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Old 11-21-2013, 04:34 AM   #15
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Sounds to me more like a scrap deal than a restoration.

The ribs are not square tubing they are an extrusion.


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Old 11-21-2013, 01:22 PM   #16
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What do the ribs look like up close? Are they C shaped or I beam shaped?
Knowing how it looks inside will give me a better idea of whats going on and how to fix it.
The ribs can't be broke or detached from the frame, if they were the inner skin would move too. Its sounding to me like either a bunch of broken rivets or cracked ribs?
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Old 11-21-2013, 07:20 PM   #17
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Depends on the exact location and model of trailer. Some of mine are I shaped and some are C shape. The outside skins are buck riveted, the inner skins are pop riveted. Without pictures it is going to be hard to tell exactly what you are looking at. With the two front windows gone, along with everything else you listed I would very prone to scrap it. Call and Airstream dealer and check on the cost of of those two front windows I would be willing to bet they are going to be around $500 each.

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Old 11-21-2013, 07:30 PM   #18
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Call and Airstream dealer and check on the cost of of those two front windows I would be willing to bet they are going to be around $500 each.

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More like a grand each.
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Old 11-22-2013, 01:07 AM   #19
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Why can't I just replace the windows with Lexan or Plexiglass? Or aluminum?
They have a slight compound curve but I think I can make it work.
In any event, they don't leak the way they are now, they just look pretty bad.

The fact that its partially gutted is a plus, I would be doing the same thing either way. Both for weight issues and for cargo space. I trash picked some super light wire shelving today that should work well along one side vs all the heavy wood. I'm tempted to toss the remaining bunk and cabinet, if I knew it wouldn't weaken the sides any I'd toss that in favor of light shelves and just put a wire framed folding bed in it. I don't plan to live in it, just use it in place of a tent when I go to shows. I wouldn't be alone, I've looked at dozens of old campers done this way but most either started life as school buses or are small single axle campers with all but the bathroom removed. Rarely do they even leave the tank, there are no facilities to hook up to at these events, most just let the gray water run into the drains and put a can under the toilet with a bag tied to the pipe. When your done, you toss the bag in the nearest dumpster.
It beats the alternative of using the woods or waiting in line at some plastic outhouse.

I would consider a small refrigerator, strictly electric, there is always electric hook ups. The same goes for heat, full electric is fine, one of those oil radiators would work just fine. Since most shows are in the early spring and late fall, there's usually no need for air but if the roof air works, I'll leave it there. If not, its out of there.

The loose sides will just have to be re-riveted in place. The home made wood skirts will get tossed too.

I'm thinking of heading up this weekend or early next week to haul it home, my buddy seems to think it'll make it just fine. It just won't have any lights or brakes as the trailer has no light or brake wires up front to plug in to the car. I'll take a couple of spare wheels and tires but I doubt the old bias ply tires will give me any issues as long as they're fully inflated. I've got a pair of old Goodyear bias ply tires on an old junk trailer I've got at work that hauls far more weight to the dump every week, those tires are from 1970 and still doing the job. If I loose a tire, I'll change it out. Since it won't be going into use anytime soon I really don't want to put a new set of tires on it to sit all winter, especially as fast as these new chinese tires tend to dry rot.
Something I keep reading about is that the axles go bad on these with age? What are the symptoms of a bad axle? My buddy who picked it up said the axles look fine and that both are torsion axles. In my experience with torsion axles on newer trailers they rarely go bad unless they get bent. Especially on a trailer that doesn't get towed often.

If the weather holds out or if we get a good warm weekend yet this year maybe I'll get a chance to pressure wash this thing real good and roll on a coat of white paint. I've got 10 gallons of industrial enamel for aluminum that I got at the flea market, its sort of a mountain dew green color, plus I've got about 6 gallons of the same paint in white. I figure if I do the top white, and the bottom green it'll stand out. Besides, if I panel over the corner windows, the paint will make it all blend in.
I'm even considering either tinting the flip up windows, if not maybe filling those in too. If I tint them I'll just have black vinyl cut to fit the inside of the windows. It'll eliminate any prying eyes while its parked.
On my 12' trailer I used spray on tint and put old wire fan grills over the inside of the two side windows for security.
The inside of this one is nice enough that it should only need a good cleaning for now, I'll give it some time before I decide to paint what can't be seen. If it turns out to be a decent rig, I'll get some POR15 for the chassis to preserve it.
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Old 11-22-2013, 05:38 AM   #20
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The torsion axles from the 1970's had issues with the compound of the rubber rods, they fail by becoming rigid or lose a lot of their movement. Towing an Airstream/Argosy with bad axles for long distances at highway speeds will cause a whole host of issues over time. With an Airstream/Argosy you can totally gut the interior without affecting the structural integrity of the trailer. The body is semi-monoque and helps support the frame. Read through some of the complete rebuild threads here on the board and you will get a feel for how these trailers are put together and many of the issues that can crop up.

