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Old 12-23-2013, 12:53 PM   #1
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Austin , Texas
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I'm pre-newbie! From Austin TX

Looking to start Airstream Life and looking at nice used Airstreams.
Who can look at my potential purchase and let me know if good buy? Like when you buy used car one can let mechanic take a look? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Looked at 1996 Classic that looked good but not sure about the "innards"...axle, tires etc.
61, smart female!! Just not about my new home to be....yet!!
Thanks again.
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Old 12-23-2013, 01:08 PM   #2
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Here is a great place to start. We have an inspectors list on the portal page toward the bottom right, it's sorted by state and easy to use. We have several members in the Austin area that may chime in.

http://www.airforums.com

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Old 12-23-2013, 01:17 PM   #3
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If it is local and the owner is willing to work with you, you could have them take it to an RV shop you both agree on and have a pre-purchase inspection done. Airstreams are similar to other RVs in all their major systems. A shop will be able to test the propane system for leaks, confirm your appliances are working right, check the water system, and 12v and 110v electrical systems, confirm your batteries are good and charging system is working correctly, that sort of thing. They can also check the brakes and bearings so you know the running gear is good.

Otherwise hopefully the owner can show you the ropes on how all the appliances work (and confirm they work), and you will feel better about the condition it is in. I think you learn a lot about how something has been maintained just by seeing who owns it and how they treat it. They might also have maintenance records for what they have had done.

Good luck!
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Old 12-23-2013, 01:24 PM   #4
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Youv'e found the right place Steph. Relative newbie myself, but this forum is the best resource ever. I'm also under the impression that the A/S community is top notch as well. I think you'll find answers to almost any questions here. I'd be willing to bet that any questions you have about a prospective purchase will find many comments here. While looking, don't be afraid to get dirty, examine underbelly, frame rust, look under tile, carpet for rot (most experience some rot from what i've seen). Unusual tire wear, electrical inconsistecies, etc. Part of being a riviter is the fun you'll have working on your A/S as well. Best of luck in your search! TLTulsa (former Austin-ite as well...great City!!!)
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Old 12-23-2013, 02:27 PM   #5
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I agree about the inspection above, but to anyone looking at ANY used Airstream, the worst thing possible to find is a rotten floor and/or a rusted, bent or broken frame.

Test #1 is to take an ICE PICK and go around the edges of the floor poking gently. If you hit hard plywood, fine, if it just goes in deep and mushy - leak!

On from there. The frame on an Airstream can bend or break.... Rotten flooring and a poor connection between the floor and the walls make this easier. "Dead" axles contribute heavily. Hitting potholes or rough roads at high speeds, dragging the tail (on longer models especially) going over a curb or down a driveway can be a cause and rust due to leaks adds to the problem. How do you detect a broken frame. First look for a wavy spot in the aluminum - usually behind the rear axle. Then eyeball (or use a plumb line if your eyes aren't all that keen) the midline trim and the bottom of the trailer - if either sag, assume there is a frame issue.

Finally - drop the belly pan - look at the insulation and floor and frame. (If the owner won't let you don this, RUN don't walk away fromt the deal.).

PS - they all leak, even the new ones. I think I'm developing a leak around my antenna right now. Will be up on the roof as soon as the rain stops and it dries out. The antenna needs to be lubed anyway.

Paula
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Old 12-23-2013, 02:39 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foiled Again View Post
I agree about the inspection above, but to anyone looking at ANY used Airstream, the worst thing possible to find is a rotten floor and/or a rusted, bent or broken frame.

Test #1 is to take an ICE PICK and go around the edges of the floor poking gently. If you hit hard plywood, fine, if it just goes in deep and mushy - leak!

...

PS - they all leak, even the new ones. I think I'm developing a leak around my antenna right now. Will be up on the roof as soon as the rain stops and it dries out. The antenna needs to be lubed anyway.

Paula
This is a good point. I think it would be hard to tell how much soft floor is too much, but if I found a soft spot, I wouldn't say it's an absolute 'no go', but it would be a concern. I'd expect almost every trailer to have some minor water damage (and that goes for square white boxes as well as Airstreams). Some minor floor damage can be fixed with epoxys that soak in and strengthen the damaged wood, some need to be patched with new materials.

The frame is a much bigger deal.

I say this having bought a trailer with significant floor damage and a broken frame, though I didn't realize it at the time. All of which are fixed now, and it's ready for another 45 years on the road!
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