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Old 05-09-2007, 08:20 PM   #29
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The vintage owners are hobbyists. They rebuild and refurbish so that if something does goes wrong, it's usually due to their own handy work. On the other hand, people who buy new want to enjoy the experience of living comfortably in campgrounds and they have every right to expect that a $65K piece of equipment perform properly and to not have their outings interrupted by poor quality engineering. This is what they are paying for. With the higher price tag comes a higher level of expectation. Silver Twinkie, for one, has done a great service in building awareness on the corrosion issue on the newer models. I think it's reprehensible that this is happening and that Airstream hasn't taken steps to fix the problem. Can you imagine BMW having this type of problem? Of course not, who would tolerate it?


You just have to decide if you’re a Tigger or an Eeyore." - Randy Pausch
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Old 05-09-2007, 09:28 PM   #30
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1976 Argosy 24
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one mans opinion

looked at new ones hard - almost jumped on a FB 25' then started doing hard research on vintage trailers. We really liked the 25'ish size and were homing in on an Overlander but then happened upon the Argosy's. Dinette in front, big windows in front, single full on the right and a closet and drawers on the left 4000lbs loaded. After a year, no big repairs - just rebuilt the grey & black water valves... easy - good design. Downside.... small grey water (15 gal) small black water (11 gal) but the tote along solves that problem. $5000 for the unit, $3000 in accessories (generator, new propane tanks, castor). With a 3/4 ton TV no weight distribution and tows like a dream at 75. Don't know how a new one would compare but I think that I will stick with the vintage.

Donna & Mike
Cowboy up! or go sit in the truck

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Old 05-09-2007, 09:59 PM   #31
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One thing we often talk about on the show is the aluminum on newer units are not the aircraft quality of the vintage units. They are subject to hail damage and dents much more easily. Also the weight issues. The newer ones easily out weigh the old ones by a factor of two. Sure you got the big truck and can do it, but with the gas prices like they are....

As far as restoring a vintage unit. You cannot pay anyone to do the complete restoration and come out cheaper than just buying a new one. It will be more.

You cannot do it yourself and make it perfect without coming close to new or slightly used prices.

Now, if you can manage to do the work yourself and let slight imperfections go, you can come ahead. I don't mean safety or comfort items. I mean, if you have a small dent or minor scratch, replacing the aluminum is the only way to get it perfect. But now you've just upp'ed your $$ big time. You're going to scratch it soon anyway....

Time: If you have major floor rot and frame rot, two years. If you have repairable in sections floor repair and appliances, plumbing, etc.. one year.

Lastly, choose by era. Get the wanderlust book, or something similar or go to a rally. Look at the different years, 50's, 60's, 70's, etc.... They all have certain qualities to offer. Each unique. Remember pre '62 are Wally trailers.... ;-)
1960 International Ambassador 28'
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Old 05-09-2007, 10:05 PM   #32
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1982 24' Airstream 240
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Vintage Owners

We are vintage owners and are not hobbyist as we are not doing the repairs ourselves.....I just got it in my head that I wanted a Vintage pretty sure we overpaid for the unit and we have sunk more money in fixing the things that needed to be fixed.....On Sunday, we visited a dealer to get our "free" book and decided we needed a new 27' FB,,,,,then we came back to earth and decided to keep what we have and sink more money in it.... perhaps when they get the corrosion issue worked out at the factory we may rethink the situation but that is one thing our 1969 doesn't have.... We probably could not recoup our financial outlay but then again....we have a unit that is like no other unit anywhere......and it is about 1000 pounds lighter than a comparable new unit (that helps with our tow vehicle).....I think it just boils down to an individuals comfort level with what problems one is comfortable with because there appears to be no one perfect Airstream. After reading some of the posts, I am happier with our own problems and I feel like we made the right decision for us (or me, anyway) {My husband still wants a new one). pj
Paula & Ed
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1968 28'Ambassador
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Old 05-09-2007, 11:36 PM   #33
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I'm surprised nobody seems to be mentioning the obvious issue of what type of travel you intend on doing. We had considered finding an older unit with a really ratty interior to customize. But once we made the decision to full-time for a year, we realized we'd never have enough time to rebuild an old trailer before our expected embarkation date. So that left either buying a new one, or a youngish used one.

We had also rented a few SOB motorhomes for our annual vacations for the three previous years, all of which left us with at least one very serious problem that took away from our precious vacation time. Things like a toilet that would not stop running (emptying the fresh water tank in a few hours). After considering that experience, the warranty really became critical, and the decision was made to buy a brand new trailer.

Sure, we experienced some of the quality issues that get a lot of type here. We made one trip back to the dealer to get most of them fixed, and one trip to Jackson Center to have the rest cleared up, and for a few other custom additions we dreamed up on the way. You can search through the old messages to see exactly what I'm talking about.

