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Old 08-17-2009, 11:45 AM   #1
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2009 34 Classic Limited

Just returned from Lakewood, New Jersey where I took delivery of a new 2009 34 Airstream Classic Limited that will be the full-time retirement home while traveling the North American continent fly fishing for all species of fresh and salt water fish. After months and months of research, reading numerous forums, traveling and talking to various purveyors of new and used SOBs and Airstreams, and visiting Jackson Center, the decision turned out to really be no decision at all once sitting inside this particular 34 footer and dealing with the folks at Colonial Airstream, particularly Lauren and Patrick. So knowledgeable, helpful and sincerely concerned about my satisfaction. Great folks they are. Thank you so very much!

Was informed that this particular 34 Airstream Classic Limited was the very last one of its kind that was built this year, and that will be built, ever. I am looking forward to many years and miles of fly fishing adventure living and traveling in style and comfort.

On the way back from Lakewood, New Jersey, I took the RV Driver Education Program offered by Northampton Community College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. What a valuable learning experience! I would highly recommend that RV Driver Education Program to everyone, especially newbies. I am a better and much safer driver/tower because of that course. Just the so-called "driving tips" made the entire course worthwhile. It was only one day, but an extremely important way to spend a single day when so much is at stake. For all you newbies, please consider taking either a formal program like the one offered at Northampton Community College or get a seasoned veteran tower to give you some lessons. You'll be safer because of it, and the rest of us will also be safer because of it.

And, to all of you who unknowingly contributed throughout the months while I followed this forum in silence, thank you. Perhaps, we will share a road and/or a stream and/or an ocean beach someday.
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Old 08-17-2009, 11:54 AM   #2
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

First off, welcome to the Forums as a posting member. We're glad to have you here with us.

Best of luck with your new giant baby. Keep us posted on your Airstream adventures.

We would also like to hear about the best pointer that you got from the RV training session.

Travel safe, Brian
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Old 08-17-2009, 12:37 PM   #3
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Welcome to the AirForums! We all knew this day was coming, when the last 34' Classic would roll off the assembly line. Please post some pics before you take off on you fly fishing tour of North America!
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Old 08-17-2009, 12:51 PM   #4
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Congratulations on your purchase and welcome to the forum - pictures would be great - what tow vehicle do you have? Best of Success.
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Old 08-17-2009, 12:57 PM   #5
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When we were at the factory several months ago, there was a 34' Classic on the line and we were told it might be the last one, so maybe we've seen yours. They are nice, and they are bigger than we wanted, but they are nice. Have fun with it.

I started college in Bethlehem 51 years ago next month, but Lehigh U. didn't have RV driving courses. Like Brian, I'd like to know what you learned.

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Old 08-17-2009, 01:36 PM   #6
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Congrats,

I too would like to know what tow vehicle will be doing all the work.

Enjoy!

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Old 08-17-2009, 02:04 PM   #7
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Welcome to the 34' club!
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Old 08-17-2009, 02:44 PM   #8
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Welcome to the Airstream way of life. If you love to fly-fish as I do you may want to pick up the newest issue of Airstream Life Magazine. http://airstreamlife.com/files/2009/...all2009_02.pdf
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Old 08-17-2009, 03:03 PM   #9
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Congratulations on joining the Airstream family and this Forum. I look forward to hearing more about your fly fishing adventures across this great country. We all love pictures!
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Old 08-17-2009, 03:07 PM   #10
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Another welcome from the 34 Club. Apparently it is going to become more exclusive.
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Old 08-17-2009, 03:14 PM   #11
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With respect to the TV, it is not the intended TV. I first bought the 34 AS and am going to purchase a new TV when the automobile market calms down and emerges from the chaos. That being said, and realizing the grief I'm likely to hear, I am towing with a 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 SLT Quad Cab 4x4 5.7-Liter V8 Hemi with 5-Speed Automatic Transmission with 3.92:1 axle ratio, having the factory installed tow package that included, among other things, a Category IV Hitch. The TV tires were replaced with Goodyear Wrangler Silent Armor Pro Grade LT265/70R17 Pro Grade 10 ply tires with cold inflation at 80 psi (3,195 lbs. max. load per tire). I installed a set of McKesh Mirrors and I am using a Hensley Arrow equipped with 1,400 pound spring bars that were installed by the dealer in New Jersey. When hitched to the 34 footer, the truck's receiver drops 1 3/4 inches. Helper springs would be nice.

