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Old 04-20-2014, 02:59 PM   #1
Kei
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1971 23' Safari
Anthem , Arizona
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Question New Member Intro looking to buy 1st Airstream!

Hello,

My wife and I began our quest yesterday to purchase an Airstream and quickly realized that we need to do more research before we pick our favorite. As a Project Manager, I over plan and analyze to make the best informed decision and appreciate all feedback you can provide to help us narrow our search. Some details:

a. Budget: $30K - $50K. New vs. Used: Don't think our budget allows us to consider new unless we consider the Sport series, but we favor the Flying Cloud and International Serenity series.

b. Constraint1: I have 2014 Toyota Tacoma with tow package (rated 6,500lbs), so thinking 23' is the biggest I could/should tow.
1st Q: Is 25FB too big to haul with Toyota Tacoma?

c. Time: Willing to search for 6 - 18 months to find our dream Airstream.
2nd Q: Have used 23FB, 23D or 23C Flying Clouds historically come up for sale often?

d. Constraint2 - Quality: Willing to buy older Airstream, but want the exposed aluminum interior and panoramic view front, and prefer the LED lighting.
3rd Q: What years in the Flying Cloud and International Series are we limited to with these constraints?

e. Risk: Picking the wrong one!
4th Q: We love the dinette or the couch in front for the panoramic views, but think it may be more important to have the larger, more accessible bed with extra storage found in the FB. If anyone has had a similar decision to make, please share your thoughts.

I hope my first thread is not considered too long and we greatly appreciate any guidance you can provide us. Looking forward to joining the Airstream family!
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Old 04-20-2014, 05:07 PM   #2
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1st off welcome. We were is basically the same place as you last year. In July 2013 we purchased a 2013 23D Int. Sig. Airstream new. After using it perhaps 10 times we have come up with a few things that we would do diff. and some we made the correct choice.
#1-I think we made the classic error many do and sized our trailer to our truck instead of considering them as a pair. We had a 2002 Tundra V8 4wd extra cab and since have purchased a 2007 Tundra with the 5.7 4wd. I do think that your Tacoma would have issues towing a 23. Our Tundra did not really have any issues overall but we did not pull over any higher passes with it and do think it would have worked it over pretty good. A Tacoma V6 would put you too close to the max as the 23's loaded push 6000 lbs pretty hard.
#2-While we would have preferred the 23FB for the larger bed we went with the 23D as the lounge/seating area is just so much better and larger. The 23FB dinette area with the wheel well intruding into the leg area made it pretty much sub par for more that two to sit there.
#3-In hindsight the bed/bathroom in the 23D is just too small. I am 6'2" and not overweight wife 5'7" and not overweight and still the 48" wide corner bed is barely working. In the showroom we got in there and thought this will be ok in the excitement of the moment but now, well not so much. And the bathroom, well the knees make the door have to be open 3 inches...you get the picture.
So where am I going...many Airstream owners I have talked to that bought 23's due to tow vehicle issues wind up losing money and upgrading fairly quickly to 25/27/28 or even 30' trailers and we will probably have to follow suit soon...so my advice is to consider the tow vehicle as much as the trailer when buying...hope this helps...
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Old 04-20-2014, 05:43 PM   #3
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Forget the tow vehicle limitation

I totally concur with the previous poster. If your sole reason for selecting a 23 foot unit is your current tow vehicle, think again and be realistic about the cost to you of upgrading to a new or used tow vehicle that can pull a larger unit. You might find that the few thousand dollars involved in upgrading the tow vehicle are worth it in the long run.

The corner bed found in most modern AS units smaller than 25 feet is quite a compromise for two to sleep in for more than a couple of days at a time (I know that I will be excoriated by fans of the corner bed, but so be it .)

Make sure you can deal with the corner bed before you make that commitment! See if the dealer or current owner (of a used one) will let you and your spouse/partner sleep in it for a few hours (overnight would be even better!) If you don't like the corner bed after trying it or thinking it through, then don't go down that road or you'll end up taking a bath on the resale of your old unit and the purchase of a larger unit.

But, if after careful consideration and testing (if possible) you like the corner bed, then by all means, go for it!
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Old 04-20-2014, 06:01 PM   #4
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Some other thoughts...

In response to some of your other questions:

1. $30 to $50k puts you in the recently used category rather than new. Probably two to four years old (depending on the length/trim of the unit you end up selecting.) "Recently used" means you can probably get the aluminum interior. Check the classifieds on this forum and other RV resale sources for comparables and ideas of used values. Also, visit your local dealers to see what assistance they may be able to provide.

