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Old 07-06-2020, 09:44 PM   #1
Andy85
 
2019 Tommy Bahama Interstate
Orange Beach , Alabama
Join Date: Jul 2020
Posts: 3
Newbies Seek Advice

Hi All!
We are new to the RV game as we are about to become the proud parents of an Airstream Interstate this week! Looking for help/advice with the following:
-Do you have any recommendations for extended warranty plans and how necessary are they?
-Are there any recs for toppers/pads to make the bed comfy?
-Are there any websites dedicated specifically to Class B travel and or campgrounds?
-What are some things that you wish you new when were a newbie???

Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you so much!!!
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Old 07-06-2020, 10:49 PM   #2
Rivet Master
 
2006 22' Interstate
League City , Texas
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 691
Welcome aboard.

Wachuko’s intro thread should be the first stop for any newbie:
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f24...ge-173135.html

He was more thorough than most first time buyers and he documents his initial van purchase and summarizes all the recommendations he mined from this forum. He even shares links to most of the products he purchases for his van. He’s a big DIY addict so don’t think you have to repeat all the modifications he has done to have an enjoyable experience with your new van.

-As for warranties, I generally avoid them assuming that if the warranty company is profiting on their policies, you will come out ahead more often than not by paying for your own repairs. That said, the deciding factor for an extended vehicle warranty may be your annual milage.

For extended warranties on the RV bits, it really comes down to how handy you are. If you can DIY the repairs, it will likely be cheaper (in the long run) and almost always quicker than going to a shop.

-I have no recommendations for mattress toppers but they have been discussed here in several threads. Google works better than the search function on this forum. Check Wachuko’s thread. I would be shocked if he left that out.

-This is a pretty active forum but you will get more generic info from classbforum.com.

-I wish I was more aware of how easy it is to destroy a battery and how many parasitic power draws were in Airstream’s electrical design. On that note, tell the dealer to load test the batteries or install new ones before you leave the lot.

Additionally, try to make arrangements to sleep on the dealer lot your first night incase something breaks or you find something you missed during your formal inspection.
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Old 07-07-2020, 06:16 AM   #3
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2013 Interstate Coach
Raymond , Iowa
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 1,146
We bought a topper and had it shipped to the place we bought Titus (2000 miles away from home) and never tried sleeping without it. Even with a 3" topper I can feel some ridges. Some have removed or cut down the foam board at the side of the fold-down side seats. I have no doubt that removing the side support helps the comfort, but it never seemed worth the effort to me.

Agree with previous assessment on extended warranties. I they weren't making money on average they wouldn't be selling them.

My #1 piece of advice is to be absolutely anal about battery state of charge. The 'new' batteries were junk from poor practices at the selling dealer. My replacements have lasted 6 years and 250+ nights of usage.
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Old 07-08-2020, 04:24 PM   #4
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2014 Interstate Ext. Coach
Cedar Rapids , Iowa
Join Date: Oct 2018
Posts: 171
Our Interstate came with an extended warranty and are glad to have it with as expensive as everything is with the MB chassis. As far as purchasing one, I wouldn’t have considered it before but after owning ours for a little less than a year, I think I would look at one fairly hard now.
Although it is bulky, we put a 3” Sleep Number mattress topper on (I think they consider it a pad). It has considerably helped the comfort level, but is a pain to store. I purchased some Velcro straps and roll it and stand it behind the couch in the morning. They have a puffy one that would be interesting to see if it is comfortable enough and might be able to store above but would probably take up a lot of that space as we use that for blankets and pillows. It is a queen size and fits perfectly.
We made some mistakes being new owners and thankfully there are great members on this forum who walked us through the learning curve. You learn as you go, and hopefully you get general instructions to start. We purchased our Interstate from someone who knew nothing about it, and were totally unhelpful and left us scrambling. I think the biggest thing I’d say is that the systems are dependent on keeping the Interstate plugged in 24/7 when not in use. The AC really needs 30 Amps, and to me, the solar is kind of for looks. To boondock, the Interstate really needs upgrades. Most of all, take the time to camp close to home or even in your driveway a few times to figure out how things work. Easier to fix and take it slow when you have tools, water, and electricity right next door.

Good luck and enjoy your new Airstream! Most of all, make sure you plan a little more time to chat with people who are curious about your new ride!
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Old 07-09-2020, 07:46 AM   #5
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1992 29' Excella
2010 22' Interstate
Van By The River , Georgia
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 2,125
Lots of good information posted but a few things came to mind that may be helpful.

