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Old 09-15-2006, 02:59 PM   #1
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Red face New or old, help me decide! (long post)

Hello all. I've been lurking here and trying to do my due diligence in reading the archives and constantly monitoring the classifieds. I don't currently own an Airstream and have never owned an RV, but am really thinking that I'd like to get one. In the past, I used to do a lot of backpacking but since getting married and having a child, I find that I can't get out as much. So, in order to stay close to the family and still be able to go enjoy the outdoors I thought that some type of RV would be in order. Both my wife and I think that a motorhome wouldn't really be practical for many reasons but a trailer might be a better choice for us. After looking at a bunch of SOB trailers I've come to the conclusion that none of them look like they'd last as long or retain their value nearly as much as an Airstream. Besides, they look lame in comparison to the gleaming, quality exuding Airstreams.

So, now that I've narrowed the field to just Airstreams, I'm trying to determine which one to get. Here are some factors that are important to me.

Firstly, the price... I can't/don't want to spend $30k+ on a new Airstream, plus they just don't seem as cool. I'd love to keep my budget below $12-13k.

Secondly, the size/weight... I think that anywhere between 22 and 25 feet would be good. 26' in an older Overlander is a possiblilty but I think a wee bit longer than what I'd prefer. Weight is an issue for me. I don't currently have an adequate TV ('99 Toyota 4runner 3.4L) Although I'm probably going to be purchasing a new TV, it's also going to double as a daily driver for my wife or I so size/mileage is an issue for us. I know that I REALLY should consider getting a GOOD solid TV that can easily handle a mid-20 foot trailer, but I've got to consider that I'll be using the TV on a daily basis while using it for towing only occasionally. I'm currently considering a newer 4 liter Toyota Tacoma (2005-2006) or the Toyota Tundra V8. The crew cab, 4x4, long bed Taco is my preferred vehicle. I'd also add a cold air intake and some headers to increase power/torque while improving mileage a tad. Eventually, I'd like to get a supercharger but TRD hasn't released one for this vehicle as of yet. Stock it gets 236HP and 266 LB-ft of torque but should improve around 20 HP or so with the modifications and even more with a supercharger. It has a 4.10 axle ratio and a 141" wheelbase.

So here's where I think I'm at. Weight will be an issue. I'm thinking an early 60's Tradewind would be a good choice. I also am intrigued by the 80's Caravelle's. The Airstream listed 2800 lb. dry weight is amazingly light. There's a 22' one posted on the classifieds here that's fairly close by. I'd love to get an early 60's Overlander but it seems like that would be too much trailer for my TV. Do they use solid woods? I really like the mahogany interiors. I'm not married to the interior though. If I keep it stock, the ability to sleep 4-5 people is key. Ideally, I'd like to get an older trailer and renovate it. I've seen some posted at around my budget, but they don't seem to be the perfect fit for me, so I continue looking.

The ideal layout would have a rear or mid bath doorway to bedroom, double/queen foldout sofa/futon with a bunk overhead, opposite cabinets, doorway to galley, galley with sink, burner, micro/convection on one side and refer on other, dinette convertible to double in front.

Here's what I'd like to do in a renovation:
Update/new plumbing (add grey water tank, Sealand china toilet)
electrical (possibly an Onan generator)
galley (new 2 burner cooktop, microwave/convection oven)
hardwood floors (possibly bamboo)
solid wood cabinetry (maybe cherrywood)

Any idea on what it might cost? Any suggestions on trailer models? Is my TV idea completely inadequate? I'd really appreciate any comments or suggestions. Sorry about the long post. I've been absorbing as much as I could to get to this point and now I want to share where I think I am with all this. Thanks!
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Old 09-15-2006, 04:40 PM   #2
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Made from Unobtanium, using secret plans...

Aki-

Welcome to the forums, and good luck with your quest... I feel you've answered a few of your own questions with non-negotiable criteria in the post above...

If you don't want to spend more than $13K for a trailer, or $30K for a new one, you're not going to own a new Airstream... You're not even going to own a late model used one...

You sound like a very loyal Toyota owner, and in the Tacoma family you are not going to be able to (happily - code for safely and reliably and other "ly's..") tow more than a 23' wide body or 24' early model... The Tundra lets you look at later 25' Safari's from 1990's, but no larger... VW Taureg's and Ford Expedition/Chevy Tahoe get you a little more capacity than the Tacoma, but none get you pulling anything longer than a 25'...

You don't talk about age of your child, but idea of privacy bedroom door implies older than infant... That kind of rules out little Bambi's and other 16' options...

All that said, others will weigh in , but I'd plan to actually look at a number of trailers to see which ones and vintages and models seem comfortable to you. I'd consider trying to visit or attend rally like the WBCCI Western Regional rally in Woodland Oct 10-15, or the Nor-Cal Forum Rally near Paso Robles the following weekend. Each will have more than 30 trailers and the opportunity to get personal opinions in High Def, from owners who probably each feel their choice is ideal...

Something between 21' and 23' from the 1980's might offer the best compromise of good appliances, plumbing and electrical, A/C and interiors, though you may have to be prepared to do some renovating to meet your requirements. Floor coverings, upholstery and window treatments are not so tough or expensive. Sub floors and shell repairs and new plumbing and wiring are a challenge. Unless you are really handy with tools and patience, I'd resist first-time effort at bringing near-dead unit back to life..

Finally, it's fine to look at units on internet classifieds (here, airstream.net, rvtraderonline.com etc) but don't be tempted to buy one there or on E-Bay sight unseen, as (amazingly..) some sellers are dishonest and others have a "distorted view" of what excellent condition really means...

John McG
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Old 09-15-2006, 04:57 PM   #3
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The above poster has "narrowed" your search ....best to start with used anyway. I wish we had.

