After reading Rich’s new book – Airstream Life’s (Nearly) Complete Guide to Airstream Maintenance, our guess is that a lot of folks will say, “I wish this had come out sooner.” The good thing is, it’s out now, and newbies as well as long-time Airstream travelers will find useful tips and hints on how to keep your Airstream in good condition. Also, props to fellow Chicagoan Brad Cornelius for the illustrations!
Deke ‘inspecting” our first Airstream. A used 22’ CCD International.
When we bought our first Airstream in 2009, we had no idea what we were doing (but to be fair, we still don’t know what we’re doing). We bought used and while we tried to do all our homework before purchasing, we missed some things — nothing too big, but back then it would’ve helped to have a more extensive list of things to look for, and catching problems at the time definitely would’ve saved us some money in the long run. Right off the bat, we think that Rich’s chapter on Learning to Inspect can help both current owners and future buyers to do better inspections of their own Airstreams, and any used models they might be checking out.
Making our way through the book, we found chapters on Plumbing (thankfully we haven’t had any problems there), Aluminum Body Repair (oh, that crash in ’09), Electrical, Propane Systems (what’s that smell?) and all the appliances — just to name a few. The chapters are then broken down into subcategories — with some topics addressing vintage models as well.
Cleaning A/C vents and solar panels.
The information is clearly organized with simple basics — for example, getting on the roof (which can go badly if you do it wrong), how to replace rivets, and how to winterize. The broad categories are then broken down to specifics like how to remove and replace sealant (along with a list of tools needed to do so), how to determine the exact age of your tires, and detailed instructions on how to check for propane leaks.
Overall we found 216 pages of useful info — even if all of it isn’t useful to you right now, it will be at some point, like when you need to figure out how to get to your spare (pg. 124) or replace your lights with LEDs (pg. 171).
RV repair house call. I needed hot water, pronto.
We think this book could also help you save money on repairs. We had a problem a few years ago that required a mobile repair service tech to come to the park, which cost a fortune. The problem was a very quick fix, and one we could’ve done ourselves if we had known what to look for. Our water heater ignition wire was cracked — it’s one of the things Rich suggests looking for in the chapter Water heater, subchapter Inspecting the gas orifice, ignitor, and gas valve. That’s $100 back in our pocket.
For me, this book also provided great suggestions for preventative maintenance which I never thought of, and frankly, never do. For example, I have never lubricated the awning arms, I have never checked my smoke detector to see if it’s expired and I have never cleaned and lubricated my Fan-Tastic fan screens (in 5 years!). But I will now, and it will probably save us some heartache down the road.
Much needed, but didn’t have.
Back in 2009, we also relied on the kindness of strangers when it came to having the right tools. We’d meet people on the road, ask them questions and take photos of things they recommended we have. This wasn’t the most comprehensive way of doing it, and we always were missing something, or didn’t have the right tool for our model. Rich put in a Tool Kit list which is great for those of you wondering if you have everything you need. I was also excited to see instructions on how to recalibrate the tank monitor. You know yours doesn’t read correctly!
As we all know in the Airstream community, everyone has their own idea of what works and what doesn’t (one look on Airforums will undoubtedly provide 10 different answers to the same question). Rich’s book isn’t a fix-it guide, it’s a maintenance guide. He’s not telling you how to repair, he’s guiding you along so hopefully you won’t have the breakdown in the first place. Because do you want to be here:
Middle of nowhere Nevada in the summer.
Middle of somewhere PNW.
with no internet and realize you don’t have a clue how to get to your spare and replace your flat tire? (Note: this is my biggest fear after running out of gas.)
Maybe some of you who’ve remodeled numerous Airstreams yourselves might be familiar with a lot of the info already, but for people like us, even after having lived in ours for a few years, we found some useful tips that will hopefully keep our Airstream running well for the long haul.
Last year while living on Whidbey Island, our friends – and husband and wife team – Janae and Kelly Cameron at Turnco Wood Goods offered to make us a cutting board for the Airstream sink to replace the round, white plastic one that was stained and warped. I was familiar with all the other awesome wood products they made, so obviously this was a no-brainer.
Our little maple, walnut and cherry Airstream Sink Cutting Board.
Soon, our friends Laura and Kevin at Riveted asked about getting an Airstream Sink Cutting Board made in walnut for their Airstream. Easy enough — they have the same model so we knew the sink would be the same size, Kelly just needed to swap out the cuts of wood to customize.
The walnut Riveted board.
Then people who saw the Airstream, or our post about it, emailed asking if they could order one too, and from there, we started taking orders through our website for Kelly and Janae. Each board is made to order from local wood, and can be customized according to what you’d like.
Then our friend Grisel asked if Turnco could make a cutout for her Airstream Sink Cutting Board and this was born —
During the year, they started to find their way into Airstreams of all sized and shapes.
Carolyn’s cutting board– often seen at Highland Haven.
Dennis and Sandy’s 2015 International.
Jeffrey’s board in his 2007 28′ International.
And our first non-Airstream board! Chris’s Winnebago View!
The boards can now be seen in Airstreams from Seattle to Chicago to Kingston, New Hampshire and many places in between (CA, WI, SC, FL, TX, UT, VA, TN, NY, DE, IN and PA so far). If you’re interested in ordering one, you can find out more information here.
