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Old 01-02-2009, 05:56 AM   #1
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Bethel Park , Pennsylvania
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On the road for $10k?

Hello, greetings to all and happy new year from Pittsburgh! I am a British guy looking to get on the road with a shiny tin can and suitable tow vehicle. I have lusted after an Airstream from the UK and now I am here permanently have been looking to buy an older model and TV with a goal of spending $10 k initially to get on the road and try out trailer travel. I figure 5K for trailer and 5K for TV (yes really!)

I would really appreciate some advice on what best to buy.

I like the idea of one of the trailers with rear queen size bed. Is the 28' Safari the only one that has that? Anyone have experience converting a twin to a queen/ rear bath to center bath? Incidentally would i be booed off if I said I also like Avion trailers? May I ask for advice on those too here?

Is it better to start towing a smaller trailer to get experience? Those Semis on the interstates are scary as they zoom past at 80 mph.

As far as tow vehicle: I already saw from one of the other threads that no-one seems to recommend towing any Airstream trailer (even a Bambi) with a Jeep Cherokee or similar smaller SUV with about 5000# tow capacity. A diesel truck seems to be a good option but how is the engine noise/driver fatigue when driving all day? Whats the cheapest type of truck on fuel? Any opinions on best vehicle to tow a 25 to 28 footer?

Appreciate any advice you can give me!
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Old 01-02-2009, 06:30 AM   #2
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Your $$$maybe doable but it really depends on how much work you are capable of doing. I think you could probably find a nineties model TV but the best thing to do is spend hours reading as much of the formus as possible. Instead of watching reruns at night I read and read. Its a little more involved than buying a trailer and taking off:>
The Silver Queen
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Old 01-02-2009, 07:18 AM   #3
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Welcome to Air Forums gonefishin! That's a lot of questions in one post. Are we up for it? Oh yes!

Avions are perfectly okay for discussions here. We even reserve the Vintage Kin subforum on our forums page.

A buyer bears responsibility to evaluate any purchase. You may get a 2-year driveway queen for double or triple that price. Just because it's an Airstream don't expect it to be any more roadworthy than a 20 or 30 year old car. They all leak at some point. Packing wheel bearings is important. Tire tread may look great but tires over 5 years old should not be trusted. Check out that the air conditioner actually works -- on a 30A circuit and not with a 30A-15A adapter.

Airstreams under 25' are commanding a price premium these days. 28' is a nice livable length. The published weight for a trailer is never the weight it will be when you hit the road. Diesel isn't necessary and even 15 year old diesels are priced high. IMO a midsize SUV shouldn't be in your viewfinder for a 28'. Tow capacities are smoke and mirrors. Pay special attention to loaded trailer tongue weight and then the TV's payload capacity. Everything that goes in or on the TV should fit within the payload capacity.

Nice comment danalee -- a 90s model would give a better ability to get on the road with maybe moderate rehab input. You do want something effective for weight distribution/antisway. Read twice, jump once. (who said that?) Questions are always welcome.

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Old 01-02-2009, 08:01 AM   #4
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Welcome to the froum, and yes, lots of questions. First IMHO about the Avions....personally if I was going full time, I would rather have an Avion than the AS, but that's just me. In either event, if my budget was 5K for the trailer, a major redo of the interior is not really practical, again IMHO.

As far as tow vehicles....yes Diesels pull good, but the fuel is expensive, more so than gas. And Dielsel go lots of miles before rebuild, but when necesarry, repair costs are really expensive. If I were looking for a 5K tow vehicle, I'd look for a 90's, one owner 1/2 or 3/4 ton pickup, tow package equipped, with low miles. And yes, it will not be easy to find.
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Old 01-02-2009, 08:14 AM   #5
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On the road for $10k?

Greetings Gonefishin!

Welcome to the Forums!

What you propose is not impossible, but it will take some time to find both a tow vehicle and Airstream in the budget that you propose. An option would be to consider an older tow vehicle that can be had for a very reasonable price such as:
  • 1990--1996 Buick Roadmaster with 5.7 LT1 V8
  • 1990--1996 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham with 5.7 LT1 V8
With the optionally available tow packages, the above two vehicles could be had with up to 7,000 pound trailer tow ratings. Since fuel prices skyrocketted, the prices for either of the above cars have fallen significantly. It isn't terribly unusual to find a one-owner that has been well-maintained with carefuly searching.

You would be a bit more limited in your trailer choice than with a 3/4-ton pickup, but there are many Vintage (pre 1985) coaches that fit within the trailer tow ratings of the above.

The critical thing if you decide to consider what would be a vehicle that is 13-years old or older having a mechanic carefully inspect the prospective tow vehicle is very important -- it may cost upwards of $200, but could potentially save you several times that amount.

I may be a bit too willing to consider older tow vehicles since I have had good luck with mine. I towed my Argosy Minuet over 3,500 miles last summer with my 1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible. The only problem that I encountered was a failed alternator -- something that could have happened with any tow vehicle. I will be using the same tow vehicle to tow my Overlander to the International Rally in Madison, WI this coming summer.

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin D. Allen
WBCCI (Lifetime Member)/VAC/Free Wheelers #6359
AIR #827
1964 Overlander International/1999 GMC K2500 Suburban (7400 VORTEC/4.11 Differentials)
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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Old 01-02-2009, 08:27 AM   #6
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About the floorplans: the combination of rear queen beds in "shorter" trailers only started showing up commonly in the mid-80s (1985, I think) in the 25' Excella/Soverigns. I doubt you'd find one of these that fit your budget. There are a handful of 70s trailers that fit this description (some Overlanders and Argosy 28' models) but they're rare.

I was also considering an Avion before moving my search to an AS. From my research, they have similar issues to older Airstreams (rotting floors) but fewer axle issues. A bit more interior volume and nicer cabinetry - they also seem a bit heavier (but in the same ballpark.) An Avion will likely cost less than an Airstream, a function of name recognition and demand - that could help your budget. They did have some center bath models as well, but finding smaller Avions is tough. (I'd still love to find a 23' center bath Avion, but it's like finding a needle in a haystack that blew off of the sinking Titantic.) A good resource: and the links there.

I think that if the most important thing is to stick to the budget, you could grab one of the (many) mid-70s Argosys in the Classifieds here for around $5k. (White and shiny instead of silver shiny.) Obviously, the condition of an individual trailer will affect how much of a money pit the purchase becomes....
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Old 01-02-2009, 08:32 AM   #7
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Thankyou Kevin, Steve, Bob and Danalee for your very useful and detailed replies. I appreciate you taking the time to help me get educated....
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