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Old 07-13-2015, 09:48 AM   #1
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The Long long long trip

First - T-Mobile as a cell carrier is far less than ideal. I now believe that "temporary insanity" IS sometimes a valid defense. I know on two occasions at least where I would have cheerfully gutted any T-Mobile sales person foolish enough to cross my path. The few nights I stayed in camps with wi-fi, it was so slow that posting anywhere was impossible. AT&T or Verizon are not foolproof, especially in Montana or Wyoming but whew - I realized I was driving far beyond comfort or safety on Saturday so I pulled off and camped at a KOA near I-95 just south of Fredericksburg - less than 200 miles from home - and down in the "holler" had NO cell, no text and no internet. I fell asleep waiting for the WI-FI to load my e-mail.

Second - I stopped at the mothership in Jackson Center on Friday... Met about 5 other Streamers, all of whom were having problems with the quality of warranty work done BY the factory. These people all had legitimate complaints (a few were nitpickers, but still the things that were done TO their trailers were exceptionally negligent.) I left the factory dejected and deflated and blue. I was pretty sure the EB was my last Airstream even before the trip. Growing business - WAY too many staff who don't know their jobs, and I've gotten a creeping sense that some of the higher ups in SERVICE are not making any effort to see that the work is done well. In medicine it's called "treat 'em and street 'em". I saw three instances where damage was CAUSED by repair people who attempted to do cosmetic cover-ups. It will be a long time before I get any work done at the factory.

I'm definitely getting a new tow vehicle. The EcoBoost is great - I'd heartily recommend it for anything up to 23 feet. As a fulltimer I just can't cut my load of stuff unless I get a big storage locker - and if I go out for a month or two or three again... I'm going to want that stuff onboard. I can't load the 150 up with what I need and not have the tail sag or be dangerously close to overloaded. Plus it REALLY is more important to have the brakes to STOP than to have the engine to go.


A month away from high speed internet and I've almost forgotten how to type. Sigh. this will be a many post thread.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note on the popularity/appeal of Airstreams in general. Nine years ago a new Airstream arriving in a campground normally drew 5 or more "could I have a peek" visitors. This trip? In three different campgrounds there were one or two other Airstreams - most NOT vintage. The comments? "Gee, you're all alone with no husband to help you tow? --- those happened EVERY stop. There were still admirers of the Airstream's Unique style, but the admiration was considerably more muted for the trailer.


Paula
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Old 07-13-2015, 10:40 AM   #2
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Sorry to hear about the decline in quality of factory service. With the prices new trailers are commanding you should expect top notch service. There is so few Airstream qualified techs anywhere especially in my area. The few good techs are so busy it takes months to get anything done.
I'm about ready to try Campers World.
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Old 07-13-2015, 10:56 AM   #3
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WAY too many staff who don't know their jobs

"WAY too many staff who don't know their jobs"
I may keep my A frame (Chalet) longer than I thought. Wait until all of them have the experience.
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Old 07-13-2015, 11:02 AM   #4
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Taking ANYTHING to Camping World would be a very costly mistake!!!!!!


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Old 07-13-2015, 12:17 PM   #5
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Sorry to hear of your woes, Paula.

That's why we stick with Verizon even though it costs more, and their customer service is awful. It works more places than anything else and gives us good Wifi to run Moose Tags from the road. We have about quit using campground Wifi because it is most often terrible.

We were just at JC with New Lucy and had a good experience. What I did notice was that there are young guys in the Service Center. Years ago, a guy had to have 15 years on the manufacturing line before he could go to the Service Center. This is different now, but the techs that Lucy had (one old and one young) were real good.

As far as tow vehicles go, I have always been a follower of the Tim Taylor School of Towing. More power is always better. Half ton trucks are not my cup of tea. Even my 3/4 ton Suburbans are not as good as my one ton Duramax. I just never know when I might want to bring the kitchen sink camping with me.

Where are you headed, Paul, and how long will you be on the road?

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Old 07-13-2015, 01:11 PM   #6
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Where am I headed? Into full retirement within the next two years. Then - wherever I park it. Cheap cell service that does NOT work is no bargain. I agree - gotta go to Verizon or AT&T.

I have to be realistic in adapting to aging - using mechanical advantage and "helpers" wherever needed. With a 3/4 ton or 1 ton Silverado, I can have everything I need including a motorcycle & ramp.

