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Old 10-09-2006, 09:29 PM   #1
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Perception of a Used Trailer

I have looked at many trailers over the years and I am a fair judge of condition. I do know my limits and what can be accomplished with hard work and determination. But I understand there is a wide variety of descriptions of "perfect" and "pristine" trailers in print ads and on the internet and places such as eBay. My point in this post is: I am not always right, and the other person is not always wrong. We just arrive at our conclusions in a different manner. We both look at a trailer in different manners. I may be able to fix the "thingamajig" while you are able to fix the "whachamacallit." And then we may both need to hire X-mech-tech to fix the "doohicky". I may camp in the trailer with little to no systems working, while someone else could not bear the thought of using public facilities when they had their own on board the A/S.
(my little soapbox)
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Old 10-09-2006, 11:58 PM   #2
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Soapbox

Soapbox is good!

I agree with you, much of the hoopla on condition/usability has a great deal to do with semantics and personal preference!

Sometimes some of the descriptions on ebay and in other classified type ads work hard to make their copy as "desirable" as possible. I think if one reads them and takes out all the adjectives you find out a little more information.

Mrs. NorCal Bambi (traveling in S Tardis)
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Old 10-10-2006, 06:20 AM   #3
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Arrow Comment on "Perception of a used Trailer"

Hi Silverhobby and CaddyGrn; We all hope to find a diamond in the rough which needs only good cleanning. Fact of life is that they need shaping and getting it to fit the mount. Me and my lovely wife Margaret Kay, have searched long time for AS, perhaps four years. Every add on the horizon looked better than previous. In the end it was down to exactly of what you are talking about Kevin. It gets very personal and it did with us. We have seen units that were nice inside but serious skin damage, and units which needed just about everything. In the end it came down to our capability, and what we were willing to tackle.
Prospective buyer must set his own set of guidelines and know his limitations.
This should include financial consideration first. One cannot expect to find a perfect used trailer althought you can, but only if you one in a million guys with such luck.
Searching Internet can be very frustrating, and if you make a commitment sight unseen, shame on you. While most people make honest disclosures, others will not. Some may not be aware of hidden problems, or of those that may develop.
We found a 1973Argy. 26' in Vermilion, Ohio. We were in contact with the selling agency as well as the PO. Not wanting to drive 8 hours to see it, we asked many questios. We wanted assurance that the pics were of the very unit for sale. Since the selling agent had no reason to lie, we accepted his word and bid on it, winning the bid in the end. The most we would have lost, is $500.00 deposit thru Pay Pal. At time of pick up we had a chance to further inspect the trailer. Shell was our biggest concern and it was perfect. We realized that the frame will need lots of help along with new running gear.
But it was our decision to go thru with it, finding no fault with the PO or the agent. Today, my new Stainless Steel frame is awaiting new axles from Dexter. Interior has been gutted and the shell is waiting to be placed back on the new frame so that we can replace the floor. Lots of hard work, but we have no axes to grind with anyone. It was our choice.
The moral to this story is that if you buy used just so that you may have a reason to cry about it, do it in secret. If you do not, buy new. Then, you will still most likely find things wrong with it, but you will have the right to cry aloud. " boatdoc"
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Old 10-10-2006, 06:46 AM   #4
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Silverhobby,

Your post makes me think back to one I posted about a month ago. Wife and I have been hunting throughout the Summer for a trailer, but it seemed that they either were gone before we called, had serious faults being overlooked/omitted in the ads, were over-priced (in my estimation), or some combination of the above.

One truism I picked up here on the boards, was that the market shifts in favor of the buyer with the end of Summer. I seen a change since Memorial day on eBay, and in other on-line classifieds venues. Trailer prices no longer seem to be reaching the heavens and they're remaining on the market for longer -- It's giving us hope we'll find one soon!

Boatdoc,

I'm anticipating pretty much the same situation your in -- if you don't mind sharing, I'd love to know want it took to have your new frame made. For us the idea of rebuilding from the ground up isn't as frightening as trying to repair the skin. Either a post or PM would be greatly appreciated. (Sorry for the mild hijacking)

Sean
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Old 10-10-2006, 07:01 AM   #5
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Keeping your expectations reasonable is the key. All used trailers require some refitting. It may just be a lightbulb that's burned out, or a switch that needs replacing, but used trailers are all used. The question is always HOW used is it, and how much repairing are you willing to undertake. SOBs show their age and deterioration quickly, and tend not to last very long after they begin to deteriorate. Airstreams can deteriorate for a long time before they really show it.

