Thanks guys for the good input!
Originally Posted by slowmover
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!