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Old 08-03-2004, 03:12 PM   #1
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You guys scare me!

My new-to-me 1975 25' Tradewind is (patiently) sitting in an RV storage facility, waiting for me to buy a tow vehicle. But as I read through the posts (a lot, everyday!), I feel more and more intimidated by the whole process - not just buying the perfect (but cheap) tow vehicle, but learning all the ins and outs of systems operations....even though the very nice PO has offered to give me lots of advice and help.

As i read through the posts, it seems like things are always breaking.

Or semi's are blowing trailers off the road.

Or awnings are buckling.

Or tires are blowing.

Or pipes are leaking.

And you all just seem so darn handy and capable!

I worry that I have taken on more than I can handle. Maybe I should stay away from the forum (which I have tried to do - unsuccessfully, of course - in the past week).

Am I being neurotic, or have others of you gone through this with your first trailer/airstream experience? I think I needs words of encouragement.
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Old 08-03-2004, 03:15 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nettepdx
I think I needs words of encouragement.
Feel the power......embrace the Dark Side.
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Old 08-03-2004, 03:20 PM   #3
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great...

Quote:
Originally Posted by 87MH
Feel the power......embrace the Dark Side.
Ha...thanks a lot Dennis. That really helps!

Next?
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Old 08-03-2004, 03:29 PM   #4
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Annette,

you need to look at the forum with the understanding that the easy stuff or the trips where nothing goes wrong rarely ever get talked about. This means that the forum has a slightly "rain again" sound or attitude to it.

I have yet to read a thread where someone cheered the fact that the winterizing of their unit was perfect and they were able to start using it without issue. Or that they bought a unit with 2/4/6 new tires, fresh bearings and brakes for a song from someone getting out of Airstreaming that was perfect from day one.


Yes there are some systems you need to learn about. If the PO is willing to help, take it! Learn all you can, it will form a foundation for additional learning. The systems are not any more complicated than those in your home. The big difference is that they are mounted on a movable platform.

The Tow vehicle issue is at times a black art. Getting the right one today, but considering the possible future upgrades in trailer size, etc makes it a best fit today, and ignore the future upgrades, or buy too much vehicle now on the chance you will upgrade.

Some one here said it best. There is not a tow vehicle that will outlast your Airstream, so my advice if you are buying used is get 125% of what you need today and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow. V8 powered F150 (94 and up)with towing packages are normally going to be rated to tow what you have. Bigger the engine the better, and be sure it has a factory towing package. Lots of choices out there.
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Old 08-03-2004, 03:37 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thenewkid64
.....Yes there are some systems you need to learn about....
Take up the PO's offer to help - but I think the best way is to find someone with another Airstream to camp with for the first couple of outings - and have the owner (the other camper) show you (not do it for you - show you) how to operate the other systems.

If you can't find anyone close, pull your rig to a Forum or WBCCI ralley, tell someone what the situation is, and I bet you will find plenty of advice.
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Old 08-03-2004, 03:40 PM   #6
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Dear NET;

It won't be that bad once you get going. There probably is not the perfect tow vehicle, but the best I can do for my use is a B2500 Dodge Van with a 318 or 360 engine. Used ones are cheap but they are very reliable. I tow a 29' Excella with my '97 conversion model. I use a standard Reese load level hitch with 1000 lb. spring bars, a standard friction anti- sway bar, and a Prodigy Brake control. I get very little disturbance from passing trucks or side winds. Buy you hitch from a good local dealer (if you didn't get one with the trailer) and have the dealer set it up properly. If you got a hitch with the trailer, pay a good dealer to adjust it when you get your tow vehicle. If your tow vehicle is not equipped with a hitch receiver and Brake control, you will have to have that installed by a dealer. Also, if you are not handy, have the dealer check the age of your tires, repack your bearings and check the electric brakes. A tire that is more than 4 or 5 years old, and sits outside, probably should be replaced no matter how much tread is on it. Dive in - It will work for you. Good Luck. Jeff
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Old 08-03-2004, 03:41 PM   #7
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don't worry, be happy!

