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Old 04-12-2016, 10:45 PM   #1
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Raleigh , North Carolina
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Newb looking for first Airstream

Good evening, my wife and I have bee talking about getting an AS for the last couple of years. It looks like this year we are going to take the leap. First a little about us:

We are in our early-mid thirties, no kids but may have one in the next year, three large dogs. We have been tent campers but have started to outgrow that. I have always loved AS and my wife has now decided that we should get one.

We are of the smaller is better mindset. The size that works for us is 19-23, with the 23 being the absolute limit. We are looking at 20' Safari SE as they seem to be a good value and have depreciated enough that we shouldn't take a bath if we decide to have two kids and need to upgrade.

I have been reading about leaks and issues here and was wondering if there is a checklist of things to look for and questions to ask. Most cars that I have purchased, I have gotten a PPI. Is that a thing with AS?

Any advise or comments are welcome.
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Old 04-12-2016, 10:54 PM   #2
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Old 04-12-2016, 11:04 PM   #3
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2 adults. future kid. 3 dogs. less than 23' Airstream?

The love is gonna be strong in this camper!!

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f138...ist-43294.html

should help you.
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Old 04-13-2016, 12:29 AM   #4
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We have a 23FB. A nice queen with a dinette that will convert for a additional bed. But the 23D has the capability of sleeping a couple and three kids, with a bunk option that adds an additional berth for a total of six. Two adults, a child and 3 dogs....maybe?

The 20 is a nice layout, but has only two doubles like the 23FB. So if you want to have a crowd, look at one of the 23s. Pat
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Old 04-13-2016, 12:38 AM   #5
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Newb looking to pop his AS Cherry

Meh, we did a trip in our 23' international with three adults, 4 crazy small dogs, and were on the road for over a month.

Just have to be good friends and a little bit nuts...and a tankless hot water heater helps, IMHO, when it's shower time.


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Old 04-13-2016, 09:23 AM   #6
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Thanks for the replies. I have now downloaded the checklist.

So far, we have only done long weekends camping (due to the tent) but obviously with an AS, some of the discomfort goes away and we can try longer trips. Try sleeping in a four-man tent with three large dogs to understand "intimate". Trust me, this is a step up--way up.

One of the reasons to buy used is that if we decide that it is not for us or it is for us and we need something bigger, we don't take such a big hit on depreciation. Trailer will also be parked in our driveway but that doesn't affect size as much as the tow vehicle which although underrated is rated at 6,000lbs tow capacity. It is an X5 diesel with trailer brakes. On the X5 forum, guys are easily towing their 7000+lb. boats with no issues but I don't want to risk it or get a larger tow vehicle.

This is actually the unit we are looking at. I think the price is a little high but that can be worked on. More important is getting a well-maintained unit.

http://www.airstreamclassifieds.com/...th-carolina-2/
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Old 04-13-2016, 10:36 AM   #7
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That's a really nice looking trailer.

For camping, as opposed to living, the 19', 20' and 22' are awesome and each one has its unique advantages. Note that the 23' is quite a different beast, the smallest of the big ones rather than the biggest of the small ones. It weighs quite a bit more for one thing.
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Old 04-13-2016, 11:51 AM   #8
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WOW! Three large dogs, a couple kids in a 23' Airstream, or whatever. Sounds to me like you need about 40 acres, and a 4,000 square foot house! If you do this, my advice would be to go where the weather is always sunny, rainy days probably won't be happy days...

For whatever it's worth.

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Old 04-13-2016, 11:54 AM   #9
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F.N.G. Cherry

We went from tent camping to a 23ft. SE Safari. Yes it is close to the max rating when fully loaded for our ML350 Diesel MB, but it has never ever been a problem on close to 100,000 miles of travel. The size gives us plenty of room for the two of us and our two cats even in bad weather. The comfort has us saying, after 3 months on the road, "We could take a left and explore this area", even when we know we have to get home for Doc's and all. The 22 you are looking at, looks at first glance to be a well maintained trailer. However, think of the value of a second axle, we have blown a tire and been glad to have the second axle keeping us in line.
Just my two cents worth. There is a very long and active forum for the people using various European built SUV's to tow, and almost all are happy with them, up to and including 27 ft (over weight recommendations) trailers.
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Old 04-13-2016, 12:04 PM   #10
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Make sure you check the subfloor for any water damage. Easy to check via the rear storage door. Use a Sonin moisture meter. Some owners have experienced subfloor damage due to water infiltration between the rear bumper and shell. Also check under the front bed.

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Old 04-13-2016, 12:09 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry C View Post
WOW! Three large dogs, a couple kids in a 23' Airstream, or whatever. Sounds to me like you need about 40 acres, and a 4,000 square foot house! If you do this, my advice would be to go where the weather is always sunny, rainy days probably won't be happy days...

For whatever it's worth.

