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Old 06-16-2006, 08:42 AM   #1
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2007 27' Safari FB SE
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too big?

Hello all.

Presently we own a tent trailer, not really enjoying it as much as we thought and are considering an AS.

Been looking at a used 2005 19' Bambi, 2006 25 FB Safari and some other older ones. Beautiful trailers but still an aweful lot of money.

Came across a 1979 31' Ambassador for a good price but the question I have is it too big for weekend trips? There is just my wife, myself and out 3 year and the odd time my mother who will be using this. Plans are to just pop away on weekends with the odd one week trip.

I really like the Bambi, so does my wife but I think she prefers the 25 footer just for the extra space. To me the Bambi seems ideal for weekending. All are still pricey considering we've never done this before.

I know folks recommend buying a trailer based on future needs but the 31' is SOOO much less money it might be a good option, but is it too big?
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Old 06-16-2006, 08:48 AM   #2
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Do you already own a suitable tow vehicle? That might help you decide.

We moved up from a VW Camper and to us the 25FB is the perfect size with its split bath and separate bedroom. I'd suggest the smaller sizes to minimize the upkeep and to maximize the places you might visit.
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Old 06-16-2006, 08:52 AM   #3
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Generally, the larger the trailer the cheaper it can be had. The smallest trailers (in the vintage world) are in the highest demand.

I also think that a 25 is about perfect. we have a 20 foot trailer - with 2 adults camping - and it is too small. Rememeber that your kid is going to get bigger, be more active and take up more space. On the flip side, long trailers often can't be parked in national park sites.
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Old 06-16-2006, 09:13 AM   #4
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Your enjoy it

We tent camp for 14 years and loved it.We bought a 31 ft three years ago.We bought it due to family growth and my kids having some health issues at the time. Think we wouldn't need anymore room than a 31ft.My son is now 13 and hes doesn't want to go as much.Our daughter is 8 and doesn't like being back there by herself.So in our case we could of went with a smaller one.I think its what you and your wife is most happy with.I do have to state that we spend very little time in our just to sleep i don't even cook in it.We like cooking over the open camp fire.So for a family that does spend alot of time in there a bigger one may be the way to go.
The main reason i bought the camper is we got tired of getting up wet from dew.And the kids and i normal go alone and it makes them feel better being behind a closed door at night with just mom...lol....I like my A/S tho and if i have anything to do with it.She(our camper) will be with us until the end.I think once you decided on one you wont regret it.If you like redoing things like i do and problem your wife.The older one are the way to go in my opinion cause i get bored look at the same thing year after year and i can change it out with her being older(camper)...If i had a new camper hubby would kill me if i wanted to change things out....lol
Enjoy what ever you decided to buy.If you do go with a bigger one you could alway rent a seasonal lot to sit it on in the summer time at a campground you like.
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Old 06-16-2006, 09:18 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Janet
Generally, the larger the trailer the cheaper it can be had. The smallest trailers (in the vintage world) are in the highest demand.
Hi Janet,
I also think that a 25 is about perfect. we have a 20 foot trailer - with 2 adults camping - and it is too small. Rememeber that your kid is going to get bigger, be more active and take up more space. On the flip side, long trailers often can't be parked in national park sites.
This is the first i heard of the longer trailer not being able to go in the national park..Where did you hear this from cause we wanted to start travel next year 07.We never had problem before.Can you send me a link to find out more about this and why this is?
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Old 06-16-2006, 09:52 AM   #6
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Many of the national parks on the west coast have size limits for trailers. They were originally set up for tent camping and the sites just aren't big enough. Check with each individual park. One example is Redwoods (norhtern). The roads are winding and long TV/Trailer combos can't negotiate the turns. They are unwilling to chop down the trees to straighten the road - go figure
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Old 06-16-2006, 09:54 AM   #7
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Longer trailers

If you will read Rich Luhr's "Tour of America" BLOG, you will see that he has been on the road for a long time and has stopped at numerous state and national parks with his 30' Safari bunkhouse. Rich regularly stops at BLM parks and has been in such sites for the last week or so. Most all parks have at least some longer sites and, worst case, you may have to park the TV in the overflow parking, some distance away from the trailer.

Granted that some public parks were built back in the 30s by the CCC and sites are popup spaced, but I have little problem with my Classic at 29' long. I'm writing this while parked in a Texas state park (Blanco), built by the CCC in the 30s.
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Old 06-16-2006, 09:55 AM   #8
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great feedback, thanks everyone.

the tv is a Toyota Landcruiser with a 4.2 turbo diesel, rated at 7700# so that's really not too much of an issue other than my comfort level pulling something that heavy.

we really want to get into an AS, just a matter of which one. Here in Ontario if we buy one from a dealer (Bambi and the 25') we have to pay 15% tax plus their "markup" but if we buy privately only 8% tax so that's a big factor too.

