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Old 08-15-2011, 04:16 PM   #1
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New, and my feet are getting cold

Greetings All,
I have been lurking about this site for a while trying to broaden my knowledge base before actually taking the plunge by purchasing my first AS.
When my children were young I discovered RV’ing and we traveled extensively first with an 18’ SOB and a finally a 26’ model (had a ball). During this period we always admired the AS’s that went by and said; “Someday”. Once the kids grew up some we sold the trailer and did our traveling by air.
Now, we are planning on downsizing and an AS seems like an idea whose time has come. However, even taking into account that “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”, I must admit I’m puzzled and feeling apprehensive of making this sizable investment by the following:
  • · The many poor workmanship complaints I’ve read about on this forum. AS was always regarded as the top of the line & best quality, it’s disturbing to think that they’re just slapping them together up in JC.
  • · The fact that a “top of the line trailer” doesn’t come with a spare tire holder and you better not add one to the rear bumper (you may break the frame), not that I would add one there. This gives me pause.
  • · The many stories of leaks and floors rotting out. Why hasn’t the floor issue been solved? There has to be a rot free replacement available, and one would think…..
  • · The cracking frame nightmares and horrible factory support stories on some models.
Despite my apprehensions, we are thrilled and eager to join the AS community, as we view it as a wonderful way to travel, never being far from a friend and always meeting and enjoying new ones.
Many thanks to you all in advance,
Et Cetera

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Old 08-15-2011, 04:35 PM   #2
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Wow.....I could have written this thread...EXACTLY how I feel...but silly me I will probably buy anyway and so perpetuate the idea that there is always another customer out there who, against better judgement, will buy an AS....

The paradox that I can afford a new AS AND a new TV, I had to read this forum!!!

Sometimes I think I would have been better off if I had NOT done the research, gotten two or three years out of it, then sold the whole thing!!!

BUT..when I see the travel pix of those who travel extensively I think "who cares"? Life is so short-even if everything goes wrong, I still will have had the experience..


See ya down the road!!!!

A little knowledge is a LOT of anxiety!!!

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Old 08-15-2011, 04:42 PM   #3
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Well, I'm sure you will get a variety of responses! Here is mine!

We bought our 2005 Classic used about three years ago and so far have been very happy with it.

I too was shocked with all the negative quality reports that I read on this forum - and in fact, had I read them before buying the trailer I might not have bought it!

This is our third travel trailer, and I will say we have so far been very happy with it and had no major issues at all.

I think we must remember that people have a tendency to air their negative comments much more than they express satisfaction - seems a fact of life.

I do believe that Airstreams are indeed better built than the average SOB - and for the price, they certainly should be! But I don't think it is a proportional relationship, IE, you don't get twice the quality for twice the price!

With respect to leaks, I think that virtually any travel trailer will develop leaks at some time - just due to the flexing that takes place going down the road. IMHO, RV'ers have a responsibility to go over the caulking thoroughly and repair as necessary a couple of times a year and then i think your chances are pretty good of avoidning damage from leaks.

The other thing is that if you do get a leak - no matter how small - get at it and fix it sap before it has chance to cause major damage.

We found two minor leaks on our trailer - one from a window and one from a skylight and fixed both as soon as we were aware of them.

If you don't fix them, water will likely find to way to the floor and cause expensive damage.

That brings me to the floor issue - I share our views 100%, it is beyond me in this day and age why AS do not use something other than plywood (or in some older ones OSB) for flooring - surely they could use aluminum or some form of composite material impervious to water damage - knowing that sooner or later water leaks will likely be a problem.

I suppose it would increase the price even more, but I feel would be well worth it especially in keeping with what is supposed to be the "Rolls Royce" of trailers.

I did discover to my surprise that Airstreams had wooden floors before we bought, but decided to go ahead with the purchase anyway because we had looked at virtually every SOB on the market and nothing appealed to us as much.

You may be aware that there are a couple of new higher end SOB's on the market now that look pretty nice and use no wood.

They were not available when we bought and even if they had been, I would be reluctant to be a guinea pig on a new product.

Recently there has been one post on this forum where someone bought one after considering an Airstream and now wants to get rid of it due to many quality issues!

Tough decisions eh?! Good luck whichever way you go!

