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Old 05-20-2010, 04:49 PM   #1
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Columbia , South Carolina
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Wide-eyed Newbie

Well, I've wanted to live in an Airstream since I was a little girl and I am finally beginning the process of researching and evaluating the practicality of such a move. I will be downsizing from a 2600 sq ft Craftsman bungalow that I have been renovating for the past few years. So, I just wanted to offer a little intro to this forum, which I'm sure will be in incredibly valuable resource along this path...should it actually be realized.

My goals:

--I have scoped out the perfect in town location to park my AS (I'm in real estate...and I'm eager to see my client's reaction to me living in a trailer!). The property is within walking distance from the best part of town...restaurants, bars, stores, etc. It is also less than a mile from where I currently live. Proximity is a very important thing to me. Now, this perfect little patch of land, conveniently enclosed by trees is the back part of a rental property. The first challenge is talking the owners into allowing me to use this....and add hook ups. I also have to check with my friends that work for the see if I can even do this within city limits. Any thoughts?

--I would like a 31ft Sovereign model to completely renovate and impart my aesthetic upon. Vintage modern. My Jeep does not have the torque to tow, so I would need to borrow a truck to pick it up...from whomever I should purchase it from. Preferably in the Southeast...I'm in South Carolina.

--I've seen several posts about choosing materials that react well to the weather in one's particular area. I happen to live in the second most humid place in the I'm concerned about wood choices...etc.

Many more goals...but I'll leave it at that for a while.

Thanks! And I look forward to being a part of this community!

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Old 05-20-2010, 05:58 PM   #2
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First - Welcome to these forums, I (for one) am impressed you got the 'wide-eyed' phrase into your first posting!

MTaylor & following posters, accept my apologies in advance, I have to suggest (beg) you to spend twice or thrice as much and buy a non-vintage model if you are truly planning to full time.

Each year they seem to have heavied up the frames and interiors, my old trailers creak and jiggle from occupant movement, bird song outdoors sounds like it is inside the trailer, etc, The latest models are sound-proof compared to the older trailers. New one piece style showers and kitchens, better insulation, livable furnishings... Anyhow - everything is so interconnected on these trailers a renovation can easily become 1000-plus man hours of work!!


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Old 05-20-2010, 07:51 PM   #3
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Wabbiteer summed it up pretty well.
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Old 05-21-2010, 06:55 AM   #4
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Wabbiteer--I'm worried about the amount of hours required as well. My hope would be to insulate and modernize a vintage model...which, I understand can be quite the undertaking. I would hesitate to buy a newer model simply because I really value the process of taking something old and bringing it back to life. I enjoy the creative process.

So, based on your suggestion--I'm wondering if there is a later model...pre 80's that would work terms of stability/insulation. What sorts of things should I be looking for in terms of the condition of the frame, etc?
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Old 05-21-2010, 09:08 AM   #5
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I have yet to spend ten minutes 'working' on my project trailer without wishing I was doing nearly the same thing on a four, seven or ten year old trailer.

Your passion can still be appreciated - it will just be in XX years by whomever is lucky enough to get your project trailer.

In any of the real estate parcels you've been involved with have you ever soundly cussed Joe Somewhen carpenter or electrician, home owner or renter for things they've done or left undone?

For every true Urban Legend of a saved Airstream renovation there are surely twentyfive that the inertia of unexpressed attention leads to a homely or even crippled trailer (look in my backyard, please.)

One pays a premium for prior diligent ownership - or a penalty for negligent. Let us study an old Airstream for a second. 1st and 2nd owners usually are not willing to leave their trailers unattended to become damaged by neglect. That is the biggest heartbreak of the old trailers I've been around.

Then comes the hand-me-down ownership complex where the capital investment is low enough that the trailer is not passed along when the owners attention drifts. Therein lies the second heartbreak, half-hearted or good intentioned repairs or modifications.

The factory design changes creep in incrementally - there is no engineering aspect "line in the sand" to flag for you. If you have a friend that needs a salary for six months full-time work while they reinvent every possible construction trade and tool known to twentieth century man then find a trailer that has sat unloved for X or XX years.

I don't know what year they started putting a rubber self-adhesive 'gasket' between the shell ribs and outer skin but that might be a good demarcation of where to start looking...

Again I apologize for being a real Boo-Hisser in your instance - I worked and got a early retirement from working on 40-ton Subway cars and it was a natural thing for me to want to see every nut, bolt and rivet in a 'affordable' (ghahahaaw) Airstream...

EDIT: Kevin245 posted the link to the checklist and a sober overview of Airstreams - remember to READ BETWEEN THE LINES (Thanks Kevin)

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Old 05-21-2010, 09:13 AM   #6
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Welcome mtaylor,

Glad you've joined us. We lived in Irmo and Lugoff from 73 to 05 and you're sooo right about the humidity,

There are plenty of 70's era 31 footers on the market these days so finding one to your liking and budget should be relatively easy. Renovation/Restoration efforts will depend on the condition of the unit you end up purchasing. Airstreams weather and age well if they are maintained with some degree of care but underlying issues maybe not be evident without close inspection.

Here's a link to an inspection checklist. We also have members who are willing to inspect rigs and they maybe able to assist you during the purchase process.



"You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do."

Eleanor Roosevelt

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Old 05-21-2010, 11:07 PM   #7
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Where in the world did you find a RV park in the Columbia area? I have family there and have yet to find a park to stay long term. Sesqui state park is short term only. We have parked in family yards but it has its limits.
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Old 05-22-2010, 12:02 PM   #8
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Wide-eyed Newbie

Greetings MTaylor!

Welcome to the Forums!

I purchased my Overlander in 1995 just prior to the time when the Vintage Airstream movement began. After six months of intensive shopping, I sumbled upon my Overlander in "shopper" type publication. I had been looking for something at least 10 years younger, but took a chance and went to see the coach. It was a lovingly preserved 31 year old coach being offered by its third owner -- the original cabinetry was pristine and the only major change that had been made that I disagreed with was a dormitory-type refrigerator had replaced the original Dometic (in a way that was a stroke of luck as I much prefer my new Dometic 3-way RV refridgerator/freezer that allows it to run on 12-volt while traveling).

As has been mentioned, the Vintage coach will have its own set of squeaks, moans, and groans . . . if you are like me, they will become a part of the coach's charm just as all of those strange noises a Vintage Craftsman Bungalow can make become part of its charm (I live in a 90% restored/refurbished 1,100 square foot Bungalow circa 1920 -- and it has its share of squeaks, moans, and groans).

My advice is two-fold. First, look around at everything from Vintage a little older than you think that you might like all the way to the very recent Vintages to determine which one comes closest to fulfilling your vision. Second, once you have settled on a particular era of Airstream, you can concentrate on finding the best coach that is available in your price range. You may even get lucky as I did and find a well-preserved coach that requires little in terms of major refurbishment.

Good luck with your investigation!


Kevin D. Allen
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