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Old 12-02-2012, 01:58 PM   #1
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Airstream just makes the world a better place

So it begins. My first AS purchase and my first Post.

Yesterday went down to Oceanside, Ca to look at what seemed to be the perfect 1977 Excella 500. Drove up and confirmed it. Skin was perfect except for a weird 'skirt' around the bottom (more on that later), windows operated perfectly, awning in good shape, interior was almost showroom. Then the skirt came into view and as I somewhat suspected it was tacked on there to conceal no banana corners and no belly pan. Low an behold a rusted frame. Outriggers completely shot and rusted through, frame separation on the rear AND 3" of sag on the frame plus axles sitting at 0 deg. The asking price was low to begin with but my offer bordered on obsurd. This was after 5 hours of inspection and letting the owner know what bad shape his trailer was at least from the frame down. In my head I'm thinking this is gonna be a huge undertaking which is unfortunate for the immaculate interior but i'm an architect and was going to do a complete remodel anyway.

So most would expect major bulge at the wheel wells, and stress fractures on the skin, sheared rivets, out of wack outer panels(the floor is completely separated at the rear so the body is sitting on VERY questionable outriggers) yet the body is straight as an arrow. Windows and doors operate perfectly and none of the cabinetry has shifted or started to fall from all the frame flex.

It isn't all rosy because it will be a lot of work but I feel compelled to tell the story of the PO.

He came from the Netherlands in 1983 and worked with his father in an amazing glass business that seems to be flourishing today. He showed me an amazing wood sculpture his late father made and I was so taken aback by it's beauty I couldn't stop staring at it. He told me he bought the airstream with hopes and dreams of restore but then a back injury and resultant surgery (four if I remember correctly) stopped all those dreams cold. On top of that he got an MRSA infection that pretty much made a battle for his life the most important priority.

His face soured a little bit when I made him aware of all the problems that the trailer had from the waist down and he was downright stunned when I made my offer but he seemed a man defeated. He gave in. In my joy I stared a little more not realizing that he kept looking at his phone and putting it back in his pocket and realized he needed to go meet his wife for date night. I had been there 5 hours already inspecting this trailer I didnt realize until later maybe accepting my offer was in haste to get me out of there and go meet his wife.

I deemed the trailer untowable (would hate to do damage to a perfect skin on question outriggers and sag with a 120 mile tow ahead of me) so I left it in his driveway and started to make calls to transport companies that had lowboy's available to transport for me.

I shook his hand and thanked him for a great deal and left him feeling like I made a really good friend. The guy was as nice as can be and was just dealt with crap in his life but it didn't knock him down.

I had a bittersweet sleep last night as happy as can be to have receive such a deal but this gentleman's airstream dream seemed crushed and I couldn't let that go.

So I emailed him just before I wrote this and here is what it said.

"Good morning Greg.

Hope you had a great time at the movies last night and hope your wife didn't give you too much grief for what you sold the trailer for.

Last night was a bitter sweet sleep for me. I was so happy to get the trailer of my dreams but not happy so much about how I got it. I know you assume as well as I do that it's just business and the offer might have been 'fair'. I won't dispute it honestly because it will take a lot of work to get it rolling but in my happiness of the purchase I guess I didn't realize that maybe you accept the offer because you needed to get it done and over with and out of your hair and meet your wife for the movies. I feel a little guilty for it because you call it a bad investment on your part and now you want the paper weight off your driveway. Well I know you purchased it with a dream in mind so I would really like to keep that dream alive. The way I see it is you didn't lose 3500.00 on your investment but you just paid me 3500.00 to do the restoring for you. My offer for you to use it is real, it's open at anytime and its unrestricted except that you have to drive 55MPH hour…hahaha

I was quite impressed by your story yesterday from your father's work down to your pain and suffering I left feeling inspired to have met a genuine person. Who knows…i might be completely wrong and you might be the biggest asshole in the world but I didn't see it yesterday. I know I surprised you with a lot of news about your trailer and its condition but I guess its education in its simplest form, dive in and learn along the way. Heck, we are artists…is there any other way? So actually with your permission since I will be taking a lot of time to rebuild this thing I would love to make a replica of your fathers wood sculpture and use it somehow in the airstream. I think it would make a cool little conversation piece and backstory to how this thing has come along. I was staring at it for a while admiring the craftsmanship. I build guitars so I know the passion involved.