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Old 11-22-2013, 07:00 PM   #21
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Greetings freeisforme!

Quote:
Originally Posted by freeisforme View Post
Why can't I just replace the windows with Lexan or Plexiglass? Or aluminum?
You can replace the deep-wrap wing windows with either material that you mention. Others have followed both paths. The Lexan would maintain more of the "originality" factor of the Argosy, but either could be fashioned such that they would be durable and leak resistant. Just avoid plexiglass as it degrades quickly when exposed to sun and the riggors of travel.

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Originally Posted by freeisforme View Post
. . . . if I knew it wouldn't weaken the sides any I'd toss that in favor of light shelves and just put a wire framed folding bed in it. I don't plan to live in it, just use it in place of a tent when I go to shows.
As others have posted, the interior partition walls or bulkheads are not structural so you can redesign the interior to suit your needs/desires.

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Originally Posted by freeisforme View Post
I wouldn't be alone, I've looked at dozens of old campers done this way but most either started life as school buses or are small single axle campers with all but the bathroom removed. Rarely do they even leave the tank, there are no facilities to hook up to at these events, most just let the gray water run into the drains and put a can under the toilet with a bag tied to the pipe. When your done, you toss the bag in the nearest dumpster.
Depending upon the model year of the coach, you should have a blackwater tank that is positioned on top of the subfloor below the toiled . . . the capacity is around 12 gallons. If the coach is a 1974 or later it should also have a below floor graywater tank (unless it is a Minuet in which case the grawater tank is also mounted on top of the subfloor in the streetside rear corner wardrobe) . . . the grawater tanks tended to be small, again around 10 galllons.

Quote:
Originally Posted by freeisforme View Post
I would consider a small refrigerator, strictly electric, there is always electric hook ups. The same goes for heat, full electric is fine, one of those oil radiators would work just fine. Since most shows are in the early spring and late fall, there's usually no need for air but if the roof air works, I'll leave it there. If not, its out of there.
Several owners have done what you propose. The main factor is to be aware of the limitations of the 30-AMP electrical service that these Argosys featured. It would be possible to upgrade to 50-AMP should the additional amperage be needed.

Regarding the air conditioner. If it is an Armstrong unit, don't discard it if it isn't immediately functional. Unlike their modern counterparts, Armstrong air conditioners can be serviced included re-charging the freon, as well as replacing any of the components that might fail. An RV technician is not going to be familiar with these units, but a commercial refrigeration repair technician will be familiar with the components that are in use. Repairing one of these Armstrong units is often more economical than a modern replacement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by freeisforme View Post
I'm thinking of heading up this weekend or early next week to haul it home, my buddy seems to think it'll make it just fine. It just won't have any lights or brakes as the trailer has no light or brake wires up front to plug in to the car. I'll take a couple of spare wheels and tires but I doubt the old bias ply tires will give me any issues as long as they're fully inflated. I've got a pair of old Goodyear bias ply tires on an old junk trailer I've got at work that hauls far more weight to the dump every week, those tires are from 1970 and still doing the job. If I loose a tire, I'll change it out.
I realize that we may seem a bit over-the-top in being so concerned with tire condition on a coach that is being retrieved, but there is a good reason. Typically when a tire fails, bit of the tread and sidewall become projectiles that damage the trailer's skin. Replacing is skin panels is very expensive . . . it isn't uncommon for wayward fragments of a blown tire to cause several thousand dollars of damage to the trailer. While you may get very luck as I did in 1995 when I towed my Overlander home with very old bias ply tires, I didn't take the chance with my Minuet after reading all of the threads here on the Forums regarding the cost for repairs when a tire blows.