Quote:
Originally Posted by thenewkid64
you need to look at the forum with the understanding that the easy stuff or the trips where nothing goes wrong rarely ever get talked about. This means that the forum has a slightly "rain again" sound or attitude to it.
Thanks Brett. Actually, so many of the posts are done with humor and in such good spirit....maybe I just need to double up on my anti-anxiety meds


With the PO's help, I now know how to a) lock the trailer door (has a stubborn lock); b) lower the step; c) turn on the power; d) extend the table; e) open the windows (at least a couple of them), and f) operate the fantastic fan! woohoo!

And I'm glad to hear your recommendation about the F150. I don't want to get off on a tow vehicle tangent here, but that is what I'm looking at, with the 5.4L engine.
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Old 08-03-2004, 03:47 PM   #8
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camping plans

Quote:
Originally Posted by 87MH
Take up the PO's offer to help - but I think the best way is to find someone with another Airstream to camp with for the first couple of outings - and have the owner show you (not do it for you - show you) how to operate the other systems.
The PO bought his daughter's 1994 Sovereign, she bought a new CCD, and they have all graciously offered to go camping with me...so I agree, I think this is the way to go.

OK, I'm feeling better already.
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Old 08-03-2004, 03:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjlingl
Dive in - It will work for you. Good Luck. Jeff
You're right, Jeff. What's the worst that can happen? If I break down - or get stuck - somewhere, I can always pull the "damsel in distress routine" (which I'm not too good at but I'll practice, practice, practice).
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Old 08-03-2004, 03:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nettepdx
Thanks Brett. Actually, so many of the posts are done with humor and in such good spirit....maybe I just need to double up on my anti-anxiety meds
That may just be the Adult beverages clouding our recollections. But the idea is that as long as it was maintained in some fashion it will still work for you, until you figure it out. So dive in, the water is fine!
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Old 08-03-2004, 03:56 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thenewkid64
That may just be the Adult beverages clouding our recollections. But the idea is that as long as it was maintained in some fashion it will still work for you, until you figure it out. So dive in, the water is fine!
OK, so that's the second "dive in" advice. Did I mention that I can't swim?
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Old 08-03-2004, 03:59 PM   #12
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Annette,

Please remember that people are buying their trailers at very different stages of quality, so repairs are greatly dependant on previous owners (POs).

You are also reading issues that hundreds of people are having, rather than hundreds of issues that every person is having. Yes, some folks have some extraordinary circumstances and experiences, but I would bet it isn't the norm.

Just my two cents...
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Old 08-03-2004, 04:20 PM   #13
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Hey Annette

I see it as a sign of intelligence that you are concerned. I searched and studied, and asked for months before I embarked on a voyage. But it
is hard to know when you have learned enough.
Here is a link to a site of a guy who lived in his rig for 5 years.
There is a wealth of information there.
http://bart.ccis.com/home/mnemeth/index.htm
Many of the tasks you will learn how to do will have steps that have a specific order. I wrote them down at first. I also made lists of things
that I needed to bring. If you have questions......ask us.
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Old 08-03-2004, 04:26 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mandolindave
I see it as a sign of intelligence that you are concerned. I searched and studied, and asked for months before I embarked on a voyage. But it
is hard to know when you have learned enough.
Here is a link to a site of a guy who lived in his rig for 5 years.
There is a wealth of information there.
http://bart.ccis.com/home/mnemeth/index.htm
Many of the tasks you will learn how to do will have steps that have a specific order. I wrote them down at first. I also made lists of things
that I needed to bring. If you have questions......ask us.
I think it's the "searching and studying" that I like best - it's the "doing" that has me boggled!

I have visited that site - many times. Too bad he's given up the full-timing lifestyle.
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Old 08-03-2004, 05:05 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nettepdx
...and they have all graciously offered to go camping with me...so I agree, I think this is the way to go...
I think that is the greatest way to start out. My maiden voyage with a fully functional Overlander will occur soon, and it would be great to have a wizened individual advising me along the way, and at the campsite.

You're set

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Old 08-03-2004, 05:05 PM   #16
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Dive in...

Somebody will save you if you start drowning... although they may let you drown for a while first!

