Welcome to the Forums and the world of Vintage Airstream ownership!
Originally Posted by C Johnson
Hello eveyone, I currently own a 1965
16ft Aristocrat.(which is for sale BTW) I am getting a 1965 17ft AS Caravel
. I am very excited about the prospect of having am Airstream finally ! After 3 yrs of looking I found one that I can basically use right away. Are there any things with that model or AS in general that I should be on the lookout for ? What are the typical things that I might have to replace or fix ? Thanks in advance for your replies.
There aren't any particular problems unique to your coach, but some of the things to be aware of would include:
1.) If you have the original Worthington (or equivalent) aluminum LP tanks, you may find that you need to upgrade to OPD valves especially if the coach hasn't been used regularly in the recent past.
2.) Your coach would be near the time the switch was made, but it may have come from the factory with split-rim wheels. If it still has these split-rims, the general consensus is to replace with modern steel or aluminum wheels - - I know the original split-rims were replacement items on my '64 Overlander. You will also want to be sure that the coach has ST rated tires with adequate weight carrying ability for your coach.
3.) It seems like most of us with coaches of near this vintage have been or are preparing to be faced with the necessity of axle replacement. The Henschen DuraTorque axles tend to take a set and loose much if not all of their springing ability resulting in popped rivets among other less obvious problems. You can learn more about assessing your axle's condition at:
At the very least, you will likely find that you need a set of new shock absorbers.
4.) I would suggest a thorough examination of the LP system by a qualified RV LP Technician. This is a service that helped to identify weak points on both of my coaches after I acquired them - - the Overlander needed a new furnace, RV Refrigerator, and LP regulator; while the Minuet needed only a water heater and LP regulator - - both needed to upgraded to OPD valves.
5.) Leak patrol is part of Vintage Airstream or Argosy ownership - - seams and other exterior penetrations need to be examined for good seal and will need periodic attention. The entrance door can be a problem if it has ever blown open in-transit - - the usual result is a sprung door and a leak - - it is repairable, but takes someone with patience and experience (IMHO).
6.) The Breakaway switch is also another item that often needs replacement on vintage coaches if my experience is any indicator. I have had better luck with the round, metal cylinder style switches, but these are becoming somewhat difficult to find - - the last time I had trouble with the Overlander, my Airstream dealer had a new cylinder style Breakaway switch on the shelf.
7.) If your coach has the original Univolt, be forewarned that it may be unfriendly toward your battery. These older style units have a tendency to boil the electrolyte in the battery causing a variety of problems. One of my coaches has a Univolt while the other has a more modern replacement that is much kinder to the battery. It is not uncommon to find that the original Univolt is ready for replacement in a '60s era coach. There are several models of modern power converters that members recommend - - a Forums search on "power converters" should yield a number of threads.
Beyond these items, most of the systems will be familiar as they are quite similar to what you have on your Aristrocrat.
Good luck with your coach!