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Old 07-15-2012, 09:44 AM   #1
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1987 29' Sovereign
St Augustine , Florida
Join Date: Jul 2012
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New guy! Any advice?

Hello from the nation's oldest city, St. Augustine. I have been nosing around on these forums for a couple of months and am beginning to do some research on an Airstream for a longish sabbatical tour of the western US and perhaps Mexico..I have lived on sailboats in the past and have many miles as a delivery captain, yacht manager etc.

I'm most curious if there is a concise guide to the models, ie layouts etc. I'm of the opine that we will likely find a suitable trailer, and then I will refresh the interior and go through the systems, setting up to suit need. It would appear that many Airstream systems, both engineering and maintenance are similar to the long distance cruising boat world.

It would seem that something about 25-28 would be a good fit, small enough for the older sites, but still have room for an extended cruise. No need for berths for 6 we just need sleeping for 2 a nice galley and some lounge space. Again, I think some modifications will probably been needed, and since that is old hat to me I think that will be the way to go..so tinfoil suit on..what do I need to know!.? Seriously this seems like a great wealth of information and I just wanted to join And introduce myself..thanks.
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Old 07-15-2012, 10:12 AM   #2
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Adam

Welcome to the forum.

You will have at least one leg up on other newbies since you have lived self contained on a sailboat. You may not feel the need to be teathered to utilities as much as other Airstreamers.

Here is one site that may help you on the different models:

Airstream, Inc :: Specifications

Dan
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Old 07-15-2012, 10:38 AM   #3
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2004 25' Safari
East Northport , New York
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Welcome, we just bought out trailer a few months ago. We were like you and we're looking around on this forum for a while before we bought.

I think your best bet is to do what we did, check every day to see what's out there, ask the sellers for more pictures, there are many variations of the same trailer. We bought a 2004 25'Safari, this floor plan works out great for us.

When you find what you want you have to be prepared to act quickly. We found a few trailers that we liked, but we didn't act quickly enough. We live in New York and couldn't find what we wanted on the East Coast, we found a trailer in New Mexico and the seller was willing to hold it for us for a few days.

Good luck

WE LOVE OUR TRAILER, we've already been to eight campgrounds with at least four more planned. We set up in about 15 minutes, so much better than tenting.
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Old 07-15-2012, 11:00 AM   #4
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Port Hadlock , Washington
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Welcome, Adam. Another sailboat person here as we lived aboard for over 20 years and did a circumnavigation. I've been fulltime in my trailer for about a year.

I think you'll find that RV systems are similar to marine, but usually not as well done. Don't need a bilge pump anymore, though. Electrical systems in particular don't seem to be nearly as good as what we are used to on the water.

Subfloor rot is the killer in looking at any used Airstreams and it will be there in older trailers and sometimes even in trailers only a few years old.

And, unless you forget to roll up an awning, there are none of those 2 AM wakeups when the wind blows through the anchorage.

cheers,
steve
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Old 07-15-2012, 11:05 AM   #5
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Battle Lake , Minnesota
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Welcome aboard! Airstreaming is a great way to see the country.

Yes living aboard a boat (ship in my case, the Navy type with airplanes landing on the roof) gives you valuable land cruising experience.

As for the Airstream/boat comparison, systems similar but here you have running gear, suspension, and frame with a wood subfloor and thin aluminum shell, all of which probably need some degree of repair or rebuilding. They are built to be light and need similar lightweight replacement components.

Floor plans vary, high on our list is a place to lounge comfortably. A small, efficient galley and comfortable shower space work well. Sleeping arrangements range from folding units to walk-around double beds, something between seems reasonable for most. We had a 20' Airstream but the 25' is a dream come true for our annual six month trips.

