Airstream Torn - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-04-2007, 11:43 AM   #1
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Trailer: Airstream 16 ft OB
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Have to say that I was very impressed with the Airstream 16 ft. Bambi, International Edition after seeing one yesterday. The layout alone seemed perfect in my estimation. Here's what I found appealing.

Bath/toilet on the side immediately to the left upon entry
Abundance of windows
Rear sleeping quarters
Dinette in front
Quality of construction

What's not so appealing apparently is the price.

Obviously the egg shell type trailer manufacturers can't compete with Airstream based on their construction methods but why can't they provide an equal amount of windows and a layout that seems perfect, at least to me? I also noticed that the Bambi is over a foot wider than all of the eggies. Why?
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Old 09-04-2007, 12:13 PM   #2
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Trailer: 1989 Bigfoot 17 ft and 1989 Li'l Bigfoot 13 ft
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Quote:
also noticed that the Bambi is over a foot wider than all of the eggies. Why?
Airstream spec: 8' wide exterior

Bigfoot spec ('89 B17G): 7' 10" wide exterior

2" is pretty close...
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Old 09-04-2007, 01:01 PM   #3
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It certainly is easier to produce nice layouts when there is more width to work with; however, the market need being filled by almost all of the egg makers (Bigfoot is the exception) is for lightweight and compact trailers for smaller tow vehicles. We looked at a Bambi, and in addition to being massively overpriced, it's just to massive - too wide and too heavy for us.

I also found the Bambi's layout awkward, as the rear bedroom (only a bed, not a dual-purpose bed and couch like mine) is isolated (by the bathroom and closet) so the trailer doesn't feel especially roomy for its size. Of course, that isolation would be a good feature for many people... tastes vary.

There are a few widebody egg designs, including my Boler B1700 (long out of production), the Bigfeet (all recent and larger designs), and the widebody variation of the Burro. Generally they are between 7' and 8' wide. As far as I know, only the Bigfoot survives in regular production. The big volume egg makers (Scamp and Casita) have stayed with the classic 6'8" width.

I don't find any lack of windows in my Boler; almost every bit of wall which is not a cabinet is a window. The "advantage" of the Airstream is those expensive and vulnerable front wrap-around windows. Anyone up for building a custom-windowed egg?
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Old 09-04-2007, 01:24 PM   #4
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Zeb,

Here are some threads you'll find enlightening:

Best Quality

And...

Two-foot-itis

And last...

How big, function vs ease of use??

They have excellent discussions of some of the very issues you are now struggling with.

Let us know your thoughts!

Roger
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Old 09-04-2007, 03:22 PM   #5
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Roger - Excellent reads in the links provided. Thanks!

The Airstream is probably not a good match for us for a variety of reasons but I still like the layout and number of windows. None of the fiberglass trailers have all of the desired features. After Roger's suggested reading I thought the 17' Bigfoot was worth considering but the sleeping arrangements with both models were awful IMHO. One plan had a fold-out bed that was less the 40" wide and the other was partly under the kitchen sink. The 17' Escape is or was another good prospect but the AC is not roof mounted. It has a decent floorplan though and a good assortment of windows. Appear that I'm being overly picky? The search continues.
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Old 09-04-2007, 03:28 PM   #6
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Zeb, the Bigfoot 15B17G with the side gaucho layout is modifiable for a wider bed; perhaps not optimal, but wider.

For me, the small front dinette Burro 17' with the front bunk option and wide body and "long" bed in the back is still the most useable small trailer interior design I've found.

Roger
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Old 09-04-2007, 03:48 PM   #7
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Airstream to me is lots of work later on when the finish starts looking shabby.

Come on now you just can't have a shabby looking Airstream, I think it might be illegal!

Oh, and there's the hailstone problem,, ouch!

Did I mention. " It costs how much?"

Or " It weighs how much?"

I guess if I was totally loaded I would go for a Diesel Suburban and the big Airstream but alas! I am a poor loser who has a 13' Burro with no bathroom.
And no prospects of getting richer in the future.
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Old 09-04-2007, 06:53 PM   #8
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Trailer: Casita Patriot 13 ft and Airstream Safari Sport 17 ft
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I guess if I was totally loaded I would go for a Diesel Suburban and the big Airstream but alas! I am a poor loser who has a 13' Burro with no bathroom.And no prospects of getting richer in the future.
Well.....after buying and restoring a 13 Casita in 2002 we decided to also purchase an airstream, electing to buy a new model for 2008, the Safari Sport 17. So far we find the airstream to be VERY comfortable and easy to tow. The new model is marketed toward younger persons at the entry level, and driving smaller SUV's. We are in our mid-fifties, almost to my second retirement, and drive a big pickup truck TV, a Mercedes sedan, a Dodge Intrepid (police issue vehicle), and sort of drive a 1951 Mercury, and will never drive my work-in-progress 1937 Buick. The Safari Sport follows the "Euro" airstream models, being narrower, having fewer windows, and weighs under 3000 lbs. I think there are advantages to FG models and airstreams as well, as we now own one of each. After a few more trips in the A/S I will gladly share my thoughts on what I like and dislike about both models that I own.

