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Old 07-31-2011, 11:23 PM   #1
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Differences between AS & Argosy

I know that AS builds the Argosy. I also know that they are painted. Other than the obvious are there other differences I should know about as I am looking to purchase a 1973 26 foot for under 6k in very good condition.
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Old 08-01-2011, 12:53 AM   #2
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The upper part of the end caps of the Argosy are steel rather than aluminum.

Argosies always had panoramic windows in the front, years before they were available in an Airstream.

Most early Argosies didn't have any of the "tambour" roll-up doors on the cabinets, so they actually require less maintenance.

They were somewhat less expensive than an Airstream of similar size, so a little less "luxurious."

There's somewhat less Argosy-specific documentation and information available. For example, I have an Airstream service manual for the same year, which tells me about the basic construction and how all the systems work, need to be installed/uninstalled/assembled but doesn't have the specific floor plans and layouts for Argosy models.

I suspect there are slightly fewer people who'll get rabid over painted trailers than there are silver junkies. I was looking for "an Airstream" when I found my Argosy, and it was just too nice a trailer to pass up just because it's painted. If you're looking for a trailer to camp in, this should not be an issue. If you're looking for one to sell, that's another story.
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Old 08-01-2011, 08:07 AM   #3
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From what I have read, other differences included
No monitoring panel
Lower quality fixtures
The big thing with both the Argosy and Airstreams is the axles. They will need replacing and negotiating this into a final figure to pay is hard as usually the seller will tell you it still pulls well etc. I was fortunate with mine that the PO'S late father had installed castor wheels on the rar because it had started to bottom out on (especially) ferry ramps.
Use the search facility and you will find plenty of info and a really useful pre purchase inspection and check list. I found it very useful when looking at ours.
Best of luck with your quest and please keep us informed.

Bex

Oh, and as for the documentation. Our '76 did come with an owners manual which does include the floor plans, electrical but not how it was plumbed for water.
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Old 08-02-2011, 08:47 PM   #4
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Current owners are collectors and sellers of vintage trailers for 15 years and state they never have replace an axle and have never found it necessary.

What think ye?
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Old 08-02-2011, 09:37 PM   #5
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I recently purchased a 75 Argosy 26 and often compared these with 25' AS Tradewinds. I usually set my expectations for both at $3-4k knowing that sooner or later an axle/brake job would be required and more likely immediately need a new set of tires.

If all the systems work, there's no signs of separation, and the interior is in "very good condition". ....ie you could do a good cleaning and go camping next weekend in it, then under 6k might be a good price. A Tradewind I looked at on eBay recently went for $7800 as a point of comparison and it was not "camp ready".
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Old 08-02-2011, 10:09 PM   #6
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I have owned 3 Airsream trailers, 2 Argosy's,one Silver. Loved all three. The Argosy's were made in 1970's and 1980's. The most obvious is the steel end caps. Must keep these clean and painted or they will start to rust bigtime. Early models did not have black water tanks. Later models had aluminum floors (no rotting) but they tend to sag between the dividing joints. The rap around windows in front are nice. I have found that the painted Airstream is cooler than the silver ones. Downfall is that the Argosy needs to be repainted at least once in lifetime. Expensive if done right, but then again, you need to polish the silver ones too, which isn't cheap either.
I bought the last Argosy with "all systems working". This was true but soon with use almost all systems started to die out. Any system that is 30-40 yrs old will start to wear out with or without use. I had the axle replaced because the trailer was riding low. Frequent rear end bottoming out when entering or exiting gas stations. Now rides beautifully. Good Luck with your Argosy!
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Old 08-03-2011, 06:59 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billy1davis View Post
Current owners are collectors and sellers of vintage trailers for 15 years and state they never have replace an axle and have never found it necessary.

What think ye?
Go to Inland RV's web site and check the info about axles. They will be worn out, or rather, the rubber torsion arms will be facing up rather than down, so the trailer is lower than it should be and "bottoms" out the suspension on every bump. That said, they do still pull nice. I have no experience towing except for our Argosy and it was a dream to pull the nine plus hours home with an under powered/geared camper van. I have read that loose or popped rivets and cracked interior end caps are a result of poor suspension. Mine certainly has the cracked end caps.
As mentioned above, rear separation is another issue, more time consuming to fix with a rear bath. Ours is a center bath and was not a big deal and as I have written elsewhere with the folks on this forum holding your hand its not hard if, like me, this was your first attempt at DIY.
These issues are not meant to put you off but can be used as bargaining tools, and like a London bus, if you miss this one, there will be another to take its place.
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Old 08-04-2011, 08:57 AM   #8
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I am now picking up on this "rear seperation issue" can you tell me what this is about? I have hear from one seller of an 85 AS that the 70's AS did not have enough support in the rear. Are these two issue the same? Is what they are talking about the actual rear of the AS seperating from the rest of the unit? And if this is the case is it eventually goning to happen if it hasn't already?
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Old 08-04-2011, 12:36 PM   #9
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There are many threads discussing how to test, what to look for, and how to assess the significance of rear separation.