In our year of full-timing, we had our share of minor annoyances, but not a single serious problem. No major systems failures, no blown tires, no heatless nights. We dreaded the thought of having to hole up in a flea bag motel with the cats and the dog for an extended period while the rig was repaired, but nothing ever happened. Exactly what we'd hoped for.

I guess it all depends how valuable your time is. I used to own a 60s Jaguar. I did all of my own maintenance and repair work. I miss that car temendously, but I just don't have the time for that kind of commitment now. Maybe someday when I retire for good I will, but not now. How much time do you want to spend working on the trailer, and how much do you want to spend traveling in it? If you don't need to depend on the thing, or don't use it very often, you could calculate that a new trailer is stupid (maybe $500 per night of camping or something like that).

As far as depriciation goes, I don't know if new trailers are a bad investment or not. We bought our CCD brand new in late 2004. The same unit is currently stickering for about $20k more than we paid then. Is ours worth $40k less than a new one? I rather doubt it. Will a new one cost $80k in three more years? I hope not, but who knows?

On the other hand, I don't really care about depreciation, because we have no intention of selling our trailer (esp. considering what it would cost to get another new one). I'll sell the house before the Airstream, if I need the money. We can always go back on the road for good...

And one last item to consider is preservation. I know, I know, an old travel trailer is hardly Smithsonian material. We thought about gutting a 70s trailer and going for an ultra modern CCD kind of thing, completely customzied to our taste. But maybe someday there will be a nice couple looking for an original 70s trailer to restore to its harvest gold and avocado green glory. I'd feel real bad if we deprived people like that of the trailer of their dreams.
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Old 05-10-2007, 05:44 AM   #34
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There are a lot of different skills required in restoring or renovating an older Airstream. There are also a LOT of different tools required. I you don't have the skills the labor is going to be very expensive.If you want a really quality unit when all the work is complete it could actually cost more than buying a new unit.When you look at the inital cost of buying new or usaed , used always looks to be the better deal. Depending on how well the unit has been cared for this may turn out to be true. If you can do a few minor repairs and be on the road, but if you buy an older unit that needs major work than forget camping. All your spare time and money is going to be taken up working on your trailer. With some that may be more important than actually camping. For me, I've had two used and now a new 25'Classic. I'm at the point in life where I want things to work and be comfortable without breaking out the tool box everytime I think of my Airstream. Having said that I really like the fact that there are those out there putting love back into these older Airstreams.
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Old 05-10-2007, 01:07 PM   #35
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It might also be worth while, in your decision process of deciding if you want to work with an older TT or buy new(er), to mention how the cost of materials have gone up the last few years. About a year ago my parts and projected material list totaled about $28,000. Today, I have it estimated at $34,000 - $35,000, and 4/5ths of my material list has already been purchased and installed!

Fiberglass resin has been tripling in cost about every 7-8 months (petroleum based). Copper propane line doubled in price on me in just five (5) days! Quality 1/4 inch cabinet grade ply costs over $40 a sheet here. The 3/8th inch stuff is a non-standard product and must be specially ordered at more than $70 a sheet. Dare we price 2024 T3 032 or 040 (Aircraft) aluminum? I bought mine two years ago @ about $13.00 per square foot, and I've been told it has gone way up from there in price. Iron has gone up about five fold in the last three years.

Additionally, I agree with Safari Tim, you can’t pay for labor on a restoration and come out ahead, especially if you are paying someone $60+ an hour, which is the going shop rate in my neck of the woods. I figure I’ll have about 2,000 hours into my Spiffy Gem, when done. I know I’m no professional, but professionals also charge more per hour than I could for my skill. Do the math $60 x 2000 = $120,000. Let’s say a pro could do the job in half the time, and charges $60 an hour. Now your labor costs go to $60,000. Ok, let’s say I’m really slow and take three times longer than a pro – the costs for labor is now $40,000. If you add (my) material costs of $34,000, you have a total cost of $74,000.

Can you get an old coach insured at that amount? Can you get it replaced in the event you get in an accident and the coach gets totaled?

There’s a lot to think about before committing to such a project . . . hired out or not.
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Old 05-10-2007, 02:31 PM   #36
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Birmingham , Alabama
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Earlier this year we were all set to buy a vintage Airstream and pay BIG dollars for a COMPLETE restoration, with custom interior, modern electronics, polished exterior, etc.

Then we started looking at 4-5 year old Airstreams. Hmmmmm.

Today we own a "like new" 2003 Classic. Got a nice deal on it, LOVE IT, and probably spent less than we would've on the ground up restoration. The trailer has no issues -- everything works as it should, and wouldn't look out of place on a dealer's lot.

Depreciation can be your friend. Sometimes it's best to be the 2nd owner!
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Old 05-10-2007, 04:46 PM   #37
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USE it or LOSE it!

