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Old 10-04-2011, 07:55 PM   #1
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Are Airstreams Gaining Weight?

I've recently starting looking to upgrade my TT to something like a new Flying Cloud 27 FB. Along the way - doing my usual reading of everything I can find in forums and online blogs, I have read a few times something that goes like this: "Yeah, the new A/S are nice but they are much heavier than back in the old days."

Anyone have a comment about this? I suppose it means that a 27 back them was lighter than an 27 today? I find that hard to understand given modern materials. But, I have no way to know.
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Old 10-04-2011, 08:09 PM   #2
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Short answer? Yes. The dry weight on our '73 was about 4500 lbs. What does a new one weigh? Roughly twice that? Round numbers, of course. Lot's of fluff added in later years.

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Old 10-04-2011, 08:12 PM   #3
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Yowza! That's quite weight gain. I'll be headed up to Oregon at the end of this month to finally have a peek at the new models. Maybe I can discover what all this weight is about.
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Old 10-04-2011, 08:32 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Jim & Susan View Post
Short answer? Yes. The dry weight on our '73 was about 4500 lbs. What does a new one weigh? Roughly twice that? Round numbers, of course. Lot's of fluff added in later years.

Jim
That's a bit of an exaggeration.

For instance a new 27FB flying Cloud has dry weight of 5808. Even a 27FB Classic is only 6592. The classics aren't really designed with weight in mind. However both of those are a far cry from 9000 in my book.

Ken
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Old 10-04-2011, 08:48 PM   #5
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Sorry guys. Maybe I need to check the scales.

The main point is that as time goes by, all campers get heavier, regardless of who built them.

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Old 10-04-2011, 08:52 PM   #6
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Here's the spec sheet on this year's model. Airstream, Inc :: Specifications

The GVWR comes in at about 9000lbs. Guess I got my specs mixed up.

I think the dry weight on our '73 is about 4500 lbs. GVWR is around 6300 lbs, IIRC.

Sorry for the confusion.

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Old 10-04-2011, 09:01 PM   #7
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Perhaps we should start a "weight watchers" section for our trailers. lol!
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Old 10-04-2011, 09:06 PM   #8
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If light weight is important to you there are some models to meet that requirement.

Our 22 foot 1980 International Caravelle was a lightweight for its model year, only 7 1/2 feet wide and 4,000 pounds gross weight.

The 2011 22 foot Safari Sport is comparable in both width and weight--4,500 pounds gross weight. Airstream, Inc :: Specifications

On the other hand, a current model 25 foot Flying Cloud is 8 1/2 feet wide and runs 7,300 pounds gross weight Airstream, Inc :: Specifications

So, as always, "you pays your money and you takes your choice".

In general the reason trailers have gotten heavier over the years is that buyers expect more stuff in them--capacious water and waste tanks, big batteries for boondocking endurance, microwaves, large screen TV's, etc.

Our Caravelle has a 25 gallon fresh water tank, 15 gallon gray and black water tanks, and a single 90 Amp-hour battery. (We do have a microwave, though.)
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Old 10-04-2011, 09:38 PM   #9
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Just the other day, Belle asked if her bumber sticker made her hind end look bigger......
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Old 10-04-2011, 10:16 PM   #10
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Just the other day, Belle asked if her bumber sticker made her hind end look bigger......
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Old 10-04-2011, 10:33 PM   #11
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Here is a nice pdf of airstream weights that is sometimes hard to find.

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Old 10-04-2011, 10:55 PM   #12
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Well sure, all things equal, like length and floorplan, I'd like a lighter one. Why not? I'm not sure how else to answer the question, "is weight important to me?" I would think weight is important, period.

I think my concern was more about where this weight is coming in? For example, are they suddenly using particle board all over? That would be a rather big negative to me. Or maybe "tile floors" which I saw in various Class A MHs a few weeks back? I definitely don't want an RV with tile floors.

Flat TVs? Goodness gracious, my 30" at home weighs but about 30 pounds. Now if they were using old fashioned 30" console TVs I could see a lot of extra weight.

Batteries are heavy, that's for sure. I guess I'll get to find out fairly soon. Right now I am just an ignorant ball of conflicting information.
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Old 10-05-2011, 12:23 AM   #13
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I think most of the weight gain is from the interior cabinets and stuff we think we need. Solid surface countertops, wood floors, cabinets made like home units with full oak or other hardwood fronts. Look at older AS products and you will find cabinets made from lightweight materials, even al in some units, and other strong but light materials. The trailers were designed for travel, not to impress someone that wants their vehicle to look like home, complete with glass front walnut cabinets for their wine glasses.

There is a place for "home look" units but in my opinion there are too many made for looks and not for travel. One reason I like my older units is they don't pretend to be home, they are a vehicle for travel maximizing my comfort in a small space.

