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Old 09-04-2011, 08:14 AM   #1
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Question Two Sides to Every Story...

I'm not trying to start a war here, but I'm working in my last year before teaching and want to buy an Airstream trailer. In fact, I posted to my blog my intent recently. Desert Diva

Almost immediately, I received a comment (from someone I don't know) that referred me to a FB page and website. It seems that this person has a 2007 Bambi that was bought new and has had a "zillion" problems with the rig - the biggest being leaks and a rotten floor. The person has contacted administration in Ohio f-2-f and isn't happy with the results.

I can't afford to buy a relatively new trailer with my retirement "nest egg" and then have "tons of repairs" afterwards. I just curious if "leaks" and "wet floors" are a weak link in Airstream trailers. Also, are the "older" trailers made more solid that the ones say, within the last five years or so?

My "game plan" (at the present) is to possibly rent out my home and travel full-time for a few years when I retire next May.

Again, I'm not interested in taking sides - I just want to know what others experience with their trailers. I'm "thinking" my price point will be a 2007 23 foot Airstream with the same year Toyota Tundra (with the bed shell).

Thanks...
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Old 09-04-2011, 08:36 AM   #2
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Like everything - you have to look carefully at what you are buying. I took a hit on mine - btu I like my trailer very much and now that it's repaired and I know what to look for I will keep her up. Find someone who can help you with advice you trust - get to a rally where there are lots of models to look at and learn what there is in an Airstream. They are just like any other trailer - and therefore what you learn will transfer to any other unit.
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Old 09-04-2011, 08:44 AM   #3
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The received wisdom is that "all trailers leak." And that seems to be pretty solid information. What that means is that they all need attention from time to time on stopping those leaks, re-caulking, etc. Airstreams included.

Mine is now 12 years old, and so far as I can tell, has zero water damage. I found one spot where it leaked a tiny amount, and it was fixed. But mine also has lived its entire life in barns when not on the road, and obviously, everyone likes to camp in nice weather when that is possible ... so it has had limited water exposure.

Seems to me also that the thing that kills SOB trailers more than any other thing is rot. So the message is that if you let water in, rot comes with it, no matter the brand. I suspect but have no evidence, that the older, narrower, more "rounded top" Airstreams have better water runoff characteristics and so generally "do better" in this department, but still, if there is a place for water to get in, it will.

If you find one that a.) has lived its life in the desert southwest, or b.) has lived in a barn, then a good inspection ought to reveal few problems. If you look at one that has lived its life outside, and in a relatively damp part of the country, a very thorough inspection is in order.

At any rate, hope you find one you like that is intact. Then it's up to you to keep the water out.
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Old 09-04-2011, 09:11 AM   #4
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Two Sides to Every Story...

Greetings Desert Diva!

As you say in your thread title, there are two sides to every story. An Airstream is vehcile that travels down the road behind a tow vehicle, and just like a tow vehicle it requires regular repairs and maintenance to retain its integrity. When purchasing a pre-owned Airstream, as has been mentioned earlier in thread responses, it is critical to find a coach that has been owned by any owner who has carefully maintained all components.

A potential source of a lovingly maintained coach is your nearest WBCCI unit . . . often when a member must give up Airstreaming they will offer the unit for sale through the unit; and often these coaches are impeccably maintained and the owner's desire is often to see the coach remain in the club with lots of TLC from its new owners. Sometimes, these coaches are offered as a package deal including the tow vehicle and all towing hardware.

Something else to consider is to consult the list of volunteer inspectors found here on the Forums. When you find a coach that you wish to consider look to one of them as your second or third opinion as you consider a coach. A late model Airstream is a big investment and any seller who balks at having additional eyes inspecting a potential purchase would send up red flags.

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin

P.S.: As with automobiles, Airstream has dealers who are both excellent with warranty and post-sale service as well as those dealers who have service departments with diagnosticians who couldn't solve a problem under the best of conditions. Again, Forum members can help point you toward the dealers who have good reputations. There are also Airstream Service Centers that are usually long-time dealers who have dropped their sales franchise, but kept their service credentials and they are often a good source of repairs and parts . . . may long-time source for quality service and repairs (Ace Fogdal RV) recently made this transition, and there are a number of other such centers.
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Old 09-04-2011, 09:39 AM   #5
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We have had our 25 Safari SS for 4-1/2 years, and think the build quality is good -- this is our first AS (although we had one when I was a kid).

Active in camping since child, starting with tent/backpacking, with our first RV being a pop-up cabover. We have had a motorhome, a couple of travel trailers and the key to keeping these coaches in top running condition is maintenance. In the last 25 years, we have had to replace floors, repair generators / appliance....and a myriad of other repairs.

2007 sounds like a new rig, but if exterior maintenance was neglected, a rotton floor is not surprising.

We bought our AS in 2007, and I have been up on the roof several times for routine maintenance, and to replace a couple of items that probably failed before they should have. We have had had to replace the leaking skylight (with a much improved Maxim Skylight) , the rear vent cover and the AC shroud (both cracked).

This year I stripped / re-caulked a couple of the seals at roof penetrations, and re-caulked everything else that looked problematic (the seal at the refrigerator vent was totally split). The AS, with its metal roof is a superior design, with fewer potential intrusion points than SOB. A friend of ours has neglected the exterior of his SOB , and his floor ia rotted.

Make sure you inspect the prospective trailer thoroughly, from top to bottom and come up with list of repairs (and a rough estimate) so you know what the total cost to by your new baby will be.

Good Luck
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Old 09-04-2011, 09:58 AM   #6
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You Need Help...

Don't go into this alone, and don't rely on dealers and sellers to give you totally honest information or disclose pre-existing conditions.
Their #1 interest is selling the trailer.

