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Old 04-14-2003, 12:53 PM   #1
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Question Buying Airstream, need help!

Hello everybody,

I'm finally ready to fulfill my lifetime dream of owning an Airstream. However, I've got a bit of a dilemma. I need to find a trailer that has enough room for my family (4 and growing) but is light enough to be towed by my preferred traveling vehicle, a 2003 Eurovan MV Weekender (rated to tow up to 5,000lbs).

I found a 1980 Excella II (30ft) in excellent condition that I'd love to own. However, it seems a bit too large to meet my towing requirements. If I cannot tow this trailer then I'm thinking about financing a 22' International CCD, which I know I can tow. What's everybody's opinion of this trailer? Stylistically, it is very nice and it seems light for the size. I believe it would be sufficient to accommodate my family.

I've got a few questions regarding the Excella:
- How much does a 1980 Excella II (30ft) weigh?
- How hard is it to remove the material covering the interior ceiling/walls in order to expose the metal surface? Once removed, would there need to be any major refinishing to leave the trailer with the exposed metal look?
- Is it easy to obtain new window seals for this trailer?
- Is it difficult to convert rear twin beds to a queen-sized bed? Can you just locate the parts from Airstream to make the conversion?
- Does this model have comparable storage tank sizes (water, waste, propane, etc) to a new International CCD? Does it have a similar AC/DC setup to allow convenient use of electrical components without using hook-ups?
- What are the major advantages of a late-model trailer? Have there been any significant technical modifications since 1980? If so, can they be retro-fit?

If any of you could answer some of these questions for me, it would be greatly appreciated. I'd like to do something in the next week or so. This seems like the right place to ask questions as all of the members seem to be very helpful and knowledgeable. Thanks to everyone involved for creating such a great resource for Airstream aficionados!

By the way, does anyone know of an Airstream dealer, or someone who works primarily with used Airstreams, in the Atlanta, GA, area? They seem to be strangely absent in such a major market.
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Old 04-14-2003, 01:46 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum. You will get most of your questions answered here. In my opinion, your Eurovan is not ideal for the CCD. Factory weight of the 22 CCD is somewhere around 4200 lbs, add to that propane, food, gear, fresh water etc. and you will be very near the maximum for the Eurovan. Most say the trailer should not exceed about 75% of the tow vehicle max. For example, I have a Land Rover with a tow rating of 5500 lbs. My Bambi weighs 4500 maximum with all gear, water etc. and I wouldn't even think of towing a larger trailer.

I believe if you go to the Airstream corporate website there is info there as to the weight of older trailers. As to the difference between new and old or vintage, I think it is mostly a matter of taste, and whether you want to work on a vintage unit or not.
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Old 04-14-2003, 01:50 PM   #3
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J,

First of all with a VW Eurovan you are going to be severely limited as to what size of A/S you will be able to pull. Do yourself a favor and forget about the thirty footer, more realistically you will need to get something around a twenty footer, the more under twenty the better! Questions as to your exact vehicle for use in tow mode have come up here before on the forum. If I remember correctly no one was able to find out if there is a proper receiver hitch even available for the Eurovan, it may have to be fabricated. It would be interesting to see what class rating of hitch VW offers for your model because that is probably the only place you will find one. I don't want to beat on you too hard, I had a Eurovan myself and had the typical VW love/hate relationship, an earlier model with the 5 cyl engine, screwy trans, undersized brakes but even with the VR6, 4 wheel disc brakes and a larger transmission like yours I would be careful.

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Old 04-14-2003, 02:00 PM   #4
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Vehicle "tow ratings" are misleading. They are derived by subtracting the published curb weight of the vehicle with no options, usually with an empty fuel tank plus a 150 lb driver, from the vehicle's Gross Combined Weight Rating.

Since the GCWR is often hidden or unpublished, you have to subtract the weight of the options, the weight of a tank of fuel (130 lbs here), and the weight of any additional people and cargo you may carry while towing, from the tow rating to determine the max total wet and loaded weight of the trailer, i.e what you can PULL.