Larry
Quote:
Originally Posted by slpiotro View Post
We went from tent camping to a 23ft. SE Safari. Yes it is close to the max rating when fully loaded for our ML350 Diesel MB, but it has never ever been a problem on close to 100,000 miles of travel. The size gives us plenty of room for the two of us and our two cats even in bad weather. The comfort has us saying, after 3 months on the road, "We could take a left and explore this area", even when we know we have to get home for Doc's and all. The 22 you are looking at, looks at first glance to be a well maintained trailer. However, think of the value of a second axle, we have blown a tire and been glad to have the second axle keeping us in line.
Just my two cents worth. There is a very long and active forum for the people using various European built SUV's to tow, and almost all are happy with them, up to and including 27 ft (over weight recommendations) trailers.
Thanks Larry! We do have a large home, this is weekend and holiday camping trips.

The layout we really like (we went to Colonial Airstream last weekend to walk through units) is the 23FB. We like a large bed as we will only use one bed. We disliked the lounge seating in a lot of models as it seems like wasted space since we plan on lounging outside and will be inside to sleep and occasionally eat.

If we found a nice 23FB for a good price and good condition, we would go for it. The 22FB is almost as nice with a little less space but still workable.

I have towed my race car on a heavy steel trailer through the Pocono mountains various time with no issues. The Germans do tend to underrate their towing ability.

If we end up getting the 20, it will be a starter unit with the intention of upgrading if and when we have kids.
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Old 04-13-2016, 12:48 PM   #12
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We started out with the same trailer you are looking at, without the lovely upgrades, and we loved it. It was our first ever non- tent experience, and this little unit did it all for us! We upgraded to a twenty five footer primarily as, being a couple in our seventies, we were unhappy with crawling over one another to get up in the night. Not an issue for you, I would think! We never traveled with more than one dog, but I'm sure you can do it-- we have friends who travel to dog trials with two or three border collies in a Bambi...smaller than 20"!
We towed ours with a VW diesel Taoureg with no problems at all. In fact, we tow the 25" with the same model, with some reinforcing by CanAm.
Congratulations on deciding to take the plunge-- maybe we'll see you on the road!
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Old 04-13-2016, 12:50 PM   #13
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Not even the 34' has a kid's bedroom, so it's the dinette for your possible future kids no matter which one you choose.

My stereotype of the Bambis (and I love them all):
  • 16'
    Wet bath, limited holding tanks
  • 19'
    Small bed, small bath.
  • 20'
    Best kitchen (better than most big Airstreams). Small bed, small bath.
  • 22'
    Biggest bed of any Airstream. Big bath. No propane oven.
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Old 04-13-2016, 03:45 PM   #14
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Maddmike, we live in Dover and have been Airstreaming for 11 years and enjoy it very much. My sister and her husband have a vintage 25 foot Overlander and three standard poodles and she is about to go crazy when they take long trips. Floor space is at a premium.
If there is any way we Can help you out just send me an email off line.
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Old 04-13-2016, 03:48 PM   #15
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Welcome to the Airstream world!

Yes, a 22 or 23 is a big "upgrade" from tent camping! And it's wise to buy used, at least for your first one, for all the reasons you have stated. Even if you have a baby and decide to hit the road with the "newbie", the small trailers will work for you for a while. Heck, when my son was born we used to take him, our dog, two huge windsurf boards and rigs, and all our luggage in a Porsche 911 (we didn't camp in it--just used it to get there and work out of while camping.)

As long as you fully understand that if it works out, a larger unit is likely in your future, I think you're on the right track. I do know couples who have happily gone full time (or 10 months a year) in a 23, but only with one medium sized dog, max. They are pretty tight quarters. You're used to spending most of your time outside, but right now we're sitting in South Padre Texas and enjoying the room inside while the rain pours down around us--last night, we had another two couples inside for appetizers and cocktails, and that's what "glamping" is all about!

Most people find that a 25' is the minimum to do full time stuff--weekends only can be worked in almost anything! We have friends who started with a 19' (just the two of them, no children or pets) and upgraded to a 23' International and loved that for weekends. But now that they're doing a month at a time, they're grumbling about having to shop for their third AS in as many years! The 23' is just too small, even with an extra large Ford van to carry their AC/DC cooler (about the same volume as their refrigerator), and everything that won't fit into the not very generous "basement" storage of the Airstream. And no children and no dogs!

What will also get interesting, if you do start taking longer trips and you continue to dry camp or boondock and not use full hookups, is power. Tent camping, you're used to...virtually none! But even your refrigerator on propane draws DC power, as well as your propane detector, and it will be hard to resist charging laptops and cellphones, not to mention actually using your lights, stereo, etc. So if you're away from civilization for a while, you're going to need either a (shudder) generator, or some moderately serious (shudder for $$) solar solutions. This is fine if you're getting a coach and intend to keep it for a long time, but if you know you'll be moving on to a different unit soon, these are more expenses that you might prefer not to add for the first one.

