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Old 04-24-2016, 12:47 PM   #1
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Tow Airstream vs Airstream Motorhome

I want to renovate a tow Airstream or an Airsteam motorhome for full timing. Which should I get and why?
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Old 04-24-2016, 01:26 PM   #2
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I want to renovate a tow Airstream or an Airsteam motorhome for full timing. Which should I get and why?
How are you at fixing engines? An Airstream Class A motorhome will be at least 12 years old, and probably older, and is likely to need a lot of work to the drivetrain. Not to mention possibly an on-board generator as well that has suffered from neglect.

Other than that, the types of work and the skill set that you'd need in order to renovate a trailer and the work to renovate a motorhome won't be all that much different.
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Old 04-24-2016, 01:35 PM   #3
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Your Airstream is going to end up either as the tower or the towed. If you are full timing you will have to have a vehicle to go to town in. If you have a MH that means a towed car. Why would you want to have 2 drive trains to maintain?
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Old 04-24-2016, 01:46 PM   #4
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I'm paying someone to fix and renovate, so not worried about the repairs.

Howie, I agree, two motors to fix is just extra cost, just wondering if there are anything specific about a motorhome that would make travel better?
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Old 04-24-2016, 01:50 PM   #5
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How are you at fixing engines? An Airstream Class A motorhome will be at least 12 years old, and probably older, and is likely to need a lot of work to the drivetrain. Not to mention possibly an on-board generator as well that has suffered from neglect.

Other than that, the types of work— and the skill set— that you'd need in order to renovate a trailer and the work to renovate a motorhome won't be all that much different.
Yes and no. Yes, you will need to be resourceful, patient, determined and have skills like welding, woodworking, automotive wiring, flooring and glazing skills for both, BUT renovating the two are completely different in terms of details.

The motorhome will test your automotive skill set, especially electrical, but you will have greater freedom to do whatever you want material wise, in the motorhome. Not really having to worry about where the weight goes will give you greater freedom in choosing what materials you wish to use, and how much of them. The motorhomes chassis, interior parts and sub systems tend to be built stronger and more ruggedly than trailers.

The trailers are easier in the sense that you don't have to worry about a drivetrain BUT you have to be far more cognizant of how much weight and where the weight goes. For example ceramic tiling your bathroom, floor to ceiling would be a nonstarter. The under frames often need attention and doing a full Monty can be a daunting task.

As for living with both, it's a toss up, and up to you. The differences are the same as powerboaters and sailboaters, which are you? Yes, they ply the same waters but trials and tribulations are quite different for both.

Do you want greater freedom while on the road to use the facilities or make a snack while on the run? An increase in investment and exclusivity (Classics, especially diesels). Do not having to go outside to set up in the rain? If not towing a toad, having a smaller footprint while on the road appeals to you; get a motorhome

If you want greater freedom while you camp to take trips away from base camp, you can unhook your TV and travel. Cheaper price to buy, easier to sell and cheaper to maintain (to a certain point), get a trailer.

Probably many more pro's and cons.

Cheers
Tony
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Old 04-24-2016, 02:03 PM   #6
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I'm paying someone to fix and renovate, so not worried about the repairs.
I hope you have very deep pockets as paying someone to renovate an AS anything is huge dollars. As an example an Argosy 20' motorhome owner has spent in excess of a Ferrari in renovating his motorhome. Even with all that money spent, the renovator negleted to do the brakes and he ended up spending more to repair them.

To state that you won't have to worry about repairs means that an older AS is not for you. Even with all the renovations completed, it will still need maintanance and repairs. I would buy a brand new model under warranty if I were you.

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Old 04-24-2016, 02:15 PM   #7
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Howie, I agree, two motors to fix is just extra cost, just wondering if there are anything specific about a motorhome that would make travel better?
There have been comments as to the advantage of being able to put the MH on cruise control and going back to make coffee. But that is about the only one I know of.
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Old 04-24-2016, 03:31 PM   #8
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A motorhome can be a bugger to handle on the highway if the winds are not favorable, a well-hitched Airstream will handle as nice as the tow vehicle on its own.
We have often had to back our Airstream up when traveling, don't try that with a motorhome and towed vehicle behind it.

A motorhome usually has more interior space and more storage space, if you actually need it. Traveling light has many advantages.
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Old 04-24-2016, 04:09 PM   #9
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Time to back up a bit and consider the end use of the coach. Are you one who moves frequently (at least monthly) or are you one who stays in one place for a couple of months? Do you travel with pets? Do any of the people or pets have difficulty climbing stairs?

Motor homes are great for those who move frequently, while towables are better for those who stay. Why? Engine and transmission seals and gaskets tend to dry out with lack of use, so most engine/transmission manufacturers (and motor home manufacturers) suggest that the coach be driven 50 miles or so in one stretch in order to keep everything properly lubricated.

