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Old 09-30-2003, 10:56 AM   #1
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Individuality...CA vs OH

Subtitled "CA vs OH"

I was just reading a post that was dicussing the differences in window frames...I too am amazed at the differences between the "exact same vintage models" that were made in CA or OH. Actually, even two trailers made in CA only 30 serial numbers apart, are very different...for the record, ours was built in CA. Below are my observations from a VAC Rally a year ago when we had several "twins" in attendance:

Nothing is "special" about being made in CA except that the CA factories were first because that's where Wally lived. By '64 both CA & OH were in full-swing. I don't know off-hand when the OH plant opened or when the CA location closed, but I do remember driving by the Sante Fe location as a kid. And Rob (Mr. InsideOut) lived about 10 minutes from the CA Plant. I was born in OH, but I don't remember seeing them as I moved from there to CA in '63 when I was 4.

As far as some of the minor differences between CA & OH, we have a friend who has the exact same CA model and year as Maxwell and another with a OH one. We were all at a rally last summer where there was also another OH '64 GlobeTrotter in attendance. We were able to compare them all side-by-side. We were amazed at the differences between all four, even between the two OH units and the two CA units. Essentially they were all the same, but here a re some of differences:

Heaters...both OH units had Furnances w/thermostats & CA just has a on/off heater.

Cabinets...although the same design, they were different...three doors on our CA overheads, and four on the one of OH ones & three on the other. Also the cabinet height was different, both OH units were shorter. So all four were different.

The windows were different size...CA generally were bigger but the other ones didn't match either...the frames are completely different between the CA & OH, and there were other differences in size too. I don't recall the precise sizes, just that they were different. We were all amazed...no two were alike!

The exhaust hood & vents over the stoves were different, CA went out the top, OH out the side.

The stoves are also different, ours is four burner as was one of the OH ones, the other OH one had three.

The toilet & shower fixtures were different too, one OH had been replaced, but the other was original & different than Max.

Anyway...Neither one or the other was "better" just different...like the factories just used the local folks in each location.

Oh yeah, one other thing, CA had clearcoat & OH did not. One big advantage of the OH units.

Some of the other years, 50's models I think, they had different shaped wheel wells between CA & OH. Also they had different rear ends (whale-tails).

If you are interested in these things with the older units, a great site to check out is http://www.vintageairstream.com/archives/index.html Some of the archives show & explain some of the differences.

Unfortunately, I did not take photos to document each of the differences...maybe sometime I'll spend the time to do so...

Enjoy!

Shari
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Old 09-30-2003, 04:11 PM   #2
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One one of the recent Caravel threads rluhr and I were comparing our bathrooms and found the shower pans were quite different, despite ours both being 68s, which was a surprise to me.

How can you tell if your unit was made in OH or CA? I assume mine was from CA since it was purchased new her in the NW.
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Old 09-30-2003, 04:43 PM   #3
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Very interesting thread...

Roger (85MH325) and I both have Ohio built '63 Flying Clouds, and the serial numbers are only 4 numbers apart. We're guessing they were probably finished the same week, if not the same day. His trailer has the oval Grote marker lights, and mine has the teardrops.

The Cal built '63 FC that was at the LaVeta rally had some significant differences in the interior, including a different style of heater, refer, and some differences in the cabinet configurations.

Sounds like the early Airstream production crews took a practical approach to finishing out the trailers, and used whatever "trim pieces" (thermostats, lights, etc) were available at the time.

The nice part of this is that it makes it easier to restore a vintage Airstream to "original" condition. With no clear "standard" for some of the smaller parts, a restorer can use whichever part he/she can find, and still be "true to the breed." Can't do that with a '57 T-bird or a '55 Chris Craft.
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Old 09-30-2003, 04:58 PM   #4
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A partial answer to your question, Steph...

Quote:
Originally posted by Stefrobrts
How can you tell if your unit was made in OH or CA?
The two plants used different serial numbers on the earlier trailers (thru '65, I think). RJ's photo archive is down right now, but it sets forth the different serial number "ranges" for each plant during these years.

In '65 (I think), the serial numbers were standardized between the 2 plants. Don't know how you could tell a '68 Ohio built from one made in California...

(PS-why does it matter?? Are you looking to have an exclusive CALIFORNIA Caravel rally so you can exclude the Ohio Caravel types???? )

Tom
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Old 09-30-2003, 05:52 PM   #5
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serial numbers

Stef, you probably saw my post on the window thread, but just to answer your question.... the serial # format on the late 60's Caravels should be like this:

1st letter: O or I (Overlander or International trim)
2nd and 3rd digits: 17 (17 feet long)
4th digit: model year (8=1968)
5th letter: factory. J=Jackson Center OH, and I think S for Santa Fe, CA
6th-8th digits: production #

So mine is O178J144, the 144th unit produced in 1968 at Jackson Center.