When I would look at a trailer for sale, I would stand on the rear bumper and bounce. If the bumper/frame support underneath and body/shell move together that's a good sign. if the bumper/frame supports "give" and you can see them move more or separately from the body/shell that's a possible sign of a problem. I would also check the subfloors in the rear for rot. Usually you can get a visual on the flooring underneath the sink behind the cabinet. In the front you can usually get a visual by removing the sofa cushions. If you poke at the wood you can get an idea whether its firm or rotted. I've read several threads where rot around the doors is common also. It doesn't necessarily mean that you have "separation" but from what I understand from the AS construction method the subfloor is a critical element of the linkage between the shell and the frame (like the proverbial "neck bone"). The other major problem that seems to accompany the separation is the potential for frame elements that have rusted through - not just surface rust, but rather a compromised frame. There are several good threads on the forum of owners removing the belly pan to discovery significant frame issues (water gets retained by the insulating material between the frame and the belly pan and doesn't drain).

Back to the rear end, water coming through/around the storage compartment appears to be the common suspected cause, but I've seen threads indicating any number of leaking water sources as possible causes of subfloor rot at different locations around a unit.

Before you get too spooked by it, you'll find plenty of owners here on the forum who know they have it to some degree, and its just another item on the AS to do list. I happen to suspect it on the Arogsy 26 I just purchased. At the same time I recently read a thread of a 2005 AS owner that had it as a result of leaks that were left unaddressed.

If you want to know what's involved in the fix read TOP's thread about Abby. Just don't lose site of why you purchased the Argosy....enjoying it!
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Old 08-04-2011, 05:26 PM   #10
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So now I am wondering what the weight difference might be between this 26 argosy and a 89 25foot AS. Any ideas?
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Old 08-04-2011, 07:55 PM   #11
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That Argosy 26' is right around 3950 pounds dry (I looked up numbers for a 1975 trailer.) A 89 Excella 25' is 5100 pounds dry.

That newer trailer is likely to have a center bath floorplan (which I personally like). But it's also likely to have a OSB floor (less water resistant) instead of plywood. It probably needs axles too. And there's probably some peeling clearcoat on the outside.

Oh, and as for the owner of the 1985 trailer trash-talking the structure of 70s trailers - along with the move to OSB floors, after the mid-1980s, Airstream started taking structure out of the front of those trailers. Older trailers have a double line of rivets on the front wall fastening the shell to a big steel plate that's welded to the chassis. His 85 doesn't.

Does that mean it will peel apart? Probably not (at that length.) But you're also less likely to find rear end separation in a 25-26 foot trailer than you are in a longer one....

Tom
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Old 08-04-2011, 07:59 PM   #12
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Here is the link to what I will be looking at tomorrow. Everyone has been very helpful. Please let me know what you think about this one.

Vintage 1973 Airstream Argosy 26 ft.
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Old 08-04-2011, 08:04 PM   #13
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It looks pretty nice. You're far ahead by buying a trailer that's been actively used rather than one that's been sitting and deteriorating.

I think the axles are sagged out - you can see how far up the hubcaps are into the fender wells. The trailer will still tow nicely, but the shock absorption is mostly gone. That leads to popped rivets.

You'd also want to think about getting a front rock guard that wraps around those expensive panoramic windows.

Take an icepick with you and probe the floor around the front and rear edges of the door and under the front dinette near the forward edge. (There's likely some floor rot in the bathroom as well, but you can't get to the rear most edge under the sink and shower.)

Good luck!

EDIT: Saw the later ad for the same trailer. New tires and repacked bearings are a plus as is the new heater. See if the new "inverter" is really a converter for DC power - the original Univolts are relics. Also see if the updated propane tanks are the original aluminum tanks or are steel tanks.

Tom
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Old 08-04-2011, 08:06 PM   #14
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This might be helpful to you....
Airstream, Inc :: Travel Trailer Specifications
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