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Old 07-14-2014, 02:39 PM   #1
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1975 Argosy 26
Top of the Hill , New England
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What am I in for? Argosy 26'

So I have what could be an amazing opportunity. My husband and I have been looking into Airstreams/Argos for months now, and discovered that a decent one (no rot, etc) is hard to come by. We pretty much gave up.

Recently, a relative offered us a free 1976(?) Argosy 26', with twin beds w/bunks, sleeps eight, and I believe they bought it new. However, it's been sitting in their driveway for about ten years, and I'm told the tires are cracked, and that it has mold and mice. I have yet to see it, since they live about 3 hours away. Of course, in the 70's, it was sweet, but it's been a while.

So my question is, at worst, what am I getting into here? We're both mechanically handy and don't mind putting work into it, but what kind of cost/time are we looking at to get it up to snuff? I'm not talking silver plated everything here, just serviceable for a family of four to take on road trips and camping. What's the approximate cost of gutting it, if that's what it takes? Thanks in advance!
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Old 07-14-2014, 03:12 PM   #2
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
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Welcome to the forums!

The most expensive trailers often start out free!

Four new tires and two new axles and shock-absorbers are a given. That'll get you close to $2000. You will also need a new house battery ($250) and converter (to replace the old univolt)--$100.

Worst case:
1) Your frame is so rusted and rotten that it has to be rebuilt from scratch--not many are this bad, but many require some kind of repair work. Figure a few hundred dollars in potential welding work.

2) Floor rot and dreaded rear-end separation. Some floor rot can be patched, if you have extensive rot and every section of floor needs to be replaced, then you might as well do a shell-off (otherwise known as a "full monty"). I would hazard a guess that most 70's era trailers have some floor rot unless they were kept inside their entire lives. This isn't so much expensive as it is labor intensive. The cost for a full floor replacement is probably around $600 if you are doing all the labor.

3) Major appliance failure. Figure $1000 for a new AC, $700 for a refrigerator, $400 for a water heater, $500 for a furnace

4) Major electrical and plumbing/water--Electrical overhaul will require removal of the inner walls and replacement of the insulation. Plumbing is easier to get to. Worst case, the plumbing has been frozen and split and requires repairs or full replacement.

So, even without the silver plated full makeover, your costs to get the trailer in shape to safely use it could range from ~$2500 to $4000, and that is assuming you do the work. Time-wise, I would guess a few months as a full-time hobby is best case. I just started the third year of my full-monty!

good luck!
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Old 07-14-2014, 03:13 PM   #3
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1992 29' Excella
Going Places , Georgia
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Hello and welcome to Air Forums. You'll find lots of useful information here and I'm sure there will be some replies from those who have tackled similar projects.

The tires need to be replaced. You'll get lots of responses as to which brand is best. I've used a number of tire brands on our trailer and the only one I've been unhappy with is Goodyear Marathon - the tread separated and caused premature failure. Don't recall the price we paid for our last set of tires but I'm sure it was well north of $100 each including balance, install, etc.

The mice problem can be remedied with diligence - plugging holes, cleaning up the debris they leave behind, fixing wiring and plumbing they may have damaged.

Mold is likely an indication there is water leak somewhere and maybe more than one place.

It's really difficult to know what kind of project this trailer will be but it's safe to say it will not all be easy. Go take the 3 hour drive this weekend and see what you think. The price is right!
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Old 07-14-2014, 03:58 PM   #4
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1974 Argosy 26
Morrill , Nebraska
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There is no need to replace the axles right away. Especially if it will be parked for a while to do the make over.
You will need tires to safely bring it home.
Unless the mice got into the walls and damaged the wiring. It should be OK.
Floor rot, depending on the severity can be patched.
The interior skin is vinyl and can be cleaned. I used Simple Green "full strength" and it worked great.
You will need a battery to tow it home. If only for the brakes. An operating brake system and functioning break away switch. Also functioning lights.
I believe the largest battery that will fit the trailer will be a Group 24. Less than $100 at Wal-mart.
If it is like my '74 Argosy 26'. The belly pan may need some repair. Make sure it is secure enough for travel. Some fender washers, pop rivets and a drill motor will get it road worthy.
In the long term . Patch all of the holes in the belly pan as soon as you get it home to prevent more mice problems.
Some of the appliances may function if cleaned and checked out, including the refer if it hasn't lost the ammonia charge.
If you have to park it outside. The first priority should be to repair all of the leaks.
Common leak locations are the rear storage (bumper), the area on each side of the door. Perhaps a vent or two, plumbing that is. And the ceiling vents.
If the plumbing is copper and shows signs of freezing. I would (did) replace all of it with PEX.
Watch for sales at Adventure RV and PPL for deals on water heaters, furnace and other appliances.
You can replace the converter for about $150. No need to go larger than 45 amp capacity.
If the AC is an Armstrong. It can be repaired if needed.
The furnace should be replaced if you plan to use it.
If you camp where you have power. Space heaters will work if it doesn't get too cold outside.
I think the $4,000 estimate is a little low for a decent upgrade of the coach.
Good luck.
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Old 07-14-2014, 03:58 PM   #5
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1975 Argosy 26
Top of the Hill , New England
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Thanks for the replies! That gives me a much better idea of the project and makes me feel better about what I'm getting into.