We've all seen ads here from people who have bought the Airstream Dream, then camped four times and were done. I agree, your absolutely best deal is to find one that's 2-5 years old and go for it.

If you check e-bay or the classifieds, there are dozens of half done projects for sale. If you do decide to restore an older one, by all means get a complete professional survey of what needs to be done first - some of these projects can go on for 2 years - and a lot of exterior events can interfere.

I've got the 25 FB SE - and for fulltiming it's nearly perfect. Of course the 27 FB SE is even better. But I'm LURKING - waiting to pounce on the person who buys one then his wife decides "it's the camper or me".....

Paula Ford
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Old 05-11-2007, 08:19 AM   #38
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It is surprising the number of trailers that make their way back to the dealership on trades. Before buying my Classic new, I did have a standing order for the dealer to call me to see any 31' units that were 1-5 years old. I saw a few of them only to pass on them due to the fact that their previous owners didn't treat their trailers with the same TLC that I do my own.

The dealer finally told me, "Jack you are so picky, you probably won't be satisfied unless you buy a new trailer". As it ended up he was right.

Jack Canavera
AIR #56
'04 Classic 30' S.O.,'03 GMC Savana 2500,'14 Honda CTX 700
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Old 05-11-2007, 09:36 AM   #39
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Cincinnati , Ohio
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the choices get clearer, but not easier

Based on everything we've read here, Dave and I have come to a crossroad of choices:

* We can take the trailer to the mechanic we usually use. He could fix the leak in the water heater and replace the A/C and nothing else. He's very good but didn't display a lot of enthusiasm about tearing out the subfloor. That would cost us about $900.

* Dave can fix the leak under the sink. He and I can replace the flooring (but not the subfloor), something we planned to do anyway (the original burnt-orange carpet in the bathroom is gross). This will cost us about $500 and a month of our time, shooting a hole in our summer camping plans. And the subfloor still won't be fixed.

* Replacing the subfloor and electric is more complicated than we thought. We wouldn't want to do it ourselves and by the time we pay someone else to do it, we could buy a newer camper. We love vintage, but aren't hooked on the year 1977 (those "Ozzie and Harriet" beds aren't so appealing) Practicality wins over age.

*We would love a brand-new 25' Safari FB, but aren't in a position to pay for a new camper AND a new tow vehicle. Based on the AS weight charts, I think we could tow up to a 25' mid-80s to early-90s Safari (or some such) with my current car. It has a 5000lb tow capacity, and those AS top out about 5600lbs dry weight. Given that my Jeep is a diesel, we tow infrequently, and usually over flat land, that overage doesn't scare me.

So......we've combed the listings here and on Ebay and we're not seeing any smaller 80's units out there. Where should we look?

Thanks for everyone's help! It's made a big difference.
Dave, Pam and Asa
Really old house + really new camper = good living

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Old 05-11-2007, 09:51 AM   #40
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Highland , Illinois
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Contact restorers

Have you thought about having your trailer restored by professionals?

You could contact them and get an estimate for having it done.

David Winick and Colin Hyde both post here and are within driving distance for you.

Here is the link to David Winick's site, Vintage Trailering. Colin Hyde's is GSM but I don't have a link to their web-site.

I think there's one in the Carolina's too.

Air #4056

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Old 05-11-2007, 10:50 AM   #41
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1954 29' Liner
Orange , California
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Originally Posted by cosmotini
Have you thought about having your trailer restored by professionals?

You could contact them and get an estimate for having it done.

David Winick and Colin Hyde both post here and are within driving distance for you.

Here is the link to David Winick's site, Vintage Trailering. Colin Hyde's is GSM but I don't have a link to their web-site.

I think there's one in the Carolina's too.
Colin's site is here: GSM Vehicles

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Old 05-11-2007, 11:14 AM   #42
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Originally Posted by daveandpamz
Based on the AS weight charts, I think we could tow up to a 25' mid-80s to early-90s Safari (or some such) with my current car. It has a 5000lb tow capacity, and those AS top out about 5600lbs dry weight. Given that my Jeep is a diesel, we tow infrequently, and usually over flat land, that overage doesn't scare me.
better re think this...


given the unibody design, hitch capacity and wheel base of a jeep liberty...

you really are in the 'casita', t@b, basecamp and vintage bambi, argosy 6m size range...

25 footers, wider bodies and dry weights of 5600lbs are completely inappropriate for the jeep liberty...

forget about flat land, even down hill a mid 80s double axle unit is too much trailer.

a restored 27ft overlander towed with a jeep liberty?

not a good choice either.


all of the true things that i am about to tell you are shameless lies. l.b.j.

we are here on earth to fart around. don't let anybody tell you any different. k.v.
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