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Old 03-04-2006, 11:12 AM   #1
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Argosy vs Airstream construction

Hello, first time poster and aspiring owner. I have been window shopping in cyberspace, looking for something with some age but still in good shape and affordable.

I was hoping someone here could tell me the differences between these two lines. I know they have different exteriors (fiberglass v aluminum?) and the Argosys' interiors may not have wood as nice, but I was also wondering about differences in construction that could affect long term structural soundness. Also any features present on one that make it a clear choice over the other, things of that nature.

I know this is a pretty broad request, but I figured somebody here would be able to provide sound advice. Thanks in advance.
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Old 03-04-2006, 11:24 AM   #2
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When I was looking for my trailer I looked at both. The Argosy was built as a more afordable trailer at the time, but I think they are just as well built as the Airstreams. BTW, the Argosy is made of aluminum just like the airstream except for the endcaps which are one piece and made from steel. I think the Airstreams of the same era also have larger water and holding tanks. The bottom line is, An Argosy is an Airstream of color. I think they look great and the people who own them love them. I would have bought one if I found the "right one" when I was looking.
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Old 03-04-2006, 11:42 AM   #3
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You are starting with several misunderstandings. Both trailers have identical construction with the exception that the Argosy has a single steel cap above each end rather than segmented aluminum pieces. The Argosys are painted because of the existance of the steel end caps. Underneath the paint there are aluminum panels. Neither trailer has any fiberglass except perhaps for a few interior pieces such as the shower in some models. Other models of both trailers have ABS plastic shower stalls.

Though it is true that the Argosy for the most part was considered a less expensive line, it is not necessarily true that the sum of its parts were in any way inferior to those of the Airstream. They share the exact same appliances. In some cases the Argosy just might not have as many options as an Airstream, but then that is true among the different models of Airstreams as well. Some models were higher end than others in any given year and were optioned accordingly.

The Argosy line was where Airstream often tested new concepts. The wrap around front windows were first introduced in the Argosy line and then applied to the Airstream models. As far as I know, the Argosy trailers were the only ones to ever have aluminum floors in a few models. Argosy trailers were configured in metric lengths and widths for a time. Airstreams were not. I would think that would be a very desirable feature as the aluminum flooring never would rot. These aren't huge differences, just differences.

In the end, both trailers have their advocates. Both were quality built. It would be more a matter of condition, how well a particular trailer was maintained and whether a particular trailer's length and floor plan met my family's needs. I have owned both and enjoyed them both. I currently have the trailer that I'll probably always own because it has the floor plan and options that I particulary desire. It happens to be an Airstream. My Argosy's sleeping arrangements just didn't meet our needs; otherwise, we'd still be an Argosy owner.

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Old 03-04-2006, 12:04 PM   #4
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Argosy vs Airstream construction

Greetings MichaelS!

Welcome to the Forums!

Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelS
Hello, first time poster and aspiring owner. I have been window shopping in cyberspace, looking for something with some age but still in good shape and affordable.

I was hoping someone here could tell me the differences between these two lines. I know they have different exteriors (fiberglass v aluminum?) and the Argosys' interiors may not have wood as nice, but I was also wondering about differences in construction that could affect long term structural soundness. Also any features present on one that make it a clear choice over the other, things of that nature.

I know this is a pretty broad request, but I figured somebody here would be able to provide sound advice. Thanks in advance.
As azflycaster indicated in his reply, there are very few diffierences in construction methods or materials between the Argosy and Airstream coaches of the same era. Detail differences were the primary distinguishing element. Often, certain features would appear "experimentally" on the Argosy first and then might make the transition to the Airstream line. The biggest example of this was when motorhome production began with the Argosy and then transitioned to the Airstream line. Other examples include the deep wrap wing windows on the front of the coach -- these appeared originally on the Argosy and were later incorporated into the Airstream coaches -- another example was the use of these deep-wrap wing windows on the rear of coaches equipped with rear bedrooms as the Argosy was the first to feature these in the rear bedroom coaches (as early as 1976 in the Argosy 28 rear bedroom coaches).

