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Old 09-20-2014, 07:42 AM   #1
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Becoming an owner/shipping to England?

Hello,

I have just joined the forum and wonder if anyone can help?. I've wanted an airstream for a long time and would welcome suggestions as to the best route to ownership on a restricted budget in England.
The ones already imported seem to be very expensive.
I like the look of the earlier 1960's models and have 3 young kids so would probably need a 25ft trailer for the room.
I understand to tow legally in the UK with a normal car would probably be looking at the 1960's models as their width is within restrictions?
I would like to source one in US then ship. Are their firms that will make all the arrangements to ship to a Port in the UK if I bought one on US ebay ?
Is it possible to do all this remotely from England or to fly over to source to avoid potential scams?

Any thoughts welcome Thanks

Phil
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Old 09-20-2014, 08:04 AM   #2
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As an expat myself with a stint in the RM's this is the advice I will give you. Do with it as you please.

Trusting people is getting increasing difficult these days I'm sorry to say. You can't replace your own set of eyes and ears on the spot, but if this is the route you want to take, here's how I'd go about it.

Trailer.....Find a trailer how ever way you wish but understand that scammers do list trailers for ridiculously low prices. The old adage holds true, "If it's too good to be true or the story sounds far fetched, it's a scam". Sites like Craigslist have the most scammers, followed by used car ads, then Ebay, with the classifieds in this forum or other Airstream forums last, but not least. The old adage "You get what you pay for" can also apply, but not necessarily as owners may not know of damage.

I would do some leg work first and scope out all the Rivet Masters on this site that do inspections, and get their locations. Once you have found a trailer you will know the closest Rivet Master to do an inspection without wasting any time. Ask for many pics and be willing to pay for the work done. This inspection could save you thousands later on.

Shipping......I would contact a shipping company in England that has an affiliate in the US as opposed to finding a shipper in the US. That way should there be a disagreement over condition of the goods delivered, you will have an easier time getting compensation. The shipper in the UK will take care of getting the trailer to the dock and on the boat.

PS Should the trailer require any work to convert electrical to 230V or any other work I would have the work done in the US, as it would be cheaper for you and easier to find people qualified to do it. I would again ask the closest Rivet Master to supervise and sign off on the work done.

Goodluck
Cheers
Tony
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Old 09-20-2014, 08:04 AM   #3
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Not knowing anything whatsoever regarding this topic, I wonder if sourcing from Canada would also be an option. Perhaps look at the process for both and compare the hassle factor.

And yes you can certainly find an import/export firm. I have no idea what the cost would be for that.

Recommend you contact other owners in your locale and find out how they have done this, with AS or other goods. Is there an Airstream member group in your area that may be able to assist?
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Old 09-20-2014, 08:26 AM   #4
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i know there are some companies that regular export campers.
I would suggest that you might just want to fly over here after you find one and check it out yourself.
One of the things you got to take into consideration is any possible changes you have to make to get it legal in the UK.
If I’m not mistaken, you have to change at least the brakes to hydraulic, as electric brakes are not allowed... or at least they were not allowed years ago.
look around and ask plenty of questions.. good luck and welcome to the forum
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Old 09-20-2014, 08:43 AM   #5
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I wouldn't even describe myself as an Expat...I'm just a Brit working in the US (for the last 6 years) and have bought a Argosy MH specifically to take back when I return (whenever that is).....

Means I have seen both sides of the Airstream export situation, and importing/modifying for us in the UK is not the issue (if you look on the UKAirstreamers site there are commercial members that offer it as a service), the issue is finding a trailer.

More being available does not mean better, it means more people who think they have 'diamond in the rough' when actually they have something that will cost ten times the purchase price to make good. Not some much of an issue in the US where (some) parts are available - a nightmare in the UK where they aren't. Some of the UK commercial dealers will find a trailer for you and take some of the risk - certainly worth considering.
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Old 09-20-2014, 09:47 AM   #6
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A 25', even an older 60's one may not tow well with a typical British sedan. What are you considering towing with?

A 60's trailer "in the rough" that is as is here in the states will probably have many issues which need to be addressed from floor rot to appliances to electrical items. Are you prepared to do the restoration necessary? To find one in great condition here is not going to be cheap either, so it is "pay me now, or pay me later".

I don't want to discourage you too much, but this undertaking is quite complex overall. It is not going to be inexpensive. You may be much better off looking at a UK caravan of some type.
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Old 09-21-2014, 05:15 PM   #7
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Thanks Guys really appreciate the advice, and you've given me
Plenty of food for thought .
Interesting that it would be seem to be a better to do the modifications in the US before exporting but common sense I suppose.
And i will look into rivet master.
Think the brakes are ok for uk regs but hitch will need changing from 2" to 50 mm or putting a 2" ball on my car?. Currently a ford s-max which has a towing max capability of 2000kgs according to the manual.
Also I believe towing width has now been increased to 2.55 metres to correspond with EC regs.

Phil
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Old 09-21-2014, 05:33 PM   #8
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Hi Phil,

There are more and more AS coming on the market in the UK via eBay, as of late. Buying and importing an unseen American AS is only advisable if you are a gambler and can afford to loose your money, perhaps even all of it! When you have added shipping cost, duty and possibly VAT, the savings are marginal and not worth the risk. The renovation and conversion costs are highly unlikely to be less than buying one already done, where the cost/loss is on the previous owner. The same principle applies to almost everything including classic cars etc.

If you have time and patience I'd wait until your desired model becomes available in the UK, many have imported theirs and run out of steam/money in the renovation process so you could find yourself a bargain. If you are still adamant to import, agree with the seller to deal with their solicitor/attorney to reduce the risk. If they are genuine, they will understand and agree to your terms.

Good luck!
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Old 09-21-2014, 05:39 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1947liner View Post
Hi Phil,

If you have time and patience I'd wait until your desired model becomes available in the UK,

Good luck!
You obviously haven't been watching Top Gear and their treatment of caravans.

Cheers
Tony
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Old 09-27-2014, 06:51 AM   #10
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...Obviously you will need to beat Clarkson and Gang of Top Gear, not an easy task so my advise still remains, get one over here which has slipped through the BBC's limitless budget!

My forum name should really read 1958Globester(18') as that is what I ended up importing from California via Galveston, TX. It may be of interest to you that you can avoid having to pay VAT if declared as an 'antique'(you pay it first and then claim it back unless you have agreed beforehand with the Customs&Excise.)

Mine is about to be restored by professionals and it is in a very very good original condition with no dents, extra holes etc and full original interior functioning, still the budget is close to 30k...so, if you can find one already restored here or in the States, you could save yourself some serious money. Have fun!
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Old 07-05-2017, 02:43 PM   #11
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Expat with new to me 2012 airstream in the USA. I know there are many differences not just width, electrics and but black tank (holds toilet waste) the toileting solutions for England and Europe are so different. When we relocate back would like to ship one back and having an older one renovated is a consideration, however USA does not consider weight or cost of petrol as a prority. Check out Andrew Ditton on youtube he lives full time in an airstream in the UK and he gives a good explanation of the differences and is an experienced caravaner. Good luck and wishing you success in your dream.
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