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Old 07-30-2012, 04:21 PM   #1
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Why Airstream?

Greetings fellow RV enthusiasts,

We are novice RV owners, 2.5 years with a 1992 American Eagle 38' diesel pusher (183 k miles). We appreciate this mode of travel very much but this old coach is a money pit. We are considering changing rigs entirely. We would love to have a newer high-end DP but do not have the resources necessary. We are strongly considering a towable. Airstream is appealing because of the perceived build/finish quality. We do not yet have a tow vehicle but thought we would figure out what we might be towing before we buy the tow vehicle, so we can buy something that will do the job.

We have been spoiled in several areas but the 2 areas we are curious about are electricity and storage. Our DP has several caves in the basement that will swallow almost anything. We also have a 8KW Onan diesel generator. In looking at many classifieds for used Airstreams we never see any mention of generators or external storage.

Are these luxuries that we wil have to forgo if we own an Airstream (aside from setting a Honda generator in the pick-up bed)?

Thanks much for your thoughts.

Brian & Lynne
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Old 07-30-2012, 05:04 PM   #2
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Airstream trailers don't have built-in generators unless it's a custom installation or one of the few '70s trailers that had an optional "battery charger" low-wattage genset on board.

Airstreams are also much more constrained for storage (especially external storage) largely because they're MUCH smaller than a Class A or a 5th wheel. Park your 38' DP next to the biggest Airstreams (a Panamerican triple or one of the 34' Classic triple-axle models) and even though it's only 4' longer than the overall length, it'll tower over the Airstream (and in fact be closer to 8' longer, since the Airstream length includes the rear bumper and the forward hitch.)

Hopefully you don't expect completely unbiased information on Airstreams from an Airstream enthusiasts' forum, we're here because we like 'em. Realistically, though, you have to want what you get for your money. The overall structure of an Airstream is quite durable and rebuildable, but they're neither perfect nor maintenance free. They don't come off the line perfect, but one that's been owned for a few years by someone who's good at maintenance has probably had the kinks worked out. You have to be diligent about maintaining the seams and joints, but that's not an every-week task, more like 1-2 times a year once all is well.

The various appliances are no better or worse than average for the industry, because they're all made by the regular suspects. The trailers tow well, look good (IMHO) and last well if you take reasonably good care of them, and they hold their value extremely well after the first few years of steep depreciation that usually comes with high-end toys.
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Old 07-30-2012, 05:11 PM   #3
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Just some high level thoughts:

Airstreams and other travel trailers consume far less watts in general than a large motorhome. Airstreams nearly all run on 30 amp connections so even if you do find you want a generator, it will be much smaller than what you might find bolted in the basement of a diesel motor home.

The only big thing you will miss on short stays at sites without AC power is air-conditioning, and a portable generate can handle that if you really want it. Cooking, hot water,and refigeration are easily handled with two large tanks of propane. Lighting, water pump, celphones and even 12v TV can go on the batteries. Space heater is propane and 12v. Many folks here extend their dry camping days with solar panels.

As with all vehicle related forums, I would suggest taking complaints and big quality problems in the context that they may not be representative. People with problems come to forums like this for advice.

On storage, mileage will vary. Airstream is very efficient and clever about using what space is there, The front bedroom twin bed models have some nice size exterior compartments. If you use a full sized SUV or pickup for towing, your storage options expand somewhat.

I like to say no one buys an Airstream with a spreadsheet - it does not always add up. We just bought one and figured out all the rest of the stuff. It is great!
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Old 07-30-2012, 05:24 PM   #4
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The Airstream design doesn't leave much room for the cavernous storage areas that many 'above frame' designs allow. There are also no options for slide-outs in the current line-up, which again a towable gives a lot more living space for extended use.

Keep in mind that while Airstream has a unique shell, most of the guts are common across all RV lines... Airstream hasn't racked up an especially great reputation of late for 'perfection', and there is differing opinions on what is acceptable for delivery on a $60K, $80K or even $100K trailer. They are solid, look great, but have unique needs as far as regular maintenance.

You can certainly get a very luxurious looking Airstream - their current interior package options are bright and sharp looking. I would go to a dealer that has a good selection of different sizes and layouts and see if they seem 'right'. You'll never have to worry about the complexity of a motorized rig, but at the same time a bigger Airstream and newer tow vehicle can add up to a good chunk of change together.

In my own un-scientfic opinion, it seems like those of us with the most problems are in climates with large temperature swings (i.e. real winter) which seems to be very hard on everything... any pooling of water, which then freezes, seems to eat away at seems and rivets. I am looking for covered storage for the winter for that reason...
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Old 07-30-2012, 06:24 PM   #5
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For me the reason to buy the Airstream is the great towabilty. When I first viewed the Airstrem website and found their why buy section and watched the video that compared an Airstream to a standard box type trailer I was shocked to say the least. To see the other trailers right wheels go two to three feet off the ground totally sold. That was the day that our Airstream adventur started. The more we learn the happier we are.
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Old 08-03-2012, 09:24 AM   #6
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I apologize to all responders for this tardy reply. I did not understand the "buttonality" of this site. I responded to the e-mails I received and was scolded by someone in Tech Support that I was doing it all wrong.

