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Old 07-11-2015, 04:49 PM   #15
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Bigfoot and Oliver only contemporary competitors in those sizes.

An AF is good relative to other boxes. But as they are terrible -- in every way that matters (road performance and longevity) -- it isnt much to say.

A ten year old A/S isn't old. An AF at ten years is on its last legs.

Value is not dollars spent. Nor is new the best deal. Design and production quality matter most.

I'd take a twenty year old Airstream any day over a brand new box. And I don't even like Airstream that much. Instead I have one of its better built competitors from decades ago.

And a pickup isn't or shouldn't be the default tow vehicle. A far better match can be made in that area.

Much depends on how you use it. Use it hard and trade every six years with no genuine concern over road performance, and any box will serve.

My folks bought their trailer and kept it 27-years. No repairs of note.

If one wants longest life, greatest reliability and lowest operating cost as a result, then this TT type is the one to have. Or the ones in the opening sentence may also work out over the decades.

The boxes don't

1990 35' Silver Streak Sterling; 9k GVWR.
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Old 07-11-2015, 05:01 PM   #16
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My Airstream is 37 years old. How many BWB (Boring White Box) trailers do you know of that are 37 years old?

"Between what matters and what seems to matter, how should the world we know judge wisely?" - E.C. Bentley, Trent's Last Case
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Old 07-11-2015, 05:14 PM   #17
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Zybane the landscape is littered with 5-10-15 year trailers that are not an AS. As mentioned a 3 year lifecyle for the others might be the norm. That said the first Airstream was in 1929. There are lots of AS units on the road that are 10-15-20-25-30 years old. Like a home if you don't update the furniture it will have old style furniture. Things wear out and need to be replace. Yet the shell of the unit, frame, window, the primary structure with normal wear and tear will still be solid.

And resale AS is better than most. You can't go by something like NADA. You need to research on the Classified section hear or RVTrader. NADA has historically been low on Airstreams since they use the the same formula for all brands. Which tells you a lot about the value of a 5 year old other brand.

Finally you just have to chose your lifestyle. If you must have a washer/dryer, fireplace, hot tub then buy what you need. If you want something that will last buy and AS.
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Old 07-11-2015, 05:27 PM   #18
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When we decided to by a TT we shopped for a new trailer by looking at used ones. We went to RV lots and looked at as many 5-10yr old units as we could. We wanted to see what these TT looked like after someone used them.

Hardest thing was finding used AS for sale. That told us something. It seemed the more used TT there were on the lot of a particular brand the lest quality. People just wanted to get ride of them ASAP.

Wear and tear is one thing but when you look at 5-10 yr old units that have just broke down many had to have all the screws in the cabinets replaced or glued in because the particle board cabinet could no longer hold them. The AS we could find to look at had wear/tear issued, some had leaks, but all of them still were solid. Hinges/doors seals still had a solid feel. Try looking at AF or other SOB's that are used not brand new. Everything looks good new.

Good Luck, in the end by what makes you happy.

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Old 07-11-2015, 05:32 PM   #19
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AS vs AF

My nephew bought a used AF. He then sppent a lot of money, and 2 years, replacing all of the rooted wood framing. (He hasn't yet looked at the flooring). Yikes!
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Old 07-11-2015, 05:32 PM   #20
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The reason we own a Airstream is so that we can go on the WBCCI Airstream caravans.
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Old 07-11-2015, 05:40 PM   #21
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Those who think a "boring white box" trailer cannot be useable for 20 plus years, are simply not living in the real world. There are many thousands, probably tens of thousands of white box trailer still being used that age. So that argument simply does not hold up.
As to whether my trailer will last twenty years, or be worth giving to my kids is a non issue to me. By then I will be dead of old age, and if my kids want a camper they can go buy one themself. All my kids and their spouses are well employed, they don't need me to leave them a camper trailer.
After much deliberation and shopping, I chose a white box trailer over an Airstream. I thought I wanted an A/S, but it turned out I didn't. I hang out here because there are a lot of folks with lots of cool ideas about camping and traveling that go beyond brand and type of trailer. There's also some really nice folks here that are just fun to converse with.

