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Old 05-30-2016, 04:30 PM   #1
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So my wife and are city folks - though we both have camping experience- me having led canoe trips 45 years ago and she learning about camping from me - but we are city folks - and I am not mechanically inclined - in fact my wife is far better than me - but we are in love with the idea of getting a big AS - maybe the Land Yacht or bigger and a truck to match (drive a mini here in the city - so even this is a big change) - have been following AS forums for about four months - and if there is one thing that concerns me most about taking the AS plunge it is that you all sound like Mr. Fixits - dealing with all the various mechanical problems that seem to pop up on every trip - So my question is - are we getting in over our heads if about the handiest we are is being able to use a hammer and a screwdriver every once in a while?

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Old 05-30-2016, 04:57 PM   #2
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Welcome the wonderful world of wishing for an Airstream.

When you say you are not handy, what do you exactly mean?

Where do you fall on this scale from 1 to 10?

10 -- you have power tools, car tools, tools that belonged to your father. You have never paid for an oil change or plumber. You own a voltmeter.

7 -- you can fix a leaky toilet, install a light fixture, and change a car tire. (you might choose not to, but you could) You own a drill. You might own a sewing machine. You own a socket set.

5 -- you can assemble furniture from Ikea. Like a bookcase or lighting. With instructions, and help from You Tube. You own a ladder, you own a level.

3 -- you can paint and hang pictures, clean gutters, and unclog a backed up drain. You own a tape measure.

1 -- you have a screwdriver, duct tape, and a hammer that you borrowed and didn't give back to your college room-mate

I would say that if you are truly 3 or below, then you might do well to find an outstanding dealer with a full service shop that is close enough to help you out for things. And do lots of studying on You Tube and the forums before purchase so you gain an understanding of all of the different aspects of trailering and towing, and how it all essentially works.

If you are a 5 or a 7 (where I consider myself) you will do fine.

And that lots of 10s post on the forum and are super nice and helpful in answering questions and giving advice.


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Old 05-30-2016, 05:05 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forum. As you have already seen there are lots of people willing to share their experiences.

I was going to make a comment similar to that made by Piggy Bank. Some people enjoy the fixit idea and some are quite handy and wish to save some money. If you are not a fixit guy and have the money to have someone make the repairs you should be fine, provided you can find a reputable dealer with good service techs.

If you buy a new AS many of the issues will be flushed out (pun unintended) during the warranty period.

I'd say go for it. I'm an almost newbie, getting a 2009 International last summer. We have had a few issues but nothing major!
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Old 05-30-2016, 05:16 PM   #4
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You are right, so many here have amazing skill sets. The nice part is they share exceedingly well and don't charge for the advice.

You too can do this!

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Old 05-30-2016, 06:47 PM   #5
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If you are willing to learn there are many things you can do for yourself.
The problem with finding a "reputable" dealer is they are very few and they are far between.
Just because someone says they are an RV tech it doesn't mean they know what they are doing.
Lewster is very knowledgeable and one of the best in the business.
If you don't want to tackle the problems yourself. At least educate yourself enough to know if the person you hire knows what they are doing.
Knowledge: "A gift to be shared. A treasure to receive."
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Old 05-30-2016, 06:50 PM   #6
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Everyone was a newbie, at one point. And, how "expertly handy" you want to become is totally up to you.

You will discover that, even while out there camping, there are a lot of experienced people who are always willing to help another camper in need. Campers are really nice people.
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Old 05-30-2016, 07:52 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by SMWASONMYMD View Post
and if there is one thing that concerns me most about taking the AS plunge it is that you all sound like Mr. Fixits - dealing with all the various mechanical problems that seem to pop up on every trip - So my question is - are we getting in over our heads if about the handiest we are is being able to use a hammer and a screwdriver every once in a while?
We're not all Mr. Fix-its. You know how some people are "all thumbs"? I'm worse— all toes! And problems don't pop up on every trip, either. It's just that here on the Forums, we seldom report on the trips that go flawlessly.

