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Old 09-30-2014, 04:58 PM   #1
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Default Comparison between Roadtrek & Airstream Interstate

OK so here is my first comparison between our Airstream Interstate and the Roadtrek CS we just had delivered. Keep in mind, we drove the RT home and have not been away with it. Please take time to read the comments at the bottom of the attachment.

We had considered last spring and into early summer to make mods to our Airstream: install much larger solar, add more batteries and a bigger inverter, improve the inverter control panel and add auto-start for the benny, improve the bathroom door into a double door and some other minor issues.

But we would still have a Suburban propane furnace which I quickly disliked. And the propane genny running underneath.

I estimated the costs of materials, time and labor vs the cost to trade in and we decided that this year was the year to do it. So we did. Traded off the AI and ordered the RT.
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File Type: pdf CURRENT_AREAS OF COMPARISON AI vs RT.pdf (80.7 KB, 444 views)
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Old 09-30-2014, 07:06 PM   #2
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Default Re: Comparison between Roadtrek & Airstream Interstate

Nice objective comparison bikerbill.

Here's an html version for anyone who can't download and view the pdf version:
Biker Bill's Roadtrek CS Adventurous compaison to Airstream Interstate - html format

It looks like both battery bank ratings are at 6v in your comparison. RT E-trek package has 8 GC2 sized 6v batteries (typically 200ah each at 6 volts) and Airstream Interstate has 2 Group 24 sized AGM 12v batteries (typically 75ah each at 12 volts)

I'm looking forward to reading about your experiences and thoughts as you get to use your new Roadtrek CS.
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Old 09-30-2014, 07:10 PM   #3
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Default Re: Comparison between Roadtrek & Airstream Interstate

Pretty good comprehensive review. Now that you have the E-trek package when are you going to test it out? I'm in total agreement about losing that propane and Onan generator. That's the direction I'm going.
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Old 09-30-2014, 10:43 PM   #4
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Default Re: Comparison between Roadtrek & Airstream Interstate

Our first outing is an overnight in early November. Doubt that we can find time before then to get away.
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Old 09-30-2014, 11:38 PM   #5
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Default Re: Comparison between Roadtrek & Airstream Interstate

As a 2013 E-Trek owner, this is an interesting and very well done comparison. The two things that resonate with me are: 1) the 6-year warranty was a big factor in my choice of the E-Trek (my first RV, unlike Davydd I did not have the confidence to go with ARV), and 2) the Webasto Dualtop has been the most problematic component of the E-Trek for me (although the all-electric-without-propane concept was a key selling point). Well done, Biker Bill.

Happy trails,

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Old 10-01-2014, 12:21 AM   #6
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Default Re: Comparison between Roadtrek & Airstream Interstate

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arlo
As a 2013 E-Trek owner, this is an interesting and very well done comparison. The two things that resonate with me are: 1) the 6-year warranty was a big factor in my choice of the E-Trek (my first RV, unlike Davydd I did not have the confidence to go with ARV), and 2) the Webasto Dualtop has been the most problematic component of the E-Trek for me (although the all-electric-without-propane concept was a key selling point). Well done, Biker Bill.

Happy trails,

Arlo

Arlo-you have my interest. what's wrong or right with the webasto dualtop
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Old 10-01-2014, 01:06 AM   #7
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Default Comparison between Roadtrek & Airstream Interstate

I love the Dualtop when it works, but ... in my first outing after receiving my E-Trek (May 2013) the temp got down into the high 30s (F) in northern Michigan and the Dualtop drain valve opened and stuck open. This dumped the entire fresh-water tank when the water pump was turned on. It was a defective unit. Had to take the Trek to Webasto NA headquarters in Fenton, MI to be replaced. Last winter (2014) the heating function started blowing a 10a fuse when activated. Part of the internal assembly apparently collapsed and blocked the heater fan from engaging. This was repaired by the dealer (Grand Rapids, MI), but the fan is now much noisier than previously. I need to eventually get it back to the dealer to have this checked out, but the water-heating function is working well.

