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Old 11-23-2022, 08:05 AM   #1
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Best years-years to avoid

Newbie to forum, recently rented a Basecamp 16 as part of my search for a small rv suitable for Forest service roads. I really enjoyed it and it suited my needs well. As I begin my search Ive been researching what years I should focus my search on. Perhaps my largest concern is reported floor issues. It seems that years prior to the 12 volt only fridges are more prone to this. Are there any other significant year issues i should be looking out for?
Thanks for any input !
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Old 11-23-2022, 09:17 AM   #2
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So Airstreams are not like automobiles where a particular year's models are notably better or worse than other years. However, some models and features are more or less desirable depending on your tastes.

For instance, regarding the floor; the Achilles' Heel of Airstream Trailers has always been the plywood (or in some 80's models, OSB) subfloor, which had a tendency to mold and rot after ten years or so. However, starting in the 2020 model year, the iconic travel trailer line switched to a one-piece composite floor that is impervious to rot, rodents, mold and decay. I am not sure if or when the BaseCamp line made the switch.

The BaseCamp line had a number of teething pains in its first years, and AS continues to evolve the model. You can search this forum for more detailed threads on various BaseCamp issues, but ones that come to mind are the original propane fridge, which was placed in direct sunlight and not installed with adequate ventilation, resulting in poor performance, and doors and windows that leaked or fell out. The very first generation of BaseCamp was only on the market for a couple of years before they pulled the plug and did a complete redesign.
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Old 11-23-2022, 10:07 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Jvanderva View Post
Perhaps my largest concern is reported floor issues. It seems that years prior to the 12 volt only fridges are more prone to this.
Well that is true for 2 reasons in most models 1; The 12 volt fridges have only been out for about 2 years so no time for floor rot even without reason 2; The 12 volt fridges came out after they switched to composite floors.

The worst year for floor rot was 2005 into early 2006. Apparently the person with the job of applying sealant at the back bumper to floor joint stopped doing that job and wasn't replaced for over a year. This caused immediate severe leaking in that area instead of taking years to develop like most other model years.
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Old 11-23-2022, 11:11 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jvanderva View Post
Newbie to forum, recently rented a Basecamp 16 as part of my search for a small rv suitable for Forest service roads. I really enjoyed it and it suited my needs well. As I begin my search Ive been researching what years I should focus my search on. Perhaps my largest concern is reported floor issues. It seems that years prior to the 12 volt only fridges are more prone to this. Are there any other significant year issues i should be looking out for?
Thanks for any input !
If you’re going to buy an airstream assume that if it’s used and more than 5 years old you’re going to have floor troubles and leaks.

Why I like old ones. You know you’re going to have issues but the costs to get into one aren’t completely insane.

If you want vintage do yourself a favor and buy an avion. Way better build quality.
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Old 11-23-2022, 11:25 AM   #5
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In my mind there is a dividing line of before/after the switch to electric only fridges.

If your style of “camping” is primarily hooked up to shore power then the newer trailers with electric only fridges have multiple advantages. However, if you want to get off grid (i.e. many state and national parks or public lands) then the earlier trailers with propane fridges allow you to stay out significantly longer.

You can extend off grid time with electric only fridges with a significant investment in solar and lithium, but that is expensive and requires favorable solar conditions. Another method is generators, but that also has cost and numerous hassles.
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Old 11-23-2022, 11:28 AM   #6
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In my mind there is a dividing line of before/after the switch to electric only fridges.

If your style of “camping” is primarily hooked up to shore power then the newer trailers with electric only fridges have multiple advantages. However, if you want to get off grid (i.e. many state and national parks or public lands) then the earlier trailers with propane fridges allow you to stay out significantly longer.

You can extend off grid time with electric only fridges with a significant investment in solar and lithium, but that is expensive and requires favorable solar conditions. Another method is generators, but that also has cost and numerous hassles.
Agreed. And from what I’ve gathered the adsorption fridges were vented poorly by as and don’t cool well as a result.
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Old 11-23-2022, 11:44 AM   #7
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Agreed. And from what Iíve gathered the adsorption fridges were vented poorly by as and donít cool well as a result.
That is true, but those AS mistakes are not too difficult to mitigate. There are many threads here about adding fans and modifying the cabinet spaces to improve airflow and performance.
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Old 11-23-2022, 04:39 PM   #8
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Not all model year 2020's have the composite floor.

Mine (2020 25' Globetrotter) does not.

