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Old 01-02-2005, 02:12 AM   #1
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Hello All,

This is my first post to this group. I am considering the purchase of a used, but relatively late model, Airstream trailer, and have a couple of questions. My local RV dealers are less than helpful, and I thought some of you folks might have the info I need, and be willing to take the time to share your knowlege.

First, the Airstream is the ONLY trailer I am considering. If an Airstrem won't do what I need, I simply would not buy a trailer at all. Could anyone tell me if Airstreams (for example late model Safaris) come with generators, or if they have a place where one can be easily installed? Also, how large are the water and sewage tanks? I am trying to get a handle on how self contained they really are. I would be useing it in an area where there would be NO hook ups.

Also, how mobile are these units. Do you think one would withstand being towed to Panama, shipped to South America and then being driven through SA for about a year?

Would the new CCD be more durable for extended travel on rough roads? It would seem that it might be, given that it appears to be lighter weight, and to be constructed somewhat more like an aircraft. I'm not yet sure if I could afford a new CCD, but if it offered any significant advantages over the Safaris that I see advertised for, what seem to be, very reasonable prices, I might try and reach a little further. On balance I would prefer to invest less in a vehicle that would be, potentially, exposed to damage from rough conditions.

I have limited experience with RV's and really don't know what to expect. I did buy a Fleetwood motor home a few years ago. But it was total junk, and dangerous to drive. I sold it after a month and bought another Westfalia. But as the years pass I find I would like a little more comfort than the Westie offers. From cursory examination of the Airstream, and from it's reputation, it seems like the only way to go.

I have lived and traveled in a VW Westfalia for over a year in Europe, and have sailed in my own boat (boats actually) for extended periods in various parts of the world. So I have a pretty good idea how to travel and be self contained in general. I am now trying to learn if that experience can be transfered to an Airstream.

Thanks in advance for any help or suggestions.

Codger
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Old 01-02-2005, 03:43 AM   #2
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There isn't a good place to mount a generator on an airstream trailer. I have a 34' and carry a 3k genset in the back of the truck. If you have sailed then you have a good idea of the limits of water the 25' has 39 gallons fresh water, 18 black, 39 grey. If you take "Navy Showers" and use rest room facilities whenever you can you might be able to stretch it to two weeks, I can go about 6 days before my black tank is full, but I'm not as consertative as I could be. My unit has traveled all 49 states as well as most of Central America and Canada, and this was before I bought it in 2000. Since then I have put about 35-40k miles on it and it is just as roadworthy today as it was when it was built and its a 34'. I'm certain that a shorter unit would not flex quite as much as mine does on rough roads. I don't think you will be disappointed in the trailer, just make certain that you have a good truck to pull it.
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Old 01-02-2005, 09:43 AM   #3
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The CCD is not constructed any different than other Airstreams - all are monocoque construction. Note that the 16, 19, and 22 foot models are all 8' wide and all larger units are 8'6". If this is factor, pre-'95 coaches are all 8' wide, and somewhere back there (late 60's?, 70's sometime?) they drop to 7' 6".

People have built in generators, and Airstream actually offered one as an option in the 70's, but you lose a lot of interior space and carrying capacity. I think if I was to do it I'd build a generator box on the tongue where the lp bottles sit and find a place for a couple of horizontal lp bottles. The new inverter type generators can be easily carried in a truck bed, and are amazingly quiet.

The 25' Classic offers more fresh water and more black tank capacity, but as you know the fresh water and grey water are the limiting factor. There are always blue totes, though.

There are some threads in the archives about shipping Airstreams by those who have done it. Years ago WBCCI organized globe spanning caravans where they were transported across oceans and seas several times.

Mark
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Old 01-02-2005, 10:23 AM   #4
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You always have the options of buying and rebuilding an older unit to your needs. Here's a weight chart to give you an idea of how they have put on weight over the years. http://www.airstream.com/airstream/p.../weights-1.pdf
I am rebuilding a 1959 and will have 70 gallons freash water and either two 35 or 55 gallon waste tanks, one black and one washwater with the ability to discharge wash while using and use both for black or reuse the shower wash water for toilet service. Capacity and flexiblity.
You may like one of the new van style campers with Mercedes Benz engine. Lots of bucks but lots of Westy style also. http://www.airstream.com/product_lin...alia_home.html
A Honda 2000 genset is less than 50lbs and quiet. We will carry this for extended stay battery charging.
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Old 01-02-2005, 10:23 AM   #5
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Common

Aftermarket gensets are more common than one thinks. There are generators that are small enough to fit into a typical credenza or cabinet space. They are very quiet and work well. They are fitted into a void, insulated, vented and exhausted above the roof line. They are a great resource for traveling abroad like to Alaska and other remote locations.