I must add that Roadtrek has been great about covering warranty repairs, except for my time of course. My experience with the Webasto may be a probabilistic outlier. I hope so. I have not seen similar experiences documented in relevant forums, so perhaps "bad luck" is the most appropriate explanation.

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Old 10-01-2014, 01:41 AM   #8
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Default Re: Comparison between Roadtrek & Airstream Interstate

I wondered if something like that could happen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by markopolo
.......... The Webasto will automatically empty its boiler when the temperature at its drainage valve is less than 43F or 6C when it is in frost protection mode. I'm curious to know that if you left 12v power on in your coach, and left the water pump on could most of your on-board fresh water be dumped? I don't know how that system works but I guess that the boiler gets filled by your water pump which draws water from your fresh water tank. ......................
Was it a faulty Webasto unit? Could it happen again? If so, how do you avoid it? (keep pump off, turn off frost protection)

It's like most new things, just takes a bit of time and actual use to really know how they work.
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Old 10-01-2014, 02:24 AM   #9
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Default Re: Comparison between Roadtrek & Airstream Interstate

Yes, it was a faulty Webasto unit. The dump valve stuck open. Could not close it even when the temp warmed up during the day. When we turned on the pump it just drained the fresh water thru the dump valve.

The way to avoid having the unit auto-dump is to simply leave the unit turned on over night. That, of course, will not protect the whole plumbing system from freezing if temps drop low enough. Not sure exactly how to define "low enough"!
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Old 10-01-2014, 03:34 AM   #10
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Default Re: Comparison between Roadtrek & Airstream Interstate

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arlo
As a 2013 E-Trek owner, this is an interesting and very well done comparison. The two things that resonate with me are: 1) the 6-year warranty was a big factor in my choice of the E-Trek (my first RV, unlike Davydd I did not have the confidence to go with ARV), and 2) the Webasto Dualtop has been the most problematic component of the E-Trek for me (although the all-electric-without-propane concept was a key selling point). Well done, Biker Bill.

Happy trails,

Arlo
Arlo,

It is kind of a matter of trust. Warrantees mean nothing to me. Quality does. I have met with the owner of Advanced RV as I was their first visitor over two years ago but didn't pull the trigger until this year. I see how he runs his companies. I think I understand his goals and philosophies with what he is trying to do with his startup Class B company and I am in complete agreement with his approach. That's not to say I am not impressed with Jim Hammil at Roadtrek. I like his dedication as well. He is just got more baggage and history in making Roadtreks that I don't care for in design layout with what I want in a Class B and there is not a lot that can change that. With Advanced RV I am getting some things created I could not get done with any other converter.

Both companies are earnestly into creating independent self-sustaining RVs. I honestly couldn't tell you the differences in practical design and quality between Webasto, Aldi and Espar for example in heating systems. We could argue batteries, solar, and generator approaches. It is all beyond my expertise. I've worked hard to understand what Advanced RV is doing and I am satisfied and somewhat impressed.

We are all limited in what we can get in such a small market as Class Bs. Philosophically I feel lucky that the owner of Advanced RV progressed through a Pleasure-way Plateau and Great West Van Legend as I have so it is apparent we are in tune. So the leap to Advanced RV was rather a seamless transition. Still, we are creating something I don't think has ever been done before in a Class B. That is what is exciting for me.
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Old 10-01-2014, 01:13 PM   #11
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Default Re: Comparison between Roadtrek & Airstream Interstate