Make use of Airstreamers like me who have volunteered to inspect the object of your desire with you or on your behalf.
We know how to look for damage from water penetration and worse.

There is a beautiful late model 23' for sale here in Albuquerque with a bent frame. Would you have spotted this major defect while you were inside going ga ga over the immaculate interior?

Remember, you probably want an Airstream for the same reasons we own them, and few of those reasons are rational. It's an irrational affliction, and the affliction is blinding when we see an Airstream we think we can't live without.

Bring in a reliable, third party to help you find the warts. Then determine if the warts can be removed, replaced, or fixed and how much it will cost.

All pre-owned Airstreams will need some work.
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Old 09-04-2011, 10:32 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tkowalyk View Post
2007 sounds like a new rig, but if exterior maintenance was neglected, a rotten floor is not surprising.
It seems that the 2007 was bought brand new, and the owner has had "nothing but problems" since...

I presently have a 1985 Toyota Dolphin and periodically have to seal windows, fix roof leaks (always around vents), etc... I'm actually become "quite good" at this little "type of repair."

IMO, the integrity of one's RV/trailer is only as good as the routine maintenance you provide for it. As a single homeowner, I see it all the time.
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Old 09-04-2011, 10:43 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alumaholic View Post
Make use of Airstreamers like me who have volunteered to inspect the object of your desire with you or on your behalf.
We know how to look for damage from water penetration and worse.

OK, now you're in trouble - I now have a "live" consultant in New Mexico to help me!

There is a beautiful late model 23' for sale here in Albuquerque with a bent frame. Would you have spotted this major defect while you were inside going ga ga over the immaculate interior?

OK, granted I'm a "girly-girl," but I would have noticed. However, I did "fall in love" seeing a 23 foot International Serenity D while I was in Oregon this summer in Eugene at Sutton RV. Stupid as it sounds I want a "sofa" to sit on during the day - my Toyota Dolphin only has a table that folds into a bed. When I stay up late, I don't want to be sitting at a table.

Remember, you probably want an Airstream for the same reasons we own them, and few of those reasons are rational.

Yes, I'm afraid I've "caught the fever."

.
Hey, thanks for responding and "Hi" to a fellow New Mexican!
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Old 09-04-2011, 10:49 AM   #9
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There's not much I can add to the above excellent comments.

The one thing going in your favor is a relatively dry southwest climate in Las Cruces. If you buy a southwest trailer in good shape at time of purchase, the forgiving dry climate should help extend the life of the floor especially if you keep up on leaks. I check mine after significant rainstorms.

I love the Tundra and think you will too. The latest generation was introduced in '07. I'd buy as new in the generation as I could. Production tends to go smoother the longer the product is built.

My trailer has needed frequent small upkeep but definitely no nightmare.
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Old 09-04-2011, 11:13 AM   #10
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Two Sides to Every Story...

Greetings Desert Diva!

My '64 Overlander is something of a survivor, and in great part due to fastidious maintenance by its original owners from 1964 through 1980. They were friends of my family, and they spent many hours lavishing attention on the Overlander. The chassis is basically original and in excellent condition other than the need for new axles. The exterior was refinished for the second time about 10 years ago and will be ready for a touch-up in two or three years (the upper coating needs attention sooner than the lower). All of the appliances have required replacement other than the range . . . but after more than 30 years of regular use, I consider this part of normal maintenance. Rear end separation is the one issue that the coach had, but that would likely have been prevented had the owner from 1980 through 1995 been more aware of regular maintenance and leak prevention as leaks around the rear clearance lights and rear window were a big part of the cause the malady.

Good luck with your search!

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Old 09-04-2011, 11:31 AM   #11
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LEAKS...fresh from the Factory, not acceptable.

The leaks with our Classic...the one on the roof should have been caught at the Factory or at least at the dealer when doing the PDI.

The others showed up after several years of use...the rear "trunk" above the bumper and both rear storage compartments. Fixable but not fun.

Inspecting for leaks should be a routine part of the maintenance agenda.

Bob
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Old 09-04-2011, 11:32 AM   #12
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Welcome, and by now I am sure you can see that anyone on here will be willing to help. And there are many, such as the Alumaholic above, that are quite willing to go a step further and inspect the trailer with or for you. I do not have that level of expertise, but we did a little research and my wife and I ended up with a 1984 Airstream that has been well taken care of. (still had the original cassette player, but since I did not have any cassettes...well, an upgrade happened) We recently pulled out all the carpet and put in new wood flooring. Found very minor water damage to the subfloor, easily repaired. Not bad for a 27 year old trailer. Now we have the responsibility of ensuring the next buyer gets a nice trailer as well!
Good luck, I think you will end up with something perfect for you.
Chuck and Skye.
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Old 09-04-2011, 11:51 AM   #13
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Great comments above. Our AS had one frustrating leak that took me a long time to determine the cause and repair. The integrity of the floor is still excellent, so the leak was caught in time. I was not aware at the time of purchase that there was a leak but it didn't take long, living in the PNW, for me to discover it.

Now that I am acutely aware of of the need to remain vigilant with leak detection and maintenance I am confident I can keep "Sylvia" in great shape. The forums have been most helpful.
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Old 09-04-2011, 12:00 PM   #14
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The received wisdom is that "all trailers leak." If we are speaking of aircraft-style aluminum trailers, then it would be an Airstream is most likely to leak, when new or used. Same standard for weather-insulating qualities or structural fatigue.

As to whether to buy one, an A/S is a much better choice on any aspect of TT quality as to render considerations of other brands, new or used (to twenty years) a moot question.

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