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Old 02-27-2012, 10:59 PM   #1
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Olympia , Washington
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 6
Hello from Olympia Washington!

So I wanted to start by saying that I spend more time than I care to admit on forums dedicated to a variety of topics, and this has got to be, BY FAR, the most helpful, informative, supportive community site I've ever seen. I'm both honored and excited to be a part of it!

I'm on the cusp of purchasing my first AS, and I couldn't be more excited. Compared to some of the others on the forums (which I've been dedicating a fair amount of time to combing through!) I haven't been researching nearly as long as some, which makes me a tad nervous. I've been at it in earnest for about 6 months, combing through forums and blogs, looking at private and dealer listings, running budgets (I plan on living in mine full time), and so far everything looks good! I really think the ideology of living the AS lifestyle is for me. Now it's just a matter of coming to terms with what the reality of that looks like. So far I'm leaning toward a 25' - 30' rig, most likely the international or classic.

The two places I could really use some input are:

Utilities not included, what is a reasonable monthly/yearly maintenance cost for full time use of a new/certified used (newer) AS? I plan on having it be mostly stationary, with only occasional trips. I'm hoping if I buy a used AS from a certified dealer (especially one with a factory authorized shop), they will have given it a good once-over to catch any big problems before they sell it. Any parts/areas to pay particular attention to? What's prone to breaking if I'm not careful? What's a good maintenance schedule and should it involve the dealer shop?


Does anyone have any experience with the Seattle/Portland AS dealer? I've been up to the Covington location a few times to browse, but I have little experience with their sales staff in any detail. I'd love any first-hand accounts of purchases made from them! Were they helpful/knowledgeable/trustworthy? Does their service shop do good work? Does their staff try to find the right fit, even if it means delaying a sale, or do they try and get you talk you into something regardless of whether it's a good fit?

Oh! What accessories are a must-have? I've heard a pressure regulator for the water intake (which may or may not be standard now), a power converter/surge protector, a good dehumidifier and electric heater, the fancy tow packages on the vehicle, the integrated disk break control system. Anything else? The more specific the better! I don't want to spend a fortune on things I don't need, but I'm willing to spend on things that will significantly improve my experience.

Thank you all so much and I look forward to being an integral part of this wonderful community!

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Old 02-27-2012, 11:39 PM   #2
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2012 25' FB Eddie Bauer
Vintage Kin Owner
Virginia Beach , Virginia
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 6,275
Thank you so much for the kind words - we resemble those remarks!

I'm on the other end of the country so I can't help you with all the details about local dealers however I have been fulltiming since 2005 - and I also seem to be more stationery than I'd like.

Best advice I can give you is this:
  • Initially, buy as little extra stuff as possible to start out with. What is a must have for anyone else may be useless to you. Your personality is not going to do a 100% change just because you bought an Airstream.
  • Be honest about YOURSELF. If your idea of housekeeping is to avoid doing dishes by heating food in the microwave in a boiling bag, then use an oven mitt to hold a boiling bag while you eat with a plastic fork, then throw everything left out - you'll definitely never use an oven, or a pressure cooker, charcoal grill, etc. If you've actually made sticky buns in a cast iron dutch oven on saturday morning then served them with great fresh roast coffee to total strangers...
I think 25 feet is the minimum livable space for the long term. The Serenity 30 has however been making me drool for about a year or so. But I just find the 25 FB too liveable. I do sort of wish I had the twins just because the underbed storage is so much more accessable and I'm not 25 years old either.

ONE thing I'd pop for - two Fantastic Fans - and at least one bi-directional. Cooling off a hot trailer or airing one out after 5 alarm chili - those sucka's can move some air.

Generator ready is important if you do long term boondocking.

