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Old 12-06-2023, 03:07 PM   #1
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considering an airstream

Hello, my wife and I are considering purchasing an Airstream (I have my eyes on a Bambi 19CB, but may also consider a used Caravel 22FB for a price similar to the Bambi19 new). But, after reading the through various threads on the forums I'm concerned about some of the issues that seem to persist:
- popped rivets
- filiform corrosion
- rotting floors (I understand this has been corrected with the new composite flooring, but would remain a potential issue if I were to purchased used)

These issues have me leaning towards either an Escape 21NE (molded fiberglass...but to be honest, I find the molded fiberglass trailers to be a bit ugly, but less maintenance is a strong attraction here), or an SOB (Grand Design Imagination, Rockwood Geo Pro or Winnebago Micro Minnie).

I'm attracted to the Airstream as I really like the styling and I'd assumed (perhaps wrongly) that it would be less prone to leakage than a conventional trailer. I'd also assumed that while all trailers required maintenance, that the maintenance on the Airstream would be easier (less caulking and perhaps just more cosmetic maintenance...knowing of course that any openings such as windows and around the AC would still require the same due diligence).

Am I mistaken on my assumptions or are these issues more the exception than the rule....if they're the exception I can take comfort in that I live only a couple of hours from the factory.
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Old 12-06-2023, 04:00 PM   #2
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First off, welcome to AirForums!

As with any trailer, there is overall maintenance that needs to be managed. Keep in mind the life span of an Airstream compared to an SOB....we currently own one that's older than I am! Also, 'people' tend to gripe about their issues big and small in a forum like this - yes, there are some QC issues, but I would guess no more than any other 'moving home'. You are fortunate to live close to the factory, but most trailers never need to visit for repairs, you only hear about the ones that do here. Of course, most people here are biased - but I'd say go for the Airstream!

The only other piece of advice is get your 2nd trailer 1st...really be sure you can "live" in the smaller 19-footer before you purchase and won't want to "trade up" too soon.

In 2001, we started out with a 19' vintage (1964) trailer - which was fine for 10+ years as we mostly used it for weekend travel. We then replaced it with a 22' vintage (1956) - the extra couple of feet really makes a difference. We got the 22' because we added dogs to the equation, we're going on longer trips and wanted an older trailer - one with the cool 13-panel ends. Just this fall, we purchased a 'newer' 2015 27' FC - our needs have changed again as we plan on full-timing for awhile starting next summer. So we we fortunate to keep each trailer at least 10+ years...a lot of folks swap them out much sooner than that because they bought too small to start with. A lot of SOBs won't last 10 years, or if they do the have really lost their resale value.

Ultimately it's a personal decision - that's why there are so many options out there! Good luck in whatever you decide to do!

Shari
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Old 12-06-2023, 05:06 PM   #3
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Great Advice above.
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Old 12-06-2023, 05:28 PM   #4
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I've had a SOB and have had two AS's. The overall quality of the AS's are much better than the SOB we had. I wish I would have bought the AS first. It would have saved a lot of money and frustration.

However, be aware that many of the components used by AS, like the furnace, water pump, A/C's, etc. are the same components used in just about every trailer made. Those items are things you find a lot of people complaining about.

One thing that impressed me about the AS is that the shell is built first. That means everything inside came in thru the door, which means everything can be removed thru the door. Thus an AS can be virtually indefinitely. And many are. I'd suggest you take a trip to JC and tour the factory and see how they are built.

And I totally agree with the thought of buying your second AS first. Two foot-itis is real!

The last thing I'll mention as an advantage of having an AS is the Airstream Club.

If you any specific questions just ask and I'm sure someone will answer. All the best in your search and let us know what you decide.
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Old 12-06-2023, 05:47 PM   #5
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RE: Considering an Airstream

Greetings Caheaton, welcome to the Forums and the world of Airstreams!!

I concur with InsideOut (Shari), go for the Airstream whether it be the 19-foot or the 22-foot or another length that you decide upon further in on your search. My mistake was compromising on my first travel trailer purchase in 1980, a Nomad 18-foot Light Weight Special that had the same list price as a leftover 1979 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre (a 1970s product of Airstream). Had I purchased that Argosy in 1980, I would probably have still had it to this day, but the Nomad was falling apart by the time it was just 40-months past its purchase date. The Nomad had been carefully maintained, but it just was not a well-engineered trailer (it was a model with many early attempts at weight reductions that did not age well).