Look for a 2000+ Safari; I think that most of them have what I consider the traditional layout. Front great room, kitchen and bath in the center and rear twins. There is an accordion door that can shut off the bedroom.

When we were looking, I wanted a 25' Safari BUT Brenda was allowed loose on the lot and discovered our "Safari" with mirrors and wood type cabinet doors It was a Classic and weighed in about 1000 lbs more than the Safari.

Our Jeep GC (4.7 V8) could not handle it and was so narrow that even the McKesh mirrors at full extension would not allow me to see behind, even with crazy Ivans.
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Old 09-15-2006, 05:19 PM   #4
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Thank you for your responses. Yes, at $13k I don't think I'll be able to find a newer Airstream. I have seen some late 90's Safari's for around $15k though.

As far as Toyotas go.... I'm not completely married to them. I've had a few and love the reliabilty and gas mileage. If I could get a Ford/Chevy/GMC that was anywhere near as reliable and got decent gas mileage as a daily driver I'd definitely consider it. My current 4runner has 171k miles on it without having to do much other than normal maintenance. So based on my experiences with Toyotas I'm leaning that way. I'm open to suggestions though!

My child is 2 now but I'm looking at the long haul and the possibility that I will have another child and also take friends/family along in the trailer. That's why I'm looking at '22-'26 feet.

I've searched rvtrader.com, airstream.net, rvtraderonline.com, craigslist.org and most of the other places. There have been some trailers that look like they could do it for me but most are too far for me to get a look at them. I think I will heed your advice about not buying sight unseen although I'm tempted by some of "macgregor!"'s auctions. Those P&S restored trailers look real nice. Especially that last '64 Overlander.

I've also spoken with Dayton at vintagetrailercrazy.com and he seems to have some nice trailers on occasion.
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Old 09-15-2006, 05:50 PM   #5
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Towing

Your going to need a good V8 for towing I have always used fords but I now have a chevy Most Miles on a Ford 640000 Yes thats right. and My chevy has 190000 on it. It is a 1996 1500 with a 5.7 liter. Toyotas and the like frames scare me. When towing on dry pavement in ideal conditions you
will be fine but dont get in a wind storm or around semis. Because the weight or wheel base just isnt there.
I also Like old airstreams they are much easier to work on. And are alot less expensiveussually under $8000.00 which I feel is a bargain.
Invest in a good hitch nomatter which way you go and always use sway control with tortion bars, not to mention brakes of course
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Old 09-15-2006, 06:18 PM   #6
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I tow with a 2004 Toyota 4Runner with the V8, traction control, etc, Reese new anti-sway weight dist hitch, and I agree with Mustang. Thanks to Ernesto, I recently had a very large tree flatten the roof of my tow vehicle and had to use my uncle's '92 350 Suburban 1500 (1/2 ton) to tow my slightly damaged AS 27' Overlander home.
What a difference! The tow vehicle to towed weight ratio, larger wheel-base, and width made such a HUGE difference. I had NO trailer instability during 18 wheeler passings (them passing me!). Additionally, last major trip out I almost lost the whole rig during a downhill run where the AS started to swing back and forth. I love my 4Runner, but I don't think I'll be doing much towing with it now that I have inherited the Suburban. The 4Runner is VERY marginal. It does the job, but it is borderline.
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Old 09-15-2006, 06:28 PM   #7
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There are a couple in classifieds in California that seem close... At least you could arrange to see them in person...

This one is 23' and is in northern CA (San Francisco area) and there is a 23' Caravel in Hesperia.. Both under your price range to leave room for fixups...
http://www.airforums.com/class...uct=2383&cat=6

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> Found in Vintage section - pre 1981...
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Old 09-15-2006, 06:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Condoluminum
There are a couple in classifieds in California that seem close... At least you could arrange to see them in person...

This one is 23' and is in northern CA (San Francisco area) and there is a 23' Caravel in Hesperia.. Both under your price range to leave room for fixups...
http://www.airforums.com/class...uct=2383&cat=6

John McG

> Found in Vintage section - pre 1981...
Thank you John! I did check both of those ads and have spoken to the person who owns the one in Hesperia on a few occasions. That Caravelle is interesting since it weighs only 2800 lbs dry according to Airstream's .pdf file. The Safari is interesting to me because I really like the layout. It surprisingly doesn't weigh all that much either. However, I wonder if the quality of it isn't quite what I'd like being from the Beatrice Foods era. Perhaps replacing the cabinetry would do the trick.
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Old 09-15-2006, 07:20 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AirConditioner
I tow with a 2004 Toyota 4Runner with the V8, traction control, etc, Reese new anti-sway weight dist hitch, and I agree with Mustang. Thanks to Ernesto, I recently had a very large tree flatten the roof of my tow vehicle and had to use my uncle's '92 350 Suburban 1500 (1/2 ton) to tow my slightly damaged AS 27' Overlander home.
What a difference! The tow vehicle to towed weight ratio, larger wheel-base, and width made such a HUGE difference. I had NO trailer instability during 18 wheeler passings (them passing me!). Additionally, last major trip out I almost lost the whole rig during a downhill run where the AS started to swing back and forth. I love my 4Runner, but I don't think I'll be doing much towing with it now that I have inherited the Suburban. The 4Runner is VERY marginal. It does the job, but it is borderline.
I don't expect my 4runner to tow much more than a Bambi, so it's not really in the "running" to be my tow vehicle. The newer V8 4runner has quite a bit more HP than the Taco, but the wheelbase is only around 110" vs. the 141" of the Taco crew cab long bed. Wouldn't the length of the wheelbase make towing a bit easier as far as the "tail wagging the dog" thing goes? I also would probably be towing a slightly shorter trailer.
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