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Old 08-15-2011, 04:43 PM   #4
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Hello, Et Cetera, and welcome. Yes, Airstream (and RVing in general), is disappointing......but it's less disappointing than everything else. That said, I'll comment briefly on your concerns:
- The workmanship has improved in recent model years.
- They come with spares now.
- They've added a rubber (?) seal along the bumper, which was the area most susceptible to leaks, causing most of the floor damage you read about here.
- I think that most of the recent frame nightmares were limited to one or two models produced several years ago.
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Old 08-15-2011, 04:47 PM   #5
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Bakersfield , California
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With the poor workmanship, it's seems to get better some years and worse others. We currently have our 3rd Airstream, and let me say this 2010 Flying Cloud is built fantastic. The fit and finish is far better than anything I've every seen. We've seen (and owned) a lot, including the high end motorhomes.

I believe most of the models have a spare tire holder in the front, in the belly, behind the A-frame. It drops down fairly quick & easy.

Floors rot because the trailer is leaking. Never let the trailer leak. Due diligence is required no matter what type of RV you own.

Cracking frames are on a limited model. It happens. My wife is a service writer in a large truck & trailer shop. They repair suspension swing arms on $1+ million Prevost Motorhomes all the time. It's a known design flaw, the repair is over $5000 assuming not much damage was done when it finally gives way and leaves you stranded on the side of the road. Oh yeah, Prevost went under recently so no warranty coverage. This is all documented really well in their popular owner forums.

Everything out their has it's strengths & weaknesses. If you really want an Airstream, don't sweat the Airstream specific drawbacks. If you take care of it it will out last most of whats out there.
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Old 08-15-2011, 04:56 PM   #6
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I WILL Own one!!!!

If anyone waits for something to be "perfect" they will be DEAD before that happens...

I think about owning an AS ALL THE TIME while I'm at work, when I'm not thinking about pulling the trigger and retiring. Scared to retire, scared to buy....

This forum has been SO EDUCATING and I know when I do start looking at least I know to look at the frame, floors, leakage areas etc..

I agree that people tend to complain about the bad more than the good. But that allows the rest of us to at least go in with eyes open.
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Old 08-15-2011, 05:04 PM   #7
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We are the proud owners of a 2011 27' Classic. We have had no problems to speak of and are very pleased.
You read here about broken frames and rotten floors but you have to remember these trailers in most cases are 30 years old. You don't hear about rotten floors on SOB's because they don't last long enough.
One thing for sure everyone agrees on is Airstream is the best towing trailer available.
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Old 08-15-2011, 05:58 PM   #8
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2012 23' FB Flying Cloud
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Santa Rosa Beach , Florida
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

First off, welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

Our Airstream experience has been the thrill of a lifetime. We have a 2005 Safari 25' Front Bedroom that we purchased new in June of 2006. Her name is Lucy, and we have traveled in her quite extensively. We have now spent just over 900 nights in her, and have towed her 80,000 miles. Lucy has been in all of the lower 48 states. We have traveled in Lucy as long as 56 days straight, and have always been very comfortable. Lucy is our second home.

Lucy has had a couple of leaks and has suffered from some filiform corrosion. The leaks we have had fixed, and the corrosion we just live with as it has absolutely no impact on Lucy campability. Lucy is on her fourth set of tires and second set of brakes. We just keep on traveling and camping, and Lucy keeps on performing.

We always try to remember that each day is a gift, and that each day out camping in Lucy is an extra special gift.

Here are a few snapshots of our sweet girl.

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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 08-15-2011, 06:38 PM   #9
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Et Cetera,
So glad you are considering an Airstream. There is just some sort of mystique about them, you know what I mean? They are just cool. I have had Ford Trucks my whole life and decided to "upgrade" to a Toyota last year. Not as "Perfect" as I imagined. My wife traded in her Toyota for a Mercedes E350. Very nice, but it has its issues. We bought an old Airstream (we call them Vintage because that sounds better than old) We have fallen in love with it. Yep it has had some leaks, and some dents, and I learn more every day. Someone above talked about an Airstream being around in 30 years. Part of the mystique I suppose. When you get into a campground and look around at the big 5th wheels and huge Box campers, just try to imagine which landfill they will be in in 30 years, and imagine you pulling back into that campground with your shiny Vintage Airstream. They just 'feel" right.
Chuck & Skye
Rock and Roll Will Never Die!

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Old 08-15-2011, 07:03 PM   #10
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We're in our first season camping with an Airstream and are very happy with our 2011 28' International Serenity. We've had only minor problems so far and whilst the finished quality could be better, it's still pretty good given that it's mostly hand made and comes from a small volume production facility that isn't particularly automated.

