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Old 07-12-2004, 10:22 AM   #1
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What's the value?

Hello, my name is Logan. I have always loved airstrem trailers but never owned one. I have recently been presented with the opportunity to buy one that I like a lot. I do not however know what a "good deal" is or if it is a rip-off. Before I give you the asking price I'll list the details so I can see some un-biased opinions.

This is a motorhome not a tow-trailer.
- 1974
- Originally 24' modified to 32' in the 1980s
(mod included adding an extra set of "air-ride" tires behind the original duals in the rear (for smoother travel?).)
- 454 Chevy Motor
- Less than 64k original miles on the original engine
- 2 beds + dinet/bed + couch/bed + 2 chairs(to another bed?) I have not been inside so I do not know if the seat to bed conversion here is correct, that is just what the seller told me over the phone.
- Working generator, ac, propane, H2O heater
- Untested propane/ac fridge
- Exterior looks to be in very good condition (no scratches or dents). It is not silver and shiny, it has a paint job but the paint seems to be in good condition also.
- fresh and grey water tanks are good
- black water "needs to be replaced or fixed". I think he siad it was "rotted".
- no plumbing leaks (on old one that has been by-passed)
- no exterior shell leaks
- "nice cabinets and wood and a big kitchen area". Again I have not been inside so this is what the seller told me over the phone. (I did look in the windows and everything looked fine)
- new fabric for seats and pads.


I don't know much about this type of thing and I am sure I sound pretty silly here and there. Any advice or help would be greatly appreciated!! I just want to know what a "good/fair" price would be, I would not want to get ripped-off, and honestly I don't want to rip him off. Thanks for taking the time to read my quandry!
I hope to hear from you soon!!
-Logan
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Old 07-12-2004, 11:11 AM   #2
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This is just my personal opinon, but I wouldn't touch any unit that had underwent such major modifications. Only the factory and perhaps one or two dealers such as possibly Inland RV in California would have the expertise to pull something like that off and have it stand up. Even then, I would think it would end up looking like an add on either inside, or outside, or both. It looks to me like you would have serious frame issues over the long haul.

Like you, I haven't seen this unit nor do I have enough knowledge to be called any kind of an expert. These are just my reactions to your post.
GStephens
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Old 07-12-2004, 11:46 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pillageTHENburn
- Originally 24' modified to 32' in the 1980s
(mod included adding an extra set of "air-ride" tires behind the original duals in the rear (for smoother travel?).)
Above the grill is an access panel about 1' x 4'. Just inside this are 2 steel 1x2" tubes, the one the right (passenger side) should have a vertical tag with a number similar to M24x4xxxxx. M24 means it is a 24 ft. motor home, the second 4 is for 74. Check this tag and make sure it is actually what the owner claims. What color is the paint? Are there 8 ft. panels (inner and outer skin) where this has obviously been extended? Does the current owner have any idea who did this conversion?

It takes a lot of engineering to extend a frame, much less add a tag axle setup (the tag is for the additional weight because of the length and to extend the wheel base for stability). If you aren't familiar with this type of work I would find a very good mechanical engineer and a very good welder and have them look at it. After that check the body well for leaks and distortion where the extension could have caused problems.

Price can be variable on a stock unit depending on condition. I paid $3200 for mine but it was in pretty bad shape, generator in pieces, 100,000 miles, new frig, recored radiator. Everything else sort of worked but it had shaken itself to pieces inside. What is his asking price?

John
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Old 07-12-2004, 12:57 PM   #4
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A little more...

Wow, thank you for all the good info so far!
I have not had the chance to see it again _after_ I knew it was modified but I did look pretty carefully at the outside and I did not notice any strange paneling or odd angles (no sagging or bending etc. etc.) but that was the preliminary 8 min. walk around; I will look closer when I re-visit it. I forgot to mention that it is branded "Argosy" + Airstream. The paint color is somewhere between an olive drab and a silver/grey. I think it had some black accent paint in appropriate places also. The tag numbers is some great info! I'll take a look and report what it says. I believe that the person who owns it is the second owner and I was under the impression that the work was done by the factory itself but that was not stated, merely implied. It is parked 1.25 hours from my house so seeing it takes some planning, but I hope to get down there later today or tomorrow. I may even get to take some pictures...

