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Old 11-21-2016, 10:43 AM   #29
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2014 31' Classic
2015 23' International
2013 25' FB International
Apache Junction , Arizona
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We bought our 2012 25FB International Serenity (made in June of 2012 when production was 26 units per week) new in October of 2012. There were no issues with the trailer originally, just those caused by an inept local dealership.

We found we had selected the wrong model for us and ordered a 2014 31' Classic. I was at the factory every day for most of the production when the production rate was now 41 units per week in January 2014. Many quality control issues were pointed out by me personally to the final QC supervisor and followed up with emails. Those issues were NOT addressed at the factory. When the unit arrived, those issues plus many more were discovered, some from the record setting pace of the driver bringing the unit to the dealership.

We elected to use a well recommended third party to cure all of the issues properly with better parts and extensive modifications. This repair shop is also an Airstream authorized warranty repair shop. We have spent close to 50% of the purchase price getting the unit the way we wanted it and have upgraded many of the appliances and installed a large solar system as well. This is now a keeper and we would not want one of the newer Classics as so many of the details in ours were lost in the rush to raise the price over 25% in one year between 2014 and 2015.

Our new 2015 23D International Serenity was built in September of 2014 and production was crowding 51 units per week. I am not sure the dealer had their eyes open during the pre-delivery inspection since the word "Airstream" was missing on the back of the trailer, interior blinds were broken, the shower and toilet were improperly installed and we had scored wheel bearings due to lack of grease on the way home (at the 2,000 mile mark).

We explicitly looked for this vintage and model as we extensively disliked the so called improvements n the 2016 23D model. This has also been to the same shop and we have spent close to 50% of the price doing similar improvements and custom work and repairs. It is the way we want it.

Selecting the first RV is the real challenge as we lacked any experience with trailers (I knew quality from the Mercedes cars, boat and aircraft I had owned) so presumed higher price was higher quality.

The major saving grace for Airstream is that the aluminum body shell can last longer than I will with basic care. The achilles heel is often the plywood floor, but the aluminum can be repaired if needed. The RV makers typically use the same axle company for their frames, the same brands of appliances and it seems the cheapest fasteners they can find.

The emphasis at Airstream is now speed with several hundred new employees that are still learning their jobs as production is now over 80 units per week. They are approaching the "get a Wednesday car" mentality of the 50s and 60s with Detroit.

There are Airstream rallies all over the country. Drop in and talk with actual owners of the various models you are considering. Learn what they have done to make their trailer unique to them. As the information level increases, you will begin to sense what trim line (Flying Cloud, International Serenity or Signature, or Classic appeals to you and what might be necessary to tweak it to your preferences.

After zeroing in on the model that fits, then the search for an appropriate tow vehicle can begin.
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Old 11-21-2016, 10:48 AM   #30
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2014 27' FB International
Western WA , Washington
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Some good advice here. One that caught my eye was dkkotum's suggestion that you find a trailer you like, go over it with a fine-toothed comb, and if it passes inspection, buy it and have them lock it up until you can do the acceptance tour and take it home. BTW, you might want to very obviously write down the VIN at the time, just to help ensure there is no accidental switch later on for a different trailer of the same model.

When we shopped for Rocinante, we just looked at a series of trailers on the lot and decided we liked the model / decor of the International Signature 27FB. In our ignorance, we thought trailers were more like cars. Just tell them what you want and buy the one they give you, because they are all the same once you've made the basic decision.

Not so much! (Going back to Airstreams being hand-crafted and thus every single one is a little different.)

We spent two years getting (mostly minor but really irritating) things fixed under warranty on a regular basis. Had we been more selective about the specific trailer we were buying, we could have avoided, or at least significantly reduced, that experience. If we ever buy another new Airstream, we will be ready, willing and able to do what it takes to pick the best possible model they have on hand that meets our requirements. If we special order, we'll do the same evaluation when it arrives, and we will only accept it if that unit meets our now more-informed-and-wiser standards.


"When people show you who they are, believe them the first time." - Maya Angelou
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Old 11-21-2016, 10:49 AM   #31
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2016 22' Sport
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Sir, you've probably by now made up your mind about a potential purchase of an AS coach. After reading all the various post on the subject I would add but one thing....."keep your eyes open". I bought my AS in March of this year, a 22'Sport FB, 2016 model. Make no mistake about it..."I absolutely love it" and it has given me nearly 80 nights over close to 8000 miles since the purchase.

I can recall "after buying it" getting on this forum and hearing all the "nay sayers" about all kinds of "defects". Frankly, I dismissed them all! After all this is a "internet forum" and as someone already stated..."problems and various issues" always bubble to the top.