The other thing you have to worry about is how much your vehicle can CARRY, because it has to carry the weight of the hitch and the trailer tongue. The MV has a supposed curb weight of 4478 and a payload of 1387. One could assume this equates to a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of 5865, but it would be good to check for a rating sticker on the drivers door or doorjam.

What you need to do here is fuel the van up, load it with all the people and cargo it would have when towing, and take it to a CAT Scale or other certified scale and find out how much it really weights.

Subtract anything over the published curb weight from the payload and that's what you have left for a hitch and tongue weight.

Subtract anything over the published curb weight from the tow rating and that's what you have left for total trailer weight.

In summary, a wet and loaded 22' International at 5,000 lbs MAY BE okay on the pulling part with no passengers or cargo in the van, but at 12% tongue weight or 600 lbs, plus the weight of the hitch is an issue also.

With only 115" wheelbase, the MV is nowhere near long enough to tow a 30+' trailer. It should be okay with the length of the 22'.

Hope this helps,
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Old 04-14-2003, 02:01 PM   #5
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I agree with Rick and Chas. I don't think any of the options are really in the neighborhood of safe. For a fact, you can safely take the 30' off the table with the Eurovan. I have an LT1 Chevy V8 and wouldn't even think of doing that. My Chevy is rated for 5000lbs too.

I'd say if the kids are small, very small, maybe a Bambi if you are going the new route--maybe. Otherwise, **maybe** a minuet (used) due to lighter weight. Now I know that some will swear by the Yugo/Dodge Intrepid is a great tow vehicle, but I would never suggest it, nor would I for a Eurovan. Is not only the engine, but the trans, cooling, gearing, etc that I serioisly question--German engineering or not.

My suggestion would first be to look at a tow vehicle and as you look, get one (new or used) that fits in with what you want/need in a trailer.

Regards,

Eric

PS- I agree with Maurice too, it just he got is post in as I was typing.
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Old 04-14-2003, 02:05 PM   #6
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Thanks for all of the prompt responses. It looks like I will have to use my Toyota Tundra V8 to do the towing.

Now that is out of the way, can anyone help me with the questions regarding the 1980 Excella II? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks again for all of the help with the towing issues. It looks like I would've been in bad shape had I attempted to use the Eurovan.

Thanks!
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Old 04-14-2003, 02:58 PM   #7
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"I've got a few questions regarding the Excella:
- How much does a 1980 Excella II (30ft) weigh?"

There is no '80 model 30' listed on the Airstream site. There is a 31'. I assume you are looking at a rear twin center bath. If so, AS claims a 4785 empty weight with a 606 lb. tongue weight. This will be empty, with no options - although an Excella had very few options.

"- How hard is it to remove the material covering the interior ceiling/walls in order to expose the metal surface? Once removed, would there need to be any major refinishing to leave the trailer with the exposed metal look?"

Very hard and you would have to polish and wax it. There is a thread on this somewhere in the interior restoration forum. It has been done.

"- Is it easy to obtain new window seals for this trailer? "

Yes. An AS dealer should be able to get these.

"- Is it difficult to convert rear twin beds to a queen-sized bed? Can you just locate the parts from Airstream to make the conversion? "

You rip out what is there and fit a bed athwartships as best you can. It will be a tight fit. It is likely you will need to construct some sort of cover for the hot water heater unless yours is located in the bathroom counter. You will also have to hide the water inlet and a electic box. If you build it so you can walk around the foot you will lose the exterior storage on that side.

"- Does this model have comparable storage tank sizes (water, waste, propane, etc) to a new International CCD?"

Propane on the CCD is not listed, but the 1980 31' will likely have either two 30 or two 40 lb tanks. CCD - fresh water, 30 gal.; black tank, 21 gal., grey tank 21 gal. '80 31' - probably (subject to correction) 39 gal fresh, 30 gal black and 30 gal grey.

" Does it have a similar AC/DC setup to allow convenient use of electrical components without using hook-ups? "

Yes.


" What are the major advantages of a late-model trailer? Have there been any significant technical modifications since 1980? If so, can they be retro-fit? "

By far the significant change is the extra 6" of width. That would be a tough alteration. The new units are also a LOT heavier. The current 31' Classic is over 7,000 lbs. Floorplans are virtually identical.

