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Old 06-19-2017, 08:03 PM   #1
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Boondocking Length Airstream for your comforts

For Boondocking... the 23 and 25 foot Airstreams are at the top of the 'Bell Curve' for a couple and two Blue Heelers. One Heeler on a Dog Pillow under the dining table and the other in the hallway... they LOVE their spots.

The beds used in current models have 'memory foam' mattresses... and a great improvement. Check first... the Queen in our 25 foot is excellent! A huge improvement over older models that you toss the mattress in the trash and cut a memory foam mattress to fit... after purchase!

Buy a couple rubber back hallway runners, put one under the dining table. The floor will last for as long as you own the trailer. To clean... SHAKE IT outside and you are back in business. In muddy trips... saves you hours of clean up.

The external propane connection is great for a grill.
The external shower system is great. (shower tent!)
The inside shower is great.
The toilet in either is great.

... have I missed anything?

The FC23FB newer models that have 15 inch wheels would have been our choice, had they been available when we purchased our new International. After seeing one... the bed is perfect and having the 15 inch D Rated tires were wonderful changes.

DO NOT PURCHASE THE 14" WHEEL models if you plan to be Boondocking.

You will eventually purchase a 25 Foot Airstream. Flying Cloud is a perfect choice. We had cushion covers made for our International... as there were no Flying Clouds left on the lot.

The 23 Foot has:
- smaller refrigerator than the 25 foot.
- smaller volumes of fresh, grey and black water capacity.
- SIX INCHES narrower than a 25 foot is a plus.
- the 15" wheels and tires can easily be upgraded to 16" (see Tire Threads)
- less room, but you do not need to carry more than you will need.
- a 1/2 ton pickup (Tundra 5.7L) will tow the 23 easily... and loaded
- a 1/2 ton pickup and a 25 foot or larger, can be overloaded easily.

Avoid single axle trailers for Off the Grid and Boondocking off of the main roads. Two axles can cross dips in the roads with more comfort level of clearances.

If you can afford either the 23FB with 15" wheels OR the 25 foot that has what you want... both are suitable for everything you would want to do.

AVOID the microwave. AVOID the microwave. Wasted space and you want the refrigerator to vent through the ROOF. Avoid the FAN... it is a problem in time.
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Old 06-20-2017, 05:11 AM   #2
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Great review and we own the 2016 25FB. Discovered the same thing about the 1/2 ton.
Felt the 23 would have been too tight bout would have liked the D tires.
Question,what do you mean by the fan and roof venting refrigerator?
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Old 06-20-2017, 07:49 AM   #3
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Ray
What model year did Airsteam start putting 15" wheels on the FC23FB?
-Dave
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Old 06-20-2017, 08:01 AM   #4
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I love boondockin with the 25. Wouldn't want it bigger. Double axle is real nice off road. Gonna lift her and add bigger tires eventually for more clearance.
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Old 06-20-2017, 09:39 AM   #5
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Dave... the Front Bed 23 foot for 2016 or 2015 had 15" wheels and Marathon D rated tires. A new owner brought his new trailer by the house in Castle Rock and the tires... looked out of place. Imagine my surprise to find 15". I believe the decal on the trailer indicated... 14". This may have indicated the same axles as the 25 foot models!

Had we seen this FB23 on the lot, and compared the price between the 23 and 25 foot... we may owned another 23 foot Airstream Flying Cloud / Safari to us.

For serious Off the Grid... no more than 25 foot. Double Axle...minimum. Better tires for single axles... 16" Michelin LTX E Rated in my opinion. TravilnMan and I agree on 25 foot for serious Boondocking. Although on 2016 Wyoming... the 28 to 30 foot trailers managed to ... scrape by without incident. No doubt due to experience. Three women towing on two Off the Grid Adventures were experts, navigating irregular terrain! I am not easily impressed, but they know who they are.

But the front bed 23... it is tempting. Very tempting. You will spend more time sleeping in the comfortable bed.. than using the closets, shower or toilet!