Davydd, I can argue the differences in Webasto-diesel, Espar-diesel and Alde -propane as I have an HVAC background. We preferred to not have propane and with Roadtrek only using the Webasto, they were not about to listen to me on a one-off-build using something they were not familiar with: Espar. I really like the concept of Alde and what RT is doing with it. They are utilizing heated hot water for floor radiant heat and several cabinets also have convection radiation in them. And it also heats the domestic hot water. And it has 2 - 115 volt elements in it so when on shore power or maybe even from the inverter, you have heat also. And they interface it with the engine hot water for "free" engine heat transferred while driving or to pre-heat the diesel when extremely cold. Unfortunately Webasto is basically a warm-air heater with a small boiler built in that provides the domestic hot water and in the USA they do not offer the electrical elements that they do in the European Webastos. But Espar, being diesel, does offer the electric element (saw it at Advanced RV) and since it is a water boiler, it could do everything that the Alde does and do it with diesel. But alas, can't talk to the engineers or Jim Hammill. Who knows, it may be on their radar screen but they won't admit it to me.
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Old 10-01-2014, 02:14 PM   #12
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Default Re: Comparison between Roadtrek & Airstream Interstate

I was being a little flippant about my knowledge as I am a design architect and not an engineer though I can claim in my resume to have been a US Navy main propulsion assistant officer on a ship at one time. Advanced RV does use the diesel powered Espar system and they mount the glycol heat exchanger unit under the floor. They claim after heat exchange with a fan to warm the cabin and heat exchange to create hot water the glycol is still hot so is channeled in a groove down the side of the fresh water tank to warm the water for cold weather camping. How effective that is I don't know. My notes say running the unit uses little diesel to power it. High idle to charge batteries takes about a half gallon per hour and of course diesel to drive. So all energy comes from diesel, solar or shore, no propane. I believe electric takes over for diesel in the Espar system when connected to shore power. Also, we will have a electric radiant heated floor but only when on shore power. I consider that an extreme luxury in a way even though I designed my own home 32 years ago with total electric radiant heated floors to heat our house with 15 separate zones.
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Old 10-01-2014, 05:21 PM   #13
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Default Re: Comparison between Roadtrek & Airstream Interstate

"Warranties mean nothing to me."

With a machine as complicated as an RV, after-purchase service is a reality. One concern I have with ARV is whether they have a sustainable business model. They seem to make a great product but they've yet to build more than 20 vans per year and claim to not want to do more that 50. RVs are not the owner's main business. ARV is located in the building next door to the owner's main business (maybe the space they are utilizing is the business constraint on production.) They are now offering unsold units as rentals and that might help boost revenues. I was surprised they were perhaps the only Class B company that did not choose to participate in the big show at Hershey ...which would seem like a worthwhile marketing investment, especially since they are below their production capacity. They have several units on back order when I visited them last week - most buyers seem to be waiting for the AWDs to be delivered this month (which should be their standard going forward, at least for anyone north of the Mason Dixon line) - but still are a very very small customizer. I like their build quality and the glam factor they incorporate in their designs - especially the custom leather seating. But, I'm not convinced yet that someone will be answering the phones 10 years from now when I need help tracing piping that is behind a wall panel.
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Old 10-01-2014, 06:12 PM   #14
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Default Re: Comparison between Roadtrek & Airstream Interstate

Belzar,

There are no guarantees. Even Roadtrek came very close to going out of business in the last recession.

BTW, the 4x4 Sprinters won't be going into production until the first of the year which means they won't be available until next spring. I gave a great deal of thought about it but decided my 8 month agonizing wait was enough.

I asked if Advanced RV was at Hershey. They decided not to go because most of the shows are dealer oriented and as you know Advanced RV's model is not to use dealers. You never see Sportsmobile either. ARV were there last year. They were at the Tampa show. They didn't find much benefit. One thing I haven't seen other owners do is actually get out and use their product. The Neundorfers have been to the last two RV.net Class B Rallys and have signed up for the one next spring in North Carolina. They've attended as fellow B users and not as factory reps. ARV also has a program to get their employees to use their RVs on vacations to better understand the product. Rentals are part of the planned business strategy not because they have unsold units. Some rentees have become customers.

