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Old 05-16-2013, 01:34 PM   #29
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1964 26' Overlander
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre
Anna , Illinois
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Why a Trailer ?

I began camping/RVing with my family when I was a pre-teen, and have survived a number of camping rigs. Our first foray into camping was a 9' x 12' cabin tent that was quickly followed by a 1969 SunWay 8-foot slide-in truck camper. The truck camper lasted two years and was sold in 1971 because it was impractical, and the traveling accommodations were uncomfortable and not conducive to "recreating". We returned to the cabin tent for several more years, and purchased our first travel trailer when I was a Senior in college. That 1980 Nomad 1720 (Lightweight Special) made it through two years before the limitations of its poor construction and horrible weight balance resulted in its sale in 1982. My parents decided that a "motorized" camper would be our next foray into RVing, and purchased a 1983 GMC Class B van conversion/motorhome. Again its limitations became quickly apparent, and it was traded-in on a new 1985 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale Brougham Luxury Sedan. We went for several years without camping equipment as my parents had decided that camping/RVing wasn't for them and I was too busy launching my career. Following over a year of searching, I purchased my 1964 Overlander Land Yacht International in 1995 and have been happily Airstreaming ever since.

Some of the reasons that I have little desire to own a motorhome include:
  • Complexity: The combination of truck/automotive systems with RV systems all in one package always worried me. During my travels, I always noted that places that could easily service a motorhome were much less common than garages that could service a tow vehicle/trailer combination.
  • Expense of Service: This concern was fueled by my parents' experience with the Class B conversion van. So many of the regular service items required removing the interior "dog-house" for completion. Each time this was done, there was always the fear that grease/oil/dirt would be tracked throughout the interior of the RV . . . and this was so often the case. The regular interval service was also always more expensive than on their Oldsmobile or my Suburban because it typically took an extra hour of labor to remove then reinstall the doghouse cover.
  • Long-Term Ownership Concerns: Since we had friends who were long-time Airstreamers, we knew of the durability of the Airstream design. While it isn't terribly difficult to replace worn mechanical components on an Airstream trailer that is 20 or more years of age, a motorhome chassis can pose many more problems particularly where long-trip reliability is critical. Motorhome chassis manufacturers haven't been noted for their support of chassis and motors beyond 20 years of age, and based upon the issues of finding qualified mechanics while a long distance from home, a breakdown can spell significant delays trying to source replacements for obsolete/NLA parts (something that I must prepare for when towing with my 1975 Cadillac). My concern wasn't with the Classic Airstream Motorhome body, it was with the Chevrolet/GMC P30 chassis and GM's penchant for obsoleting parts that can be difficult to find alternative generic parts.
  • Need for "Alternative" Transportation when "Parked": The greatest problem with both my parents' truck camper and the Class B conversion van was the necessity of breaking camp any time transportation was needed for a trip into town, to tour attractions, or to visity family and friends in the area. It would have been possible to tow a small car behind either of the two vehicles, but that seemed to defeat the idea of a "single-unit" RV . . . and would have meant purchasing a car for that purpose as neither of our family cars during those time periods would have been suitable for use as tow-behind.
  • What to do when broken down on the road: While this has only happened twice in all of my years of camping/RVing, I was very happy that I had my Airstream in both instances. As with most such breakdowns, both happened on a Saturday afternoon during the height of travel season. The first happened in 2000 when my Suburban was less than three-years-old . . . a driveline component failed while touring solo (my Airstream was parked on the WBCCI International Rally ground) . . . the GMC truck dealer was able to provide me with a loaner vehicle while necessary repairs were completed and I didn't have to worry about where I was going to stay while repairs were completed. The second time was in 2008 when I was towing with my 1975 Cadillac and a month-old remanufactured alternator failed 250 miles into my trip to the WBCCI International Rally. The car was able to pull the trailer off of the highway into a truck stop where I was able to summon Good Sam RV motor club. A tow truck was dispatched that first towed the Cadillac to the garage . . . then returned to tow my Airstream (Argosy Minuet) to a campground that was within walking distance of the garage and the main street of the town. I had a comfortable and convenient place to stay during the 3.5 days that it took to get the proper part and have it installed.
In many ways, it is truely a personal decision as to which RVing solution will work best for the individual. There are even more RV solutions available today than there were as little as 15 or 20 years ago. My goals and objectives are best met by my Vintage Airstream travel trailers and the tow vehicles that I have; but I realize that my solution won't work for everyone. As if often mentioned here one the Forums; when considering an Airstream take the time to experience one first-hand prior to taking the ownership plunge. Visit dealership(s) and tour as many different sizes and floorplans as possible to get a reasonable "feel" for how a particular coach might work for your travel style. Visit a few rallys . . . Forums, WBCCI, as well as other travel groups . . . talk to owners to get a feel for their ownership experiences. Research effort expended now may prevent you from making a mistake that could be difficult (expensive) to correct in the future.

