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Old 10-05-2011, 11:23 AM   #1
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Newbie here. Very excited!

This is my first post here, very excited about wanting an airstream,but kind of discouraged about reading all the leaks and rebuilds on these trailers. I live here in california, Livermore actually wanting a 27' but not sure what to look for, I am married with two boys 4 and 7 year old we love camping, currently tenting it. I want to move forward to a airstream and only want to do this once, something we can grow into and out of any suggestions would be great. thanks for a great forum, Dennis

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Old 10-05-2011, 12:13 PM   #2
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Welcome Newbie...

The good news is that you have a lot of choices and options! The less good news is that some of them will lead down bad paths... A 27' trailer is a large upgrade from a tent, and first challenge will be pulling it.. That is at upper end of what can be done with Pickup Truck/SUburban without going to the 3/4 Ton versions.. Do-able, but you won't be flying up the Grapevine or over the Siskayou's on way to Oregon...

You ask here to get get feelings and opinions, so here is mine... Newbies should resist urge to start with semi-wrecked fixer-uppers with holes in shell, rotten floors, rusted frames and broken or missing appliances.. Too much work, money and skills required to get to useful place with a project like that...

If money is not a problem, new is always nice.. You can get shiny new 27' Front Bedroom versions for $60K+.. If that were the case, you'd probably already own one...

That realistically leaves 3 choices:

1. Late model used widebody, like a Safari 28' from early 2000's or late 90's, which may have minor issues but are generally debugged by prior owner(s), and a known commodity

2. Late 1980's narrower model which has seen some restoration or interior refresh, and is also sound of frame and body. They are about the same weight as newer wider trailers, since much of interiors is real wood/oak, rather than synthetics and metal...

3. The 3rd choice is an older unit (pre-1985) that someone else has already gone through and restored pretty thoroughly.. You would want to have it inspected carefully, checking for plumbing, tanks, electrical, floor and subfloor, and sheet metal joints, windows and door, brakes, etc etc.. There are some beuaties out there, but accuracy of descriptions varies...

All can be done for ~$20K, which is a lot less than option above for new trailer.. It is actually OK to find used tow vehicles as well, as used Suburbans and Excursions are out there for less than $10K in good shape, if towing is their only mission...

If you came up to Jackson Rancheria this weekend, you could see 30+ different approaches and talk to owners about why they made choices they did....


In Theory, there's no difference between Theory and Practice, but in Practice, there is usually a difference...
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Old 10-05-2011, 12:22 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forums!

Well, let me share with you a little of my Airstream search experience. When I got started, I was convinced that I wanted something fairly new, ie., less than 10 years old, so that I would have all the modern conveniences, and minimal repair, if any. After looking around a while, I found that trailers this new were still very expensive, and I was underwhelmed with the quality of the newer trailers. I saw a 2003 Land Yacht trim package that had cabinetry made of particle board with some kind of wood grained contact paper on it that was already peeling off. I walked through the trailer mentally tallying up all of the stuff that I would want to rebuild, and came to the conclusion that I may was well get an older trailer and just do the whole thing.

I spent the next two years looking for the "perfect trailer," and convinced that I had found the One (1973 Globetrotter), I drove 1300 miles round trip one weekend to make the recovery. My initial inspection had me convinced that my repair work would be limited to a single soft spot in the floor, and a lot of superficial items like curtains, upholstery, new carpet, etc..

Well, I have gutted the trailer down to the bare exterior walls, and am waiting for cool weather to perform the dreaded shell removal. The more I poked around in the trailer the more items I discovered needing repair (lots of floor rot, very rusty frame, axle without much spring anymore, leaking window seals, etc...).

I listened to nearly every back episode from the Vintage Airstream Podcast (VAP) as I was doing my interior removal. Came to the realization that my expectations probably needed to be recalibrated (ie., even if your 40+ yr. old trailer has been kept in a museum, it will still require a lot of work). Another thing I learned in my research, was that there really is a breakover point in the recent history (post 70's) where the quality of the basic build changed (ie., subfloors and cabinetry made of particle board, aluminum shell made of softer metal, etc.).