Oh, by the way, I also know that there are others on this list that, like me, have at least one of each!

JD Thornton
Natchitoches LA
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Old 09-05-2007, 08:10 AM   #9
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Quote:
Well.....after buying and restoring a 13 Casita in 2002 we decided to also purchase an airstream, electing to buy a new model for 2008, the Safari Sport 17. So far we find the airstream to be VERY comfortable and easy to tow.
JD Thornton
Natchitoches LA
Wow... JD!

I'm a former moderator on AirstreamForums.com, but having sold my last Airstream last year, I haven't kept up much on the newer models. It looks like Airstream is finally going back to find their base market. The new Safari Sports and DWR units are well laid out, and don't require a 3/4 ton truck to tow. Except for their expense, they look like viable travel trailers again! I expect we'll begin to see a few of these on the roads soon!

With all of the new fiberglass trailer offerings, and now some new Airstream offerings, it looks like we may be headed into a new "golden age" of small, comfortable travel trailers!

Thanks for the heads up!

Roger
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Old 09-05-2007, 10:27 AM   #10
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Quote:
... and sort of drive a 1951 Mercury, and will never drive my work-in-progress 1937 Buick.

I admire anyone who is in touch with the reality of his hobbies, and keeps doing them anyway!
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Old 09-05-2007, 10:45 AM   #11
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I thought that the new European Airstream model was appealing when it appeared, since the changes from the North American model were desirable (including the narrower width). Ironically, the narrower Sport does not accommodate Zeb's desired floorplan (I don't see a width listed for the bizarrely named Design Within Reach).

I welcome any additional small, comfortable trailers, but I also note that the 17' Sport is still hundreds of pounds heavier than my B1700 of the same size, and effectively too heavy for the large category of potential tugs with 3500 lb towing capacity. Also, the first photo on the main Safari Sport page shows a vast expanse of aluminum and almost no windows.

The 22' Safari Sport looks like a nice layout, although B1700 Side Gaucho owners may wonder why Airsteam needed an extra five feet to do this plan...

Perhaps the Sport could be an invitation to the egg makers - other than Bigfoot - who have abandoned the "widebody" (but still not 8' wide) format to reconsider it.
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Old 09-05-2007, 05:38 PM   #12
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If you think the Airstream was nice (and it is - just too big and heavy for me) don't ever look at the current Hymer Eriba line of European trailers - those Europeans sure know how to design some nice interiors (and keep the trailers light too). Too bad the conversion to US Specifications would be too cost prohibitive. The conversion from the 240V system to 110 volt would require all new wiring among other things...
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Old 09-05-2007, 06:41 PM   #13
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Trailer: Airstream 16 ft OB
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Jack - Couldn't help myself and looked at a small sampling of Hymer Eriba's online. Outstanding quality from what I can tell in the pictures. Do any of these trailers ever appear here in the US? Wonder if any domestic manufacturers considered making something similar in quality?
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Old 09-06-2007, 06:43 AM   #14
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Trailer: Casita Patriot 13 ft and Airstream Safari Sport 17 ft
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The Airstream cost about 3 times what a new Casita would have cost in 2002, I think. (Airstream Sport 17 = 30K in 2007 vs Casita Patriot 13 = 10.5 K in 2002), but it is hard for me to compare the two at this point. It seems obvious, to me anyway, that this new model A/S was influenced by the popularity of the FG models. And remember, we didn't replace our Casita with an Airstream, but rather see a need, if you will, for the A/S as an "upgrade" that we can afford. The Casita will still be our first choice (actually only choice) for remote camping on our land we own that isn't blessed with a paved road. Well, this land doesn't actually have ANY road and takes about a mile of driving through swampland and so on before we even get to the property, and then another 1/2 mile on the property to get to our 3-generation campsite. You get the idea.

But we also camp in "regular" campgrounds and believe that, at this point in our lives, the the little airstream will be a good addition. Time will tell. So far we have spent a grand total of two nights in it in two different "improved" campsites so it is a bit early for me to make direct comparisons. But I will let you know after we have some experiences to share.

JD Thornton

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