Thursday, December 17, 2020

Pick-up Day for Our Airstream Basecamp Is a Week Away!

Our Basecamp "Moondance," sitting in the RV One shop in Des Moines, waiting for pick-up.

"Guess what's here?" was the text that arrived on my phone yesterday morning from RV One salesperson Michael Farland. My reply was "Yikes and yay!" not especially coherent, but heartfelt. Michael connected us with the finance/business department, and we were off and running.

Fifteen months ago, my wife and I put money down on a new trailer to replace our RTTC Polar Bear tiny "standy" trailer. Now we will be driving two and a half hours to Des Moines to pick up our sixteen-foot Airstream Basecamp. Our first choice for a new travel trailer had been a Canadian Safari Condo Alto, but that fell through, mainly because of communication issues and the closing of the international border between Canada and the U.S. (That journey is chronicled in the article "From Also to Airstream: Our Crazy Adventure for a New Travel Trailer."

Once we chose the Airstream Basecamp 16-foot camper, we researched exactly what components we wanted, selecting the more basic Basecamp over the "X" off-road model because almost all our Midwest camping will be in established campgrounds. Our decisions and selections are described in the article "My Second Trailer Will Be an Airstream Basecamp." We had a six-month wait till arrival, which fortunately was only five months of waiting. During that time we researched extras for the trailer: better security locks, tow vehicle electric brake controller, and a few inexpensive accessories. Our main plan, though, was to use equipment from our first trailer and to live in the Basecamp for a while before making decisions on what alterations or new equipment we would need. We still think that's a good plan.

RV One's finance manager sent us information to wire the money from our bank to the dealership's bank. Although we will have a few papers to sign upon arrival in Des Moines, the main activity will be our orientation with the unit. I've looked at all the Airstream Basecamp how-to videos online at the AS website, which has helped some. I've also downloaded the Basecamp owner's manual and am reading that. Now I feel I'm prepared to listen to the orientation and then to ask specific questions about function and procedures. We did learn from the photos our salesperson sent that the 2021 model is slightly different than the 2020 model, as seen in the 2020 brochure. The Glacier Lake upholstery now includes a pattern, and the cargo bars on the upper storage racks are now an orange color rather than unpolished aluminum for the Glacier Lake choice. The bar colors for the other interior configurations are yellow and red. We already knew that the 2021 models would have an all-electric 12v refrigerator. 

An interior view of our unit

When we originally bought the trailer, we turned down all the extra extended warranties thrown our way. My wife and I usually just pay for what needs to be fixed--and usually not too much breaks. We did wonder, though, what other BC owners have done, so we asked on an online Facebook group.

"What do you folks feel about the extra insurance packages the AS dealership offers? The RV Protection Plan covers parts and labor like refrig, Truma, and ac for 5 years ($1,957). Coach-Net Motor Club 3 years ($600). Tire and wheel coverage RV + TV ($649). Appearance protection inside and out 5 years ($1,498). There is also a Gap Protection plan but no cost was listed (probably because it would be even more expensive than the above). My wife and I usually skip these insurance plans and just say we'll pay when needed. Any advice?"

Most advice was that the price of the packages offered was excessive and usually not necessary. My wife and I decided after some consideration to take one part of the package, the plan covering all components under warranty by manufacturers other than AS. My final comments and thanks to the group was as follows: 

"My wife and I decided to purchase the 'RV Protection Plan' for parts and labor for the non-AS manufactured components such as the refrigerator, ac, heater, etc. The plan protects for 5 years and includes components and labor. The price will be about $33 a month; we pay up front. Possibly too expensive, but we wanted the peace of mind.

"The AS warranty is for 24 months.There is a section on what is not covered by the warranty, which includes "tires, battery, stereo, television, range/stove, furnace, refrigerator, water heater, microwave, generator, slide-out mechanisms, and other materials, parts and components warranted by persons or entities other than Airstream." The warranty also doesn't include wear and tear, normal maintenance, after-market items, condensation problems, accidents, etc.

"I have read about dealerships or the factory replacing some non-AS components for free. They probably then connect with the manufacturer for reimbursement themselves in those cases. My wife and I felt that we have read enough about failure of appliances that we were willing to pay for this extra coverage, acknowledging that there is debate on the coverage's ultimate value. This is our first trailer (and probably the last we own) that has a complete set-up. Our last trailer was a tiny "standy" trailer that was little more than a 'bed on wheels.'"

Michael Farland and RJ Vacco, our RV One sales and finance contacts, have been attentive and supportive during our months of "Is it here yet?" questions. RJ emailed yesterday, confirming that he'd check to make sure the wire transfer has gone through without a hitch. He also reassured me when I asked about the Basecamp being ready. "Our techs will go through all of the systems, including the plumbing. If there were to be any issues that would delay the pick up, we would let you know right away. It is a new unit, so it should be a fairly simple process." When asked, RJ also emailed us the trailer's VIN so we can set up our insurance through our agent.

One choice will be whether to store my bicycle
in the back or to use a different option

I had requested that the team especially make sure the plumbing was functional (prior to re-winterizing the unit) because we wouldn't be using the water systems until next spring. My first explorations into camping this winter will really be using the Basecamp as a larger version of our RTTC tiny trailer. The additions will be the Truma heating system and the propane inside stove. The toilet/shower and sink won't be in use until spring. However, we're really excited and even happy to learn about our new camper one system at a time. 

My main questions for the orientation meeting will be practical and immediate:

  • setting up the trailer at home in the driveway and plugging in a 15 amp power to keep the batteries charged
  • preparing the trailer for travel (switches off, door locked, etc.)
  • running the Truma heater with propane and with 15 or 30 amp electricity
With this basic information, with the AS how-to videos and other online videos from owners, with the owner's manuals, and with online owner groups, I'll be able to get out this winter (hopefully) on a few days when temperatures are in the 20s-30s and camp in a couple of state parks that are within twenty-five miles of home. My wife and I are excited and eager to begin our learning curve with our new trailer. We're sure it will bring us a lot of happy experiences.

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  1. Congratulations! I'm so excited for you!

  2. It will be fun to follow this journey with you. Congratulations!

  3. I’m so excited for youTom! Just in time for Christmas! Merry Christmas to you!

    1. We're excited, too! Today I'll gas up and load the car for tomorrow's trip to get the Basecamp.