Originally Posted by Ronman
I am looking at a 2007 Safari 27' FB SE. On a recent trip, we met a couple with a 2011 27' FB Flying Cloud. I do not see a difference. Interiors, floor plans, weights all look the same. Is the Flying Cloud the new version of the Safari? What am I missing?
We bought a used 2008 27' FB Safari SE in 2011 and love it. Same as the current model Flying Cloud 27FB but at a substantial savings versus FC even after we had leaks and floor rot fixed at the factory. When inspecting a used 27FB check for leaks around the panoramic windows, the skylight, the Fantastic Fans, the plumbing vents on the roof, and at the rear bumper. Leaks can also occur around the marker lights. Also check for floor rot under the dinette and around the floor at the entrance door. Signs of floor rot include a black or brown stain in the vinyl floor as well as "spongy" wood underneath. Use an ice pick to test the floor - it will punch through if the floor is soft. You can also get down on the floor and push hard with your fingers if you are afraid to use an ice pick. An electric moisture meter can also help you identify places along the perimeter where water is leaking in.
Unless the owner has been aggressive in maintaining seams, you should plan to spend a full day resealing all of the seams around the windows, rooftop openings, and the rear bottom belt line once you take delivery. You'll also want to check the brakes and repack the wheel bearings. If the owner hasn't done it recently you'll want to give it a good washing and waxing. If the tires are original, they should definitely be replaced on a 5 year old trailer. If the tires need changing, consider going to 16" wheels and LT tires. You can get a good price selling the 15" wheels on Airforums, Craigslist, or EBay. There are many tire threads on Airforums discussing the pros and cons of ST and LT tires as well as various brands.
If you can before buying, check how long it takes the refrigerator to cool down. If it takes more than 3 or 4 hours it likely needs to be fixed. You might also look for filaform corrosion where aluminum panels overlap on the exterior, around the tail lights, and on the pull handle by the entrance door. It is white and blotchy or spidery in appearance. Many modern Airstreams have it. If the unit you are considering has it, you can treat it to stop it from spreading, but the existing spots cannot be fully returned to new condition. Some people are bothered by it, others are not. I fall in the "not" category as we bought our trailer to use, not to preserve in pristine condition. You'll likely find it worthwhile to check the air conditioner condensate drip line to make sure it is not clogged and causing water from the AC to drip inside the trailer.
One major difference between the pre 2008 Safari's and the 2012 and the more recent Flying Clouds is the FC's have energy efficient and cool to operate LED interior lights instead of hot halogen lights. It is easy to buy the LED's and swap them out yourself. You'll benefit from low power consumption when running on batteries only plus a cooler interior temperature in the trailer. Some of the most recent FC's have a Dometic 310 china toilet instead of the plastic toilet in the late 2000's Safari's. I believe there has also recently been a change to the water heater possibly a gas/electric instead of gas only. The televisions and entertainment electronics may also be newer on the FC's. Functionally everything else is pretty much the same. I understand the factory is installing a rubber gasket where the plywood floor is fastened to the outer shell on the new 27FB's in order to address the floor rot leaking at the bottom beltline. I believe they are also now welding the metered corners of the pano window trim on the exterior to reduce the chance of leaking.
Is you contemplate the purchase of a Safari or FC, some people upgrade the converter from the one stage Airstream provides to a 3 stage which helps keep the batteries from cooking if you keep the trailer plugged in during storage. This is an easy owner do it yourself project for an afternoon. Another nice upgrade is installing an awning on the street side which will help keep the unit cooler in the summer and help the refrigerator stay cooler by shading the vent cover on the side. A number of people have upgraded their skylight to residential quality because the cheap plastic one Airstream uses eventually cracks and leaks. Some people install solar panels on their Airstreams, particularly if they do a significant amount of boondocking, and there are threads on Airforums showing step by step solar installations to help you should you want to take on a solar installation by yourself.
After owning a 27FB trailer for over a year there are only a few annoyances and none are significant enough to make us wish we'd bought another floor plan. Specifically:
1) It is inconvenient reaching around the LP bottles to move items into and out of the exterior storage compartment.
2). The mattress is uncomfortable. The quality of the foam used for the seating is poor. For improved comfort we plan to replace the mattress and the seating cushions soon.
3). The water pump is very noisy. I can fix this by installing new rubber feet as well has flex hoses leading into and out of the pump. Usually we camp where we are using campground water so it hasn't been worth my time to deal with the pump
4). In a very few short campsites the location of the door at the rear of the trailer may make it difficult to use the site. If the site slopes steeply in the rear you can't let the rear of the trailer overhang the slope and still use the door like you can when the entrance door is near the front of the unit.
5). The mini blind on the window at the head of the queen bed is easy to hut when sleeping. We are considering replacing it with a curtain or roll down shade.
We really like the size and layout of our 27FB. We find having the dinette at the rear with the panoramic window is ideal because most campsites have the best view at the rear. Having the bed at the front lets us hear if someone is messing with the tow vehicle when we are parked overnight at a Walmart, Cracker Barrel, or truck stop. Susan likes the big round sink plus having both a microwave and a gas oven in the kitchen. The unit is easy to tow and maneuver. Even in older state parks it isn't too long to fit in most campsites. It is large enough on the inside that on rainy days we don't feel cramped or confined if we must stay in for the day. It is also large enough for 6 people to sit around and visit inside.
The best thing about owning an Airstream is the great people you meet at rallies and on the road. We never anticipated the number of grat new friends we woul meet when we were searching for our trailer.
Please feel free to PM me if I can answer any questions or be of help. I hope the right Airstream finds you and you soon join the fun.