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Old 11-18-2017, 08:31 AM   #1
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Sarasota , Florida
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New To RVing, Please Advise

I am just now beginning to explore getting an RV, and I like the Airstream Sport Model. My wife and I have never owned an RV, and have never gone RVing at all, so we want something small for our first RV.

I have looked at several types, including Fiberglass. I read somewhere that Airstreams can become dented easy, and could get hail damage. But I really like the inside and quality of Airstream, but Oliver and Escapes are nice too. It's all quite confusing! Can an Airstream have problems with rivets or leaks. The Fiberglass reps push their RV's don't leak because of hull construction.

If anyone can give advice or thoughts, I would appreciate it.
Thanks!
Dwain
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Old 11-18-2017, 08:47 AM   #2
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Welcome Dwain. I have lots of suggestions for you but please take them with the appropriate grain of salt.

Yes, Airstreams can dent, leak and have many of the same issues as other trailers. They are of a higher quality build in my opinion but without proper care and maintenance issues like the ones you mentioned can pop up. Yes, hail can dent them and this remains my largest fear.

If you have never owned an RV before I would suggest that you look for a decent used unit to get started. You will be amazed at the learning curve you will experience. You will quickly know what features you really like, which ones you wish you had and what space will "work" for you. Unless you have access to unlimited funds, buying and selling can get quite expensive.

I am a huge fan of the Airstream. While they have their drawbacks, the advantages far outweigh them for our lifestyle. Airstream is in the process of building a fiberglass trailer. Look into that if fiberglass is in your plans.

Good luck. Enjoy the hunt.
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Old 11-18-2017, 09:49 AM   #3
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I know this is greatly oversimplifying it; but here it goes- I am sure Oliver and Escape are fine trailers.

I may never be able to afford a new Airstream- but I would rather own a used Cadillac than a new Kia any day.

(Sorry if I upset any Kia owners out there)
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Old 11-18-2017, 09:54 AM   #4
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If you want comprehensive information on corrosion and leaks with Airstreams, the Blue google search box at the top of this page will give you a lot of prior threads on these subjects...may be more than you want to know, but most of us still would have nothing else.

Maggie
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Old 11-18-2017, 10:15 AM   #5
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I agree that buying a used trailer- any old brand- is a good first step. You will learn what you really want/need without taking a hit on trading in an expensive one.

The old saying is that the third trailer is the one you want. That's been true for us.
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Old 11-18-2017, 10:22 AM   #6
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Dwain, I would also strongly suggest that you go rent a couple. Yes, you can rent RV even Airstreams. Google RV rental and you will get tons of sites, options on all kinds of RV’s. Renting is not exactly cheap but it is much cheaper than buying any RV and using once or twice and finding out you hate the whole thing. If you rent you will know for sure then you can start your search for your perfect rig, you may find out you prefer a Motorhome and not a travel trailer. Airstreams2go, rents only Airstreams, not every model but you will at least find out if you want to buy one. There is a lot to learn and it can get rather expensive so go slow, learn everything you can, go out and look at everything you can, sit in them, drive them, etc. There is much more to Airstreaming than just the trailer, what do you plan to pull it with? How often are you planning to use it, are you going cross country or to the local state park?
Enjoy the process and welcome to the forum.
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Old 11-18-2017, 10:55 AM   #7
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Hi Dwain,
I have experience with both fiberglass "egg" trailers and Airstream. They both hold their value, but over time, fibreglass eggs may do a bit better. In fact, when we sold our 1975 14ft fibreglass Surf-Side in 2008, we asked $4500 and it sold immediately for the asking price. Several mid-70s Airstreams were listed for the same price at the same time and weren't selling.

Olivers have some more advanced features than Airstreams. They are built amazingly well. Escapes are ok, but they look dated inside. Airstream will be releasing the fibreglass NEST next year, so you may want to wait for its release.

I love our Airstream. It feels like a mansion compared to our 13 ft boler or 14 ft Surf-side. But hail has always stressed us. After 9 years of ownership, our Airstream got hit. The hail damage is light and only noticeable when looking for it, but it covered more than 50% of our panels, so our insurance company wrote it off! We haven't settled yet because we can't find a suitable replacement. Our buy-back price is 50% of what they are paying us. It's frustrating. It's sick to think our gorgeous Airstream will be auctioned off when we hand it in. (We were advised by a reputable Airstream dealer to take the write-off amount and walk.)