Research tow vehicles, some tow 25 feet with diesel super duty and some with Ford Edge. Proper towing equipment and driving adjusted to conditions are as important as the vehicle. A consideration is not only what will tow but how will it work for getting around when unhooked when on a long trip.

doug k
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Old 07-15-2012, 11:56 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamFL
Hello from the nation's oldest city, St. Augustine. I have been nosing around on these forums for a couple of months and am beginning to do some research on an Airstream for a longish sabbatical tour of the western US and perhaps Mexico..I have lived on sailboats in the past and have many miles as a delivery captain, yacht manager etc.

I'm most curious if there is a concise guide to the models, ie layouts etc. I'm of the opine that we will likely find a suitable trailer, and then I will refresh the interior and go through the systems, setting up to suit need. It would appear that many Airstream systems, both engineering and maintenance are similar to the long distance cruising boat world.

It would seem that something about 25-28 would be a good fit, small enough for the older sites, but still have room for an extended cruise. No need for berths for 6 we just need sleeping for 2 a nice galley and some lounge space. Again, I think some modifications will probably been needed, and since that is old hat to me I think that will be the way to go..so tinfoil suit on..what do I need to know!.? Seriously this seems like a great wealth of information and I just wanted to join And introduce myself..thanks.
Welcome to the family! Before you go to Mexico make sure you REALLY give thought to safety and theft of your Airstream. Your insurance company MAY cover you. However, romantic as the adventure may sound -- you become a big target in your silver bullet. Sorry for the rain, but my brother in law is in and out of Mexico on business for his employer ( OEM auto supplier) often. So many shake down attempts (by local police) that the auto plant management now has him picked up by marked company vehicles. There is an "understanding" in place between the major USA employers and locals to leave their staff alone. In the USA your liberty and stuff are "more safe" as far as the insurance companies are concerned.
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Old 07-15-2012, 12:13 PM   #7
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I agree with Urbanologist...Mexico is a bad idea these days. Dont get me wrong, I am a seasoned visitor and huge fan of Mexico but have curbed my desires to pul up and head for the border several times over the past three years. I have been missing the Baja for several years even though it by itself is relatively safe, because of the problems there. If you want a real eye opener about what is going on down there check out the State Departments website...it will stand your hair on end. How unfortunate that our nations thirst for drugs has ruined a great place to visit for many of us. Goto Canada instead, or check out Arizona for that desert fix.
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Old 07-15-2012, 12:24 PM   #8
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Welcome aboard Capt!

This place is a gold mine of AS info!

Purdiferis
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Old 07-15-2012, 01:18 PM   #9
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Zavalla , Texas
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good stuff here ..... we lived on a 46 foot sailboat for six years. Like a boat, it is all about time in the trailer, storage you need and where you want to travel. You do want to tie the size and weight to the tow vehicle. You can pull a lot of Airstreams with a half ton, but there are limits. I have almost 30K pulling miles on a Ford 150, 5.4 engine with a tow package with my 31 foot Sovereign.

Cruising in a sailboat is defined as fixing your boat in exotic places. Airstreaming is not that bad, but you get your share of maintenance time. I am just finishing reworking a 24 Argosy to use as my primary. Curious to see how that works out with a wife and a cow dog.

Welcome aboard.
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Old 07-15-2012, 03:04 PM   #10
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Middle River , Maryland
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My husband is on this website everyday.

We really looked at floor plans for months. We looked very little at actual trailers. We read and talked about what we wanted and needed for the 2 of us and our 3 standard poodles. We watched the Internet for new and used trailers. Once we had decided we did not want a motor home, Airstream was the only option.

We never thought we'd buy new because of the cost. We actually found our Classic on eBay, but did not bid on it. When it did not sell, we contacted the seller and took a look. It was literally in a barn. It was covered in red dirt dust, only 4 years old. It had not been towed but it had been lived in. That was not the story we got from the seller. He told us he'd bought it, his wife's health had declined and they could not use it. It was in good shape and we think we paid a fair price for it.

