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Old 11-20-2012, 10:14 PM   #1
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New Member Hello and Qs

Hello All,

I have been ignorantly admiring Airstreams for many years. My problem is that I don't have any idea where to begin now that I want one--and I want one pretty soon.

My husband and I work too hard and have high stress jobs. Our kids still like us, but it won't be long before they won't (son age 11, daughter 9), or at least they won't admit to liking us. We want to take them on family vacations, including to many national parks, mostly during the summer but also at other times of the year.

I'm a big researcher, and I have been looking at Airstream sites for weeks. I cannot figure out where to do my research. My goal is to come up with a list of models that would work in terms of age, size, layout, and figure out what's available. I'd appreciate any help regarding the following:

1) Where can I go on-line to figure out the layout of the older models. Even in looking at classified ads, not everyone specifies the number of beds in the models. If there is a book, please tell me. I'll buy the book! If I'm missing places to read at this website, please let me know. Another thing I'd like to figure out are the technology upgrades in the newer Airstreams and which really make a difference.

2) Any free advice or comments based on the wish-list/information I've listed below would be hugely appreciated. For instance, if an Airstream expert reading this were to say, "I've narrowed it down to 3 options that suit your needs and they are. . . ."--well, I'd be thrilled, of course, and I'd start reading about those models.

So, here is my list:

I want something that is useable now, but that we can customize or fix up in the future, after we've had a few weeks in it and better understand our needs/wants. I think our likely range is from the 80s to early 2000s, based on the prices I'm seeing. I'd look at something older, but we want to be able to use it this summer, so I need something structurally sound.

I want two twin beds and a queen, if possible, and some privacy from my kids. We could fit in a double--we did in the past.

My husband says double axle, so double axle.

I would prefer not to have to make the beds each night/morning. I'd like to figure out my options in terms of layouts that have permanent beds, and what I lose with permanent beds.

I want it to be as small as possible, while still meeting my needs. I think 25' sounds about right, but I'd love to figure out if something smaller would work.

My husband used to own a body shop. He's worked in many of the trades. He built our house. He is beyond handy and a project finisher. Our marriage has survived two home constructions. We actually like projects.

I am not opposed to an Argosy. I have only recently figured out what they are.

We have an F350 p-up and an SUV. I'd like to trade both in for something that will get me to work, fit a carpool of 5 kids, plow the driveway, and tow my future airstream--a Suburban, maybe? Anyway, I want something that can be easily towed by a Suburban or the equivalent.

I have a very well behaved big dog and a very poorly behaved small dog. I haven't decided whether they would stay home or come along.

We live in Vermont. Does everyone keep his Airstream in a garage? Garage space is tight around here, but I'm sure we could figure something out.

I've read some of the responses to other newbies with kids, and I will keep looking backward and reading more, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask for some direction.

Great site, btw! Sorry so long, and thanks in advance.
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Old 11-20-2012, 11:38 PM   #2
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New Member Hello and Qs

Greetings multitasker!

Welcome to the Forums and the world of Airstreams!

Quote:
Originally Posted by multitasker View Post

I'd appreciate any help regarding the following:

1) Where can I go on-line to figure out the layout of the older models. Even in looking at classified ads, not everyone specifies the number of beds in the models. If there is a book, please tell me. I'll buy the book! If I'm missing places to read at this website, please let me know. Another thing I'd like to figure out are the technology upgrades in the newer Airstreams and which really make a difference.
Probably your best resource in this regard is the Airstream corporate website. They have a section devoted to specifications for Airstreams by model year. You can find this section of their website at:

Airstream, Inc :: Specifications

Quote:
Originally Posted by multitasker View Post

2) Any free advice or comments based on the wish-list/information I've listed below would be hugely appreciated. For instance, if an Airstream expert reading this were to say, "I've narrowed it down to 3 options that suit your needs and they are. . . ."--well, I'd be thrilled, of course, and I'd start reading about those models.
Purchasing an Airstream is such a personal decision with so very many variables, it is quite difficult to narrow down a list for another person. There are numerous tools here on the Internet that can help, plus you can attend Forums Rallys (see this link.), or WBCCI (Wally Byam Caravan Club International) Rallys (see this link.). When looking at the WBCCI link, click on the state where you would like to visit a rally then look to the unit newsletters to learn about their rallys. Visitors are generally enthusiastically welcomed at rallys, and you will find many owners anxious to share their experiences with you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by multitasker View Post

So, here is my list:

I want something that is useable now, but that we can customize or fix up in the future, after we've had a few weeks in it and better understand our needs/wants. I think our likely range is from the 80s to early 2000s, based on the prices I'm seeing. I'd look at something older, but we want to be able to use it this summer, so I need something structurally sound.
You have a wide range, and that should help you in finding an Airstream that will fulfill most, if not all, of your wishes. A key to satisfaction is taking the time to shop carefully and experience as many coaches as possible prior to making the final decision, particularly if this will be your first RV. Airstreams come in many "flavors and styles", and you will find this true in the age range that you are considering. Don't be afraid to look at older coaches outside of your preferred age range just to make certain that you are not overlooking a coach or floorplan that you might find particularly useful. Just be aware that the older the coach the greater the need for careful inspection to insure that there aren't any expensive problems lurking beneath the surface.