In the meantime, we bought a fibreglass motorhome -- a Chinook Destiny. It looks very dated inside. I much prefer the look of our Airstream, but fibreglass sure is nice! It's far less stressful when storms roll through. We are still looking for another Airstream . . . but fibreglass may be easier for a first-time owner. Fibreglass Eggs have a big following and many events you can attend even if you are just looking.

By the way, in 19 years of ownership of our boler, we NEVER had a leak, but there is a saying among Airstream owners: If it doesn't leak, it's not an Airstream. Maybe the NEST will be the first non-leaking Airstream?

Lisa
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Old 11-18-2017, 12:26 PM   #8
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Oliver and Bigfoot are very nice. But, they're different as a result of their construction. I'd be happy to own either of them, and that's with more than fifty years around our type.

Install torsion axles if not so equipped.

Make line by line comparisons. For a TT, capacities matter more than all else once one is making comparisons.

And be sure to look at used. Any of our type is a far better choice at 10-years than any brand-new white box (exceptions above) as lifespan is indefinite. Depreciation is nearly gone, and with decent maintenance, not much past some cosmetics and appliances may be needed.

Not all aluminum trailers leak. If one is willing to buy pre-1995, then Avion and Silver Streak (upmarket of Airstream) are far better in that regard. As well, full frames, not monococque.

As to hail damage, I'd live with it. It's usually just cosmetic.

Take your time. RV shows, and dealerships: travel to experience these in person. And start reading classifieds to go and see what's for sale in a several hundred mile radius. Reading is fundamental, but inspections seal important impressions.

Good luck

.
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Old 11-18-2017, 12:38 PM   #9
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Hi

Aluminum dents, fiberglass cracks. Aluminum is gets dull in the weather and needs a re-finish. Fiberglass needs a new clear coat. None of it is perfect. They all have their issues. When you get down to rivet pops, you are talking about some pretty minor stuff. There are a lot more major issues with either sort of trailer than that.

For a "test run at camping" both an AS and an Oliver are pretty expensive bought new.
Unless you have a really good reason to believe you are going to stick with it, start another way. For what the depreciation will cost on you on either one, you can buy a brand new rubber roof and throw it away in a few years .... This time of year, there are a *lot* of used trailers for sale so that's another alternative.

Bob
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Old 11-18-2017, 12:45 PM   #10
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Research - research - research! Let other people's experience help you. Understand the reason for their problems, the impact those problems will have on you and the methods to mitigate.

First - pay cash. An RV is expensive enough and interest is an expense you can cut from the operating cost.

Second - look for the leaks. There are videos that explain the process. There are folks that share their nightmare experiences.

Third - know thy self, well thy family. Some need space, some need bling, some just need a warm dry place to sleep. Some need a ton of gear, some need specific gear, some just need a dry bed. Some enjoy the out doors, some enjoy people, some don't. Know what you want.

Defered gratification - understand how it works or does not work for you.

DIY - the challenges in the RV world makes this a helpful skill. Research is a good DIY skill to develop even if you are not handy with tools.

The AS is an icon. Folks recognise them and most smile. However, the design was developed as a way to make a strong light weight structure using aircraft construction methods. If you are serious about wanting one, purchase the book "America's World Traveler AIRSTREAM". Note the differences in construction through the years. Note as well that aircraft are not built the same way now as they were in the days of aluminum sheet and rivets. Note how aluminum body cars and trucks are built with lots of adhesives and not many rivets.

ASs have limited storage. Look closely at that issue. The fibreglass eggs have a similar issue. It's a factor of the curved and compact form. The standard solution is a tow vehicle with payload and storage space. They don't all make good daily drivers, so look at all the associated issues.

What AS does do well is deliver a very nice looking interior. Just like expensive motor homes, there is a cost associated with that look. You need to be very clear about what you can afford to pay for an RV lifestyle. Also, need to be clear about what type of an interior will hold up to the abuse of your RV experience.

Part of what you get with some RVs is a relationship with other folks that share a passion for the brand. AS has that - WBCCI and private groups have spent years building it. Don't discount the value. However, don't over sell it to yourself either. You may like some but not all of that passion.

An AS is the only coach for some. I had to have one. It is a significant mistake for others. Know thy self and good luck with the research. Pat
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Old 11-19-2017, 06:44 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lily&Me View Post
If you want comprehensive information on corrosion and leaks with Airstreams, the Blue google search box at the top of this page will give you a lot of prior threads on these subjects...may be more than you want to know, but most of us still would have nothing else.

