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Old 12-04-2006, 08:12 PM   #1
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1999 23' Safari
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Buying Used or New?

I am a new member but have already asked a no. of questions and am very impressed with the numerous, great responses I have received. It seems the questions just keep coming though We are looking at a 25 ft 1998 Safari and went to see it yesterday. Unfortunately the clearcoat has peeled off a lot of the roof and down the sides a little way. I have researched a lot of the info on the clearcoat on this forum--so much info! I thought perhaps it would be better to try and find one in "perfect" condition but it seems to be a very common problem and you could find one that you think is good only to find it has been repaired in some fashion. Then I thought I should get one newer than 1999 with the new Alcoa finish but then found a no. of threads where the same problem with the clearcoat is discussed. So is it something that you should just accept or are there actually units out there that are fine? Perhaps the only solution is to buy new?

Also have come across a lot of threads re leaking--is this also a common problem?

I saw something about members who are willing to do an inspection on a trailer--how do you see if there is anyone in your area who would do something like that. The AS we are looking at is in Marina del Rey, CA.

Really appreciate any help you can give. Thanks.
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Old 12-04-2006, 09:25 PM   #2
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Did you ever have to make up your mind....

...and say yes to one... and leave the other behind?

I bought new. I got a scratch on my new 2006 25' FB SE three months after I got it. Think that over. If you want to use it, it won't be perfect for long.

Sooner or later the clearcoat and paint on any car will fail, and sooner or later the clearcoat on any Airstream will fail... unless you keep it in a barn 11.5 months per year. And if you're planning to do that, why bother? Just camp in the barn.

Most SOB's are held together with glue and staples, and they get VERY rickety if you actually travel with them. They are fine if you park them on a nice lot and only move them once or twice a year.

Most Airstreams given routine care and maintenance will travel for 20 years and hundreds of thousands of miles.

If you're absolutely new to RV'ing, I'd say buy something 3 to 10 years old and play with it for a season or two. Use a bit of care and don't buy something that was used as a rolling meth lab and you'll have an Airstream with relatively little wear that will be roadworthy from day one. You'll save the BIG depreciation of the first couple of years, and if you want to trade up, down, or out it won't be a financial disaster.

A 1980 Airstream is 26 or 27 years OLD.... It's an OLD trailer. Run a reality check about condition. If you were buying a car that old you'd either pay a fortune for a fully restored one, or you'd spend a helluva lot of money to fix it up... or you'd ride a rust bucket until the wheels fell off.

New ones leaking...... Yep. both mine had minor leaks. Both were quickly and easily fixed. Will they leak again? Lets consider: will I hit a pothole at 65 mph, or have to drive at 50 mph down a much-patched highway for 3 hours again? Yep, that's gonna happen sooner or later. Could I get hit by hail? Oh NOOOOO! ...but it happens. Vibration and damage happen if you actually tow a trailer, stuff works loose no matter how well fitted.

The Airstream will tow like a greased eel in a barrel full of snot where an SOB will tow like a psychotic rotweiler over the same roads.

Good luck whatever you choose.

Paula Ford
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Old 12-04-2006, 10:04 PM   #3
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Wow!

"The Airstream will tow like a greased eel in a barrel full of snot"

Paula, you REALLY have a way with words!
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Old 12-04-2006, 11:38 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roscinante
"The Airstream will tow like a greased eel in a barrel full of snot"

Paula, you REALLY have a way with words!
But so true!!
Nothing tows like an A/S.
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Old 12-05-2006, 05:22 AM   #5
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wow,,, am speechless! anywhoo,,, peeling clearcoat is icky,, i have it on mine,,, but,,, that is not the heart of the Airstream,, purely cosmetic,,, am in it for function and to that purpose the 97 suits me well. also have new, but now realize the error of my ways,, but will keep both for as long as possible,,good luck in finding what is right for you,, you will know it,,, donna
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Old 12-05-2006, 08:39 AM   #6
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New or used...that's a tough one.

I've bought 2 new units. One at an RV show, traded it about a year later for another new one because the first one was too small and I got what I would consider a good deal.

If you don't mind getting a new unit and watching it start to deteriorate and depreciate, then by all means, go for a new one.

If you want the depreciation hit to be mostly taken by someone else and have the unit broken in for you, then a pre-owned one might be for you.

There is yet a third situation to consider.

Some dealers in the lul of winter when sales are down, deal on last model years units that have sat. At times, some really great deals can be had for someone with the right level of paitence and determination.

