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Old 05-08-2007, 07:04 PM   #1
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Question Fix up or buy new?

We have a 1977 Overlander, rear bath. We love it, it's a ton of burnt-orange fun, BUT it's starting to show signs of age. The Univolt had a case of fried mice and had to be replaced, there are niggly water leaks (incl. the hot water heater and pipes under the kitchen sink), we just replaced the toilet to find the floor rotten underneath it and now the A/C needs replacing, too.

We only paid $3000 for it and have put probably another $3K into it. Really, it's in good shape for a 30 yr old unit. But there's a really pretty, brand-new 25' front-bed Safari at a dealer near us. Did I mention it was new and pretty?

So.....here is the BIG QUESTION. If we put real money into the Overlander, will we get it back out later? We're talking about replacing all the wiring and plumbing, re-sealing everything, fixing the fogged windows, new A/C. Is it better to buy a new Airstream and finance it half of forever?

Any advice is appreciated!

Pam
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Old 05-08-2007, 07:33 PM   #2
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Hi Pam,

Used Airstreams in good condition seem to fetch a good price. I don't think you would be hurt financially fixing yours up. Maybe even a tidy profit when sold.

On the other hand, the new Safari you like probably weighs much more than your current trailer so you'd not only be making payments on it, but a new tow vehicle, also.
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Old 05-08-2007, 07:52 PM   #3
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Having bought 2 new Airstreams, I can tell you first hand that putting some money into your existing vintage is clearly the better way to go if your unit is in good mechanical shape (frame, etc).

There are a few reasons why I suggest this:

1) The cost of a new Airstream is out of sight and for the quality issues and other things that are happening, IMHO, it's just not worth the extremely high prices they ask for these.

2) The new Airstreams depreciate like a rock in water the first 4-5 years. What was $45k, quickly becomes $28k in about 3 years and down from there.

You could put some money in your existing Airstream and in most cases come out much farther ahead than going new, and best of all, you already know the current Airstream's history.

My next RV may not be an Airstream again, but if it is or isn't, it will be a pre-owned unit, that's for certain, unless the prices come down (which I wouldn't bet on).
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Old 05-08-2007, 08:30 PM   #4
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I agree about the price of new, and depreciation. If I were in the market right now, I would certainly be looking for a 3 to 10 year old trailer instead of new.
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Old 05-08-2007, 08:39 PM   #5
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hmmm...

Thanks for the replies. We had not considered the depreciation factor, because we tend to keep things awhile (except when those water leaks drive us crazy). As a matter of fact, the Jeep is the newest thing we have, and only because it's a diesel!

Needing a new vehicle to tow a new AS is something we've discussed. Jeep has now taken the diesel from the Liberty and put it in the Grand Cherokee. The Cherokee will tow the Safari, but I really don't want a new car, I like my Jeeplet. And the thought of a higher car payment on top of a new TT payment isn't attractive, either.

My husband is an architect and preservationist. When I expressed Camper Envy over the truck camper some friends had, he decided that if we were going to own a camper, it would be an Airstream (such a design snob). So, with that in mind, I need to find a quality shop near Cincinnati that won't balk at only doing a partial renovation.

I'll keep checking the postings to see what others have to say. Thanks!
Pam
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Old 05-08-2007, 08:50 PM   #6
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I am in the market and I plan on buying new. I also plan on keeping it for a long time. The depreciation does not bother me. I like new that is under warranty.

I seems like the ones that complain about quality are the same posters over and over. You also find many new owners that are completely happy with their new AS.
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Old 05-08-2007, 10:11 PM   #7
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Hi, these trailers are man made and not perfect. but new is still nice and depreciation means nothing if you plan to keep it for ten years or more. If you trade up, down, or sideways every year or two, you lose. Same with your old trailer, don't be concerned about worth so much as, how much use you plan to get out of it.
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Old 05-08-2007, 10:28 PM   #8
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We have owned just 2 brand new trailers (ok, they were tent trailers) and 2 new cars in our 38 years together. It has taken much of that time to discover that we like vintage. Yes, they do take some occassional tinkering but I have not sold anything for less than I have paid for it.......except for the stuff we bought new.