I purchased my Airstream as my second travel trailer (fourth RV), and have been very pleased with it during the past 28 plus years. While I could have, and had intended to purchase new, Airstream had discontinued the floor plan that I wanted in the size trailer that I wanted 24 to 26 foot, I ended up purchasing a 31 year old Airstream from its second owners. The trailer had been in continuous use throughout its life and had been lovingly maintained. it looked nearly new both inside and out. I purchased that 31 year old Airstream with minimal hesitation and continue to travel with that same trailer to this day continuing the first two owners tradition of careful maintenance. True, it has had to have a number of repairs, but when I look at the cost over the years of ownership, my costs have been quite reasonable.

You might notice in my profile that I have both the 26-foot Airstream and 6.0 Metre Argosy Minuet. In 2002, I decided that I wanted a smaller trailer for quick weekend getaways, and had an unexpected opportunity to purchase the Minuet from its original owner in very nice condition. I don't really know which one I use more in a typical season. The tandem axle Airstream is actually a little easier to back into most spaces than the shorter, single axle Minuet.
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Good luck with your investigation!

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Old 12-06-2023, 06:23 PM   #6
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I highly encourage you to go to Jackson Center and tour the Factory and the Heritage Center. You will see why Airstream is such an icon. We have owned 2 Airstreams. First a 2017 International 23D. Great Airstream. We put 24k miles on her in 2 years. Basically, problem free. Second and current is a 2019 Flying Cloud 25' Rear Bed Twin. Again, Basically problem free. We have over 450 nights in our FC as we winter in Florida in it and travel in the summer. We sold our first Airstream at almost the price we paid for it. I think, not sure, but think we could sell our FC for more than we paid new because we got a killer deal in April 2019. Your $$$ is way safer with an Airstream. Buy your second Airstream first. 19' is pretty small. Knowing what I know now, the 25' FC would have been the first Airstream. Good luck with the hunt.
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Old 12-06-2023, 08:07 PM   #7
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Caheaton… What year Caravel are you considering..?? If it’s a recent model (say since 2010 or thereabouts)… go for it AFTER a thorough inspection by an Airstream-savvy person.

I’m giving you the Best Advice possible on this question: If you’re wanting a travel trailer that will maintain it’s value…. buy a well-cared for used Airstream and Forget about fiber-board/fiberglass/thin-skinned S.O.B.s.
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Old 12-06-2023, 09:50 PM   #8
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You didn’t expect the forum members to steer you to a different make, did you?
I agree with the above comments. Our first trailer (an early Sunnybrook) was well designed, but the rubber roof still developed leaks over the twenty years we had it. The next was a smaller Creekside, nice, but towed like a parachute behind our half ton truck. We traded it because the side was delaminating, and noticed a soft floor during the trade in inspection due to leaky skylight caulk.
I really liked the 22 Sport we started with (only used one weekend!), but the A/C was too loud and the wife wanted something 2’ longer. The 23 FB FC is right for us. Big enough, tows well, and it doesn’t seem like the Florida sun is destroying the roof. (Note my tagline below.)
When shopping, imagine yourself living in each option for a month. If you are bothered by noise or light, make a recording inside and play it back when you are not in the throes of wonder. (This is a good way to compare different options.)
If considering a recent used model, be aware that most appliances warranties are by others ( not Airstream) and some (Dometic) don’t carry over to a second owner. Repair costs and hassle can eat up the savings over a well negotiated price from a dealer on a new trailer.
Good luck!
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Old 12-06-2023, 09:57 PM   #9
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Buying an AS is something you need to be committed to. If you don't see the value in the aluminum construction, the long term durability, and the timeless design, then it is hard to justify 2-3x the cost of an AS over a similarly sized other brand and you will regret buying one.
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Old 12-07-2023, 11:49 AM   #10
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Caheaton, I need to chime in on a couple of things here. First of all, I never regretted buying our used 25FB, never. They are insanely expensive but....after purchasing mine in 2009 I know I can get every penny that I spent back if I were to sell today. I don't think I could do that if I purchased a white box.


We have a 25 and have spent a month or more on some long trips. Larger is always better in this regard. The 22 will probably be "better" for you than the 19. Get as much space as you can afford and feel comfortable towing.