Looking at a bunch of unrestored trailers from each era will give you a really good idea of what a "normal" trailer looks like of that age. You'll begin to have a real feel for what you are looking at in photos when you find that 'special' trailer that's three states away.

If you assume the worst, and it's not there, you'll be pleasantly surprised. Do your homework. Ask the seller about the 'typical' bad spots in the vintage you're looking at, and make sure you get photos or have someone inspect those areas in that 'perfect' vintage trailer for you before you plunk your money down. Recognize that any trailer older than about 1985 with torsion axles may be ready for an axle transplant. Understand that with each generation of trailer the aluminum alloy changed and got thinner and more malleable which means a likelyhood of being damaged more easily... systems have gotten more complex with a higher likelyhood of more difficult repairs. Plumbing in the '80s was gray plastic that didn't work out as well as expected... all that stuff is important in determining which trailer is 'perfect' for you.

Roger
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Old 10-10-2006, 08:53 AM   #6
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I also have been watching the market over the past two years. Can't believe the prices on some of the units out there that need work and you can see this from just an internet picture.
There is a unit for sale at a dealership close to home. It is in bad shape. I can fix just about anything with enough time and money. I gave them an offer and they didn't bite. It has be sitting on their lot for about a year - I guess it will sit for another year. I may weaken yet because it is the floorplan and year that I was hoping to find.
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Old 10-10-2006, 10:51 AM   #7
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Thanks for the kind words from everyone here on the Forums. The elusive needle in the haystack is still hidden. Trailers are sold each week. Some are correctly advertised, and I am sure some are "cleverly" talked up as to being in great original or restored condition, when in fact they leave much to be desired. Much desired, except the high asking price from someone, possibly only interested in making a fast buck on a "hot ticket item" like an A/S. Every one I have seen thus far needed new tires, and that was seen from more than a few feet away.
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Old 10-10-2006, 11:18 AM   #8
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BoatDoc,
I find your reply refreshingly old-school. So many people "nowadays" want to blame someone else for their problems, etc. In the case of buying a trailer, or any other product, the buyer is responsible for all the research, shopping, confirming that the condition is as advertised, etc. This takes effort, time and expense. I drove from central calif to LA (4 hrs one way) on a Satuday only to find that the trailer was either grossly misrepresented or the Owner was grossly unaware.
The following day we drove in the opposite direction 5 hrs and looked at/purchased our GT. I asked many more questions of the second trailer than I had the first. Photos can show you so much, but they can hide a lot depending on camera angles, etc.
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Old 10-10-2006, 02:05 PM   #9
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Arrow 2nd response to perceptionof a used trailer

Top of the day from "boatdoc" to Silverhobby,Fyrzoft and Asta2;
We have made a decision back in the beginning of September to bite the bullet. The most important issue to us was the shell, which can be very difficult and expensive to repair pending the damage. This, I was not willing to tackle despite the fact that I have access to English Wheel. and know how to use it. We have a frame fabricating capability and the know how,so that was not huge factor. After inspection [for what I could see] it called for axle, rims and tires and maybe repair or replacement of the frame. Because of the perfect shell we bit the bullet anyway, and what was to come was to come. After sending the AS to nudist camp by gutting it, we got the shell free and pulled the trailer. First consideration was to repair it, but after revieving the involved cost of sandblasting reinforcing and painting, we had decided to do it only one time. My salvage yard charges me $1.50/lbs for Stainless Steel [we buy large quantaties from them]. It was cheaper for us to buid a new frame than to repair the original not even considering improvement margin.
Forty two night hours and we have something which will never rust out.
Capacity because of design was increased by 165%. 5000 lbs axles with 3500 lbs torsion arm suspension and 12" brakes are on order with Dexter. Very shortly I will be posting some pic's of the frame. Me and my lovely wife Margaret Kay take pleasure in restoring it the way we want it. Next will be new floor and new Prodex insulation below it and walls. New wiring,plumbing new stove and on, and on. Where it ends is to be seen. No complaints can alter the outcome, unless you roll up your sleeves and have it your way. And yes I will be more than happy to share all info with anyone. With two engineering degrees and 40 years of hard work, shallow water is not hard to cross.
Thanks for listening, "Boatdoc"
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Old 10-10-2006, 04:15 PM   #10
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This is a very interesting thread. My husband and I, without the proper amount of knowledge, purchased a nice looking '66 Safari. Needless to say we found some major issues with the trailer and have since embarked on the venture of a full restoration. Although we may have made a bit of a mistake in not doing the proper amount of research before purchasing and we will put a tremendous amount of money and effort into the restoration (we've been working on it for better than 18 months) it will be well worth it when we are done. We will have a quality trailer built just the way we want it.
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Old 10-10-2006, 09:27 PM   #11
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A Labor of Love