SPP
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Old 11-23-2022, 06:44 PM   #9
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According to many comments on this forum many dislike the new tankless on demand water heaters being installed, especially those camping without hookups.
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Old 11-24-2022, 10:32 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by skyguyscott View Post
So Airstreams are not like automobiles where a particular year's models are notably better or worse than other years. However, some models and features are more or less desirable depending on your tastes.

For instance, regarding the floor; the Achilles' Heel of Airstream Trailers has always been the plywood (or in some 80's models, OSB) subfloor, which had a tendency to mold and rot after ten years or so. However, starting in the 2020 model year, the iconic travel trailer line switched to a one-piece composite floor that is impervious to rot, rodents, mold and decay. I am not sure if or when the BaseCamp line made the switch.

The BaseCamp line had a number of teething pains in its first years, and AS continues to evolve the model. You can search this forum for more detailed threads on various BaseCamp issues, but ones that come to mind are the original propane fridge, which was placed in direct sunlight and not installed with adequate ventilation, resulting in poor performance, and doors and windows that leaked or fell out. The very first generation of BaseCamp was only on the market for a couple of years before they pulled the plug and did a complete redesign.

I didn't know about the switch to a composite floor in 2020. My 27' is a 2018. Is floor rot much of an issue if the trailer is garaged when not in use?
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Old 11-24-2022, 10:38 AM   #11
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Itís heresy here to mention other brands but my daughter was also on the hunt for a rugged small trailer and settled on the NuCamp T@B16 Boondock. Iíve done a lot of work on it upgrading it to fancy solar and electrical but I have to say the workmanship exceeds our Airstream. You can get a new one in the $30k range, less than youíd pay for a used Basecamp.
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Old 11-24-2022, 11:07 AM   #12
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I didn't know about the switch to a composite floor in 2020. My 27' is a 2018. Is floor rot much of an issue if the trailer is garaged when not in use?
Floor rot is only an issue if there is a leak. A composite floor might fair better if there is water penetration but in either case the unit should be maintained and water free.
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Old 11-24-2022, 01:07 PM   #13
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I didn't know about the switch to a composite floor in 2020. My 27' is a 2018. Is floor rot much of an issue if the trailer is garaged when not in use?
You certainly can take a lot of comfort from having it garaged ó your exposure is greatly reduced. But you should remain diligent anyway, water is sneaky. Remember, wood does not rot because it gets wet, it rots if it stays wet.
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Old 11-24-2022, 10:11 PM   #14
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2005 & 06 floor rot

Not all the 05 & 06 Airstreams had rear floor sealing problems. Our 06 Safari was properly sealed and has no floor rot. The rear body / floor seal was intact and the floor like new when I checked it a couple of years back. These years can be great as they are pretty basic by todays standards but reliable, and are a bit more affordable.
Steve
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Old 11-24-2022, 11:35 PM   #15
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That is true, but those AS mistakes are not too difficult to mitigate. There are many threads here about adding fans and modifying the cabinet spaces to improve airflow and performance.
This is true about the iconic travel trailers, but not the BaseCamp. The BC is a new and different animal and it has taken AS years to work out the problems. The BC fridge fiasco was such a poor design, AS eventually gave up trying to make the ammonia absorption units work and "fixed" the problem by installing electric compressor fridges in the same slot, a solution which totally compromised a major reason for the BaseCamp concept -- going off-road, off-grid.

I should clarify my original generalization: In general, the iconic AS travel trailers are not like automobiles with "good" years and "bad" years because the fundamental design changes so little from year to year. However, whenever AS introduces a new "improvement" (i.e. Alde Heat, motorized awnings, tankless water heaters, etc.) there are usually issues with that new system for a while.

And whenever AS introduces a whole new product (Atlas, (nest), BaseCamp) there are usually a huge number of issues. Some, like (nest), are so egregious that AS pulls the plug on the entire product line. The BC has had a long and hard road, but AS has stuck with it. My understanding of the whole point of the product was that research shows younger customers want an affordable camper they can take off-road adventuring. The BC has struggled to meet those expectations by every metric, but Thor/AS keeps trying.

MotorTrend has a review of the Pros and Cons of the 2021 Airstream Basecamp 20X that rings honest and true.
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Old 11-24-2022, 11:35 PM   #16
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Agreed. And from what Iíve gathered the adsorption fridges were vented poorly by as and donít cool well as a result.
Guess it depends on the year & model. My 1994 has proper venting, proper airflow, and the fridge works very well. A good inspection can help determine if there are problems in a trailer being considered.