We wanted 2 things: a walk around bed and plenty of floor space. Our floor plan has no dinett. It does have fold out tables, if we need them. We have lots of flood space for the girls, lots and lots of storage. We have taken our time in personalizing it but only have the floors left to do.

Once you figure out what style you want, you'll find one. Just do a web search of floor plans, visit some dealers and use the forum to ask more questions. I think Bates RV is somewhere in Central FL.
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Old 07-15-2012, 03:13 PM   #11
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Welcome, we too have been sailors. If your coming out west be aware that there are some great campgrounds here that limit trailers to to 25'. As for Mexico, we've been going down there for 40 years or so without any problems. Some of the bordertowns have concerns but are easily avoided. Most of the horror stories you hear of are second hand and told by people who never been there. There are safe areas where you will not be bothered and there are a bunch of us who would be happy to guide you around the problem areas.
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Old 07-15-2012, 03:41 PM   #12
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1987 29' Sovereign
St Augustine , Florida
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Wow, thanks for the many replies. I should probably also add that in a previous life I was a horse show kid and drug a 40' 4 horse gooseneck around the east at 17, with an F350, so I'm no stranger to wheel bearings, changing tires and the like. I think for a tow vehicle an F250 diesel or equivalent would probably be good. The old International diesel and 5 speed in the 350 was a very robust, simple power plant. I hear they built them into the early 2000 era.

How prevalent are the size constraints in some of the national park campsites? Seems as though that may be something to consider sizewise. As for Mexico, that's a long way off and while I am well aware of the current situation, I suspect there are some generalities made either way. I was in Venezuela when Chavez was elected, and I just finished a motorcycle trip around South Africa, so I am aware of some of the risks and complexities of foreign travel.

I am liking the rear queen, and am curious how difficult interior mods are. I rarely used the salon table on the boat, always eating at the cockpit table, I suspect a similar outdoor solution exists here, probably a combo work table/dining table for two would be a better fit. I think an older trailer with good structure/running gear would be a nice slate for a build up, but who knows..
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Old 07-16-2012, 07:03 AM   #13
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1984 31' Sovereign
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Zavalla , Texas
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You will do great and I have had no problems with size in National and State parks as far as setting up. Their are roads and trails in some parks that are size sensitive ... like in Big Bend Nat'l Park in Texas ..... but are pretty well marked.

I have found that mods are pretty easy on an Airstream, but keep in mind that engineering for minimum weight is the AS way. So, a lot of 1/4 " ply in special metal moulding with clips to hold it together. But, you will not have to drop off of 8 foot waves either.

Cheerz
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Old 07-16-2012, 08:43 AM   #14
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Welcome from a fellow Floridian! We live in Panama City and are currently balancing (while living in a house) camping with our 25' Airstream and sailing a 34' boat. There are a lot of similarities between the two and many of us Airstreamers are or were sailors.

We chose a 25' trailer because it affords the space we desired (living area, galley, head, and bedroom). Shorter than 25' can be tight in one or more of these areas. Longer than 25' is nice but you have more weight/bulk and will find occasionally a 25' limit in some of the national park and national forest campgrounds. In the few national parks we've been to, they've all had sites that will accomodate larger length trailers. Check out this website for specific national park info.

Federal recreation, camping and tour reservation information - Recreation.gov


You also mentioned a diesel. We have a F250 diesel which tows our trailer very easily. If you plan on doing extensive traveling, the extra horsepower/torque of a diesel and capability of a 3/4 ton truck is very desirable. In fact, I've been thinking of adding a camper shell to mine to give covered storage on the extended trips I'm planning for the future. If you are considering a half ton truck, think about the actual weight of the stuff you want to bring versus payload of the truck - items such as: a generator, tools, bikes, hitch weight, passengers, fuel, camper shell, and other items. A half ton's payload can be quickly exceeded. One other point, on our trailer, outside storage is minimal so the truck storage is essential.

Good luck!

Russ
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