Another issue with the older one is the appliances, they're all original and working but I know they can be expensive to replace.

My concern was mainly the length and getting into some places, plus hauling up to 7100# with 168hp and 268 ft/lbs of torque. Local dealer (Canamrv) said the truck can handle it but then again they are quite well know online for the folks towing BIG trailers with mini vans.
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Old 06-16-2006, 09:56 AM   #9
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National Forest also

National forest campgrounds are the same way in many places, and while I have less experience with BLM campgrounds, I supect they are as well.
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Old 06-16-2006, 09:58 AM   #10
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BTW here is the link with pix of the 31'

http://ca.pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/eda...?.dir=/eea8re2
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Old 06-16-2006, 10:30 AM   #11
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I think myoung raised a good point about tow vehicles.

My preference reflected in my purchase) is for a mid size unit. It has plenty of storage for short-intermediate length trips and is well laid out. At 24ft, it is still small enough to be comfortable wedging into small campgrounds like I like (ie those out of the way, just short of complete boondocking campgrounds). My own personal vison of hell is a campground that looks like a parking lot with utilities (Bridge Bay at Yellostone for example). If you dont mind that sort of camping, a big rig has its advantages I am sure.

One thing to keep in mind is that even on weekend trips it can rain for several days and when it does a camper can get small. Also, a slightly longer trailer will have a larger awning which I think is a bonus.

Another option to keep in mind is that there are alot of older airstreams out there that are a lot less expensive. At the midwest forum rally last weekend I saw and was in campers from 1967 to still having that new smell. The new ones are nice for sure, having said that, I really like the vintage ones more. It is worth noting that vintage airstreams are narrower than the newer units which is bonus towing, and less of a bounus when you get where you are going.

The best advice I can think of is to get out and look at a variety of airstreams before you commit. Hope this doesn't confuse matters to much more.
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Old 06-16-2006, 11:43 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gowyn
the tv is a Toyota Landcruiser with a 4.2 turbo diesel, rated at 7700# so that's really not too much of an issue other than my comfort level pulling something that heavy.
I think wheelbase and center of gravity are your limiting issues. I wouldn't go anything over 24' with that short a wheelbase. Even that's pushing it. We were looking for a 23' late '60s early '70s vintage Safari. The older trailers in this size are hard to find. Either they were a total rebuild project (which would be great if I had the time and money) or they were priced high and a long trip to go see. We ended up with a '78 Argosy 24 which is nice but I don't think the extra length gets us much inside and I'd be much happier manouvering and towing with 1-2' less length.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gowyn
Another issue with the older one is the appliances, they're all original and working but I know they can be expensive to replace.
If it's not working then you should be able to use it as a negotiating point. Expensive to replace yes but still way cheaper than an all new trailer. If you're lucky the previous owner may have already replaced some. Ours came with the reciepts for a new (1-1/2 year old) larger 3 way fridge. They're still a pain to maintain . Stove's if properly cared for should be fine. If you need/want AC then that's another potentially expensive item. The water heater and furnace should be fairly long lived items. One potential drawback of the larger trailers is we saw many that were used as full time living quarters while people were building or remodeling. That sort of use, or full time travel would rack up the hours on the systems much more than a smaller unit used for weekend trips.

As for size limits you do get shut out more places the longer you are.
Canyonlands National Park(Moab) Maximum RV length 28 feet.
Sequoia National Park ... twisting road is not suitable for vehicles over 22 feet long (size limit 50 feet for a vehicle and towed unit combined.
For the most part you won't be "shut out" but it does require more planning the longer the rig. That goes for everything, getting gas, stopping for lunch, etc. You're also going to be paying by the foot in instances like Washington State ferries; possibly insurance and license fees.

Think of the trailer as an investment. The smaller trailers do seem to be in higher demand and therefore you've got an advantage if you decide to sell. If you go with a smaller trailer you'd likely be able to recoup all or most of the cost if you decide to move up. Getting a larger older unit might be a little harder to sell but one of the great advantages of an Airstream is they all have good resale.

