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Old 02-14-2016, 03:31 PM   #1
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Researching RV trailers

I went to my first RV show in Seattle yesterday to get a feel for what is on the market. This is my first foray into RV.

My initial interest was a Classic 30J and it remains so. Unfortunately the largest trailer at the show was Flying Cloud 25. That was first and only time I have been inside an AS.

I have been doing some reading on the forum here before registering as well as have watched some Youtube videos.

I am 3 to 5 years out before making a purchase and maybe 20 if my 401K keeps tanking. Being 63 and divorced with no kids makes the decision as to when a little easier though.

There is a lot of $$$ involved in equipping oneself for this lifestyle. It is pretty much buying a home.

My initial question, and I am sure I will have more, is why is AS so much more expensive than the competition? At least double if not more?

Some of the competition really have some nice looking RV's, with sliders that give you so much more living space. These look nicer than my current home in most cases. Is just that, the way it looks? Is it all flash and no substance? Is it all going to start creaking and coming undone 10K miles down the road where the AS will hold up over time? The materials and workmanship? Resale value?

Hopefully someone here has come over from the dark side and can provide some insight.

Thanks,

Yogi
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Old 02-14-2016, 03:43 PM   #2
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My wife and I had a kenskill in 1971, an avion in 1984 , a 30' classic in 2004 and a new 31 classic in 2013, they are expensive , tow very well and they do depreciate, buy used and try it for a while...we sometimes stay in one area for a month or maybe 2 days it works for us....
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Old 02-14-2016, 07:28 PM   #3
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Hello YogiTheBear! Welcome to the Air Forums. The RV lifestyle is not for everyone. Maybe your situation would welcome the new adventures, new friends, and challenges associated with living full time in an RV.

Why Airstream? I think a big advantage is "tow-ability" if there was such a word. They are well balanced, and less affected by wind gusts. I also went to an RV show recently. When we got to the Airstream trailers on display, we went "wow". They are more solid and better built in my view. And the interior designs and space utilization is first class. Yes they have less interior volume, but we find them very comfortable for the small space.

The all aluminum body construction provides for longer life. Our 34 foot Limited is 30 years old and has over 200,000 miles on it, and our 24 foot Trade Wind is 50 years old and still quite functional. Airstreams last a long time properly cared for. Airstreams are selling well right now, and used ones are holding their value pretty good. But a used one is certainly less than new.

Airstream trailers are rather rare in the campground. We owners tend to great each other and share Airstream stories. There are many Airstream clubs around for rallies and pre-arranged caravans. These are typically Airstream exclusive. There are even exclusively Airstream parks where people own a lot for their trailer.

Airstreams are not the best four season RVs out there due to their all aluminum skins. Aluminum conducts heat and cold. It is best to be south in the winter and north in the summer.

Why Airstream is a little like why Harley Davidson. Very good motocycles can be had for less, but a Harley is special. And so is an Airstream.

Note our Airstream in this photo with all the "prototypical" square boxes around it. There were a 100 or so RVs in this campground and 2 Airstreams.
(Sorry this picture is rotated.)

David
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Old 02-14-2016, 07:56 PM   #4
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Our trailer is 42 years old. We've towed it all over the country, lived in it, used it as an office, as well as an impromptu cargo trailer.
What do you think any current non-Airstream trailer will look like after 42 years, and hundreds of thousands of miles?
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Old 02-14-2016, 08:15 PM   #5
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Welcome to the forum Yogi! You have great questions that are relevant to RV selection. There is so much to consider when shopping. I planned on getting a Winnebago View and ended up with an Airstream! IMHO you have to consider how you plan to camp and what type of camper best fits that idea. This is also the hardest qualifier to answer because it is hard to know without having much camping experience.

For me I went from Class C to Airstream because of price and maintenance.
From there I settled on trailers and that's when it became interesting. I met a Winnebago executive at their display area at the Tampa Super Show one year when they came out with the Winnebago One Trailer. He told me, after listening to my planned use, to buy a trailer with a metal or all fiberglass roof for sure. He said that alone made a big difference. The only two at the show with those type of roofs were the Galileo RV and Airstream.

Then came the pricing. I ended up with a used one. I almost bought a 25 FC Twin but ended up with a Safari 25 Twin.

