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Old 01-22-2016, 09:09 PM   #1
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1981 28' Airstream 280
Minneapolis/St. Paul , Minnesota
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Tap's 1981 280 Motorhome (Purchased January 2016)

Hi everyone, I'm finally going to pick up my 1981 280 that I bought a couple weeks ago, and I asked a few questions already via a previous username (I changed it), but now since I'm about to begin the exciting (and expensive) journey of owning and fixing up a classic Airstream motorhome, I thought I should start an official thread to chronicle this n00b's adventure, questions, and lessons learned.

So thanks for reading along and thank you in advance for all of the helpful answers and advice that I hope to get from you all.

I live in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, the Twin Cities.

I am so grateful that this forum exists! I have already learned a lot reading everyone's posts and threads.

I have wanted an Airstream all of my life and I'm thrilled to finally own one, even if it's going to be a money pit. But once it's up and running, I can finally take my 3 kids on some road trips before their all off to college in the next few years.

So here's to an exciting new chapter!
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Old 01-22-2016, 09:21 PM   #2
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1981 28' Airstream 280
Minneapolis/St. Paul , Minnesota
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 291
Ok, so a couple weeks ago I bought this 1981 280 in a small town near Rochester, MN, about 90 miles south of me.

I had been looking at Airstreams on Craigslist and eBay for many, many years, but they were all too expensive.

The one that I bought, I got for a really low price, knowing that I'm going to have to put a lot more money into repairing it and getting it up and running. I saw it in person, and though it will need some work, overall it looks to be in good shape.

That said, it has been stored in a barn, but hasn't been driven very much over the past several years (which of course concerns me).

The other big expense is window replacement. As you'll see from my initial photos, both windshields are smashed, as well as the slider on the driver's side. I know those are very expensive, but I'm ordering them in the next week or so.

Anyway, tomorrow my buddy Steve and I are driving down to it to try to start it and to have a towing company tow it north to the Twin Cities.

I'm excited to finally have my very own Airstream, but yet am realistic that it's going to be a long, and expensive journey. But for now, I naively celebrate!!!
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Old 01-22-2016, 09:42 PM   #3
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1981 28' Airstream 280
Minneapolis/St. Paul , Minnesota
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 291
Here are the initial (Craigslist) photos.

I plan to take a whole bunch of better ones tomorrow.

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Old 01-22-2016, 11:40 PM   #4
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1973 31' Sovereign
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Way cool, look forward to more photos and story! Leland
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Old 01-23-2016, 04:59 AM   #5
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It's all good. You will know after a couple of months if you're cut out for this ! LOL. Welcome aboard ! Regards, Bob
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Old 01-23-2016, 07:15 AM   #6
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1997 30' Excella
1983 31' Airstream310
Austin , Texas
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Tap,
If you remind your wife that other husbands have real expensive hobbies, like golfing or hanging out in "bars", you will be just fine.
Besides the horrifying front windshield pictures, your rig looks completely original, almost identical to my first 1979 Motorhome. I like it when they come "original" and not messed with by various PO's.
Have fun and looking forward to your restoration progress.
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Old 01-23-2016, 08:35 AM   #7
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1984 34.5' Airstream 345
Foothill Ranch , California
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Welcome!
She looks like a little diamond in the rough!
Document your progress, and it will become a story you will look back on with fond memories... Mostly!
Feel better about the windshields.. By this age, most are fogging between the laminations, or have chips or cracks or seals are leaking. Replace the seal. It's a small price to pay for the long term watertightness.
You are lucky with the sliding side glass... It is available new, and used... Kreimer just got one... Maybe he can tell you where. The fixed fwd glass is NLA new. While you are at it, replace the seals there... Cheap.