For instance I MAY trade in the Hensley on something easier to diagnose/adjust/back into. Leading candidates - AirSafe and Pro-Pride. Just LIFTING the trunnion and storing it always results in me breaking a major sweat AND in getting rusty dirt all over my hands, stomach and sometimes down to the knees. Maybe I should adapt a golf bag wheel set as a trunnion toter.

I know I'll do a LOT more route planning - using both maps and GPS. I'll also listen to locals about road conditions every night.
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Old 07-13-2015, 01:28 PM   #7
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Verizon not AT&T. Before I retired 79,000 of us had either Verizon or AT&T. Then through a deal we all had to have Verizon. The service even in remote areas was far superior to AT&T. I've also found their customer service to be acceptable as well.

All work on our AS is done at Airstream of Western PA. Very small dealer, small service center manned by three people, two of whom are brothers and been doing work on Airstreams for 30+ years. They are training the third member. Just a thought when you are in the area. The service team is Carl, Alex and Tom, FYI

Enjoy

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Old 07-13-2015, 01:30 PM   #8
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T-Mobile was a viable option before the failed merger with AT&T. Their customers roamed onto AT&T's network where T-Mobile didn't have it's own coverage.

That arrangement ended with the collapse of the merger, so much less coverage with T-Mobile now.


I am concerned about AS. Rapid growth can be the first step in a rapid decline.

Poorly managed growth leads to a saturated market when the fad ends.

That leads to a bloated company making too many trailers no one wants any more, with no where to go but bankruptcy court.


Think Members Only Jackets of the 80's.....

I hope not, but we shall see.


Regards,

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Old 07-13-2015, 01:32 PM   #9
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I know what you mean about the Hensley hitch bar. The older I get, the heavier the hitch bar gets. Recently, I went from a 6" drop to a 4" drop. The weight went down 5#. The 6 was 37#, and the 4 is 32#. I can notice the difference. When the 4" hitch bar becomes too heavy, I guess it's time to shop for a moho.

You may want to watch out for the ProPride hitch bar. With the adjustable parts, it may be heavier than the Hensley.

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Old 07-13-2015, 02:27 PM   #10
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Maybe not so bad

Paula, maybe you shouldn't be so disappointed that there's more admiration for you than for the trailer!

About cell carriers. I am an engineer, working mostly in audio but with many years in radio (broadcast, microwave, 2-way.) I run a mountaintop radio site that has Verizon, AT&T and Metro PCS/T-Mobile as tenants. Verizon and AT&T are preferred because they are the *only* providers that are actually telephone providers, using the original lower frequency cellular telephone frequencies as the backbone of their system. Metro PCS/T-Mobile (now merged) and Sprint operate on other frequencies and in some case other (PCS/AWS vs. cell) rules. There are no other choices -- everyone else is a virtual network operator reselling one of the big four, but the services they offer vary greatly, for instance someone may sell you a hotspot on the Verizon network but which only works on their 4G system in urban areas, which is subject to the same limitations that T-Mob and Sprint have.

It has been my experience that you have a far better chance of getting a usable signal with Verizon, particularly in the western US, than any other. Speeds on other networks may be faster. We travel with Verizon phones and my partner has a Sprint hotspot provided by her employer, together it's a good combination.

About workmanship. This is part and parcel of the repair situation and not a new problem with Airstream. In the restoration of my 1971 trailer and 1983 motorhome I was surprised at the haphazard nature of assembly, manifest in many cases by scraps, dropped rivets, rivet stems etc embedded all over. The design is excellent -- to a point (ease of service seems historically at the bottom of their list) and the materials are pretty good but over the years the execution has been variable. I can only imagine that the repair folks at the factory come from the same pool. You'd hope they would be the pick of the litter, but other reports like yours makes it seem not so. Keep searching for independent Airstream techs who don't mind taking the time to do things correctly. I am fortunate (I think) in being able to do most things myself but I would not trust any of this work to the corporate world, either the factory or the big catalog companies.
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Old 07-13-2015, 03:43 PM   #11
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''Cheerfully gutted a T-mobile sales person'' Your scaring me Paula Sorry about your experience at the mothership. When people spend 100k plus on a trailer, sometimes it's ok to be picky. Airstream is the Ferrari of travel trailers. I like to meet the''can you here me now'' verizon guy, and show him a couple places to ask the question.
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Old 07-13-2015, 04:01 PM   #12
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This is so disappointing to hear about less than stellar service at Jackson Center. They have always been the go-to place for service here on the forum.
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Old 07-13-2015, 04:13 PM   #13
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T-Mobile is ok for cheap in town service, like back in VA Beach, but like Sprint it's garbage if you want to travel. Verizon has been fine for us in the West. We're in Wyoming now.