Why Airstream? The metal roof as opposed to a roof that can delaminate. Airstreams can leak yes, but the walls do not fall apart if they do though you have to mind the floor. Secondly, the design is great for towing. As others have stated, the curved roofline just deflects side winds and makes for a better towing experience that towing a box trailer.

On some of the points you mention, pricing, features, etc. I cannot justify Airstream over other options as they are nice in many models. It is a tough call. Naturally on an Airstream forum you will get the "for" side rather than "against" but you have to weigh the benefits out yourself and see if it is worth it. This forum alone is another plus- a group of supporters. I decided to buy used and it was a good choice for me since I have ended up fixing and upgrading my AS into a very nice platform for camping and am STILL under the cost of new.
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Old 02-14-2016, 08:24 PM   #6
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Welcome to the forums.

As part of your pre-purchase education, I also recommend you do some looking around at what units that are new, 2 years old, 5 years old, 10 years old, and older cost.

Once you exclude the price paid for the unit, the other costs of ownership are pretty much the same whether you own an Airstream or SOB (some other brand). Storage, extra gas, larger vehicle that can tow, hitch, cost of campground rental, insurance. These will not differ by much no matter what you select.

We found that for the size we were interested in, that for 1-2 year old unit, the AS cost about 2x a SOB. But at 10-15 years old, the SOB is worth about $0. And the AS will have a much higher residual value, likely be worth about 35%-50% of what we paid. So the "premium" for the AS is all up-front.

We are happy with our decision. In the end, get what you want and can afford to enjoy. And then go enjoy it.

I will also add, that we were not expecting to buy so soon due to a recent move. But a used unit that was only 9 months old came up at a dealer near us at price that worked for us. So the more you can learn the better. That way if a really good opportunity presents itself, you will be able to recognize it.
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Old 02-14-2016, 08:49 PM   #7
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All of the above comments are true to the core. We downsized from a 40 ft 2006 diesel motor to a 33 ft travel trailer made by Keystone Corporation, a lot of glitz but poor quality. Upgraded to a larger TT with 3 slides believing this would be better quality....wrong again! Sold it and did some hard research for over a year & found the ONLY quality TT on the market is Airstream, no slides, less room to roam but built with integrity to hold up for the long hall & towes like a dream machine, did you know that 70% of the weight is from the floor down making the gravity center low & balanced. AS is the perfect example of "you get what you pay for". It's the only RV I've owned, 3 motor homes, 3 trailers that so far have been trouble free out of the gate. As they bounce down the highway their will be issues but with AS you won't find the stapled flaux wood trim becoming disengaged & laying on the floor after a 300 mile drive. That's why you should buy Airstream.
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Old 02-14-2016, 10:09 PM   #8
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Few things I learned. The Airstream is great for going down the road. With no slides and set up, you hop out of the TV and into the trailer and go to sleep. A friend has a large 5ver. It is a lot of set up and too much for me since we are always on the move. Also, the bigger the RV, the more time spent indoors. Just my observation. The Airstream is a perfect balance of luxury and minimal.

Last, if you ain't feeling it, then it's probably not your thing. Airstreams are like art, music, and finding that special person. It's not about logic and practicality.
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Old 02-15-2016, 06:00 AM   #9
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All of the things here are dead on accurate. Like any machine, an Airstream will have little things go wrong (not many so far) and, like a house, you will have to pay attention to preventive maintenance to keep it nice for the long haul. If you treat it right, it will stay nice for a long time.

But with all that said, Ted S has stated the essence of it. When we stepped into our first Airstream, closed that bank vault door, and sat down in that quiet, friendly little cocoon, we know we couldn't own anything else. It took us a few years to get there, but we have our 23D now and no regrets whatsoever.

For us, Nothing else feels like an Airstream.

