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Old 08-30-2011, 09:22 PM   #1
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1982 31' International
Tishomingo , Mississippi
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 18
1985 vs 1982

Are there any differences between a 31 foot 1985 vs a 1982 Excella? I am more interested in structural differences between years. I am wondering when they fixed the frame weakness for the rear bath units.
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Old 08-31-2011, 02:44 PM   #2
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1982 31' International
Tishomingo , Mississippi
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I am going to look at a 31 foot 1981 excella II in the morning. I am also looking at a 1985 that is almost just like it but a lot more expensive. I am also considering a 1982 31 foot international. I know Thor bought Airstream in about 1980. Still wondering if the 1985 is built any better.

Mike
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Old 08-31-2011, 03:35 PM   #3
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1983 31' Excella
Cocoa Beach , Florida
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I have an 83 Excella 31 rear bath, twin beds. It is my understanding that the rear end sag issue was addressed about the time Thor took over. My unit is fine but I make sure the holding tanks are empty while travelling. My feeling is there is no reason to have any unnecessary weight in the back while on the road. I know Airstreams started putting on weight with the 84 models. I tow with a '10 Tundra 5.7 with the tow package, dual cam hitch and it works great for me. I've been all over the east coast including the mountains in TN and NC with no issues. Many will insist you need at least a 3/4 ton truck but I have not found that to be the case. But then, when the kids were still home, we pulled a 26 Argosy with our Chevy Impala station wagon. Go figure.
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Old 08-31-2011, 10:41 PM   #4
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1982 31' International
Tishomingo , Mississippi
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I have a 2007 dodge 2500 HD with the cumming engine so I am not too worried about the weight. The two excellas are mid bath, the international is a rear bath. The 1985 is listed for $15000, the 1981 is $5500. Still wondering if the 85 has anything going for it besides slightly better condition.
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Old 09-01-2011, 06:54 PM   #5
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1982 31' International
Tishomingo , Mississippi
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Inspected the 1981 and was unimpressed. The paper thin vinyl coming unstuck from particle board in several places was the main thing wrong with it. The search continues.
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Old 09-01-2011, 09:09 PM   #6
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1977 31' Excella 500
Berkeley Springs , West Virginia
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Frame

You need to look at the most important aspects of the trailer: It's construction. The cosmetic stuff is secondary.

The pre '85 31 footers had an inadequate frame; they were only 4" deep and were super prone to sag and separation.

They fixed this in 1985 by making the frame deeper in section.

I had a '77 31' trailer that had both sag and separation. I would advise anyone buying one to consider hard a 1986 or newer because of the frame.

If the foundation of a house is good, the rest can be fixed. If the foundation is bad, not much else matters. Make sure you have a good frame.

cheers,
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Old 09-02-2011, 09:16 AM   #7
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1982 31' International
Tishomingo , Mississippi
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Just to be clear, you said they fixed it in 1985, but we need to look for a 1986. So a 1985 has a 4 inch frame?
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Old 09-02-2011, 09:19 AM   #8
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1982 31' International
Tishomingo , Mississippi
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Just for completeness, What year did Beatrice Food mess up the frame and downsize it to 4 inches?
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Old 09-05-2011, 06:04 PM   #9
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1982 31' International
Tishomingo , Mississippi
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I am in the process of buying the 1982 international. I did take a good look at the rear frame and it is OK. I will post more in the appropriate place later.

I would like to add that the pealing vinyl I mentioned above wasn't the "main reason", just the final straw that made us walk away from the 1981. I realize this trailer is made the same way.
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Old 09-16-2011, 10:05 PM   #10
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Hi 1plant4U,

Sorry so quiet...I haven't checked the forums in a couple weeks....

Here's the deal as I see it: the pre-85 Airstream Excella's (actually all of them...but the problem really manifested itself in the longer trailers) had the shallow height frame. That doesn't necessarily mean that they have sag and separation. Rather, it means that they are more prone to getting it than the post '84 trailers (as I understand it, Airstream started somewhere around mid '84 making the deeper frames, and in '85 all of them had it).

Just because you buy a 1977 31 footer doesn't mean it has to have the sag or separation. But, they are more prone to it than the newer trailers.

OK, this being said, if you find a nice low mileage older long trailer and it doesn't have the dreaded sag or separation, then good for you! You can keep it that way by:

1.) Make sure your axles are "fresh" and actually have suspension travel....the original axles were worn out 15 years ago and have no give to them anymore

2.) Make sure your running gear is balanced. Do NOT let the tire shop tell you "Oh we never balance trailer tires...." That is malarkey. Maybe they don't, but they SHOULD! The tires on the trailer turn just as do the ones on the tow vehicle....balance them!

3.) Keep your blacksmith tools in the front of the trailer; avoid putting a bunch of heavy stuff in the back when you're towing.

The bottom line is that the older long trailers with the thin frames are very flexible. Airstream got a little carried away with weight reduction and so made them overly thin to keep the weight down. This made them extra flexible and so prone to the problems we see now of sag and separation. If you get an older trailer that is in good shape, you can keep it that way by following the three steps above. The trailers are OK, they are just unforgiving of mishandling. Treat them well and they will shine just fine for you.

I myself looked at a 1978 Soverign to replace my Excella. The trailer's frame and shell were fine, even with the 4" frame. The PO had installed the wrong axles on it, though, as well as buggered up the plumbing a bit, so I didn't buy it. However, I assisted a friend in Europe with it and he bought the trailer. It was a nice coach. Anyway, the point was, this was an older long trailer with the thin frame and it survived just fine. My '77 Excella, on the other hand, must have been ridden hard and put away wet as she had both sag and separation. Her axles were totally shot too.

Anyway, take care of your coach and it'll take care of you. Just be mindful of the springy frame. Load it approriately, and you'll have no grief.

Take care and I hope to meet you on the road!
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