It seems to ring true from everyone that chimes in to this thread: We may or may not have gotten the best deal or a perfect trailer. But we ABSOLUTELY LOVE the A/S or Argosy we have. It may have faults, some we can live with. Some will be repaired later, some will prevent us from camping right away, some can be deferred to a later time so that we can camp now. I prefer to camp and make friends. I may have to use the public facilities while I am in my alluminum tent, but, it is after all a labor of love in progress.
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Old 10-10-2006, 09:41 PM   #12
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I agree with everyone here, so maybe I'm just rehashing the hash. Used condition is exactly that, not new, not perfect, its been used, shows wear, some things don't work, some things will. But individual perceptions of a "used trailer", that's where the differences are. What one calls "needs a little TLC" another would call "a total project trailer". When searching for mine I found tremendous variation in descriptions by for-profit reseller types vs. individuals just wanting to sell their trailer. When buying used it goes a long way to know your stuff ahead of time, get a handle on exactly what you want, and be prepared for a long search if you have high expectations or limitations on how much work you can do before it is camping-ready within your own tolerances. And yes, I saw ridiculously inflated pricing for some trailers that would have required significant reworking. It truely is buyer beware and the buyer is ultimately responsible for doing their own research and finding those things the seller won't willingly disclose.

So far I've been fortunate. I've been dealing with things I knew needed work and I've found a few things I didn't anticipate. But nothing yet that I was completely unprepared for. After all, its a "used" trailer.
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Old 10-10-2006, 10:28 PM   #13
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The used

I'm amazed at the painstaking research most of you have gone through to find your "match". Truly the Airstream is like a member of the family you are willing to adopt.
My stepgrandpa died and no one else wanted the 74 Sovereign (Never fitted in). Sight unseen I knew we had to be together. My real grandpa inhabited an AS most his life, every summer and easter break was like camping w/him.
If I had done any research prior, I may have been scared away. But after a year of seeking assistance to move it 450 miles to home base... so I can do what I can do...its here...yes used...but its sounds like there is nothing that cannot be fixed or replaced...its very good to know that regardless of levels of used, there's good folks here willing to share there wealth of knowledge...or 2 cents as well.
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Old 10-11-2006, 03:18 PM   #14
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I have an Argosy for sale and every person who has contacted me received a detailed description of the trailer. I include the good and the bad. I really think it hurts me to be honest, but I don't care. I describe out every single crack in the plastic, tambdor not sliding right, hole in the screeen, etc. Some stuff I know a buyer coming to see it would not even notice the first time, but they would find it eventually. I would not want to drive a long way to see a trailer(which I have done) to find out it was misrepresented. Just did that 2 weeks ago, and the darn thing had a flat! Like I really am going to be able to fix that then and there and take it back!

But back to a selling description, on the one hand, buyers read my description, and then go on looking for that perfect unit out there somewhere, rather than realizing every trailer is going to have some flaws, even the brand new ones! It gets frustrating, but I just can't NOT describe the flaws. Oh well, life goes on.... eventually someone will appreciate that I have disclosed every tiny little thing I know of wrong! But I can see why some sellers don't want to disclose the trouble spots, they would rather sell and so what if the buyer is mad later. I would rather have a clean conscience and take longer to sell.

What really gets me is when the seller says it has been "stored under shelter" for years and years. That does NOT mean pristine. That means that the mice have partied in there somewhere. That the appliances are gummed up with dust, etc. That the tires are practically stuck in that position....

Well, that's my soapbox from a seller's point of view!
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