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Old 09-22-2007, 11:18 AM   #15
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Thanks so much for all your advice!

Dear Airstream enthusiasts,

When I posted our questions last night my husbands said, "Watch, when you get out of the shower there will be a whole bunch of responses!" I thought he was kidding. But no, I got out of the shower and already two or three people had posted their advice. Wow! Now I really want an airstream.

From reading your posts it looks like going vintage will not be a good option for us. We don't have the space or the expertice to fix it up ourselves and it looks like it will cost too much to have it done professionaly. That leaves new or slightly used as our best options. After a lot of discussion we have come to realize that my husband REALLY prefers new. So, I think we'll be buying new!

I can't thank you all enough for your responses. They have given us so much food for thought and have really helped us crystalize our strategies. We will look in other states for deals for sure. (Maybe we could even make a road trip out of picking it up!) Thanks also for your invitation to rallys!

Oh, and we're planning on trading in the Nissan getting a new Tahoe so that we can tow with confidence.

Thanks again!

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Old 09-22-2007, 12:00 PM   #16
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Cary , North Carolina
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No shortage of opinions on this site

If you are indeed upgrading to a Tahoe, I would agree with one of the above posters to take a serious look at a 25' CCD. A bit more weight but its extra width and more flexible floor plan are good tradeoffs. You can probably negotiate a 25' for nearly the same price as a 23'.


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Old 09-22-2007, 12:04 PM   #17
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Heather and Husband.

One thing you do not have to worry about if you buy out of State or even locally is service and repair.

There is an Airstream Certified repair only shop in Bellflower. Right of the 105 calld C&G.

They have been there a hundred years and the work is flawless.

If you buy new you'll get a two year warranty so if anything big or little go wrong or is not right C&G will fix it. They'll also do any upgrades you may want too.
I'd rather be boon docking in the desert.

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Old 09-22-2007, 01:05 PM   #18
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Several categories of "pre-owned.."


Getting opinions on what to buy is one of best features of Forum... Your job is to sort through them and make a decision that works for your family...

In our case, we sold 14 year old Nomad Weekender (had bunks for kids, was flimsy, etc..) in 2003 and bought a 1988 Airstream 25 rear queen model... Paid $13K (v. new equivalent Classic price of $48K) and used right away.. During following winter when slow, we redid all upholstery, carpet, drapes, blinds and fabric trim. We also chose to replace faucets, and had to replace water heater thermostat and refrigerator control board ($100..). Net investment now of $17K, completely functional and decorated to our taste..

Goin Campin's advice good for two key points:
1. Try to attend rally or event (bring chairs and food or beverages, and you'll be welcomed!) and look at different models and talk to owners. Hugely more educational than talking to a dealer sales person...
2. Be sure unit you buy will work when you buy it.. Doing series of trade-in and trade-ups can be time consuming and expensive... Check things like bathroom (sitting in it with door closed..) and size of bed and where family will eat, rather than admiring fabrics and shiny interior walls.

There are really 4 categories of possible trailers, and you should study classifieds here, plus The Vintage Airstream Club and RV Trader Magazine Online - New and Used RVs for sale to see what is available. Craigslist and EBay are also options, but EBay has experienced significant fraud issues of late... Choices include:
1. "Project" or "Fixer Upper" vintage models.. These are not for you, based on earlier posts
2. Recently "restored" vintage or classics - these might work if others really have done restoration well, and no remaining hard work to do.. Pre-1995 will be narrower and lighter than current models
3. Late model used (1995-2005) should be substantially less expensive, and might need interior "refresh" but are physically sound with working systems
4. New - as noted, discounts of 15% to 18% are common, more possible at model end for leftovers. The right answer if you want comfort of warranty and new fabrics and absence of "history.." Ideal is to find local dealer who will offer great price AND good service.. Unfortunately, there are not a few hundred of these scattered around country. If you are very particular, and want to order one to your specs, discount might drop a little, but you'll have everything exactly the way you want it...

In Theory, there's no difference between Theory and Practice, but in Practice, there is usually a difference...
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Old 09-22-2007, 03:44 PM   #19
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A very rare occurance. You either had a very good dealer or a fluke fro mthe "factory".
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Old 09-22-2007, 04:27 PM   #20
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1963 24' Tradewind
Pittsford , New York
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Our experience


We purchased a 1963 Tradewind because (foolishly when I look back) though it would be cheaper than a new Airstream.