The problem with generators is the fuel. Storing fuel is a real challenge. The alternative to gasoline or diesel is propane, then you are faced with consumption and availability of refill facilities.

I have seen a few generators retrofitted in Airstreams and it is very easy to do. The weight is some what of a factor but I have not seen any problems caused by these installations.

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Old 01-02-2005, 05:29 PM   #6
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Hello,

Thanks to all for the info, it has been most helpful, and is a good starting place for me to learn what I need to know.

Mounting a gen dosen't sound like too big a project. The tankage is limited but workable.

The weight tables were VERY helpful. I had no idea that the later model units were so heavy. The ten to fifteen year old models I see on the net seem to be in my price range; I've seen Safaris that look to be in good condition for 20K to 30K. I was think of, maybe, a 22'.

But the idea of pulling two and a half tons over the Andies is a bit more than I had bargained for. I drove a truck to pay my way through college, and so I know what hauling that kind of weight entails, and I can easily envision myself on the side of a mountain road wondering where I can get a broken tow hitch repaired, not to speak of the strain on the truck. The potential for disaster on the downhills looms large. I had thought to use my Suburban as a tow vehicle, but I know from experience it's not up to that kind of job.

The notion of rebuilding one of the fifties era units seems to have quite a lot going for it, just based on the weight factor. How hard is it to locate an older unit? How hard to rebuild? Why do the new ones weigh so much? Are they built stronger, or do they just have more "luxuries?"

I do now remember seeing, somewhere, some old photos of a group of Airstreams being loaded on a ship. Doesn't anyone do that kind of thing anymore? It would be great fun. Recently a group of folks driving Westfalias travled from California to Terris del Fuego and back. Why not Airstreams to Argentina?

That Dodge Westie looks pretty cool, but 80 to 90 grand? Out of my league, especially considering where I would be going; it would probably depreciate 100% in a year. I've been downwardly mobile (by design) for some years, and have found that I feel more comfortable with spending less on gear, and more on extended travel.I bought a sailboat for 150K in 1984, lived aboard with my wife, kids, cats and dog, and had a great time, but never got beyond Mexico.Sold it after a year. Since then we've sailed a trimaran, cost 5K, through the Philipines and Indonesia. More fun, less money.

Would rebuilding a fifties unit be the Airstream anolog of this kind of experience? Are the old units tough enough for extended travel on rough roads?

Thanks again,

Codger
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Old 01-02-2005, 05:58 PM   #7
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I may have what you're looking for. Drop me a line at stephen.s1@comcast.net
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Old 01-03-2005, 12:14 AM   #8
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Older ones are tough enough..

You may want to visit web site for "Vintage Airstream Club" at www.airstream.net They are group exclusively for trailers over 25 years in age, but their classified ads include trailers from 80's and 90's..

We own 10 year old Suburban 1500 which makes a fine tow vehicle for trailer under 5500 pounds, and if you can live without A/C a light quiet 1000 watt generator can be easily carried in back and set up outside when needed. Permanent mount for generator not really a requirement. Shorter actually means more maneuverability, and so looking at 21 to 23 foot trailer makes more sense than larger ones, especially on small roads in small countries..

There are some other threads to find checklists for purchase, but an older trailer with sold frame and suspension (axles/shocks/bearings/wheels) and hitch assembley should follow tow vehicle almost anywhere... It really is easier to carry an extra tank with 10 or 20 gallons of fresh water and another to offload gray water than to restructure tanks onboard.. A good solar panel installation will also help single battery models and avoid gas storage and refills, though siphon hose from main gas tank in truck will provide plenty of gas for generators.

Finally, there are shops on West Coast and in LA that will do refurbs from basic to exotic.. Inland RV (Andy the owner posts here frequently) can do such work, as can several others like Iowa Boys or Vintage Vacations... You could do it yourself and save some money, but it can be a time consuming process...

John McG
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Old 01-03-2005, 09:29 PM   #9
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Thanks for the info JBH. I did go to that site, and have already learned a bit. One of the things I learned is that it would be better for me to pay someone to restore an older model rather than doing it myself. I'll check out the dealers you mentioned.

In another thread i saw some questions about useing an Airstream as a permanent home. Seems to be some overlap here, since that is what i would be doing, although I would be moving around.

