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Old 03-11-2013, 06:16 PM   #1
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Newbie greetings

I just joined the forum to learn more about Airstreams. I'm certainly not new to RV's as I've had several different types - from DP's, 5th wheels and TT's.

I'm interested, probably in about a year, to buy a new Airstream. Currently, I'm drawn to the International Signature - either the 27FB or the 28. Think that is a good size for a weekender, as well as possible longer touring down the road.

Reading the forum, has scared me alittle. Not knowing alot about these trailers, I'm not sure how prevalent the leak problems really are. Scary to think that an $80k purchase could turn into a bucket of woe.

So here are some newbie type questions:

Would you have any trepidation buying a 2013 or 2014 Airstream? I'm not a handy guy, nor have alot of spare time, so I wouldn't consider buying a used one.

I'm having a hard time seeing the differences in the various models. Is it primarily decor? The spec sheets look similar.

What are the countertops made of in the International Signature? Looks like either quartz or corian?

What do you do with all your "outside" gear, like lawn chairs, grill, hoses, cables and sewer hose? Doesn't look like much outside storage.

Is the AC ducted, or does it just blow from the AC unit?

Is the glass thermo-pane? If not, how thick is it? Automotive glass is 1/4" thick, and some RV's are using it.

Is there a master options list? I've seen some online listings showing added equipment. Some seems odd - like only 600w inverter.

Know this is too long, but appreciate any answers.
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Old 03-11-2013, 06:31 PM   #2
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Lots of questions to answer here!

I will pick at a few:
1. Leaks. Yes these can leak, there is a warranty for that. No nothing on ours has leaked in the first year or 10,000 miles of travel. I believe you should look for a dealer who can help you through any issues you might have. You will be fine with a good dealer.
2. Storage. I love having my F150 because it provides the additional storage space we need for all the "stuff" we need while camping. We are currently out for about 5 weeks in the smallest of Airstreams a little 16' Bambi. A 27 should be fine for anything you want!
Others will take a position on the rest of the questions as dinner is about to be served!
Have fun shopping for your Airstream,
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Old 03-11-2013, 06:59 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forums. I will try to answer some of the questions.
AC- It is not ducted.
Inverter- I suppose the logic is to have one large enough to charge a computer, operate a TV and a dvd player, but not so large as to deplete the batteries too quickly.
Window glass is not insulated.

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Old 03-11-2013, 07:12 PM   #4
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You need to go to a dealer with lots of inventory. That way you can walk back and forth and see all the little things that change with each size.
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Old 03-11-2013, 08:04 PM   #5
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Hey wncrasher, a lot of questions will be best served by following 2club's advice and seeing the trailers. Here are a few thoughts.

1)Would you have concerns buying new? Not me, but there are several considerations. I would want to buy used if possible. I am not that handy either but have quickly learned some skills. I believe that is part of the ownership consideration. One thing I have learned about new ones by going to the shows and looking at them several times - since they are hand constructed in a sense quality control wavers some. Really look over the one you choose. There was a 27 RB queen at the show in Feb that the floor on the left side made popping noises and went up and down walking on it. Point is, things get passed by as they do with many other products so go over it. Personally, I would also consider a few years old too but your wallet must be deeper than mine.

Differences? Ahh, you see also that much of what an Airstream is can be seen in every model. It is mostly interior styling differences in my opinion. There are different wheels and windows (Safari Sport has RV type) but most exterior items are the same. The biggest difference to me is based upon a particular style cue. Flying Cloud has airplane style roof lockers with wood look. Airstream uses a lot of light weight materials. The Internationals have sliding cabinet lockers with lights inside. Classics have real wood cabinets. Sports are lift plastic (tamber). After that, it is the style of faucets, door pulls, and most importantly, floor plan. All the newer models have a "naked" interior with aluminum walls except the Classic which has upholstered walls and vinyl-clad ceiling. This information changes as you look at used models in some respects. The Safari, like I own, was a cheaper model but it has style cues from the Classic, the Flying Cloud and the Sport models. The models are all very similar overall but there is much not on the specs sheets- different toilets, interior storage, etc. Look at a twin model, my favorite, the bedroom is multi-use, easy access to lockers, etc. Again, it is different perhaps than your plan but check it out along with the twin outside storage.