Indeed the initial purchase was significantly cheaper but the complete restoration by the leading restorer (Colin Hyde of GSM Vehicles) took longer that I had thought and cost significantly more than I thought it would.

We do now have a 'brand new' 1963 Airstream and have enjoyed camping in it the last month since we picked it up. Virtually all components (Axle, floor, plumbing, electrical, etc.) was either replaced or completely refurbished.

To have a professional restore your trailer will likely cost 100K+. We really had no idea what we were getting into. Make sure you go into a restoration with your eyes wide open and be aware of how much a top quality professional restoration will cost.

Ironically, we are contemplating selling it because be have gone far beyond our means on it.

Good luck with your decision.
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Old 09-22-2007, 04:28 PM   #21
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Vintage is cool. New is cool. Depends upon what you want and how much effort you're willing to put into the RV.

Size DOES make a difference. We had a 22' International with 2 dogs and it was a real... effort. Every living being got in the way of each other until we put the dogs on the bed (a lab and a weenie dog). The lab, (Moby) was real apprehensive because he was never allowed on the bed at home. The weenie dog, (Katie) was in hog heaven, life was indeed good for her. But it cleared things up during inclement weather. With kids... I doubt you'd get the compliance we got with dogs...

Go for the largest A/S your vehicle can tow. Size DOES make a difference, especially when you're camping for more than a few days...
Bill & Kim
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Old 09-22-2007, 07:51 PM   #22
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My wife and I have a saying... "it sleeps two". Doesn't matter if it's a 16' Bambi or a 34' Classic with slide out, it still sleeps two!

Having said that... 23' is going to be tight for four people. The folks here who have suggested a 25' unit are right on target. When I was a teenager, my parents bought a 24' SOB unit. At the time, I thought it was rather tight quarters, though my parents thought it was perfect. It's all a matter of perspective, kids will tend to want more room than less (read that as they won't want to be THAT close to Mom & Dad all the time). A 25 footer has a lot more space than the 23'.

My $.02
Bob Fowler

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Old 09-22-2007, 08:07 PM   #23
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1963 24' Tradewind
Highland , Illinois
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We bought a 28' trailer the first time because we foolishly thought that our 2 teenage daughters would want to always go with us. That lasted all of 2 trips, but we still enjoyed the extra space.

We bought a 27' (actually 28') the second time because we didn't want to give up the space we had become accustomed to.

I would consider a 25' as the minimum size for 4 and look hard at a 27' or 28'.

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Old 09-22-2007, 08:15 PM   #24
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Las Cruces , New Mexico
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Heather, I second ljmiii on making a decision on planned use. We just completed a 5 week 8K mile trip from NM to the New England area with our two pups in our 16' Quick Silver. If you plan to stay "in" the unit then size is important. However, if you are going for adventure and sight seeing then large size may be wasted (just my two cents worth). I still say that if walking around is the order of the day - open the door and you will never bump into anyone.
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Old 09-22-2007, 10:50 PM   #25
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Lightbulb Faced with similar decision . . . size, price, condition:

Hi Heather,

We just finished our search and were faced with similar choices. We are a family of three. My husband is 6'5" tall and we have a young son. Our search has been long, too long to post all of it.

We bought SOB, class C, 1979 RV that we found to be in above average condition at purchase; low mileage, all original interior, clean, bunk bed over driver/passenger seat (on son's wish list), good paint, one piece roof, inexpensive. After winter, we found that the roof had previously been cracked and not disclosed to us. The frame and channel in the back was rusted beyond reasonable repair. We really wanted to camp so we let go of vintage SOB -- sold it as a toy hauler -- listed on craigslist for 1500 less than our purchase price. It was gone within a day. It was a lesson about rust, quality of RV substrate, the domino effect and unfortunately the veracity of some sellers. Buyer beware.

