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Old 03-31-2012, 11:51 AM   #1
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Unhappy Thank goodness I found you...now how do I??

I have searched for a vintage airstream for 2 weeks now, on craigslist and ebay. I know nothing of owning an AS, nothing of how to choose one and nothing of nothing. Thank goodness I stumbled onto your site and didn't make a purchase on something I obviously know nothing about!

I have an itch to get one of these so my family can enjoy small excursions and keep the cost of vaca's down to a minimum. Family of 6 with 3 boys under 5. After looking at so many trailers for sale online, I have come to a conclusion that my family may be a bit big for any AS other than the 31-34 footers. Now that I have found your site I will continue to educate myself on becoming an owner of a vintage airstream and how to purchase a quality one without breaking my bank account. If anyone has seen useful threads that you think I read read through, please pass those along. I have been scouring this site since late last night and I am so overwhelmed.

I know I need to continue with my research on becoming a full-blown owner but I have so many questions. Can a family of 6 truely pull this off? How do 6 people sleep in them? I've read so much on here about rear-bathrooms that I believe I am scared to even look at another one of these types for sale. Am I just reading too far into it? Will my Honda Odyssey pull an AS? A new truck..? How can I pull off my dream of owning a sweet AS when I know nothing about owning a camper or towing a trailer? What is a fair price for a 70's AS that would sleep 6 and not need huge amounts of knowledge on fixing it up?

I'm hoping some of your comments on this will open me up to more important questions to ask and me getting further educated without sitting in front of this computer for hours on end while my kids starve My DH doesn't want to invest on one because he fears of the extensive labor/problems he anticipates for us with no knowledge of them. What do you all think? Where do I begin? Any comments would be helpful.

Best,
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Old 03-31-2012, 12:16 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forums! Airstreams are way more than just a dream, and once you have one, you'll be pinching yourself every day wondering if you're really awake!

I'd say start with the very basics first.

Start saving your shekels, first of all. You're going to need money, no matter whether you buy new or vintage, AS or something else. AS owners will always tell you it's worth the price of admission, but only you can say if it's worth it for you. Whether a vintage AS is actually less expensive than buying a slightly used one (I own a 2008, myself) is a matter of conjecture and simply depends on what happens to be in the market. Keep an eye on the classifieds. Find a good dealer in your area.

Has your family gone tent camping? Do you all cope well in small spaces? Have you gone to dealerships in your area to see if you like being in an Airstream or even SOBs? (Some Other Brand) Can you afford to rent an RV (you can even rent Airstreams) to see if the reality matches up with the dream?

Find the many many personal blogs out there of AS owners. (I have a list of blogs on my blog, and most other blogs do too, so you can quickly find way more than you can read.) Try going to the About Us pages or the very beginning of the blogs to find out how other people rationalized their decision to buy a very pricey RV and why and how it worked for them. Try reading through the intros here of others like yourself and see how they made their decisions.

There's two approaches to this stage: stay optimistic and work to make your dream come true, and/or let people try to break down your dream and see if it stays alive in the face of cold, hard facts. We'll encourage you and support you and try to poke holes in your dream to see how much you want it and whether it's possible for you. You don't want to sink your young family financially, but you do want to make great memories for them, I'm sure!

Some people here have searched for years for their AS. Other people (like me) were surprised to find their dream trailer within a month.

As for your Odyssey, they can haul a lot; I'm not up on the numbers, though. You will find them on the stickers on the inside of the front driver door. You're looking for the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). Sometimes there's two stickers and sometimes just one.

Good luck with your journey!
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Old 03-31-2012, 12:16 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forums! You are at the right place. We are currently looking ourselves but, we want new. I suggest you visit dealerships, go to rallies, contact the local club and read these forums often. Go into as many Airstreams that you can to get an idea of the space and what size might work for your family. Then you will know what size to search for. Good luck and keep us posted on your search!
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Old 03-31-2012, 12:20 PM   #4
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Anyone can learn with time and study. Of course, both of you will have to feel good about purchasing something like this. The kids have to buy into too because of they don't, family vacations will not be fun. Two parents, 3 kids, and who else? How comfortable is everyone with the close living in any size RV? The kids grow fast and beds seem smaller. Some people bring a tent for the kids.

First searches into this would overwhelm anyone. There are books on RV'ing that may help too. Go to a dealer or an RV show and just look around and get a feel for them. Just look around on the Forum and read what interests you and eventually it will clear up, but you'll always be learning.