Price:
The person selling it said that he was going to park it in a "sell it yourself" lot and ask $7400, but he said that is much higher than he would sell it for if he sells it personally because the lot charges fees. I do not know what "a lot higher" means ($500? $1,000? $2,000 less?) I am assuming that like anyone trying to sell something he can be talked down quite a bit. If I go into the situation with as much knowlege as possable and (act like) I "know what I'm doing" I would intend to give the seller the impression that "this guy knows what he's talking about!" and in turn give him the confidence that I know what it is worth (wich also gives me the upper hand).

Other than the info that the seller volunteered are there things that I should look for or watch out for?
Thanks again!
-Logan
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Old 07-12-2004, 05:32 PM   #5
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Even More...

Even more...
I talked to the seller again on the phone. It turns out that he is the second owner, he bought the trailer in an "auction" (not really an auction but actually a fundraiser) where the original owner had donated the proceeds in a charity event. The original owner bought the motorhome new in 74 and had it modified in the 80's, all of the body and frame modification was done by Airstream. The original owner was a carpenter and he re-did the cabinets and wood inside; the wood is all Yellow Oak and Cedar. The current (second) owner bought it about 4 months ago and has used it as an office for his mortgage business when he is in the area; it turns out that the size was overkill for what he wanted it for so he bought a new smaller one.
For what it's worth the man who is showing it (when the owner is out of town) says it has a 100 Gal Propane tank, 150 Gal H2O tank, and a 55 Gal Gas tank. Those first two numbers sound pretty high to me but like I said I really don't know much about this stuff yet.

Again ANY advice or help is VERY much appreciated!!
Thank you!
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Old 07-12-2004, 05:56 PM   #6
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Could you post some pictures? Inside and out?
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Old 07-12-2004, 06:01 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tinsel Loaf
Could you post some pictures? Inside and out?
I'll try. It is parked about 1.25 hours from my house so for me it takes some doing to get there. At this point I have an appointment to meet with him tomorrow for a grand tour; if I can fanangle a digital camera from my dad or something I'll post some pics tomorrow!
-Logan
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Old 07-12-2004, 06:53 PM   #8
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sounds like a very rare item that is in the right price range if all is right. Check that, if MOST is right. That low mileage on something 30 yrs old, could be problematic if it has not been well maintained. Transmission seals, engine leakage, etc....need to be looked at. The Airstream mods are documented? If so it is truly a rare and interesting item, and an addition for Fred's Motorhome Classics web page as well. Please post photos if and when you are able to.
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Old 07-13-2004, 07:43 AM   #9
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If you can get documentation from the current owner that this was done by Airstream that would be great. They did use air suspension (check condition of the bags, linkage, surge tank, compressor, this has been problems for a few) for their tags so it sounds logical. I would still check the installation carefully, some of the welding I have seen definitely wasn't done by a certified welder. My generator was all the way to the rear beneath the bed and very heavy (antique Generac that seemed to be all cast iron). If this is the same that is a lot of weight bouncing up and down, another possible problem area.

Look for leaks. Unless they used all new full length panels there should be a seam 8 feet from the rear. Done right (front overlapping the rear, good riveting, etc.) it won't hurt but would be a source of problems if there was movement between the original and the extension, body or frame. Also check around the door, windows (driver's and passenger's especially), plywood beneath the passenger and driver, water heater, toilet, fresh water tank. Take an ice pick or small screwdriver, poke around near the edges. Pressurize the plumbing and check for leaks.

Original GVW was 12,200 lbs., it would go up some because of the tag. Look at the cabinetry made by the original owner. If it is 3/4" oak it is going to be heavy and really hurt what you can carry. That along with the generator weight would worry me mainly because it is unsupported.

