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Old 11-21-2016, 12:19 AM   #15
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2008 22' Sport
Spicewood (W of Austin) , Texas
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Originally Posted by kb0zke View Post sure that the dealer makes enough money on the sale that he can afford to detail your coach to your satisfaction. ...if the dealership only makes $500 on your $150,000 MSRP coach, do you really think that they will be willing to have a couple of techs spend a week looking for and fixing small problems before you take delivery? Would you?....
I'm appalled at that advice. "Be sure the dealer makes a nice profit" is unworthy of belief. Any AS dealer who's been in business for more than a year or two selling AS's knows how to make money. That should NOT be a concern of any buyer. A seller knows what his margin is and is not going to take any injury with the mindset he can make up low margin by refusing to provide after-the-sale service. Any warranty work is ALSO A PROFITABLE activity for a dealer, as he is paid by the factory for his labor. Additionally, that weak advice presumes that the buyer is either purchasing a troublesome product which will require difficult repairs the seller might not want to do.....or the dealer will refuse to perform his obligations to prepare the delivery and complete the sale.
Horsefeathers! Any dealer in AS's will want to preserve his reputation for follow up business and referrals by the buyer. It's called Economics/Marketing 101.
Gonzo, WELCOME to the tribe of AS owners. Keep in mind that most folks come here to the forums to seek info on mx and operations, and all such forums of this type have a cadre of whiners and complainers. The Airstream product is the best on the market.... period.
I personally do not wish to take the depreciation of pulling one off the showroom floor, but if that's your preference.... then as the buyer you get to choose. So many people new to RV-ing buy and shortly upgrade/upsize/downgrade/downsize to fit their needs that many sell slightly used units at bargain-prices compared to new units. I'm one of those who prefer to let someone else take the "hickey" and work out the "kinks" in new equipment. I bought a barely/lightly-used unit 5 years old for about 40% less than the original owner paid. After a year and a half, I have turned down offers more than I paid for it and it's not for sale!
Yes, I found a few weak points and I fixed them. And I modified a few things to better serve my needs. I found that the AS is indeed a better unit and worth the price of entry than other brands. I plan to keep it until I cannot camp anymore and then pass it to the kids or sell it and get my money back. I fully expect to take no loss if I maintain it.
Hope this helps.

2012 Ram 1500 Crew Cab 4.7L 4X4
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Old 11-21-2016, 06:10 AM   #16
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Jacksonville , Florida
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Hi gonz- We bought our FC after looking at a few other trailers, and to us there was no comparison. We had to figure out a few things on our own (this being our first TT too), but we have had a ball taking it on short excursions, at times having driveway campouts with our grandkids, and meeting up with a group of several friends who all own and love their campers (not Airstreams).

Being a boat-owner, you know there will be issues, and you will figure out how to resolve those issues. The point is- enjoy making the choice. We aren't here forever, don't wait for someone to convince you to buy/not buy something. Get on with it and have fun!!

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Old 11-21-2016, 06:11 AM   #17
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Mocksville , North Carolina
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We bought a used (2010) Flying Cloud a few years ago. Ours sits outside in the weather and it has been mostly trouble free. We have worked on a few small things that came up, but they have all been small issues that I could resolve myself. I think the quality is good. It is certainly much better than my parents "some other brand" trailer. I'm not sure it is worth the huge premium that Airstream charges, but we love ours anyway and do not regret purchasing an Airstream. We didn't try to justify the cost difference. We just decided we like the Airstream and if we were going to buy a trailer then nothing else would do. I agree that forums seem to focus on the problems. People either need help with a problem or they need a place to vent, but there are plenty of older Airstreams still around that are a testimony to the long term durability of the trailers.
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Old 11-21-2016, 06:42 AM   #18
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We are also about to buy a 2017 or 2018 Int'l Sig 25 FB next year. We are the typical about to retire couple. We have went to many shows and dealers. We are first timers also and decided to rent one for a week before buying. Our rental trip is in April, 2017.

However, for us it is not the icon factor. It is simply the styling. If we are going to spend 2-3 weeks at a time in a 200 square foot space it needs to be "our style".