With that said I must admit my coach has "disappointed me" at times. But, the value that is there is over rides the defects. The problem is not the "handcrafted build" but the "cheap crap and components" they install. For me it was the little things, hinges, water valves ...things like that. For the life of me I really don't understand why AS puts it's reputation and name on the line by "cost cutting" on junk parts. But the unit came with a 2 year warranty and they "do make warranty repairs". I can say that AS customer service from the factory is "OUTSTANDING"! If they would only follow thru with "ALL PRODUCTION" as they do with customer service the trailers would be "off the chart".

Would I buy again? Tough question....probably yes but only after a very through review of what else is on the market. The RV industry at the moment is like the "American automakers" of decades ago. It took the Japanese, Koreans, and the Germans to get their attention and now the "American made products" are among the best.

If you choose to go AS I'd push the dealer "hard" for the best deal and absolutely insist that all items are to your satisfaction. It's a big purchase and I'd press hard.

Someone stated make sure the dealer "makes enough off your purchase to provide you service after the sale. That statement this is truly "stinking' thinkin! When I bought my trailer it was made clear to me that the dealer provided absolutely "NO WARRANTY"....NADA! It's not their role but rather the "manufacture". And, I can tell you dealers make a "ton off warranty repairs" as they are repaid well. I've had dealers tell me they would take all the "warranty repair work they can get"! It's a major part of their revenue.

Everything on my unit is or is in the process of repair. The coaches come with a 2yr warranty and I intend to use it as needed every step of the way.

Another thing about AS....they don't depreciate like other brands. Like any new purchase you take a hit when you take it off the lot. But they seem to hit a plateau and for those individuals who really maintain and protect their investment the value seems to "go back up". This is easy to see when other used brands are listed. You can buy them for a fraction of original cost.

In many ways the purchase of an AS is like buying "long term stock". There are going to be good days and bad....but in the long run I do believe you come out the winner.

Thru the "good, bad and ugly", I intend to keep my trailer until the "wheels fall off"! In spite of the "hiccups" and some significant disappointments "while towing cross country"....it has brought me "too much satisfaction" in other ways....some of which is "priceless". I add. None of it has to do with the so called "icon" status.

Hope you find my comments helpful.

Good Luck

Pat
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Old 11-21-2016, 10:52 AM   #32
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Ashland , Kentucky
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AS Quality? Your thoughts, is it worth it?

I'll try and address your question with tangible observations:
1) AS uses plywood (should be marine ply, but it's not a perfect world)
2) AS also uses screws when attaching things - this is mostly good
3) AS uses rivets and lots of them to try and hold things together. While this mostly works, the first thing you'll do is buy a rivet gun, rivets, and learn how to replace the 3-4 rivets you find on the floor every time you arrive at your favorite campground if you had a rough approach. Not sure why this happens, but it does and it's no big deal.

Your question is really one of value - and on this front, you are basically buying the depreciation upfront. You pay way more for an AS but, if you take care of it, you get really good resale. Many on here say that an AS will still be around in 10-years and that your average SOB camper won't - fair enough . . . BUT . . . the other side of that is that you can buy 2.5 SOB campers for what you pay for an AS, and that is an indisputable fact. I bet that if you negotiated really hard and offered to buy 3 identical on the showroom floor campers, you could probably get all 3 campers for what the average 25 AS would cost. And you'll actually get more room and less tongue weight in most of those other campers.

It comes down to 1 thing: Is owning an American Icon worth it to you?

That's actually what you are paying for. Because if you look at it logically, even factoring in the extra build quality and some of the nicer features, there is NO WAY an AS is worth what they charge, and yet, the factory is still running behind and you'd have to wait about 2-3 months if you ordered something (as in not on the showroom floor).

There is a reason you don't see a lot of AS on the road (vs the SOB's). Yes they cost more and in a way, that cost makes them a bit more exclusive. But do not try and figure out wether they are worth the extra cost, because on paper, they just aren't.

On the other had, consider this: A stainless-steel Rolex watch tells the very same time as accurately as a $20 digital watch; which would you rather have?

