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Old 03-28-2006, 12:21 PM   #1
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Large Family in a vintage Airstream?

I've just let my husband in on a little known secret... I've been pining away for a vintage airstream since my elementary school days. LOL. Right now, we have no trailers of any kind... we *had* a 25ft 5th wheel when we got married, but sold it when we were expecting twins (which we later lost.)

From a practical standpoint, I'm due in May w/ #3, and we're planning on atleast 1 or 2 more (kids are young - boy, just turned 4 & girl, 2.5). So anyway, a vintage airstream is not the most practical for us. I know there are some that can accomodate bunks in the middle, and both my husband and I are pretty handy, and could probably refurbish/modify something ourselves.

I haven't started actively hunting for an airstream for us yet... My husband would rather see us in something like this, which is probably more practical, but it's just so ugly & plain (I love the idea of a bold, vintage look, which this is def. not!) I should add that we don't have a tow vehicle yet, I was thinking along the lines of a Tahoe or Suburban (he's obviously thinking huge truck, but that doesn't give enough space for all the kids car seats.)

I guess what I'm looking for are others with young kids who have airstreams... it can be done, right?

Thanks,
Melissa
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Old 03-28-2006, 12:48 PM   #2
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Yes!

We have a 25.' We have 3 children plus 2 dogs and a cat. After something terrible happened we ended up living in it until our new home was ready. Believe it or not the kids even had friends sleep over. Our Airstream has a very special sentimental value to me even though it has a small $ value.
Go for it, but they can get expensive very quickly.
If you read these threads for a while you will understand and then be able to get the right one for your price.
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Old 03-28-2006, 12:58 PM   #3
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Melissa, welcome to the forum. Susan and I lived in San Angelo for many years. We loved it there, but are glad to back home near family. If you are a native, you might guess why we were there!

Check out forum member Pizzachop's photo gallery. They have a large family and an Airstream. They started out with a 27 footer and recently moved up to 31 footer.

Welcome and good luck.

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Old 03-28-2006, 01:03 PM   #4
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I sleep 6 (wife and me plus Cody (11) Emily (9) Sean (3) and Max (10 mo) in a 1967 Overlander [26 foot](Shellshock)) We will be moving in to a 1967 Ambassador [28 foot] You can do it!! All towed with a 1993 Caprice Classic.
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Old 03-28-2006, 01:14 PM   #5
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I'd suggest looking at the 30' Safari. Hopefully it will come in an SE version, but that would be the smallest I'd take with a tribe the size you are expecting. It also just happens to have a real family oriented floorplan.

In reality, the kids will most likely camp with you until they are 16-18, but until then, you will need some place for them to sleep and store all their stuff, which will be a challenge the older they get. The 30' Safari should fit everyone very comfy, even as the kids get bigger. I have a 25' Six Sleeper, and although that's what they call it, in reality, it won't sleep 5-6 bigger kids and two adults, nor will it be able to store all their stuff. Maybe 2 adults and 2-3 kids, but 3 kids I could see pushing the high end of the 25'. Now I can hear some folks say, yea, but we won't be staying in the camper all day, but what about the days when it's nasty out and you are all inside? The 25' is gonna be a challenge, as would perhaps a 28'. 28' will store more, but doesn't have a upper bunk option, nor does it have 2 real beds (not fold downs), only one queen. 30' seems to not only have the rear bunk (for the younger ones--due to weight the bunk can handle), but also a rear lower bed, fold down table for a bed and a full queen in front. There use to be a couch option that may have been able to fold into a bed too. You could look into a 34', they are nice and roomy, but lack the things that will make a great camping exp for a group your size. The 34's also have nice queen in back and fold down and outs (dinettes and sofas), but I think the 30' with it's config would be better suited to your needs.

