Airtstream quality

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Rostam
Posts: 131
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2016 9:54 pm

Airtstream quality

Post by Rostam » Fri Sep 22, 2017 9:54 pm

Attended the Hershey RV show last weekend. We stayed at Hershey campground, met a nice family across our site, and had a good discussion on tow vehicles :)

I spent a couple of hours at Airstream's "booth" and carefully inspected all their models (Basecamp, Bambi, all the way to 33' Classic). When I was trailer shopping I had inspected 2 Avions and 2 Airstreams (one 70's and one 80's Airstream) and I thought the build quality difference between Airstream and Avion was night and day. I had not inspected any new Airstreams though up until this weekend.

I'll start with the positives: The older Airstreams I had inspected were narrow-body and felt claustrophobic. The new Airstreams, however, are wide-body and are also less aerodynamic. Hence, the interior feels much roomier. The vista windows are very nice and let a lot of light in (Vista windows reduce the interior storage though). Interior and exterior of Airstreams looks nice.

Now the negatives: I am sorry to report that the complaints you read on Airforums seem accurate. The fit and finish was poor in all the trailers I inspected (there were maybe 12 trailers there). Caulking was terrible. I am not a pro by any means, but I have caulked our Avion MUCH better than Airstream factory. No wonder Airstream leaks so much. The trim work was bad. You could not find a trim sitting flush against a wall/cabinet/etc. There was always some gap some where. I looked under the couches/cabinets and could find garbage, screws, etc. Apparently nobody uses a shop vac at Jackson center. Believe it or not, the cabinets felt cheap. The doors would not open smoothly, and they would shut close suddenly. They had a cheap feeling to them. I saw surface rust on A-frame of a brand new trailer. Also, I found it worrisome that the frame on a 33' Airstream with 10,000# GVWR was weaker than the frame of my 26' Avion. Inside one trailer, I saw a gap between the window frame and the wall and insulation was sticking out. The rear hatch gasket on a trailer was already coming off. The worst thing was the flimsy step that could not even handle my 160# weight. It was just terrible. IMO, Airstreams are worth less than half their MSRP. These new trailers are a project, and require significant work to remedy the shoddy workmanship, Mind you this is what I could see. Who knows how the electrical, plumbing, LP lines, etc are assembled.

Its funny how when someone complains about Airstream QC on Airforums, the fanboys collectively attack the person. I have owned things that were imperfect and I loved them regardless. I never claimed they were perfect, the best, the greatest, the first, etc. though. Airstream community seems more like a cult and it seems independent thinking is discouraged.
Last edited by Rostam on Sat Sep 23, 2017 9:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
1978 Avion 26-H (Rear twin beds, center bath, front dinette)
2012 Mercedes Benz GL 350 Bluetec, 3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel, 3.45 Axle Ratio

nralifer
Moderator
Posts: 508
Joined: Fri Sep 30, 2016 11:42 pm

Re: Airtstream quality

Post by nralifer » Fri Sep 22, 2017 10:45 pm

Thank you for the report. Sad, sad, sad.....

How I wish someone would resurrect Avion!!
nra1ifer
1987 Avion 34W
Every day is a good day..... some are just better than others!

silverloaf
Posts: 98
Joined: Wed Aug 23, 2017 8:01 pm

Re: Airtstream quality

Post by silverloaf » Sat Sep 23, 2017 8:10 am

Rostam -
This is an interesting observation you made.

We toured the Airstream assembly plant in Ohio about 6 years ago. One gets mesmerized ( maybe even shock and awe) by all the shiny aluminum. I didn't pay close attention to fit, finish and function. In the end, we couldn't justify buying one.

I do remember Ruth being overwhelmed by off-gassing from the adhesives. Maybe that's the reason AS owners are so snarky when matters of QC are mentioned. They get a good buzz along with their investment.

We live in a world of herd mentality, even among trailer owners....except, of course, Avion owners!

Bob

Rostam
Posts: 131
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2016 9:54 pm

Re: Airtstream quality

Post by Rostam » Sat Sep 23, 2017 8:20 am

nralifer wrote:Thank you for the report. Sad, sad, sad.....

How I wish someone would resurrect Avion!!
It is sad indeed. One Airforum member that had bought a brand new Classic said he took his trailer to a reputable renovation shop and paid them 50% of the trailer price to have all the issues fixed. He did not go to Jackson center as he did not trust them. So he may have paid $100k for the trailer and $50k to fix all the issues up. I kind of believe him. I have not done a restoration (only a mini renovation), and it has taken significant amount of time and effort (and the cost adds up pretty quickly). Even after this, you must be content with Airstream's inherent design flaws (no insulation, sub-par frame, and poor towing characteristics).

Paul, IMO, if a brand new 33' Classic is $155k, then your 34' Avion would be $300k if it were new.
1978 Avion 26-H (Rear twin beds, center bath, front dinette)
2012 Mercedes Benz GL 350 Bluetec, 3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel, 3.45 Axle Ratio

Rostam
Posts: 131
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2016 9:54 pm

Re: Airtstream quality

Post by Rostam » Sat Sep 23, 2017 8:31 am

silverloaf wrote:Rostam -
This is an interesting observation you made.