-- RL
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Old 09-30-2003, 07:51 PM   #6
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Don't touch that...

Quote:
PS-why does it matter?? Are you looking to have an exclusive CALIFORNIA Caravel rally so you can exclude the Ohio Caravel types???? )
Tom,
I know I really cant speak for Steph but knowing her from this
forum I rather doubt it. The whole idea came up just because the few "Caravelers" on this forum have been swapping stories a bit and wanted to meet. I don't think any of us want to exclude anyone. You never know who may be your next new friend. (Resisting the temptation to punctuate with "emotions.")


Heidi
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Old 09-30-2003, 11:35 PM   #7
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Don't worry, I can take the ribbing

Actually I wanted the Caravel rally to include any old vintage who wants to come (aw, heck, I wouldn't even turn away a new 'streamer)...

So anyway, my serial number decodes to

Overlander
17 ft
1968
Santa Fe, CA
#128

Cool, thanks rluhr!
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Old 09-30-2003, 11:51 PM   #8
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Actually...your "O" doesn't stand for Overlander. An Overlander is the 26' long trailer model, not an option package.

Shari
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Old 10-01-2003, 12:33 AM   #9
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Yeah, I wondered what that would mean. What do you think the difference between and I and an O would be in the first position in the serial number? Maybe they're just 1s and 0s.
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Old 10-01-2003, 07:05 AM   #10
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Actually it does stand for Overlander

I got that directly from Airstream. See their document on "Pre 1980 Serial Number Identification" at http://www.airstream.com/airstream/p...pre1980vin.pdf

I think over the years with all the model name and trim line changes, Airstream has made it clear they reserve the right to "not make sense" on a regular basis!

-- RL
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Old 10-01-2003, 08:20 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by Stefrobrts
Don't worry, I can take the ribbing

Actually I wanted the Caravel rally to include any old vintage who wants to come (aw, heck, I wouldn't even turn away a new 'streamer)...

Stef, Stef, Stef... I just don't know what's happening here any more. That's just NOT the proper Airstream snobbiness that's (apparently) expected of we Airstream owners... what IS this; a new sense of inclusiveness??? What ARE you thinking? Whatever IS the world coming to?



Roger
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Old 10-01-2003, 08:29 AM   #12
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differences...

While I had and was "semi"-restoring my '61 Bambi, I looked at a number of other Bambi's from '61 to '63, both on-line and that were owned by VAC members. It was immediately apparent that one of the major differences between the OH and CA coaches in the Bambis is that the OH coaches (mine was OH) had a the galley streetside, and the CA coaches were mirrored with the galley curbside. There were a number of other minor differences as well.

It is apparent from looking at a variety of units of different models built in both factories over the years that they used parts from different suppliers; either suppliers that were closer or who had product ready to ship when Airstream needed the parts. As the trailers were built by hand rather than true assembly-line manufacturing, it wasn't a problem to customize openings for windows, appliances or whatever they had on-hand to install. There are also some obvious features on some trailers that were only done in limited numbers either because the suppliers couldn't keep up with demand, or Airstream wanted to try something to see how it would sell or hold up. The Argosy line is of great interest for me because it was the test-bed for many of the features that showed up later in the silver trailers. Conversely, many of the Argosy features never carried over for one reason or another.

Personally, half the fun of owning and looking at vintage coaches is finding the variations within the line.

Roger
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Old 10-01-2003, 08:55 AM   #13
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I agree!

Quote:
Personally, half the fun of owning and looking at vintage coaches is finding the variations within the line.
We almost make a game of it...that's the point I was trying to make, I LOVE the individuality of each one! They are as unique as their owners...

Shari
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Old 10-01-2003, 10:13 AM   #14
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"O" should not mean "Overlander"

With all due respect to Airstream, I think they got it wrong by stating on their web site that the "O" in 1966-68 trailer serial numbers means "Overlander". I think it represents "zero" (or a null place holder) and means a standard trim "Land Yacht" trailer. The "I" is a capital letter that signifies "International" trim was installed in the trailer. The factory is identified by the preceeding (first) letter of the serial number.

Factory catalogs for all three years 1966-68 list only two trim levels, the standard "Land Yacht" and the upgraded "International Land Yacht". In all three catalogs, "Overlander" is the 26 foot tandem axle model name, not a trim level. I think the purpose of the "O" in the serial number is simply to hold the place (or space) open when an "I" was not appropriate. Contemporary (66-68) factory literature expressly contradicts the explanation given today on the Airstream web site. Whoever prepared the web site apparently did not review 1966-68 factory sales literature before coming up with their explanation.
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