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Old 04-30-2014, 10:52 AM   #1
ray
 
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I am trying to weigh the advantage of owning an airstream compared to a standard driveable RV. I do understand the value of being able to leave the trailer behind, as you drive your vehicle on day trips. Aside from that?????

O.K. So let's say you convince me it is better to buy an airstream. Now what. How do you go about assuring yourself you are not going to end up with someone else's problems. I really do NOT want to buy a bucket of rivets, if you know what I mean.

What is the best size for towing great distances, e.g. to Alaska, and thru Canada, from the U.S.? Thanks in advance. ray
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Old 04-30-2014, 11:20 AM   #2
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Trailer that you tow, vs motorhome that you drive. Airstream makes both kinds.

We opted for the motorhome. Ease of driving and parking, won out over having more space. We also didn't want to have to buy a truck or car to tow a trailer.
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Old 04-30-2014, 11:24 AM   #3
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There are no complete "assurances" if you buy used. Any vehicle or trailer you get will have its own set of problems. If you need something that is trouble free, maybe this isn't the time for you to buy?

That being said, only you know which problems you are more able to handle. If you buy used, you will most certainly end up with "someone else's problems." It goes with the territory of buying used. But often the discount is worth getting your hands a bit dirty, figuring out what needs to be done and doing it.

So you need to ask yourself - "What are my resources?" Do you have the financial resources to pay someone to do the work? In that case, what sort of workers (Airstream vs. non Aistream) are close to you? If not, then new questions come up.

Are you mechanically handy? Trailers don't have engines. Driveable RV's do.

Do you have access to tools? If they are tools that would help you deal with the sorts of troubles you find people describing on the forum, you're in good shape.

Do you like a challenge and learning a new skill? An Airstream is an excellent choice. Not only is there a vast, helpful community willing to share their expertise, but any work you do put into them will help them last indefinitely. Aluminum doesn't rot. That can't be said for a non-Airstream.
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Old 04-30-2014, 11:25 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rferrari View Post
I am trying to weigh the advantage of owning an airstream compared to a standard driveable RV. I do understand the value of being able to leave the trailer behind, as you drive your vehicle on day trips. Aside from that?????
You mean the benefits of travel trailers over motorhomes? Like this:

1. In general you can get your tow vehicle repaired more easily and cheaply than you can get chassis repairs (engine, driveline, steering, suspension, etc) performed on a motorhome.

2. Motorhomes reach a point where, due to age and parts availability, chassis maintenance becomes impractical and costly. With travel trailers you can buy a newer tow vehicle and don't need to scrap the coach.

3. If chassis repairs become necessary, on the road, you can still live in your trailer.

4. You can disconnect your tow vehicle at a campsite and drive it for side trips. To be able to do this with a motorhome you would have to tow a small car, with the attendant cost, complexity, and maintenance.

5. In general, travel trailers have better interior layouts because they do not have to be designed around the driver's seat. They also make better use of the forward view out of a campsite.

6. It is possible to carry a spare tire for a travel trailer, and within most people's physical capabilities to install it. With motorhomes there is usually no spare so they are reliant on outside assistance in the event of a flat.

7. Total purchase price is generally lower, even including the tow vehicle, when comparing combinations of like age and condition.

8. Tow vehicles better protect occupants in a crash than motorhomes. Motorhomes are exempt from crash testing and many other safety regulations that apply to pickups and SUVs.

Quote:
O.K. So let's say you convince me it is better to buy an airstream. Now what. How do you go about assuring yourself you are not going to end up with someone else's problems. I really do NOT want to buy a bucket of rivets, if you know what I mean.
There is no short answer. Read the forums.

Quote:

What is the best size for towing great distances, e.g. to Alaska, and thru Canada, from the U.S.? Thanks in advance. ray
Any size will work as long as it is within the capabilities of the tow vehicle. Forum member 2airishuman, who rarely posts these days, used to travel over 10,000 miles a year in a 34' trailer. No idea what he's up to now.
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Old 04-30-2014, 12:31 PM   #5
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I can tell you about our recent experience buying used.