And yes, larger refrigerators, made up beds, large holding tanks, and all the "stuff" we fee we have to have contributes to the weight gain.

But then tow vehicles have kept up, and can tow heavier units and still get decent milage, relatively speaking. My first AS was a 21 (or 23) foot one towed with a Jeep Cherokee wagon. As I recall, milage was in the 12 range. I just got a new 2012 Grand Cherokee 5.7 L and towing my 4000 # 20' Argosy am averaging 13+ mpg. It is a vastly improved tow vehicle, has far more power and is light years ahead in safety, comfort and so on over the old '79 from way back when.

Weight is not nearly the issue that it can be made out to be. Front surface area and air resistance probably have much more influence, and Airstreams always have been good in that area vs. the big boxes.
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Old 10-05-2011, 08:46 AM   #14
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Idroba--

Thanks. I very much agree about interior design. I am putoff by the aesthetic of trying to reproduce home in a trailer with giant puffy furniture, brass plated chandeliers and all the frilly doo-dads over the windows. One of the reasons I like the A/S is that at least in some models, they use a sleeker euro-style that has less unnecessary trimmings and gingerbread.

My personal aesthetic for a TT would be "modern space ship" - not "log cabin in the woods" or "French whorehouse." Most trailers being sold today make me want to puke at the insides. Man, I would LOVE all aluminum cabinets, and lightweight surfaces. If only....

I do realize though that my aesthetic is probably 1% of the buying public, so it's not something I would see commercially.

I guess the obvious answer is Bigger Truck. Too bad.
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Old 10-05-2011, 08:56 AM   #15
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I hear you on the weight.

You may want to check out Earthbound trailers to see if they're lighter. Perhaps you will find them interesting.

Quite a few of us are towing late model 25' Airstreams with the most capable half ton trucks/ suvs. I have no concerns about the way mine pulls.
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Old 10-05-2011, 09:05 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuvite-F
If light weight is important to you there are some models to meet that requirement.

Our 22 foot 1980 International Caravelle was a lightweight for its model year, only 7 1/2 feet wide and 4,000 pounds gross weight.

The 2011 22 foot Safari Sport is comparable in both width and weight--4,500 pounds gross weight. Airstream, Inc :: Specifications

On the other hand, a current model 25 foot Flying Cloud is 8 1/2 feet wide and runs 7,300 pounds gross weight Airstream, Inc :: Specifications

So, as always, "you pays your money and you takes your choice".

In general the reason trailers have gotten heavier over the years is that buyers expect more stuff in them--capacious water and waste tanks, big batteries for boondocking endurance, microwaves, large screen TV's, etc.

Our Caravelle has a 25 gallon fresh water tank, 15 gallon gray and black water tanks, and a single 90 Amp-hour battery. (We do have a microwave, though.)
.
If you really want light, you can go back even farther. The stated OEM weight of our 1959 Pacer 18' model was 2130 lbs. But it only had- a bed, sofa, sink, stove, fridge, closet, and toilet. Imagine that...

Talk about America having obesity issues. Sounds like Thor needs a tummy tuck.
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Old 10-05-2011, 10:07 AM   #17
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This comes up fairly regularly.

In broad terms the weight changes are not significant when comparing similarly sized and equipped trailers.

The first fact to consider is that the change to wide-body trailers for the longer lengths in the late 1980s added significant interior space and along with it increased the weight as a result of everything being larger. A modern 27' trailer has more usable space than a 30' trailer from the 1970s era.

The second fact to consider is that the historical base weights did not include features that were optional at the time of manufacture. The largest and most obvious example is the air conditioner. But, especially in the earliest years, things like the second propane tank, awnings, the water heater, the audio system, and the spare tire were optional extras. In some smaller early trailers the water heater and fridge were optional as well.

Thirdly, particularly in the 25'-30' range, early trailers had structural problems that resulted from the frame being built too light. Fixing this involved adding more metal and more weight, both in the process of repairing trailers that showed the problem and in making manufacturing changes to prevent it in the future.

Finally, in recognition of the typical real-world axle loads and to support the addition of a greywater tank, Airstream added axle capacity in the 1980s and 1990s. The larger axles, brakes, wheels, and tires added to the overall base weight.

So, I don't think it's really about the cabinetry though that does play a minor role. When you compare the scale weights of old and new trailers of comparable size and features, the differences are minor.
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Old 10-05-2011, 10:12 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim & Susan View Post
The main point is that as time goes by, all campers get heavier, regardless of who built them.

jim
I certainly did!
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Old 10-05-2011, 11:52 AM   #19
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whatelse would we do with 800lbs of torque in today's new trucks...
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Old 10-05-2011, 12:29 PM   #20
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The greater hitch weights of the Airstreams seems to me to be the bigger problem. They are much greater than 10% of trailer weight, and a lot of tow capacity ratings are specified using that 10% metric.
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