Against the minor issues, though, we have a trailer that is built to last (with suitable maintenance of course), tows better than any other brand and looks really, really good.

Perhaps the best testimony came from my good lady wife who said, on the last leg of our recent 4,200 mile trip to Florida and back, that she really wasn't fussed about going home and could quite happily stay on the trip for a few days more. Proof that Airstreaming is worth the little hassles any time.
Steve; also known as Mr UK Toad

"You can't tow that with that!"
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Old 08-15-2011, 08:28 PM   #11
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The frame on a new Airstream is not going to crack. The floor is not going to rot. They do a good job of sealing the airstreams up at the factory. They mount the spare tire up front under the tongue. Hard to get out, but puts the weight up on the tongue where it ought to be. The frame is weaker at the back to make the trailer lighter. More of a stressed skin design than a brute heavy frame and box. You do not want to add weight there for a number of reasons. Handling, balance, and hurting the trailer. Design character, not a flaw. Mostly hand built. Probably not inspected as well as a BMW for fit and finish. I have a couple of soft spots in the floor from a leak after 23 years. Took a couple of hours to fix while I was installing a new laminate floor in place of the original carpet. Airstream is an expensive design to make the shell and frame for. The hand labor is expensive. You might really be better off with something made differently for a bit less money if the cost really bothers you, but I guarantee you it will not tow as well and look as nice as the Airstream.
They can hire staple shooters a little cheaper than Airstream pays riveters. My friends Dutchman, the floor did not rot, but the upper wood frame and luan under the skin sure did. He had to have it rebuilt after 3 years because of leaking and rot, and he kept it storede under roof. But it soaked up enough water while it sat outdoors on the dealers lot to do it in. Just took a while to show up. To their credit, I think the dealer fixed it. Camped next to a fairly new stick built this year with plywood taped and tied over the side where the Texas winds took most of the front and side off of the over hang on a fifth wheel.

Best part of the Airstream to me is the WBCCI and the caravans. Can not get that with another brand. The caravans are so good and so cost effective it adds value to owning an Airstream.

Some of the dealers are not so good. Pick a decent dealer you can get along with and check the trailer out. And don't go into it witht he idea the relatively high cost should equate to perfection. It does not. you might find some issues. And get it on the road and enjoy it. You are talking about a trailer that will last a hundred thousand miles easily with some upkeep.
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Old 08-15-2011, 09:05 PM   #12
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My AS will be 30 years old in 2012. It turns heads and gets compliments everytime I take it out. Not sure that too many other SOB's of the same vintage can say the same. A little preventative maintenance goes a long way.
On the plus side, there are many people on this forum that have vintage AS's; chances are that misc. repairs and maintenance through the years will pay off in continued adventures for many years. In addition, the design doesnt go out of style...well, exterior at least! Not sure if the avacado /orange countertops are making a comeback yet!
1982 34' Limited
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Old 08-17-2011, 09:09 AM   #13
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Thumbs up

All I can say is; "WOW"

After my months of lurking, I certainly expected a response, but I am frankly amazed by the loyalty shown and the continuing examples of how great this community works

I really think Wingeezer stated the issue most succinctly, " I think we must remember that people have a tendency to air their negative comments much more than they express satisfaction - seems a fact of life".

I fully expect and understand the AS product (or any product) will have issues and anything that travels the highways is going to need maintenance, but I am still unable to understand the factory's seeming reluctance to address what look like obvious issues. I guess a little arrogance goes along with being thought of as top dog.

That said, I am glad to say that my feet are warming up, and I think I was experiencing pre-buying remorse (if that's even possible). So, on with the search...and hopefully I will be reporting new ownership soon.

Thank you all for your comments and welcome!

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Old 08-18-2011, 07:59 AM   #14
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We inherited a '97 which had been sitting for most of it's life. As a result of not moving and exercising the axles, we had to replace them (this is not a factory fault, but decay due to non-use). There were a couple of small leaks (again do to inattention and not the factory). The floor is solid, the frame is still solid (did I mention it sat in PA for most of it's life which included the associated wide temperature swings and winter weather), and other than cleaning we have greatly enjoyed our camping experiences.

I would turn to Airstream again exclusively should we ever decide to replace our trailer. The other great thing about an Airstream IMHO is that so long as we care for our trailer, we will never be forced to replace it. Replacement would be a personal choice not one due to decay or wearing out.

Craig and Carol
1997 34' Excella 1000
1970 27' Overlander, International
2009 Ford F150 5.4L
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