Originally Posted by rostam
I plan to buy an Airstream Argosy (preferably a late 70's model). Assuming I get an Argosy in "average" condition (say priced at < 10K), how usable would such trailer be? Can it be towed safely? What is the initial repair costs and the maintenance costs going forward?
There do exist "ready to camp" trailers of this age that have been maintained over the course of years, that sell at the upper end of the price range you identify. They are hard to find. Basket cases are more common.
An axle replacement would be required for trailers of this age unless the axle has already been replaced. They typically last 20 years so if it's already been done you're good for now.
Safe towing is a matter of being sure that the bearings, brakes, tires, and tail/turn/running lights are operable. That's not difficult to accomplish, and tires are the only expensive part.
Initial repairs vary widely. If you aren't making changes for cosmetic reasons but instead just upgrading mechanical components, the costs will be driven by major systems you list. As an example, on my Cayo C-11, which was overall in good condition, I've spent $400 or so on miscellaneous repairs and still need to spend $300 on a greywater tank.
I know these questions are very generic and a lot depends on the condition of the Argosy. But I wanted to get a general idea. I have read some people say the price you pay on vintage trailers is just the down payment. In your experience, is this correct?
It's still cheaper than a new trailer, as long as you're willing to do some of the maintenance yourself and don't insist on, say, replacing the whole interior or polishing the exterior.
Also, I have a list of items to be repaired/replaced below. Am I missing something here? Also, any idea how much each item will cost?
5) Water tanks
6) Water heater
7) Air cooler/heater
Parts only prices:
Axles I believe around $800 each, a call to Inland RV would give you more accurate prices.
Wheels $75 each for steel $125 for aluminum
Tires, see tirerack.com, but typically $200 each
Brakes, see etrailer.com, but typically around $150 a wheel for drums and loaded backing plates.
Lights, see vintagetrailersupply.com, but typically not a major expense
Water tanks, typically around $200 and up each
Water heater, see pplmotorhomes.com, several choices from $275-$450
Furnaces, see pplmotorhomes.com, $500-$800 depending what you need
Air conditioning, again see pplmotorhomes, $400-$800 depending on size and brand
Fridge, expensive, $1000 up depending mainly on size.
Flooring and pluming are mainly labor, maybe a few hundred in parts depending on how much you replace.
Exterior caulk is a major labor item but not a parts cost.
Batteries and converter can add a few hundred $$
Door latches can be expensive to replace if missing.
Hope this gets you started.