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Old 04-23-2012, 12:02 PM   #1
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New RV Shopper

Need some guidance here. I have never owned a RV. I have been reading posts on this forum and on RV.net for over a year now. I have also been to several RV shows here in DFW area.

Here is my dilema: why buy an Airstream when a nice 5th wheel costs about the same? I am not trying to belittle Airstreams at all. They appear to be well made and are obviously very popular. Airstream prices are fairly high, and for the same price, you do get a lot more trailer with a 5th wheel. I am aware of the increased weight between the two. Towing would not be too much of a problem for me since I have diesel truck.

Looking forward to your replies. Thanks
John
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Old 04-23-2012, 12:24 PM   #2
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Look at a new 5th wheel as a 10-year trailer *WITH* regular maintenance. Look at an Airstream as a trailer you can use and enjoy as long as you want to do the maintenance. You don't see lots of people actively traveling in 20+ year old 5ers.

If you really want the big interior space of a 5er, Airstream has nothing to compete.

There are some advantages in towing performance for the Airstream because of better aerodynamic performance, but it's probably easier to put a 5er right where you want it when parking.
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Old 04-23-2012, 12:53 PM   #3
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Have you seen this active thread on RV.net? It has some insight from Airstream and non-Airstream owners. -->> RV.Net Open Roads Forum: Travel Trailers: Airstream......??

My husband and I are retired and have no kids and no pets traveling with us. We feel our Airstreams are the best solution for us. We've redesigned our floor plans to sleep two people very comfortably.

Now, if we were younger and traveling with kids and pets, we would likely consider solutions other than Airstreams. For where we are in our vintage lives, we're Airstream (vintage) all the way.

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Old 04-23-2012, 01:18 PM   #4
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I'm a third generation aerodynamic aluminum trailer owner going back nearly fifty years. My grandparents had a Streamline, my parents a Silver Streak and I am on my second of the latter with another to come.

Your question (the OP) is better posed thus:

Why shouldn't I buy a disposable RV that in terms of depreciation, repairs and a generous estimate of useful life at ten years will cost 2X or 3X as much as having bought once an AIRSTREAM if I intend to travel thus from the peak of my earning years with spouse & children to the later years of retirement?

For someone whose "need" of an RV is to "travel" 150-miles to a relatives lake lot twice yearly then any old box will do. For someone who intends to travel extensively at the lowest long term cost with the best overall performance then the question is easily answered.

Let's try just one:

The interior space argument isn't worth spit, just for starters. First, one wishes to travel to locales with a favorable climate. And to be outdoors as much as possible. Once indoors, one is sitting or sleeping. Second, the "extra space" is just that much more difficult to heat or cool (read: extremely so if the wish to camp in remote places is included), and there is no way to fully pack the interior of a big 5'er without also having to buy a medium duty truck to haul it. Even the largest Airstream does not need a truck to tow it. There are plenty who travel full-time and feel no need of "more" (many of us have the larger trailers and use Suburbans or pickups due to packing four-seasons worth of supply) as a 34', for example, has a great deal more space to pack than is apparent. (My brand of trailer has even more in the same size).

So, why an A/S?

A] Ones choices are greater.

B] Ones lifetime costs are lower.

From each of these two flow further "arguments" of greater and greater depth.

From children at home to a couple traveling alone . . the same trailer does both duties over a quarter century. And then goes to new owners.

The alternative is four/five trailers of conventional low quality. With never the same reliability, performance, safety or longevity in a single mile of travel.

.
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Old 04-23-2012, 01:25 PM   #5
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Airstream trailers were designed for touring. 5th wheels are designed for those who make one or two hauls per year to destination resorts and stay in them 3 or more months at each location. They are great for Wintering in Florida and spending the summer in the north woods. Airstreamers move frequently throughout North America.
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Old 04-23-2012, 01:28 PM   #6
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I am really anal retentive about maintenance and I made my old SOB last 17 years. Even with that maintenance, it was pretty much a throw away. The dealer gave me $1000 for it only because he had a buddy who needed to park it for his hunting cabin. It'll last a few years.

As you can see on this forum, there are MANY very old ASes in service. Over 60% of ALL ASes EVER built are on the road today, per AS.
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Old 04-23-2012, 01:50 PM   #7
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Quality, quality, quality!! Nothing is better quality or will last as long as the AS! Good luck!!
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Old 04-23-2012, 02:23 PM   #8
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Pride of ownership of an American icon that never goes out of style. With regular inspections for leaks and corrosion, and good maintenance, it will last a lifetime and make you look good all the while.

doug k
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Old 04-23-2012, 04:19 PM   #9
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It really comes down to how you plan to use your RV. As an example, most fulltimers are in either a motorhome or 5th wheel. Trailers account for a small percentage; 5th wheels are as easy to pull as a trailer.

Airstreaming is its own lifestyle and subculture. Most non-Airstream trailer owners (5th wheel and travel trailers) like their RV's but see them being ulitarian. Airstream owners for the most part are in love with their Airstreams and couldn't see themselves in anything else.

Airstream owners have aluminum in their blood. They get excited when they see any aluminum trailer. It's either in your blood or it is not.
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Old 04-23-2012, 04:27 PM   #10
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Thanks for your replies. I had not really thought about the limited time you spend inside vs outside. I guess I was just looking at a new A/S vs. a new 5th wheel without considering what kind of shape each would be in 10 years or so from now.
When I spoke about the size comparison, I was really thinking just about shower sizes and bed sizes...both seem to be limited on the A/S. Whenever I go into any RV, those are the first two things I check out.
As to the quality of workmanship, in your opinions are present-day A/S's built as well as years past?
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Old 04-23-2012, 08:46 PM   #11
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One will find disappointments in all RV's nowadays. American income has not risen the past forty years but prices and the cost of living sure has. Thus, to remain "competitive" cost-cutting shows up. And A/S no longer has competition from the better designed and better built Avion, Silver Streak and Streamline trailers of years past.

The used market has all these and a few more. Budget and sweat equity can gain one a superior trailer for the same cost (overall) or lower than a new or recent A/S.

There is still no comparison to stick-built trailers. The comparisons are only relative among a select group of the past decades.

.
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Old 04-23-2012, 09:41 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwightdi View Post
Airstream trailers were designed for touring. 5th wheels are designed for those who make one or two hauls per year to destination resorts and stay in them 3 or more months at each location. They are great for Wintering in Florida and spending the summer in the north woods. Airstreamers move frequently throughout North America.
For me, this pretty much sums it up. I'm planning to travel and in my view, you can't get a better trailer for towing.
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