2. If you are set on a recent year 23 foot unit, they do come up for sale relatively frequently because a significant number of 23 foot buyers end up trading for a larger unit fairly quickly for a variety of reasons.

3. Retrofitting a unit for LED is relatively inexpensive (perhaps around $10 per fixture) so don't fixate on this feature during your search of used units.

4. With respect to Sport vs. Flying Cloud vs. International issue, get the decor package/trim level you want since you will be living with this unit for a long time! In most cases, the difference between the various models (but not size) is trim and decor.

5. 6 to 18 months is a realistic time-frame for your search. You might get lucky quickly so keep your checkbook warm! BUT: be prepared for a national search. You might get lucky and find the unit of your dreams within 100 miles of your home, but more than likely you'll have to travel further to get what you want. This forum has information on getting assistance in performing the "first look" at a unit that is too far for you to visit without some initial vetting.

6. But most of all, have fun during the process!!
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Old 04-20-2014, 06:45 PM   #5
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My wife and I have a 2012 19-2" flying cloud it's very similar to the 23 d we feel it's the perfect size for two people ,yes like others have said the washroom is tight but how much time do you spend on the ( you know) the corner bed is great for us I'm 5-10" and my wife is 5-6" were both on the thin side and we both sleep very well no complaints , we really like the dining area with the wrap around windows as this is were we spend most of the time in the trailer ,eating,playing cards ,watching t.v. etc... After all it's a trailer and were camping the other thing we have a truck capable of towing up to 9997.00 lbs so we can tow lots of different sizes airstreams but here in canada with our gas prices at $5.27 a US gallon we decided for a smaller trailer that would give us better fuel economy were getting about 18 miles per Canadian gallon towing our 19-2"" foot airstream at 55 mph the other problem we have is most of our provincial parks the camping spot is hard to get into so this is another reason for choosing a 19 foot versus 23 or larger trailer,were going to try and sell our 19-2" airstream and try a 16 foot airstream and give it a try and next year if wife and I feel we need more room well I guess we're going back to a 19 foot airstream.

Don
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Old 04-22-2014, 12:45 AM   #6
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Thank you for your candid feedback about your experiences, which definitely give my wife and I a better understanding of our options and will help us avoid making emotional decisions during the excitement of sitting in the new Airstreams at the RV dealerships. Your responses to my questions has us thinking of our choices to either purchase a smaller Airstream within our current budget for the convenience of towing with our current vehicle versus a larger Airstream for all the longtime comforts to avoid having to make another purchase in the future.
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Old 04-22-2014, 02:09 AM   #7
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The late model 25 Flying Cloud in front or rear (since 2012) bed versions is the smallest of the large Airstreams and a great value. Many advantages to either including queen bed, pano windows front and rear, large liquid storage tanks, large tires and brakes and towable with a late model half ton truck using a good weight distribution/sway control hitch.

This may be your best bet for the long run but if you can't swing it the 23D is a nice design overall if the small bed will work. There is also a 23 front queen bed, but with a really tiny living space in the middle of the trailer.
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Old 04-22-2014, 06:31 AM   #8
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My $0.02:

Your Tacoma won't have a problem towing a 23' Airstream. I've towed mine with a V6-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee with no problems whatsoever - and you'll have more wheelbase than I do.

A used 2006 Safari SE 23' (first year to get the combo you want - aluminum walls, front panoramic window) is about $30k on the used market. (You need the SE package in the Safari to get these features - this model eventually turned into the Flying Cloud.) Add a few thousand for an International. 23FBs add a bit more money (and all of them had the aluminum interior and front panoramic window.) In other words, you can comfortably do this in your price range.

IIRC, LEDs became standard in 2012. You can easily upgrade any trailer you buy to LEDs - we used LED4RV.com, which gives great service. Cost us around $400 to upgrade all of the lights in the trailer - as noted above, you just replace the bulbs and keep the old fixtures.

Like Doug wrote above, we have a 23 front lounge because we like having the open living space up front. The 23FB is more comfortable for sleeping and bathrooming, but can feel a bit tight otherwise.

One of the big reasons we have a 23' is to tuck it into the tight Vermont state campground sites that we frequent every weekend. If it wasn't for that, I'd probably also have a 25. That size gives you a much more livable floor plan. Given the resale of Tacomas, the upgrade to a Tundra (or other 1/2 ton truck, which have huge incentives right now thanks to a sales war) wouldn't hurt too much.

Good luck in the hunt!