You will need a truck to tow newer 31-34's because they are heavy. Older ones are much lighter and then there will be more choices. An older one will probably need work, but they all need work sooner or later. Ours is 4 1/2 years old and we are always upgrading, improving and fixing. An older one with lots of issues will be expensive to fix, but one that has been fixed up and kept well, will cost more. This is not a cheap way to vacation and you have to think about how much you spend on vacations now and whether it can done in your budget. Mechanical and basic carpentry skills are helpful in owning an RV because it is a lot cheaper than having an RV shop fix things.

This sounds like a time to explore and learn. Take your time. The entire family must be behind this choice. Another brand may be more practical because they are a lot cheaper, but don't last as long and also have issues. But you'd still have to learn about RV's. All RV's have about the same appliances and water and electrical systems; they all have wheels and tires. They all are small compared to a house and storage is limited. Basic structure is different—Airstreams are different in that regard.

You can rent an RV—the ones we see on the road are Class C's—built on a truck chassis. The front cab looks like a truck cab and the rest of the unit is built onto it. I've seen some pretty big ones that a family of 6 could use. Try it out and see if you like it. Not Airstreams, but the experience will tell you if RV's are for you.

Gene
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Old 03-31-2012, 01:00 PM   #5
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Camping vs Motels or tent camping

You have 4 kids? If they enjoyed camping, but were unhappy with wet sleeping bags, sleeping on the ground, and bugs, the kids will see the Airstream as an upgrade. If you have vacationed only by destination resorts or Moteling it, they may not adapt to the closeness of a 208 sq. ft. Airstream. You will likely need to buy an Bunk house type Airstream or one with bunk beds in it. Our 77 31 ft Soveirgn had foldable beds over the twins in the middle. It is good for the kids while the adults slept on the goucho in the front. I am not sure the Honda Minivan would be rated to tow it in the mountains, but you could get by in Illinois, where you live. We live in Illinois and spend time camping with the grand kids in some of the nice state parks in the area. Several ageing members of our local Illinois WBCCI Unit have put their trailers on the market. Contact me for particulars.
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Old 03-31-2012, 01:05 PM   #6
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Definitely try to attend some rallies that are scheduled in your area . . .

The "Rallies" tab at the top of the Air Forums page has a list of rallies.

This one is scheduled for May --> Airstream Forums - Spring Meat and Fire Rally, Northern Illinois

Another rally that isn't on the calendar yet and would be a good opportunity to see several Airstreams is the Moraine View Rally. This is the 10th anniversary of the rally held at Moraine View State Park near Le Roy, IL. That would be a nice day trip for you all. If you find that your family isn't up to a day trip to a state park, that may tell you something. Here's a link to the rally thread http://www.airforums.com/forums/f288...ade-78580.html Le Roy does have a Holiday Inn Express and the town is only about 17 miles from the Bloomington/Normal area if you wanted to do an overnighter.

We chose to buy and renovate a 70's Airstream that needed some renovation. I will admit, however, that we didn't realize just how much renovation it needed till we tore into it. I wanted a rear bath model and we didn't want to buy a brand new Airstream. We had never camped before and were newly retired so we were apprehensive about paying for a brand new Airstream. My husband has put many hours of work into renovating our trailer and has been way out out of his comfort zone many times. Thank you AirForums pals for your support and sharing your knowledge! Our Airstream is now one we will keep "for the duration" and absolutely enjoy. Her original cost and the cost of the renovations may be enough to buy a brand new SOB yet not enough to buy a brand new Airstream.

Renovating an Airstream can take commitment, time, and money. There were times when my husband wondered what he had gotten himself into as he gutted our trailer and began putting her back together again. It was essentially a part time job for several months after we retired. I think he survived, however, he now seems to have a touch of "aluminitis." We now also have a 1964 Globe Trotter and he's been spending his time this winter and spring renovating it. Joining the Airstream community has been a great experience and an opportunity to meet so many good friends.

Good luck to you in your decision making process . . . I agree that your whole family needs to buy into the decision whether you buy a trailer and what kind of trailer you buy. And, whatever trailer you may choose to buy, go and see it first before you commit to buying it or ask someone to inspect it on your behalf. We learned that our definition of "camping ready" is quite a bit different than many sellers' definition of "camping ready."

Nancy Mac
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Old 03-31-2012, 01:21 PM   #7
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I don't even know how to respond using the "quote" bars
Thank you all for the encouragement! I WILL spend plenty of time on this site brushing up my skills in the future so please bear with me while i learn how to navigate and educate myself with your site.