If you happen to look at the smaller (24' and shorter coaches), you might also encounter a line of coaches that was unique to Argosy. These coaches comprised the Minuet series from 1977 through the end of the "classic" Argosy series in 1979. The Minuet featured a number of distinguishing design features among them:
  • Narrower width -- only 7' wide at floor level.
  • Shorter models often were equipped with aluminum composite floors (most often found in 6.0 Metre (20') and 6.7 Metre (22') coaches)
  • Interior cabinetry was vinyl-clad aluminum with tambour doors on uppers cabinets and some base cabinets -- where tambour wasn't utilized the doors were vinyl-clad aluminum as well.
  • Side windows were made of space-age acrylic materials.
  • While all Minuets were equipped with washwater tanks, the shower drain water was not collected as the washwater tank was mounted on top of the floor in the bottom of the rear wardrobe closet.
  • The two shorter Minuets were single axle (6.0 Metre/20', and 6.7 Metre/22') while the largest Minuet was a tandem axle coach (7.3 Metre/24').
In addition to the Minuets, there were also two standard series Argosy coaches that had floorplans that were, at the time, unique to the Argosy line. These coach were referred to in the literature as "Rear Door Models"; and the entry door was place behind the axles rather than the more traditional spot forward of the axles. These coaches were listed in the sales literature as being available in 22' models (1975-1976) and the 24' models (1977). I don't have access to 1972-74 literature so am not certain if the rear door models were available prior to 1975, but they were not listed in the literature after 1977.

The Argosy coaches were promoted as a mid-priced line, and as such were often delivered with fewer of the options typically associated with Airstreams -- some features that were standard on Airstreams of the period were options on Argosy coaches. Most Airstream options of the period were available in some form on Argosy. The Minuets were what might be speculated to be something of a reaction to the energy crisis as they were designed with weight-savings in mind.

As an owner of both an Argosy and and Airstream coach, I would be hard-pressed to decide between the two if I could only keep one. The Airstream is an old-friend as it was the first coach that I ever camped in as a five-year-old when the coach was new; but the Argosy is such a fun, easy to manage coach that I find myself choosing it for so many of my excursions (many more than I ever expected when I purchased the Minuet a little more than three years ago).

Good luck with your search and research!

Kevin
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Old 03-04-2006, 12:08 PM   #5
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hi michaels and welcome to argosy/airstreamin'

lots of resources here and on the other air sites to read....get up to speed bro! it only takes.........clickin' and readin'

i have owned both also...and was the "market target" for the argosy line...

the argosy was priced less than the air line...but not of lesser value to the customer....some of the features and floorplans and so on of the argosy line were targeted to younger buyers and some new features were tested in argosy before moving into airstreams...or not.

the end caps have been covered already....

the main difference of significance imo is the argosy line was built in versailles, ohio....down the road from the jackson center airstream factory...this means different people built 'em....could have been better or worse craftsmen....and since the versailles plant was only in operation for a decade.....there are the issues associated with the beginninn and the ending of a production line....

my point here is that there are some argosy units that are better built that airstreams of the same year....and the opposite.

most but not all parts are interchangeable....

some will say argosy OR airstream is worth more or more collectible in a given year because.....(make up a reason)

sometimes the used argosy is a better choice because it has fewer 70's appliance upgrades...to fix (like ice makers or lighting) while the airstreams had more of these things....that now are 30+ year old relics...

outer surface repairs can be an issue, as bondo and putty might be under paint....and is hard to hide on a shinny one....

my view is they are both great, worthy aluminum things...and chosing which depends mostly on wanting shinny or painted....since the skin care is significant for both....and either can be painted or shinny at expense.

is this clear? just buy one of each to enjoy the full palate....oh and add a classic 70s moho...of either brand too.!

cheers
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Old 03-04-2006, 01:09 PM   #6
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I saw this thread earlier and hoped Kevin would chime in. I would generally agree there is very little difference in construction of these two Airstream products. Floor plans may be different, but this can be said about standard Airstreams between years and models. This age trailer is much easier to see around in your rearview mirrors when driving compared to the 8'6" wide models of today! My Argo outside width is about ... 7'9" IIRC.