Pets (and people) shouldn't be riding in a towed vehicle, so if you have a towable and a pet you will need to move the pet from the tow vehicle back to the trailer when you stop and then back to the tow vehicle when you move.

I haven't seen any Airstream travel trailers with more than two steps to get in, while I've yet to see a MH with less than four steps from outside to inside. If going up or down steps is a problem the travel trailer will be the better choice.

A MH that has a generator (most do) means that you are completely self-sufficient in case of bad weather. We've unplugged and run the generator a couple of times due to lightning in the area. Also, that same generator can keep the a/c in the coach running while you are driving, which means that the coach is always kept at the proper temperature for the occupants. You can't run the a/c in a towable while going down the road.

Which is the better choice? That's up to you. Each has advantages and disadvantages. You can see from my signature that I currently have a MH which is for sale. Our needs have changed from three years ago when we bought it, so we're switching to an Airstream TT. What suits you now may not be the best choice in a few years. Fortunately you can sell whatever you have and get something different.
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Old 04-25-2016, 01:33 PM   #10
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I had the same question when I was looking. With my intended use (needed to be able to bring my motorcycle/s). I ended up with a MoHo.

My considerations:
1) Trailer (I needed to buy a tow vehicle-truck that could haul one to 2 bike on the flatbed) or
2) Motorhome (towing a trailer with 2 bikes).

With a Moho - there's more a little maintenance (house on wheels plus engine, drive train etc...) and you could tow a car or trailer behind you.

There's some great suggestions, but it all depends on how and what you want to use your setup for.

Sam
'86 345 Classic Motorhome
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Old 04-25-2016, 05:40 PM   #11
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Do you want your house to pull your car...
Or your car to pull your house?
When you get there, you will want both...
Good luck! And have fun!
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Old 04-25-2016, 06:04 PM   #12
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We can't tell you. You are either a truck and trailer guy or a motorhome and towed guy. What do you want to drive in town and what do you want to drive on the road. That is about it. I'd get the trailer. Travel safe. Pat
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Old 04-25-2016, 06:12 PM   #13
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Every thing state above is correct. My view is in a motor home you are on your next adventure the minute you disconnect and start moving. In a travel trailer you are just traveling until you get to your next destination. Insurance is another big issue also, vehicle insurance on two or vehicle insurance on one. Same with mechanical maintenance. Good luck, I think we all have been in the same quandary at least once.
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Old 04-25-2016, 06:22 PM   #14
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Trailer vs Motorhome

Ah yes there's nothing like looking through that giant windshield of your amazing motorhome
People will give you the thumbs up whenever they pass you.
you'll get comments like I didn't even know airstream made motorhomes
On the "cool factor" on a scale of 1-10 these things rate I high 12!!!!
DO NOT buy a motor home
I have one I'm a nervous wreck by the time I get to my destination and the longest I've ever gone is about 250 miles
Forget it about it being an "airstream" really it's just an old Chevy truck with a in adequate front end and front end suspension
since I've bought mine only two years ago
the things I've done to it:
I have had to try to straighten out the front tandem axle
I have had to replace front airbags
I have had to replace front stabilizers
I had to replace a transmission transmission was OK but It had a giant crack in the housing so basically I had to rebuild a transmission that was a perfectly good shape
it was just ready to separate from the motor
from airbags, to lights, to motors and the transmission these things are a nightmare and that's just the difference in the running gear
don't forget when it's a motorhome you lose about 6 feet of your front end to the driver's seats
The older motor homes like my 345 are powered by a 454 GM big block a impressive motor to sat the least BUT
They are monster motors, they are carbureted, and that motorhome is awful heavy for that engine to push
Not to mention the towing capacity of the 345 motorhome isn't very much you can't tow anything bigger than a smart car basically
About three months ago I went to start up my motorhome, I pulled the battery box out hook up the batteries an entire battery box fell on the ground
I have repaired two ancient LP gas furnaces and replace the toilet
if and when I ever get the money saved up I'll have to replace the cracked windshield that's only $800 that's just for the Windshield
Oh yes and let's not forget about the tires they're big truck tires and they are far more expensive than the trailer tires
Luckily I mechanically inclined enough to be able to do 90% of the stuff myself
I think I might be going cross-eyed because when I drive it
One eye is on the gauges and one eye is on the road
When my wife and I go out in our motorhome she DRIVES my Honda CR-V behind me because...
God for bid
if something goes wrong, I'll be damned if that RV is going to take the two best things ever happened in my life.
Underpowered, scary, old, and expensive...yes
Very cool definitely!!!
I will not buy another airstream motorhome.
(unless it's for the hard to find parts)
It is my opinion that you can have the best of both worlds
you could have a classic airstream trailer, with the advantage of a brand-new tow vehicle that gets better gas mileage has antilock brakes and everything else
as Dennis Miller would say "that's just my opinion, but I could be wrong"
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