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Originally Posted by civeng99 View Post
If youíre going to buy an airstream assume that if itís used and more than 5 years old youíre going to have floor troubles and leaks. ....
When I inspected our trailer before purchase I went into it with this in mind, and a small metal screw driver in my hand. I used the screw driver to poke through the carpeting (with the seller's permission) all around the perimeter of the trailer looking for soft spots. Found none. I was also able to pull back the carpet in a few locations and found no signs of water damage at all.

Not all older trailers have problems like this so don't let it scare you away. But do let it be a solid reason to spend the time inspecting properly or hiring someone to do it for you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shiny16 View Post
Floor rot is only an issue if there is a leak. A composite floor might fair better if there is water penetration but in either case the unit should be maintained and water free.
Another great point for buying a used trailer (of any brand) - inspect the outside seams including around the lights, windows, roof penetrations, etc to find possible places of water intrusion. Then follow up discovery of any potential leaks on the inside looking to see if any water got in.
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Old 11-25-2022, 08:21 AM   #17
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Thanks for the replies! Good points to help me in my search. Ive had a gas fridge in a truck camper and it actually worked pretty well, but for me its not a deal breaker. I currently tent camp and use an ARB 12 volt fridge and have gotten pretty good at managing that with a mix of solar and eco river power supply. I found the truma to be pretty effective in my rental and I think Id prefer that system. Im pretty handy so not afraid of repairs and it appears the systems have pretty good access. Im not looking to hard core winter camp but October can bring surprises so the ability to keep interior in the 50's is important to me. Colder spells would be short duration so having to work out of portable water would be fine. I understand the importance of good floor inspection and appreciate the insights.
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Old 11-25-2022, 10:46 AM   #18
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Sounds like our camping style is pretty similar. I agree with the comment that the propane fridges are OK in the traditional Airstreams and apparently not workable in the Basecamps due to major design flaws (which also introduced leaks).

Second, the electric only fridges in the Airstreams draw a lot more power than the portable unit you referenced; expect them to draw about 40Ah per day on average, and maybe more with hot days and warm nights. This means at least 200w of solar and maybe lithium batteries. Even then you will need favorable solar conditions or a generator to last more than a very few days.

Best wishes, and let us know what you decide.
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Old 11-25-2022, 07:14 PM   #19
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Not all the 05 & 06 Airstreams had rear floor sealing problems. Our 06 Safari was properly sealed and has no floor rot. The rear body / floor seal was intact and the floor like new when I checked it a couple of years back. These years can be great as they are pretty basic by todays standards but reliable, and are a bit more affordable.
Steve
I said it was only the early 06's. Also the ones with the bad leaks were so bad that many had to be fixed under warranty and probably most were fixed long before now to the point, it's probably not worse then any other years.
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Old 11-25-2022, 09:28 PM   #20
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When inspecting a used AS for purchase….walk all around the floor…especially around the cabinets and shower/toilet/sink checking for soft flooring. A little “creaking” is OK…after-all, it’s wood…. but check out any soft areas.

Our ‘08 22’ has no flooring issues and we’re the 4th owners… First owner was an elderly widow-lady near Schulenberg, Tx and she quickly discovered she wasn’t capable of camping alone…. the second owner was a contract-engineer who towed it to Alaska and used it for a field-office…never even used the galley or bath but had added electric-heat to the tanks and dual 30-lb propane bottles. The third owner, an elderly man in Fredericksburg who’d remarried, bought it from the engineer when he towed it back to Texas …but his new wife didn’t like camping (and after viewing the AS we decided she didn’t much like him either)…anyway they didn’t make a happy-camper-couple so quickly put it up for sale.
We looked at it and I thought they wanted too much money for it and said so….(thinking to haggle or keep shopping)….but it was in excellent condition except the TV was the old pre-HD type needing replacement and the microwave inoperative….but I had a friend who was an experienced RV salesman along with us who pointed out what to look for and pronounced it in good condition… so my ordinarily-frugal wife surprised me and told the seller “We’ll take it!”….
We’ve made a few changes to suit us more closely but we’ve really Really enjoyed it, have taken it on trips rangine from one weekend in West Texas to 3-months-long all over the NorthWest (CO, WY, ID, MT, NV, OR, and back thru NM, AZ) ….and found it not to have any of the problems we keep hearing others complain about.
It’s been great these last 9 years and we’re keeping it!
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