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Old 07-31-2011, 10:22 AM   #1
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Question Why an Airstream?

Hi to all,

My wife and I (we have a 2 year old daughter) have decided to purchase a travel trailer in order to discover more of the US and Canada. We plan on camping 4 weeks in a year, plus occasional long weekends. We have a 2010 Tundra V8-5.7L. I was researching different trailers online, obviously the AS look great. They are, however, way more expensive than anything else. I can buy a Keystone of the same size as an AS for 1/3 the price. I am not sure why (except to be a part of the culture) should one spend the extra money to purchase an AS? Could you please provide me with some objective reasons. Thank you for your help. M

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Old 07-31-2011, 10:30 AM   #2
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Simple. Have a look around and see how many vintage Airstreams are on the road and, now, look and see how many Keystones of the same age are still on the road. You get what you pay for.

Cameron & the Labradors
Kai & Samm
North Vancouver, BC
AIR #11529
Live! Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death! - Mame Dennis
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Old 07-31-2011, 10:30 AM   #3
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Olathe , Kansas
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The Airstream is made better. Some lower end campers have lots of issues with holding up over time and some just plain fall apart. Airstreams are not without their own issues but in my opinion they are built much better, easy to tow and if you buy used they hold their value better. I bought used over a year ago and I have enjoyed it a ton! Also the community is the best and the fellowship is worth the extra price of a plain sob. Look at some used units and then make the choice that is best for you. Either AS or SOB.

Good luck and welcome.

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Old 07-31-2011, 10:42 AM   #4
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My pal RB bought a new 22' Airstream in 1972 at a discounted price of around $$7,000.

He is still using it today.

Ours is a 1973, 23'. Still looks and works great and you can tow it with a V6.

A traditional Box type trailer or 5th wheel will not not last as long and will require a larger, less fuel efficient vehicle.
Airstreams..... The best towing trailers on the planet!
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Old 07-31-2011, 10:51 AM   #5
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My suspicion is that it cannot be justified on an economic basis.

I do believe that the AS is a higher quality product than the run of the mill trailer, but as you have probably learned from perusing this forum it is not without problems.

Although the overall quality may be better to a degree, I think it is not at all a proportional relationship - ie you pay a LOT more to get some quality improvement.

The appliances and such are pretty much what you will get in any RV.

In our own case, my wife and I previously owned an "Award" travel trailer, this is (or rather was as they are no longer made) a Canadian built trailer based on a British design.

In its day it was a bit of a higher end product, although not quite in teh same price range as Airstream.

Ours had gotten quite old and was becoming a bit of a money pit so it was time to move on.

After we sold it, we considered every option, from a new "regular" trailer, a class A motor home," even getting out of RV-ing.

I won't go into all the details, but in the end we decided to get another trailer.

We must have looked at virtually every new model on the market and were not happy with any of them in comparison to the "Award" that we had previously owned in terms of layout and quality - all of the new "Regular" trailers just seemed cheap and nasty in comparison, although now doubt they would hace served the purpose - but we would not have been happy with one.

I had not considered - and didn't even look at - new Airstreams due to their cost.

In the end we decided to shop for a gently-used newer Airstream. It met our needs an we are happy with it. We've owned it for three seasons now and it has taken us across the continent each year.

Just our experience for what it is worth.

I guess if I am honest, in addition to the fact that it suits us very well in terms of appearance, interior layout, and quality of materials, it is a product that we feel proud to own and seems to be much admired when we travel I guess that counts for
something too!

Not sorry we bought it at all, although one thing I was dissappointed to learn (I found this out before we bought) is that Airstreams still to this day use wooden floors and when you get leaks (when, not if!) if they go undetected, considerable costly damage can be caused. I try to monitor all the caulking carefully.

Brian & Connie Mitchell

2005 Classic 30'
Hensley Arrow / Centramatics
2008 GMC Sierra SLT 2500HD,4x4,Crew Cab, Diesel, Leer cap.
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Old 07-31-2011, 10:53 AM   #6
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I can vouch for the Tundra 5.7 w/ tow and 25' Airstream as a nice tow combo. It rides and handles well.

Here's one for you: On flat land/no wind my Tundra will go into 6 gear and tow the Airstream at 1600 RPM at 58 MPH. At least 12.5 MPG. I've towed several much smaller trailers at worse MPG. At the cost of fuel I doubt I'll ever have another box to tow. Even if I replace the Airstream at some point it will be with a Casita, Escape, another Airstream, etc.

