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Old 10-08-2013, 12:56 PM   #1
2014 30' International
2014 30' International
Scarborough , Ontario
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 23
What to buy?

There are so many types of Airstreams out there and we
are looking to buy one in 2014. Please can we have the top ten
things to look for/or look out for when shopping for one. We are
trending toward a USED one and would appreciate a word
from the wise - you, as you already have one.
Many thanks!!

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Old 10-08-2013, 01:05 PM   #2
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RonaldC303's Avatar
2017 30' Classic
Washington , Utah
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 124
Things to consider:

* Tow vehicle. Are you going to use an existing vehicle or acquire another? What is the towing capacity AND payload capacity of the tow vehicle?

*Floor plan. Spend a lot of time looking at floor plans, or even better, viewing them in person. Imagine yourself spending time inside. Where will you sit? Where will you eat? Does the bed arrangement work for you? Do you like the shower?

*Finishes. Flying Cloud, International, Classic; which do you like best? Does it matter?

Those are some of the factors that are important to me. Good luck.


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Old 10-08-2013, 01:27 PM   #3
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1990 25' Excella
Sisters , Oregon
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 888
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I just went through this. My wife and I are in the early stages of downsizing. I retired and we're selling our house. Rather than buy a smaller house immediately we thought this might be a great opportunity to have a little adventure and, after exploring a number of options, we decided to buy an Airstream and tour more or less fulltime for 1-2 years.

I had the following criteria:
  • Price $20,000 or less
  • Length 25' or so
  • Able to be towed by our '06 MB ML500
  • Great condition
  • Preferably bedroom in the rear with twin beds
The nexus ended up being a '90 25' Excella: under budget, updated, in excellent condition, and light enough to tow with our ML500. Ready to roll. I think it would have been difficult to get anything newer in the sought-after mid-size range given our modest budget. Which worked out because the older ones are lighter than the newer ones.

I'm hoping I made the right choice - I'll know more a year from now. Good luck with your search!

John & Vicki
WBCCI #4291

Grown men don't need leaders. ~ Edward Abbey
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Old 10-08-2013, 01:30 PM   #4
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2006 23' Safari SE
Biloxi , Mississippi
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Posts: 8,283
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Eheart, try to attend a few rallies. Most have a period set aside for open house viewing. This will give you a chance to see many old and new trailers and to talk to the owners. Also if you are close to an Airstream dealership stop by and do some window shopping. Good luck on your quest.

Do you know what a learning experience is? A learning experience is one of those things that says "You know that thing that you just did? Don't do that."
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Old 10-08-2013, 01:51 PM   #5
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1988 25' Excella
Sunnyvale , California
Join Date: Jul 2003
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Some good advice above.. Going to gatherings and talking to owners and looking at their trailers is really helpful... You asked for Top Ten List, so here is mine:

1. Decide on planned "Mission.." How will you use it? Weekends occasionally? Long road trips? Summer weeks at same place?
2. Set a budget for Trailer.. Add to it some for each year older you consider, for repairs and fixits.
3. What kind of Tow Vehicle? Truck? SUV? Garage-able? Quiet and Comfy? How much can it safely tow?
4. What sleeping arrangements are needed? Double? Queen? Twins? More than 2 people?
5. What kinds of cooking/meals are planned? Stop at Cafe's? Gourmet cook in trailer?
6. How mechanically inclined/talented are you? Willing to swap thermostat on water heater or replace furnace? Take to shop for tune-up and bearing checks?
7. Where will it stay when not being used? Remote storage? On property behind house? Garaged?
8. How important is new, clean and modern? The more of that you get, the more you pay..
9. Do you need A/C and electrical power or looking for wilderness camping? Smaller and lighter works better away from large RV parks..
10. After all these answered, used market is "National" in scope, and gently used offers best value relative to new and very used pricing.. Five to six years old sell for ~ half of new price, and are generally low maintenance.. Vintage (20 years +) have stopped depreciating and are rising. Short and light are relatively pricier, since easier to tow behind more vehicles. That stops at 26' and up, which get relatively less expensive as harder to find tow vehicles and to maneuver.. Used 34' trailers may be same price as same year 23' or 25' trailers..

Don't be afraid to look beyond local area, enlisting helpers here or others to do visual inspections and get good read on condition. DON'T buy "great deal" on Craigslist or e-Bay without seeing and inspecting, and don't send money to some seller or agent that way.. Good luck!

In Theory, there's no difference between Theory and Practice, but in Practice, there is usually a difference...
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Old 10-08-2013, 03:11 PM   #6
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2012 25' Flying Cloud
Berlin , Maryland
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 1,282
My wife and I went through a similar process two years ago.

All of the above advice is certainly applicable, however, my wife and i ultimately chosed to go with a new AS. Also look at a new but older models that has been on the dealers lot. This was basically for two reasons. We looked on the web for a used AS but there were very few for sale within 200 miles of where we lived. I did not want to travel great distances, only to be disappointed when I saw it.

The second was our age. I was 67 at the time and I just did not want the potential headache of a used one so we bit the bullet and bought new. For us it was the right decision.
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Old 10-08-2013, 03:36 PM   #7
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2012 25' FB International
Trent Woods , North Carolina
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 1,687

Like Urmor I thought we were going to buy new to avoid hidden or covered over problems..and there can be many of those. In addition, it seemed that great condition, lightly used AS's disappear from the market very quickly.
Our problem was trying to see the models we were interested in without having to drive to NJ. Dealer inventory within 400 miles was slim.
But as we scoured Ebay, dealer inventory and ultimately Craigslist we found a 1 year old, almost never used AS at a Winnebago dealer 2 hours from us. It was great buy, the first owner paid the depreciation and there was nothing wrong with it.
You should spend a lot of time reading this forum to see the problems that develop or can develop with these trailers. With a used trailer you need to have an inspection that looks for some of them, like rotten floors, expired batteries, and questionable tires. I would also add that it seems there are owners who effect less than professional repairs and you want your inspection to look for that.
If you are handy, condition may be less of a factor. If not, then you need to pay more for new or newer. If you want newer then you need to be actively looking and you need patience.
Oh, and despite the fact that we never did get to tour every model available we are very happy with our FB25.
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Old 10-09-2013, 01:24 PM   #8
2014 30' International
2014 30' International
Scarborough , Ontario
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 23
Smile Thanks for the help

Thank you everyone for the great advice. We will be mulling over all the
points you have presented and put together a list of what feels right for
You are our best resource and we can't wait to meet some of you
on the rallies.

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