So my advice: If you are not prepared to commit many months (even years) to the refurb of a trailer, then be very cautious of what you buy. There are several threads on the forum that describe a checklist of things to look for when buying a used trailer. Additionally, during my search for a trailer, I saw many offered for sale that were described as having been completely refurbished, but upon inspection, I found that basically, they had just had the couches reupholstered, some kind of laminate flooring stalled, and maybe a polish job. There are a lot of problems potentially hidden underneath the floor. If someone claims to be selling a refurbed trailer, then they should have pictures/receipts, etc., describing the work that was done.

Good Luck!
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Old 10-05-2011, 12:30 PM   #4
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I do have a 3/4 suburban 454 I use to pull a Tahoe boat so that I got covered. I worked at a rv dealership many years back so I have some knowledge of what to do. My funds are limited at this time I do want a widebody or newer version 1990 or new as I can afford.
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Old 10-10-2011, 05:22 PM   #5
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Advice above about older trailers is good condensatoin of a lot of experiences... If you have the big 'Burb as a tow vehicle already, I herewith amend my advice to suggest looking hard at early to late 90's 28' to 31' trailers.. There are a number of Excella 500's and Classics that will sleep growing family of 4 comfortably, and are cheaper than 25's. The 27' model really didn't come into production (newer versions..) until mid-2000's.. A well loved late 90's widebody 28 or 31' trailer can be had for close to $15K, which is a heckuva deal....

In Theory, there's no difference between Theory and Practice, but in Practice, there is usually a difference...
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Old 10-15-2011, 04:46 AM   #6
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Tofino , British Columbia
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Welcome As a super newbie and also someone who also moved from tenting to Airstreaming I think you'll have a blast!

As far as leaks go, we had a small one and it was repaired. We traveled across the country in it during monsoon season and it was was fine. Overall it's a bit more maintenance than tenting but already we're having the time of our lives! Traveling for us has completely changed, the pace is slower and much more enjoyable. Best of luck with your search!!
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Old 10-15-2011, 06:22 AM   #7

2003 25' Classic
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Thumbs up Welcome Aboard....


You have a good start with your TV,(sorry...tow vehicle), so my advice is simple, go with the newest, biggest, best condition you can afford.

Oh......and TRY not to rush. good luck with that

AF #1

"Sticks & stones can break your bones...and hail will dent your Airstream"

So when is this..."old enough to know better" supposed to kick in?
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Old 10-15-2011, 07:09 AM   #8
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2015 25' FB Flying Cloud
2012 23' FB Flying Cloud
2005 25' Safari
Santa Rosa Beach , Florida
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

First off, Welcome to t Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

You've got the tow vehicle issue covered. A Suburban 2500 is up to pulling most Airstreams, or anything else for that matter.

We have an '05 Safari 25FB, named Lucy, that we dearly love. We have been all over the country in her. We have spent over 900 nights in Lucy, and have pulled her over 80,000 miles. We pull Lucy with a 2500 Suburban.

This first question is, do you want to be a camper, or do you want to be a travel trailer restorer?

Assuming that the answer in the former, I agree with Bob. Buy the newest airstream that you can afford. Look for one that is still used regularly as opposed to one that has set up or been in storage for several years.

Airstreams like this are out there. You need to be persistent, and keep looking. It could take a while to find the right one.

Good luck in finding the perfect Airstream. It is worth the effort. Airstream adventures are a lot of fun.


SuEllyn & Brian McCabe
WBCCI #3628 -- AIR #14872 -- TAC #FL-7
2015 FC 25' FB (Lucy) with HAHA
2005 Suburban 2500 Quadrasteer (Olivia) & 2011 Silverado 3500 (Fred) with Outfitter Truck Camper (Ethel)
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