Maggie
This is great advice but for the OP just donít be scared away by all the leaks and trouble people post about. Keep in mind that folks post looking for advice and help when they have trouble. Many more are enjoying there Airstreams for the most part trouble free.
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Old 11-19-2017, 06:52 AM   #12
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Buying a used trailer of a cheaper brand is also great advice. Just make sure itís a fairly new model so you will have time to enjoy and get a feel for it without getting frustrated with fixing everything.
I bought I brand new 16 foot Jayco for a significant discount. We used it for 2 years and traded it in on our Airstream at about a 1800 dollar loss. You could do better starting with a used unit but I didnít think that was too big of a hit for 2 seasons use.
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Old 11-19-2017, 07:42 AM   #13
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Rent a few times. Not nessecarily an Airstream, but whatever is available. If you have a capable tow vehicle, rent a trailer. If not, rent a Moho. Just go try it and see what you like about it. The bonus is that you'll get some training prior to driving off.
If and when you do rent, take pictures of the coach from all angles, I once rented a traveltrailer and they tried to say I damaged it. As luck would have it, I had taken a picture of my son in front of the trailer prior to leaving the lot and was able to prove them wrong.

Aside from that, get out and have fun.
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Old 11-19-2017, 07:57 AM   #14
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Dwain -

Welcome to the forums.

Please remember that people who respond to you are posting their opinions. The majority of us here are very well-meaning people.

There are so many things to consider when researching and deciding on which trailer you'll own:

1) Motivation: Why are you getting an RV? Is it for fun? Is it for a "retirement" plan? Is it so you have a vacation home that you can move from place to place? Is it to be a depreciable tax write off? Etc.

2) Finances: If part of your motivation for buying is tax write off driven, then you'll probably want to finance. If this is case (which was in my case), your best options for long-term financing will come from purchasing new. If you don't need a tax write off (most RV purchases if financed can be written off as a vacation home - (I'm not an accountant or tax preparer - so check with your accountant). If you are a cash buyer, then certainly buying a lightly used unit can be a fantastic option. Many buy these trailers with grandiose plans and use them a few times and then never use them again. This means there are lots of lightly used units from which to choose. Finding one that meets your needs would then be the challenge.

3) Value: Generally speaking Airstreams hold their value much better than just about anything else out there.It is the only travel trailer that banks will finance for 20 years at a very attractive rate. We are on our second unit (2018 Tommy Bahama). We used our first airstream for 2.5 years and sold it for what we owed on it. This is not something you'd hear about with other campers on the market.

4) Iconic Design: Is it the Airstream Iconic look that draws you? I grew up with Airstreams. My Grandparents were very active in the WBCCI (Airstream Club). I owned several SOBs (some other brand) and worked my way up to airstream ownership. But I knew that it was what I wanted. You have to make that decision.

5) Choices: Oliver Vs. Airstream - I came from owning off-road RVs, so when I was looking at Airstream, I ran across an Oliver at a local trade show. Olivers are made right down the road from Nashville here in Tennessee. The Oliver is a great US made trailer and are very high in QC (although I read about as many problems online about them as there are Airstreams). We seriously considered one but there were some things that kept us on the hunt for the right airstream - A) Fiberglass - The inside of the Oliver smelled like a boat. Now that may be something that is ok with you and yours, but we knew that this fiberglass aroma would stay with the trailer forever, and we couldn't live with that. B) No Bedroom. In the Oliver, there is a small dinette and then the living room makes into your bedroom. There is no separation. This was a deal breaker for us. We wanted a bedroom. C) Wetbath: While well done, the bath in the Oliver is strictly a wetbath. (This means that the toilet, sink area and shower are all in one place. While this is a good use of space (some might argue), it wasn't for us.

6) Community: Airstreamers are a pretty loyal bunch. We are also a pretty communal bunch. Just like other iconic brands have culture (Jeep, Land Rovers, Gibson Guitars, Etc) Airstreamers have a great community and are by and large a very helpful and supportive bunch. You'll find community with other RVs, but since I'm partial, I'll step out on a limb to say ... not as great as the Airstream community!