We are definately looking into Airstream ownership ONLY. This has been a dream of mine since I was knee-high to a grasshopper although I didn't know what I was really getting into. Currently, we sleep 5 to a king size Ikea platform. I can't get those little guys into their own beds so I would suffice it to say that we are extremely comfortable in close quarters My 16 year old would beg to differ and will most likely need a friend to tag along but they could always tent camp. We have not camped out with the kids yet because they just kept coming for so long I think we are ready to start some traditions and I would like those to include the AS! My problem is narrowing down which model suits us and how to go about gaining the knowledge needed in order to own a vintage one. I need inspiration from others who have trailers that sleep 6 or so and a Dummies book for Airstream Owners so I can brush up on the terminology and what the important know-how's to know are.

I did not know you could rent them out for a trial so I will try to look up info on that. I don't know how I'll make it to a rally when I can barely get outside my 5-mile radius without kids in tow. I'm thinking we will need a trailer that has already been fixed up and ready to sleep us all but budget comes to mind also. DH won't let me spend a small fortune on this so I have to get my ducks in a row (which model/year and layout) and then get myself educated on how the systems work and what is most important to picking out a solid, well-cared for AS.

Please shoot me links to other threads that may discuss more newbie topics to help me get started. The forums are informative so far but I keep getting the cart before the horse searches and need to start at the beginning for DUMMIES

P.S. TravelBird, your blog will now become my newest hobby
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Old 03-31-2012, 01:35 PM   #8
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Dwightdi,

Yep, 4 kids. 16 yr old daughter and boys 1 1/2, 3 and 5. They have never camped yet but are all boy so I don't think they will mind mud & bug gutts too much
I am VERY interested in the bunk idea you have. Any pic's to share with me? I would like some info on trailers for sale locally so I can start to visit some and get an idea of what you get for your buck. I keep hearing that I need to spend time viewing AS's before making any decisions so keeping it local is best for me. I would really like to rent a camper for a weekend to see how we all do with the experience. I'm fairly certain we would fair well but until we have tried it with the brood, you never know. Feel free to put me in touch with your AS friends looking to sell.
As for "Mini-Van, Mega-Fun", when we do purchase our vintage AS, I am sure I will be in the market for a good pulling truck that will also fit us all We plan to camp out at the state parks as well and keep within the tri-state area. No Yellowstone for this brood yet! Gotta get our feet wet first.
Thanks for your input! I truely appreciate any help you all can give in helping me fullfill my dream and make awesome memories for my family!
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Old 03-31-2012, 01:46 PM   #9
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The "Dummies" book for the Airstream is the Newbies Guide to Airstreams, but it hasn't got a whole lot of info on BUYING an Airstream. It'll tell you all about how to camp in one, though. It's available through Airstream Life and Amazon.

Quote:
I can't get those little guys into their own beds so I would suffice it to say that we are extremely comfortable in close quarters
Keep in mind that while your kids are young, the inside of many ASs are metal. You might want to consider a fabric covered interior, because crying/fighting/playing kids can make your head start to explode when it's bouncing around the inside of the trailer. Not a good place to be liable to migraines!

Beds are smaller in RVs, by the way, usually shorter as well as narrower than their stationary counterparts. Definitely go run right out and look in some trailers, ALL of you, Airstreams or not, even if you're set on Airstreams. That will tell you way more than any of us can tell you. Get all of you into the trailer, shut the door, and imagine being in it as a family over the course of an evening.

Quote:
We are definately looking into Airstream ownership ONLY. This has been a dream of mine since I was knee-high to a grasshopper although I didn't know what I was really getting into
Let me hammer on this point made several times above, one more time: it has to be a dream of everyone involved, as the many people above have said. If it's not, you'll all risk being pretty darn miserable.

The very most basic thing is "can I afford this, and can we actually do it" not "how do I go about buying this and living in it." It's not the systems, it's not the basics of camping, it's whether it's actually suited to you and your family.

"A small fortune" is indeed what this costs, depending on your definition of "small fortune." Add everything up: cost to purchase, cost to insure, cost to tow (new tow vehicle, towing setup and equipment), cost to maintain, cost to store if you haven't anywhere to store it yourself on your property (check the covenants), and make sure you're not going to drive yourselves into the ground financially owning a dream.

I've spent a good deal of my retirement money on the Bambino, because it's how I plan to live full time, though I don't intend to actually retire in the classic sense. Not everyone can afford to do that, I'm very very lucky.

Quote:
I don't know how I'll make it to a rally when I can barely get outside my 5-mile radius without kids in tow.
Take the kids. As Nancy Mac said, if you can't get you and your family up to a state park or campground for a short trip, you might want to really think about whether you can do this for a week or more.

