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Old 07-08-2016, 03:34 PM   #1
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2016 25' Flying Cloud
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Friday Harbor , Washington
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 21
Newcomer to AS with unusual need.

General advice please for one (me) planning to use the AS, Flying Cloud, 25 as a residence on an island in the Pacific NW. I am retired and simply want a home for myself and will travel with a motorhome. I have such questions as removing the black water via a septic tank service? Or winterizing needed when away January and February? Or the desirability of an overhead structure to protect the AS from rain or snow or dust? And, as I have seen others post quality issues on just-delivered models, and, as I will not easily take warranty issues back to the dealer, shouldn't I campout at the dealership for a week to test operations, getting easier fixes and access to questions? Any advice is going to be valued. Thanks.

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Old 07-08-2016, 03:50 PM   #2
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1991 34' Excella
Princeton , New Jersey
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Don't even consider buying a new Airstream unless you have more money than I do. The warranty issues are better left to others and then buy the unit after they have gotten it fixed.

Can you put a holding tank in the ground or a bladder tank on the ground under the unit where you are going to park the unit. Removing black water 30-40 gallons at a time is really going to hurt. I assume a septic field on location is out from a cost stand point.

Winterizing is not all that hard and strongly suggested if you are leaving the unit in Jan. If you have a small compressor and blow the lines out and drain the hot water heater a gallon of antifreeze is more than what you will need.

Empty the frig and dry the freezer put before you leave.

If the unit does not already have a 3 stage convertor put one in the keep the batteries up.

2004 Excursion 4x4
1991 34 ft. Excella +220,000 miles, new laminated flooring, new upholstery, new 3200 lbs axles

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Old 07-08-2016, 04:40 PM   #3
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Morrill , Nebraska
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I am afraid you will slowly destroy the A$ in the wet salt air environment. The aluminum will oxidize and probably grow mold. The interior without being vented will get musty really bad in those winter months. IMHO
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Old 07-09-2016, 11:23 PM   #4
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2014 27' FB International
Western WA , Washington
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A few thoughts:

I would strongly recommend keeping it under a roof to reduce the amount of moss, algae, etc. that would likely grow on the shell if it's not protected. This would also minimize the risk of leaks as it ages, keep you cooler in summer, and maybe keep you a bit warmer at night in the winter (heat would not radiate into space quite as fast on clear cold nights).

If you're not there in the depths of winter you should plan to winterize per the suggestion above. Even if you have power at the site, you could run out of propane or perhaps the power itself might fail for a time. Best to be safe.

Assuming you're using the head in the trailer, life will certainly be easier if you can connect it up to a sewer outlet so it's easy to dump when full. Alternatively, you may wish to consider switching to a good composting toilet, which would altogether eliminate the need for a black water tank. Don't have a good answer for gray water disposal, though a composting toilet would enable you to use the combined volume of both tanks for grey water. Another choice might be to add a bathroom & shower to the building you put up to protect the trailer.

Constant exposure to salt air may still be an issue but you could probably reduce the risk by treating the skin with corrosion x and such like. There are lots of threads here on that topic.

If you buy new, you should definitely plan to camp near the dealer for a while to get through the biggest things you may initially find that need to be repaired under warranty. That said, we spent a good two years finding and fixing issues under warranty. Oh, and here's a link to the kind of things we'd look at carefully if we ever buy another new Airstream:

You may want to consider a gently used trailer instead - perhaps recently out of warranty or with maybe 6 months left on the warranty. That way, someone else will have made a good start on identifying and fixing the most egregious warranty issues on your behalf.

Good luck!
Rocinante is our 2014 International Signature 27FB
(Named for John Steinbeck's camper from "Travels With Charley")

