Airstream vs Fiberglass - Fiberglass RV
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Old 05-24-2017, 08:24 PM   #1
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Name: Dwain
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Airstream vs Fiberglass

My wife and I took our first visit to a few RV dealers, and entered a TT for the first time. We looked at smaller units, 16-21. Unfortunately, they did not have any Fiberglass TT, but did have Airstreams. Of course, Airstreams were quite impressive with a huge price. Is there anyone who has had both and can comment on reliablity, leaks, etc... I think the Oliver would compare as far an interior quality to the Airstream, and Oliver would be less expensive, and being FG, a better TT.

If anyone has any knowlege in this area, please respond. I am still leaning toward an Escape due to price, and looks like a quality TT.

Thanks Dwain
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Old 05-24-2017, 10:41 PM   #2
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You were impressed by the Airstreams. Impressed how? That is the key here.

They are beautiful and look like a luxury apartment inside, but they may not be practical for your intended type of camping, and they are not as easy to tow as a narrower design.

So, if you want short trips with maximum luxury, they are great. If you want longer trips with more self sufficiency and easier towing, maybe not. If you want to be plugged in and live in one, very nice.

Airstreams definitely have the reputation, but a closer look may reveal that they are not what they could be, for some intended purposes. Less practical food storage and much less battery power, for instance.

Not sure on the metal skin vs fiberglass, but I think the fiberglass is less likely to scar from branches brushing by or minor bumps. A minor dent in the aluminum is probably harder to deal with than fiberglass, but the fiberglass may need a bit more care to keep it as bright and fresh as possible. Any scar in the aluminum will be with you always.

Airstreams are also the most expensive. So you have to decide on your budget and how it affects your time traveling or when you might be able to get a trailer.
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Old 05-25-2017, 02:28 AM   #3
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Never had one Dwain but a few friends have. Forgetting interiors, options, the basic cost and any other eye candy, they all ended up changing to other TTs brands because a ding, scrape or mark stood out a block away & were big $ to fix. Might want to pull up a few AS forums just to see what owners like or dislike. All RVs have +&-'s, but in any smaller rig, the bed size is probably the biggest factor as that's where you'll spend most of your time in an RV. You might want check the rally map and stop by one of the FG rallys to see different brands/layouts and talk to some of the owners for a first hand look. Good luck in your search.
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Old 05-25-2017, 04:22 AM   #4
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We looked at them, and liked them. Ignoring the price, which we were willing to pay, here's the reasons we passed.

Heavy, filliform corrosion, window leaks, needing to go back to the dealer for over priced repairs, depreciation, and being bought out by Thor i belive. Closest dealer is 3 states away.

Sure are comfortable though.
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Old 05-25-2017, 06:32 AM   #5
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Great points. Thanks for input.
Dwain
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Old 05-25-2017, 06:44 AM   #6
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My brother owns an AS. His 2nd one (went from a '06 19ft to a '09 28ft).
Very nice trailer, certainly a head turner. Not very lightweight but very low drag ('Eco mode' (cylinder deactivation) kicks in when he tow with his 5.7l Ram 1500 on flat roads).
I would say interior quality is a notch above many other regular trailer. But as my brother found, they are far from perfect, and he found numerous issues due to botched workmanship in both his AS. Of course FG trailers are certainly not immune to this but he saw things IMO you're not supposed to see in a 100K CAD$ trailer. Last fall his trailer was damaged in a corner by another vehicle, not every place can fix this properly, he had it fixed at a dealership for $2500 (a rounded piece of aluminium sheet had to be replaced).
He's an AS fan and he likes it very much, but I'm not sure I would get one myself. May be an older unit that I would restore. But I'd rather spend some time in my Trillium! (he calls my Trill the "plastic pill bottle" and I call his AS the "rattle can"!)

I'ver never seen an Oliver in person, but they look to me very well crafted, probably above what AS does. They look to me like luxury yatchs.