Quote:
Originally Posted by freeisforme View Post
Something I keep reading about is that the axles go bad on these with age? What are the symptoms of a bad axle? My buddy who picked it up said the axles look fine and that both are torsion axles. In my experience with torsion axles on newer trailers they rarely go bad unless they get bent. Especially on a trailer that doesn't get towed often.
As has been mentioned in earlier posts, the Henschen DuraTorque axles utilized in Airstream and Argosy trailers of this era do not respond well to age and long periods of inactivity . . . both of which reduce their ability to provide the smooth ride that Airstream and Argosy trailers require. The rods will take a set when permitted to remain stationary with the trailer weight on the axle . . . once the "set" has occurred, it cannot be corrected. The rubber rods in these axles also wear out . . . the axle shaft that the wheel mounts to should point down toward the ground . . . if the arm is even with the axle shaft or pointing up the axle rods are worn out and the axle needs to be replaced. There was a time about 15 to 20 years ago when one could take their Argosy or Airstream back to Jackson Center, OH where the Henschen plant would rebuild your axle . . . that service has been gone for close to two decades.

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Originally Posted by freeisforme View Post
If the weather holds out or if we get a good warm weekend yet this year maybe I'll get a chance to pressure wash this thing real good and roll on a coat of white paint. I've got 10 gallons of industrial enamel for aluminum that I got at the flea market, its sort of a mountain dew green color, plus I've got about 6 gallons of the same paint in white. I figure if I do the top white, and the bottom green it'll stand out. Besides, if I panel over the corner windows, the paint will make it all blend in.
As you are planning your painting process, keep in mind that not all of the exterior of an Argosy is aluminum. The front and rear domes are most often galvanized steel that may require some additional attention to surface preparation particularly where the galvanized material joins the aluminum structure. There is a remote possibility that one or both domes may be fiberglass. There have been a few reports in recent threads of first generation Argosy travel trailers with fiberglass domes . . . another material that may need a little additional attention in the painting process.

Quote:
Originally Posted by freeisforme View Post
I'm even considering either tinting the flip up windows, if not maybe filling those in too. If I tint them I'll just have black vinyl cut to fit the inside of the windows. It'll eliminate any prying eyes while its parked.
On my 12' trailer I used spray on tint and put old wire fan grills over the inside of the two side windows for security.
Should you decide to remove the OEM windows, keep in mind that the units would have value to a restorer. While some of these window units are still available from Airstream, the new units are very expensive . . . so many a restorer would appreciate the opportunity to purchase a used window unit at an attractive price.

Quote:
Originally Posted by freeisforme View Post
The inside of this one is nice enough that it should only need a good cleaning for now, I'll give it some time before I decide to paint what can't be seen. If it turns out to be a decent rig, I'll get some POR15 for the chassis to preserve it.
The interior aluminum is referred to a vinyl-clad. The material is long-lived, and generally cleans up well. Many recommend TSP mixed and applied according to directions. I have had good success utilizing denatured alcohol and a scotchbrite sponge on mine. Once clean, the general recommendation is to coat with Future floor finish to keep the vinyl elastomers from making the surface sticky to the touch . . . one of the few problems with this material. You can also prime and paint this material utilizing a primer compatible with the vinyl surface.

Good luck with your Argosy!

Kevin
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Old 11-22-2013, 09:19 PM   #22
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Greetings freeisforme!



You can replace the deep-wrap wing windows with either material that you mention. Others have followed both paths. The Lexan would maintain more of the "originality" factor of the Argosy, but either could be fashioned such that they would be durable and leak resistant. Just avoid plexiglass as it degrades quickly when exposed to sun and the riggors of travel.
I sort of prefer aluminum, even if I could paint the aluminum panels to look like windows to preserve the appearance. I'm not too concerned with originality, just security.


Quote:
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As others have posted, the interior partition walls or bulkheads are not structural so you can redesign the interior to suit your needs/desires.
That means all but the bathroom walls are going to be gone, I'll be happier with just a folding cot or some type of futon that I can fold up out of the way.
I see all the compartments and original bedding area as a rodent hiding place in the off season.

Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander64 View Post
Depending upon the model year of the coach, you should have a blackwater tank that is positioned on top of the subfloor below the toiled . . . the capacity is around 12 gallons. If the coach is a 1974 or later it should also have a below floor graywater tank (unless it is a Minuet in which case the grawater tank is also mounted on top of the subfloor in the streetside rear corner wardrobe) . . . the graywater tanks tended to be small, again around 10 gallons.
So far the only clue I've got as to the year is the 1976 dates on the light lenses but from what I've seen only the early years had the wide rectangular tail lights mounted in a one piece fiberglass rear panel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander64 View Post
Several owners have done what you propose. The main factor is to be aware of the limitations of the 30-AMP electrical service that these Argosys featured. It would be possible to upgrade to 50-AMP should the additional amperage be needed.
I'll most likely toss all the electrical or just abandon it for now, it will never need to run on anything but shore power. I've got a breaker panel out of a later model tool truck and plenty of trailer florescent light fixtures I can use.

Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander64 View Post
Regarding the air conditioner. If it is an Armstrong unit, don't discard it if it isn't immediately functional. Unlike their modern counterparts, Armstrong air conditioners can be serviced included re-charging the freon, as well as replacing any of the components that might fail. An RV technician is not going to be familiar with these units, but a commercial refrigeration repair technician will be familiar with the components that are in use. Repairing one of these Armstrong units is often more economical than a modern replacement.
I'm not sure yet on the AC, I've still not seen this thing in person, all I've got so far is a few pics and what my buddy showed me through Skype.
I did notice that the inside AC cover is green, like the color they used to paint refrigerators in the 70's. The top looks a lot like the Coleman unit on my old trailer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander64 View Post
I realize that we may seem a bit over-the-top in being so concerned with tire condition on a coach that is being retrieved, but there is a good reason. Typically when a tire fails, bit of the tread and sidewall become projectiles that damage the trailer's skin. Replacing is skin panels is very expensive . . . it isn't uncommon for wayward fragments of a blown tire to cause several thousand dollars of damage to the trailer. While you may get very luck as I did in 1995 when I towed my Overlander home with very old bias ply tires, I didn't take the chance with my Minuet after reading all of the threads here on the Forums regarding the cost for repairs when a tire blows.
I realize that old tires are always a risk but from a few recent experiences I wonder sometimes if old American bias ply tires aren't better than the junk from China they sell now. I bought two new tires for my one trailer in March, one of them blew out sitting in the yard over the summer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander64 View Post
As has been mentioned in earlier posts, the Henschen DuraTorque axles utilized in Airstream and Argosy trailers of this era do not respond well to age and long periods of inactivity . . . both of which reduce their ability to provide the smooth ride that Airstream and Argosy trailers require. The rods will take a set when permitted to remain stationary with the trailer weight on the axle . . . once the "set" has occurred, it cannot be corrected. The rubber rods in these axles also wear out . . . the axle shaft that the wheel mounts to should point down toward the ground . . . if the arm is even with the axle shaft or pointing up the axle rods are worn out and the axle needs to be replaced. There was a time about 15 to 20 years ago when one could take their Argosy or Airstream back to Jackson Center, OH where the Henschen plant would rebuild your axle . . . that service has been gone for close to two decades.
If the axles are that bad, can't I just make up a set of new axles using modern torsion ends? I've got a half dozen or so good used torsion axle ends from an auction buy last summer. I believe they came from small enclosed cargo trailers. A local dealer had a hand full of race car type enclosed trailers that got damaged in a big wind storm last spring.

Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander64 View Post
As you are planning your painting process, keep in mind that not all of the exterior of an Argosy is aluminum. The front and rear domes are most often galvanized steel that may require some additional attention to surface preparation particularly where the galvanized material joins the aluminum structure. There is a remote possibility that one or both domes may be fiberglass. There have been a few reports in recent threads of first generation Argosy travel trailers with fiberglass domes . . . another material that may need a little additional attention in the painting process.
It looks like both end caps are steel, my buddy did a magnet test and both upper end caps held a magnet.
My plan would be to pressure wash the whole trailer, mask off the glass, self etch prime any bare metal and roll on a new coat of paint with a foam roller.

Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander64 View Post
Should you decide to remove the OEM windows, keep in mind that the units would have value to a restorer. While some of these window units are still available from Airstream, the new units are very expensive . . . so many a restorer would appreciate the opportunity to purchase a used window unit at an attractive price.
I'll most likely leave the side windows, and replace the front corner windows with aluminum or very dark tinted lexan.

Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander64 View Post
The interior aluminum is referred to a vinyl-clad. The material is long-lived, and generally cleans up well. Many recommend TSP mixed and applied according to directions. I have had good success utilizing denatured alcohol and a scotchbrite sponge on mine. Once clean, the general recommendation is to coat with Future floor finish to keep the vinyl elastomers from making the surface sticky to the touch . . . one of the few problems with this material. You can also prime and paint this material utilizing a primer compatible with the vinyl surface.