Countertop Material? If I am not mistaken, Airstream uses laminate in all but the Classic which uses Corian. The International has the "wenge" laminate or high end glossy style. It is surprisingly more beautiful than it sounds. Check out wenge laminate online. It comes in all kinds of Corian-look, stone-look dimensional deep gloss and flat styles.

Depending on the model outside storage varies. The twin models have, in my opinion the most outside storage with three trunks.

Ducted air? nope, standard unit AC.

Cannot answer on the windows.

I can also say as a long looker of travel trailers myself, there are all kinds of products out there right now. Airstream is one type. When speaking with a Winnebago exec at one show that was visiting, he gave some advice. "If I were a trailer shopper like you, I would get a brand that either had an all fiberglass roof or one with a metal roof. The problem is that I am not sure who makes trailers with those kinds of roofs." I had told him that I wanted to buy and keep it for some time and use it for traveling across the country. To him, the roof type was the most important issue. I believe Airstream is a trailer for traveling around and is designed in a minimalist fashion to do just that and built to take the road travel- easier to tow, etc. My neighbor, a retired RV dealer, told me that Airstreams were for travelers rather than homesteaders. He said he sold Holiday Ramblers for the latter. I believe his description is accurate. They don't have a bunch of slides (weight) and become a condo on wheels but they do fulfill the definition of a travel trailer well for a small family unit and look cool too- kinda mid century modern.

As a previous RVer you probably know about inverters. I put in a 1000watt model which can do about anything I would need for almost $400. As I mentioned, I'm not handy either, but I did it with an onlooker father and asking questions on this forum.
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Old 03-11-2013, 08:21 PM   #6
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I want to chime in here again for a quick comment.
I know nothing about the larger trailer differences but with the 16' trailers the differences between the different models was far more than just cosmetic! Different suspension, tires, wheels, heaters, a/c units,cabinets,lights etc. When we asked our salesman about the differences he told us that he began to list them one day and stopped after reaching 100 items. Why not ask someone with the training to answer the question properly? I would suggest that you find a knowledgeable salesman (Patrick at Colonial is awesome) and begin there.
I do not want to dissuade you from listening to the advice given here but rather suggest that you follow up to be sure it is correct.
Bruce
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Old 03-11-2013, 08:46 PM   #7
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Welcome to the forums! The 27 or 28 FB is a beautiful trailer and floor plan.

Should you be afraid of buying new? No. You can save some by buying gently used, but don't be afraid of buying new because of the leak thing. Sure, there may be ls few leaks to chase down, but it's not the end of the world, at least that's been our experience. We bought our 06 19' Safari SE new and have had very little trouble in any area. You say you are not handy..I don't think of myself as handy either, but you'd be surprised at what you can handle if you try. I've surprised myself at times.

The models and trim packages are confusing ... you are not alone on that one. And Airstream doesn't make it any easier because they change branding in the middle of the stream and rename models. For instance, out unit is a Safari SE which was an upgrade to a regular Safari (aluminum interior and International-style windows, and pano windows...but in 2009 they rebranded the Safari SE to be called the new Flying Cloud. Go figure. Also models used to be based on length, but that's no longer the case. The best way to figure them out is to go to a well-stocked dealer as pointed out above...and compare models and trim packages. Or visit a rally and talk to Airstreamers in real use. Nobody is wrong when it comes to chosing the model for you...it's all a matter of preference. The International Signatures are quite handsome, IMHO. But I personally prefer the Flying Cloud...

Can't help with the counter-top question, but I do know that the AC is not ducted in any Airstream. The furnace is ducted in all but the smaller units (our 19' does not have ducted heat...it's really not necessary in the smaller guys).

Don't know exactly how thick the glass is, but it is not insulated as far as I know. The glass in ours is tinted, however.

The standard factory inverter is 600w ... we have one...and as mentioned above, it's probably meant to be used for recharging and small electronic devices rather than running appliances.

have fun looking for your Airstream and let us know what you end up with! And THEN the fun will begin!
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Old 03-11-2013, 08:55 PM   #8
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Don't be scared. When we bought our AS, we didn't know anything about Airstreams or anything about RV's for that matter. Annnnddd..... we bought the first Airstream we looked at....how's that for scary?
A year later, we've learned a lot. We're still learning and still smiling! We have a few mishaps, some big, some small, but none have succeeded in ruining a trip.
Dive in.
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Old 03-11-2013, 09:38 PM   #9
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Bruce is correct. Keep checking.