And, Annette, there IS a perfect tow vehicle, perfect trailer, perfect hitch, AND perfect brake controller. Of course, they're the ones I own! The rest of these guys just can't seem to agree with ME!

Seriously, I bought my first Airstream in '87 (a '70 Safari Special) and knew NOTHING about it but that it was silver. Immediately, I had to replace the commode (it was missing, and I got one with the wrong height, but I installed it anyway), the water heater (a daunting task for a first timer who hadn't a clue), install a deadbolt lock (I was fulltiming in a questionable are, although I didn't know what 'fulltiming' was at the time), and had to install a new heating element in the refrigerator, all without the benefit of an Airstream dealer for 400 miles or Al Gore's internet. Thank God for San Diego Trailer Supply on El Cajon Blvd. in San Diego back then. And trust me when I tell you that my skills as a plumber/electrician/handyman weren't (and still aren't) necessarily first rate!

But I muddled my way through, and the repairs held fine for the eight years we had the trailer, and the eight my in-laws have had it.

You'll do fine. None of the maintenance work is rocket science, although some of it is tedious and may require you to be a contortionist. AND the dealer network is substantially better today than it was then.

Best of luck. Don't worry, be happy. Dive right in, the water's fine!

Roger
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Old 08-03-2004, 07:16 PM   #17
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Just STAY AWAY from the RV repair shops! If there are problems, bring them here first.
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Old 08-03-2004, 07:31 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nettepdx
And I'm glad to hear your recommendation about the F150. I don't want to get off on a tow vehicle tangent here, but that is what I'm looking at, with the 5.4L engine.
Ditto, the F-150/5.4L w/tow package is a fine tow vehicle. Also, any of the other American 1/2-ton's are fine. IMHO the import 1/2-ton's need to be proven as tow vehicles in this country...they probably will do OK, but I'd prefer someone else's money take the chance.

There is a lot to learn, but that shouldn't stop you from just 'do(ing) it! As pointed out, the perfect trips and flawless operation of our trailers hardly gets a mention (it's probably expected). JUST DO IT!!!
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Old 08-03-2004, 07:50 PM   #19
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The Force... err, Forum... is with you!

Annette,

We we purchased our 1970 in May, I had never set foot inside an Airstream. I didn't know a black tank from a gaucho. I opted for a unit that was cheap(er), knowing I would have work to do (burst pipes, new flooring, new upholstery, new water heater, tires and brakes) I am certainly not mechanically inclined but I had a vision that one day soon I would be camping in the one of the finest trailers ever built. I really began to enjoy the process of repairing and restoring an American classic. It's a cross between renovating a house and restoring an car. Along the way you learn how your Airstream operates. There will be agony and there will be ecstasy.

I needed help from a plumber once, and a carpenter once but I have been developing the confidence that comes with experience. I tried an RV technician once but found that to be a fruitless endevour. A local A/S dealership would be nice but... not one around for many miles. Initially I feared everything... from committing to a purchase (what if there's a better one somewhere that's closer??? to my tires exploding on the tow home

Far and away the best asset that we have had is this forum. From the time I joined the forum I gleaned all the info I could and searched for answers to all my questions. It was like having 5,000 mentors out there, for it seemed like everyone was further along than I was.

We just returned from our shakedown trip (close to home - just in case) and my wife and 7-year old were delighted. I spent much of the trip trying to figure out how to by-pass my leaking water heater. I finally managed to pull it last night (I actually had to hook up a tow-line to the outside and pull it out with my truck). I now have a by-pass line in place and will put the new water heater in over the off-season.

We're leaving this weekend for a 2-week trip only 2 hours away and will be parked the whole time, so we are already able to enjoy ourselves in a great Provincial Park (BC). So we'll have to boil water to do the dishes... the stove works great. We even have an oven! The campground has hot showers and the fridge works on propane. We'll be at a waterfront park and my some and I will be flyfishing for salmon off the beach.

Life doesn't get much better than that!


Enjoy the process! Don't be afraid to ask for help!


Ken.
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Old 08-03-2004, 08:07 PM   #20
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annette

if paris hilton and that other dummy form california can tow an airstream anyone can!

you will find your best advice right here!

john
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