And that is why Airstream is Airstream.
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Old 11-21-2016, 11:11 AM   #33
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1958 22' Flying Cloud
portola valley , California
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I am a realtor and have been for 25 years here in Silicon Valley. It is the same thing I tell buyers, no house is without issues not even a new one. That is why we call it home maintenance and the Airstreams are no different. We just repaired upgraded and refurbished a 1958 FC and we could not be happier. Nothing is perfect, just like we aren't, the imperfections are what add to the charm!! I would never have bought anything but an AS and looked for the right one for years. #SUPERHAPPYCAMPER
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Old 11-21-2016, 11:19 AM   #34
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I don't care for new AS shiny interior and several other things including price & QC. but remember when coach is 39 yrs. old like mine value is almost double of what I pd. when I pur. new. A SOB will not be worth very much, so long term is thing to consider. My AS is still in exc. condition w/out many prob. just normal wear and tear. Looks like my AS will out last me. Bill
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Old 11-21-2016, 11:30 AM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gonz View Post
All, thanks for your inputs. As I mentioned in my opening remarks, I am aware that all builders have issues, I have owned cars, boats etc and agree but RVs is completely new to me. I am still enthused and excited about the possibility, just got concerned. Thanks FCstreamer, you are right on!

I do live in coastal Florida so now interested in the post that mentioned rust. I guess I'll have to stay on top of it like I have done with my boat and car.

Thanks again!
Airstreams are not perfect but generally last longer than other brands. Mine is 50 years old and still on the road. It has been cared for and has some dings, but we still take it where we want to go from remote sites to family camp grounds. I read somewhere that 70% of all Airstreams ever built are still on the road somewhere. Like anything else, maintenance is necessary as you can tell from reading Air Forums. MIne is a family heirloom but if you can afford new and want years of pleasure from it with minimum effort you should buy new. That's my 2 cents.
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Old 11-21-2016, 11:38 AM   #36
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Hailey , Idaho
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Gonz
FCStreamer put it best: If you walk into a hospital and ask "are there any sick people here?", the number of complaints may surprise you.
I think you are using the right approach...looking over a number of models and different AS within each. Also look at recent used ASs since defects, if any, would have (should have) been repaired. Just think, tho, if AS has your perceived levels of defects, think of what the quality and workmanship of the other SOBs will be (SOB=some other brand). Like I said, I think you're using the right approach, and hope you'll end up with an AS when all is said and done. You'll never look back. jon
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Old 11-21-2016, 11:42 AM   #37
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2003 30' Classic
Fresno , California
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Please take complaints from others with a grain of salt. Some people thrive on complaining and would exploit faults just to hear themselves cry.
With that said, my wife and I started our adventures in RV life in a very old and inexpensive travel trailer. We quickly found we loved the life and upgraded to a used fifth wheel. After watching it nearly crumble into a pile of twigs, we went out and bought a new travel trailer. The quality of that trailer was none better than the pile of twigs we just escaped from so we started our search for a trailer that would withstand the highways of our nation. We loved the thought of an Airstream but felt we would never afford one. We searched long and hard and found a 2003 Classic 30' that has exceeded our dreams of what a travel trailer should be. She is not perfect but we are making it our own by upgrading it to our liking. As far as we are concerned Airstream is the only travel trailer built to last in any conditions we pull it through. It is truly the best investment we have made in our RV life. We suggest buying pre owned and not brand new. Trust us...you will never find another travel trailer built as well as an Airstream at any price.
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Old 11-21-2016, 11:50 AM   #38
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2008 22' Safari
Lake Kiowa , Texas
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We have a 2009 22ft. AS Safari, and we love it. The trailer has to be maintained as all trailers and RVs do but AS is by far the most solid trailer out there. If you plan on keeping your trailer more than a few years I believe AS is the way to go.

I was on this forum for almost a full year before buying our AS and my feeling is there are lots of complainers on this site and lots of people that think you have to have two belts and two pair of suspenders for everything. An example is the standard 15 inch Marathon tires that came on our AS, you will see many bad things about them on this forum, however, we kept our for 4 years and 25,000 miles and never had an issue. Also you will find people that think you need a dually pick up truck to pull our little trailer.