EDIT. PS, regarding the idea of "leaving a trailer to the kids".....WTH....after what I spent getting these kids through college, they should have bought the trailer for ME !
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Old 07-11-2015, 05:45 PM   #22
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See ya!
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Old 07-11-2015, 06:01 PM   #23
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Airstreams have an excellent basic design, but the corporate honchos who bought the company decades ago focus on cheap materials and workmanship can be poor. They save as much as they can pretending to sell a premium product and make big profits. But the style is iconic, they do tow easily and my wife wanted one.

Arctic Fox has a very good reputation and is a very practical alternative. I've never been in one, but they do have some nice floor plans.

No matter what you buy, you have a lot of maintenance. A well kept non-Airstream can last many years. Any RV can leak and rot the wood (even Airstream has wood); the idea is to fix the leaks. Many people have bought Airstreams with rotted floors just like others buy other brands with rotted walls inside.

Also check out dealers, especially if you can't fix things yourself. A bad dealer who sells good trailers is not something you want.

Our first 2 years with the Airstream were a bad experience because there were so many problems. Since then it has settled down. Most RV's look ugly to me, but being in an aluminum house is cool.

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Old 07-11-2015, 06:15 PM   #24
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While we appreciated the added space offered by others with slides, we ultimately loved the simplicity, quality, and style of the Airstreams. The first time we ever walked in one we actually both looked at how "small" it was and the associated price tag and booked it out of there saying HELL NO, these people are insane. After 12+ months of heavily considering and visiting everything from pop ups to AS to other travel trailers and everything in between, we kept returning to the AS. I did like the quality and style of the Oliver, but we ultimately wanted something a little larger than Oliver offered. We personally love the interiors of the Airstream, they feel a bit less cheesy than some of the others, but that's just personal preference. So, here we are!
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Old 07-11-2015, 06:26 PM   #25
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We were also very impressed with the Oliver. Airstream could learn a few lessons from them. In the end though, we just had to have something larger than the Oliver had to offer.

SuEllyn & Brian McCabe
WBCCI #3628 -- AIR #14872 -- TAC #FL-7
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2005 Suburban 2500 Quadrasteer (Olivia) & 2011 Silverado 3500 (Fred) with Outfitter Truck Camper (Ethel)
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Old 07-11-2015, 07:27 PM   #26
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2016 30' Classic
Lorton , Virginia
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Thanks guys for the good input!

Originally Posted by slowmover View Post
Bigfoot and Oliver only contemporary competitors in those sizes.

An AF is good relative to other boxes. But as they are terrible -- in every way that matters (road performance and longevity) -- it isnt much to say.

A ten year old A/S isn't old. An AF at ten years is on its last legs.

Value is not dollars spent. Nor is new the best deal. Design and production quality matter most.

I'd take a twenty year old Airstream any day over a brand new box. And I don't even like Airstream that much. Instead I have one of its better built competitors from decades ago.

And a pickup isn't or shouldn't be the default tow vehicle. A far better match can be made in that area.

Much depends on how you use it. Use it hard and trade every six years with no genuine concern over road performance, and any box will serve.

My folks bought their trailer and kept it 27-years. No repairs of note.

If one wants longest life, greatest reliability and lowest operating cost as a result, then this TT type is the one to have. Or the ones in the opening sentence may also work out over the decades.

The boxes don't
I looked up Bigfoot and Oliver. Bigfoot has 6'4" interior height and I'm 6'4", so that rules that out. Oliver looks good quality but too small for my needs. If they made a 27-30' version I may have been all over it. Although it certainly isn't an "attractive" trailer.

So I stopped by an Airstream dealer to look them over and compare to the "box" trailers.

Some thoughts on what I saw first with the new 25' FB International.