Good luck, Paula

Today is a gift, that's why they call it the present.
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Old 02-28-2012, 12:41 AM   #3
1 Rivet Member
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Olympia , Washington
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 6
Thanks for the wonderful advice! How much would you say you spend a year on maintenance? Do you have an inspection/maintenance schedule, or do you just wing it? Any parts of the AS that seem particularly prone to causing headaches? Thanks again for your input!
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Old 02-28-2012, 05:47 AM   #4
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2015 25' FB Flying Cloud
2012 23' FB Flying Cloud
2005 25' Safari
Santa Rosa Beach , Florida
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 11,245
Images: 5
Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

Welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

We have a 2005 25FB that we have used extensively (1,000+ nights/90,000 miles). Having spent a lot of time in a 25FB, I agree that a 25' is about as small as you want to consider.

Our most common maintenance items have been related to the running gear. We have been through several sets of tires, one complete brake redo, a set of new wheel hubs, and wheel hub repacking a number of times. All of these items are related to our extensive rolling use of our Airstream.

As to the living gear in our Airstream, the only major component that we have had to replace is the refrigerator. This was done at about the 5.5 year mark. We have also had one valve replacement to the water heater at the 4 year mark. Other than these, the performance of all of our Airstream's living gear has performed pretty much flawlessly.

Our overall satisfaction with our Airstream has been excellent. I don not think that most other RVs could have performed to this level for our heavy use purposes.

SuEllyn & Brian McCabe
WBCCI #3628 -- AIR #14872 -- TAC #FL-7
2015 FC 25' FB (Lucy) with HAHA
2005 Suburban 2500 Quadrasteer (Olivia) & 2018 Silverado 2500 (Lillian)
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Old 02-28-2012, 06:47 AM   #5
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2012 16' International
2015 25' FB International
Milwaukie , Oregon
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 206
Images: 101
Welcome Elkhart!

We bought our Bambi this summer from AS Adventures NW, here in Portland. We've been really happy with them so far. They were great to work with when we were shopping....we were really green, as we had never pulled a trailer before and we knew virtually nothing about towing! We've also had great experiences working with the service department on work that we've needed. In our opinion...great customer service so far...

Good luck to you! A nerve wracking process, but exciting at the same time!!

My Blog and photo diary:

The Small Small Trailer
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Old 02-28-2012, 10:22 AM   #6
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2008 27' Safari FB SE
Pfafftown , North Carolina
Join Date: Jul 2010
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Annual Costs

We purchased our 2008 Safari 27FB SE in August 2011. It came with a Reese dual cam hitch. We are the third owners (the first did not use it and the second only used it about 5 times). It appeared to be in great shape when we bought it. We had it inspected, wheel bearings repacked, washed, and waxed at a major Airstream dealer before completing the purchase. The savings over new was substantial and we negotiated a price well below what appeared to be the "market" value for similar used trailers.

If you purchase new, most maintenance and repair issues should be covered under the manufacturer warranty (2 years). It is my understanding from reading the Forums the extended warranties sold by the dealers are not worth the cost.

My first year expense experience so far with a 4 year old "lightly used" trailer (owned since August 2011) has been:

