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Old 01-01-2003, 01:36 PM   #1
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Question Starting to look - welcome advice

My wife and I are close to retirement and are hoping to get an Airstream for trips of 2-3 months. We'd like to talk with someone in the N. Ill--S. Wisconsin area about the Wally Byam club caravans and staying in National Parks. Our thinking now is for a 25-28' unit with a 2500 series Suburban or 2500HD Pickup for the tow vehicle. Thanks for whatever info you can provide!

- Larry
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Old 01-01-2003, 02:43 PM   #2
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Larry,

First, welcome to the group.

1) What is your experince with RV'ing? We'd hate to answer a question you might already know. Some people are comfortable towing a large trailer and others are not.

2) Do you already own the truck(tow vehicle)? Do you own a Saturn or another vehicle you could tow behind a MH?

3) The length is right for the parks. Some have limits on the length. I have only taken my 345 MH to one National Park and I was fine with 34.5 feet. You may want to check the parks you most want to visit and see what length restrictions there are.

4) Are you planning on boondocking (camping but not at a campground)? You may need a generator for extended "dry camping" particularly if you plan on using the A/C.

Check the WBCCI web site for a rally in your area this spring. I would stop in for a visit and get a feel for the lifestyle. You could also phone the local WBCCI president to start before spring.

My website has lots of info on Airstream Motorhomes. Other places have lots of info on the trailers that never die. There are lots of them available. Just don't be tempted by a new other brand trailer. The quality and life-expectancy of a used Airstream is still WAY better than a new trailer.
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Old 01-01-2003, 04:01 PM   #3
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We are happy for you....what a nice adventure you are entering on....

1-get something with a bedroom (twin,queen) doesn't matter (Airstearm mattresses are AWFUL by the way)
2-your tow vehicle probably determines what you get in length/weight in a TT
3-since you have a home-base I suggest the shorter 25' of some level...Safari or Classic reason being resale to boomers
4-consider the Airsteam as an investment it will be resalable (sp)

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Old 01-01-2003, 04:33 PM   #4
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1985air345 & Kistler:

Thanks for the welcome! It's something that I've wanted to do since high school, but work always seemed to get in the way.

We did some tent camping together many years ago. I back-packed for 3 weeks in the High Sierras a few years ago, but my wife wants to sleep in a bed... thus this compromise. We're a little bit adventurous, but recognize learning from others' experience.

I'd be okay towing a trailer -- just want to be sure we have the right vehicle. We have a V8 Mountaineer now, but it's only rated to tow a bit over 6,000#. We're prepared to get a 3/4 ton truck if that would be the safest in the mountains. I've done enough mountain driving to want "safe" and have heard being able to tow 125% of the trailer GVW is a smart way to go. Have looked into diesels and the large gas V8's. The diesels have a $4-5k premium... are they worth it for a 28ft trailer?

Regarding length, I'd heard there were limitations around 30ft in some of the parks, thus the 25-28 ft range (and the fact they have bedrooms). Without going into every web site, it's been difficult to find enough general information to be able to make a decision. Also, I didn't know how to learn about any limitations on the caravans - practical or otherwise.

I'd heard that a small generator that would live in the tow vehicle would be a good accessory. I had friends with a very basic AS in the 70's that did without, but they didn't do the caravans.

Thanks for the idea on the local WBCCI president - I'll check that out.

I've looked at the motorhomes, but the AS trailer has been the 'dream' for a long time. We're willing to go new or very good condition used. Any thoughts on the Safari vs. the Classic? I've seen several advertised, so there should be options when the time comes.

Thanks again! We're looking forward to getting on the road...

-- Larry
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Old 01-01-2003, 04:43 PM   #5
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Only personal opinion here Classic is a little more costly...for us was 12,000$ more but who knows.....depends suppose on the dealer...

Reason was the finish....we went into buy a Safari because of weight and then my wife got outa my sight and into a Classic and said she wanted that "Safari"....

Itsa fam prob....anyway the Classic weighs more and we need a new tow vehicle BUT hasa bedroom etc.

My wish for 2003 is a new Suburban...lucky you...you have a "burb"

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Old 01-01-2003, 05:00 PM   #6
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Smile You're doing this the right way!

Larry,

Starting with your choice of A/S trailer is a good first step. Then after you have decide on the trailer, then you'll be able to get the "correct" tow vehicle.

I prefer the Excella/Classic because of how the windows open, the folding entry step, the black tank flush and other standard items that I can't think of right now. They do weigh about a 1000#'s more, but since you're able to get the "correct" tow vehicle, this really wouldn't be a problem for you.

I'm a frugal yankee and prefer that someone else eats the depreciation ! Also most major bugs have been worked out by the previous owner. There are a number of excellent condition late model A/S out there for the picking.

Well that's my 2 cents, I'm sure you'll get some great additional information. You enjoy your search and continue to ask any and all questions!!

John

P.S. I would recommend the Hensley Arrow hitch. It's a true no-sway hitch and an excellent weight distribution unit too.
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Old 01-01-2003, 05:10 PM   #7
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Starting to look - welcome advice

Greetings Larry!