AirstreamCSH... If you have a Microwave... your refrigerator's heat coils vent through the side of the trailer, and the small fan pulls the air through. This fan not only draws battery power, but most owners complain about the 'noise' the fan eventually generates. Noise is being polite. My 2014 International fan was quiet upon purchase and quickly sounded like a idling diesel. The 'snap switch' that turns the fan on when HOT, would not turn OFF when cold to the touch. Without a Microwave... the system vents with the air being drawn out with a vent going through the roof.

Why?... do you ask we ended up with the microwave. The 25 foot on the lot was as close to what we wanted, other than that. We immediately removed the microwave, added a curtain to store paper goods and plastic cups. Don't ask about the two HDTV sets... maybe a good resale addition. We watch very little TV, but the radio could use some upgrades for reception in places where AM is barely available.

HINGES... they are like those on many home cabinets. Work great at home. They come loose on cabinet doors when... moving and vibrating across highways. We replace all of ours with 'piano hinges' where possible. They never come loose. Easy to install.

DRAWER... child proof them so they do not end up on your floor. The sliding doors in the bathroom, we put strips of wood in the lower slide groove to keep them from sliding and bouncing out onto the floor. First or second trip out... you will understand.

Our refrigerator is on 100% of the time we are traveling and camped.

Solar is better than a generator. We tried generator and for a hair dryer... it works. Other than that, a Solar Panel or two is best. Had to try it and those who say a generator is better... well, I will have to disagree on this one.

CEILING FANS... check them for noise at the dealership. Some are so noisy that you will want to replace them... but with what? I saw many at the dealership hanging out waiting to be replaced. You would think you could not screw up a ceiling vent fan... but they sure have plenty in 2014 and 2015.

Noisy water pump? Well... get use to it, or figure out how to minimize the noise. They work well, but you would think the pump is trying to break out of the closet. Someone may have found a cure, without having to replace the pump.

Hot Water... only when ready to use the shower. Otherwise... don't have it on full time.

The Fresh, Grey and Black water tank and systems... already well described in the Plumbing Threads. Lots of bad information in my point of view. We have had ZERO issues with foul fresh water and Grey/Black water tank problems.
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Old 06-20-2017, 10:25 AM   #6
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The 14s on the 23s change out to the 15s with only pain to the pocketbook, so that is an easy upgrade for the older 23s. No one has commented on the clearance on the new 23s to upgrade to 16s. Assume not possible, but again, no one has provided info. Folks are also doing the lift to gain clearance.

That extra width on the 25 has a tradeoff. Lady we talked to has a crease where the wider roof did not fit in the space her vintage 27 did fit. So consider that one carefully. Scratches on the sides of a shiny are not nice patina.

The choice between a 23 and a 25 is really more of a sleeping, sitting inside consideration. Folks who only use the coach for storing their stuff and mostly live outside in shorts and boots find the size difference less of an issue. Given long legs that need a queen, you move to an FB. Given a desire to lounge vs sit, you move to a 23D/CB, but with both requirements you are into a 25. Frig and tankage can be drivers for some too. What may be more of an issue is tow vehicle choice. And that is a more complex decision as tow capacities, wheelbase, payload, travel speed and day to day use all apply.

The short turning circle that we have with our rig proves to be valuable time and time again. With each inch added to the wheelbase and coach width comes a trade off in maneuverability. So, all a set of compromises. At one point in time, the 25 could be assumed to be most popular and an easy sale if upgrade was in the air. Now, the 27/28s seem to be getting a boost and may be on the way to most popular. Can't believe the 25 will not be a good choice for many, but consider what is the best fit for your RV lifestyle.

Travel safe. Pat
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Old 06-20-2017, 10:32 AM   #7
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Ray,

Thanks for posting this. Lots of great info. I'm the new owner of a 2013 25' Intl. I bought it locally, used (10 nights total!) and at a great price so I got what I got and I'm ok with that.