Anyway Greg. I'm rambling but let me know your thoughts. If you still just want it off your driveway and never want to see it again i'm cool with that too but again my offer is genuine and although yesterday I mentioned 'paying it forward' but i guess I meant paying it back.

Talk to you soon Greg"


Im still waiting to hear an answer but I really hope it is yes.

A childhood friend of mine who owns a 79 Ambassador told me that the AS family is an amazing family to be a part of. I gotta say I was born into this family yesterday and I feel the love already.

I will be documenting this process so please stay tuned.

Glenn

PS. I didn't pay 3500.00 for it...remember the offer was obsurd but reasonable for the amount of work this will take. That number will be between me and Greg
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Old 12-02-2012, 02:24 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Protohyp View Post
So it begins. My first AS purchase and my first Post.
Welcome to the airforums!

You made out like a bandit, apparently. You got yourself an Airstream, the opportunity to do work that you love to do in order to restore it, and a great story to tell, all at the same time. Can't beat that.

Still trying to figure out how the price you paid could be reasonable but absurd. Absurdity implies that it's wildly inappropriate, and that's the very opposite of reasonable. Still, I applaud your desire not to gloat over the low price you paid; you're a better man than many for that.
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Old 12-02-2012, 02:39 PM   #3
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I'm an artist and architect so we always contradict ourselves. Reasonable because if a body doesn't have two good legs to stand on then its a paper weight. Knowing how much work will go into it, i think it was reasonable...I guess absurd is not a good choice of words but to a man defeated if I was in his position I probably would have thought it was absurd. The guys who made off like a bandit are the ones who got theirs for free.99 handed down or just happened to be driving through the right patch of deserted land and saw the gem sitting on the front lawn with a sign "just get it out of here" Now thats absurd. Thanks for the welcome though.
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Old 12-02-2012, 05:30 PM   #4
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Glenn a lot of us here on the forums have run into similar situations. Several weeks ago I went to look at an early 70's Overlander. It was covered with moss and generally a mess...that was the outside. The inside was in even worse shape. The owner was a clergyman and nice guy but he didn't know Airstreams. He had inherited this from his in-laws but had little knowledge of Airstreams. He did know enough to look at E-bay and had a misperception of what his trailer was really worth. As I pointed out the rear end separation, broken and leaking roof vents, rusted frame, sagged axles, and a multitude of other problems...I could see the color drain from his face. What you did was educate him on the reality of Airstream ownership. Most owners do not have the knowledge to tackle such a project. So in reality you saved an Airstream and the previous owner. Keep us posted on your progress and ask questions on the forums. There are a lot who can honestly say: "been there, done that". Good luck!

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Old 12-02-2012, 06:00 PM   #5
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Thanks Bob. Thats great advice. I will be asking lots of questions. Andy is about an hour drive away from me. My guess is once I sit down with him he won't be able to get rid of me. I'm a perfectionist so i'll be hard on myself if I end up doing something wrong or screw up because I was too proud to ask.
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Old 12-02-2012, 06:00 PM   #6
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Welcome to the cult.. I mean welcome to the club.
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Old 12-02-2012, 09:07 PM   #7
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just an update.

HE SAID YES TO THE ARTWORK!!!!
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Old 12-02-2012, 09:45 PM   #8
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Congratulations, Both on your new to you Airstream and on making a new friend. Your attitude does you well. Your frame looks very rough in the one pic but the demolition will tell the whole story. If you decide to go all the way and redesign instead of repair, remember that the original parts in good shape are irreplaceable. Offer them up for a reasonable price and many here will bless you as well.
Welcome to the forums and remember- We Like Pics
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Old 12-02-2012, 10:05 PM   #9
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No Doubt Tim.

the cabs will be painstakingly taken out and will definitely be looking for buyers. Yes the frame is rough but being a designer and engineer my wheels are spinning on how to get this rolling and on the right track. Thanks for the welcome and support.

here are more pics of the frame. some of the cross members are separating. as you can see the outriggers have had it. no way i'm towing this thing. Notice the holding tanks on straps. the other side was held up by two by fours and a lifting block to elevate it to the floor.

planning the frame off now. We have a huge parking lot and 1800 sq foot warehouse with pretty much all the tools needed for the project. but still need to lowboy it about 120 miles to its new home. Anyone in the LA area know a good transport company?
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Old 12-03-2012, 06:28 PM   #10
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Here are some other pictures of her good side
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