You need to think hard about where and how you will be camping. The newer trailers have moved away from propane and toward electric. The fridges are better, more dependable especially in really hot weather but like all things electric, you will need some "extras" if you plan to boondock. Solar panels and expensive lithium batteries will come in handy to meedt the electric draw. These are all very good things but be aware of the expense. I am also not a fan of the on demand water heaters. Another very good thing and quite the improvement but if you are not hooked up to a water source and are managing both your fresh water input and gray water output, they will be problematic.


OK, I wish I had ducted air, but I don't. If I were looking today I would go for a late teens issue. I think a 2019 25FB has ducted air, standard propane/electric refrigerator and the good old fashioned 6 gallon propane/electric water heater. I am not sure when they transitioned to the better subflooring materials.
With proper care and maintenance they will not leak and will last for decades. Best wishes in your search.
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Old 12-08-2023, 09:41 AM   #11
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Thank you everyone for the wealth of replies and advice. Yes, I did expect the replies to be a little biased ;-) . I was mainly trying to get a feel for how likely the problems are "in the real world" as I understand the forums can magnify issues as one seldom posts just to say "everything is fine" :-) . Actually, the filiform corrosion troubled me the most, but after reading more and watching some videos it seems that it's primarily a cosmetic thing and nothing to worry about structurally. If it truly bothers me I could address it. (I can do my part I suppose by keeping the camper clean and waxed).

My wife and I are experienced campers...we've been tent camping together for over 20 years (all my life in my case...was in boy scouts as a youth) and we've owned a pop up now for nearly 4 years. We primarily camp at state and federal campgrounds, usually with water and electric (sometimes full) hookups. Not adverse to doing without hookups for shorter stays of up to a week or so (we actually did that this past June when we stayed near Niagara Falls).

I purchased the pop up as my "practice camper" so that I could get the hang of towing, backing a trailer, maintaining the seals and water systems (ours has a hot water heater, shower, toilet etc). I love the little pop up (actually not quite so little it's 19 feet long folded up and weighs 3k), but setup and tear down are starting to become a chore.

The used Caravel I'm considering is from 2017, but a bit nervous about the dealer as he's not an rv dealer...he's a motorcycle dealer who apparently accepted the trailer as a trade in. I'd feel more comfortable purchasing the trailer from a dealer that deals in airstreams or at least other RV's. My wife prefers new anyway, so would likely just go ahead with the Bambi (love the Caravel for the extra features, but we don't intend to finance so that sets an upper limit on what I can spend). We would likely keep the camper for about 10 years...after that I'm not certain...wife wants us to move abroad when she retires (so that we could live near her family)...it would be kind of hard to bring the Airstream with us in that situation lol. I'm about 4 years from retirement myself, so until then it would only get used about 5 to 6 weeks out of the year.

One thing I have seen mentioned is how loud the AC is in the Bambi...I guess I'll have to give a listen for myself, as we have an AC on our popup. It's loud, but you get used to it and the white noise doesn't really bother me when sleeping. I wouldn't be surprised if the Bambi used the same unit (ours is a Coleman Mach).

Thank you again everyone for the advice and don't be hesitant to post any additional advice! :-)
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Old 12-08-2023, 10:34 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Caheaton View Post
Thank you everyone for the wealth of replies and advice. Yes, I did expect the replies to be a little biased ;-) . I was mainly trying to get a feel for how likely the problems are "in the real world" as I understand the forums can magnify issues as one seldom posts just to say "everything is fine" :-) . Actually, the filiform corrosion troubled me the most, but after reading more and watching some videos it seems that it's primarily a cosmetic thing and nothing to worry about structurally. If it truly bothers me I could address it. (I can do my part I suppose by keeping the camper clean and waxed).

My wife and I are experienced campers...we've been tent camping together for over 20 years (all my life in my case...was in boy scouts as a youth) and we've owned a pop up now for nearly 4 years. We primarily camp at state and federal campgrounds, usually with water and electric (sometimes full) hookups. Not adverse to doing without hookups for shorter stays of up to a week or so (we actually did that this past June when we stayed near Niagara Falls).

I purchased the pop up as my "practice camper" so that I could get the hang of towing, backing a trailer, maintaining the seals and water systems (ours has a hot water heater, shower, toilet etc). I love the little pop up (actually not quite so little it's 19 feet long folded up and weighs 3k), but setup and tear down are starting to become a chore.