I appreciate all of the considered responses. I think our next step will be a trip to Toscano's RV in Los Banos, Ca. That appears to be the closest location to us that has a selection (or any) Airstream trailers to look at. They are 3-4 hours away but the trip should be worthwhile so we can better decide our next move.
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Old 08-03-2012, 09:41 AM   #7
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If your only RV experience is a diesel pusher with all it's space, you will be in for a shock going to Airstream. They are all tiny will very little storage. Like backpacking, take only what you absolutely need and not much of that. Interior living space is also compact as possible.

It's not for everybody but there is something unique about these little jewels that make them a joy to travel with.

We have maintenance issues like any RV, but they are nowhere near the money pit diesel pushers are. Properly maintained (watch for leaks and shell corrosion) they will last a lifetime, and are always repairable and worth the effort. And look good all the way.

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Old 08-03-2012, 09:51 AM   #8
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If you are doing HD traveling and are used to a large motorhome, you will be cramped in an Airstream trailer. Most RVr's work their way up in size, rather than go smaller. If you are just camping at the local lake in great weather on weekends and are close to other facilities, (water, sewer, general store, etc, then a smaller unit will work great.

You already know, that with your unit, you can actually stop for the night, have supper, watch TV, go to bed, getup, shower shave, make breakfast, and hit the road, and never leave the motorhome. (this makes for a fast getaway if parked somewhere that necessitates a quick exit.)

2007 was the last of the Airstream motorhomes and there are at times some nice, lightly used, ones come up for sale.

And no matter what brand or style RV you have, there will be maintenance to be done on a regular basis.

You have a nice unit now, (example posted) that is pre-computer days, and if it is in good body/frame condition, can be updated and kept on the road for many years. You just have to learn to do a lot of the maintenance yourself to keep your costs under control. If you have had water intrusion then it may be time to change units.

You have the desirable mid body entrance door that is hard to get on the newer units unless special order.
Dave
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Old 08-03-2012, 10:04 AM   #9
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I recently went the other direction. About 6 weeks ago I sold my AS rig and bought a new Tiffin 39' DP with a dozen slideouts, power/pushbutton this and thats, and one of those dreaded swirly mutli-color paint jobs. That (rig as seen in my profile) was my second new AS, loved most aspects of that rig, but here's a few reasons/excuses as to why we changed (in no order of priority):
  • Ford F250 crewcab diesel was not a practical daily driver "for me".
  • Bunkbeds - wanted a more flexible sleeping arrangements for the family (2 small kiddos). Breaking down sofas and dinettes each day (especially during rainy days where you cannot get out much) got old for us in a hurry.
  • Ease of setting up and breaking camp. I didn't think this was going to be that noticeable, but I was wrong. Flipping switches and pushing buttons is a time saver when you are looking to cherish each minute with your young kids and avoid as much stress as possible. When you are still working (and dreaming of retirement), that ease of set up is much appreciated when you leave at 5pm on a Friday afternoon for a three-day weekend at the beach - a little more time to enjoy with the wife and kids.
  • Traveling with the family in moho vs. TT - it's just easier, bottomline.
  • Onboard Genset - walk back to a cool living space when I arrive at Disney's Ft. Wilderness at midnight - rv park power outages are not an issue - no concerns on how/where to haul gas for the little red hondas - charging coach batteries at the storage lot no longer an issue.
  • Basement storage - no longer storing camping gear in my stick house basement, or loading and unloading each trip into the back of the truck.
  • Factory service less than 2 hours from my home. That's extremely important to me. I had no dependable AS service nearby.
I do miss the low profile of the AS. Crosswinds and road crown are a much, much bigger deal with a 13' tall moho. And...I do miss the AS "cool" factor.

If anyone needs any Corrosion-X or Boeshield T-9 - let me know and I will send it to you .

I learned a lot here - you will too. Good luck in your decision making process.

All the best,
Chris
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Old 08-03-2012, 10:15 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DKB_SATX View Post
Airstream trailers don't have built-in generators unless it's a custom installation or one of the few '70s trailers that had an optional "battery charger" low-wattage genset on board.
Actually it was an option for at least the 30' trailers in the mid-90s. We came across a '96 that had one, so I had to go look on Airstream's site, and sure enough there it is. The generator option came with 40 lb propane bottles.
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Old 08-03-2012, 10:17 AM   #11
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Say Chris, I'll take the Boeshield/CorrosionX deal, would you trade for delamitation protectant?

doug k
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Old 08-03-2012, 10:22 AM   #12
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Say Chris, I'll take the Boeshield/CorrosionX deal, would you trade for delamitation protectant?

doug k
Doug,
I'd be happy to send you the corrosion products - Tiffin warranty's that for 10 years (longer than I will have it), Airstream (as you know) doesn't warranty shell corrosion.

Chris
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Old 08-03-2012, 10:44 AM   #13
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Pictures of that SOB so we can see how the rich and famous live?

Dave



[QUOTE=cms4140;1182913]I recently went the other direction. About 6 weeks ago I sold my AS rig and bought a new Tiffin 39' DP with a dozen slideouts, power/pushbutton this and thats, and one of those dreaded swirly mutli-color paint jobs. "
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