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Old 11-13-2004, 08:33 AM   #1
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Airstream versus SOB

This should provoke some interesting comments, I hope.

I am a proud owner of a 27' 2001 Safari. I have enjoyed owning it and have trailed it about 30,000 miles. It has been a good trailer. Some minor problems, but none that I could not fix myself. Actually, almost no problems at all. Nonetheless I am considering buying another type of trailer and would like to hear comments about my possible change. I do not keep a trailer more than about 7 or 8 years, usually.

The main reason that I want to change trailers is to get a slide. I do not like the Airstream slide because it slides out only the dinette and then the slide appears to be about a foot less than most other brands. I have looked at several trailers and will probably buy a Holiday Rambler Alumascape. A 28' 2005 model will have a drive out price--with lots of options of about $32000. The equivalent Airstream would cost A LOT more. Here's what you get--other than the Airstream name and quality(?).

A trailer that weighs about 1000 lbs. more than the 2001 , non-slide, Safari and about 300lbs. more tongue weight. A slide that slides out both the dinette and the Sofa. A high capacity air conditioner, one the is ducted throughout the coach. Awnings, of course, but also one the covers the slideout. Stabilizer jacks that are heavy duty sissors and not the lightweight jacks on the Airstream. A 10 gallon gas/electric water heater. Counter extensions and a recliner. A good sized wardrobe and hardwood floors. Never lube axles and shock absorbers and blackout blinds. The Safari I have has a good sized wardrobe, but it is one of the few Airstream models that does. The Alumascape has a ladder included (attached to the trailer back) along with aluminum wheels and a spare tire. Any thoughts or advice?
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Old 11-13-2004, 09:16 AM   #2
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I believe there's several quality trailer manufacturers out there. I like the design, components and concept of the Airstream but with some of the quality problems that relate to their assembly and inspecton (or lack of) I realize others can certainly meet or beat Airstream on quality control. If I was looking at SOB I'd want one with aluminum framing & several of the design features that give AS it's longetivity and resale value compared to others. Also, I'd look at the height & size of the trailer and access your tow vehicle since you'll probably have more drag and possibly sway from more freeboard on the sides. I'm happy with the CCD 28' and have just a few more defects that I'm hoping AS works out for me.
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Old 11-13-2004, 11:05 AM   #3
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The Alumascape is a very nice trailer, one of the few I would consider if I ever wanted to go bigger, like for fulltiming. Very well built, high quality furnishings and good components as you've pointed out. As Tin Hut mentioned, it will not pull as easily, due to less favorable aerodynamics and more weight, but if that's not a problem, go for it.

And, er, how much you askin' for that nice used Safari? (he, he)
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Old 11-13-2004, 11:46 AM   #4
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I guess it depends on your perspective. You'll get a better return on your money from your Airstream than from the SOB when it's time to sell it. If you are concerned about total cost of ownership, that might be an issue. Further, your plans for how much it gets towed should be an issue. If you're planning on using it once a year for a couple of weeks, and otherwise it sits most of the time, aerodynamics and roadworthiness aren't issues. If you're planning on towing weekly over distances, then the SOB may be of concern. As an example, we have the pre-widebody, pre-slideout 34' that weighs a thousand pounds less than the current model 34'. That's important because I tow it just like most folks use a 25'. If we were going to leave it sit in a single location most of the time, it wouldn't be of significance. Tongue weight and total weight are issues if you have to buy a newer, bigger tow vehicle to drag it around. Total maintenance may or may not be an issue; typically the SOB roofs tend to leak in short order as they're flat and the sealant is of lesser quality.

The choice is really yours, and needs to be made based on the uses to which you put the thing.

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Old 11-13-2004, 01:12 PM   #5
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Although I own a 1976 31' Sovereign,my future plans are to own a newer widebody 34' Airstream Classic or limited. I just have to wonder why a trailer that cost (usually) so much more than other brands that are built from similar materials seems to lag behind in quality, fit and finish and choice of options. Sometimes it seems like they are living on their reputation and really not delivering the product that most have come to expect.
I worked for Land Rover in the late 80's early 90's out of the corporate offices here in Maryland. The Range Rover with body of aluminum was touted as the pinicle of luxury 4 wheel drive.The 4x4 of choice of the Queen of England, the Polo set and movie stars. In reality the quality fit and finish were terrible. The body gaps were so large that you could read the lables on the door jambs. (with the doors closed). You were as likley to see them on rollbacks as you were on the street.They were constantly breaking down. It was more the perception of quality more than any actual reality.They've been making the Range Rover since 1970 and although it much more complicated ,the build quality still isn't much better. What's this have to do with Airstream? I think that they are similar in that the quality problem of both are not in the materials or components but in the workers that build them. Both seem to leave the factory with to many defects that have to be addressed after the purchase.
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Old 11-13-2004, 02:06 PM   #6
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Princer -

My wife and I looked at Holiday Rambler's for several years before we got an Airstream this past summer. I thought they were built pretty solidly, but we couldn't find a HR floor plan that we liked.

However, the one thing I really miss not having in our Airstream (30' Classic) is comfortable seating. That recliner you mention in the HR sounds appealing.

We debated about getting the Airstream with a slide but decided against it becasue of the minimal extra space it provided, offset by the extra weight, cost, and the addition of one more thing to go wrong.

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Old 11-13-2004, 02:49 PM   #7
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Iam reading all of these responses with great interest. We use our 27' Safari for a few occasional trips, but we take one long RV trip per year--usually 5000 miles+, and it takes about 2 months. Thus we do move about, but we often stay in the same campground 4 or 5 days. We think we would like the large slide out, since it is kind of our home for 2 months. I had not considered the extra height (11'3" for the Alumascape versus 9'7") for the Safari and the possibility for more wind resistance and sway. I do use a Hensley, so I do not think sway will be an issue
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Old 11-13-2004, 03:30 PM   #8
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If you are looking for alternatives that give you aerodynmics with multiple slides, have you considered Award Trailers custom build in Canada. They offer up to 3 slides, cost slightly less than Airstream, and probably less weight than the Holiday.
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Old 11-13-2004, 05:41 PM   #9
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As for the Award, I have owned one, and they suffer from a whole host of problems. To their credit, the cabinets and interior components are pretty good, but the wall assembly and joint designs are terrible and just about guaranteed to fail. Also, the way the exterior walls rest on a somewhat weak floor usually leads to floor sag , and wall-floor joint failure.

THe H-R is a much better unit in my opinion. I agree with an earlier post that the craftsmanship is much better than the Airstream. If the H-R pulled as nicely as the Airstream, one would be behind my truck right now instead of the A/S.
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Old 11-13-2004, 08:24 PM   #10
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I compared my 74 to a new 2000 5th wheel. My cabinets and doors had a better fit after 26 years of service than this one did new. I would hate to see what it would look like after 26 years of service. An Airstream is an investment in a quality product. If you are only interested in space and bells and whistles then there are a lot of neat trailers out there. HR makes a good product but I will still go with my silverbullet.
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