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Old 11-13-2016, 07:26 PM   #15
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I did not realize the center bath layouts went way back to 1973. Thanks for the history of these early layouts. I remember my in-laws talking about the advantages of a rear bath versus a center bath way back, but I did not remember the year. They were Airstreamers back in the late seventies.

David
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Old 11-15-2016, 07:49 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by dbj216 View Post
So about what year did the majority of Airstream floor plans have center baths with water tanks close to the axles? I'm guessing the early 80s.

David
You are correct that while the first center baths were introduced as an option on the Excella 500 in 1972, and then quickly rolled out to all 31' and 29' models in 1973, with the rare 27' center bath coming slightly later in about 1974 or 1975, these models were rarer than rear bath models in the 1970's. It was not until the 1980's that center bath models came to dominate. In 1977 the center bath 27' was discontinued and in 1978 the center bath 29' was discontinued, I assume due to poor sales, although I suspect the 31' center bath models sales were slowly increasing during this time.

The 25' models retained a rear bath (and were never offered with a center bath) until they were discontinued altogether about 1983 or so. When the 25' reemerged in 1984 (a very few rare late '84 25' models exist) and went mainstream in 1985, they were center bath only.

The 27' models retained a rear bath only until they were discontinued (and not replaced) after 1988.

The 29' (in some late 70's/early 80's years, a foot shorter as a 28' Ambassador) remained a rear bath until the new center bath only model came out in 1984.

31' models were available with either a center or rear bath thru 1985 and became center bath only in 1986, but in the 1980's the center bath seemed to be much more popular.

When the 32' model was introduced in 1985, it was center bath only, but in 1991 Airstream experimented with a rare rear bath 32' model of which few were built.

When the 34' triple axle model was introduced in 1982, it was offered with either a rear or center bath, but the rear bath models are pretty rare and were last issued in 1985. 34' was center bath only from 1986 onward.

It should be noted that in the 1980's thru the mid 1990's Airstream rarely built trailers shorter than 25' and when they did, the numbers were small. On the those rare occasions that they did (example a very rare 23' in 1987 and the the slightly less rare 21' from 1992 to 1996), they were rear bath or rear corner bath.

The reasons the center bath became more popular may include customers shying away from rear baths due to the rear end separation problem that became more prevalent in the 1970s. A center bath put the heavier bathroom and especially holding tanks nearer the axles, which would reduce this issue, especially if needing to travel with the the black and gray tanks not empty. Additionally, the capacities of the black and gray tanks were much larger on center bath models than rear bath models. The capacities changed over the years, eventually reaching 30 to 35 gallons each for the center bath models and 20 to 25 gallons each for the rear bath models in the 1980s. (I still have not confirmed the numbers for the 1970's models, but rear baths, may have been more like 10 gallons each and center bath closer to 20 gallons each - this is a detail I still need to research.) Finally, putting the bath between the two sleeping areas may have appealed to some that at least occasionally traveled with more than two persons, so someone did not need to pass thru the other sleeping area if using the facilities in the middle of the night.

Carrma may be right that one reason the rear bath did not die sooner was that in the 1970's some customers still preferred a bath tub rather than the somewhat tight bath and shower stall offered in a center bath that was located on one side of the trailer. Overall, for dressing etc., the full width rear baths were definitely larger than the side center baths. These might be reasons that the rare 1991 rear bath 32' model was created. It was followed a year or two later by rare 32' and/or 34' models with a center bath tub, but those are very rare and you rarely see them come up for sale on the used market. The larger physical bathroom space is likely behind the move from a side center bath to a full width "pass thru" center bath on some models in the early 1990's, including the rare center tub models and the new for 1993 30' model and new for 1994 28' model.

To summarize, we can argue the specific year, but by somewhere in the 1984 to 1986 timeframe, Airstream became almost all center bath, with limited exceptions. This did not change until 1997, when the first 19' Safari Bambi with a rear corner bath was introduced. After that, Airstream began to experiment with more models, lengths, and floor plans, and rear corner baths became popular on some models, although overall, I would say center baths models remained the most popular, as the are to this day.

P.S. The fresh water tank was moved from above the floor below the front gaucho or dinette to a new location below the floor immediately in front of the axle(s) in 1970. For double axle models, it then moved between the axles some time in the mid 1970's, but this is a detail I still need to research to pinpoint the exact year it moved between the axles.
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Old 11-15-2016, 11:32 AM   #17
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I should point out, however, that the 1972 Excella 500 was not the first center bath Airstream. In the mid 1950s, Airstream experimented with many different floorplans, including mid bath and front bath models, before they standardized on the rear bath in 1957.
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Old 11-15-2016, 07:56 PM   #18
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Thank you very much Joe for your excellent report on Airstream floor plans. Having water weight around the axles is an important design consideration. And people have grown to prefer showers over baths to a large extent.

I now know why my father in law and his brother were debating the rear bath and side bath back in the early eighties. They both had purchased new 31' Excella Airstreams for their retirements. A rear bath was available.

I can confirm the freshwater tank is located between the axles on my 34' Limited. It is a 48 gallon tank weighing what, about 380 pounds when full. I had to take it down to fix a plumbing leak below the subfloor. Between the axles is a good place for it.

David
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