Quote:
Originally Posted by multitasker View Post

I want two twin beds and a queen, if possible, and some privacy from my kids. We could fit in a double--we did in the past.
This may be the most difficult point on your wish list. As a general rule, an Airstream with a double or queen bed that remains made-up at all times means that any other sleeping accommodations will either be convertible lounge(s) or a convertible dinette. Airstream produced floorplans referred to as six sleepers (sometimes referred to as SS) that may come the closest to matching this wish . . . I am not certain, but believe that these were offered sometime between 1998 and 2008. Prior to the introduction of the wide-body Airstreams, the double-bed was typically the largest bed offered in most layouts.

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Originally Posted by multitasker View Post

My husband says double axle, so double axle.
The size range that you are considering (25' or larger) makes tandem axles standard. With later model Airstreams, most coaches 22' or larger will have tandem axles. Vintage Airstreams had single axles up to 26' (ended in 1960) -- the 24' was a single axle up through 1964. The largest Airstreams -- the 34' coaches will have triple axles.

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Originally Posted by multitasker View Post

I would prefer not to have to make the beds each night/morning. I'd like to figure out my options in terms of layouts that have permanent beds, and what I lose with permanent beds.
Finding an Airstream with three permanent beds may prove to be a bit of a challenge as so many of the floorplans offer one permanent bed (double or queen layouts) or two permanent beds (twin bed layout). Your decision may be whether you want your bed to be the permanent model or twins for your children. What might work would be either a front or rear bedroom coach with a double or queen bedroom and a floorplan with two lounges. To make things easier, your children may find sleeping bags ideal for the convertible lounges . . . something that could lessen the stress of converting beds on a frequent basis.

Quote:
Originally Posted by multitasker View Post

I want it to be as small as possible, while still meeting my needs. I think 25' sounds about right, but I'd love to figure out if something smaller would work.
To achieve the sleeping area that you desire, I believe that you will likely find the 25' to be the smallest Airstreams to offer the sleeping accommodations that you desire. Once you get into the 25' coaches, the towing issues of a larger coach . . . up to about 32' aren't terribly significant (other than weight). Some have found that their preferred state and national park campgrounds provide parking issues that make 25' or smaller coaches more desirable. I have traveled with my 26' Overlander since 1995 and have never encountered a campground where I wasn't able to find a spot due to coach length . . . it is, however, often necessary to unhitch the tow vehicle to fit within the confines of some sites.

Quote:
Originally Posted by multitasker View Post

My husband used to own a body shop. He's worked in many of the trades. He built our house. He is beyond handy and a project finisher. Our marriage has survived two home constructions. We actually like projects.
Sooner or later, most Airstream owners find that a project is in their future. It is possible to make a coach "yours" through personal modifications . . . and sometimes that is the only way to get the features that you need and/or desire. Some project will present themselved from normal wear and use.

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Originally Posted by multitasker View Post

I am not opposed to an Argosy. I have only recently figured out what they are.
Argosys are truly enjoyable Airstream products, and offer some interesting alternatives to Airstreams polished icons. With the Argosy, you have two generations. The first generation was offered from 1972 through 1979 and look like painted Airstreams . . . same basic shape and construction with a slightly lower level of standard features. The second generation was offered from 1985 through 1991 . . . these models don't resemble the iconic Airstream . . . rather they are more boxy with bonded construction similar to the more typical Brand-X travel trailers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by multitasker View Post

We have an F350 p-up and an SUV. I'd like to trade both in for something that will get me to work, fit a carpool of 5 kids, plow the driveway, and tow my future airstream--a Suburban, maybe? Anyway, I want something that can be easily towed by a Suburban or the equivalent.
I am a GMC K2500 Suburban owner, and to me, it is the ideal trailer towing vehicle. Its suspension is kinder and more foregiving that similar 2500 series pickups . . . and in my experience has a much better ride than the 2500 series pickups upon which it is based. I purchased my Suburban new in April of 1998 and now have nearly 200,000 miles on the odometer with no end in sight as it continues to perform as well as it did when new (it will require that something be done to its transfer case as it is worn out . . . I wouldn't order another with four-wheel-drive . . . but it is a case of an option that I rarely use that has been more costly than a tow truck on the three times that I have needed it.). My Suburban has the 7400 VORTEC V8, but it appears that most find the current 6.0 Liter to be a good substitute for the old 454.