We have found the Allstays app to be a tremendous help when traveling. It'w worth the $10 (one-time) price. We find almost all of our campgrounds via Allstays, along with other conveniences for RVing such as Flying J, Walmart, propane, Cracker Barrel and many more.

Depending on how many people are traveling in your van you may want to consider reconfiguring it for twin beds. Air Forums member Pahaska has done that (twice perhaps) and has documented the conversion. For two people, twin beds have lots of advantages - longer aisle, easier to access overhead cabinets, more storage below the beds (?) and no need to transition from bed to not-bed.

Long distance travels for us typically mean we only need a quick overnight stop between A and B. Parking lots of some retailer/food establishments (Walmart, Cracker Barrel, Bass Pro Shops, etc.) are useful for this. Always call in advance to check their overnight policy.

We don't have solar on our trailer or our van but it would be a great upgrade on both. Someday... for now, we've learned to adapt our RV electrical use so we have plenty of battery power between periodic stops at campgrounds to recharge, dump, etc.

Best wishes. See Ya Down The Road!
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1992 29' Excella Classic / 2010 Interstate
2005 Chevrolet Suburban K2500 8.1L
2018 GMC Sierra K1500 SLT, 6.2L, Max Trailering
Got a cooped-up feeling, gotta get out of town, got those Airstream campin' blues...
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Old 07-09-2020, 08:08 AM   #6
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2007 Interstate
Normal , Illinois
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 15,921
I recently added a Renogy 100 watt solar suitcase to my setup, and it works great at a fraction of the cost of adding solar panels.

If you are new to Interstates, maybe spend a night or two at or near your dealership to try out all systems to not only make sure they work but to be sure you know how to use them.

Take notes during your walkthrough, maybe some pictures and videos, as there will likely be lots you won’t retain.

Have fun!

Maggie
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Old 07-09-2020, 08:36 AM   #7
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1982 31' Excella
ipswich , Massachusetts
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 1
2020 Interstate 19

We bought a 2020 AI 19 in April and it has been at the dealership for repairs twice. If this continues I will be very happy that we bought the extended warranty.

We bought a queen size 3" down/feather topper and it is very comfortable, we fold it over the back of the seat when we sit to watch TV on rainy nights and it makes the sofa seating much more comfortable.

We had a 30 Amp outlet installed at our house to keep everything charged when not in use. The refrigerator is being replaced now and one of the control panels. Hope to have it back soon so we can start exploring again. Good luck with your new AI.
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Old 07-09-2020, 08:49 PM   #8
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2015 Interstate Ext. Coach
Austin , Texas
Join Date: May 2020
Posts: 7
While several have converted to twin beds - I see twins as a major downside. IMHO a couple should have that special time together and a luxurious bed to spend time together is a priority. My advice is to think through what you may be giving up for some extra space. Twins is a deal-breaker for me.
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Old 07-09-2020, 09:39 PM   #9
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2018 Interstate Grand Tour Ext
Austin (Hays County) , Texas
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I tried the couch-bed thing in my first AI, a 2014.5 Lounge. After about 6 months, I converted to twins and never looked back. My 2018 GT was converted to twins within a month.

I sleep about 10 months a year in a queen bed at home. In the AI, the twins beat by a mile crawling in and out the bottom of the couch-bed and hassling daily with bedding. In factory twins, you can convert the twins to a queen. In my own conversion, I intentionally did not bother with that. We both sleep better on our separate custom twin mattresses.
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Old 07-10-2020, 04:21 AM   #10
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2014 Interstate Coach
Centre County , Pennsylvania
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 134
We also converted to twins and we love it. We have a fill in piece for the aisle so we can make a queen when desired (which is most of the time!). We like the extra lounge space during the evening and the option for one person to sleep while the other is working.
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Old 07-19-2020, 07:36 PM   #11
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1964 22' Safari
1993 25' Excella
Flagler Beach , Florida
Join Date: Mar 2018
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wow...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy85 View Post
Hi All!
We are new to the RV game as we are about to become the proud parents of an Airstream Interstate this week! Looking for help/advice with the following:
-Do you have any recommendations for extended warranty plans and how necessary are they?
-Are there any recs for toppers/pads to make the bed comfy?
-Are there any websites dedicated specifically to Class B travel and or campgrounds?
-What are some things that you wish you new when were a newbie???

Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you so much!!!
very nice.........have fun,be safe
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Old 07-19-2020, 09:43 PM   #12
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2018 Interstate Grand Tour Ext
Austin (Hays County) , Texas
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 6,957
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy85 View Post
Hi All!-Are there any websites dedicated specifically to Class B travel and or campgrounds?
I have never seen a specific Class-B site in all my travels, but a good many RV parks and especially some KOAs that I have used have smaller water/electric sites that are mainly used by pickup truck campers or tent campers at a lower price than their run of the mill sites. I have taken occasional advantage of these sites. There is plenty of room for a van where larger rigs often can not access.
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Old 07-20-2020, 05:53 AM   #13
Andy85
 
2019 Tommy Bahama Interstate
Orange Beach , Alabama
Join Date: Jul 2020
Posts: 3
TY Fellow RVers!

Hey guys, thanks so much for all the comments and advice. We are 12 days into our journey and so far, so good. Working our way down the coast and visiting family and friends as we head back home. Really enjoying the RV life so far. Have stayed in a variety of campsites which really run the gamut. Right now enjoying morning coffee at Stone Mountain Park in Georgia. Beautiful! Like you, so many of our camping neighbors have been so helpful and instructive. So a few questions:
-Do you have have any good tips on packing the interstate? Storage seems so limited.
- What is the best way to drain the freshwater tank for storage?
- generally, we’ve been able to hook up to a 30 amp electric source at each site. When and for what reason would we be running the generator? Is a good practice to run the generator off and on just to make sure it’s working well? Do we want to be running the generator, while driving, to run the air conditioning in the back of the van?
-When should the inverter be on and off?
These might all seem like basic questions but any and all help is greatly appreciated! Wishing you all happy and safe travels! 🌸
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Old 07-20-2020, 06:13 AM   #14
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2018 Interstate Grand Tour Ext
Austin (Hays County) , Texas
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Leave inverter off except when watching TV without hookups or while driving.
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Old 07-20-2020, 06:14 AM   #15
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2013 Interstate Coach
Raymond , Iowa
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 1,146
No reason to run the generator if plugged in. Generator is only good for ~20 A so you can do more with 30 A shore power. They say to exercise the generator every few weeks - start it, apply load for a few minutes to get it fully warmed up, let if run with no load for a few minutes, then shut it off. I do not exercise it as per above recommendations. I find that it has to crank longer (~20 seconds) if it has not been run for a few days, but no issues otherwise.

I cross-threaded the plastic drain plug into the plastic fitting on the fresh water tank. So I got a fitting with the appropriate male pipe threads on one end and a male garden hose fitting and garden hose cap on the other. That way I never have to remove the drain plug. The fresh tank drains better (?more completely) with the nose of the van down.

We seldom use the invertor and always leave it off until we need it. I am pretty anal about turning everything of except while being used (LPG switch, water pump, ...) to save battery drain.

We have never had a problem finding enough storage space - though some of the space is not real easy to get to since we always leave the rear seats down and covered by our mattress topper and bedding. We can bring enough clothes for 2 weeks and brought enough non-perishable food for our 6 week trip to Alaska. I bring a few repair parts (oil, fuel, air filters, intercooler hose) just in case.
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Old 07-20-2020, 12:35 PM   #16
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2018 Interstate Grand Tour Ext
NORTH MYRTLE BEACH , South Carolina
Join Date: Dec 2017
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After using the Interstate for about a year, I did break down and buy a 4 inch thick mattress pad off Amazon. It made a big difference, but it does take up space. You may need to run the generator if you try to boondock with fridge unless you upgrade your solar and battery. My fridge only runs on electric and on warm days, if you aren't plugged in, you will see your batteries start to drain. You get better with packing. You often try to take too much. If something is not used in one or 2 camping trips get rid of it.
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Old 07-20-2020, 12:40 PM   #17
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Currently Looking...
2018 Interstate Grand Tour Ext
NORTH MYRTLE BEACH , South Carolina
Join Date: Dec 2017
Posts: 756
Don't be afraid to speak up at campgrounds. I have reserved and paid for a nice space. I arrive, they see what I'm in and I've had some try to move me to a tiny space saying I'll save $1-2. No thanks! Even had one say, even tho I paid for it, that he needed that spot for bigger rigs....? I said sorry but I paid for it. At first I was nervous about speaking up...no more. And please rate your stays at campgrounds on the various apps...it helps everyone.
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