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Old 06-16-2006, 12:12 PM   #13
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We have 4 kids and camp in a 1964 Overlander (26'). It's a bit crowded at night but we've found it to be a good compromise between having enough space, yet not having too much weight and length of trailer. We cook and eat most meals in the trailer. Last year we went to Alaska and back over 2 months. We pull with a 1999 Suburban 1500.
We're just down the road in Milton. Send me an email or PM if you want to see the trailer and talk Airstreams some time.
You might want to consider looking at trailers in the US too. With the strength of the dollar right now the prices are good, and the import process isn't difficult.
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Old 06-16-2006, 12:38 PM   #14
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here's a couple I have been "watching" on ebay (there's always some).

Illinois:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eB...MEWA%3AIT&rd=1

Michigan:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eB...MEWA%3AIT&rd=1

Midwest:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eB...MEWA%3AIT&rd=1

New Mexico:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eB...MEWA%3AIT&rd=1

California:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eB...MEWA%3AIT&rd=1

the one in Santa Barbara might be a little far . . . as well as New Mexico (make a vacation out of the trip)
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Old 06-16-2006, 12:41 PM   #15
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(oh and for me 31' is too big . . . and actually 21' (mine) is probably slightly small but I much rather pull, manuver, back up, park, store . . . the 21' - at least on short/quick trips)

good luck
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Old 06-16-2006, 01:06 PM   #16
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The Ambassador looks to be in very good shape. I think I'd go for it and use some of the savings to get a more appropriate tow vehicle.

Then, if you decide you DO like A/S, you could sell the Ambassador or trade it in on what you want.

We were parked next to Canoestream's 25' FB Safari last weekend and they are SWEET!
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Old 06-16-2006, 01:24 PM   #17
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Far out!

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkR
here's a couple I have been "watching" on ebay (there's always some).
the one in Santa Barbara might be a little far . . .
Yikes, as in too far out of my price range. $12,500 for a '71 Safari. I guess I shoul d have snapped up the one going for $8k in Las Vegas when I had the chance Makes me feel better about the $4k spent on the Argosy even with the overpriced $700 brake work I had done. I just can't see spending that much cash on an old trailer sight unseen. Note the seller has 0 feedback. There are bound to be things needing attention plus the cost of towing it home with todays gas prices. I figured close to a grand to fly down and look at the one in Vegas and then drive down and bring it home. Then you've got the "excitement" of trailering a rig you know nothing about across the middle of no where. Let's say a bearing freezes up somewhere North of Reno. That could add another couple of days and another G note to the deal.

Not an AS but so cool I just can't resist forwarding the link to this vintage Streamline:
http://bellingham.craigslist.org/for/168064234.html
Again though, 4k for a "project" trailer. But the Buck Rogers factor is just soooo cool

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Old 06-16-2006, 01:26 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gowyn
great feedback, thanks everyone.

My concern was mainly the length and getting into some places, plus hauling up to 7100# with 168hp and 268 ft/lbs of torque. Local dealer (Canamrv) said the truck can handle it but then again they are quite well know online for the folks towing BIG trailers with mini vans.
You are well advised to be considering the length versus accessibility tradeoffs. I have owned three Airstreams; a 23', a 27', and a 31' like you are presently considering. With each incremental increase in length, I have reduced the availability of suitable spaces in State and National Parks here in the Southwest.

At the North Rim of the Grand Canyon last year (a National Park) the sites were big enough for all of us who went including a 34'; however, I could barely squeeze my 27' in and out of the dump station. The longer Airstreams couldn't dump.

This summer, at Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah, there were only about three sites that would accomodate my 31' Sovereign, but a good number that I could have backed my 23' or even my 27' into.

Along the Jemez River here in NM at the NM Dept Game and Fish campgrounds, there isn't a single site that I can maneuver my 31' into, but plenty of room for 27' and shorter.

You get the point. The additional room is wonderful, but camping options are reduced.

Hope this helps!

P.S. The private RV parks are set up for the 40' motor homes, so length is not an issue if you intend to stay at RV resorts and parks.
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Old 06-16-2006, 01:42 PM   #19
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Sounds like a 25' to me

This is a great thread since I went through this issue a few years ago.

Basically it sounds like your turbo diesel will probably pull a 31' AS. The question is can it stop it?

There are also other discussions about the wheelbase length, etc, which I'm a firm believer in. The fellow at our local AS dealer mentioned that he won't pull anything longer than 25 ft with a vehicle rated as a 1/2 ton truck and I agree completely.

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Old 06-16-2006, 07:09 PM   #20
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great discussion everyone.

I'm gonna look again at the Bambi, just like the idea of a smaller weekender but I will still go look at the 31 Ambassador.

As far as TV it's here to stay, love it too much.

Just gonna have to convince the wife...hehe
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