Don't expect anything to be perfect, and expect regular maintenance, but shy away from anything that will take a lot of time and demo to repair, unless you are into that type of thing. Whatever you decide, enjoy the camping experience its a great community.
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Old 11-21-2016, 11:50 AM   #39
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I know what you are talking about for sure. I drove Mercedes cars for a few years, a few years ago. Like most people when I bought and paid for a Mercedes I expected perfection which I began to slowly realize was unattainable as I began to spend more time at the dealership having minor squeaks and radio issues worked on than I was spending living my life. In the end I realized that paying for perfection however I defined it did not guarantee delivery of my definition. The point is this, a car is a car, and trailer is a trailer. What you really get with a higher priced car or trailer is that when (not if, when) they break they can be fixed instead of thrown away. They are built to be used which means they get pulled for hours on end over all sort of terrain and weather conditions and sooner or later they will develop issues and components will wear out. The reality is most people that have no issues or problems don't post on these threads, the handful that do have issues take the time to write their issues in significant detail - which is their choice and their right. I would recommend the trip to Jackson Center with a stop along the way at some rallies or other AS gatherings to get the real story. I can tell you that my AS is nearly 50 years old now and has been used a lot and I have zero complaints in terms of workmanship nor materials (which are all original to the trailer including the carpet - the trailer has been passed down within my family since it was new). Are there "lemons" out there - I bet there are but I would say what the manufacturers say - that is why there is a warranty
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Old 11-21-2016, 12:02 PM   #40
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Tulsa , Oklahoma
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Before buying my Airstream, I wrestled with the same issues that you are wrestling with. I lurked on the Airforums for a long time, just surfing through all the various threads to see what people were saying. There are owners who love their Airstreams and post nothing but scenic photos on beaches, mountains, deserts, etc. There are owners to complain about the relatively poor quality of such an expensive camper. I never tallied up the posts or anything, but my gut feeling is that there are relatively few people who are really dissatisfied with their Airstream to the point that they want to sell it and buy some other brand.

As time went by and I was getting closer to actually beginning the search for an Airstream, I stared to get nervous. There are a lot of posts about water damage, corrosion, exploding tread on tires, no wheel bearing grease from the factory, etc. I started to get very nervous. I found a used, 2011 23D model. It had always been outdoors. It was a southern trailer and had never been winterized. It had only been towed 6 times. Original tires and batteries, empty propane tanks. The oven/range had never been used. The fresh water tank had never had water in it. In other words, it sat outside for a long time and the owner hadn't used it enough to know if everything worked or not. Even though he promised "everything works", I didn't really believe he knew. I didn't think he was lying to me. I just know that if things sit around and are never used, they deteriorate. And if you don't use it, how do you know for sure that there aren't any hidden water leaks, electrical problems, gas line problems, etc?

I bought the trailer anyway. I'm happy to report that after years of sitting outside with very little use, everything does in fact work. I have yet to find any hidden issues, and I'm pretty sure it's not because the previous owner was meticulous about maintaining it. In fact, I'm pretty sure just from talking to him that he did very little maintenance at all to the trailer. And it's still fine.

In the end, I justified the higher price for the Airstream the same way I justify living in a house that's bigger than what I need and driving a car that's nicer than what I need - I just like them and I wanted them. They make me happy. The Airstream makes me happy. And even though I paid a lot more for it than other brand travel trailers, if I decide to sell it in a few years then I should be able to get most of my investment back.

Good luck in your decision.
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Old 11-21-2016, 12:03 PM   #41
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It won't be perfect.
Mine wasn't perfect.
I had issues.
By and large it was better than a sob trailer I owned before.
If you want an iconic Airstream with its wonderful towing attributes and classic style, go for it.
If none of that means anything to you, get something else.
You can get any other travel trailer and many Class C motorhomes and 5th wheels for less money.
I believe Airstream could do better, but I cannot imagine camping in anything else.
For me it's an Airstream trailer or nothing at all.
I love my trailer which currently has no problems but has had many problems from new purchase. All of those problems were repaired free under the warranty.
3 years later I upgraded to 16" wheels and LT tires and AGM batteries.
None of the problems ever kept me from using the trailer to camp every weekend.
Problems with the previous sob trailer kept it in the shop more than at home or a campground. If you go the sob route, steer clear of Forest River...
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Old 11-21-2016, 12:22 PM   #42
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2014 25' FB Flying Cloud
Hillsborough , North Carolina
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Go Buy a Cheap Trailer First

For the perspective Airstream buyer that is having doubts and worried about being dissatisfied.........go out and buy a Cheap Some Other Brand....that way you will know you are disappointed...... and you expect to be disappointed.....then after having it for a season or two, you might feel satisfied in dropping a boatload of cash on something that might have problems...but hopefully fewer problems......And for all the parts that are of really high quality you will be satisfied every time you touch them.....The Cabinets, The Aluminum Frame, the panoramic windows, the super aerodynamics when towing, etc.......the list goes on and on.
Yes, They command ridiculously high prices.....People are willing to pay those high prices......So we all are doing our part to help keep those prices high....
And for those that want even better quality than the normal Airstreams, they have the Land Yacht available to them for a ridiculously high price (But I already set that bar above)

instead of buying an Airstream, buy one of those other Aluminum frame trailers on the market. That why you will save a ton of money and know you settled for second best.
Who can't be satisfied with that!
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