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Originally Posted by multitasker View Post

I have a very well behaved big dog and a very poorly behaved small dog. I haven't decided whether they would stay home or come along.
I have always traveled with either one or two dogs. In my case, the dogs were always tiny toy Chihuahuas . . . combined, my two weighed in at 10 pounds. Most campgrounds welcome dogs that are well behaved with caring owners, but there are some that place restrictions on breeds, size, and/or numbers allowed per site. If your dogs aren't accustomed to travel, it may take several shorter trips to acclimate them to the experience of travel. When I began traveling with my Airstream in 1995, my older Chihuahua had never been in an RV, but she had been on many long automobile trips. She adjusted very well during the first summer of traveling . . . her biggest proble was separation anxiety as she would cry and wine when left in the trailer . . . once she accepted the trailer as her home the separation anxiety ended and she became an avid traveler. It can take some watching when first acclimating dogs to RV travel as many children who are RVing automatically assume that all dogs are friendly . . . with my Chihuahuas, I learned quickly to put them in my lap when children were nearby so that if they rushed up they wouldn't frighten the little dog and cause her to snap

Quote:
Originally Posted by multitasker View Post
.

We live in Vermont. Does everyone keep his Airstream in a garage? Garage space is tight around here, but I'm sure we could figure something out.
I can't speak for Vermont, but covered storage can be quite beneficial in extending the life of your Airstream. While covered storage isn't absolutely necessary (my Overlander has never had covered storage), the Plasticoat's life will be extended tremendously if the coach is stored under cover. In addition, covered storage will also help to insure that any undiscovered leaks do a little damage as possible.

Good luck with your research!

Kevin
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Old 11-20-2012, 11:51 PM   #3
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Airstream did make a bunk bed model in a 30'. We had one for sale in San Diego. The main bed is in the front and to bunks in the back. Looks like a nice rig but they didn't make that model for very long.

Here's a link.

http://rvs.oodle.com/airstream-trave...jon-ca/?lcst=1
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Old 11-21-2012, 12:43 AM   #4
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We tow our 25' 1971 Tradewind with an F250 (1996) with no problems whatsoever, just to give you a benchmark. We were limited to 25' or less since we wanted to be able to park it in our driveway in front of the house. You may have different constraints. I don't think I'd want to try to get a longer trailer into some of the older National Park campgrounds. The curves are pretty tight many campsites are none too spacious.

Our blog has pictures of what we've done with our interior. Our model is narrower than the modern trailers, so a queen would be hard to fit in anywhere. Through a process of evolution, we ended up with a semi-permanent bed in front and a dinette in the middle that converts to a bunk bed. Both are home made. The front bed can be make into a pair of facing benches, which we do when it sits in the driveway. (It makes a nice entertainment annex.)

We put the upper bunk in when the kids (college age) camp with us. The rest of the time, 25' with a double bed and a dinette is perfect for the two of us. When we're all sleeping inside, we set up a table outside for eating and hanging out. Most of the time when we're camping, we want to be outside the trailer anyway.

Rebuilding interior furniture isn't difficult for someone as handy as you two are. So figure out what you want to tow and park and what you can remodel without moving appliances. Getting something ready to be on the road by summer shouldn't be too hard.

Check the blog in my sig line for pictures of our renovations to get an idea of the layout of at 25' Tradewind with a rear bath.
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Old 11-21-2012, 08:48 AM   #5
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We were in much the same situation about 5 yrs. ago. I didn't want to spend a lot and didn't know a lot about the Airstreams. We shopped around and found one on E-bay. After spending time on this website I came to realize just how LUCKY we were in our pick. But it was not without some issues. We wanted one to travel with and use. We did all that and made a few upgrades and repairs as needed but we hit the road right away. That's where we got lucky. All systems worked and after doing wheel bearings / brakes my first trip was about 4000 miles. Do your homework, know some of the trouble spots to identify before buying. Stay comfortably within your budget and allow for the surprises you will find and have a safe tow vehicle to take you and the family in your travels. You will find more help here than is possible to digest.

If your budget allows a trailer in the newer years you will, of course, probably find fewer issues than if you're in the older ones. Our first was a 1985 model that had been well traveled but well cared for too.

Shop around, ask questions and keep your fingers crossed.

Good luck, see ya on the road sometime.
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Old 11-23-2012, 08:10 AM   #6
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Thank you all for the welcome, information and inspiration! I give advice all day at work. I very much appreciate good advice when it is given to me.

Hope you all had a nice holiday yesterday!
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Old 11-23-2012, 08:15 AM   #7
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I have a very well behaved big dog and a very poorly behaved small dog. I haven't decided whether they would stay home or come along.
DON'T leave the dogs at home! One of our motivations for getting an AS was so that our dogs can come with us.
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Old 11-23-2012, 08:16 AM   #8
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Can't help you with much of your questions, as we know little of old or new trailers.

Do want to say that your kids are at a perfect age to hit the road with them. They will LOVE it, and you will make memories and glue to hold you all together over the years. By the time they are mid-teens, they will likely be less easy to satisfy and also so involved with peers and activities as to not want to be gone for protracted periods.

Go for it, and good luck to you!


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