On the subject of leaks: What are some common places for leaks and ensuing floor rot? I have to say I'm hopeful that the Argosy may not need a "full monty," but I'd definitely like to be prepared!

Also, for tires: It may seem like a dumb question, but where's the best place for trailer tires? An RV store, online, etc? Recommendations for good tires (and ones to avoid) is certainly appreciated.

Thanks again, this is great advice!
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Old 07-14-2014, 04:11 PM   #6
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1975 Argosy 26
Top of the Hill , New England
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Thanks, Twinkie, I was just asking about those issues. If you don't mind me asking, what's your tow vehicle for your 26'? We're looking to tow with a V6 Tacoma, double cab, 6 speed manual with a tow rating of 6500 lbs, tongue rating 650 lbs.

Also, have you (or anyone else) had an issue with bringing your Argo/AS into a state park? I've heard some places limit trailer size to 25', but have also heard that the AS size rating is actually smaller than the traditional camper sizing.
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Old 07-14-2014, 04:30 PM   #7
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1973 21' Globetrotter
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For the tires, you are touching on a raw subject with some of the Forums members. You don't really want to make a giant investment of new 16" rims and LT tires yet, so I would recommend that you go to the trailer, remove the wheels, take them to your local Discount Tire, or similar, and buy the ST trailers that they will tell you are the only legal tires to put on a trailer. You should be able to get some for around $100/tire. You may find that the rims are so badly rusted that they won't allow a newly installed tire to seal and hold air. This is a whole different problem.

All of the windows, hatches, and vents have a foam rubber seal that likely dried out and cracked long ago. You will want to replace all of these. This might cure some of your leaks. At this point, you might do a "positive pressure test" and see if seems and rivet heads are blowing bubbles. Then you know what to do next.

good luck!
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Old 07-14-2014, 05:35 PM   #8
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1975 Argosy 26
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Thanks Bele, cheap tires sound like a good option for now. Of course, towability is our first concern since it's the most pressing issue, and we'll have to go from there.

I've since talked to my uncle and made it official that yes, we'll be taking the Argosy in about three weeks, and driving out to assess what we'll need in a little over two weeks. Family airstream, woo! Pictures to follow in a couple weeks.
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Old 07-14-2014, 06:37 PM   #9
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What am I in for? Argosy 26'

My TV is a '08 Tundra.
The Argosy dry weight is 3,900#'s. When we are packed and loaded ready for travel it weighs 5,600#'s. Tongue weight is 700+#'s loaded for travel.
The Tacoma will get it home. But I would look for something a little bigger when you are ready for travel.
You will also need a brake controller in the Tacoma.
You don't say where you live or the location of the trailer.
We have stayed in a number of state parks without issue. National forest campgrounds are another story.
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Old 07-14-2014, 07:30 PM   #10
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1975 Argosy 26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TG Twinkie View Post
You don't say where you live or the location of the trailer.
We have stayed in a number of state parks without issue. National forest campgrounds are another story.
We're in southeast MA and the trailer is in southern NY. Our regular camping and stomping grounds would be state parks, but in the future we plan on National Parks if possible. Have you encountered any problems with the National Park scene?

Thanks!
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Old 07-14-2014, 08:13 PM   #11
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While there are many NP's that have larger camp sites. There are many that have sites too small and their layouts make it hard to maneuver with a 26' trailer.
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Old 07-15-2014, 07:43 AM   #12
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The Tacoma will handle the trailer and should be easy to equip with a brake controller if you have the tow package. Best if you travel light, however.

You might plan to drop the rear belly pan just to check the rear floor and poke around the door with an ice pick to check for soft spots. If the floor is pretty solid, you can often use an epoxy to firm up the floor in well defined soft spots.

Plan on replacing the gaskets around the windows and door and the soil vents in the roof. It's easy and cuts down the leakage problem on these oldies.

You have likely just gotten a hobby. Putting it in shape to use is a "one step at a time" process. Congratulations!
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Old 07-15-2014, 11:15 AM   #13
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1975 Argosy 26
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Argo, we do have the towing package on the truck, and will definitely be installing a brake controller for it. Mirror extensions will be needed as well, I think. We don't pack heavy and won't be using any of the tanks for quite some time, so we'll be riding light for a while at least. Ultimately, we'll have to see how it handles, and go from there!

The Argosy has been parked in the paved driveway this whole time, so I'm hoping there aren't severe overhead leaks that've rotted through the floor. However, it does have about a 1-1.5 foot diameter dent in the "forehead" due to a tree falling on it. No broken glass or windows, but one of the forward lights is on the edge of the dent. Since this is the steel portion of the trailer, does anyone have an idea on the best way to fix it in a cost effective, cosmetically practical way? Any recommendations?

We're pretty excited/trepidatious about entering into this whole project, but I'm amazed at the wealth of information and "how-to" videos available on the forums and the internet. It's good to know that while we may be crazy, we're not alone! Haha
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Old 07-15-2014, 11:54 AM   #14
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I have a similar dent in the end cap. It is higher up than yours. Same thing; tree fell on it.
I have given thought to making a disk, then put an inflated inner tube between the disk and the coach. The tube would act as a gasket. The with a vacuum pump connect to the disk. Pull a vacuum and see if it will pop the dent out.
At least on my coach, you have to be about 20' away to see the dent. So it hasn't been a high priority for me.
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