Earlier this year, Deke and I decided that we were going to see as many concerts as possible this summer (because last year I think we saw one) so when we learned about FloydFest we knew we had to check it out. It seemed smaller, almost all locally sponsored and more laid back than a lot of festivals out there, plus it was 3 hours away! (For a good, really short summary of the festival, I suggest reading This Must Be The Place from the Smokey Mountain News.) The bonus was we could make another trip to Virginia Highland Haven to stay! We love the place, and the town of Floyd, and music, so it was a no-brainer.
That’s us on the left. I think.
Again, we had great weather, met some new folks, reconnected with some we’ve known only online and got to explore the area again, which didn’t disappoint. We wrote a review the last time we were here and mentioned the drive — I forgot to take a video, but here’s what our map looked like driving away from Floyd.
Many, many sharp turns.
I think I’d like to live here……
View from the end of the park.
FloydFest was really fun, and we’re glad we did it, although staying up to see bands going on at midnight didn’t really work for us too much. It’s a really well organized event (free mountain spring water, 24 hour fantastic coffee station and beer is only sold in a cup you buy at the venue with tickets you also buy, so its an easy process, parking is in lots with a shuttle and the food options were numerous). If you go prepared, you’ll be ok (prepared=sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen). Also note: FloydFest really isn’t in Floyd proper, it’s several miles outside of town on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and about 25min drive from Highland Haven – without traffic.
There are big stages….
The Main Stage.
And really small ones…
You can stand way up front…
Trampled By Turtles.
Or sit in the back and just listen (and people watch, which was often better than the bands).
It doesn’t look like Deke has enough sunscreen on.
There were also some great, local vendors there as well — we each picked up a pair of shoes from Astral, a shoe company out of Asheville that makes really stylish shoes for kayaking! They gave you 20% off any pair of shoes if you swapped them out for a pair of your own. So far, I’m loving them. Also, they make incredibly cool lifevests as well — for humans and dogs!
Yes, those are the socks I’m wearing today.
We cut short concert going one day and hit Floyd and the surrounding area. We needed some food, so the Farmer’s Market was a success.
Veggies, kombucha stand, fruit, crepes and coffee.
We had breakfast at the Blue Ridge Restaurant, had a Japanese style pour-over coffee at the Black Water Loft and walked to the biggest fabric store I’ve ever seen: Schoolhouse Fabrics.
Old school = mega fabric store.
Riverstone Farm Store.
The kicker was finding Riverstone Farm Store. On the Floyd Highway into town we saw this handwritten yellow sign stuck in the ground that said “Farm Store” with an arrow. We followed it for MILES on a very narrow dirt road then almost missed it. The Riverstone Farm is a certified organic farm (however their meat is not certified organic) with a self-serve store carrying chickens, lamb, mutton, veggies from the farm, and cheese, sauerkraut and some other things from local places. Definitely worth the stop. They also have a building across the road with bulk meats, so if you want a whole lamb, its butchered and you can just take it out of the cooler and leave the money. They also do tours on Saturdays at 2pm!
We hated to leave —
Blue Ridge Parkway.
We’d rather stay in State Parks on the road, but when a last minute opportunity presented itself to attend my neice’s 3rd Bday party (pirate/fairy themed!) of course we’re going to do it! The only place available close to Charlottesville was the area KOA (9 miles from my sister’s house north of the city). It was one of the better KOA’s we’ve stayed in, but I think your individual experience here would vary greatly depending on which spot you get.
This park is located in a beautiful wooded area, but some of the spots have no shade, and last weekend it was in the 90s. We felt very fortunate to have gotten spot #11 — spaced well from the neighbors and very shaded, with a nice view of the woods.
The first row of spots seemed like winners overall, but I don’t know if they could fit larger motorhomes or 5th wheels, except in spot #12 where they crammed in a Prevost next to a little pop-up camper. I still don’t know how that thing fit.
Spots #12 and #13 would be great for two people camping together!
The second row is all huge pull-through sites, but not a lot of privacy.
This KOA had all the regular things you’d expect in a KOA — a pool, playground and covered picnic areas, but most of these were on the other side of a little creek that separated the two, so you didn’t get any of the noise (genius!).
I worked in an RV park that was a little wonky with its rules, so I understand the quirks of privately owned parks. First of all, Moravian Falls doesn’t take credit cards for reservations. When you call, they’ll give you a total amount owed and you have to mail them a check within a few days (I think it’s 4 days max) to secure the reservation. If you don’t send the money, they don’t hold the reservation. After they receive the check, they mail you receipt that you must bring with you to check in.
The upper tier of very tighly packed spots.
The park is tiny, old and the spaces are crowded together — this is bare bones, but we were going to Wilkesboro for Merlefest and the state parks were booked. This was our only option within town that had hook ups (we needed hook ups because of the dogs and needing AC — it was in the high 70s!).
We were so close to our neighbors that we didn’t feel comfortable putting the awning down, and the people across from us rented two spots so they could have a picnic table to use (they’ve been here before).
A group of tent sites in the woods. The others are one the grounds of the closed swimming pool.
This used to be a great park — Deke visited often as a kid to swim in the pool and play in the waterfall. Unfortunately, the pool area is closed now and the waterslide is overgrown and filled with leaves.
Out of commission 1980s waterslide.
If you’re in the area, I’d recommend staying in one of the state parks. If you need to stay here, I’d say 28″ is the max length!