Honestly, I'd love to know how much stuff you have that your truck sags. Especially since you're one person.
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Old 07-13-2015, 04:32 PM   #14
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"Honestly, I'd love to know how much stuff you have that your truck sags. Especially since you're one person." That's dangerous territory asking a woman that question.

(I'm probably on thin ice myself for assigning a sexist generalization like that.)
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Old 07-13-2015, 05:40 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by westcoastas View Post
"Honestly, I'd love to know how much stuff you have that your truck sags. Especially since you're one person." That's dangerous territory asking a woman that question.

(I'm probably on thin ice myself for assigning a sexist generalization like that.)
Yeah I was in the dog house for mentioning to my wife that she has 5 pairs of flip flops yesterday.
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Old 07-13-2015, 07:26 PM   #16
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When I was full timing in a 40' diesel pusher for 5 years there was one hard and fast rule.

After everything was sorted and packed properly (took 5 re packing episodes) nothing was added unless something was removed. It worked well for the entire full time experience.


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Old 07-14-2015, 11:02 AM   #17
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Just sold some T-Mobile stock at a nice little profit, so I can't complain, but I've kept my mobile service with Verizon. With all its faults, it seems to deliver.

Never had any service work at Jackson Center, but I did do the tour once. I enjoyed it, learned a lot about AS from the fellow who gave me a private tour (he had worked there for 30-some years), but I left with mixed feelings.

This was several years ago, and things may have changed, but the whole operation seemed more like a supersized backyard workshop than a real factory. Could be good in some ways, as so much being done by hand, but it's a far cry from what you think of when you think about modern automated factories with robots and assembly lines and so forth. Maybe all travel trailer and RV plants are like that?
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Old 07-14-2015, 11:51 AM   #18
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We recently traveled through eastern Kentucky and Tennessee. We had mechanical trouble with our toad, and were trying to arrange a tow, rental car and service. At that moment, it was painfully obvious that we needed to leave Boost and Sprint. We had been getting along with limited cell service, but our little Straight Talk WiFi hotspot (on the Verizon network) ALWAYS had signal, while neither phone did. We sucked it up and went back to Verizon with a contract. I was pleasantly surprised with their customer service. Yes, more expensive, but I sure don't want to be stranded and not able to communicate again.

Same trip, we toured the JC center. We were sad that no one there could answer our questions about our 1994 Diesel Classic. I work for a manufacturer of earth moving equipment, and part of our legacy is the service and parts we offer (and knowledge) of our equipment, no matter the age. Maybe my expectations are too high? AS seems to have forgotten they even made these beauties.
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Old 07-14-2015, 11:58 AM   #19
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Satellite or Cell

howdy - after living in a '78 Sovereign (totally customized) for six months next to the Sequoia Nat'l Park on the raging So Fork of the Kaweah river, communication challenges were met with Hughesnet satellite (in the main house) - there wasn't any cell svc anywhere, only a dodgy AT&T landline. After living in Malibu for a couple years I switched out my ATT for Verizon (which was GTE back in the day) to get (only slightly) better service in the Santa Monica Mountains - that makes sense because LA's westside and coastal areas were GTE. The rest was PacBell.
But service provider quality depends on where you are- in Three Rivers, CA, ATT is dominant but barely works and Verizon almost not at all (except for one small spot before you go up the mountain). There is a tower on the west side of Lake Kaweah but that's almost 10 miles away. Even with a new tower in Three Rivers, Verizon is dodgy at best.
Some mountain folks swear by Sprint.
My mission now is to find and assemble the best mobile satellite rig at the best cost. Same goes for Solar. That's life in the mountain west.
I get hired and paid over the internet so any suggestions appreciated
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Old 07-14-2015, 12:18 PM   #20
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Out here in the wide open west, anyone that is serious about cell reception runs an exterior antenna/cell signal booster.
My winter spot Hope Az, At&t is shaded by mountains, most of us have to make calls at the edge of the park to get signal. The verison group use a tower that is 25 miles west, distant but visual. This tower is on the eastern edge of Quartzsite, when it is infested with snowbirds, calls get dropped easily.
I haven't gotten serious yet, I don't use data, not reliable enough for the cost vs coverage.
Now in Flagstaff I'm using the camp wifi, short range signal from the office, but Direcway satellite. Way faster than the system in the local library.
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