1. Would be a bit too small for me. I'm thinking 27-30 would be perfect.
2. I was surprised at whatever leather-like seat coverings are used. Quite comfortable!
3. What parts of the frame are aluminum and which steel? I noticed some rust in some crevices. Right up at the hitch receiver and some under the frame tube by the rear bumper. I really don't like the use of non-stainless or aluminum that see's outdoor use. Even the lock tumbler on the main door had a hint of rust on it from I take it is the internal lock mechanism.
4. I liked the "solid surface" counter tops in the kitchen. Not so much the laminate tops of the dining table and bathroom. Do any models have solid counter tops everywhere?
5. Did some "hand" temperature tests during the sunny day on the exterior skin versus interior. Granted the A/C unit was on so it may not be the best time to test that. While of course the exterior in direct sunlight almost got "burn" skin hot, the interior panels where the sun was shinning down seemed just "warm".
6. The windows (especially all 4 curved corner) seems to not be that great thermally. They let in a ton of heat. I take it AS does not make any "thermal" type windows that are double pane or some other measure?
7. I love the look of the 4 corner window layout and the interior aluminum that reflects the light. Makes it feel much more spacious when you can see down the entire trailers with big windows on either end. Plus those windows high up in the corner add a great affect.
8. The shower was a bit short/small, but doable. I liked the clothes hanger draw string feature.
9. The counters and storage seemed decent. The laminate on it didn't seem super cheap and the doors/drawers felt fairly sturdy. As did the drawer rails.
10. The A/C was the ducted type up above and was relatively quiet. It kept the unit at a comfortable temperature.
11. Pulled out the removable kitchen sink faucet and it didn't want to go back in. Not sure if it's suppose to just fall back in or has to be "stuffed" back in.
12. The range hood was laughable quality. It had the name "Bambino" or something on it. There was a little plastic 2-switch control on the front. I moved the switch to turn on the vent light and the switch fell into the innards of the hood. Like the cheapest Chinese switch control I've ever seen. Looked like it cost about three cents to make. I don't know what AS was thinking when they decided to put that piece of junk into one of their units!
13. The unit had a couple of smoke/combo detectors on the ceiling. They were like the really cheap white plastic ones you find at Walmart for $10. Kinda contrasted against the beautiful aluminum ceiling. Easy fix though.
14. The LED dim-able ceiling and reading lights seemed like a nice feature.
15. Looking under the trailer, it seemed most of the LPG lines were exposed and hanging down. Is that typical? I just wouldn't want those to get damaged boon-docking etc in more off-road conditions.
16. The guy at the factory securing stuff underneath didn't care about his job. There was some rubber grommets around some tubing going into the floor that only had a single dab of glue on one edge so it was just hanging down loose. Then where the LPG pipes would go into the floor they were reinforced with plastic grommets. Half the plastic grommet screws where secured at an angle and half the screw sticking out. Pretty shoddy.
17. The LPG tanks had the aluminum or stainless surround around them. How is that designed to work? Do you lift up the surround and take it off then un-secure the LPG tanks from the bracket and then lift them out?
18. Some of the under carriage door access had plastic snaps/handles that kinda felt cheap. Surely there are aftermarket metal ones for these?

Then I went into so light to medium quality "box" type 5th wheels to compare.

1. I noticed the new box trailers "smelled" more like glue and lamination. I'd imagine since they use a lot more "fabricated" stuff in the interior they will off-gas considerably more.
2. The interiors still look like "grand-ma's house". A lot of dark laminate cabinetry, non-stylish "RV" furniture, grandma window blinds/drape type things and what is up with that wall-paper type material used on box RV walls? Not attractive at all.
3. While the interior space of those units of course is much more spacious due to longer length, taller ceilings and multiple slides, it "feels" darker. They do have windows of course, but the window to interior wall ratio on the AS seems much greater. Plus those dark woods, tan wall paper and carpet seems to suck up a lit of the light.
4. The box RV's seem gargantuan outside compare to AS's. Especially the fifth wheels. Granted you do get a lot more storage with those huge box's, but it is nice that an AS isn't as visually abusive to the environment and will fit in small areas.

