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Old 07-24-2016, 08:12 AM   #1
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Smile Loaded question... Advice for 1st time Airstream trailer

Hello there,

I am about to embark on full timing with my dogs. I am a 53 year old single Mom. It will be me and 2-3 dogs. Newfie is 150lbs. so she could be considered an adult lol. My plan is to get an older one and have the floor plan updated to fit my needs. I have been on classifieds and the forums for weeks now and am realizing there are so many options I might need to narrow it down a bit. I have been checking out the Argosy as well as the Safari. I would like 22-26 ft. max and I am prepared to put some cash into it as this will be my home for a while. I was going to go vintage but after reading a few posts it was suggested as a first timer that might not be my best choice. Any and all suggestions will be greatly appreciated. I would also just like to say that I am excited to become part of such an amazing group of adventurers !!! You are all so helpful and kind
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Old 07-24-2016, 08:24 AM   #2
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Old 07-24-2016, 08:42 AM   #3
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Gypsysoul - welcome.

A few questions for starters...

Have you physically explored some models (Airstream and others) to get a feel for what life might be like in them and if so, what resonates so far and why?

When you say full timing - are you saying full time on the road or full time like a park model in a stationary space?

If the former - are you thinking of traveling so you're always in a particular band of temperature or do you envision large swings from freezing to boiling?

A Newfie (human sized - they're such great dogs!) is a great family member - in every sense of the word "great" 😀 - are you currently used to very tiny space living with a pooch like that?

What level of mechanical skills do you have and how comfortable are you doing your own repairs? Alternatively, how comfortable are you with funding repairs on the road?

And speaking about funding, what range of initial outlay and ongoing operating and maintenance expense are you comfortable with?

Answers to these questions can help narrow in some recommendations.

Welcome and enjoy the journey!!
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Old 07-24-2016, 08:55 AM   #4
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We went vintage from the get go and never looked back. We are the very handy type, which has played a lot in our happiness with our Argosy 24. We have around 10000 total investment in our Argosy not including the labor that we have done ourselves. If you are going to outsource the renovation of a vintage trailer I would suggest you find a nice trailer that is either modern, or vintage that is already restored. Your initial investment will be more but heartache should be reduced. Even with a restored or newer AS there will be unexpected expenses and repairs to be made along the way, this goes for sob`s (some other brand) as well. We also travel with with our dogs, the German Shepherd is 110#`s, and it is very doable with an original interior set up.
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Old 07-24-2016, 10:30 AM   #5
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Hi there, had a long response and got logged out
1) full timing will be traveling quite a bit. I have a spot in California near Santa Cruz I may stop for a month or 2 in the winter.
2) Olive the Newf inherited 2 bad knees so being in smaller quarters will be much better for her. I currently live on a mountain and have lots of stairs which make it worse, and she cannot have a wheelchair here.
3) I am very handy but have not worked on trailers. I am game to try but also know when to pay for someone who knows what they are doing to fix it as well.
4) I hope to spend winters where it is warm on the West coast.I plan on making Colorado my domicile as it will always be home and my kids live here.
5) Funding is not a problem right now. Since I am not purchasing another home here until the market cools down. I was hoping 100,000$ or so would be a healthy budget to get everything I need. I am thinking maybe a newer one 2008 and up and then I can just finish the inside?

You are awesome for helping me with this thank you so much.
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Old 07-24-2016, 11:31 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gypsysoul63 View Post
Hi there, had a long response and got logged out
1) full timing will be traveling quite a bit. I have a spot in California near Santa Cruz I may stop for a month or 2 in the winter.
2) Olive the Newf inherited 2 bad knees so being in smaller quarters will be much better for her. I currently live on a mountain and have lots of stairs which make it worse, and she cannot have a wheelchair here.
3) I am very handy but have not worked on trailers. I am game to try but also know when to pay for someone who knows what they are doing to fix it as well.
4) I hope to spend winters where it is warm on the West coast.I plan on making Colorado my domicile as it will always be home and my kids live here.
5) Funding is not a problem right now. Since I am not purchasing another home here until the market cools down. I was hoping 100,000$ or so would be a healthy budget to get everything I need. I am thinking maybe a newer one 2008 and up and then I can just finish the inside?

You are awesome for helping me with this thank you so much.

Great! Here are a few thoughts based on your answers...

