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Old 02-17-2004, 05:06 AM   #1
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So here's the story...(need airstream advice)

In less than a year, my wife and I will be be making a radical lifestyle change which includes living primarily in northern Maine but also 3-4 months (Xmas through early April) of each year in northern coastal Florida.

We have good friends who will allow us to set up a trailer on their acreage. They feel something around 25 feet would be acceptable. My wife and I are large people and have never camped or lived in a trailer before.

The trailer will sit empty (in FL) most of the year. We have a Ford Explorer Sport with 80K miles on it. We have 2 cats and a dog and could spend up to $10K if necessary. What would you fine folks recommend. Air conditioning! Anything else?


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Old 02-17-2004, 06:44 AM   #2
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Smile First, Welcome

Double R,

At up to $10,000 and 25 ft you are describing a vintage TradeWind like I have. The actual shell of a TradeWind is about 21 ft in length so you could probably stretch your look to an Overlander size of 27 ft overall. 60's, 70's and maybe 80's trailers can be found for under $10,000 in good conditions.

The Explorer which is similar in size to my Trailblazer could possibly pull a vintage TradeWind. Any bigger might be a stretch.

Two cats and a dog! That part scares me. Our two cats drive us nuts in our 2,700 sf house.

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Old 02-17-2004, 06:59 AM   #3
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I suspect that almost any 25' coach of any vintage is going to be a stretch for an Explorer Sport - but is that an issue? Sounds like you are only going to move it once. If you pay someone to move it on site for you, you will not have the expense of a hitch.

Are you going to be connected to water and sewer? If so, the vintage coaches with their limited or non existent waste tanks will be no problem.

You would be well advised to budget perhaps $2,000 for repairs for any used coach.

And the point above on the nominal size vs. size of the coach body is important.

Good luck, and welcome to the Forums.

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Old 02-17-2004, 07:50 AM   #4
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I agree, it can be done, but it may cost over 10k after it's all said and done.

For example:

A vintage coach with some work needed could cost $4-5k. As indicated, budget a few thousand for upgrades/repairs/maint issues.

Now look closely at the tow issue, particularly if this is going to be a regular tow from ME to FL. The Explorer is going to have issues here, esp if it is a V-6. A tow vehicle that could do the job without question, used, would cost at least $4-5k. If it's a V-8 Explorer, I think it would be close to it's limits and I think it would surely need some upgrades.

I spent upwards of $2000 alone to get the basic needs covered to upgrade my tow vehicle to where I felt it would be ok to pull the added weights of a 25' coach (gears, driveshaft upgrade, cooling upgrades, springs, shocks, front and rear lower control arm upgrades, computer PCM modifications to accept the gears and turn secondary cooling fans on sooner).
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Old 02-17-2004, 09:36 AM   #5
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Welcome, Double R. By coincidence, you are planning to do just what we did 4 years ago. Friends in Northern coastal Florida invited us to put a travel trailer on their acreage. We spent $10,000 on a 1988 Airstream Excella, and live in it from December to March. We are near Trenton, in Gilchrist county, about 25 miles west of Gainsville. I agree with what the others have said. We have spent $3000 on restoring our trailer to a high standard, (spread over 4 years). We built a pole barn to protect the trailer from the elements. This used 8 lengths of used telegraph poles for uprights, with $600 for timber and a steel roof. We use a septic built from a 50 gallon plastic drum buried in the soil with an outlet to a gravel leach field. We installed an underground pipe to conduit electricity and water from the main house, and installed a meter to calculate the quantity of electricity we use. If you stay in North Florida, you will not need air conditioning during December to March. You will need to winterize the plumbing systems if you leave it during this period. The temperaturre drops to the mid-20's for a few nights each winter. Getting a trailer delivered to site for you after purchase would solve a lot of initial worries. We decided that the late 1980's trailers offer the best balance of value, design and quality. If, like us, you decide to travel, then you will have a new set of challenges (brakes, bearings, tires, hitch, sway control, load distribution etc, etc.) I strongly advise you leave the trailer static for the first year or two, while you learn about the complexities (and joys), of owning and maintaining an Airstream. Your nearest Airstream dealer will be Sanders RV at Alachua, where Chuck at the parts dept will soon be a friend. Their is a great salvage yard for Airstreams at Bob's RV, just North of High Springs, Alachua County. My wife and I have a wonderful time here each winter, and I hope and trust you will too. You will get all the help you need from the great people on this forum. Best wishes, Nick.
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Old 02-17-2004, 10:33 AM   #6
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Exclamation Have you checked the zoning laws?

I know from personal experience that the state of Florida has zoning laws that prohibit the hookup of an RV on private property for use as a residence beyond a specified time limit (perhaps 2 weeks).
I believe that if the RV is occupied or hooked up beyond the time limit, it is considered a residence and violates the law unless the property is zoned for that additional residence.
A friend of mine once hooked up his MH on another friend's property (12 acres) with expectation of an extended stay. Two weeks later, a county inspector stopped in to tell him he had 24 hours to remove the MH or face a stiff fine. This was in Summit County, Florida.
I imagine that nickcrowhurst was aware of the zoning laws and took necessary legal measures, otherwise it is possible that the local inspectors haven't spotted the RV because it is enclosed in a pole barn.
I can't recite the law chapter and verse, I'm just dropping a word to the wise.

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Old 02-17-2004, 12:52 PM   #7
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Rog, most zoning is done on a "local", i.e, county or city basis. Have never heard of "Statewide Zoning".
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Old 02-17-2004, 03:43 PM   #8
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Quite correct, Pick

I should have worded that "some if not all counties within the state of Florida have zoning laws that ...blah, blah.
Actually, I think it would be wise to check the local ordinances in any state before setting up an RV as a residence, guest house, etc. The friend I mentioned lost a good chunk of money in clearing the lot and hooking up the electric, water and sewer before he was made aware of the local zoning law. He had even poured a concrete pad.


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