The following applies to both Airstreams and Argosy trailers. Being older I would probably say they will all have a variety of problems -- unpredictable leakage with floor issues here and there. Old furnaces can be deathtraps; replacing is good insurance (don't even think about it -- there was a recall back then -- this is a carbon monoxide issue). Replacement water heaters & furnaces are available in the same modular size. Dometic refrigerator replacement could be the most expensive item if you have a bad one. Axle issues need to be looked at, though many are still good. Gasket replacement -- plan on this! Plan on spending a lot of time with the Forums' search function. But any trailer this age can be a driveway queen for quite a while -- ya gotta have patience. Be prepared to search and search or spend dearly if you want a drive-away 1970's unit. Don't forget to add a smoke detector and CO detector up high and an LP detector down low.

The Argosy was used by Airstream to prototype panoramic front windows well before they appeared on their silver sisters. The top-hinging windows are also great. What was it? No gray water tanks before 1976 either...
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Old 03-04-2006, 01:09 PM   #7
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Having restored both...

The major difference is that every Argosy had most of the mechanicals mounted above the floor.
You will not find an Argosy with the potable water tank mounted under the floor.
The Argosys were less expensive for several reasons. None of which seemed to compromise quality.
Every single Argosy built has the potable water tank mounted across the front of the trailer.
They did have some neat floorplans too. I really miss my 1977 Argosy 22 that had the curbide L-couch set-up. It was cool!
Both lines have their pluses and minuses.
If you are planning on doing restoration work for the first time I would recommend an Argosy.
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Old 03-04-2006, 01:12 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canoe stream
No gray water tanks before 1976 either...
1974 was the first year for gray water tanks on either line.
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Old 03-04-2006, 02:34 PM   #9
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Argosy vs, Airstream construction

Michaels:
Apparently everyone failed to pick up the fiberglass vs. aluminion part of your question. Airsream built a Fiber glass skin Argosy trailer for 2 or 3 years begining in about 1987 the last year this trailer was built color was changed to silver and it was rebadged Airstream. These were entirely different trailer to aluminum skin trailers.
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Old 03-04-2006, 02:43 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by norsim
Michaels:
Apparently everyone failed to pick up the fiberglass vs. aluminion part of your question. Airsream built a Fiber glass skin Argosy trailer for 2 or 3 years begining in about 1987 the last year this trailer was built color was changed to silver and it was rebadged Airstream. These were entirely different trailer to aluminum skin trailers.
hello norsim and welcome to airstreamforumn'

great first post!

the wisdom of the far and wide has expanded!

so many model variations....so little time

these fiberglass skinned things are part of the 'squarestream' line and yes their were argosy and air and 5ers...

now the construction issues/differences matter....NO RIVETS!

search here for squarestream....or post a picture of a specific unit.

cheers
2air'
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Old 03-04-2006, 02:51 PM   #11
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norsim -- A very good first post! Welcome and many happy returns. Are you talking about the Squarestream? There was even a brief intro of an Argosy 5th wheel about that time. We've also got to remember that after the trailer line was discontinued in the late 70's, early 80's Argosy mohos were prototyped well before the first Airstream badged moho was introduced in ... 90 or 91?

Some owners have found painting their Airstreams to be a durable, low maintenance solution to any number of skin problems. The color of choice is aluminum-silver of course. I've seen a few photos posted and Forums members say you wouldn't know it until you looked very closely.

I noticed last fall that the best Argo photo site, indexing by each year and model, disappeared off the face of the net and has not been back (the now defunct www.argosytrailer.com). I sure hope the Jackson Center legal department didn't have their fingers in this one!! Sure makes me blue --
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Old 03-04-2006, 02:57 PM   #12
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old style viewing.....

http://www.airforums.com/forum...724-print.html

more controversy.......even the term squarestream has issues.....

and for the record.......the a/s moho started in 79 canoe sir' while the argosy version was 74?.....and the early a/s versions were built in versailles before moviing to jc....

toward the end off classic contruction they did bonded alum panels on the moho???is that why the confusion on f/g vs al on the s/q.......

cheers
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Old 03-04-2006, 03:58 PM   #13
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Argosy Vs Airstream

72, 73 & early 74 Argosy's were built at Jackson Center. The Argosy factory didn't open until Aug1974.
My 73 Argosy "Classic" 24' will be going up for sale in about a mouth.
If your interested, you can see it under my photo's and contact me by e-mail.

Don
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Old 03-04-2006, 04:15 PM   #14
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Speaking of squarestreams here's a nice 1987 33' model for sale in Florida.
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/AIRST...18566378QQrdZ1
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