Cruise the other threads in this part of the forum. Those are the newbie topics. You'll spread out from there.
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Old 03-31-2012, 02:02 PM   #10
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Starting out from where you are, there's a lot to learn. No number of links can tell you all you want to know. Just start looking around or use the search engine. It isn't all that good, but use "advanced", enter a keyword and see what comes up.

I see you have 4th kid, one that may be incredibly bored with her parents, often embarrassed by them and hate everything they want to do. In other words, a normal teenager. You'll have to work that out and hope she is 18 soon.

I realize you are getting a lot of daunting advice and that is just reality. This can be done and many have done it. It just takes learning and commitment (money helps too). Get that family into some Airstreams and see if they bond. If so, that will give you the support to keep up the quest.

Your husband may not want to do all the work that is inevitable, so you may have to learn how. Lots of single woman have Airstreams and if they can do it, so can you. Maybe your daughter will find out she likes tools (that would make her very desirable to many men) and you both can work on the trailer together. The art of the screwdriver, power saw, drill and other wonderful tools are learnable by anyone (except my wife who is smart enough to let me do it because I would anyway, but I sure appreciate her help; she could learn if she had to, but I don't plan on dying to find out). There are some people who buy older Airstreams and think they will remodel them, but find out, usually quickly, they aren't suited to the work. Make sure you don't become one of them (it can be an expensive mistake), so make sure everyone is cool with this as the quest progresses.

Gene
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Old 03-31-2012, 02:08 PM   #11
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Quote:
Lots of single woman have Airstreams and if they can do it, so can you.
Like me! (I'm not actually single, but my partner is English, and is in the UK at our home there quite a bit.)

Gene, you're hilarious!
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Old 03-31-2012, 03:02 PM   #12
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Welcome to Forums, and good luck with search and quest... Best part of this site is surpus of opinions, which you then get to sort through... Here are some more...

1. I'd avoid reall old Airstreams as first time investment.. That means anything older than about 1985.. Risks of floor and frame problems or major plumbing and appliance and Heating/Air Conditioning <which you will need..> are too great, and you'd be set back if something major failed.
2. I'd also avoid new ones as initial investment, as they are really expensive and hard to get money out if you decide it is mistake.. Sweet spot should be 30 or 31' trailers from 1985 through 1995 (plus or minus..). DON'T fall for a Fixer Upper! THose are for experienced folks with vehicle maintenance and repair skills, and very few who start and abandon recover financially either...
3. The Honda won't pull an Airstream 31.. That may not be deal killer, since you don't need "New" truck to pull it either.. A lot of Chevy Suburbans or Ford Excursions are on the market for less than $10K, and either could pull the trailer, especially the 2500 models with larger engines... With some persistence, you can find a mid-90's Suburban (or 3/4 ton rated Family Van) for closer to $5K.
4. Bunks are good, but few are going to come with bunks.. You could alter after you buy one, and even pull out goucho bed and install bunks from Ikea, with some effort.. They don't need to be extra sturdy, since nobody will be in them when trailer moving.
5. Look for solid body (free from leaks, expensive big dents, broken windows), good frame and axles and brakes, good appliances, plumbing and electrical and HVAC. Cosmetics like carpeting, curtains, upholstery can be fixed relatively inexpensively...
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Old 03-31-2012, 04:39 PM   #13
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Rallies

Welcome aboard, and when you get real comfortable on here I want to know what the heck your forums name is all about!
What worked for us won't work for everyone, but we discovered, in the paper, that an Airstream rally was in town, and we went. We got to tour some trailers and came away with a handwritten list, provided by one of the members, of Airstreams for sale in the general area. We ended up buying a 1984 off of that list. So like the poster #6 said, look for a rally near you if you are thinking used. You will get to see many different Airstreams of different ages and conditions.
Yes you will spend money on upkeep and upgrades but..we love having something that is 28 years old and in good shape. Ours would not suit your needs. You need something with a fold out couch and fold down dinette I think. You will find it.
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Old 03-31-2012, 06:59 PM   #14
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Hi,
I am in the same situation as you. I have four daughters and we are actively looking at Airstreaming. We tent camp a lot so moving up to a trailer would be the lap of luxury for us.

For what its worth, we are looking at some 28 and 30 foot used trailers tomorrow with slide outs.

As far as new trailers, we like the Eddie Bauer models.

All of the floor plans for old airstreams can be found on the Airstream.com website under the "service" tab and then select "specifications". I found this to be very helpful in narrowing things down.

Also, FYI the trailers are wider after 1995 by half a foot.
Good luck,
Dave
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