We recently purchased a used 2011 Flying Cloud FB27. Ours is one owner, bought originally in Little Rock, AR., by an older couple who traded for a diesel pusher bus. Their reason for trading is to avoid having to hook-up since they're older. But, you would still have to hook-up a vehicle to tow unless you want to uproot a driveable RV everytime you want to sitesee, go to the grocery store, etc...

If you can find a mint-condition, one-owner used, the price is greatly reduced. We bought ours way-under the MSRP and are very happy with our decision. I believe whether you buy used or new, you still need to be able to fix the easy to moderate issues yourself.
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Old 04-30-2014, 02:52 PM   #6
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Welcome to the Forums!

On the topic of "how do you avoid buying someone else's problems?" you don't mention what age of trailer you are interested in. Truth is that there can be problems with any age of trailer (or RV), so do some research here on the forums to educate yourself on how to do a thorough inspection, what to look for, and what are the common issues of trailers of certain generations. A used trailer is just like a used car, house, or RV, it doesn't matter who the manufacturer is, they can all have problems, especially with age/neglect. Many people buy a 40-50 year old vintage trailer thinking they will be camping after a little cleaning up, but find themselves doing a shell-off rebuild (I'm one of those).

An extra layer of complexity comes when you buy a vintage trailer that has been "restored" by a previous owner--you have to learn what to look for to identify that "polished turd," and to separate real craftsmanship from superficial "lipstick on a pig."

Good luck!
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Old 04-30-2014, 03:36 PM   #7
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I now own both a B Van and a trailer. We wanted the Camper Van for short weekend trips where we camp in one place the whole time and never expect to have to run out for food or entertainment... Festivals and the like. It is substantially easier to prep for the impromptu excursion on a whim. something I am prone to do. Its also easier to park at festivals... especially if you arrive late and the prime RV spots are already taken. I also get over 50% better mileage so we are likely to use it more often.

We bought a nice manageable trailer for towing when we were driving 500 or so miles at a time and wanting something to vacation with our dogs in.

Couple comments on the posts so far.

1) Safety - some would argue that the B-Van can keep you out of trouble in an emergency maneuver better than towing a trailer. I subscribe to that. Plus, the newest Sprinter Chassis just making its way into the upfitters shops has nearly all of the safety features of a good car... Air bags including thorax and head protection, all of the nanny features like lane keeping assist, blind spot assist and many more. Keeps you from getting into trouble to begin with.

2) Layout - we actually prefer our RT camper van to our trailer for a number of reasons.. in floor radiant heat, bigger fridge, instant hot water, bigger bed, etc etc.

3) Longevity - Sprinter vans are based on a tried and true chassis with Diesel engines that will outlast every other motor on the road including those in most tow vehicles. Yes its a single point of failure but easy to find mechanics wherever you go. The trailers are good too, better than SOBs, but if you listen to some folks obsess about things like rotten floors and corrosion, you'll never make the choice. Fact is that those things are either trivial or rare. There's a lot of noise on these forums!

We bought our trailer new, one model year old and saved a fair amount. I prefer to start with a known quantity and go from there. Same for the Van. I will likely keep both until I am gone from this existence. That's why I chose what I did, a permanent solution to leisure travel.

I plan on keeping the trailer in California at our daughter's for long range West coast jaunts and our B van closer to home. Plus the trailer is ideal for her young family. She won't mind having the TV for other things too.

Lastly, my wife feels comfortable driving the van as opposed to the truck with three tons riding behind it, something we all appreciate after reading about Doug and Maggie's sad tragedy on the road. 'Nuf said.
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Old 04-30-2014, 05:40 PM   #8
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Old 04-30-2014, 06:01 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rferrari View Post
I am trying to weigh the advantage of owning an airstream compared to a standard driveable RV. I do understand the value of being able to leave the trailer behind, as you drive your vehicle on day trips. Aside from that?????
You've completely left out the case of a motorhome pulling a toad, so that if you want to park the motorhome and use it for a base, you still have something to drive. And so that if you're on the far edge of nowhere— because the middle of nowhere isn't far enough off the beaten path— having a toad means you're less likely to be stranded because you have not one, but two driveable vehicles.