You will definitely save money— and aggravation— if there are things you can fix for yourself rather than hiring it done. But there is room in the Airstream community for all levels of mechanical expertise, even the level of zero expertise. You won't stay at that level forever, and you'll gradually learn to fix the more common problems for yourself, even if you still have to hire someone for the major items. You'll just have a longer and steeper learning curve than your more adept brethren, that's all.

But one thing for sure, if you're not mechanically inclined, buy an Airstream that is either new or lightly used so you can start enjoying it before you need to work on it. Don't jump straight into a shell-off restoration (to cite an extreme example) or you really will be in over your head.

As for finding reliable techs, look for RVIA certification. An RVIA-certified tech has the training and experience, and the documentation to prove it. There are many good technicians who aren't certified, but there aren't many bad ones who are. And beware of dealerships and repair shops that claim to have RVIA-certified techs, because there may only be one certified tech in the whole shop.
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Old 05-31-2016, 12:33 AM   #8
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Thanks - this is encouraging- I am a 3 at best and maybe my wife is a 4 but we are good learners - and if there is one thing I have learned from these forums it is that you need to find a good dealer. We will buy new. We are located in the Midwest and if need be will travel to do business with a reputable dealer. The one closest to us is located in Joliet Illinois- they rent towards a purchase - and they talk a good service game - but recommendations are welcomed - with something this important we will travel to get a good dealer - shucks - isn't that what this is all about? Hitting the road?
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Old 05-31-2016, 07:35 AM   #9
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We who only buy used salute you for your monetary sacrifice to bring future used Airstreams into the world. Thanks!
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Old 05-31-2016, 07:54 AM   #10
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I would also say join a local WBCCI club. Here in Oregon (unit 90) we have all skill levels represented all the way from hammer and screwdriver to those who buy old Airstream shells and completely restore them. Most club members will go out of their way to help someone fix a problem and get them back on the road.
"If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" ... magnet on our refrigerator...
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Old 05-31-2016, 08:32 AM   #11
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We've had amazing luck with our new unit. I would say you're making the right move. Opposed to something like a diesel pusher or a cheaply made "some other brand".

Like Protagonist said, we're not all so mechanical... and I also think, on the other hand, big boy toys brings out the "tinkering kid" in many.
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Old 05-31-2016, 08:52 AM   #12
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There's all kinds on the forum

One thing I thought of is that some city folk have issues with storage, which also translates to issues with a place to work on the trailer.

Some here treat the trailer and working on it as their hobby. I see camping as my hobby. I paid to have a lot of things done. Some to save time, some things were over my head;

About the learning curve…you can and will learn some things. I feel like fixing one thing will prepare you to fix others. Perhaps just giving you the confidence, perhaps you will learn how to figure out, how to figure out how something is supposed to work, why it's not working, as well as how to fix it.
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Old 05-31-2016, 09:17 AM   #13
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Just Remember

An EXPERT is just a former drip.... now under pressure!

You are welcome here. HINT - really LEARN how to put up and take down an awning. You see a lot of them badly done and a lot of people struggling. If you can help someone position the arms correctly and know that there is a 4th notch... you gain an instant "wow" factor.

Today is a gift, that's why they call it the present.
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Old 05-31-2016, 09:29 AM   #14
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Atlanta , Georgia
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I wouldnt think to far into it- i didn't and last year took a '58 slightly renovated caravanner installed tons of solar and have full timed in it for a year so far. mostly urban boondocking so i've spent nothing really on rent, just insurance at the tune of 68$/mo. Sure there are things to fix after each move- something falls off the wall or you realize you should stow things better.

i'd say take the plunge and i've learned over some time now to just say F!@ it and not let your life disappear into wishes of what you could have done...

go to home depot and get a drill and a 125 piece tool set and have fun!

Dave Ballard - Full Time Airstreamer WBCCI #4276 READ MY AIRSTREAM BLOG
Electric Unicycle Rider (SBU)
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