From Lakewood, NJ, I drove north on the Garden State Parkway and then, after a few road changes, west on I-80 across PA. Being new to towing such a large trailer and not wanting to put any more stress on the truck etc. than absolutely necessary, I set the cruise control at 50 to 55 MPH, depending upon the road condition. Everything was super fine! Not one problem! Great gas mileage, too. I think the AS liked the "soft" ride, notwithstanding the poor condition of parts of the road in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Now, the trailer was not fully outfitted to reach its maximum 11,500 lb. GVWR and I did not get the 34 AS weighed at a certified scale, but I am guessing that it weighed around 8,000 lbs. A week or so before traveling to pick-up the 34 AS, the truck was weighed at a certified scale at 6,380 lbs. So, the estimated GCWR was around 14,380 lbs. According to the Dodge literature, my truck, as outfitted, has GCWR of 14,000 lbs. and GTWR of 12,000 lbs. Hence, I am pushing the maximums according to American standards, although as I trust everyone knows, the weight ratio ratings given for trucks can vary somewhat between countries (i.e. USA versus Canada versus United Kingdom versus Europe) and can even vary according to the "whims" of the manufacturer. For example, Dodge just boosted certain ratings by 1,000 lbs. without changing one single thing to the truck.

I would like to take this rig to Canada and have Andy at CanAm balance it. I know a fly fisher from Canada who tows a 28 foot AS with a Toyota Camry that was set up by Andy.

This spring I will probably get a 3/4 ton or 1 ton diesel with a crew/quad cab configuration and an 8 bed with cap. I am leaning towards the Dodge with Cummins diesel but have no particular allegiance to any manufacturer.

With respect to the RV Driver Education Program, if choosing only one thing to claim as the best pointer, then I would have to say that backing up slow, real slow, real real slow and having someone directing you that knows what he/she is doing is the primary pointer to avoid accidents. The next most important thing that I learned was keeping track of the distance of turning the TV's steering wheel when backing up, whether it be 1/4 turn, 1/2 turn or 1 full turn, then watching the degree to which the trailer swings as a result of each such turn of the TV's steering wheel and then "following the trailer" to get everything straight again. I was successfully parallel parking, alley parking and dock parking the rig on both the sight side and blind side within the first hour of instruction by following such strategies. In addition, the best saying was: "don't worry about everyone behind you, they will find a way to get around you if they really want to, besides, they should have left 10 minutes earlier anyway."

Despite my success at the course, I am not so naive to think that I have all of the skills necessary to proclaim any level of expertise. I am a rookie but a cautious rookie who is doing as much as he can to be safe driver. I hope everyone else is doing the same.
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Old 08-18-2009, 05:59 AM   #12
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I want to echo flyfishntier's sentiments about Patrick and Lauren at Colonial in Lakewood, NJ. They could not have been more patient or helpful. We spent three days "camped" in the parking lot getting acquainted with all the systems, inside and out.

The RV driver ed course at Northampton Community College was excellent. In addition to all the practice backing up, parallel parking on both the sight and blind sides, as well as alley dock parking (which was undertaken in pouring down rain), I found the hour practice driving both country back roads with various switches and turns as well as interstate merging and lane changing helpful. Helpful phrases that stick with me are "remember you're driving the trailer not the truck;" "hug the white line when turning left, and the yellow line when turning right." Both of these reminders help to keep the trailer out of the other driver's lane or from going over the curb and taking a sign or two out.

Can't say that I'm confident, yet, but with practice and more road miles I hope to become a competent copilot!
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Old 08-18-2009, 06:48 AM   #13
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Welcome to the forum, Flyfishntier. I'm sure you will enjoy the new 34'er. We enjoy ours and have lived in it 2-3 months out of the year for the last couple years. We find the space very adequate for 2 people. Tell us more about your set-up. Slideout or not, brake controller, etc. Let me or all of us on the forum answer your questions when you have them. Be prepared for questions from the public like the one I had just a few days ago "Is that your Airstream? How big is it? That's a beautiful RV.
You'll enjoy towing with the Hensley as I have and the hitching is easy after the first few times. You won't go wrong when you upgrade your TV to a 3/4 ton diesel as any of the big 3 would be a great TV for the 34. Enjoy. See you down the road.
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Old 08-18-2009, 07:00 AM   #14
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As a past member of the "34' Club" I can tell you that you'll really enjoy that trailer! My only piece of advice: don't try to squeeze it in to a tight gas station!