The used Caravel I'm considering is from 2017, but a bit nervous about the dealer as he's not an rv dealer...he's a motorcycle dealer who apparently accepted the trailer as a trade in. I'd feel more comfortable purchasing the trailer from a dealer that deals in airstreams or at least other RV's. My wife prefers new anyway, so would likely just go ahead with the Bambi (love the Caravel for the extra features, but we don't intend to finance so that sets an upper limit on what I can spend). We would likely keep the camper for about 10 years...after that I'm not certain...wife wants us to move abroad when she retires (so that we could live near her family)...it would be kind of hard to bring the Airstream with us in that situation lol. I'm about 4 years from retirement myself, so until then it would only get used about 5 to 6 weeks out of the year.

One thing I have seen mentioned is how loud the AC is in the Bambi...I guess I'll have to give a listen for myself, as we have an AC on our popup. It's loud, but you get used to it and the white noise doesn't really bother me when sleeping. I wouldn't be surprised if the Bambi used the same unit (ours is a Coleman Mach).

Thank you again everyone for the advice and don't be hesitant to post any additional advice! :-)
I wouldn’t worry about the selling dealer not being an rv or Airstream dealer. I would try to contact the previous owner to ask him any questions you might have.
I would also figure out what model you really want and adjust the year to your budget. Then shop for one that has been well cared for and maintained.
Good luck and an early welcome to the Airstream family.

Dan
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Old 12-08-2023, 10:58 AM   #13
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Everyone else has already said much of what I would say, but I'll add my perspective since you ask. If you are going to tow and travel, by all means get the AS. It will tow better and hold up longer than wood construction as used in most SOBs. If you plan to park it mostly, you can get more room for the money elsewhere.
I agree about pop-ups. Much more useful to be able to just pull over and go inside the TT for lunch or or pit stops.
As to size: Our Bambi19 is our second TT, 4th RV counting MHs. We got a deal on it from an estate so there was no better choice. But space is an issue. It is great for single-handed camping but gets crowded even with 2 aboard. Yet size is only part of that. Inefficient use of space is a factor as well. Things like 1 of the 2 sinks and a huge gas oven would be better swapped for a larger bed and a microwave, etc. If you buy new you are locked into the interior arrangement from the factory. If you go used and save a few bucks, you are free to modify as you please.
Don't be scared to buy a TT from a MC dealer. There is every likelihood that you can get a better deal on the same TT than you would at a prestigious RV dealership. You have experience, so look at it closely and make the call yourself. I have got some great deals on things from unorthodox sources...
Yeah the AC is loud. It is right there above your head in a little trailer. It masks outside noises and keeps you cool. What is wrong with that?
Floor or subfloor rot is only an issue if you have repeated leakage. My AS had a bad leak where the refrigerator compartment drain was cut thru the wheel well and not sealed. Only leaked when towed in heavy rain, but it leaked real bad then. I found it and fixed it. It was easy to see from underneath but I never noticed it until I removed the interior furniture to replace the carpet with vinyl plank. So lesson is look closely at the underside, slide under on a rug or whatever and look it over for such things. Basically just "due diligence" for any purchase.
And if you still can't decide, remember, "It's an Airstream". You can't do any better.
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Old 12-08-2023, 11:17 AM   #14
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One thing I have seen mentioned is how loud the AC is in the Bambi...I guess I'll have to give a listen for myself, as we have an AC on our popup. It's loud, but you get used to it and the white noise doesn't really bother me when sleeping. I wouldn't be surprised if the Bambi used the same unit (ours is a Coleman Mach).

Thank you again everyone for the advice and don't be hesitant to post any additional advice! :-)
We owned a new 2021 Bambi 16RB until we got our fancy new 2023 Globetrotter 25FBT this year. I can attest that the Bambi AC noise is loud. It's hard to have a conversation with it on. The Caravel is ducted and won't be nearly as loud - if that's a consideration.

Since 2021 all model floors are composite, so that's a plus buying new or late model used. I don't know if floor rot is a big problem but one less thing to worry about and no squeaks as well.

