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Old 03-29-2013, 07:37 PM   #1
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vchatelain's Avatar
1976 27' Overlander
kiln , Mississippi
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 12
Advice? What to look for in early '80s Excella

I am going to look at an early 80's Excella 31' in a couple of days. I know very little about what to look for in RV's much less and Airstream. We plan on using it soon after we buy it.

I need advise on what to look for that can be potential problems that can cost me $$$. My husband is very mechanically/electically inclined. Someone I spoke to mentioned that we need to check that all outlets are working. What else?

Your assistance is appreciated!

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Old 03-29-2013, 09:45 PM   #2
Rivet Master
1974 Argosy 20
2014 20' Flying Cloud
Kooskia , Idaho
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 4,592
An early 80's is 30 years old now, so all the appliances are nearing the end of their useful life. Not that they can't be repaired, but usually the repair cost/problems are more than new ones. So, at minimum, be sure that they all work when you buy it. Refrigerator on both gas and electric, AC unit, water heater, furnace, water pump. If anything does not work, deduct the cost from what you were willing to pay for the rig. Do some research on costs of appliances.

The axels are about at the end of their useful life also and will need replacement soon, if not right now. New ones come with new brakes and bearings which decreases the cost of those items. If the tires are more than 5 years old, new ones will be needed now or very soon.

Look for any evidence of leaks which produce floor rot, one of the banes of all Airstreams. An ice pick is generally used to check for floor rot, especially in the rear end, and near the door and around the front. Floor rot is not easy, nor inexpensive to repair. Any soft spots are a big red flag.

Smell it. Does it smell moldy and damp? look especially hard at the floor condition and for other leaks.

I am NOT trying to discourage you, but you should be well aware of what can go wrong and how much it may cost to repair/update the unit. You want a good experience, not a nightmare which sours you on RV's or Airstreams. So, do your homework and know what you are getting into.

BTW, almost everyone says that you are better off buying an already repaired/updated unit than a well worn one which you put a lot of money into after the purchase. So, look carefully, ask a lot of questions, don't go into it blind. There are quite a number of used larger Airstreams available, so don't worry about finding another, if one is not what you think it should be.

And we welcome you to the Airstream nuthouse.

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Old 03-29-2013, 10:16 PM   #3
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1982 34' Limited
Brunswick , Georgia
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in addition to all of the above, I had some water leaking from the shower and water heater... open the cabinets and and access doors (lowers) and look at the subfloors in those areas. the wet smell, will give it away.
it doesnt mean that it is a deal breaker, all of this should be factored into price and the amount of work you are looking to put into it. I have found that much of the work is relatively straight forward with a little research.
look at plumbing connections, water pump, fixtures.
on the exterior...besides the obvious skin condition issues, look to make sure the caulking at the seams/windows is intact/maintained.
1982 34' Limited
2000 Excursion V10 4x4
WBCCI #3321
TAC #GA-24
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