One thing to watch for are Eriba trailers. Eriba is a french trailer manufacturer. Their Touring trailers have been built for decades and have a cult status in Europe, just like AS over here. Very sought for in the used market.
Now Eriba belongs to the Hymer group, a german manufacturer who mostly makes what we call here Class B/B+ motorhomes. And a few months back Hymer bought canadian Class B manufacturer Roadtrek, based in Kitchener ON. And Hymer said they will introduce the Eriba Touring to the NA market. Check this:
You are being redirected...

This is very good news, and could be a game changer. The quality if these trailers are above just about anything made on this side of the pond. The price will go with it, but it probably won't be far from what Oliver and AS ask. I will seriously look at them when they come out.
Take a look. This is the Touring model, the smaller one, but look also at the larger trailer made by Eriba, they are super nice:
https://www.eriba.com/en/models/cara...ng/highlights/
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Old 05-25-2017, 06:57 AM   #7
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Seeing an Oliver or Escape being described as the LESS EXPENSIVE option. , seems rather odd. I guess it's all relative to what you are comparing them to. Reminds me of friends who describe a $50 bottle of wine as modestly priced .
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Old 05-25-2017, 06:59 AM   #8
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Thank you.
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Old 05-25-2017, 08:14 AM   #9
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Personally the interior of AS trailers seems small and cramped to me. If I had the budget for a new AS, I'd rather get a new Bigfoot. As far as actual quality though, this thread is a good read on the subject.

Thor vs. Airstream values - Airstream Forums
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Old 05-25-2017, 08:34 AM   #10
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We had a 1999 25' AS for 6 years. It was 2 years old when we purchased it site unseen in Utah on the internet.

On the plus side, we had very little depreciation. $2000 over the 6 years.

1. Had a water leak from day 2 for 6 years. But it was on her side so it wasn't a big deal. lol. It entered at the rear window but after trying many fixes, including pressurizing the unit twice, replacing gaskets, replacing the rear cap rivets with new o-ring type. It was still leaking when we traded it for a Carriage (another huge mistake and long story).

2. Hail damage expensive to repair even with insurance.

3. A/C didn't cool well in Tx. summers.

4. Very limited storage similar to our Casita.

5. Awning lock spring broke and came unfurled going down the road and ripped as well as broke out the skylights. Could happen to any trailer.

6. Had twin beds and the drawer in the night stand kept tearing loose due to the bouncing.

7. Shelf in the microwave collapsed also from the bouncing even though the unit had shocks.

8. And yes, I would buy another one with the price being the drawback. Problems were nil compared with the Carriage.
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Old 05-25-2017, 09:06 AM   #11
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Just go to a FG rally and tour them all. You are not going to find a molded FG trailer at a RV dealer. And dealers are experts at convincing you whatever they have is perfect for you and whatever they don't have is crap
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Old 05-25-2017, 10:32 AM   #12
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I have owned both and believe in many ways the Airstream (AS) to Fiberglass trailer (FG) comparison is a difficult comparison. Most AS are larger than most FG trailers in general therefore the living arrangements can be very different even though both have a dinette, bed, bathroom and kitchen.

With FG trailers it's always been about size of the trailers which was short. With AS their trailers got BIG starting in the late 70's and only recently did AS decided it was smart to once again go small by offering smaller better design trailers. I find it interesting that "some" FG trailer manufacturer's are going BIGGER. Bigfoot, Escape & Oliver have gone bigger with their FG trailer offerings with Scott Oliver telling me at their Rally that Oliver is considering building another bigger yet trailer.

An interior with Polished Aluminum cabinets looks a Hell of a lot better than white fiberglass cabinets with some wood doors for appearance. Same with counter tops and other interiors appointments. "I" think you should heavily consider what IS more important to you.

Form or Function?

AS trailers are easy to find and purchase. AS has LOT'S of dealers with inventory sitting on the lot. NOT SO with a FG trailer. With one exception all of the FG trailer manufacturer's sell direct to the consumer with a 3-12 month wait. AS trailers are selling about as fast as they can make em and yes they do have quality issues. FG trailers are already sold before they are built. Short of visiting their factories your ONLY chance to really see a FG trailer up close is a Rally OR a referral to a private owner from the manufacturer. While you are at it why not take a trip to the AS factory in Jackson Center and take a look at how an AS is built? IF you can afford a $100K for a trailer you certainly have the money and time to take a look and see how both types of trailers are built. I sure as Hell would!