Tom
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Old 04-22-2014, 06:55 AM   #9
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Kei,
Like you, I'm both a PM and an engineer. While we often over-think and over-plan Linda and I both want to share this. About 3.5625 years ago WE were exactly where you are now, i.e., small truck-big dreams. Not yet "retired" we have camped in 39 states and 2 provinces since Spring 2011 in our new-to-us Airstream. Also, like you, we thought of getting a smaller unit at first, and looked at many. I am 6'-1.325" @ 244.33 lbs. The BED and BATH governed our final choice. After one week pulling her from Virginia to Wisconsin I traded my small truck for the big one. We have never looked back. The "joy" of having the room and the pulling power outweighs the few dollars in capital investment, in our humble opinion. Hope to meet you on the road. Welcome to the family of Airstream.
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Old 04-23-2014, 07:42 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Silver Otter View Post
Kei,
Like you, I'm both a PM and an engineer. While we often over-think and over-plan Linda and I both want to share this. About 3.5625 years ago WE were exactly where you are now, i.e., small truck-big dreams. Not yet "retired" we have camped in 39 states and 2 provinces since Spring 2011 in our new-to-us Airstream. Also, like you, we thought of getting a smaller unit at first, and looked at many. I am 6'-1.325" @ 244.33 lbs. The BED and BATH governed our final choice. After one week pulling her from Virginia to Wisconsin I traded my small truck for the big one. We have never looked back. The "joy" of having the room and the pulling power outweighs the few dollars in capital investment, in our humble opinion. Hope to meet you on the road. Welcome to the family of Airstream.
I'm not an engineer nor a PM, but was a student of Siver Otter in high school, when he was the band director fresh out of college. My wife and I were dreaming of streaming for over a year, or maybe approximatly 500 days, give or take few hours. Ourplan was, in May of 2015 to buy new 30' Classic, although she was concerned about length and backing into campsites. We looked at several 27 and 28 foot models, with about every interior decor made. That decided interior, the Classic, as we both love wood grain finishes. We discussed length at length, and she finally decided the little extra storage and the layout were well worth it. On Labor Day weekend, while at my inlaws at Lake of the Ozarks, she found a newly listed used 2008 30' Classic at the AS dealer in Springfield, MO. We went down first thing Monday morning, arrived about a half hour os so before they opended, and looked it over on the outside. The salesman came out, still before opening time, let us look at the inside. We opened everything which was designed to opened. We sat on every seat, laid down on the bed, and went in to talk turkey about price. Our cost was a little north of your upper limit, well south of the new price. Our trade (a popup Starcraft 1701 - the dinkiest made) was worth more than what I was going to ask as my strating point to go down from. We left that very day, papers in hand and SOLD sign in the window. In July, We had upgraded our TV from a Ford Ranger (no way could it tow our dream) to an F150 ecoboost V6 with factory equipped max tow capacity. I did add aftermarket tow mirrors from Ford and the Ford brake controller. This is an excellent TV. The most recent upgrade was a Hensley no sway hitch, as sway was concerning with the Pro series system with friction sway control.

We have no regrets about any of the above events, the AS is called Silver 'Rita, after our favorite adult concoction. It is our full time home, and in May 2015, we hit the road living the dream and traveling as far as the road will take us, instead of waiting to hear "your Airstream is ready for pick up".

My only suggestion, please plan time to look at Airstreams at dealers or at rallies. Almost all Airstream owners enjoy talking about and showing off our most prized possession.
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Old 04-24-2014, 01:11 PM   #11
Kei
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Thank you all for your Feedback!

Each one of your replies helped us come to this conclusion (subject to change )

On our first day of searching for an Airstream, my wife fell in love with the 25 twin bed configuration that we saw at the RV dealership, but due to our budget and my recent Tacoma truck purchase, we agreed that the 23 was more appropriate. So, we were going to settle for less in order to get an Airstream faster rather than waiting to fulfill our perfect dream.

However, after reading all your experiences, we realize that the journey and pursuit of our perfect Airstream is very exciting and well worth taking the extra time in order to increase our budget to afford the larger Airstream and truck.

Thank you again!

Kei
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Old 04-24-2014, 01:54 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silver Otter View Post
Not yet "retired" we have camped in 39 states and 2 provinces since Spring 2011 in our new-to-us Airstream.
Do you have a blog of your travels? My husband and I are looking to travel extensively as well prior to retirement. I have the ability to build up to 8 weeks of time off at a time but since we live WEST, we plan on doing a lot of it over long weekends. Any helpful tips you could give me @Silver Otter? (not trying to hi-jack the thread!)
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