We are so happy to share a question and answer & home-on-wheels tour today with another Argosy owner, we love our tiny painted Airstream and never once ran into someone else with one while traveling all of last year, it’s fun to see others (as owners particularly) because the layouts are very similar in many models with only slight tweaks.. this 24ft model is much different with the middle bedroom but otherwise there are still lots of similarities. We were introduced by fellow airstreamers Tiffany & Deke over cyberspace and hope to meet up one day on the road… David has given tons of fantastic advice/information in this Q&A.. anyone thinking about taking the plunge will be loaded with good info..
1. How did you decide on an Airstream as your camper of choice and specifically an Argosy?
I’ve noticed Airstreams all my life, and I’ve always been fascinated with them. They were pretty much the only RV that didn’t seem “frumpy” to me, though I still find that the interior of some of them is a bit of a disconnect from the sleek streamlined exterior. Chris Deam commented on the same thing, saying it was odd to walk into the door of the ’90s Airstreams and go from the retro-modern exterior into “grandma’s kitchen.” (Owners of Classics will probably give me hell for that answer.) I’m a bit obsessive about research and when I found AIRForums I dove in headfirst, reading a ton about the trailers (and learning about the construction of other brands in the process) and realized that the durability/restorability of Airstreams made it more appealing than most other brands (Streamline, Silver Streak and the older silver Avions would also qualify there.)
Our Argosy was just a happy coincidence… I wasn’t specifically looking for or avoiding Argosy trailers, but it happened to be The One. When we found out we were staying here for at least a few years, I started looking. I checked out several vintage trailers far and near, and ended up finding the Argosy only 12 miles from the house. I happened to see the listing 15 minutes after it was posted, called the same day to make an appointment to inspect it 2 days later, and thus began the grand adventure/addiction. I was very skeptical about it, because the seller didn’t even post any pictures and the price was higher than lots of the listings, but it was better than even the description in the listing, and I’m still convinced it was worth every penny.
2. What year/length is your Argosy and were you looking for a particular size?
Our trailer is a 1975 Argosy24 (so 24 feet from bumper to hitch). I was looking for a mid-sized trailer (22-27 feet) mainly because I was a little intimidated at the idea of towing a really big trailer (and I didn’t want to feel like I needed a big truck) and I knew that the smaller sizes are in higher demand and therefore a bit pricy. So far it’s turned out to be a “just right” size for us… we’re both big guys, and when we travel with the dogs it’s good to have enough room for everyone to settle somewhere without tripping over one another.
3. We love having a painted Airstream versus the traditional silver, have you ran into many on your weekend outings? (we never do)
We’re also very happy with the painted trailer, though our paint is the original 1975 paintjob, so refreshing that is going to happen somewhere down the road. So far I haven’t seen another Argosy when we’ve been camping, though 2 different random people at gas stations and a few Airstream owners have said they used to have an Argosy. Every one of them has said they regretted selling it too! One of the advantages of an Argosy in Texas is that they don’t heat up in the sun quite as much as the silver trailers. It’s still MUCH better to have good shade, but even with our antique AC unit we can usually keep it comfortable inside.
4. What do you love/hate about your set up?
We really love the panoramic front windows. It’s the biggest advantage of an Argosy over a silver trailer of the same era, the Airstream models didn’t get panos until the 80s (on a few models.) If you buy an Argosy, PROTECT YOUR PANOS! You just can’t get the clear-glass panos anymore unless they come from a scrapped trailer, we had custom padded protectors made for when we’re towing that remove easily, so we get great light when we’re camping (the Airstream rock guards have a dark tint).
The next problem we need to solve is the mattresses (both, ours is a twin-bed floorplan.) They’re not original anyway, so I’m not conflicted about it like I would be if we had to replace the cushions on the dinette w/ their funky ’70s fabric. They’re just not thick/supportive enough for big guys, and we often wake up with sore/stiff backs and shoulders. We need thicker mattresses with denser foam and perhaps a memory-foam layer on top.
