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Old 07-07-2012, 09:50 PM   #1
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San Antonio , Texas
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Any years to avoid? Newbie questions...

My wife and I are looking at getting an Airstream. Primarily because we think they are so cool looking. My mother-in-law has a 25' Safari and we've decided that's too small with our two kids. So we're looking at a 30' or 34'. Which models are the wide-bodies? In reality, a regular old 30', boxy, bunkhouse would make more sense, but we really like the Airstreams and are okay with paying more for something with both quality and personality. It looks like there are deals on models roughly 15-20 years old. Since the quality is supposed to be so good, I'm not worried about that. That being said, are there years to avoid? It seems like every brand has a period of ownership change, etc where the quality takes a dive, then picks up.

I know ACs and refrigerators have about a ten year lifespan. Do Airstreams have any special equipment or will any standard RV Norcold or Dometic fridge work? Any cost estimates to add a second AC (we're in Texas)?

I've seen some deals on Airstreams with banged up panels. I assume that's because it's crazy expensive to have them replaced? One in particular looks like the guy had some issues backing it up and just ran into something. Everything else looks great, but the banged up panels would drive me nuts.

That's it. We'd appreciate any advice to avoid any pitfalls.

Thanks,

Bryan
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Old 07-07-2012, 10:03 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forums! I have the 34' and have really enjoyed it. Once you get used to the size, towing and backing aren't really a big deal.
I like having the back bedroom separated by a hallway; it is nice to have with kids. I have two little girls under 5, they love camping in the airstream!
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Old 07-07-2012, 11:29 PM   #3
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It isn't so much a matter of years to avoid, as identifying severe problems. Getting someone familiar with Airstream to inspect a used model is a great idea. The biggest, major potential problem is water damage to the floor. A lot of the floor is hidden, and being able to spot the typical signs of floor damage is essential. You can have a 20 year old trailer that is good as new, or a minor leak in a 2 year old trailer that went undetected and requires substantial repair.

Panel damage is not usually a big deal structurally, but you are right - it looks bad. The panels themselves are ~$500 for end panels, but require quite a bit of time and the proper tools to replace correctly. My dealer just estimates $5K per panel as a rough guideline. If you are a bit handy, and invest in some good tools, you can do a lot of it yourself.

Fridges, water pumps, A/C... all standard RV issue gear. Plan on around ~$1200 or so for a new A/C...

If the trailer is more than 10 years old, you'll want to be thorough in checking axles, brakes, frame... as the shiney shell can detract you from looking at the running gear...
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Old 07-07-2012, 11:39 PM   #4
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The early 70's long AS are maybe not the best of the units they made. Frame sag and rear separation issues are common. Floors can be an issue with most any of them, be very sure to take a sharp pick to any floor where a leak could have occurred. That means anywhere on the trailer.

The appliances are all standard RV, other than the large units that had a stove top and an oven in two different locations. Those are special and not real available anymore I believe.

A second AC unit may cost you close to $1000 to install it. The bigger problem is running two AC units on a single 30 amp electrical hookup. That is iffy at best.

Yes, banged up panels are very expensive to repair/replace. You might even do it yourself, that is bang one up...LOL. Tire failure can aslo make an expensive mess of the wheel wells and side walls. Put good new tires on when you get one, and replace them about each 6 or 7 years (some say 5).
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Old 07-08-2012, 09:06 AM   #5
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Thanks for the info. This jogged my memory. A few years ago I worked with a guy who's an Airstream FREAK. He has retired and spends a lot of time on the road, hopefully I can get in touch with him. If anybody knows a guy named Kerry in central Texas who's interested in old Airstreams, kindly put him in touch with me!

Thanks,

Bryan
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Old 07-08-2012, 09:57 AM   #6
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Bryan,
Linda and I were in your place about two years ago. We *really* wanted an Airstream, so we started the research. After reading a LOT here on the forum, talking to people who owned them, and going to visit dealers and sellers, we settled on a floor plan we really wanted. That made *shopping* a lot easier. We found ours on rvtrader.com which has the facility to search for just Airstreams in April 2011. YOUR perfect AS is out there, just keep looking.
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