The Airstream is the only trailer (or RV) that was our style. It was the only one that when I walked inside my inner self said, "This is cool", "This is well-designed", and "I can relax here and spend the night or the week".

I am not particularly handy and there are many, many complaints on this forum. However, I suspect that if a forum existed for each trailer/RV you would find a greater number of complaints. The Airstream is made by humans and there will be flaws. I have owned airplanes, boats and many homes. Have not yet found anything that moves or is lived in that was flawless.
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Old 11-21-2016, 07:17 AM   #19
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I am going to jump in again here as one of the "complainers". I do not complain just to complain; the reason is that I am disappointed. Over my life I have been conditioned to expect to pay for quality. Certainly this was true in cars and boats, homes, home repairs, electronics, and so on. Well, my whole point with Airstream is that the quality does not meet my expectation based on the price premium. I am not selling my Airstream, I am using it. I do not wish I had bought another brand.
But, after 3.5 years I now know about their construction methods, their shortcuts, their materials and it is my opinion that they do not deserve the price premium they command. With their QC you may get a perfect trailer, as many have, or you may get a lot of problems, as some have. Yet even if you get a perfect trailer, you need to be aware of the blemishes, like the converter/charger that will cook your batteries. Yes, it is all my fault. I did not have to buy an Airstream. I can even accept that there are none better, but I am still disappointed, having owned boats and cars with real quality built in.
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Old 11-21-2016, 07:54 AM   #20
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We really like our Airstream, we really do, but I am disappointed in the overall quality of the build. Nothing huge, but enough to make me believe that from a material perspective, the price of entry isn't warranted. Am I going to dump our Airstream, no. Am I going to give Airstream a walk on water review/recommendation, no.

We enjoy ours, but that is perhaps more about the community than the trailer. I believe Airstream trailers are better constructed than most of the others, but I honestly expected more from them. Small things like the shower door seal tearing on a regular basis, loose hinges, broken plastic latches, squeaking floors are irritating and send the message to me that Thor/Airstream doesn't place enough emphasis on total quality.

Would I buy another, knowing what I do now? Maybe, but I would look more critically at the market. We also have a Northern Lite truck camper that has had no failures, no leaks, a converter that doesn't boil batteries, no loose hinges... Oliver trailers are built similarly to fiberglass campers, they enjoy a reputation for quality, and they would certainly be on my list to consider.
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Old 11-21-2016, 08:56 AM   #21
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We love our Airstream, would not buy anything else because of style and design factors. But..... as many people have pointed out, on a world where automotive design and function have advanced significantly (no leaks, very little maintenance etc) Airstreams are not built as well as Mercedes or even a high-end Ford. I believe that they are making incremental improvements which is their mantra but they could / should do much better on design, fit and finish given the cost of the coaches and innovation in other areas of transportation. That said, many other companies over the years built better coaches according to some (Avion) but in doing so have gone out of business. If you keep coming back to the Airstream while looking at RV's and you have the financial wherewithal to buy one, I'd buy a new one that you like from a reputable dealer and hold them to the fire for warranty service if required. - Brad
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Old 11-21-2016, 09:14 AM   #22
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The market sets the price. Something of poor quality is only going to sell for so long before they go out of business. At some point selling $100K+ trailers has to catch up to them if they consistently produce poor quality.

It seems like it hasn't caught up to them yet.
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Old 11-21-2016, 09:22 AM   #23
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Port Dover , ON Canada
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Hand Built vs. Robots

Originally Posted by SuperTrouper View Post
... as many people have pointed out, on a world where automotive design and function have advanced significantly (no leaks, very little maintenance etc) Airstreams are not built as well as Mercedes or even a high-end Ford.
I can remember when cars were built by people instead of robots and there were often more problems in those cars than I have found with my Airstream. I think it only stands to reason that when something is individually hand built there will be variances between units and they won't be as flawless as items built by robots. I prefer to continue to support a company that creates North American jobs, even if there are minor imperfections in the final product.
Ray B.

“One test is worth a thousand 'expert' opinions”
Sign at Boeing headquarters, posted by test pilot Alvin “Tex” Johnston, c1948
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Old 11-21-2016, 09:30 AM   #24
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I think t is worth it as long as you accept that the relationship between quality and cost is not necessarily directly proportional.