5. Are you equipped for boondocking? Did your Argosy already have a gray tank and if not did you install one?
In theory we could boondock in moderate weather, but we haven’t yet tried it out. We still have the recalled original Suburban furnace, and the only way to check whether or not the fix for the recall has been done involves taking it out… which involves dismantling the galley cabinets, which means removing the range and sink… funny how satisfying a little ceramic heater can be when you have 120v power! (; They started with (tiny!) gray tanks in 1974, so our trailer has 15 gallons of graywater storage. With careful use we’ve had 4-day stays without a sewer hookup and hadn’t filled it. We’ve only got 1 battery and still have mostly incandescent lights, so 2 nights boondocking with VERY careful power usage would be our limit without buying a generator.
6. Advice for those dreaming of buying their very own?
Research first, then DO it. And don’t be in a hurry to buy the first one you see. There is a fantastic “airstream trailer inspection checklist” on the AIRForums website that I’d recommend anyone use (just do a Google search for the string I have in quotes, it’s currently the first result.) Don’t expect a $4000 trailer to be perfect, odds are you’ll spend that amount on it again getting it into good shape. Ours was in very good shape (and cost well over $4k), we could have gone camping right away, but there are still things to improve. I hear from people with brand new ones that those also cost money to keep road-ready.
Also, think VERY carefully about the sleeping arrangements. If one of you thrashes about in your sleep or needs lots of space, a double bed ain’t enough for 2. A “real” queen (that’s not in the corner) or a twin-bed plan may be better for you, it is for us!
7. As gourmands, any challenges in the kitchen?
The size of the range has been a problem from time to time. Even though we try to have right-sized cookware, those burners are CLOSE together and getting everything done at the same time takes a little practice. We’ve learned to plan meals that are galley-friendly, such as one item finishing in the oven while the rest finish on a burner or two. We’ve also bought a nice little Coleman propane grill with a burner so we can cook part of the meal outside.
8. Favorite spots you’ve been to?
Mill Creek Park near Jasper, TX is a nice place if it’s not too hot. It’s a Corps of Engineers campground on Lake Sam Rayburn, with great tall trees and good spacing between the campsites. Blanco State Park is also very nice. We’re still trying new places for most of our trips, we haven’t had the Argosy long enough to do a lot of repeat visits.
9. You belong to an Airstream group.. is that fun?
We belong to two, a unit of the official WBCCI club and the unofficial AIRForums group. Both have been great for us.
We’re in the Heart of Texas Camping Unit of the WBCCI, which is a “virtual” unit in that we have our business meetings/votes/etc. online via email, and all of our events are about camping. It’s a great, diverse, welcoming group of people and has been very rewarding, we’ve made good friends in the unit. So far our “social” camping trips have been split pretty evenly between HoTCU and AIRForums, and both kinds of trips have been great fun.
AIRForums is a mostly-online organization. The discussion forums have an unbelievable amount of valuable information about using, maintaining, restoring, modifying and/or improving Airstreams, as well as a treasure trove of specific info about various different models, etc. It’s all user-contributed, the moderators are just a group of people even more fanatical about their “aluminitis” who volunteer to chaperone a bit. Quite a few people arrange gatherings from informal camp-outs to big rallies via AIRForums, so there’s a good in-person social aspect to it as well.
10. Parting words of wisdom…
If you’re thinking about investing your time, treasure and toil into an Airstream (new or vintage) seek out people online who are already hooked on it and benefit from our experience. Most WBCCI units welcome visitors to their rallies, and that’s a good place to see various different models and ages of Airstreams. We’re generally proud of our streamlined portable houses (to a fault) and love to show them off and talk about them, so don’t expect a quick peek and departure, but it’ll give prospective Airstreamers a chance to learn a lot and decide if it’s a good choice for them without writing a big check, and can help decide between new and old, large and small, etc. Quite a few Airstreamers I know have traded through a couple of different configurations before settling on one that is “just right.”
**thanks again for sharing david & david**