1) Complete inspection by Airstream dealer, repair of bifold door, repack wheel bearings - $485.00 I had this done before purchasing the used trailer.
2) Wash & Wax trailer -- $350. Performed by Airstream dealer. Interesting that when I got it home I found the dealer did not wash the roof.
3) Storage -- My neighborhood does not permit on property storage so I have it stored inside a nearby industrial warehouse for $200 per month.
4) Replace 1200 lb hitch bars with 800 lb bars and adjust hitch at Airstream dealer $278.78. This I did based on recommendations on the Forums as I am towing with a 3/4 truck.
5) Replace all interior halogen lights with LED's -- $528.40 I purchased these from LED4RV on the internet and did the work myself. It was easy. This will significantly reduce power consumption. New Airstreams come with them as standard equipment.
6) Replaced converter with updated 3 stage converter - $219.50. I purchased from Best Converter (on internet) and did the work myself. The 3 stage converter upgrade allows me to keep it plugged in at the storage facility without worrying about cooking the batteries. Many owners make this change.
7) Replace 15" wheels and Goodyear Marathon tires with 16" Sendel Aluminum wheels and 16" Michelin LTX MS/2 tires -- 5 wheels $582, 5 tires $1082. I read all of the horror stories about the Goodyear Marathon ST tires on the Forums. Given the original tires were 4 years old, I decided to invest in new tires. Since I was buying all new tires, it seemed reasonable to also invest in the 16" wheels and get the Michelins.
8) Install street side awning $1083 (parts and labor). We added this third awning to shield street side windows and refrigerator from sun when camping.
9) Refrigerator repairs (replace door to freezer due to broken hinge) - $480 part and labor
10) New gas struts on bed $68 parts and labor. Old struts wouldn't keep bed in up position
11) Miscellaneous (hitch lock, locks, new breakaway cable, spare keys, antifreeze for winterizing) est $100
12) Interior furnishings (dishes, sheets, towels, portable vacuum cleaner, accessories) I'm not sure how much we spent but likely several hundred dollars.
13) WBCCI membership -- $85. Includes local chapter dues
14) Floor rot repair due to leak at bottom beltline. The trailer is currently at the Airstream factory in Jackson Center having portions of the rotten plywood replaced and the vinyl floor replaced. Cost will be several thousand dollars.
15) Insurance -- Cost is about $300 per year with a stated value policy
16) License fees -- I believe my tag was about $80.
17) Property tax -- This cost will vary based on your location.

I thought this list might be useful to show what first year ownership costs can be for a 4 year old trailer. Notice, many of the items were discretionary (LED lights, street side awning, trade-up to larger tires, new converter). It also shows some of the repair costs you might run into if you buy a 3-4 year old Airstream out of warranty (floor rot repair, refrigerator door replacement). Repair costs are high so if you buy an out of warranty recent model make sure you negotiate a substantially lower cost than new. I paid about $8000 less than the owner was asking (his original asking price was about what other trailers of the same age and condition were advertised for). It looks like by the end of my first year of ownership I'll have spent close to $8000 on repairs and modifications.

Having put these costs behind me I don't expect annual expenses to be very high. Storage costs, license fees, taxes are pretty much unavoidable. I'm guessing I'll spend less than $500 per year in actual maintenance costs as I will do most of the work such as winterizing, resealing, washing/waxing, wheel bearing repacks) myself. The tires will likely have to be replaced every 4-5 years. It is also possible there will be issues with some of the systems (fantastic fans, skylights, water pump, electronic gear) as the trailer ages. It is hard to predict when these things might occur.

One other word of caution in purchasing a recent model trailer. I spent $485 in August 2011 to have the trailer fully inspected and the bearings repacked by one of the largest Airstream dealers in the country prior to buying the trailer from an individual. The dealer did not identify the beltline leak and floor rot. The trailer was stored inside after I purchased it so the water intrusion problem and rot occurred prior to purchase. On our second outing, the leg supporting the dinette table punched through the vinyl floor and into the rotten wood under the dinette. This goes to show you that even if you take every precaution and have a used trailer inspected by "professionals" you can experience a major problem.

We like our trailer and got a good enough purchase price that the high first year costs have been annoying but have not soured us on our purchase. Had we paid the "market" price for the used trailer, I'd be extremely disappointed and wishing I had bought a new one. However, if you read other threads about the 2012 trailers on the Forums you'll see many new owners are having problems as well.

There are many lightly used recent model Airstreams on the market. We looked for over a year and inspected several used ones before settling on the one we purchased. If you go with a used one, don't be afraid to negotiate aggressively on price. We walked away from one we really liked because the owner's price was not negotiable. Used or new, you'll likely experience some unexpected extraordinary costs.
Airstream - 2008 Safari 27FB SE (Sweet Pea)
TV - 2011 Ford F250 Lariat, 6.7 Diesel, 4X4 (Brutus)
TAC FL-55 | WBCCI 3823 - Unit 12 | AIR 48265
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Old 02-28-2012, 11:12 AM   #7
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2008 19' Safari SE
Erie , Colorado
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 942
If you've actually made sticky buns in a cast iron dutch oven on saturday morning then served them with great fresh roast coffee to total strangers...
...then come camp by me! Please!

