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Old 10-09-2019, 11:02 AM   #1
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Is it worth to fix an Argosy 1977 abandoned?

Hello. I just inherit an 1977 Airstream Argosy 20 Minuet. It has been abandoned for two years with the big window shattered. I'm guessing I have to discard almost everything of course except the shell. I live in Puerto Rico (Caribbean) for it is more difficult to get the parts to reconstruct this classic camper. Is it worth to fix it? If yes, what advices I should fallow. For example, important parts I should look over before I can bring it to my place. (I'm gonna tow it just in case) Any tips and don'ts I should be aware. Any help and comments will help. Thanks.
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Old 10-09-2019, 12:16 PM   #2
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Hi

The flooring in an Airstream is plywood. If it gets wet and stays wet, it rots. Once it rots, it has to be pulled out and replaced. With a broken window in a damp / wet climate, it's a good bet you have floor issues.

Under the floor is a steel frame. It also can have issues with the damp. The combination of salt and moisture is a bad one. You *may* have a frame rust problem. Repairing that *may* involve pulling the frame and doing a bunch of welding. In extreme cases that can be a bit crazy.

So:

1) Do you want to take the result on the road? If so the frame and floor need to be fixed up. Also the axles / brakes / hubs / tires likely need attention.

2) Will this become a stationary "tiny house"? If so you may be able to get around some of that work. You still will need a floor and support for the floor.

3) How much time and space do you have? Pulling one of these apart takes a normal person quite a while. When it's apart, it's best to keep it all out of the rain. A barn or very large garage is a handy thing to have in this case.

None of that is to say *don't* do it. The only point is to understand just what you are getting into before you start. A lot of people dive into this and then decide it's too much. Better to sell the beast *before* you put more into it. If you do decide to dive in, read up here on the forum about what others have done.

========

Before you try to tow it:

1) Check the exposed part of the frame for rust. If it pulls apart on the highway ... yikes.
2) Make sure the tires at least hold air
3) Be sure the brakes work (this is a legal requirement)
4) Get the brake and turn signal lights working (again a legal requirement)
5) Check the hubs and possibly lube them. They get hot fast if they lock up.
6) You will need a working battery on the trailer to power the breakaway setup.
7) You will need a license plate to take it on the road

Do people "sneak" trailers a half mile down the road? They most certainly do. If you will be going very far (like many miles) you should go through the list above. It's not just your own safety that matters in this case.

Bob
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Old 10-09-2019, 12:49 PM   #3
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Argosy was the test bed for a few test runs of things. I would not with 100% certainty say that this Argosy has plywood. A few of them had composite or non-wood sub-flooring:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f461...sy-115225.html

Make sure the wheel bearings are clean and lubricated prior to moving. If not good, fix first. Next tires. The rest can be done at your leisure. If your Argosy has plywood sub-floor, then I agree with UB....it's a pretty big project, even bigger given the location and access to parts, but it's a great little trailer.
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Old 10-09-2019, 01:13 PM   #4
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When you say "the big window" is broken, is the window in question flat, or curved? A flat window is easily replaced with window glass. A curved window (like the ones along the sides) will be harder to replace, because you will need to find a used part. IF it is one or both of the curved windows that make up the "wings" of the front windows, then replacement is going to get really expensive (last I saw these windws sell for about $800 each in the U.S.).

As far as parts go, most people who rebuild these aging trailers pretty much throw away all of the interior furnishings and build something from scratch. The main appliances (AC unit, refrigerator, stove, furnace, water heater, etc.) are not really Airstream specific and could be purchased from most RV suppliers.

You ask "is it worth it?" Only you can answer that. There are plenty of people who do complete rebuilds on Argosy trailers, but a complete rebuild could take years to do, lots of sweat, and $10-20,000. When you get done with it, you might be able to sell it and get your money back out, maybe not--it all depends on how good of a job you do, and whether your buyer appreciates the amount of time and money invested.

To get an idea of what you are getting yourself into, read through some of the "complete rebuild" threads on these forums.

good luck!
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Old 10-09-2019, 02:56 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timebender79 View Post
Hello. I just inherit an 1977 Airstream Argosy 20 Minuet. It has been abandoned for two years with the big window shattered. I'm guessing I have to discard almost everything of course except the shell. I live in Puerto Rico (Caribbean) for it is more difficult to get the parts to reconstruct this classic camper. Is it worth to fix it? If yes, what advices I should fallow. For example, important parts I should look over before I can bring it to my place. (I'm gonna tow it just in case) Any tips and don'ts I should be aware. Any help and comments will help. Thanks.
biggest concern for me, would be the state of the frame & flooring from water and rust damage. If that's sound, I'd go for it ! Although the front windows would be $$$$ I'm sure
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Old 10-09-2019, 03:52 PM   #6
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Worth it?