As for tow vehicle, you are really looking at a 3/4 ton truck at 25' and larger (if staying with a newer type Airstream). A Suburban with an 8.1L engine for anything newer that is larger than 28' would be my suggestion. If they ever came out with a diesel Suburban, that would be what I'd go for in lieu of an 8.1L (better gas mileage and better towing of lots of weight, passengers and gear). Either way, a Suburban (or Excursion if you can find one used or maybe a new one before they are nixed). I'd also suggest that you have the DVD player in there. We've had it in our Suburban, and it's a great distraction from the drive for the kids. Not once have we heard from her niece or nephew, "are whe there yet?"
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Old 03-28-2006, 09:33 PM   #6
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Welcome to the forums. One solution would be to leave your husband home. Seems like you have the right idea and if he can not understand what a real travel trailer is then may be he should spend the time mowing the lawn.
Seriously, I have seen many families with vintage Airstreams, they come in all sizes and can accomodate large to small people and families.
Good luck to you.
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Old 03-28-2006, 09:37 PM   #7
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As Chaplain Kent has stated, vintage Airstreams come in all sizes. We have a 1954 which is 29' long and there are longer trailers before 1954. In a 1970s trailer, the longer ones are less expensive than the shorter ones.

Bill
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Old 03-29-2006, 03:14 AM   #8
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Melissa,
Take a look at these photos from forum member Pizzachop IIRC he has 7 in his family and uses a vintage Airstream. His run from 13 years old to a nearly 1 year old. It can be done and done sucessfully.

Aaron
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Old 03-29-2006, 07:22 AM   #9
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I dont have any kids myself (judge says so....) but Im pretty sure families went camping when the vintage units were new........
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Old 03-29-2006, 10:49 AM   #10
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Melissa, through out the sixties my very large family camped with a 15, then 17, then 19' trailer (SOB's - my parents wanted an Airstream but it was just out of their financial reach). As we were small bunk beds over the adults and using the front dinette folded down and a few times the floor worked fine. As the two oldest got to the age where they needed more space a tent accompanied the group (and not even the easy-up one's of today) and was set up right beside the trailer. For the kids it became a badge of honour to get moved out to the tent - you had "come of age". The tent was set up right beside Dad and Mom's window so they could keep an eye and ear on things and the memories we have of those times still bring huge smiles to our faces when we get together as a group. Today we put a lot of value on giving each person their private space but there's also a lot to be said for sharing quarters on a holiday for a finite period of time.

Consider most eating is done under the awning, cooking can be done there as well if you bring along a BBQ or a portable stove. You are out camping and most of your living will be done outside. Inclement weather can be a bother, but that's when you go find inside attractions nearby. Big is beautiful but for a growing family the additional costs of insurance, storage, fuel to move it, and parking it in some of the campgrounds makes medium sized a good option. The important thing is to get the kids out camping and show them the wonders of the world without a TV screen or computer monitor attached to it. Barry
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Old 03-29-2006, 12:24 PM   #11
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Pizzachop had his trailer for sale which slept 7 I think-- may still be in the classifieds....lots of kids in their happy group.
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Old 03-29-2006, 01:49 PM   #12
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Melissa,
Go for it! As a kid we had a neighbor with an Airstream and I too always dreamed of owning one. Now we have a '64 Tradewind and our kids LOVE it! (Thank goodness for understanding husbands!) Admittedly, there are only 4 of us plus a Labrador, but we almost always have buddies/friends/extended family camping with us at our sites. They just pop up a tent and we all have a blast! There is NOTHING in the world like owning an Airstream! You can easily find one that fits your wonderful crowd!
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Old 03-29-2006, 02:59 PM   #13
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Make room

Welcome to the forums. There are ways to make more room, add bunks. I myself am beyond the point of ever wanting another brand of trailer. Airstream all the way for this family. We only have one 7 year old and 2 dogs that travel with us and have plenty of room our son is at the age of wanting guest to go with us. We have decided when that time comes and he wants the whole Boy scout troop to go, we still have the tents left over from the tent camping days. Until then he has room for 2 guest at this point. Take my advice from the tent day's and then the pop-up camper days (bigger is better) Good luck on your hunt for the right trailer and always ask questions.

Becky
Ps: We have been camping since my son was 3 and he just loves it.
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Old 03-29-2006, 04:00 PM   #14
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My 4 yr old went on his 1st (tent) camping trip at 2 months old, I'm thinking he can handle it, LOL! My husband is trying to convince me that we should go (tent) camping on Memorial Day weekend, I think he's nuts. My due date is the 23rd of May - just 4 days before! My dr's don't expect me to make it out of April, but even then, I don't want to camp w/ a 4 week old slightly preemie! Hopefully we'll be ready to go camping for the 4th of July, even though I doubt we'll have a trailer by then.

