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Old 07-29-2015, 12:53 PM   #1
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Questions before I buy

Hi Airstreamers,

Having long dreamed of living in airstream, I have finally found a place where I can park one, on the outskirts of the city where I work, with all hookups. I was thinking of buying a new one and having the luxury of a warranty, but I came across a 1974 Argosy that is adorable and seems like it's in good shape. For $11,900 it would cost me far, far less in the long run (I'm assuming), but I don't want to set myself up for a lifetime of headaches and costly maintenance. I will have to drive to another state to check it out and was wondering if you have any pointers on what questions to ask the seller, and what red flags to look for. The seller says he buys and restores and sells airstreams all the time, he hasn't had this one for more than 6 months, and doesn't have paperwork to show when tires, fixtures, appliances were replaced – but he says everything is working fine.

Any and all advice would be much appreciated!
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Old 07-29-2015, 01:38 PM   #2
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Welcome! If you go to the PORTAL button and scroll down you should be able to find a place to find a volunteer inspector. Keep in mind that any coach you buy will need attention - and that includes a brand new one. The difference is that most issues with the new coach will be covered under warranty, but that also means that you will have to take the coach back to the selling dealer. With the used coach you will be responsible for any needed repairs and upgrades. You can then take the coach to an Airstream dealer, some other shop, or do the work yourself.

IF that Argosy seems like it will suit you it might be just the coach to get started. Keep in mind that most full-timers buy three coaches before they get it right. A new coach will have more depreciation than a 40-year-old coach. That means that you may be able to sell the Argosy for close to what you paid for it, making the cost of your education pretty cheap.
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Old 07-29-2015, 02:34 PM   #3
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Look on the Portal page, and you will be able to download the Buyer's Inspection Checklist. This is the do-it-yourself guide to looking for everything that could be wrong, and will be better than just winging it.

My thoughts: for the asking price, this trailer should be completely functional, with no rot in the floor, with life left in axles that have been replaced since it was purchased new. You ought to be able to buy it and camp in it this weekend. There should be no RV appliances replaced with cheap alternatives.

Red flags: You might just go ahead and let us know who you are dealing with and someone may be able to share their experience, good or bad. At a glance, I would say that it sounds like your seller may be a flipper. He buys trailers, does some superficial fix-ups, and then sells a trailer with hidden issues for 4X what he paid for it. If the RV style refrigerator has been replaced with a 110V only unit that belongs in a dorm room, that is a bad sign. If the flooring has been replaced completely with some kind of hard surface, that keeps you from evaluating the subfloor, and the seller can't guarantee the condition of the sub floor, that is a potential issue.

Normally, when I hear that someone wants to buy a rotting "field find" trailer and camp in it a month later, I suggest that they buy a trailer that has already had the heavy lifting done. The price of this trailer suggests that it may have had that work done, but it is up to you to figure out whether you are getting value for your money, or buying what is known as a "polished turd."

It is also dangerous to drive too far to look at a trailer. You just aren't going to go home empty handed after driving 600 miles to look at a trailer, and this means you make an impulse decision that you may not have made if the trailer was an hour away.

And another thought: If you want to avoid a lifetime of costly repairs, then maybe renting an apartment is the better choice. Every trailer out there, Airstream or other brand, brand new, or vintage, is going to require constant maintenance. Manage your expectations. They aren't built anywhere near as robustly as your typical house is--if they were, they would weigh as much as a house.

Good luck!
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Old 07-29-2015, 02:38 PM   #4
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Without receipts and pictures of the work done on the coach...

why would you NOT have that stuff if you'd actually done the work?
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Old 07-29-2015, 02:55 PM   #5
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So I did a quick check of C-list, and I think I found the trailer you are looking at. Colorado is a long way to drive to look at a trailer! There is a 22' Argosy in San Jose for about half the price.

Some observations on the Colorado trailer: Most of the interior looks to be "original," meaning 40 years old and somewhat funky (think about those 40 year old plastic components in the bathroom--look for cracks). The counter top may have been replaced, some paint has probably been put on the curved walls, and the flooring in the main living area appears to be the dubious "pergo" flooring that hides the scary. Good news is that you might be able to look into the cabinets and see the subfloor, and the floors typically rot around the perimeter of the floor, especially in the rear. Also, this is an Argosy trailer that has been painted silver. Forgive me if you already understand this, but it is not an aluminum Airstream trailer that is shiny because you are seeing aluminum. It is silver paint.

I would ask a lot of questions before I would make that drive, and I would look at the trailer in San Jose--it looks like it is in just as good of condition, just smaller (and without an AC).

good luck!
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Old 07-29-2015, 02:58 PM   #6
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Newer is probably better
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Old 07-29-2015, 03:06 PM   #7
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New or used

If one can afford the new trailer, this is IMO the way to go. Or, purchase a used trailer and have it fully restored, thus creating a "new" trailer mechanically, with all the components which have degraded from age now up to new status.

A DIY person might obtain a used trailer and put a lot of sweat equity in to it and again have a "new" unit.

BTW, when a "used car dealer" tells me a lot of work was done, "but I do not have receipts," I always check to see if their lips are moving....suggests less than an honorable motive.....maybe even not telling the entire truth.....
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Old 07-30-2015, 08:15 AM   #8
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In that price range an AVION is a far better buy.
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Old 07-30-2015, 11:23 AM   #9
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Thank you all so much for your replies. I am overwhelmed by the kindness and support! It's a lot for me to digest, but here is the posting I was talking about, in case anyone wants to have a look. https://phoenix.craigslist.org/nph/rvs/5123422604.html
Thank you all again!
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Old 07-30-2015, 02:00 PM   #10
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Methinks something fishy is going on. That exact same Craigslist ad is running in Colorado, and puts the location of the trailer in Dolores Colorado.

1974 AIRSTREAM ARGOSY 26' Pristine

Proceed (if you proceed at all) with extreme caution, as this has many earmarks of a typical scam. And even if it isn't a scam, it is a high price for a trailer that looks like a flipper.

good luck.
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Old 07-30-2015, 03:34 PM   #11
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@Belegedhel

Your link has been removed by the author...the message I got. Might be you are right on with the SCAM.....
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