Neil and Lynn.
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Old 05-08-2007, 10:42 PM   #9
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My 2 Cents

Needing a new vehicle to tow a new AS is something we've discussed. Jeep has now taken the diesel from the Liberty and put it in the Grand Cherokee. The Cherokee will tow the Safari, but I really don't want a new car, I like my Jeeplet. And the thought of a higher car payment on top of a new TT payment isn't attractive, either.

Hi & Welcome,

We have 25FB, new and love it.

We had the GC w/Hemi, as our TV and it wasn't up to the job. Power, no problem, weight, big problem-even w/weight distributing hitch, careful loading, ect. If you plan on towing a new Airstream over 25', a 3/4 ton TV may be a consideration. Just my 2Cents, good luck w/your decision.
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Old 05-09-2007, 07:36 AM   #10
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Depends

Quote:
Originally Posted by daveandpamz
.........................................

So.....here is the BIG QUESTION. If we put real money into the Overlander, will we get it back out later? We're talking about replacing all the wiring and plumbing, re-sealing everything, fixing the fogged windows, new A/C. Is it better to buy a new Airstream and finance it half of forever?

Any advice is appreciated!

Pam
Airstreams are a depreciating asset like cars.
"Interesting times' like we have today have led many Americans to the edge of the cliff financially.
There are some super deals on 1 or 2 year old units.
Are you a shopper?
How handy are you?
'Talk is cheap, Airstreams are not,' Wally B.

R
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Old 05-09-2007, 07:52 AM   #11
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When I first mentioned the depreciation bit, I was coming from the standpoint that it was a personal choice. I was simply stating my opinion, and not suggesting that one take that as law to live by, but it is true and something to consider as it is a MAJOR investment in a new one.

As for the comments about the QC issues, I could not disagree more. I would invite anyone to do a search of the QC threads, there are now 5 years worth and one can easily see that it's not just a handful of folks sharing both positive and not so positive info. I would also further do a search under corrosion and read and see some of the units that are only 6 months old that are having issues, let alone the many units identified in a variety of corrosion threads. This is a REAL issue in and of itself. This is not meant to scare you off as a new Airstream buyer, all these threads I am sharing are meant to provide additional info to help make a decision. Sure, folks can say nearly anything in a thread, but when they include photos of issues, it's hard to not believe there is some substance to the claims.

Best of luck on your quest. As I said earlier, hindsight being 20/20 after buying 2 new Airstreams in the last 4 years, pre-owned or a restoration would be my two paths that I'd consider given my exp with 2 and what I've seen around this forum from a fairly large group of participants.
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Old 05-09-2007, 08:37 AM   #12
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Hello Pam

As Silvertwinkie said "your better off putting your money in your vintage

trailer". I would try to see if their is a forum member (Vintage Owner or

Airstream RV Tech) near you who can inspect your trailer and give you

advice on what should be done. The condition you speak of are really not

that bad. If the frame was shot and the axles needed replaced then maybe

I'd lean towards a replacement IMHO. Minor water leaks and a hot water

heater are simple basic plumbing. If the copper lines do not show signs of

swelling you may just need to resolder the fittings, are replace the water

lines with PEX lines from LOWE's or Home Depot. The Water Heater and Air

Conditioner are a pull off/ pull out and replace. The floor is a challenge, but

not complicated. Basic woodworking 101 . The wiring is again basic, but

first one must ask is all the lights and appliances working that run off of

electric? not broke don't fix it. Over the course of several weekends you

could have a like new trailer with all your concerns for it fixed for way less

then your deposit for a new Airstream, and its aged to perfection. Food for

thought and good luck in your decision.

regards, Hawk_Man
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Old 05-09-2007, 09:01 AM   #13
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I agree with Hawk Man, if you don't mind fixing a few things, a little at a time, the money thing with take care of it's self. One could go nuts and lavishy remodel, but a little tinkering is really not much money. The basic systems (electric, plumbing, etc) are not rocket science. Just spend a little time, and you will have a new, (old) trailer, that you know all about, and not a new payment book.