Our searching proceeded to GMC motorhomes from 1973-78. Fiberglass/aluminum with a strong following and GMC only clubs. Very popular and they get decent mileage. We wanted to buy local and really never found one that was camp ready also we were starting to consider a trailer since we bought a '96 station wagon that could be a tow vehicle. We got the wagon after the class C purchase, it was an unforseeable purchase made to replace my husband's car -- untimely blown engine. The station wagon has been an incredablly welcome addition to our family. It is so comfortable that we will be fine driving in it for hours. The wagon is equipped with a tow package so we added a hitch (and associated parts) and are good to go. Our Max tow capacity is 5000lbs. [be careful to tow with an appropriately sized tow vehicle, we prefer to tow well under the 5k limit] and if you end up spending 50k on a new AS, put a few thousand into one of those super fancy hitches -- that's the advice we got from our AS previous owner]

As for trailer, we wanted vintage because of lower initial cost, vintage appeal, and lighter weight as compared to similar length late model trailers. Ideally, I wanted a 24 foot because typically there are three beds or gouchos. When we found a 22 foot in great condition and we concluded that the extra space isn't that important for us. We think our son will want to pitch a tent as he gets older. And, we always can use the back of the station wagon if we need the extra room. We realized that our use will be more like the bed & breakfast described above (nice analogy!) and that we will unhitch, set up camp and go local using the station wagon.

I think that it's going to be cozy for us with only two gouchos and with my tall husband but my son can share a bed with one of us for a while or even use a sleeping bag on the floor. The flexibility of a small trailer makes up for the lack of space -- for our style. We're used to a smaller house, shared bathroom, and tent camping out of the trunk of a Honda Accord etc.

I read the forum a lot before buying and noticed that many members have a small trailer, other members with longer trailers also own a smaller second AS. And, I ran across lots of "wanted" posts looking for a smaller trailer. I assume that fuel costs are driving the appeal of the smaller models, in addition to the other positives I listed.

We fondly laugh and joke when we talk about the lack of extra space in our 1880s Victorian home (square feet, closets, bathrooms, etc.); we talk about how well we know each other, how much time we spend together and how much we really love being together! We don't need no stinkin' McMansion! And our house has great location (but it is a project home!). We figure that we'll feel the same way with the trailer. And, if not, we can aquire more space in a 2nd AS trailer. Maybe it can be a project! LOL.

Finding a ready to camp, vintage was great fortune. So we went with it. Check with me in a couple months after our first trip(s). I'll let you know if our instincts were correct, whether we are perfectly cozy or much too close for comfort.

My advice, regardless of size is to get something you can camp in right-away because your children will grow up in the years it can take to restore a home (on or off wheels). We've been restoring our home for 12 years. We didn't want vacation-renovation too!

be sure to come back and let us know your decision.

Good luck,

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Old 09-23-2007, 12:55 PM   #26
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Heather and Husband,

Since you live in L.A. You can camp all year long. We just returned from a weekend up near Frazier Park.

That being the case you will probably be out camping in the Winter. It does get brisk and you will be spending more time inside during the Winter monthes.

Just something else for you to consider.
I'd rather be boon docking in the desert.

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Old 09-23-2007, 02:05 PM   #27
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1976 Argosy 24
Tempe , Arizona
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A different path...

We too decided that we wanted to go trailering in an Airstream. We looked around and decided that a 25FB would be right for us. Upon locating one that was exactly what we wanted in options and layout, we were a bit scared of the price - nearly $60k. We decided that, before we committed that much money, we needed to know whether or not we'd enjoy the trailering experience. We watched for something we could go camping in - right away without spending a lot of money. We purchased a 1976 Argosy that we have been able to use for a year now. We spent $5k on the camper and another $1k on accessories and some minor repairs. If we didn't like it, we could sell out for less than it would have cost to rent an RV for a week. We like it! Now we have a dilemma, the "twink" has become part of the family. Even if we wanted to have a 25FB, we wouldn't be able to sell the twink. It is about 4k lbs and is perfect for our TV. No problems whatsoever. Yes there is some diddling around but none of it has been particularly challenging. Our Argosy easily accomodates four (two double beds) but is more comfortable for two.
Remembering that there a number of folks here on the forum that can help with inspections.
My verdict: Buy a good condition used Airstream (or Argosy) and see if you like trailering in an Airstream. Then get the new or nearly new model that suits your fancy
Donna & Mike
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Old 09-23-2007, 02:40 PM   #28
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Mike you can't sell the twink, it's so you and Donna. Jan loves the way you have done the interior. BTW, how was the trip home from the Crater? Are you guys going to Picacho for New Years?



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