In other words IMHO I don't believe you get twice the quality for twice the price - but you likely to get a product that is "Somewhat" better.

In the case of the AS, there are also other reasons why people opt for them too as some have mentioned.

Just a personal decision and maybe not all that easy to rationalise completely!

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Old 11-21-2016, 09:41 AM   #25
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While I can't speak for the new models, I do know that some folks are never satisfied. My 43 year old trailer has been in my possession for 16 years and I couldn't be happier. At 43 my trailer has way less problems than SOB that is only a year or two old. Have some friends with a 27 or 28 foot Springdale that is a 2015, they have dealt with more issues in two years than I have in 16. While every massed produced item is bound to have a issue here or there, I do believe Airstream to be one of the few trailers that I would consider a quality unit. Are auxiliary systems and wear parts going to give issue? Sure they are but in the end you wind up with a unit that was built to be around longer than you.
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Old 11-21-2016, 09:50 AM   #26
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If you think AS has ac problems, you should see some of the SOBs. My Father in. Law bought a Cougar with a slide out about the same time we bought our AS. His is has huge issues with cheap construction, screws stripping and falling out, repairs, etc, and he paid ust over 40k for it. There is no way it will last as long as our AS.

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Old 11-21-2016, 10:03 AM   #27
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Walnut Creek , California
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We recently got a copy of "America's World Traveler - Airstream" by Patrick Foster. It provides a very interesting history of how AS developed through the years. Production has been varied. Boom and bust with quality focus from time to time. It was a survival thing.

A vintage trailer well renovated may be the best quality coach you can find.

A new trailer that was built well and well prepared by your dealer, upgraded to eliminate the design shortfalls necessary for your lifestyle and well maintained after sale will serve you well.

You absolutely must address your dealer choice first. We heard mixed reports on our dealer. Folks reported problems. Our experience was good. Seems the reason was that management got the word from owners that the service dept needed a tune up and they took action. The new Airstream corporate "Five Rivet" measurement system for dealers is a response to similar concerns across the dealer network. It measures customer satisfaction as opposed to sales volume and should make a difference. We heard about this program from the folks who posted after this year's International Rally, but just did not recognize the impact until our local WBCCI folks explained what happened. AS Corporate is responding. Looks like one of those Boom times in the making. Maybe?

When we visited the factory last year, I was very unimpressed with the state of Toyota Manufacturing System implementation. It looked like it had stalled out. That was certainly in the middle of the EXPANSION and may have been why it did not look impressive. An informed report on the current state of manufacturing is likely a more fair evaluation. Not planning another factory trip in the near future, so someone else with manufacturing experience would need to provide that information for you. Until that time, the dealer is your knight in shining armor.

My primary beef with AS QUALITY is that improvements in design to remove problems have not been implemented......but that appears to be changing a bit. The quiet AC, 15in wheels, and 12in brakes on the 23 are good examples. What I'm not hearing is the elimination of plywood, the closing up of holes, a skin assembly that eliminates leaks at assembly instead of after leak test, set of plumbing and wiring raceways, and the elimination of plumbing stress points as well as electrical system quality tweaks. Maybe?

The AS is still better appointed than the SOBs we investigated. You do the research and decide for yourself.

An AS is not magic. But it does get you a lot of smiles.

Good Luck. Pat
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Old 11-21-2016, 10:33 AM   #28
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Airstream sort of reminds me of the auto market in the '60's, when it was dominated by American brands. The top of the heap at the time was probably Cadillac, which might compare to Airstream now. Even though people who bought Cadillacs at the time certainly appreciated them, the quality control really wasn't there by modern standards. Lots of things would usually turn up before the first 500 mile trip to the dealer, and there would usually be a list of items for the dealer to correct. The lifetime of the car was about 100,000 miles without significant rebuilding, and the handling, while dignified, was far from being precise. Then along came the Japanese, and really cleaned our clocks for about 30 years, until American car manufacturers finally wised up. Today, I believe American cars are truly competitive on the world market, but it took a long time to get there.

There is really no excuse for loose or stripped screws from the factory, etc., but we accept them because we like the style and there really isn't any better alternative available (at the moment).

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