AS trailers are expensive as you well know and yet they STILL have many of the same structural problems they have had for YEARS! So much for product improvement over all these years!

Do you want Shiny and Pretty or Solid and Functional?

FG trailers are also certainly NOT without their problems. FG trailer problems with new trailers always seem to "ME" to be different from AS trailer problems. Rarely have "I" ever heard of structural issues with a FG trailer. Usually its a problem with an item the trailer manufacturer purchased and installed on the trailer not working properly. With AS "I" continue to hear about structural defects in their new trailers along with all the other issues that FG trailers can have.

Don't get me wrong. The AS is still a fine trailer and certainly top of the line and better than most all "Sticky" trailers. "I" think the AS reputation far exceeds the quality of the product they produce.

Does that mean "I" think FG trailers are the "Best There Is"?

NO!

FG trailers are different in many ways as described above by me and the other's who have responded. With FG trailers representing such a small amount (2%-3%) of the 450,000 RV's that will be sold in 2017 that it's hard to make the comparison you requested.

Time to hit the road so YOU can personally LOOK at AS trailers and FG trailers make your OWN informed decision as to which trailer will fit your want's, need's and desires!
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Old 05-25-2017, 10:46 AM   #13
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If you can afford an Airstream then you more than likely can afford any tag along camper that you like.
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Old 05-25-2017, 11:16 AM   #14
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We have known for some time that we wanted to give a Casita a try. We always seemed to call to late and they would have already been sold. We visited an AS dealer and a lady was there to drop off her 2015 LD 17' Casita and pick up a new 5th wheel. We jumped on it even though it wasn't the floor plan we had decided we liked. Have only had it out one time but really enjoyed it. As to it being small, we have a standing agreement that for extended long trips, I can't take my weapon because there would be a shooting and one of us wouldn't be coming home. lol
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Old 05-25-2017, 07:30 PM   #15
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Wink

I find it amusing that anyone would compare an AS with an FGRV. Perhaps we should consider why we are 'traveling' and 'camping' ?? Which mobile acommodation 'moves' better - and absorbs the 'campfire theme' better ?
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Old 05-26-2017, 08:07 AM   #16
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I would NEVER buy a Airstream.(Just my opinion)
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Old 05-26-2017, 08:07 AM   #17
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Name: Dwain
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Thanks everyone! I definitely would not be able afford anything but the Bambi AS, which is about the price of an Oliver. I was not seriously considering an AS, but I did like the inside, so I was just curious. The responses have confirmed my thoughts, that FG is the best in durabilty, and a much better value for the price.

Anyway, it will be a long while before I purchase, and I am just beginining the research and learning about TT. I am going to make an appoitment with someone who has a 2017 17' Escape, that is the size I am thinking about. No more than a 19'.

Thanks all for responses!

Dwain
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Old 05-26-2017, 08:17 AM   #18
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Dwain, If you are interested in Oliver trailers, see if there is one in your area. https://olivertraveltrailers.com/referral-program/

You might get some insight from a current owner.
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Old 05-26-2017, 09:19 AM   #19
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I don't know about the weather conditions in the section of Florida where the OP lives, but out here in Colorado we can get some pretty awful hailstorms. (Damage from a storm that hit the Denver area earlier this month is estimated at $1.4 Billion!) I've been in my Casita during a hailstorm and though it is loud, described as being on the inside of a corn popper, there was no damage. An Airstream would not be so lucky. On the other hand, maybe some people like the golf ball look.
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Old 05-26-2017, 10:27 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry G View Post
I don't know about the weather conditions in the section of Florida where the OP lives, but out here in Colorado we can get some pretty awful hailstorms. (Damage from a storm that hit the Denver area earlier this month is estimated at $1.4 Billion!) I've been in my Casita during a hailstorm and though it is loud, described as being on the inside of a corn popper, there was no damage. An Airstream would not be so lucky. On the other hand, maybe some people like the golf ball look.
Terry,
That AS looks like it didn't use quite enough Clearasil during its pubescent years! Thanks for posting this picture.
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