You already know the Argosy is a classic trailer, and people do like classic trailers.

It is far more expensive than a SOB (some other brand) camper, so if what you are looking for is an inexpensive camper, this is not going to be that.

If it were based in the lower 48, worst case total rebuild could easily be tens of thousands of dollars, not counting the added cost of materials shipped to PR.

So, first we need to understand exactly what condition it is in, and to what end condition you want to bring it to. You don't have to have a jaw-dropping show stopper to enjoy this trailer as a mobile camper or stationary get-away shack.

If you DIY, it would be cheaper in labor costs than hiring it out, but may take longer. DIY is more "fun" if you like tearing things apart and learning how they work or how they are built and enjoy working with your hands. It's a nightmare if you don't. How much is that experience worth to you?

Being in PR, there is the opportunity to fix this up nice and rent it out to tourists and turn this into a little money maker, if that is something you might want to explore. (Emphasis on "little" money)

As a rule of thumb, refurbished trailers rarely earn back the dollar investment their owners put into them (especially when accounting for their labor), so if you are looking to "flip" the trailer, the answer is likely no, unless you do something to the degree of a "Timeless Trailers" professional restoration specialist, whose work commands prices in the six figures.

Alternatively, you could sell it now, as is, and definitely get some positive cash out of it, and let the new owners do something with it.
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Old 10-10-2019, 08:06 AM   #7
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Hi

As we rumble around the country, I've seen a *lot* of older Airstreams sitting here or there. Ask the owners what's going on - "We're still trying to decide what to do" (.... and have been for many years).

Of all the possible ways to go, just letting it sit is not the right way to go.

Bob
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Old 10-10-2019, 08:31 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle_bob View Post
Hi

As we rumble around the country, I've seen a *lot* of older Airstreams sitting here or there. Ask the owners what's going on - "We're still trying to decide what to do" (.... and have been for many years).

Of all the possible ways to go, just letting it sit is not the right way to go.

Bob
Eight or nine years ago, I, in a semi-manic moment, talked to an owner of a piece of vine covered yard art that I thought my sister might like. I left a card with my contact information and waited until I finally forgot about it. Early last year, I got a call, but no longer had any interest, and certainly none at the price from almost a decade earlier.

Yard and barn finds can be frustrating. The trick? Don't know if there is one, but gently reminding the owner that you will offer LESS and less as the trailer ages and disintegrates is at least true.
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Old 10-10-2019, 09:27 AM   #9
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Pioneer Vintage Trailer loves doing Argosy rebuilds, but you would need to get it to their shop in Ohio. Usual rebuild time frame is 8-12 weeks.
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Old 10-11-2019, 08:44 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Foiled Again View Post
Eight or nine years ago, I, in a semi-manic moment, talked to an owner of a piece of vine covered yard art that I thought my sister might like. I left a card with my contact information and waited until I finally forgot about it. Early last year, I got a call, but no longer had any interest, and certainly none at the price from almost a decade earlier.

Yard and barn finds can be frustrating. The trick? Don't know if there is one, but gently reminding the owner that you will offer LESS and less as the trailer ages and disintegrates is at least true.
Hi

Indeed they don't increase in value just sitting there. I would *think* that would be obvious. Apparently it's not.

One might say "there's always a price". For a relic that is deep in the vines / woods down a hill / in a valley, there is a cost of simply getting it out of there. If it's 900 miles from nowhere and needs a flatbed to transport it, that has a cost as well. If those costs are in the thousands of dollars .... not good if the likely value of the trailer is a couple thousand .

Bob
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Old 10-11-2019, 03:20 PM   #11
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Simple answer, yes go for it! take it home clean it up, then decide what to do. My 77 had an aluminum floor yours may as well. The steel frame is weldable, if needed, and you can find a window or perhaps use plexiglas. Then camp or sell. Enjoy!
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Old 10-12-2019, 02:43 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by timebender79 View Post
Hello. I just inherit an 1977 Airstream Argosy 20 Minuet. It has been abandoned for two years with the big window shattered. I'm guessing I have to discard almost everything of course except the shell. I live in Puerto Rico (Caribbean) for it is more difficult to get the parts to reconstruct this classic camper. Is it worth to fix it? If yes, what advices I should fallow. For example, important parts I should look over before I can bring it to my place. (I'm gonna tow it just in case) Any tips and don'ts I should be aware. Any help and comments will help. Thanks.
Welcome to the forum!