Welcome to the Forum and the world of Airstreaming. If you don't have a strong preference for WBCCI Units, I might suggest the Wisconsin Unit. They are quire active and have a number of rallys and events that are convenient for residents of both Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. I recently moved from near Platteville, Wisconsin to the Quad Cities in Nortwestern Illinois and have maintained my membership in the Wisconsin Unit. If you would be interested in contact information for the Wisconsin Unit President, PM me an I'll send you his e-Mail address.

I think that you will find the C/K 2500 Suburban to be a fantastic tow vehicle for the trailer size that you are considering. My K2500 7400 Vortec Suburban has been one of the most pleasant tow vehicles that I have owned - - it will be turning over 100,000 miles by the end of this month and has been virtually trouble free outside of the electronic module that controls the automatic four-wheel-drive transfer case. I am expecting at east 350,000 miles before I even consider trading for a new tow vehicle. Even with the greater cost for gasoline, I know that my maintenance expenses have been lower with the 7400 Vortec as compared to my 5.7 Liter '95 K1500 tow vehicle - - my overall costs have been MUCh lower with the larger engine and a side benefit is that it can tow my 26' 1964 Overlander International (6,000 pounds) in overdrive on all but the steepest grades.

If you are looking for a reputable Airstream dealer in the region, my recommendation would be Ace Fogdall RV. They have been an Airstream dealer for a number of years and are truly committed to customer satisfaction. They have been maintaining/restoring systems on my Overlander for the past seven years and all of their work has been beyond reproach. They are located in Cedar Falls, Iowa just a short distance off US 20 on University - - about 3 hours from Platteville, WI or 4 hours from Rock Island, IL. You can find their web site at:

Ace Fogdall RV, Inc., Cedar Falls, IA

If you are planning extended trips of two or months, I would definitely suggest that you might want to consider a 27' or 28' trailer. I own both a 26' Overlander and a 20' Minuet - - for longer trips, the Overlander has beds that can remain made-up at all times and there is a great deal more available storage space - - the bed or beds that can remain made up at all times with a separate louge/seating area can make longer trips much more enjoyable along with permitting easier entertaining of friends and new acquaintances while traveling.

I travel in my Overlander for six weeks or more every summer, and have participated in a number of WBCCI/VAC caravans as well as Rallys including the last five International Rallys. I haven't participated in a caravan or rally that wasn't totally enjoyable.

Good luck with your plan, and please feel free to contact me if you have particular questions that I might be able to answer about Airstreaming in Northern Illinois/Southern Wisconsin.

Kevin
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Old 01-01-2003, 06:33 PM   #8
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Thanks to Kevin, John, and Kistler!

Kevin, thanks for your offer to talk more about the WBCCI and would appreciate the info on the email for the pres. Maybe we can set up a time to meet, and my wife and I can listen to your stories. I'd like to jump right in and go for a long initiation trip to get the right feel for the new life -- but want to be well prepared when we do it. The Wisconsin chapter sounds great. We'll be moving up to Whitewater late next year when we retire.

Kistler, John: we also started looking at the Safari because of our present vehicle's tow capacity. But then we started looking at spending an extended amount of time and thought the longer length would provide a bit more storage and living space, and then the Classic started looking just a little bit nicer... and hearing about the other little differences is helpful to knowing what is important and what could be done without.

We were just in the Phoenix area to see family and stopped at the dealer in Apache Junction. Nice people! And they seemed willing to talk $. They actually had a new 2001 28' unit that got sold while we were there. There'll be another one, as my wife says. It's also helpful to know about the dealer in Iowa, as that is about as close to us as the one in Illinois. Not many around here.

How does the Hensley Arrow hitch work with what comes with the tow vehicle? Does it replace it, or is it an additional piece? I've heard they're expensive... are they worth it?

Did you choose the Suburban over a pickup for any particular reason? Did you consider the diesel?

Thanks again!

-- Larry
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Old 01-01-2003, 06:54 PM   #9
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Aaah, you are in my "hood" yes, Dillons deal...

Didn't know that you were that close. We are happy with their service and general knowledge in the prep department.

Someone (Smiley) on this forum has a new 2003 Classic I think. Agreed they weigh more but ...

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Old 01-01-2003, 07:18 PM   #10
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Hensley Arrow

Larry,

Go to www.nosway.com to see the hitch itself. They offer a free video on the product. The testimonials within the video are a bit over the top, but to see it working is what I think you'll enjoy.

They attached to the A-frame of the trailer and there is a "hitch-bar" that goes into the receiver of your tow vehicle and then you back into the receiver on the H/A. You'll see this in the video.

They go for about $2600, but IMHO, they're well worth it. I've had no-sway with stiff cross winds and semi's blowing by me @ 80mph.

The H/A is also very smooth in turns, both going forward and backwards. The weight distribution is excellent too. Your trailer will sit nice and level.

Good Luck- John
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Old 01-01-2003, 08:20 PM   #11
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Starting to look - welcome advice

Greetings Larry!

I just sent the Wisconsin Unit President's e-mail to you via PM. It sounds like we are going to have a great 2003 season in the Wisconsin Unit with a number of activities in the works.

