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Old 11-25-2015, 08:06 PM   #1
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2004 16' International CCD
Santa Cruz , California
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Question Broken A/C -- replace or remove?

Hi, there --

We have a 2004 16' Bambi that we got 2-1/2 years ago. Recently we brought her in to the Airstream dealer in Los Banos, CA (I'd heard good things) for a panel repair, and we figured we'd get a full inspection done while they were at it.

Everything checked out fine, except they discovered that the A/C is non-functional and the shroud is cracked and taped up (they figured the former owner banged against something and didn't disclose).

Obviously the lack of A/C is not a huge issue for us, because we've never even tried to use the A/C the whole time we had Bambi ; but the shop is recommending that we do some sort of repair because the cracked shroud could tear off on the highway and we might spring a major leak...

Suggested repair possibilities:
  1. Replace A/C & shroud ($1300)
  2. Just replace shroud ($200)
  3. Remove A/C and replace with vent ($200)

We don't really see the point in forking out an extra $1100 to replace something we're not likely to use, ever. And we like the idea of having an additional vent, so #3 is appealing over #2 (not to mention that removing the A/C lowers the weight and the profile).

But my questions for this forum: Does anyone out there have any experiences that would strongly dictate replacing the A/C, or at least just fixing the shroud and then having the option to replace if we sell and need that to recoup our investment? How badly would the resale value on Bambi be impacted if we completely removed the A/C? I've looked around in this forum and at a bunch of images around the 'net, and I haven't seen any modern Airstreams not sporting an A/C unit on the roof.

Thanks in advance! Looking forward to hearing from y'all!
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Old 11-25-2015, 08:22 PM   #2
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2006 23' Safari SE
Biloxi , Mississippi
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Your trailer, your choice. I think removing or having a non functional AC would effect resale value. This illustrates the value of a complete inspection before purchase.

Do you know what a learning experience is? A learning experience is one of those things that says "You know that thing that you just did? Don't do that."
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Old 11-25-2015, 08:25 PM   #3
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We've never used ours either since new, except to periodically see if it works. But it depends on when and where you travel. Most people will want it for summer travel in very warm climates.

Somewhere along the line we have to decide whether we want to build our Airstream for the next owner, or just say this is for us and we'll set it up for us and keep it for the long haul..

I think as they become a few years old, it doesn't make a lot of difference to resale value if the A/C is up there as long as the hookups are there and one can be easily set in there and turned on.

So if you're going to keep it, put in the vent. If you might sell it soon, make sure one can be easily installed.
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Old 11-25-2015, 09:20 PM   #4
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I wouldn't own a trailer without AC.
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Old 11-25-2015, 09:47 PM   #5
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As long as the roof around the AC is not leaking, I would replace the shroud (Camping World) reasonable price. Cheap fix. BTW, what's wrong with AC, not fixable? I would install it myself or have someone handy to help. Since you don't use the AC anyway, leave it alone. Removing the AC and replacing it with a vent, I would not consider it.
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Old 11-26-2015, 07:07 PM   #6
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We ordered a new ac unit from EBay for much less and it was an easy install. We don't use it often, but is sure nice to have when we do need it. I agree with dkottum that if you do take it out and install a vent, you should make sure the next owner could install an ac easily when that time comes.
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Old 11-27-2015, 07:19 AM   #7
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Similar to others, I wouldn't purchase an Airstream w/o an AC. But if you plan on this being your one and only, or don't care about resale value, it doesn't really matter what path you take.
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Old 11-27-2015, 08:59 AM   #8
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I floated this idea and everyone told me I was a nut job. :P

It's not hard to put back. I laugh at the constant talk of resale value. Trailers are liabilities, not assets.
Family of 5 exploring the USA with a Ram Power Wagon & Airstream in tow.
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Old 11-27-2015, 04:28 PM   #9
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I really don't like the idea of owning a broken item, especially something expensive like an Airstream, so the only two options for me would be to install a vent or new AC.

First, the new AC option:

Having just spent much time and money replacing the AC on my 2011 20' FC, I would NOT recommend replacing the original unit with a Dometic Penguin. They are not repairable or serviceable, are expensive, and are quite loud.

My choice was the 13.5k BTU Atwood. It's much quieter than the Dometic, and is so efficient that it runs on a single Honda 2000 generator. (they advertise it with a photo of the Honda on the brochure - and yes, it really works!)

On the other hand, the Atwood is slightly taller than the stock unit, doesn't have reverse cycle heat, and will require a new thermostat to operate your existing furnace, but it's less expensive, comes with a remote control, and has a nice dehumidifier mode.

The vent option:

It would require some customization, but would be much cheaper than an AC. Eventual resale would be hampered, but the vent would be useful, and it would lighten the camper - especially on top where it counts the most, and it would lower your overhead clearance, too.

You could always install a new AC for the eventual buyer - one with a warranty that's sure to work at the time of sale. Imagine buying an expensive AC now for the sake of resale and/or conformity, only to encounter a problem with it years later during a sale. You'd suffer the initial cost, then most likely have to lower the sale price to compensate for the bad AC... a double kick in the teeth!

Good luck with whatever choice you make!
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Old 11-28-2015, 09:53 AM   #10
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According to a reply from Lew in the boondocking section to my thread about removing the A/C cutout is the same size as a fantastic fan.
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Old 11-28-2015, 07:33 PM   #11
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The installation of a roof fan (my preference is the Maxx Fan........NOT a Fantastic Vent) is direct and simple. Maxx Fans have a integrated rain cover yet closes flat to the roof, 10 speeds, in or out fan and full thermostatic control. They also operate in the rain with no ugly external covers.

Same size roof opening (14 X 14) and easy connection to the 12 VDC that should be located in the opening.

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