Airstream – A Timeless Classic

Airstream travel trailers are easily the most recognizable travel trailer on the market with their distinctive round polished aluminum exterior. The body shape dates back to the 1930s and is based on designs by Hawley Bowlus, a designer, engineer and builder of aircraft. In addition to being credited for designing Airstream travel trailers he also was the Superintendent of Construction on Charles Lindbergh’s aircraft, the ‘Spirit of St. Louis’. 

The Airstream company was created by lawyer Wally Byam in Los Angeles during the late 1920s. Byam obtained the struggling Bowlus Company and in 1936 introduced the “Airstream Clipper” which was named after the first trans-Atlantic seaplane. It slept four, carried its own water supply, had electric lights and cost $1200. 

Airstream production halted during World War II due to an aluminum shortage. The company resumed production in 1948 and moved in 1952 to a new facility in Jackson Center, Ohio. Airstream did not fare well during the economic downturn of the late 1970s and lost $12 million in 1979. In 1980 Thor Industries, Inc. was founded and the company purchased the struggling manufacturer. Thor remains the owner of Airstream today. 

Airstream produces 100 travel trailers a week and currently has a backlog of 3,000. The company will soon be breaking ground on a new 750,000 square foot facility, three times the size of the current plant. Airstreams are available for purchase through dealers only. There are 80 dealers in the United States and nine in Canada. Approximately five percent of all Airstream trailers are sold to the overseas market. 

Factory tours of Airstream are offered Monday – Friday at 2:00 PM eastern time at the facility in Jackson Center, Ohio. Tours are free and no reservations are needed. Closed-toed shoes are required and guests must wear the provided hearing and eye protection. Tours last 1.5 – 2 hours. No photography is allowed within the factory but outside photos are welcomed. 

In 2016 Airstream acquired Nest Caravans, an Oregon-based company that developed a prototype of a fiberglass molded trailer. The Nest travel trailer is now in full production in Ohio and available to the public to purchase. The small trailer retails for significantly less money than other Airstreams, 

Class B luxury touring coaches are made from the Mercedes chassis pictured below. Twenty vans are produced weekly and the company is currently 200 orders behind. MSRP prices range from $160,000 – $220,000 depending on model and options desired. 

Perfect for outdoor recreation, the auto-ignition Outland Firebowl Premium adds ambiance to any outdoor activity and offers the easy alternative to traditional labor intensive campfires. This 19″ diameter certified fire pit is safe to use during most campfire bans, you can bring the warmth and experience of a cozy campfire with you anywhere outdoors. Our 58,000 BTU fire bowls are constructed from high quality steel with a protective powder coating and enamel finish for long lasting durability.

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Airstream has an on-site service center that provides warranty and non-warranty repairs. Currently the center has a five week backlog of trailers waiting for service. 

Pink flamingos are staples in the Airstream culture. 

Our Thor Vegas looked a bit out of place at the Airstream terra port near the service center. The terra port is a 24-site camping area that is available to anyone to overnight park in for $10 a night. The parking is free if you are there for service. The terra port offers electric, water and sewer at each site. There is also a separate dumpsite and garbage dumpsters are present. 

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Every purchase helps support this blog.

The next six photos are Airstreams that were awaiting service. The one pictured below is an Argosy motorhome. Argosys were manufactured in Versailles, Ohio and in California. They are aluminum and the exterior is painted. Argosys were produced during the 1970’s. 

Painted Argosy travel trailers were also produced in the 1970’s in Versailles, Ohio. 

Airstream triple axle trailers are no longer produced due to the availability of lighter weight construction materials allowing the same length trailer to be placed on two axles. 

Ouch. This Airstream is at the service center for body repairs. 

This Airstream motorhome was also at the service center. The large quantities of windows offer plenty of natural inside lighting. 

This kit includes our 40A MPPT charge controller which uses Maximum Power Point Tracking technology, transferring power up to 30% more efficiently than PWM charge controllers

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Every purchase helps support this blog.

This gold Airstream belonged to founder Wally Byam and is on display at the Airstream factory. Per our tour guide, the plan is to build a museum in the the new factory complex and this iconic unit will be open to visitors to tour inside. 

We highly enjoyed our time in Jackson Center, Ohio and at the Airstream factory. It is well-worth a stop when in the area. We plan to return once the new facility and museum are open. 

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