If you don't mind, I'd like to toss out a few questions..

1. My fridge is insanely noisy and I'm planning on swapping out the fan and improving however I can - did you do this? Any pointers?

2. Outside of .5" clearance, why would 16" tires benefit me in my boondocking adventures? It'll add about $750 in expenses if I do this (I need new tires pronto) and that money could go to other important projects like Solar, better charge controller, lift kit, etc.

3. Can you snap a shot of your microwave-less setup?

Thanks!
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Old 06-20-2017, 10:43 AM   #8
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The 16s get you Light Truck Michelins and increased weight capacity. There are other LT brands available in 15s. Worth reading the tire threads to get a wide perspective. Note - not intended to be a fear convincing tactic, but not having that 1/2 inch cost us about $2500. Pat
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Old 06-20-2017, 10:50 AM   #9
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Well, while I agree that extra height is very helpful, they do not put height limits on rutts, rocks and other obstacles in the backcountry. The best way to keep that money in your pocket is to get out, assess your line, know where you're puttin your tires and get out and look again whenever in doubt. An extra 1/2 inch helps too. But not if ya needed an inch to clear that rutt.

Course nothins ever foolproof.
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Old 06-20-2017, 10:53 AM   #10
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Pat understands that 'options and lengths of trailer' have... costs.

Towing our 23 foot with a 2006 4.7L Tundra was no problem. Towing the 23 foot with a 5.7L 2012 Tundra... where's the trailer... kind of towing.

Towing our current 25 foot, loaded with the 5.7L Tundra 4x4 Leer shell... was... a bit more iffy. Towing was great. Plenty of power, braking and handling was excellent. Just when fully loaded for several weeks of Off the Grid... the back of the Tundra sat down 3 inches, maybe more.

Went to a 6.7L Diesel 2015 Ford F350 in 2016. Had a hole in my pocket and this F350 filled it well. Also left a hole, but our long view of investing is in the five to ten year range, today. This is way more power, braking, load carrying and towing that a normal person could ever want under one hood. But... I am not a normal person with normal loads and elevation, grade going up or down a mountain pass (paved or not) and even for an every day vehicle... anything is possible. Mileage towing and around town exceeds expectations of a V8 or V10 gasoline tow vehicle. Costco shopping is easy and toss in a couple extra watermelons in the process!

For a daily driver... now... I prefer it over the wife's 2008 Toyota Land Cruiser. It seems to be a toy truck in comparison. At first I was just overwhelmed with the size, clearance and to load you need the step ladder provided in the tail gate! You need to have the climbing skills of a mountain goat and the agility of someone under 60 years old.

I met on previous Adventures... women driving these large Fords towing 28 to 30 foot Airstreams without giving it a second thought. They, Jen in mind, gave me pointers that I would not have otherwise known existed. I still have the Ford Truck hat she gave me after passing muster.

If this Ford F350 Diesel proves to be reliable and maintains its integrity... a good decision, even with every dealership requiring the computer telling the owner when to change oil, filters and testing coolant for pH, etc. and etc. The Tundra's body is better fitted and overall a finely tuned truck for the price. With the F150 EcoBoost V6...it is an experience to test drive several times... at different dealerships, of course. But... it was not PULLING THE TRAILER that was the issue... it is the LOAD at the Hitch.

The Diesels are over kill in power... but you never find a market for underpowered aircraft lining up at a dealership... do you? I thought the post 1972 Corvettes were 'boats' after driving the older 1960's two seaters. Well... the F250/F350 are also boats and take time to maneuver... The F250/F350 have a place for those who need more than just getting by while towing.