Look at some 5 year old Airstream trailers, you may find a nice one and save a lot of money over new.
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Old 07-31-2011, 11:22 AM   #7
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Thor Industries makes Airstream, Keystone and many other brands. Thor is a cost cutting company and makes a lot of poorly made products. Keystone may be among the worst. They say Airstream is their premium line and it probably is. That does not make it the best RV made or even "premium"—seems like it is about average so far as reliability and the rest of the Thor brands are average or below. RVs are not as well made as cars and trucks.

What you pay for with an Airstream is a distinctive style, reputation, towability and bonuses for Thor executives. They are overpriced and there are better made trailers available. Because of their shape, Airstreams tow better.

Since you seem not have experience with RV's, read, explore, go to dealers, and learn everything you can about Airstreams and RV's. You will do better with a gently used one so far as value goes, but you have to understand what to look for. There are volunteer inspectors listed on the Forum to help you. If you are handy with tools, you can save a lot by fixing things yourself, and with an RV (like a house that is subject to frequent earthquakes) you will always have things to fix.

When we were younger, we tent camped and backpacked. I think getting into the back country on your own and exposing children to that is a wonderful experience for everyone. With an RV, a short hike is not the same. We eventually evolved as knees got old and the ground got harder into the Airstream world. There's a place for RV's and for Airstreams in this world, but if I were 30 years younger, I'd get out my backpack and start walking.

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Old 07-31-2011, 11:30 AM   #8
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What would be the better made RVs?
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Old 07-31-2011, 11:32 AM   #9
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Yes, it is worth it for the culture alone. Best folks I've ever met. We regularly have awesome parties

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Old 07-31-2011, 11:51 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Marcin View Post
What would be the better made RVs?
If you are talking typical TT's try to find one like this Bullet that has some aerodynamics.
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Airstreams..... The best towing trailers on the planet!
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Old 07-31-2011, 12:05 PM   #11
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In my experience, if I want a travel trailer ready to travel and use for trips, I buy a new, or pretty new, camper. Brand is like deciding which car to buy, a Mercedes or a Chevy.

An older trailer, aluminum or white, can be a money pit, have concealed damage from deterioration, and a time hog. I bought mine a year ago to take a trip and I've invested another 10 grand, still not done, and still haven't taken the trip.

I wouldn't have paid the cost for an Airstream that's ready to go. I could have bought a new white box for what I've got into my Airstream so far and I still have a good ways to go. For 7 to 10 thousand, I could have bought a ready to go white box, and spent the last year traveling instead of working on this trailer.

Am I going to buy a white box? Nope! When I'm done, I'll have a 31' Airstream with all new components from the roof vents and air conditioner, to the furnace and refrigerator. I'll have all new cabinets, counter tops, floor, furniture, window coverings, and awnings.

Am I camping and traveling now? Nope! Is it gonna be worth it? Yeah! This is gonna be a nice rig.
Click on the link to see a picture of the Sioux River falls near my home.
Eastern South Dakota is very pretty with hills, rivers, and trees.
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Old 07-31-2011, 12:23 PM   #12
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The Airstream, at least has only the floor as a major wood component, subject to rot.

This trailer is all aluminum:
CampLite All Aluminum Travel Trailer Overview by LivinLite

This trailer is fiberglass. It has fiberglass reinforced wood floor. It has relatively few entry points for water (no rivets):

Escape Trailer Industries > Home

None of this stuff is tested or verified like modern automotive practice. All will be more troublesome than a modern car. The two links I posted above have potential to have good longevity, and good build quality. But until they're proved by covering a 100K miles I'm still not certain. Harmonics, vibrations can cause stress cracks. Factory construction quality issues can show up.

At least the Airstream, for all its documented faults, has high mileage examples out there, verified to run 100K miles.
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Old 07-31-2011, 12:35 PM   #13
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And she had fun fun fun - 'til her daddy took her AS away

Simply - For more fun, and for a longer time!!
Goin' Vintage!
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Old 07-31-2011, 01:02 PM   #14
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If your only going to camp 4 weeks in a year, go buy yourself a restored Shasta or a pop-up. But for the love of God please don't but a fiberglass box on wheels with all of those horrible brown and maroon swooshes, and stripey stickers on them.
Good Luck,
'63 Avion H-24

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