Good luck with your investigation!


Kevin D. Allen
WBCCI (Lifetime Member)/VAC/Free Wheelers #6359
AIR #827
1964 Overlander International/1999 GMC K2500 Suburban (7400 VORTEC/4.11 Differentials)
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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Old 05-16-2013, 03:20 PM   #30
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Perrysburg , Ann Arbor
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You're getting a lot of good information here. I've got a little different take on it.

First, if you've been living aboard a boat for six months at a time, you know all you need to know about traveling light, packing tight, keeping everything in it's place and shipshape ... and you've gotten used to what some would consider relatively cramped quarters. So form factor considerations boil down to this: you'd have plenty of room in a trailer compared to what you're used to, while a larger MoHo would seem capacious in the extreme. You already know you don't NEED that much room and storage. But would you like to bring more "stuff"along? If you're getting to want / need more stuff onboard, a MoHo gives you lots more storage, bigger tankage, etc.

Second, many of the above comments are dollar driven. Sure, everything breaks down, entropy being what it is, and it all needs to be maintained. Given what it takes to keep a boat running, you've got some skills at maintenance, fixing broken "stuff" and you know what happens if you let belts or stays get frayed, shackles loose, and hoses old and cracked ... so you can likely do most / all of your own maintenance and on-the-road repairs to a trailer. But if you've got the bucks, a new(er) diesel pusher coach and a reasonable toad are just another expense item. Sure, if you pay someone else to do all the needed maintenance, it will cost you more to own a MoHo than a trailer. But if you can bear the strain, it's a pretty nice way to travel. As some have noted, due to the complexity of systems and the effects of aging, an older MoHo can be a real chore to maintain and thus cost not just a lot of money, but more important perhaps, a lot of down time.

So you've got to do your own cost-benefit analysis; no one else's will fit you. Personally, I love my little 23 foot Airstream ... and I just happened to have the diesel pickup truck, so towing it is a non-issue. But then again, I only spend about forty nights a year in it most years. And because of the simpler systems, I can do most of the "fixin" that needs to be done; so pretty much when I'm ready to go, the trailer's ready to go. Just load some food in the fridge and some fresh water and clean clothes and I'm gone. But if I were gonna' full time for six months out of the year and I could afford it, I'd look long and hard at a Class A MoHo.

Lastly, consider where you want to go. I usually boondock, in places as remote as I can readily get to. When I stay in campgrounds, they're often federal or state primitive ones with no hookups. I want to get AWAY from people, noise, complexity, etc. and sit alongside a trout stream somewhere or up in the mountains in a place no one else is. So for me, a big MoHo that wants big hookups and a big concrete pad for the leveling jacks is just a non-starter. But if you like the "marina life" and the cocktail party circuit, it might be just right for you.

Good luck in your quest. It will be interesting to see how you come out on this.

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Old 05-16-2013, 03:30 PM   #31
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With the AS construction and exposed aluminum skin interior, my thirst for another sailboat or airplane is almost fully met! A proper auto helps, too.
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Old 05-17-2013, 06:18 AM   #32
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Personally it is a nostalgia thing. The Airstream trailers remind me of the old days. I don't get that from the Sprinter van. I also like the layout/floor plans of the trailers better. The trailers are just bigger and have more room for cooking, eating, sleeping, living and the bathrooms are bigger.

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