Happy hunting

Steve
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Old 02-15-2016, 06:50 AM   #10
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I guess I'll be the fly in the ointment here.
Buy an off brand first. Spend some time on the road in it and see if you like the lifestyle. Then after a couple of years if you still like it you can up grade.
I personally think the biggest reason for both Airstreams and Harleys is snob appeal. Are they better brands?
Probably. Are they twice as good and therefore worth twice the money? I doubt it.
Think about the end game.
People here are always suggesting that their AS will still going to be around in 40 years. That Might be true. if the dreaded white powder doesn't get them first.
The newer models use a different type of aluminum that is far more prone to oxydation than the old ones were.
Also, you state you are 63. Are you even going to be around in 40 years? Are you still going to be living the lifestyle in 20 years?
There are some very good brands of campers out there.
Many of them have some great features. Many of them pull just as easily as an AS does. Add to that the gargantuan diesel pickups so many people here use - which would effortlessly pull a 10' X 8' X 40' cube down the road and I wonder why towability is even mentioned.
Most campers use the same brands of furnaces, stoves, water heaters, AC units, fridges, etc so longevity is not a factor on those items. ie, you are not getting premium products by any means.
If you are the type of person who is into premium plus then go for it. But I still would recommend you try the lifestyle first before you splurge on a brand that costs so much more than other brands.
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Old 02-15-2016, 07:04 AM   #11
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Wow!! I am feeling the love for the AS. I didn't see one serious "but there is an issue with this or that." This is compelling.

Thank you all for your heart felt responses.
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Old 02-15-2016, 08:05 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ultradog View Post
I guess I'll be the fly in the ointment here.
Buy an off brand first. Spend some time on the road in it and see if you like the lifestyle. Then after a couple of years if you still like it you can up grade.
I personally think the biggest reason for both Airstreams and Harleys is snob appeal. Are they better brands?
Probably. Are they twice as good and therefore worth twice the money? I doubt it.
Think about the end game.
People here are always suggesting that their AS will still going to be around in 40 years. That Might be true. if the dreaded white powder doesn't get them first.
The newer models use a different type of aluminum that is far more prone to oxydation than the old ones were.
Also, you state you are 63. Are you even going to be around in 40 years? Are you still going to be living the lifestyle in 20 years?
There are some very good brands of campers out there.
Many of them have some great features. Many of them pull just as easily as an AS does. Add to that the gargantuan diesel pickups so many people here use - which would effortlessly pull a 10' X 8' X 40' cube down the road and I wonder why towability is even mentioned.
Most campers use the same brands of furnaces, stoves, water heaters, AC units, fridges, etc so longevity is not a factor on those items. ie, you are not getting premium products by any means.
If you are the type of person who is into premium plus then go for it. But I still would recommend you try the lifestyle first before you splurge on a brand that costs so much more than other brands.

A very well reasoned comment. Research, research, research. There are several innovative, low maintenance campers out there for less money. We are happy with our AS but it is our 4th, and hopefully last, RV. Good luck with your decision.
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Old 02-15-2016, 08:50 AM   #13
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Yogi, You have a rather large Airstream Dealership in your area. Go there and sit in a new 30 Classic. They are unbelievable and the layout has an open feeling to it. The wife sat in one at the Spokane RV show and now I am waiting for a lottery. I have a few years on you and am watching my 401 head south as well. It will turn around.....one of these days.

We had an SOB and now we have an Airstream. You do give up a little when you go Airstream but you gain so much more.
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Old 02-15-2016, 09:03 AM   #14
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Greetings, Yogi! Thank you for joining us.

The RV world is very diverse as I'm sure you've noticed. Like everything else, one size does not fit all. All the other comments in this post have valid points. Here are some other things to think about.

RVs are available for rent, from travel trailers to Class A motorhomes. It's a very viable way to try things out without a substantial upfront investment. Think about the kind of places you want to visit. Not all state and national parks have sites for large RVs or have only a few, and there may be times you won't be able to open slides. The site space may be too tight. If you can't comfortably use an RV with the slides in, it's best to avoid it.

In the used catagory, you have a sub-class referred to as "vintage", which is anything over 25 yrs. old. A lot of vintage RVs were made by manufacturers who no longer exist. Some produced units for less than 20 yrs. and didn't produce large quantities. Rarity, desirability and condition are big factors in cost of vintage units.

If you decide to get a used RV of any kind, make sure it has a title. You can't license and register any RV without one. Any dealership selling something without a title probably isn't a legitimate business. There are a myriad of reasons an RV being sold by a private party may not have a title any longer. Avoid them at all costs. A current title-holder can actually replace a missing title fairly easily. But if something hasn't been properly transferred and registered by subsequent buyers, (And paid state sales tax on the purchase.) you as the present owner, will be one who gets punished. It's a long, drawn-out and expensive process to get a title for something that should have had one over the course of its existence.

The state you live in can also add some additional costs to long-term ownership. We're in Texas. Since our trailer weighs more than 4,000 lbs. we have to complete a safety inspection every year before we can complete the registration. If something doesn't pass, you have to fix it first then inspect again.
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