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Old 08-13-2016, 10:08 PM   #1
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1974 27' Overlander
Warner Robins , Georgia
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ADVICE PLEASE...About to Purchase 1971 Camper

Hi Y'all...We live in the middle of GA and stumbled across a 1972 Sovereign that appears to be in decent shape...

They are asking $12K for the camper...seems a little high, but not unreasonable...could use some feedback on that

The owner said that if he let the AC run he would trip a breaker at his house...i suspect it was the small extension cord that he used that I assume would heat up over time as he was drawing a large amount of current...but i didn't press the issue....should I next time I go look?
When we went to go take a look at it..the air conditioner, axels, and shocks all looked original. The owner said he has not packed the bearings in 4 years..but it doesn't appear the get too much use....How much bad juju is that?

I am assuming that I will need to replace the AC unit and the axels....which from what I read would cost about 3K...is this accurate.

The camper did not appear to have rear separation....but the owner did say that he neded to seal around the rear bumper to prevent a leak that he repaired 6 months ago.

I have read that the longer airstreams from the early 70's had rear sagging issues...have y'all had any issues...is there a way that I could tell if any repairs were completed to prevent warping the frame?

Would it be silly of me to ask the owner to remove a section of the belly pan to see the frame...or should i just assume that it will need some work.

Lastly, my wife and I really liked the camper and think it would be a good way to make a lot of memories with our kids...and we would like to know anything that we could/should do to make sure the camper lasts for another 20-30 years....rhinoline frame....etc.

Thanks

Any other big watchouts or things I should look for is appreciated.

Thanks in Advance

Ervin & Christina
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Old 08-13-2016, 10:50 PM   #2
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1973 31' Excella 500
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Ervin,

That price seem high to me because of the things you mentioned. Rear end problems are caused by leaks and I doubt that leak just started. I'd assume rotten wood and rusted out cross member even if sag isn't apparent
Rear baths are harder to fix and separation and sag more common than in center bath models.
There were no grey water holding tanks in 72 models and that can be a problem unless you have sewer hookup or portable tank. A lot of work to add one.

So to me it seems the price kinda high for camper that may need major work.

FWIW I just purchased a 73 excella 31' center bath for way less than half that price.
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Old 08-13-2016, 11:07 PM   #3
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1974 27' Overlander
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Thanks for the information

I suspected that there might be more issues as we began to repair...the camper has a center bath...that is original...so if there is no grey water tank...where does the shower and sink water go?


What do you think a fair price would be....givin the condition of the camper?
Thanks
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Old 08-13-2016, 11:48 PM   #4
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1974 31' Sovereign
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Originally Posted by airchasers View Post
I suspected that there might be more issues as we began to repair...the camper has a center bath...that is original...so if there is no grey water tank...where does the shower and sink water go?


Back then it was acceptable to just let it drain onto the ground. Then the EPA came along, which probably was a good think. Can't imagine all the campers in the CG I'm in now doing that, it'd be a cesspool.

What do you think a fair price would be....givin the condition of the camper?

Without good pics and inspection it's hard to tell. I will say that the mid bath is a plus to me personally. Probably in the $8k range if she's solid, good interior, and no leaks. Check around the whole floor perimeter for soft spots if you can. Those long 70s trailers aren't the most desirable so prices stay a bit lower.

Thanks
Google airstream rear end separation and you'll find lots of good info to look for.
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Old 08-13-2016, 11:48 PM   #5
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On the ground! Those were simpler days. I believe it enters the black water discharge pipe on the center bath..

The center baths are great layouts and are less common than rear baths. Smaller baths but I like the rear bedroom.

As for the price I really don't know. I fell into a good deal and jumped on it without much consideration of condition of trailer other than exterior . I knew I would gut it no matter what not just repair things.
My original plans were to make a shiny treehouse/mancave but it was in better shape than I thought so decided to put back on road.
I have seen 31 footers of that year for a lot less though and some that have been rebuilt for not much more.
I'm sure others more knowledgeable than I will chime in with their opinions
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Old 08-14-2016, 12:40 AM   #6
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Ervin

Here is 1980 31'..
http://www.airstreamclassifieds.com/...-31-florida-4/

And a 72 with new axles...

http://www.airstreamclassifieds.com/...1-mississippi/

A 23" in atlanta...
http://www.airstreamclassifieds.com/...ri-23-georgia/

Overlander. ..