The main things I still wonder about are how you deal with sewage and water in a semi-permanent location without hook ups. Any suggestions anyone?
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Old 01-03-2005, 09:36 PM   #10
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Wally used gopher holes. Remove the sod, dig a hole, dump. When hole dries cover back over with dirt and place sod on top. Only evidence is that the grass will be prettier there than elsewhere. Now if you are in the city thats a whole different matter.
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Old 01-04-2005, 11:54 AM   #11
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When you're looking around, consider your grey tank needs. Airstreams built before 1974 do NOT have grey tanks. Some folks have retrofitted a tank and others use a blue tote but personally I wouldn't want to have to pack one across the andes....


Look at A/S made in the late seventies as a viable option. They are a little more modern in layout, have grey tanks and are still relatively light weight. They are still available cheaply, as they are not quite as collectable as the earlier ones. For that kind of trip I would stay under 25 feet in length. After your Westfalia even a short A/S will seem like a palace. Also consider the Argosy line. Many of the 6 metre Minuets have aluminum floors and are really light. Ours is 2500 lbs. dry. You could pull this with your suburban and not even know it's there.
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Old 01-11-2005, 07:57 PM   #12
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Janet,

Thanks for the advice. Is the Argosy some kind of Airstream? Your comments on size and weight seem spot on.

Thanks to everone else for all your suggestions.

I recently discovered Airstream moterhomes. Does anyone know what the smallest size motorhomw they made? Could this be a possible solution? What are the pros and cons of motorhome and trailers?

Years ago I had a motorhome for a very short time. Awfull experience. But I'm assuming that if Airstrem makes motorhomes they will be of the same quality of their trailers.
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Old 01-11-2005, 08:46 PM   #13
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I have seen a 24'-25' classic. It is a good looking motorhome. A single woman in one of the Virginia units owns and loves it.
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Old 01-11-2005, 11:04 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Codger
Janet,
Thanks for the advice. Is the Argosy some kind of Airstream?
Argosys were made by Airstream in the seventies and into the eigthies. They made both travel trailers and motorhomes. Argosys were often the first models to have new design and innovation. They were the R and D line for Airstream and were marketed as a more afffordable model.. The trailers and moterhomes were usually painted, but made of aluminum. Often you cn find an argosy for a little less money than the more well known silver Airstreams.
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Old 01-12-2005, 12:20 AM   #15
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Greetings Codger!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Codger
I recently discovered Airstream moterhomes. Does anyone know what the smallest size motorhomw they made? Could this be a possible solution? What are the pros and cons of motorhome and trailers?
The Argosy line was Airstream's launching point for the Motorhomes. The smallest production Motorhome was a 20' model in the Argosy line (1974-77). The shortest Motorhome offered in both lines was sold as 24'. In the Argosy, it was available with either a GM 5.7 liter V8 or a 7.4 liter V8 - - of the four that I have seen, two had the 5.7 and two had the 7.4. The 24' size was also offered once the Motorhome was introduced in the Airstream line, but saw relatively limited production. Both the Argosy and Airstream motorhomes of the Vintage era were built on the GM P30 series chassis.

I don't have any ownership experience with Motorhomes, but have driven a few. The one reservation that I would have with full-timing/extended use would be the necessity of allowing unfamiliar mechanics full access to my living quarters when servicing the engine becomes necessary - - I know when traveling in unfamiliar territory, I tend to transfer valuables from my tow vehicle to coach when it is necessary to leave my tow vehicle with an unfamiliar mechanic - - something that would be difficult if not impossible in a Motorhome even with a small car in tow.

To get a better feel for what Airstream featured in its Motorhome line, try surfing Fred Hinds Airstream Motorhome Archives

Good luck with your research!

Kevin
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Old 01-12-2005, 01:40 PM   #16
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Over59,

I have a 66 Caravel and am very intrested in the holding tanks you installed. The black water tank was removed from it and needs to be replaced. Where are you getting your tanks from and how & where are you mounting them?
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Old 01-12-2005, 02:55 PM   #17
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I would also concur with most that the vintage units are probably tougher (interior wise) the the newer stock. Based on some of the old Wally films, I doubt that the cabinetry in my Classic would hang together over some of the trails he pulled on.

I would also assume that you probably will need to carry some critical components with you. Obviously these parts are not in mass production so it would be wise to hear from the group as to what components would you take with you if you were leaving the country for an extended trip. Nothing could be worse than to have a component failure that is difficult to locate.

Jack
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