Let's get the "Women and Airstreams" discussion out of the way first... I have and have always had lots of vehicles... But only 2 wives... I don't think I will get another one. One wife asked me why I spent so much time in the garage... I responded "Because I enjoy it, but I could go to the Bar if you would prefer that?". My long term Girlfriend gets me, and gets my Airstream... Supports my every hope and dream... Which is why she is and will stay my Girl!
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Old 01-23-2016, 11:02 AM   #8
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1992 35' Airstream 350
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Open up your wallet and enjoy the ride.
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Old 01-23-2016, 11:35 AM   #9
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Hanalei, /Chino Valley , Hawaii / Arizona
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Ahoy Hal-Gin. I think I met your son this last summer. I was parked in a wide pullout near Twin Lakes Colo. Contiimplanting the pass over to Aspen area.
I hadn't realize this was the highest paved pass in the U S, yet really wanted to get over to that part of the state.

Then up rolls a young man on a vintage motorcycle, who was obviously interested in my old coach. We got to chatting. Turned out his folks have a similar classic coach and his dad had done this same pass in his coach years earlier. He calls his dad and confirms that it was a trip not to be repeated.

So after this word to the wise from out of the blue I reshape my trip and headed south to hang out along the gorge along the Arkansas river for a few fun days.

Doubly small world, may have crossed trails with Gin once a couple of years ago in Scottsdale while there with my coach visiting a friend in Paradise Valley.
At this rate we will surely share a camping spot at some time.
But just wanted to say aloha and thanks for the tip.

Cheers Richard

Ps please pardon the hijack
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Old 01-23-2016, 01:20 PM   #10
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1981 28' Airstream 280
Minneapolis/St. Paul , Minnesota
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No problem at all about the hijack, I love hearing all of the stories and friendships here.
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Old 01-23-2016, 01:22 PM   #11
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1981 28' Airstream 280
Minneapolis/St. Paul , Minnesota
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Regarding significant others and some of them not getting it, I'm extremely happily divorced, so I can make crazy purchase decisions like this one, without having to answer to anyone. 😎
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Old 01-24-2016, 08:16 AM   #12
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1984 34.5' Airstream 345
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Cheers to that!
What do you know about the rig?
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Old 01-24-2016, 11:36 AM   #13
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1981 28' Airstream 280
Minneapolis/St. Paul , Minnesota
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 291
Tap's 1981 280 Motorhome (Purchased January 2016)

Well yesterday morning my buddy Steve and I headed down there (2 hour drive) to check out my newly purchased 1981 280 MH.

It's in a pole barn on a farm just a bit outside Rochester, MN.

I got it for a super low price, because I knew that I'd have to put a lot of additional money into replacing the windshields, driver's side window and another one, plus other fixes, tune-ups, and more.

So on the way we bought a brand new battery, some gas, some other fluids, etc.

I knew that it hadn't been used much in many years, so I knew we had a challenge ahead of us.

We planned to check it out, try to get it started and then have AAA tow it up to the Twin Cities to an RV storage facility.

Well, sadly things didn't go as planned, but it was still fun to spend a whole (very cold) day with my first Airstream.

We worked on it all day long and couldn't get it started. Eventually we saw that there was power at the battery and all the way to the starter, but it wouldn't start. Mostly silent. The Starter had seized up and was doing nothing.

Eventually we removed the starter, opened it up, scrubbed it up in there with a wire brush, cleaned it out, but still no luck. So I'm going to order a new starter. I was bummed that we couldn't get it started that day, but at least a starter is pretty inexpensive.

Also, we called AAA in the morning and asked for a flatbed to transport it because the rubber on the tires is a bit cracked and I didn't want to risk any problems. They said no problem and then for the entire day they couldn't find one for me.

Finally by the time it was getting dark out, we gave up on AAA and called it off.

I'll have to spend another Saturday sometime soon trying to get this new baby home. *sigh*

My buddy and the guy who sold it to me were SUPER helpful and great all day. It just Was one of those days. No biggie, but I'm excited to keep things moving forward.

Thanks for reading!
I'll post a ton of photos next.
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Old 01-24-2016, 11:39 AM   #14
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1981 28' Airstream 280
Minneapolis/St. Paul , Minnesota
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