As far as capacity goes, I get the impression Neundorfer would rather build Lamborghinis than Chevys if you get the drift. I'm not sure how you can say below production capacity and units on back order at the same time. Their production schedule is such their CPM chart shows 14 weeks hand built vs. Roadtrek's 9 days on an assembly line technique. 50 is probably a manageable goal in desire not a capacity limit. Space is cheap. I suspect too, getting qualified people is difficult as well. The major reason Leisure Travel Vans has a 9 month backlog right now is not because of capacity but having a difficult time hiring qualified workers in Manitoba. Great West Vans might be having the same difficulties.

The other business you mentioned is particulate pollution controls for coal and industrial plant discharges and that business has been ongoing for over 3 decades I believe. They don't build the equipment. They design and engineer it. What you might have seen assuming you toured the plant was small scale clear plexiglas mockup models that can be tested. That part of the business has been turned over for direct managing by others. It seems the two days I was there last week that Neundorfer's sole occupation was the ARV business. He seems very passionate about it.

As far as the phone call in 10 years, look at the debris of questions that come up online about decade old Bs from defunct companies and even the companies still in business. Trust me, you won't get much help tracing piping behind wall panels from any of them. What I do know, warranties or not, I will get the best built Class B RV made. I don't have any doubts about that.
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Old 10-01-2014, 06:19 PM   #15
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Default Re: Comparison between Roadtrek & Airstream Interstate

As for Advanced RV not being at Hershey I personally spoke with Mike N last year about that. The Hershey RV show only allows to display inside the "grounds" by selling dealers. The manufacturers are there in the show but only "RV dealers" can buy into it. Last yet Mike N had a friendly dealer there but even still they were not allowed "inside." But they did have a unit on display in the parking lot for a couple of the day.
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Old 10-01-2014, 06:36 PM   #16
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Default Re: Comparison between Roadtrek & Airstream Interstate

Hey, BTW, I mentioned that RV.net B Rally in Rutherfordton, North Carolina next May. It will be the 12th annual rally. How about some of you with E-Treks show up. Last I looked it is not full yet.

http://www.b-rally.org
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Old 09-15-2016, 12:21 AM   #17
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Default BikerBill/Davyyd - RT CS vs. AS Intst. vs. Advanced

Roadtrek CS vs. Airstream Interstate vs. Advanced RV
Just joined the Class B Forum. My wife and I will be buying one of the above in a couple months. We're early 60s, retiring, ready to travel the West.

We came across BikerBill's great pdf comparison of Roadtrek CS and Airstream Interstate - thanks Bill - and of course that post is now 2 years old. Curious what updates/improvements have been made to those systems in the 2015-2017 models, and also how their best-equipped models stack up to Advanced RV. Obviously, at these prices and our age, we'd love to buy only one of these and buy the best first time out. So any advice and personal experiences are welcome.

If there are other threads on this forum that also compare the latest versions of these rigs, please reply with the links, thanks so much!
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Old 09-15-2016, 12:28 AM   #18
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If you have the money ARV. Not even a real comparison to the other two.
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Old 09-15-2016, 12:48 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by booster View Post
If you have the money ARV. Not even a real comparison to the other two.
Thanks Booster. We pretty much have the dough, but still would love to hear real-life head-to-head comparisons. Just cause you have an extra 50K doesn't mean you want to spend it, unless it's gonna make a yuuuge difference over the years, in terms of driving and camping in the thing .
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Old 09-15-2016, 01:58 AM   #20
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Quote:
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Thanks Booster. We pretty much have the dough, but still would love to hear real-life head-to-head comparisons. Just cause you have an extra 50K doesn't mean you want to spend it, unless it's gonna make a yuuuge difference over the years, in terms of driving and camping in the thing .
Davydd can give you the owner's perspective on Advanced RV...

There is no real comparison in terms of design, build, and component quality with ARV leading the other two. Also, you have the opportunity to customize the van to your needs and desires with ARV. You will pay a lot more and the design and build process takes a year with ARV but you will get a unique van that should be perfect for your needs...

ARV does have pre owned vans for sale and I believe they will do minor mods to these which eliminates the one year wait.
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