Yes, a different hitch may offset the sag and bottom clunking of leaf springs to axle on the Tundra 5.7L models. Yet the mileage per gallon suffers a lot with a head wind or up these western 5% and higher grades. My hole in my pocket is now sewn tight. If this F350 CAN get me into the 100K to 200K without mechanical issues... just get out of our way as we are coming, even if the truck is parked and only idling.
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Old 06-20-2017, 11:05 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by afk314 View Post
Ray,

Thanks for posting this. Lots of great info. I'm the new owner of a 2013 25' Intl. I bought it locally, used (10 nights total!) and at a great price so I got what I got and I'm ok with that.

If you don't mind, I'd like to toss out a few questions..

1. My fridge is insanely noisy and I'm planning on swapping out the fan and improving however I can - did you do this? Any pointers?

2. Outside of .5" clearance, why would 16" tires benefit me in my boondocking adventures? It'll add about $750 in expenses if I do this (I need new tires pronto) and that money could go to other important projects like Solar, better charge controller, lift kit, etc.

3. Can you snap a shot of your microwave-less setup?

Thanks!
You can get 15" Michelin LTX tires, they work great and save a bundle.
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Old 06-20-2017, 11:29 AM   #12
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FranklyFrank... just find something that holds the 'goods' from escaping. The 23 foot we used a curtain. The latest uses webbing that you can pull and it is elastic. I would suspect you will find something more... fitting with the decor.

The Marathon 15" tires are D Rated and I did not have an issue with those, even if I took them off our 25 footer, sold them and wheels and promptly did the 16" Sendel wheels (5) and 16" Michelin LTX AT2 truck E rated tires. There is a softer ride LTX also that we have on our 2008 Land Cruiser.

The 16" Michelin E Rated tires have more tread and can carry a heavier load than what we would need. But the gravel roads and terrain we travel need dependable tires. Much like Diesel overkill... these tires have the same qualities. Also the matching spare fits well with the lug nuts. Try that with the steel wheel spare and stock lug nuts provided by Airstream... be very careful when mounting these. What is Airstream thinking with these sheet metal pressed onto a lug nut have to do with 'quality'?

I also believe the 15" Michelins would also be better... much better. Since many have no issues with the 15" Goodyears, now Endurance to replace the Marathon name... maybe they figured that they had better do something. Tow Max and Tow Master 14" tires on the 23 foot Safari did well, but the tread wore out quickly. Of course if you do not tow your trailer... a lot... the tires will rot before you can wear them out. That can be an issue with the Michelins taking any abuse, but aging of the tires may be an issue in six to ten years, or less in the Mohave Desert.

A used Airstream, like our 2006, and upgraded by an owner... is the best possible world to find yourself. Quality does not improve over the years at the factory, from what I read on this Forum. If stored in a RV Garage, like ours when not in use... they look new to anyone standing near. The tires with Nitrogen may give them a bit more longevity, as well. At least the green air caps looks flashy when stopped at a Stop Light.

Watch your Goodyear tires closely. Any sign of uneven wear, too much wear, bubbles in the outside smooth areas... just any excuse... sell them and get yourself four or five tires you find... not only Michelin... durable and reliable. When they go bad during the warranty and take out your fender well and plumbing... it is too late to go preventative.

It is the 14 inch Marathons that are poor excuses as a tire that were standard on the 23 foot Airstreams. Not the 15" Marathons... to my knowledge. I leave that to those who are running the 15" D Rated and their experiences. Much like Shooting Craps at a Casino in Las Vegas... if you are losing at the $5 and $10 tables... do you think you will do better at the $25 tables on the LV Strip?

Still... a 14" failure when new... does not make one jumping into a more expensive... failures.
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Old 06-20-2017, 12:05 PM   #13
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Please, check out anything I have blathered about. Doing it yourself and upgrading on your own is very time consuming.

Also... Good and Bad Tastes in decor, colors and swimming suits are not part of my OJT education. I have a Bison Head Mount on one wall and across from it a Jackalope mount on the other. So take it from my wife, Nancy... just ignore what you must, but my intentions are to help one decide for themselves.

... and if you feel empowered to lead others into the back country and less traveled roads of America and Canada... come by, sit down and we can cry this one out together.
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