Since you're traveling a lot, your decision on trailer should drive (no pun intended) your decision on tow vehicle. Odds are good if you go vintage, you're looking at lighter trailers and less demand on your tow vehicle, though with Olive and any stuff you're carrying, especially full time, you want to be sure not only to have good towing capacity but also cargo/payload capacity. If you were thinking park model, tow vehicle isn't part of the equation. So consider that in your budget as well. You also mention Colorado so mountains are something to factor in to your tow vehicle decision.

Endless opinions here - personally, I have a 3/4T diesel with exhaust brake knowing that when I retire, our plan is to see the entire country, from the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans white with foam! 😀

With Olive's knees, you'll need to think about her getting in and out of the vehicle. A 3/4T truck is very high. We have a couple in our unit who use a van as a tow vehicle - lower to the ground, plenty of capacity...probably good for a horse-sized pooch!

Your travel plans and time in CA suggest an Airstream/Argosy could fit the bill in terms of climate. If you were thinking colder climates, the AS is really only a 3-season trailer for the most part - there are hearty souls who stretch that but it's not recommended.

Being handy is great. I'm getting handier over time and I suspect everyone who owns a trailer has to grow in that area. Knowing when to call on others is equally important so you've got that box checked.

Your budget seems healthy enough (again, you'd have to include a tow vehicle in your calculations unless your trailer choice works with your current vehicle or doesn't require a tow vehicle, i.e. a motor home).

The sad fact on good deals for you show up in a few places.

First - some buy new and almost never use before deciding they don't want to or can't use it. Those kinds of trailers can be had at a great discount.

Another sad fact is that the blood, sweat and tears (to say nothing of the cash) that people invest in restorations almost NEVER comes back to them. A few years ago, Smokeless Joe sold a rig for under $100K that was probably worth twice that. A gorgeous Argosy with beautiful custom touches with a color-matched Mini on the back of a Sprinter tow vehicle. Just incredibly beautiful, and intelligent, and sold for a song (if I only had that song in my wallet!!!).

Last recommendation - search the forums for some of the wisdom of Paula aka "Foiled Again". She has frequently posted on questions like this and I always find myself agreeing with or being amazed by her wisdom.

I'm sure others will chime in with better and more specific advice as you process through. Good luck!!
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Old 07-24-2016, 11:33 AM   #7
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How exciting.

I recommend a fact-finding mission.

Buy a plane ticket to Seattle or Newark, and go to a large dealer and spend a day really looking and evaluating the units in your size range. Find out how they differ, how storage works in each option, and just get a feel for how you would envision doing a day's worth of activities in each. Pay attention to the comfort working at the table, counter/prep area in the kitchen, and ergonomics for TV viewing. Since you have kids who presumably may visit I would also evaluate the sleeping arrangements of hosting guests.

If you need to buy a tow vehicle, I would select the trailer you want before locking yourself into one. It's much easier to select a tow vehicle once you know what kind of load you need for towing.
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Old 07-24-2016, 11:53 AM   #8
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Sounds like a plan. The "updating the floor plan.." sorta bothers me. You can change a lot of stuff in a Airstream but do much modification to what I cal the"floor plan" is pretty difficult. Twins to double bed, dinette or no dinnette, gaucho or recliners, kind of appliances in kitchen, type of flooring, TV mounts, are all easily done. But changing the location or layout of the bathroom or kitchen or windows or roof vents or wiring is going to be a challenge. If resale ever comes into play you are probably better off without too many deep modifications. All in all finding one with a basic layout that you can live with would be a good idea. We spend normally 6 months in a year in a trailer and have made no basic changes to the layout.
I think you are better off to spend extra money up front to get close to what you want and a newer trailer.
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Old 07-24-2016, 12:27 PM   #9
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Bill M. makes excellent points.

I would add that Airstreams are balanced front-to-rear and side-to-side by placement of appliances and storage areas. For stability the heavy equipment needs to be near the center, note the location of appliances on current models.

If too much weight is placed on the rear, the trailer will have a tendency to sway. Too much on the front can make sway difficult to control, overload the tongue structure, and overload the rear axle of many tow vehicles (especially if heavy loads are carries in the rear of the tow vehicle). The trailer's axle(s) must also be loaded towards equal side-to-side to avoid handling issues, overloaded axle on one side, braking issues, and overloaded tires.

Stick with the floor plans, work on seating and bed comfort and space.
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