Roger
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Old 08-18-2009, 08:08 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by hookedonclassic View Post
Welcome to the forum, Flyfishntier. I'm sure you will enjoy the new 34'er. We enjoy ours and have lived in it 2-3 months out of the year for the last couple years. We find the space very adequate for 2 people. Tell us more about your set-up. Slideout or not, brake controller, etc. Let me or all of us on the forum answer your questions when you have them. Be prepared for questions from the public like the one I had just a few days ago "Is that your Airstream? How big is it? That's a beautiful RV.
You'll enjoy towing with the Hensley as I have and the hitching is easy after the first few times. You won't go wrong when you upgrade your TV to a 3/4 ton diesel as any of the big 3 would be a great TV for the 34. Enjoy. See you down the road.
The brake controller is the BrakeSmart, which monitors the brake pressure in my TV brakes to provide a proportional trailer brake relative to the TV. The BrakeSmart is compatible with the electric/hydraulic brake actuating system on the trailer, which is a Dexter Brake Actuator. The trailer has Dexter axles and disc brakes, also. The BrakeSmart does not rely upon pendulums or accelerometers like other brake controllers seem to. Instead, it relies upon microprocessors and a pressure sensor mounted at the TV master cylinder that measures the output pressure of the TV and converts that measurement into a signal that is sent to the Dexter Brake Actuator on the trailer. It works very, very well! It is worth every penny, much like the Hensley Arrow is worth every penny. And, if anyone is interested, then contact Lucas at Dr. Performance in Weatherford, Texas at 877.338.7373. BTW, I have no financial interests at all in BrakeSmart, Dr. Performance or Hensley Manufacturing.

As for the 34 AS, it is a front ultra-leather sofa layout with vinyl flooring throughout that replaces the carpet in the lounge and bedroom. Did not want to deal with trying to keep carpeting clean in such a relatively small space. It has two air conditioners, a 10 cubic foot refrigerator, a 3 burner range with oven, a regular microwave, a 600-watt inverter system, it is pre-wired for solar, and it has the upgrade audio/visual package plus another wall bracket in the bedroom for another video monitor, whether television or computer. I am sure that certain personal adaptations will be made to suit the full-timing, fly fishing and fly tying lifestyle; however, the stock 34 Classic Limited is pretty sweet and it just looks so darn cool!
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Old 08-18-2009, 05:49 PM   #16
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I thought that when Actibrake went out of business, Airstream went back to drum brakes for the Classic Limited.. Your 34 has a Dexter Brake Actuator and disc brakes. Is this the new A/S standard or a custom job?

Barry
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Old 08-18-2009, 09:25 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 85MH325 View Post
As a past member of the "34' Club" I can tell you that you'll really enjoy that trailer! My only piece of advice: don't try to squeeze it in to a tight gas station!

Roger
I wil second this advice! I tow a mere 30' Classic, but the potential for bent aluminum always seems to be the greatest at gas/fuel stations. Even if it looks empty when you pull in, you just never know who or what might pull in and force you into a squeeze situation. There are also the posts that are placed to protect the gas tanks....not always easy to see and easy to overlook when you are pulling out.

A few times, I have even found a place down the road to unhitch, sending my husband back with the TV to gas up, rather than get into a bad situation. Most of the time, we try to leave wherever we are camped with a full tank!

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Old 08-19-2009, 07:25 AM   #18
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I thought that when Actibrake went out of business, Airstream went back to drum brakes for the Classic Limited.. Your 34 has a Dexter Brake Actuator and disc brakes. Is this the new A/S standard or a custom job?

Barry
Barry

It is not a custom job. My 34 AS came from Jackson Center with Dexter Torflex torsion bar and arm suspension system, Dexter Nev-R-Lube wheel bearings, Dexter disc brakes and the Dexter E/H 1600 electro/hydraulic actuator. You will have to ask the Jackson Center folks (or Thor Industry folks) if such a set-up is the new standard. I was told that when ActiBrake folded, AS had to scramble to find a willing and able supplier for 2009 models (I was not told if all 2009 models or just 34 footers or some combination where at stake), and even though the Dexter actuator was $300 to $800 dollars more expensive than the ActiBrake, they decided to do the right thing and opt for a quality product. As for the disc brakes, I was simply told that they were just part of the deal. Of course, I am very pleased for my good fortune.
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Old 08-19-2009, 07:32 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by 85MH325 View Post
As a past member of the "34' Club" I can tell you that you'll really enjoy that trailer! My only piece of advice: don't try to squeeze it in to a tight gas station!

Roger
Roger

Thanks for the advice. I do not intend to play chicken with volatile organic chemicals.
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Old 08-19-2009, 07:33 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by warbler5 View Post
I wil second this advice! I tow a mere 30' Classic, but the potential for bent aluminum always seems to be the greatest at gas/fuel stations. Even if it looks empty when you pull in, you just never know who or what might pull in and force you into a squeeze situation. There are also the posts that are placed to protect the gas tanks....not always easy to see and easy to overlook when you are pulling out.

A few times, I have even found a place down the road to unhitch, sending my husband back with the TV to gas up, rather than get into a bad situation. Most of the time, we try to leave wherever we are camped with a full tank!

Warbler5

Thanks for the advice. I do not intend to play chicken with volatile organic chemicals.
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