Most differences though regarding suspension, tires, heaters, a/c units, etc. are things related to floor plan and size and weight of the trailer. That said- how the heat is routed, how the refrigerator vents, etc.will be different from model to model. I do not mean to mislead. Many differences are minor though considering the same sized model. Use your non RV knowledge too. One pet peeve I have is specifically regarding A/C unit sizing and volume. A/C units work better when they work harder. If they cool too quickly they leave the air damp and cold; yet many forum members have shared their experience being told that their AC unit is too small in their trailer. Consider that by BTU measure, 150 sq ft (about the space of a 25' or less) that space needs about 5000 BTU/hr to cool 20 degrees lower or 7000 BTU to cool 30 degrees lower. There are several factors- windows, shades, people, appliances, but overall this is the formula 25-30 BTU per square foot. That is why bedroom AC window units in the 7-11K size range do well in bedrooms to about 300 to 400 square feet (bigger than most Airstreams) depending on ceiling height and window span yet the more powerful units (more expensive) are usually not needed and they limit power sources for the camper. This is my opinion. Patrick is very helpful. He advised that I purchase a 22 sport instead of the 25 Safari last year when I called. Again, glean what you can and go with your decision.
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Old 03-12-2013, 10:24 AM   #10
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Thanks for all the kind responses!

I do find the AC thing odd, but I guess it comes with the body design.

As far as heating and cooling goes, do you find the AS well insulated and able to maintain temp? The SOB trailers I've had do a pretty good job, even without the dual pane glass.

Going to look at trailers is an out-of-town trip for me, so I'll make a weekend of it when I decide where to go. A guy from a TN dealership called yesterday, but I don't know anything about them yet. So far been looking at on-line - particularly at what Colonial has. Wish they actually did walk thrus and explain features instead of just making it a music video. .
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Old 03-12-2013, 11:34 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wncrasher View Post
Thanks for all the kind responses!

I do find the AC thing odd, but I guess it comes with the body design.

As far as heating and cooling goes, do you find the AS well insulated and able to maintain temp? The SOB trailers I've had do a pretty good job, even without the dual pane glass.

Going to look at trailers is an out-of-town trip for me, so I'll make a weekend of it when I decide where to go. A guy from a TN dealership called yesterday, but I don't know anything about them yet. So far been looking at on-line - particularly at what Colonial has. Wish they actually did walk thrus and explain features instead of just making it a music video. .
You're going through the plight of most everyone who buys a new Airstream.

As it turned out, our first Airstream was at the dealer nearby (35 miles).

BUT, as you become more knowledgeable, you begin to look at the more nuanced options available. And those options don't exist on all trailers.

I see you're more than a full day's drive from Colonial (where we bought our current Airstream), but I would give you this advice:

Make it a long weekend and physically drive to Colonial. They have an inventory that's greater than any other dealer in the country; more often than not, you'll find at least one of each offering that Airstream has. AND variations on the more popular units.

The one thing I find maddening about Airstream is; you would think they would have a showroom at their plant in Jackson Center Ohio. They don't, and in my estimation, they're making a huge marketing blunder.

Aside from going to Colonial, you're just going to have to find others on the forum who have trailers similar to what you want, and ask specific questions of them. AND you'll find many friendly folks here who will do exactly that!

Good luck!
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Old 03-12-2013, 11:54 AM   #12
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Try this link for Colonial in Lakewood NJ. Good details and pictures of new units.

Colonial Airstream - Airstream Travel Trailer, Bambi, Flying Cloud, International Signature, Serenity, Classic Limited, Interstate, Sport
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Old 03-13-2013, 01:03 PM   #13
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Baby, a Little Rain Must Fall

Leaks are a freak-out, but are inevitable, regardless of brand and what you paid for it. So, back to the dealer it goes, they fix it, and we are tight and dry until the next one pops up. The leaks have not required extensive repair because they were dealt with asap.

For that reason, I would not purchase any trailer unless a reputable dealer was within a reasonable distance.

I bought new, and have no regrets. I like everything the trailer does, and can do. It's my driveway crash pad, woman cave, and escapemobile.

To conclude: I have yet to experience anyone or anything in life that was absolutely perfect. You deal with it, and move on. With a trailer - literally and figuratively.
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Old 03-15-2013, 10:56 AM   #14
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Great words! I'm glad I found this forum. Thanks.
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