Hope that helps.
D
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Old 11-19-2017, 08:04 AM   #15
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I considered an Oliver but it was too narrow and had limited floor space. It also seemed to sit higher than the Airstream, and any work needed to go back to the factory. (although I hear it's very good.)
I could have bought an Oliver for half of what I paid for the AS, but I'd have felt I was staying on a boat. No option for a queen bed, seating limited, appliances smaller.
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Old 11-19-2017, 09:24 AM   #16
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Short Answer: rent first, then go to an dealers/RV show to explore options
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Old 11-19-2017, 10:55 AM   #17
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1. Kick a lot of tires, go to a lot of RV shows, & spend a lot of time sitting, walking, lying down, etc. in a variety of RVs, with you, with your significant other, with your kids, etc. There's no substitute for your own personal experience & that of anyone who will be using the RV with you. If you can rent & actually use one, so much the better.

2. Remember that the great majority of first-time RV buyers sell or trade-in their first RV within a year or two of its acquisition. If you're like most of the rest of us, you will, too. I don't mean this as an excuse not to do your research before you buy your first RV --- only that it will be a lot worse for you if you don't do your research before your first RV.

The RV experience (like most everything else) is an ongoing learning exercise, with wisdom typically gained as a function of the quantity and quality of mistakes made. What often looks great or seems like a great idea at first impression often turns out to be not quite so ideal as time goes on. Been there, done that, learned from it.

My best to you in pursuing your hopes & dreams.
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Old 11-19-2017, 11:21 AM   #18
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Dear Dwain,

You two are on a journey to discover what fits your needs and budget. Go look at a lot of travel trailers. It will be the best journey of your life.

I have owned a few pop-ups and a recent teardrop. All have their downside. My tear drop was built by a major company but it was filled with particle board, ill fitting door frames, and a leaky roof (in only 4 years).

We know there is no perfect rig but we settled on the 2018 22FB Sport (our Tow is a big 6 cyl). It pulls like a dream and we love the fit and finish of the entire unit. Yes, there were several issues I have had to adjust that the dealer didn't catch. I'm still working on a few. BUT they are minor issues and I would sound like a nitpicker if I mentioned any of them.

Remember that even Airstreams have 3rd party stoves, refers, water heaters, and a/c in them. These items are common to a lot of manufacturers rigs. Most are really bad so you have to take them and any failures with stride. AS makes a great product but as time goes on, Thor Industries will find ways to cut more corners to boost profits. Keep this in mind. Buy a good used unit back pre 2010 for the legacy fit and finish. Buy today for the most modern accoutrements.

Final thought - the Airstream is still the gold standard in the RV industry. Costs more but you get what you pay for.

73,
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Old 11-19-2017, 12:30 PM   #19
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A great adventure!

Hope you decide to join this great community. My husband & I and Shadow the Beagle have been RVers for the past 3 yrs. Our first trailer was a 22ft. Apex. Great little trailer. We spent the winter in Florida traveling both coasts with 6 weeks in Key Largo. Like you, we had never owned or traveled in an RV so this was the big test. We were still friends at the end of the trip but knew we needed something larger if this was to be an ongoing part of our lives. We now own a "98", 34 ft Airstream. Love it! Both trailers were bought used. All the advice given in the previous posts is great. There are so many choices out there you need to start with the basics of owning, maintaining and towing a RV. Airstreamers have Rallys. Find one in your area. Go and talk to people. They will happily let you see their trailers and hitches and how it works for them and their lifestyle. That is how we started out with our research. Find a reputable dealer that also knows about good tow vehicle set up as well as trailers. You also need to know how to tow and what hitch works best for your situation and travel plans. A bad "hook up" can spoil the experience and cause unnecessary problems. Since you don't know what you don't know a rental or a short trip with a friend who does RV could be a place to start. You need to know just what you can and cannot tolerate before spending any significant money. What is acceptable for short trips may not work for longer ones. Airstream gives us everything we want at all levels. How many other brands are still on the road - looking good - after 30+ Yrs? We have traveled over 20K miles with this trailer in the past two years - seeing parts of the US and Canada - in all weather and road conditions. No issues and only maintenance costs. I know you are in Florida but take a moment and check out this website: www.canamrv.ca They have some great videos on trailer hook-ups and hitches and on towing. This info will be very helpful with making the right choices. They are our "go to" place for everything RV. Good Luck!
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Old 11-19-2017, 12:46 PM   #20
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Airstreams are expensive, and the buyer's remorse factor is sometimes high when expectations of perfection are not met. Buy used or something cheaper to be sure you like Camping first. If you can't fix a loose screw or replace a rivet they may not be for you.

We loved our used 19', and love our 2018 27' even more. Had a couple screws work loose here and there; I epoxy 'em and roll on.
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