Mark
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Old 04-14-2003, 04:05 PM   #8
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Geez, now you tell us you have a Toyota Tundra, kinda like pulling the rabbit out of a hat!!

Much better but still IMHO I wouldn't pull a 30' or suspected 32' A/S with it. I would look into the CCD or AS 22' models or get into a vintage unit of similar size, maybe a 25' Tradewind?, a 27' Overlander like I have is not a small trailer by any means, I feel my F-250 is just a bit over-qualified, not much though.

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Old 04-14-2003, 04:10 PM   #9
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I'd prefer to use the Eurovan Weekender. It will seat 4 people more comfortably than the Tundra will. The Tundra is the last resort. While it does have 4 doors, there isn't much leg room to speak of. The Eurovan gets much better gas mileage and has many additional features, like a refrigerator, fold-out table, GPS navigation, rear seat makes bed, pop-up roof, etc.
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Old 04-14-2003, 04:11 PM   #10
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What do you guys think of the International CCD in terms of production quality, layout, etc?
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Old 04-14-2003, 04:19 PM   #11
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The CCD is fine, if your taste runs to the look. I like the polished aluminum walls, and the modern cupboards. As far as I know, they are produced with the same quality (and problems) as any Airstream. I do not like the "wet" bath, but prefer the separate shower/toilet in the Bambi. You still seem to be leaning toward the Eurovan as the tow vehicle, which is of course your choice, I just hope I don't share a road with you as I think that trailer will drive the Eurovan.
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Old 04-14-2003, 04:21 PM   #12
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As I stated before, after reading the replies to my original post I obviously decided against using the Eurovan for the tow vehicle. I would not put my family, much less others on the road, at risk. All I've said is that I would prefer to use it.
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Old 04-14-2003, 04:22 PM   #13
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Hello everybody,

I'm finally ready to fulfill my lifetime dream of owning an Airstream. However, I've got a bit of a dilemma. I need to find a trailer that has enough room for my family (4 and growing) but is light enough to be towed by my preferred traveling vehicle, a 2003 Eurovan MV Weekender (rated to tow up to 5,000lbs).


IMO, it is an impossible requirement. Anything under 30-32' will be inadequate given what you want. 34' would be even better. But forget using light trucks with these. Need a 3/4 to 1 ton or even a diesel.

I found a 1980 Excella II (30ft) in excellent condition that I'd love to own. However, it seems a bit too large to meet my towing requirements.

I had a similar dilemma when I was looking for mine. I wanted one that towed like a 25' but inside was like a 34'. I ended up with a compromise. And I didn't have to deal with 3 additional people, which complicates your situation further.

If I cannot tow this trailer then I'm thinking about financing a 22' International CCD, which I know I can tow. What's everybody's opinion of this trailer? Stylistically, it is very nice and it seems light for the size. I believe it would be sufficient to accommodate my family.

I wouldn't get it in your circumstances, but that's just my perspective.

- Is it easy to obtain new window seals for this trailer?

No, Inland RV has them and some other parts for these units.

- Is it difficult to convert rear twin beds to a queen-sized bed? Can you just locate the parts from Airstream to make the conversion?

I don't advise it because it will lower the resale value. If that's a concern for you.
When I was looking for one, I found a perfect unit, except for twin beds - and I wanted queen. It was within a few hours, basically next door. Too bad, because I ended up driving outside of my region to get exactly what I wanted. I also found a conversion from twins to queen that I didn't really want. I suggest finding the right queen to begin with - they are more rare and desirable anyway.


Now I know that some will swear by the Yugo/Dodge Intrepid is a great tow vehicle,

LOL
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Old 04-14-2003, 04:30 PM   #14
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I keep encountering the same lesson. You need the right tools for the job. It's really quite simple. Big engine, long wheelbase (full size bed maybe even x-cab), good suspension and other things. Otherwise overheat the tranny or something and get stuck in the middle of nowhere - in the bese case scenario.

I would not put my family, much less others on the road, at risk.
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