I think I'll look for a vintage Airstream w/ the twin/bunk in the middle option, and the rear bath... I'd prefer to have a center/side bath, particularly as I've read some not so good things about the rear bath, but they didn't make the center/side bath w/ twins in the rear, did they? Right now, we'd have one kid in each twin, & Mom, Dad & baby on the sofa bed, and as time goes on, we'd customize our own bunks w/ side rails, ladders, etc. I'm sure the cost would be outrageous, but would it even be possible to basically gut the inside of a trailer, put bunks to the rear and a bath in the middle? I think that would be ideal.

Thanks for the advice!

Melissa

Oh - Jim & Susan - we're probably here for the same reason ya'll were, but hopefully not for long!!! We're looking to move sometime this year!
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Old 03-29-2006, 04:11 PM   #15
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Melissa,
Yes they did make center/side bath with rear twins. And yes you can reconfigure the bedroom any way you want...pretty much. One beauty of the Airstream design is that none of the interior components are structrual, you can take them out or leave them in as you see fit. The only real constraints are the locations of the various tanks, they can be relocated but it is a major undertaking. You also should be aware that units built prior to 1974 typically DO NOT have a grey water tank, and the ones built in the mid to late 70's have a miniscule capacity...like one shower's worth

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Old 03-29-2006, 04:37 PM   #16
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We were fortunate enough to get a 1971 Sovereign, which came with the additional fold-a-way bunks over the midship bunks. Add that to the L-shaped sofa, and we can comfortable sleep 7 in ours.

Now to sort of switch the topic. When I looked at Pizzachop's pics, I noticed he was trimming the hoof on a horse. You could see the horse's ribs! What's up with that? Is the horse old, or severely malnourished? We own two paint horses and a quarter horse, so whenever I see a horse like that, it tears me up.

Frederic
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Old 03-29-2006, 05:08 PM   #17
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This would be my husbands department, so pardon the silly question... black tank is for "icky" waste, like toilet, grey is for cleaner waste, like sink & shower? Do I have that right?

If there's no grey tank, where does the water go? Can a larger tank be retrofitted? I should probably ask how much *clean* water will a "newer" (77+) model hold? What about a hot water heater? I like my showers, LOL. Everyone else can shower in the nasty camp bathroom.

I'm going to have to investigate the idea of completly re-doing a trailer - the idea of making a separate back bedroom for the kids, w/ 2 bunks, and then having the bath, and then the kitchen/living area, w/ fold out couch is appealing.

Melissa
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Old 03-29-2006, 05:15 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bechand0128
This would be my husbands department, so pardon the silly question... black tank is for "icky" waste, like toilet, grey is for cleaner waste, like sink & shower? Do I have that right?

If there's no grey tank, where does the water go? Can a larger tank be retrofitted? I should probably ask how much *clean* water will a "newer" (77+) model hold? What about a hot water heater? I like my showers, LOL. Everyone else can shower in the nasty camp bathroom.

I'm going to have to investigate the idea of completly re-doing a trailer - the idea of making a separate back bedroom for the kids, w/ 2 bunks, and then having the bath, and then the kitchen/living area, w/ fold out couch is appealing.

Melissa
Melissa,

You are correct with your definations of a black and grey water tank. Our 1979 23' Safari has a 7 gallon grey tank, a larger trailer has a larger grey tank but still not large enough for many showers and dish washing. If you are in a campground with sewer hookups, you just hook up the drain to the site sewer connection, open the valve for the grey tank and the water goes down the sewer just like at home.

For those trailers which do not have a grey tank, you either use campgrounds with sewer or use a portable tank, aka blue boy, and carry it to a dump station.

Bill
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Old 03-29-2006, 06:24 PM   #19
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FWIW the gray tank on the 75 rear bath 31' is a whopping 10 gallons, black is a bit more substantial IIRC 25 gallons. Best solution is a blue boy of no more than about 30 gallons, remember water weighs in at around 8# per gallon.

Aaron
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Old 03-30-2006, 06:17 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by wahoonc
FWIW the gray tank on the 75 rear bath 31' is a whopping 10 gallons, black is a bit more substantial IIRC 25 gallons. Best solution is a blue boy of no more than about 30 gallons, remember water weighs in at around 8# per gallon.

Aaron
Aaron,

That's what wheels and a carrying handle are for, my brother

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