http://http://www.airstreamclassifie...er-27-florida/

Something to compare with hope it helps
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Old 08-14-2016, 02:28 PM   #7
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I've seen many ads for Sovereigns down here in Florida for less than half of what he's asking, in similar shape. Remember that the big dollars are in the little Airstreams, the big boys go at steep discount. If that was a Bambi or Globe Trotter, I'd say, "Pounce on it!"
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Old 08-14-2016, 02:41 PM   #8
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Don't necessarily write off the AC if it is the original Armstrong. They were bombproof. Sealing the rear end leak is suspicious. Open the rear storage compartment and see if there is any rot to the subfloor. Also with an ice pick look at the bottom of the door, in the water heater compartment under windows, around wheel wells. and in the corners for rot. Tires older than 5-7 years old need to be replaced no matter how good they look. When was the trailer's appliances last used? Was it stored near salt water? Look under the stair and you may get a peak at the outriggers. How many owners? Clean title? Yeah a mid bath is rarer but 12K is high. I sold one a couple of years ago for 5. If the trailer is unrestored plan on spending 10 to 15k. Sovereigns are not as popular than shorter units. You would probably be better off spending more money on a restored or partially restored trailer.
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Old 08-14-2016, 04:17 PM   #9
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I paid $8,500 two years ago for a unrestored in very good shape. Had to choose between several at that price or a bit less.
Replaced the usual: axles, couch with recliners, mattresses (foam was old), carpet, etc.
Would not have paid more. Don't be in a hurry - lot's around.
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Old 08-14-2016, 04:19 PM   #10
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P.S., would not buy one with out gray water tank!
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Old 08-14-2016, 06:11 PM   #11
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As others have said, and I know it's hard, wait to find a better deal, they are out there. I almost overspent for a Bambi , then lo and behold found a much rarer flying cloud less than a year later for half the price! Do your homework and try to take the emotion out of it, it's hard but if you buy it right you'll have more money left over for the repairs.
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Old 08-14-2016, 06:17 PM   #12
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Unless his house is wired with old nob and tube electric he could run that AC if it works. It is hard to blow a 20 amp breaker on start up of the unit. Yes if the extension was under sized it would blow in time.
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Old 08-14-2016, 08:45 PM   #13
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We purchased our 1971 Sovereign last year for $4000. It had some subfloor rot in the rear bath, but otherwise was in pretty nice shape. I have replaced the rotted subfloor, the univolt, the fridge, toilet, black water tank, and the AC. I also replaced all of the plumbing with Pex, and installed plank laminate flooring. Add to that new custom made mattresses and a sofa to replace the gaucho. I am currently rebuilding all of the tambour doors. We have a total of around $8700 invested. Eventually I will replace the axles. In the end, we will have a nice, fully functional Sovereign for under $10,000.
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Old 08-14-2016, 11:25 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HowieE View Post
Unless his house is wired with old nob and tube electric he could run that AC if it works. It is hard to blow a 20 amp breaker on start up of the unit. Yes if the extension was under sized it would blow in time.
I run my 15,000 btu a/c at home on a dedicated 20A circuit with no problems. This summer I stayed at my cousins farm and hooked into their 20a outlet on the porch and immediately had low voltage in the trailer before the house fuse blew. It turned out the entire living room was wired to that 20a circuit. The A/C may be fine but that 20a circuit may be maxed out with other outlets.
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Old 08-14-2016, 11:50 PM   #15
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seems high, paid $6k for my '72 Sov in Cali two year ago .. figure on spending lots:
new bedding & couch foam or mattresses
new curtains
new fabrics / bedding etc
new water heater
probably new fridge
existing furnace probably considered unsafe at 40 yrs old
axles are considered old and probably not working well / brakes ?
tires ? x 4
electrical transformer box for 12v & charging battery etc
check every inch of flooring around perimeter for any rot , use a screw driver to dig in
does it have original shag? new flooring
Does the water pump pressurize the plumbing system ? any leaks? You'll hear the pump come on after a bit if it's not holding pressure and leaking somewhere you can't see
Do you want to polish ?

= lots of cash ....
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Old 08-15-2016, 07:59 AM   #16
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I could have bought a '76 for $6,500.
I know everything was in working order because the guy lived in it full time.
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Old 08-15-2016, 10:45 AM   #17
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Offer him 6K cash and sit on it. I have made offers and had call backs up to 6 months later.
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Old 08-15-2016, 03:16 PM   #18
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based on what I have seen on GA, FL and the south, I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole. That goes for all vintage cars, trucks, motorcycles etc...
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Old 09-25-2016, 08:10 PM   #19
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We paid $3000 for our 72 in April. We came into the project knowing we would/could find some frame rot and wanted to do a shell off. Good thing we did do a shell off because where the toilet was there was complete separation. She towed like a beauty about 200 miles home and all that was left inside was the rear bath. So a lot of hard work was already done for us.
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Old 09-25-2016, 09:09 PM   #20
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1979 31' Sovereign
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Agree the price is too high.

Where a trailer has spent the majority of its life does make a big difference in how it ages. While we bought ours in Dallas, it spent a good bit of time in New Mexico. It also only had 2 previous owners. A doctor who bought it new, and a retired AF couple who bought it in the early 80s. They took excellent care of the old girl and even kept a service manual and reams of notes with it. It was the documentation, and a clear title, that sealed the deal for us. We also weren't too worried about restoring a 70s trailer. Figured it was a decade most people wouldn't cry over if not original.

As far as household electrical goes... If you want to plug it in while at your house, it's best to make sure it has a dedicated breaker. We had to put in a new line from our house to the transformer a few years ago. While at, also put in a bigger breaker box. We had the room to add another 30 amp breaker and a dedicated 30 amp RV plug.

Bear in mind, size is relative. Find yourself parked between 2 fifth wheels in an RV park and suddenly that 31' AS doesn't look so big.
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