Going with a vintage unit can have it's advantages, but unless it's already been upgraded and repaired, in some cases significant money might be needed to restore an early to mid 80s or older unit.

You bring up the 1999 conversion to the new Aloca coating. Yes it seems to hold up better when compared to the pre 99 models, but the Alcoa coating isn't a miricle cure. It too has had several issues. Many folks have talked about form fill corrosion appearing on units that have been stored indoors, out of the elements. Problem is some units get it while others don't.

If I had to do it all over again, I'd go the route of trying to get a great deal on last years model from a dealer. That way the hit is not as bad as buying a current model year, particularly this time of year. If I couldn't, then I would go the used route, but I don't think I'd again buy the current years model new, unless it was one heck of a deal to pass up.
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Old 12-05-2006, 09:20 AM   #7
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I don't mean to over simlify it but can you fit a New Airstream into your budget?? If you can then you can make a New-Used decision, if not then no need in thinking of new and the question is what used should you buy. Like Silvertwinkie we have bought new,3 in as many years , each a little bigger than the last. We were fortunate that we we were able to trade without huge looses. I attribute that to the rapid price increases we've seen with Airstream. With every increase of new used and last years models follows in proportion, thus we didn't suffer big depreciation. Keep in mind this brings the prices of all, even the dirt bag used ones up. Another thing to concider is financing. Used as a rule can't be financed as long as new making payments higher on used than new in some cases. ---my thoughts--Pieman
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Old 12-05-2006, 10:27 AM   #8
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1999 23' Safari
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Thanks so much for all the input--I especially got a laugh out of Paula's but that is exactly why we are looking at an Airstream--the towability. We have always bought used (currently own a 33 ft. moho bought used) and intended to buy a used Airstream. Then found this forum which is a great resource but that can also be a bit bad as then you start hearing all the problems. We like the Safari we looked at--"appears" to be in good shape--has new tires and was just driven on a five week trip by a mother and daughter across country and she said she had no problems. Also has the Hensley hitch on it but hearing so much about frames rotting and axles bending scares me just a little and from checking posts it looks like there is no way to tell about rot except by checking around doors windows for indications of any leaking. The floor has carpet on it so can't see condition of it. So I guess another trip to look at is in order! We know that there will be some things that need fixing and are prepared for that but at least it won't have an engine and all that entails like the moho. I am hoping that I will feel more comforable driving a suburban pulling an AS than I do driving the moho--something about sitting almost on the center line with big transport trucks coming at you from the other direction--I like to see a hood out in front of me!
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Old 12-05-2006, 09:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
but hearing so much about frames rotting and axles bending scares me just a little and from checking posts it looks like there is no way to tell about rot except by checking around doors windows for indications of any leaking. The floor has carpet on it so can't see condition of it.
I wouldn't expect to be seeing these problems yet in a 1998 unless the trailer has been totally trashed, and that would probably be very obvious to you.
Dave
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Old 12-06-2006, 12:46 AM   #10
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If you are still looking next month, take a drive up to twentynine palms (01/12-01/15) and visit with the forum rally people. Over 20 people will be there with trailers / MHs of all different ages. It's a great way to see alot of different eras and talk to the owners. You will find that Airstream owners love to talk about their trailers and show them off. If you have one by then, sign up and enjoy the weekend.
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Old 12-06-2006, 04:16 AM   #11
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We bought new but knowing what we know now we may have held off for a used unit because of cost. We looked on line but couldn't find anything that sounded good. At least with new we could go back to the dealer with problems. After we bought ours we found the forums and joined the NE unit of the WBCCI where we now have a great resource for repairs and upgrades. It really comes down to a personal choice. Some in our group only want new and others only want "classic". They are all great. If money were no object I would have both!
Good luck. Clearcoat can be removed and then you can polish that baby to a great shine!
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Old 12-06-2006, 06:50 AM   #12
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like i said before,someone has to buy new ones now and then to keep airstream afloat.
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Old 12-06-2006, 07:33 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fyrzowt
I wouldn't expect to be seeing these problems yet in a 1998 unless the trailer has been totally trashed, and that would probably be very obvious to you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by azflycaster
If you are still looking next month, take a drive up to twentynine palms (01/12-01/15) and visit with the forum rally people. Over 20 people will be there with trailers / MHs of all different ages. It's a great way to see alot of different eras and talk to the owners.
Richard's advice to get to a rally is probably the most valuable here. Just take a tent and look at all the variations of Airstreams. That will help you understand if the current opportunity is the track you wish to pursue. No, rust & frame problems aren't unique to Airstreams -- it's just that SOB shells from the 1980s are in a landfill while members here are working on 30 & 40 year old trailer frames.