Quote:
O.K. So let's say you convince me it is better to buy an airstream. Now what. How do you go about assuring yourself you are not going to end up with someone else's problems. I really do NOT want to buy a bucket of rivets, if you know what I mean.
There is one very easy answer, and it applies whether you get an Airstream or some other brand— buy new. That gets you a warranty, and while it doesn't absolutely guarantee that you will have no trouble (otherwise why do you need a warranty) it does guarantee that any problems are all yours and not inherited from the previous owner. If you buy used for whatever reason, you may have to shop around for a good deal on a trailer in good condition that hasn't already been snatched up by another aspiring Airstreamer. And as others have said, there are no guarantees that you won't be buying the prior owner's problems. Most states' "lemon laws" do not apply to travel trailers.

Quote:
What is the best size for towing great distances, e.g. to Alaska, and thru Canada, from the U.S.? Thanks in advance. ray
Any size trailer can make the trip, as long as the tow vehicle's capacity meets the trailer's requirements. And while I haven't traveled vast distances yet and this bit of advice may be presumptuous, there are two basic philosophies. You have to decide which philosophy best fits your needs:

1 - The smallest you can stand to live in, because you're less limited in where you can go or where you can stay; no one ever complains that their trailer is too small for the available campsites!

2 - The largest you can afford or the largest you can pull with the tow vehicle you've got. Because all the living space you have is what you bring with you, especially when the weather doesn't cooperate and you're cooped up inside. Space is also important when one member of the expedition is cranky and irritable; even a small amount of privacy can be a lifesaver. Or at least a marriage saver.
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Old 04-30-2014, 10:31 PM   #10
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I believe that it is better to err on too big of a unit than to err on to small of a unit. These units seem to get smaller inside on a rainy day when outside activity is curtailed.

I goofed badly when I selected our first Airstream trailer (25FB International Serenity) without spending any time in one on a dealer lot. If we had done the correct research, we would have started with the 27FB model and there would not have been the bed issue for us. Then we would not have switched after less than a year into the 31' Classic model 30.

Airstream Los Angeles has a substantial inventory and may be close (a relative term in California) at 1212 E. Las Tunas Dr., San Gabriel, CA 91776.

This link will allow you to search the Airstream factory web site for dealer locations and links to their respective web pages:

Airstream, Inc :: Home

Look at top of page for search bubbles.

Good luck with your search for the perfect unit.
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Old 04-30-2014, 11:07 PM   #11
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We spend six months a year in our Airstream and our 25' is perfect for us. Anything smaller is uncomfortable for long term living. Anything larger is uncomfortable in many campsites, gas stations, and towing in mountains without a substantial tow vehicle. And a more substantial tow vehicle can be uncomfortable as a daily driver when away from home.

So it depends on how you might use it. The best touring vehicles we ever owned were a series of four VW Campers we traveled the country with over a 35 year period.

As for buying used, get help from someone very knowledgable about Airstreams. They're anything but bulletproof, actually somewhat fragile in the wrong hands. Leaving these little works of art out in the rain too many years without ongoing maintenance can prove disastrous to your wallet. Have some extra money and time set aside for repairs it probably will need before a long trip.
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Old 04-30-2014, 11:31 PM   #12
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Well, I can see there is no shortage of inspiring and talented people on this forum. I thank you all for your reply. To answer some of the comments, I would say that I am very capable of fixing things. I have a lot of tools. I have rented RV's and done a LOT of camping over my many years. I have been to the airstream web site, and I have looked online at the trailers for sale. One thing I noticed is there really isn't comfortable chairs or couches in the trailers. No high backed seating. I do love the general look of the trailers. I would prefer to buy new, and the cost will be the deciding factor.

I think you all did a wonderful job of explaining yourself; except Jim. He seems confused, and we might as well leave that one alone. Thanks again for your responses. I look forward to the hunt for a new adventure vehicle. And I will look into the class B vehicles. I have used class C RV's before, and was actually considering a small class A. We'll see how this goes. Thanks everyone. ray
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