Also checked out some small diesel Class A's.

1. Storage underneath and living up top makes for more stairs to climb and shorter ceilings. Wasn't a fan.
2. Drivers cab area definitely kinda feels like wasted "living" space when not driving.
3. Not really interested in the maintenance costs of specialized RV service departs that would be required to work on those embedded diesels and chassis.

So besides the Airstream the only other thing I think I would consider is a high end 5th wheel like a DRV Elite Suite or New Horizons. Something with higher end interiors that are built to last and don't feel so cheap. But of course those are also quite pricey, $150-200K range.

I know it kinda feels silly to be comparing large 5th wheels with Airstream's but I think I may be leaning towards the AS.

Some thoughts on which AS to go with:

1. If I want solid surface counter tops on all counters, look's like I would need to get the 30Classic. Definitely not a bad choice as it's gorgeous. Although a bit pricey in the $115-120K out the door.
2. Figure out what I could do with those not so efficient AS windows. I could put 3M Crystalline auto tint film on them which blocks out a lot of sun energy. Of course that would be good in the summer but bad in the winter. I could try and get as many awnings as possible to keep the sun out. Surely there has to be something out there that keeps full strength sun from entering the windows, especially the curved corner windows.
3. Figure out a way to do laundry. I am not one that would like to go to a laundromat all the time. Maybe some sort of portable unit that I could fit in the pickup bed or something that doesn't use a lot of water.
4. Not sure if the stock AS appliances would work for full time as they seem kinda cheap. Replacements pricey if high quality I'd imagine.
5. Anyone purchase the factory electronic awning? Seems pretty pricey for something that can be opened/closed in 5 minute or less. Anyone love theirs?
6. Factory solar option seems like a joke for the cost. Must be a huge profit item.
7. Although I'm not sure if I'm a fan of the rear bedroom in the 30 Classic. Having a larger refrigerator and reclining lounge seats plus solid counter tops and two AC units is very appealing.
8. If I went with the 30Classic I'm pretty sure I'd need to go with a F250 size or larger pickup. Added benefit of storing more toys like an ATV/Motorcycle and bicycles.
9. Some interesting info from the dealer. Supposedly the Eddie Bauer's are selling quite poorly and the 30Classic is selling like hot cakes. Six month wait on the latter.
10. Is it hard to add a couple more batteries to these modern AS?
11. Are the power inverters hard to get to in AS's? I may want to upgrade from a 1000w.

Your comments/thoughts are always welcome!
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Old 07-11-2015, 07:43 PM   #27
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Marietta , Georgia
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If you want to half your new Airstream trailer budget, Airstream did build about 85 slide-out trailers in the the 2001-2008 period. The bulk of them were either 30 or 34 footers. Since I own one (28' Safari model), I have noted the For Sale listings which seem to appear every few months. Lately, the asking price is regularly in the 40s and they sell pretty quick.

Airstream really over-engineered their slide compared to the competition and mine has not had an issue since its Oct 2002 build date. The premium for the slide over the standard model and lower cost competition from SOBs contributed to this feature being dropped from the line. The slide adds about 14 square feet to the living area so it has its advantages for those who spend time in the trailer versus out, or have a need for more floor space due to large dogs (me).

There are many on this forum who believe Airstream slides are a bad thing, but the owners seem to love them. I know mine won't be for sale any time soon.
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Old 07-11-2015, 07:46 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by ZBoater View Post
The only reason I've found why I should pay twice as much for an AS vs the competition is longevity. If you plan on buying an new trailer ever few years, any trailer will do. But if you plan to keep it for a couple of decades, an AS seems like a better choice.

The very reason I spent a lot of money buying a 30+ year old Airstream 310 turbo diesel, and almost just as much again to restore it. If its lasted 30+ years, it will last 30+ more.

It's the only Class A motorhome to turn heads with an unrestored exterior.


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Its a recession when your neighbor loses his job; its a depression when you lose your own. "Harry S Truman"
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