All appliances are going to be pretty old and suspect unless obviously replaced and can get expensive. Fire them up and see what works. The frig can take overnight to cool, call ahead and ask the owner to start it. How many ACs, 32 ft. will need 2 in any southern/desert location. The generator is probably 4000 watts and the electrical 30 amp so adding one could be a major job.

Engine and trans leaks, oil and trans fluid, belts and hoses, engine AC and heater (cobbled by AS and hard to find parts), age of tires (split rims aren't legal and nearly impossible to find anyone to work on them), brakes. Drive it fairly hard, air flow isn't great and the engines tend to run warm. Pick some rutty roads and see how it steers. The extension and tags have to be perfectly aligned or it will push.

John
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Old 07-14-2004, 11:47 AM   #10
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Pictures!!!

After many many hassles and schedule changes I was able to get down to Gardenrville for a few hours to see this thing... I borrowed a Digital Camera, and learned how it worked (and how it didn't work) on the fly. Not the best pictures, but I think you can get the point. I can clarify anything in the images, and I have a LOT of stats that I gathered. I'll post those in a little bit.

Pictures are hosted here:
http://www.alldaydrive.com/mh.html

Please let me know what you think!!
-Logan
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Old 07-14-2004, 12:30 PM   #11
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All I can say is wow! Someone spent a lot of time on this unit.

Did you drive it?

By the grill it is a 74-76 model. In 77 the headlights were 2 up square.

Based on the window configuration I think it started life as a side bath coach. For a 70's vintage the kitchen cabinets are on the wrong side. the layout is more like the 80s era 325/345 models.

The windows are form a newer unit based on the weep hole covers and the top retainer in the kitchen window. If they all match that would be a nice upgrade. The window frames I had in my 76 were steel, these should be aluminum. Until the 80's rear bedroom coaches had side fixed windows so that is the sign that the rear has been heavily modified.

Form the pics it looks like they did a good job on the mating of the sections, is the rivet line on a rib?

The biggest concern I would have is that the rear suspension might be a bit overladed from all the nice cabinetry that is installed and that finding parts for some of the added systems could cause trouble if you don't get the documentation form the current owner.

One thing to remember, Pre-77 the Argosy MH was a true test bed. Most of the owners I talk with all have found odd little things that were not done on all models. My 76 had a steel nose, not just a steel cap. Others have found fiberglass caps, etc. This is truly a one of a kind unit.
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Old 07-14-2004, 12:34 PM   #12
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Value on something like this is not going to be definable by any kind of book. It really is going to come down to what you are willing to pay and what they are willing to take. Mid 70's Argosy MH that are in good condition run 7-9K
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Old 07-14-2004, 12:56 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thenewkid64
All I can say is wow! Someone spent a lot of time on this unit.

Did you drive it?
Not yet, he did not have insurance and did not want to chance it, I'm calling my insurance comp today, maybe later today I will drive it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by thenewkid64
By the grill it is a 74-76 model. In 77 the headlights were 2 up square.

Based on the window configuration I think it started life as a side bath coach. For a 70's vintage the kitchen cabinets are on the wrong side. the layout is more like the 80s era 325/345 models.
The Tag # under the hatch is V24D4V0219, from what 74Argosy24MH said that seems to match the year he said it was made. I believe the mod was done a year later in 1976.



Quote:
Originally Posted by thenewkid64
The biggest concern I would have is that the rear suspension might be a bit overladed from all the nice cabinetry that is installed and that finding parts for some of the added systems could cause trouble if you don't get the documentation form the current owner.
In one of the shots you can see where the duals have rubbed the underside of the wheel well...from cabinets or just overloaded? who knows I guess.

-Logan
p.s. what does MH mean?
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Old 07-14-2004, 12:56 PM   #14
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Kitchen is the biggest I have ever seen in any rv, overhead cabinets are not 74 Argosy, mine had only 2 sliding windows (between the entrance door and passenger seat, the dinette was there), cabinets and windows were probably current production when it was done. Doghouse cover, dash, stove vent cover, tail light mounts, all look 74. Really looks like it is in pretty good shape from the pictures. The paint needs attention, it will peel pretty quickly when it gets started. Tires look questionable also but could be just dirty.

John
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