, what one wants might not be the same as the spouse. The wife and I have had several back and forth conversations. A good balance of what each others expectations has been made as we search. Of course her's invole the bottom line $$. At first I thought I should buy a new AS. After reading this forums for the past few months We have changed directions and are in search of a good used model. Best of luck hope to see you down the road sometime
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Old 08-07-2018, 01:25 AM   #8
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1963 16' Bambi
Yreka , California
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Welcome to the forums! If you aren't sure about what Airstream... check out the rally schedule here on the forums and go to one... often the rallys have lots of folks that will answer questions, let you look inside and see what they have done and talk your ears off about Airstreams! Also see if there are any to rent and try one out... If your wife is hesitant, then take trips for awhile and return home rather than jumping into full timing! We have our home as a base and travel when we can, we have great neighbors who help keep an eye out on our place, as well as other security measures. Hope to see you on the road sometime!
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Old 08-07-2018, 06:47 AM   #9
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Buda , Texas
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We are a few years from retirement, my wife will not let go of home base, she wants a place to come to in order to regroup. So our direction was an older unit that we renovated. Now we are ardent weekend warriors with a couple weeks a year extended trips. Works for now.
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Old 08-07-2018, 09:29 AM   #10
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1988 29' Excella
Austin , TX
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Thanks to everyone for the encouragement and support.

Bubba - Congratulations on retirement! We have a trip with friends scheduled for next spring to spend a weekend in Fredericksburg. Maybe by then we'll have our AS and can take it.

Pat - The whole rot situation is what really worries me. I expect to get any serious prospect inspected before buying but even then it sounds like you're always relying on a bit of luck. I can see us remodeling an AS and even ripping out the interior and completely rebuilding it but pulling off the shell and repairing the frame is not something that I have either the space or desire to do. Of course, I guess if it's not too bad, you don't have to pull the shell.

Matt - I'd love to meet up sometime and buy you a cup of coffee or a beer.

David/KBAR/DFores - Good to hear there are AS folks near by.

CaddyGrn - Thanks. I already have the Texas Country Air event on my calendar (Oct 25-28).
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Old 08-07-2018, 07:59 PM   #11
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1975 27' Overlander
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Welcome to the Forums. I think you and your better half are careful planners and work together. That's great. We were introduced to Airstream back in 1986 when my wife's purchased a new Airstream Limited 34'. They traveled all over this great country and wintered in Texas at the Texas Airstream Harbor near Zavalla in the hill country. It was a great 20 years for them. We inherieted the trailer in 05 and have enjoyed it since. We just got back from an Airstream rally near Ouray, Colorado, some call "little Swizerland". It is scenic.

I agree a used coach is the best value. Our 86 has held up well. I might suggest finding a trailer from the dry southwest, like west Texas and on west from there. Moisture is the bane of any camper, and Airstreams are no exception. Our trailer was in Minnesota for 20 years and it needed some fixing.

I might suggest you consider trading the Expedition in on a use heavy duty pickup. A diesel would give more power and economy while running, but cost of ownership is higher. My brother tried towing a camper trailer with a Expedition with the 5.4L gas engine and was not a happy camper. The Expedition would tow about 25' or less just fine. I don't have the towing specs for that vintage Expedition.

David
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Old 08-08-2018, 09:55 AM   #12
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1988 29' Excella
Austin , TX
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbj216 View Post
Welcome to the Forums. I think you and your better half are careful planners and work together. That's great. We were introduced to Airstream back in 1986 when my wife's purchased a new Airstream Limited 34'. They traveled all over this great country and wintered in Texas at the Texas Airstream Harbor near Zavalla in the hill country. It was a great 20 years for them. We inherieted the trailer in 05 and have enjoyed it since. We just got back from an Airstream rally near Ouray, Colorado, some call "little Swizerland". It is scenic.

I agree a used coach is the best value. Our 86 has held up well. I might suggest finding a trailer from the dry southwest, like west Texas and on west from there. Moisture is the bane of any camper, and Airstreams are no exception. Our trailer was in Minnesota for 20 years and it needed some fixing.

I might suggest you consider trading the Expedition in on a use heavy duty pickup. A diesel would give more power and economy while running, but cost of ownership is higher. My brother tried towing a camper trailer with a Expedition with the 5.4L gas engine and was not a happy camper. The Expedition would tow about 25' or less just fine. I don't have the towing specs for that vintage Expedition.

David
Thanks! I don't expect the Expedition to be my long term tow vehicle. My thinking is that since I already own it, it will work to get my trailer here and for a few short trips. After that, it will need to be replaced (uhhggg...I seriously cannot figure out how pickups got as expensive as they are now).

Since you appear to have a lot of experience with a 34' trailer, can you tell me if avoiding dragging the rear end is a constant struggle? Our car is a Honda S2000 that was lowered by the previous owner and while we're used to aligning the car at an angle for entrances/exits, we still have to be careful at all times.

John
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Old 08-08-2018, 07:33 PM   #13
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Wow, I sold my '03 S2000 last year after 10 years of enjoyable ownership. It was lowered and I too was on constant lookout for inclines, down ramps, and parking curbs. The Honda was the best sports car I owned.

I dragged the rear of our 86 one time. My fault, I took a different exit from a fuel stop and thought I could make it down the incline and back to the level street. Airstreams have skids on the rear 3 feet of frame that does help reduce any tail dragging damage. That one time is after about 50,000 miles of towing enjoyment.

There are some things a guy can do to increase ground clearance under the trailer. I have now have 16" aftermarket wheels on my trailer that increased the height 1/2". Big deal. There are lift kits that are mounted above the axle mounting bracket and below the frame rail that increases the height about 3". And you can order new axles with a bigger starting angle (32 degrees instead of 22) which also increase the ride height about 3".

Airstreams are built to be "low riders" for improved aerodynamics and improved handling, like our S2000s. Many folks don't care for an Airstream in "high water pants" so to speak. Many folks who lift their Airstreams are off road boondockers who like to get way into the back country. I take my ATV and not my Airstream in such situations.

I think once you get used to towing a long Airstream you will not worry about tail dragging very much.

David
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Old 08-13-2018, 06:54 PM   #14
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1988 29' Excella
Austin , TX
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An update...just one short week later...

I took the Expedition in to my mechanic last Tuesday as planned. Then later that day I saw a 1988 Excella 27 foot for sale. I replied to the ad and the owner and I exchanged several emails throughout Wednesday.

Now what I hadn't mentioned so far was the fact that my wife was out of town last week. So Wednesday night I texted her and told her I had bought an Airstream ;-) Thursday morning when I woke up I had received a couple of texts back. The first was...

"No you didn't."

The second was...

"You're kidding, right?"

I was able to go see it the trailer on Thursday. I liked it and left a deposit to hold it until I could get it inspected and everything done that I needed to do. On the way home, my mechanic called and told me the Expedition wasn't worth repairing. So, now I've got a deposit on an Airstream and nothing to tow it with.

Karen got back home Thursday night and we decided we were going forward with our plans. So Friday, I headed to the car dealers and started looking at trucks. It took a couple of days but we ended up having to make a decision between a 2013 F150 Platinum and a 2012 F250 Lariat. Despite really liking the F150, we chose the F250 since it had the large diesel V8 and only had 42K miles.

During this time, one of the forum members here generously took the time to inspect the trailer. There's a few problems that need to be fixed but the trailer appears to be pretty sound. In any event, I should be driving up (in my new truck) to finalize the purchase of the trailer in a couple of days.

Wow...all in one week...I really can't believe this is happening!!!
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