Build quality seems to always be an issue. We had very few problems with the Bambi but a long list with the Globetrotter. Some of it is vendor supplied equipment (heater, fans), but there are a few things that weren't done right and we have trim and rivets that need fixed. It's likely a chore of the original owner to get all the bugs out, but I do roll my eyes on the build quality of our million-dollar camper. That said we wouldn't own anything else.

If you do end up going used, I'd shop around and get a good idea where the market is at. The Caravel you mentioned might be priced right, but if you're willing to travel you might find a much better deal and be able to chat with the owners and get a better idea of any problems, etc. Airstream Classifieds and Airstream Marketplace have a lot of listings. I think it's a buyer's market from what I've read here in the forums.

Last, I wouldn't discount the advantages of being in the Airstream community. It's not like there's anything in common with people other than owning an Airstream*, but there is a sense of fellowship and belonging. There's tons of great advice here on the forums not to mention rallys and other social gatherings available.

*I think Airstream owners have in common that they value the design, aesthetics, durability, and own something that is regarded as the best. So, it's people with a similar set of values.
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Old 12-08-2023, 11:22 AM   #15
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My wife prefers new anyway, so would likely just go ahead with the Bambi (love the Caravel for the extra features, but we don't intend to finance so that sets an upper limit on what I can spend).
Remember: Happy Wife, Happy Life

Also, I know you feel that you can't swing the extra but since you will be using the trailer for some time, it's best to buy the one you truly want up front instead of "settling" and then wishing/regretting the decision and maybe even deciding to upgrade in the future. If you were to finance just the difference for a short term, it might be doable. Or you could shop around for a 1 or 2 year old Caravel that may be priced the same as a new Bambi.
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Old 12-08-2023, 11:27 AM   #16
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Last, I wouldn't discount the advantages of being in the Airstream community. It's not like there's anything in common with people other than owning an Airstream, but there is a sense of fellowship and belonging. There's tons of great advice here on the forums not to mention rallys and other social gatherings available.
100% Agreed!

We have found the Airstream community great! Outside of Airstreaming, in general, we tend to meet and hang out with people just like us...we do the same work, live in the same neighborhood, etc. Boring.

With Airstreamers we've met all kinds of people we would never cross paths with in our day-to-day lives. Over the 20+ years we've had our Airstreams we have met now life-long friends that we would never have met any other way from all over the country & all walks of life. These people have broaden our horizons & enriched our lives tremendously!

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Old 12-08-2023, 11:55 AM   #17
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Remember: Happy Wife, Happy Life

Also, I know you feel that you can't swing the extra but since you will be using the trailer for some time, it's best to buy the one you truly want up front instead of "settling" and then wishing/regretting the decision and maybe even deciding to upgrade in the future. If you were to finance just the difference for a short term, it might be doable. Or you could shop around for a 1 or 2 year old Caravel that may be priced the same as a new Bambi.
We financed a lot more than I was comfortable with, but on the long list of rationalizations for getting the big fancy GT, I will likely retire in 5 years and we got what works for the future when we'll have more time to travel. This goes with the 2nd trailer first philosophy.
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Old 12-08-2023, 12:05 PM   #18
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a dear friend of mine bought one of the small Winnies a few years back, not sure if it is a micro or a minnie or what. They have had a LOT of issues with it and overall are not very happy with it. they also wish they had gotten at least a slightly larger model. My friend would like to replace it with an airstream.
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Old 12-08-2023, 12:21 PM   #19
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a dear friend of mine bought one of the small Winnies a few years back, not sure if it is a micro or a minnie or what. They have had a LOT of issues with it and overall are not very happy with it. they also wish they had gotten at least a slightly larger model. My friend would like to replace it with an airstream.
Our good friends have a SOB (a wolf-something) they bought about the same time we did. It has an outside grill and refrigerator and what-not which is actually kind of nice. But the materials and build are pretty sad. A valance fell off right away and you can push in the side of the cabinet made of 1/4" plywood, a crimp in the water intake, etc.

It suits their purposes for weekend camping and they had no illusions about what they were getting, and it also fits their budget. In order to make campers affordable for a lot of people that's what you get. But I find the extras and veneer they put over them tries to dress up a pig (don't tell them I said that) - it looks cheap. I know not all brands are like this including some of the fiberglass trailers mentioned.
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Old 12-08-2023, 12:31 PM   #20
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Glad we went with AS, very happy. Only a couple of minor issues, warranty covered all of them.
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