I would be happy to make arrangements to discuss Airstreaming and the WBCCI. I will be out of town until January 6, but will be basically in the Quad Cities on a continuous basis after that until sometime in March. In Whitewater, you will only be about 2.5 hours from where I lived near Platteville, Wisconsin.

The Suburban is my third tow vehicle for the Overlander. My vehicle preceding the Suburban was a Chevrolet K1500 Z71 club cab pickup with the complete trailer towing package and the 5.7 Liter V8. After two years of enduring the lumber wagon ride and interior noise with the pickup I was ready to trade up to the quiet, controlled ride of the Suburban - - the pickup had the luxury interior package with what was supposed to be additional sound insulation. The pickup nearly beat the driver and passenger to death over the rough roads of Northwestern Illinois and Sothewestern Wisconsin, and the 5.7 Liter V8 just was not enough motor for consistently smooth towing - - I didn't want to even consider the ride quality of a three-quarter ton pickup based upon this half-ton. The Suburban (also HD 4WD) rides as smoothly as either my '75 or '84 Cadillac Eldorados, and returns better fuel economy when towing than the pickup ever dreamed of doing and it has almost twice the trailer tow rating of the pickup 10,000 pounds compared to 6,000 pounds for the pickup. Both the pickup and Suburban were special ordered new vehicles with the highest trailer tow rating heavy duty packages factory installed. I gave up on the pickup at 45,000 miles - - the Suburban I expect to last at least 350,000 miles as it is already nearly 1/3 of the way there. I also enjoy the more efficient air conditioning and heating system found in the Suburban and the ability to carry up to 7 additional passengers - - if I were ordering today, I would probably consider the factory quad bucket seat arrangement as the seats are so very comfortable for long trips - - my '99 has the premium leather interior package with power lumbar support, dual 8-way power controls, and seat heaters for both of the front seats. I guess that you could say that I am not a pickup person - - I have had two and was VERY happy to trade each of them off after less than three years and 50,000 miles - - I normally trade only after at least 220,000 miles.

I considered the diesel for a VERY short time, and it wasn't the intial cost as I usually keep a vehicle for more than 200,000 miles. My main reason was that I didn't want the hassle of trying to find diesel fuel when traveling off the beaten track - - I avoid Interstates if at all possible. I also knew that diesels were not popular where I lived and even the dealer didn't have a well-trained diesel mechanic available so I knew that there were potential snags in getting repairs - - a problem that I didn't want to face during the nine months of the year when I am working in excess of 12 hours per day five days per week. It seemed that every diesel owner where I lived had horror stories about finding a qualified mechanic when repairs were needed, and there were frequent problems with the diesel fuel sold by our remotely located service stations being contaminated during long-term storage due to low volume sales. The familiarity of the gasoline motor's operation was also a big sales point for me - - I didn't want any more temperamental equipment to maintain.

The folks at Ace Fogdall are very accommodating, and I have always been treated well there. The one observation that I have made over the years is that they typically have fewer than 10 new Airstreams on-hand, but they always seem willing to order to customer specifications.

Good luck with your decision!

Kevin
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Old 01-01-2003, 09:41 PM   #12
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I would also recommend Ace Fogdall. We ordered our Safari from them last year at this time and took delivery in March. Very good people to work with.

Larry Ruebel
Bismarck ND
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Old 01-02-2003, 06:32 AM   #13
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Thanks, Kevin, for your experience with the pickup and the Suburban. I test drove a 2500HD diesel and was not impressed with the ride/noise. I also like the convenience of a "station wagon", so the Suburban will probably become the next vehicle. I'd heard the diesels have much greater towing capacity, but the new 8.1L gas engine has more than enough for what we'll need. Diesels up north have special challenges in the winter that I'd just as soon eliminate! Your info on diesel availability on the backroads was helpful.

Thanks Kevin and Larry for the additional info on the dealer. As the time gets closer, he'll get a visit from us. His web site only showed 3 in stock yesterday, so the ordering info was helpful if we go that way.

I sent an email to the Wisc Unit Pres and let him know we might be open to the idea of a Vintage coach if we were able to find one in good condition.

Thanks for your help!

- Larry
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Old 01-02-2003, 10:09 AM   #14
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Hi LARRY,

Good luck in your search. My wife and I were in your position last year, on the verge of a grand adventure. By coincidence, we looked at the 2001 Airstream Classic you saw in Apache Junction, but it was more than we wanted to spend. It was a great looking AS though.

We wound up buying a little used 1998 Excella Classic that, by chance, was equiped with a Hensley Hitch. I knew nothing about the Hensley at the time, but I am a believer now and would pay the price for a new one if I had to. Hensley also has the McKesh mirrors which I also recommend. Hensley's phone number is (801) 658-0006. They also have a web address, look under Hensley.com.

Our tow vehicle turned out to be a 2001 Suburban 2500 HD with the 8.1 engine and a 3.73 rear end. It has turned out to be a great combination. The Burb has a slightly shorter wheel base than the pick-up but it fits in our garage and the pick-up didn't. Also, if you take out the rear seat(s), it has a cavernous cargo area.

Happy camping.
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