Moisture is the single one most important thing to check for in a used unit, as others have mentioned. it would also be smart to at least run each of the appliances--refrigerator, hot water heater, AC/heat pump, stereo, flush the toilet and try all the taps and look underneath for leaks, cooktop and oven and/or microwave, and furnace, to make sure all are functioning.

i think you guys are gonna have a blast! And so excited for this next big step in your lives!
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Old 04-13-2016, 04:08 PM   #16
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FNG,
I know you are scared, it is OK, the good news is if you survive your first 30 days, you should be OK. If you look through the forum, folks will help inspect an AS unit for you. However, be prepared to "miss" something. In my case, I missed the refrigerator's condensation tube "not" being unwrapped and run through the floor/belly-pan to drain the condensation to the ground. Needless to say, it rotted the floor under the fridge which was discovered only after the fridge was pulled out. I used the moisture meter and didn't catch it because the unit hadn't been used for a couple of years and the "rot" was dry, but the floor still crumbled apart(all is well now). Regardless of which AS you buy, it will involve regular upkeep/repair so get ready for the "ride" but enjoy the trip. Insofar as size, get the biggest one you can safely tow as most TTs don't seem big enough once you've used them a bit. As the children grow, space certainly becomes a premium. AS's can last a long time so think about that when purchasing. Good Luck and welcome to the forum!!!
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Old 04-13-2016, 04:29 PM   #17
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Out here in Ecotopia the best campsites at state and national parks are small. RVs and big trailers stay in a hookup ghetto section that often eerily resembles a parking lot.

It's different in the southwest desert and probably different in the Northeast, but it all depends on what you are expecting to do with your Airstream.

There are two main things you give up with the smaller guys: a couch and storage space.
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Old 04-13-2016, 04:39 PM   #18
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Wish I could get my wife to think like you guys! I wouldn't mind downsizing from our trailer to a Interstate B class but she thinks anything smaller than our 31 foot trailer just won't cut it and would be too small for (the two of) us! And we don't full time - only go on one 7 week trip and a few shorter trips each year!

I guess the Class B won't happen - you know what they say about when mama ain't happy!

You both need to be very in tune with it when you opt for a smaller trailer, then it would work fine. In my case it would be a never ending "I told you so" if I ever pushe dthe issue and went ahead!

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Old 04-13-2016, 04:53 PM   #19
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Maddmike - read the Less expensive Airstream thread. It's informative from an alternative, quality, and improvement perspective. The 20 threads are likely worth reading to get a handle on small AS experience, challenges and ideas. The agenda here is that the fibreglass trailers can be purchased for less and often hold their value well. If you could buy one AS and make it your own until retirement, I would not suggest something like a Casita. But 2ftitis can cost you a lot. Since you are a BMW customer, you may be beyond help.

The 23FB is a good layout if you want a separate toilet area and all appliances. The frig is a bit small, but quite usable. There is a microwave and an oven. And do not discount the value of a double sink either. A full size Queen will fit in the place of the standard OEM mattress. The front corner of the platform is rounded so it pushes out at the head a bit, but the gap is easy to fill and makes for more length to accommodate tall folks. Do not expect to walk around the bed as it's too tight. The primary problem is storage. Lots of area under the bed, but the tongue weight goes up quickly if you use it for heavy gear. The 600lb tongue weight capacity of the X5 is challenged without close weight management.

The 22sport is a very interesting alternative. Similar layout with reduced capability appliances, but a narrower, lighter weight package that is worth considering if it meets your lifestyle and objectives.

The 20 provides a more expansive living space and many folks prefer that to a more spacious toilet that is used less and therefore of lower priority. Note that very usable double sink. Note that if you sidestep the 600# TWL, the 23D has a layout with similar expanded living space.

One of the values that older trailers bring to the game is lighter weight. A good condition - dry - older model may allow you a bit more space at similar tow and tongue weights.

So, research first and do all you can to limit the 2ftitis virus. The TV world is infested enough without the added risk of exposure in the coach world as well.

Enclosed race car trailer plus some interesting slide in additions makes for more civilized camping and a great racing experience or not, if you have outgrown that.

Good luck in your investigation. Pat
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Old 04-13-2016, 06:01 PM   #20
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Looks like a nice trailer, but, as you said, a little pricey. Five years ago I sold my Safari 25', a near-perfect trailer, for about that same price. I know where you are coming from. We started back-packing with two kids and a dog, then went to a 22' Class C motor home. It was close, but at least we were off the ground!

My guess is that you will eventually move to a larger trailer, but I can see the tow vehicle as a limiting factor. Not every young person can afford to drop $40+ thousand for an activity you are not sure will last. My suggestion is go for the small trailer, but look for a better deal.

Richard
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