Use around road salt or sea salt is tough to deal with under any circumstances. Avoiding humidity around bellywrap by not storing the trailer where grass can grow high is a big help. Storage in the open is harsh on clearcoat; reapplying is not out of the question, though you cannot polish a '98 like the older vintages. I store under cover because I can and I am keeping up with routine maintenance. That latter point will go a long way towards keeping you in planning mode for next year's big trips. And the year after... And the year after...!

I'd usually think a '98 has a lot going for it -- appliances that have a lot of life left, ability to use immediately without a 2- or 3-year restoration effort, solid structural & mechanical systems that will be easier to maintain.
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Old 12-14-2006, 04:18 PM   #14
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Hey Hapitauk

I noticed something else. You live in the desert part of California. When looking at used - where the trailer has lived is important. If you get one that's been in a dry climate (New Mexico, Arizona, southern California, etc.) it's likely to be in a lot less danger of having rot than say the Pacific northwest or even eastern Virginia. You're in a good section of the country to find older ones without the floor rot or frame rust. Of course the intense sun will do in the clearcoat.

I fulltime and spend a lot of time only about 4 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. In consequence I keep my bathroom vent and shower vent open virtually 100% of the time, plus run my stove fan every time I even make toast. Even if I don't have time to wash the trailer I hose it down monthly just to prevent any salt buildup.

I see folks at my campground have their units hauled out of storage and set up for the odd weekend, and whew... I step inside and do a "coal mine canary" imitation - fall down and turn blue. The moldy & mildewy smells hit my sinuses and lungs like a sledgehammer.

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Old 12-14-2006, 04:49 PM   #15
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We will be looking for you at the Rally in 29Palms. We'll show you our new and old trailers and tell you more than you want to know.

See you there.
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Old 12-14-2006, 06:14 PM   #16
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One consideration should be "Are you handy"! If you're a "hands on" person and enjoy the work, then used is perfectly acceptable. If you are "all thumbs", new is going to save you a lot of hassles. I have a friend who owned a '98 Safari '25, bought new, but he was always complaining about it. Every time he used it some new "issue" would come up. He is a successful engineer, but he couldn't translate that to handiness with his trailer. He sold it in disgust after 6 months and bought a Big Foot. Our first long trip in our new to us '97 Excella 25 rendered a list of 51 items which required attention. It took weeks to get everything fixed, but since then it has been an absolute pleasure to use.
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Old 12-14-2006, 09:59 PM   #17
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Did you buy it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hapitauk

I saw something about members who are willing to do an inspection on a trailer--how do you see if there is anyone in your area who would do something like that. The AS we are looking at is in Marina del Rey, CA.

Really appreciate any help you can give. Thanks.
Just wondering if you bought that trailer? And welcome to the forums. pj
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Old 12-15-2006, 07:46 AM   #18
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New or Used

We bought new after looking at a lot of used Airstreams. In our case, we kept changing our minimum requirements as we saw more units and did more research. We tested our requirements against what we would be saving with a used unit, because the lower price was attractive. In the end, due to a number of factors (features, unresponsive sellers or ones that refused to negotiate, condition of some used units like the 2000 19' Bambi that had set on the Florida ocean front all its life and was ready to break in half) we choose new.

With a new unit, you know how it has been cared for and what happens to it is your doing--its your dirt. We generally buy new, because we keep things a long time. We keep our cars 8 - 10 years so the first years depreciation isn't such a financial blow over the lifetime of the unit. As long as I don't let Pat look at a Classic, we'll probably keep the one we just bought a long time too. BTW: It's in covered storage to avoid the harsh Florida sun and the Atlantic seabreeze.
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Old 12-17-2006, 12:09 PM   #19
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Too Late

Unfortunately we were too late and someone else bought the airstream we were looking at which is maybe for the best as we weren't completely sold on that particular one. I tend to do a lot of research before we buy something which can be good--or bad

We have started the process of making the change--just traded in our toad for a Chev Suburban 1500 6.0 engine which will be our TV and we will be putting the motorhome up for sale in the new year.

I appreciate all the advice we received and will keep it in mind as we continue our search.

Gail
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Old 12-17-2006, 12:53 PM   #20
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Good luck with the search.....
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