Good luck with your Argosy!

Kevin
The inside looked pretty clean compared to the outside but keep in mind this thing sat for a good 30 years set up on jack stands under a lean too or carport along side a barn. Exterior wise it was pretty much covered in tree dirt, field dust, and lots of green mold on the north side where it sat.
What would be the chance of adding a tie rail all around the inside about 30" high? Something that I could bungee cord light items too if needed while in motion.
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Old 11-23-2013, 06:31 AM   #23
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I took another look at the vid my buddy sent of it and there's no tank under the toilet, its mounted on the floor at the same level as the rest of the floor. He said there's no tank underneath either, just a 4" pipe that bends and goes into a small black plastic box, then to the pipe you hook the hose too.

The shower and sink also drain into the same box which he said looks to be about a foot square by maybe 8" deep. He seems to think its some sort of check valve.
There's PVC plumbing going to the toilet, shower, and sink. There's a dual water hookup on the back of the rig just below the right rear tail lamp.

There's a vent of some type on the left forward roof, its rectangular and has no cover but it appears to be sealed up from the inside somehow. There's a riveted plate over the inside and signs of spray foam around the edges on the outside.
Maybe a vent from a former stove? There appears to have been some sort of cover over the vent but not much of it is left. My buddy did say that he saw absolutely no leaks inside during the rain the other night and he said he inflated an old inner tube to plug the hole where the heater was or should be to keep animals out for now.

I'll know more and get some pics once I get it back here and can put eyes on it. Right now I'm still going on a few cell phone pics, a quick video send via Skype, and a buddies description of the this trailer.
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Old 11-25-2013, 06:44 PM   #24
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Well, I finally got a look at the Argosy today. Work sent me in that direction so I made a point of stopping and checking it out. Unfortunately I was sadly disappointed. The skin is loose all around the lower edge and there's probably at least 4 broken ribs.

The frame also has issues, the tongue has two cross members rusted through, the rear is chopped up and reframed to accomedate the non original toilet. There is no holding tanks or inside plumbing, all plumbing inside is on the surface and done in 3/4" pvc.

My biggest issue was that I couldn't stand up inside unless I remained in the very center, and the rounded walls would all but eliminate the ability to put up bins and shelves.

Its destiny is to become a chicken coop I guess on my buddies farm. When I figured up all I needed to buy just to make it work for me, and the fact that its way overweight for my car, I walked away.
Between the cost of a near complete tear down to fix the wall issues, paint, axles, and tires it would be cheaper to find something in better shape.
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Old 11-25-2013, 09:03 PM   #25
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Sometimes reality bites...

I have had to scrap a couple of shells that were given to me because they were in such poor shape. The good news is that at that time aluminum scrap was pretty valuable and I more than made up for my labor in tearing them apart.

There are plenty of good used Argosy/Airstreams out there, just have to find the right one for the right price. FWIW I paid ~$3500 for my 1975 and will put a good $5000 into it not including labor, but I will be money ahead of one of the brand new classics at ~$100,000 list price. And I will know what has been done and it will have been done right.

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Old 11-25-2013, 10:45 PM   #26
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Old 11-26-2013, 12:57 AM   #27
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When I sat down and starting making a list of what I needed to do to it I figured so long as the shell was good the rest was just minor but when I saw that the shell was loose on the frame like that in so many spots and that nearly all of the skirting was rusted through I was out, the skirting and the cost of materials is what put it over the top.
My thought was that it had been sitting for decades with all sorts of critters crawling up under the deck, I didn't want to know what it would smell like once it got warm and certainly wasn't going to rip the thing down to a bare shell to fix that sort of mess. Besides, if the ribs are cracked or broken, its had a real hard life and even if I did weld up the broken pieces, there's no telling how long before another one broke.
The biggest cost was my own labor, It would have taken months to complete and that's time I don't have. I'm mainly going to look for a good enclosed toy hauler or just build what I want from scratch on an old pop up frame or something.
When I got a look at the 22' long box, which meant a ball to bumper measurement of almost 26', I realized how much room it would take up in the yard and how much hassle it would cause with the neighbors due to its unsightly appearance.
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Old 11-26-2013, 06:49 AM   #28
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