Best wishes in what ever you decide.

JD
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Old 05-09-2007, 09:07 AM   #14
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New vs. Old

I have owned 2 vintage trailers, 1 new 2004 CCD and 1 previously owned Airstream (1986). I enjoyed the 2 vintage trailers, but one was crushed by a tree and the other required a full renovation as you are discussing. I made the decision to sell my vintage and buy the new CCD. The warrenty was nice because every time I wanted to use the trailer I had to take it into the dealer for a repair. In the 1.5 years we owned the trailer it was in the dealer 9 times. Quite honestly the quality issues aren't that bad, it is the accountability of Airstream and the new breed of dealers. If you are close to the factory or one of the original dealers it might not be a bad choice. In addition to the repair issues we had a rusty frame and the aluminum was corroding.

Happily I have found nirvana in the middle ground. I now own a 1986 and absolutely love it. It is the best designed trailer we have owned and built almost as nice as the 1970s vintage.

I personally think any direction you pursue will have pros and cons and it becomes a very personal decision (location, intended length of ownership, desire to be glitzy vs. cultish, and financial)
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Old 05-09-2007, 09:45 AM   #15
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I guess the rehab question goes beyond the cosmetic issues and the worn out appliances. You also need to look at the condition of the axles and frame to see if you have some serious deterioriation. For many, and I count myself as one, this kind of restoration is beyond my ability. Obviously if you aren't technical then the question is whether you have someone that you can trust with the expertise to do the repairs properly.

Another thought is whether you want to move to the wide body trailer. Personally, this is what got me to buy my first Airstream in 2001. Prior to that I just didn't feel comfortable in the narrow body units. Different strokes for different folks, but for some that issue might be enticing to step up to a new or newer unit.

Finally if the big depreciation issue is a deal breaker, keep an eye out for a newer used unit or possibly one that you know has been given TLC. I know we had one member in my old WBCCI unit who traded vehicles every two years. Folks in the unit used to line up to buy his used vehicles.

Just a few more thoughts.

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Old 05-09-2007, 10:45 AM   #16
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If you do work on your old TT, and it is attractive to a future buyer, then you can usually expect to recover the price of the materials, but don't expect to recover the entire price of labor.

Calvin
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Old 05-09-2007, 11:10 AM   #17
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Go http://www.airforums.com/forums/f232...new-21750.html and see post number 13 . . .
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Old 05-09-2007, 02:13 PM   #18
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Doesn't a real Airstream have to have a door within a door?

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Old 05-09-2007, 05:44 PM   #19
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Spiffy Gem, Thanks for the Vingtage - vs- New. Wonderful ideas, suggestions and great experiences.
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Old 05-09-2007, 07:33 PM   #20
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okay, so the next question is...

Wow - what a diversity of replies!
After discussing all of your postings, Dave and I have a few more questions:

1. Given that buying a used unit means you might inherit someone else's problems, what problems might we find? In other words, what would be the pros and cons of '70s units vs. '80s units vs. '90s units? It may not be a leap in build quality as much as a leap in usability. Do the "Beatrice Years" really come into play here? We're trying to get a feel for whether it's worth it to trade up to an '80s unit from our '77 ('cause we love the burnt orange but that grey water tank really is tiny...).

2. Dave and I are both handy individuals, but we live on a steep hill so we keep the AS across town at a friend's house. That impedes our ability to do much of the work ourselves. We understand renovation vs. restoration, but we're not sure many of the AS dealers down here actually do. How do we find someone near Cincinnati who really knows Airstreams and would understand that we don't want to gut it, just fix it?

This has been a wonderful opportunity to discuss this issue -- just like the car club we belong to, only "bigger"!

Pam
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