For one bit of perspective on the possible road ahead, you might want to read "The Love Shack" thread:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f227...ck-183431.html

In Post #87, Eric estimates his labor hours:

[click on the orange arrow in quote to go directly to this post]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric 26 Argo View Post
Funny you should mention the labor hours Peter. This summer I have been referring to the Love Shack as my second job. I have kept some rough estimates of my time and I think I am at around 800 hours. Thats plus or minus 10%. since I don't have a time clock to punch in and out on.
. . .
Good luck,

Peter
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Old 10-15-2019, 06:24 PM   #13
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https://www.dropbox.com/s/zx59hgqwyn...2132.jpeg?dl=0
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Old 10-16-2019, 06:28 AM   #14
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As an Argosy 6.3M minuet owner I can set a few things straight.

ALL 6.0M (20') Minuets came with the composite aluminum floor, so no rot issues with the floor, however the frame should be checked out. A few of the 6.3" came with the same floor but unfortunately mine didn't.

The Minuets are a very desirable trailer to own, especially the 6.3M with its bunch of windows (the drivers side three are plexiglass from the factory BTW), as the trailer is only 7' wide, the front panoramic window, which Airstream didn't have at that time. It also has a very low dry weight which allows it to be towed by a greater selection of new modern vehicles with tow ratings of 3500lbs or under, (which is a lot of vehicles).

As stated by a previous poster, hopefully it's the flat window of the panoramic section that is broken, which is easily replaced.

I replaced the axle in my Minuet from Inland RV, they have them in stock; new shocks, wheel rims, centramatic balancers, and hub caps cost around $1,400 with shipping. DON"T have them weld on the shock mounts, as they welded them on in the wrong place. Installation require cutting the axle opening on the frame by 1/2" to accomodate the larger axle tube, (3" vursus 2 1/2"). Installation took me about 4 1/2 hours, after having to grind down and reap a shock mount bolt that the PO had busted off, (didn't use penetrating oil for a few days and heat )

Just make sure the trailer has as much of the little bits and pieces that are hard to find, like window opener handles, or aluminum trim work; everything else can be replaced like upholstery, cabinetry and fixtures.

Do the work yourself and enjoy the results.

Cheers
Sidekick Tony
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Old 10-16-2019, 06:39 AM   #15
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This is the pic from the link above, so people know what kind of renovation he's looking at.

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Old 10-16-2019, 08:18 AM   #16
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From the pic, it appears to have a plywood floor. If so, it is likely the floor will need replaced.

In general, it looks like this trailer would need essentially a rebuild to get it restored to original capability of being a mobile, street-legal self-contained camping trailer, and you are looking at tens of thousands of dollars in material alone - flooring, windows, appliances, axels, electrical, etc., not accounting for shipping to PR or the thousands of man-hours in labor to rip out the old and instal the new. This would entail a long labor of love and would unlikely offer a positive return on your investment (unless you feel your enjoyment of the labor itself and end result thereof is return enough).

Alternatively, you could embrace it as is and piece together a stationary shelter, using the existing structure and build a Robinson Caruso island get-away.

Or you could sell it now, as is locally, and perhaps pocket a few dollars. There are unlikely to be buyers who would ship it off the island as there are still plenty of older trailers that are already closer to where they are.
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Old 10-16-2019, 11:34 AM   #17
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That does look rough. I really like my Minuet but would not have taken on that project. If the Minuet has a truck load of sentimental value, you have a place inside to work on it, really deep pockets, and just love to get dirty, maybe restore it.

I was able to use mine shortly after purchase about 15 years ago, and spend a little each spring $50.00 to $500.00 to bring it back. The next two projects will be more expensive, paint once all of the dents are out and redo the cushions. And then it will just be what ever annual maintenance is needed.
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Old 10-16-2019, 11:41 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by timebender79 View Post
. . .
Any help and comments will help. Thanks.
Thanks for the photo in Post #13 [below in PS]. . . echoing earlier comments that this trailer looks very rough IMO.

Have you read through the thread linked in Post #12?

Quote:
Originally Posted by OTRA15 View Post
. . .
For one bit of perspective on the possible road ahead, you might want to read "The Love Shack" thread:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f227...ck-183431.html
. . .


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Happy trails,

Peter

PS -- From Post #13:
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Old 10-16-2019, 07:27 PM   #19
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How can I post pictures here?
I want feedback from the pictures I took last weekend.
I've been trying AF and still no progress.
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Old 10-16-2019, 07:35 PM   #20
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https://www.dropbox.com/s/h7n36352zu...2157.jpeg?dl=0
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