One good thing about finding a dealer that you trust and that gives great service is that if you find something after they've been through it that it's obvious they didn't catch, they'll usually stand behind their service and fix it. My dealer (CanAmRV in London, Ontario) did exactly that--I was on their lot for a week after purchasing, plugged in and living in it, and found a short list of about four or five things, and they fixed them all, from the bent blinds clips that wouldn't hold the blinds at the bottom to the hefty draft coming in under the bed from the storage compartment.

I was wandering through the models while on the lot, and if I wanted a larger TT (and could also afford a bigger TV), I'd go for the 28'. Soooo much room compared to my 19', although to be honest I haven't filled up all the storage in the 19' yet. (This will likely change once I get my yarn and my sewing machine in there.)

As for making your experience more enjoyable: that's going to be largely up to you. I've got a list of things I want to do to make life in the Bambino more efficient (replacing all the lights with LEDs, for instance, and a small solar panel setup to keep the batteries topped up), but can go without them for a while.

The folks here ARE terrific, helpful, and opinionated, which I personally love and find useful when looking for info. My first stop when looking for info is to search the forums, and then starting a thread and asking for opinions. As a certified mechanical idiot (not out of lack of aptitude, just lack of experience and knowledge), finding this forum was one of the things that encouraged me to go for it, knowing I have a safety net here.

Welcome again, and look forward to seeing you about!
"If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning." - Catherine Aird

Blog: 300 Miles or 3:00
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Old 02-28-2012, 01:40 PM   #8
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2008 27' Safari FB SE
Pfafftown , North Carolina
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 878
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Blog Entries: 4
Accessories to Purchase

With respect to accessories to purchase I strongly agree with Paula's advice not to buy too much until you have some experience with the unit. If you buy used you'll likely obtain a hitch, water hose, sewer hose, electrical hose and other accessories with the unit. If you are buying new, many dealers throw in a kit with some of the essentials. You will definitely need a water hose (5/8" white), a non potable water hose (green), a sewer hose, a 30 or 50 amp electrical cord at least 25 feet long, a 20' television cable line, chocks, and leveling blocks. Linens (there is a website where you can buy sheets made to fit the rounded corner mattress of many airstreams), dishes, cooking utensils. It is also helpful to have a tool bag with a few critical tools -- philips and flat blade screwdrivers, hammer, rubber mallet, pliers, socket set, tape measure, work gloves, small level, electrical circuit tester. The need for dehumidifiers, extra fans, surge protectors depends on your individual situation.

With respect to hitches there are many opinions. Some swear by the high end Hensley and Pro Pride. Others are happy with Reese and Equalizer hitches. You will definitely want sway control with the size of trailer you are looking for. You will also need a brake controller. If your tow vehicle doesn't have an integrated brake controller built in, the dealer can install one. If your tow vehicle is not set up from the factory for towing you may require a transmission cooler, tow mirrors, and other enhancements. It depends on the vehicle.
Airstream - 2008 Safari 27FB SE (Sweet Pea)
TV - 2011 Ford F250 Lariat, 6.7 Diesel, 4X4 (Brutus)
TAC FL-55 | WBCCI 3823 - Unit 12 | AIR 48265
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Old 02-28-2012, 01:56 PM   #9
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1983 31' Airstream310
Cactus Hug , Arizona
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The dealership in Coventry is fairly new, so no advise can be given. George Sutton down in Oregon has a good rep. Welcome!
"A settled wisdom, plus the itch to be elsewhere"
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Old 02-28-2012, 11:29 PM   #10
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2012 25' FB Flying Cloud
Gig Harbor , Washington
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Posts: 780
Elkhart, We live in Gig Harbor and recently bought a 2012 FB Flying Cloud. We did not buy it from AS adventures NW as we ran into another deal that was to good to pass up. We have however used their service dept and were very satisfied. Good people who are trying very hard to establish a presence in Seattle. I'm glad they're here.

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