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Old 07-10-2016, 11:54 AM   #5
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2016 30' Classic
Santa Rosa , California
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While camping at the dealer will identify some issues, others wont appear until you've traveled with it - ie. bouncing and shaking on the road
Happy Trails,
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Old 07-10-2016, 06:16 PM   #6
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2003 31' Classic
Terra Alta , West Virginia
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Wondering why Airstream if your travels are in a motor home and the AS is parked. They (AS) are such a good travelers. No matter what you use though, I believe the protection of at least a roof would be good..and maybe the a side where there is the most harsh exposure.
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Old 07-10-2016, 06:25 PM   #7
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You'd be better spending the money to build a small cabin. A stationary Airstream isn't the most efficient use. Winter living isn't impossible but a chore , even in our climate. I've done it and wouldn't want to do it again. These aren't 4 season trailers and living in one intriduce you to this reality very quickly. An insulated A-frame would be cheap and easy to build, leaving money for a proper septic field and well. More comfortable in the winter, too.
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Old 07-11-2016, 09:21 AM   #8
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1985 25' Sovereign
LaGrange Highlands , Illinois
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Y would U put an airstream on a lot to live in. They R made to travel in not set still. Get a sob for less cash and park it. As for a pump out that is done all the time at rallys longer than 5 days. Winterizing is no problem with a small compressor.
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Old 07-11-2016, 09:51 AM   #9
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Consider a "park model". They are designed and built for your needs, Airstreams are not.
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Old 08-13-2016, 10:43 AM   #10
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2016 25' Flying Cloud
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Friday Harbor , Washington
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It seems reasonable to let you all know what is now planned after so much thoughtful advice (but don't stop). I am taking delivery this month. Those raising quality concerns resulted in the Seattle dealer giving me two RV camping days at a regional RV resort afterward the shop fixing anything before the dealer delivers the trailer to a prepared site adjacent to power and water on San Juan Is.Black water removal will be with a septic tank service as needed. Gray water is likely drained via French drain -- still under study. Any concern for winter season (average temp 45-50) is mitigated by travel away, and perhaps extra ceramic heating unit. 30 amp service, direct from nearby building seems enough. As this is my retirement home (80 yr. old) for a nomad, I will move about with a motorhome -- as I have for decades. I chose the more costly AS as it is the 'cool' look desired. A walkout deck will be constructed. Should I remove the wheels? Anything else critical? Thanks to all.
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Old 08-13-2016, 11:07 AM   #11
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if it is going to sit for a prolonged period of time get the weight off the axles. Up on blocks. They do not like sitting. As for the tires that is your choice.

As a rule of thumb limit your electric heaters to a total of 12 amps on each of the 2 circuits. Even when you are away the convertor will be on. Make sure to turn off the electric hot water heater if you have one and the frig.

Often people leave a dehumidifier in a closed up trailer in wet area of the country. Calculate the draw in you total current needs.
2004 Excursion 4x4
1991 34 ft. Excella +220,000 miles, new laminated flooring, new upholstery, new 3200 lbs axles

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Old 08-13-2016, 12:31 PM   #12
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Hanalei, /Chino Valley , Hawaii / Arizona
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Hi Rob, sounds like you are closing in on your plan coming together.
As a relative newcomer to the RV world, I take some comfort in seeing a long timer such as yourself, coming up with such a similar plan to my own.

Friday Harbor, sweet spot, salt should not be too heavy there. Is there some reason you can't put in a septic system? Building a roof as Rocinante mentioned seems like a very good idea. Some extension of the roof could create an inside/ outside dry living area, just out your door.

I do find it a bit funny that many here don't feel you should get to enjoy the good looks and very pleasant interior of an airstream just because you don't plan to travel with it. Certainly there are cheaper more roomy choices but they are not airstream.

You could put it up on Jack stands/ blocks to save the suspension while its sitting.

Do share some pics once you get it settled in.

Cheers Richard
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Old 08-13-2016, 01:47 PM   #13
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1974 31' Sovereign
1979 23' Safari
Wayland , New York
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If you can't put in a fully functioning septic system for some reason, you may want to consider putting a 500 gallon round septic tank in the ground with just an inlet. Use it to collect black water and reduce the number of trips the septic service will have to make.
WA minimum requires a 2 compartment tank for functioning septic system. It costs a little more, but if you used a 1000gal 2 compartment tank, it would be there for future upgrade.

The reduced number of trips will probably pay for itself in about 1-2 years.
I think you'd find needing the honey pot to come about once a week for your black water. Figure at least $50 per trip, more if they have to drive quite a ways.
If you own a good size chunk of land you can probably get away with draining gray water to the ground. Though you might want to run it to some drain pipe buried slightly to help get it away from the trailer.
In NY (state with way to many regs) it was possible to drain separated gray water to a drain pipe covered in a shallow trench covered with 1-2" crushed stone.

Go talk to a septic company for a 20-30 min sit down, bring some beer for some free advice.

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