We toured the Airstream assembly plant in Ohio about 6 years ago. One gets mesmerized ( maybe even shock and awe) by all the shiny aluminum. I didn't pay close attention to fit, finish and function. In the end, we couldn't justify buying one.

I do remember Ruth being overwhelmed by off-gassing from the adhesives. Maybe that's the reason AS owners are so snarky when matters of QC are mentioned. They get a good buzz along with their investment.

We live in a world of herd mentality, even among trailer owners....except, of course, Avion owners!

Bob
I plan to do a factory tour at some point, maybe when we are passing through OH. I saw a video of the factory online and it looked chaotic.

I have seen way too many snotty Airstream owners at Airforums. My hope is that Airforum is not reflective of the community as a whole. I inspected an 80's Airstream a couple of years ago. The owners were wonderful! We chatted for a long time and exchanged our contact info. I've heard a lot of not so nice things about Airstream owners though. One friend was puzzled as to why the Airstream owners he had seen were so aloof, when the owners of million dollar motorhomes were down to earth and friendly. Does not make much sense.
1978 Avion 26-H (Rear twin beds, center bath, front dinette)
2012 Mercedes Benz GL 350 Bluetec, 3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel, 3.45 Axle Ratio

silverloaf
Posts: 98
Joined: Wed Aug 23, 2017 8:01 pm

Re: Airtstream quality

Post by silverloaf » Sat Sep 23, 2017 7:12 pm

Rostam -

What did you learn at the Hershey Show about tow vehicles?

Bob

Rostam
Posts: 131
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2016 9:54 pm

Re: Airtstream quality

Post by Rostam » Sat Sep 23, 2017 9:46 pm

silverloaf wrote:Rostam -

What did you learn at the Hershey Show about tow vehicles?

Bob
Just had a chat with a nice family right across our site in the campground. They were thinking of buying a Mercedes tow vehicle (we have one). They wanted to get my opinion, which I shared with them.
1978 Avion 26-H (Rear twin beds, center bath, front dinette)
2012 Mercedes Benz GL 350 Bluetec, 3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel, 3.45 Axle Ratio

Mark R. Obtinario
Posts: 28
Joined: Sun Oct 09, 2016 3:14 am

Re: Airtstream quality

Post by Mark R. Obtinario » Tue Nov 28, 2017 3:07 pm

I too have wondered about the thought process function new AS owners use to agree to paying upwards of $100K for an RV that needs constant attention to keep everything working properly.

One problem that has been cropping up a lot recently is many people are having problems with their 12-VDC side of their power system. It seems that the two Interstate Group 24 batteries go flat before the first night of boondocking has been completed. In many cases it is discovered that the batteries have failed. Interstate replaces them without grousing about it but I don't see that relationship lasting much longer.

The basic problem is, if I understand it correctly, there is such a large hotel load on the 12-VDC system that the load can suck down a battery pack to dead within a few hours. The problem is exacerbated by trailers that have been sitting around a long time from when the battery was installed at the factory to the time the new trailer is delivered to the new owner. There are so many systems that need a constant source of juice to keep remembering what their job is that the batteries go flat while waiting for delivery. Lead acid batteries do not last long if they get discharged more than 50% on a regular basis and many times allowed to go flat dead.

I have a couple of comments to make about the issue. First, why are the batteries hooked up while on the sales lot? Why not disconnect the batteries to keep them from being sucked down dead multiple times before being sold? Second, on a trailer that has a manufacturer's suggested retail price well in excess of $40K on the smalls to well over $100K on the bigs you have to ask the question why lead acid batteries are being installed at the factory? AGM and Li are such better choices and at original construction probably not that much of a difference in price. Lastly, Avion pioneered the four season trailer. Even now today the cold weather in the winter and really hot weather in the summer can make living in an AS a real challenge. While Avion used a really good spray foam that goes in and stays in AS still uses pink fiberglass house insulation. There is no way such a small batting of fiberglass insulation is going to come close to the sprayed in foam Avion used.

I will keep my 34V and just smile and nod as AS people moan and groan about quality control issues.

nralifer
Moderator
Posts: 508
Joined: Fri Sep 30, 2016 11:42 pm

Re: Airtstream quality

Post by nralifer » Tue Nov 28, 2017 4:09 pm

You and I think a lot alike!

You probably saw my input on the Airforum’s “suggested improvements for Airstream”?

I suggested that they bring back Avion, but badge it as an Airstream! Several problems fixed! :mrgreen:
nra1ifer
1987 Avion 34W
Every day is a good day..... some are just better than others!

RISK
Posts: 68
Joined: Wed Aug 02, 2017 9:50 am
Location: Sunset Valley, TX

Re: Airtstream quality

Post by RISK » Sat Dec 02, 2017 3:31 pm

nralifer wrote:
Tue Nov 28, 2017 4:09 pm
You and I think a lot alike!

You probably saw my input on the Airforum’s “suggested improvements for Airstream”?

I suggested that they bring back Avion, but badge it as an Airstream! Several problems fixed! :mrgreen:
Did you see my reply to your comment?

Ian

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