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Old 07-11-2016, 11:13 AM   #1
1 Rivet Member
1959 28' Ambassador
Summerville , South Carolina
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 8
Looking at a 60 Ambassador... I think


New here, I looked at the only new buyers checklist I could readily find and it seemed to be geared towards a much ďsaferĒ purchase than Iím looking to make. Tomorrow Iím going to look at what appears to be a 1960 ambassador. My immediate hopes are pretty low. The photos Iíve received indicate that the exterior and to some degree the interior are in pretty good shape relative to its age. The immediate concern, of course, is what canít be seen either in photos or possibly in person.

This will be my first Airstream purchase if it happens and as such I already know Iím starting out way over my head. Iíve looked at a few and seen some of the things described on different forums, but I donít personally know anyone who owns as Airstream so Iím at the mercy of experienced people here and the guy selling the trailer. Heís really just relocating and getting rid of it. Itís been used as storage for the last 6 or 8 years.

Hereís what I know to check:
Poke the floor around the perimeter, under windows, and by door to check for rotten wood
Check inside any access hatches, especially the rear one behind the rear bath
Check the hitch for excessive rust or damaged welds
Apply gratuitous pressure to the rear bumper and check for any movement

I know that the door latch is bad
Iím curious and concerned about axles
Iíd like to know if there are any indicators of a bad frame aside from the checks I mentioned above

My immediate hope is to be able to tow this thing home from the place of purchase. Itís about 2 and a half hours away at normal highway speeds.
Hitch and bearings are the highest priorities I can think of followed closely by the rest of the frame. I already plan on replacing tires. It would be a miracle if they would hold air long enough to get to a tire shop. The specter of split rims also rears its ugly head. The hitch is a pretty easy thing to look over. My technique with bearings has always been to make sure they spin freely and smoothly, give them a good shaking, grease liberally, and pray. Split rims will simply have to be replaced.

Here are my most immediate questions regarding all the concerns previously mentioned:
How do I secure the door for transport?
How hard is it to tell if the trailer will break in half, or other smaller pieces, when I try to tow it?
If the bearings are original and/or shot are replacements commonly available?
What is an inexpensive alternative for split rim replacement?
At what point is this trailer no longer worth $2,000?
I welcome any and all advice. Iím not pretending to know anything of real value in this particular instance, although Iím not completely ignorantÖ not completely.

Thanks prematurely,

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Old 07-11-2016, 12:53 PM   #2
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1991 34' Excella
1963 26' Overlander
Central , Mississippi
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 5,006
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What ever you do, don't get it because "it's a good deal" 😜

When dragging home my '63, we put new(er) tires on the rear axle so if the 30 year old dry rots on the front went kaboom, we could continue home on the rears. This gave me a chance to spin the tires and listen for bad sounds. I also stopped after 2 and 5 miles to feel the hubs.

Chain it to your truck good, those old hitches have been known to jump off.

Duct tape everything closed. Remove the tape as soon as you get home, it starts permanently bonding and is horrible to get loose if it sets anytime.

Expect the worst, new floor and a complete rebuild, and hope it's not that bad.

Hi Ho Silver RV! Vernon, Sarah, Mac the Border Collie -
A honkin' long 34' named AlumaTherapy
and a 26' '63 Overlander, Dolly
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Old 07-11-2016, 08:19 PM   #3
1 Rivet Member
1959 28' Ambassador
Summerville , South Carolina
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 8
Thanks for the advice. It's much of what I expected to hear, except the part about stopping after a few miles to check for hot hubs. Although I did know to do it the idea hadn't crossed my mind as I don't do this every day. The two tire thing is great. I would have never thought of that. Of course if the tires look too bad I'll just replace them all. I wouldn't want one coming apart and beating the trailer apart, but if there are a couple that look less than "wasted" it may be worth the chance. I'm definitely expecting the worst and hoping for better. If I end up with this thing the questions will be endless.
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Old 07-11-2016, 08:31 PM   #4
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1960 33' Custom
Saskatoon , Saskatchewan
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 1,120
Images: 25
Tie down straps are good for the door if routed well. I hated using tape on my recovery missions. On my last one I booked the trailer into the nearest auto shop for a safety check on brakes and bearings etc I think it paid off not having to hope for anything particular and just relying on the shop getting whatever is needed.

For two k it would have to be a total basket case but your end goal may be different than mine.
1960 Sovereign 33' Pacific Railroad Custom
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Old 07-12-2016, 01:26 PM   #5
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1969 23' Safari
Palmer Lake , Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 332
Lots of good input above! If you can get it to the tire shop my input is to have them do more than just put new tires on it. I would have them pull off the brake drums and look inside, go ahead and pull the bearings out and re-pack them (you could do that yourself right there), and generally check axles, etc. while it is lifted up. When I brought mine up to Colorado from New Mexico it had been sitting unused for 35+ years. I stopped every 50 miles or and put my hand on the tire and hubcap to check for heat - a spun $3.00 bearing can sure make your day a bad day out on I-40 on a hot summer day! Be sure that the tire guys do not lift the trailer at the axles - there are lift points on the trailer for jacks. Get the tires balanced because vibration is your enemy with parts inside and out that could fall off. Don't forget to see what's on top of the trailer - A/C shrouds, vents, and antennae can also be loose and ready to fall off.

Safety - whether it is 10 miles or 200 miles to tow it be sure it is safe. Yes - the hitch is important but so is the structure that connects to the hitch. If it's there be sure the break away brake activator is attached to your TV. Also check the trailer brake & turn lights to be sure they work. If they don't it could be a ticket from a state trooper or worse, an accident.

Yes the door is a major item to secure and so are the windows. A window that is not secured can open up at 50-70 mph and do some damage to itself.

Sounds like you are committed - it may sound like a lot to get ready but it's not and it's worth the time and cost to get it home safely
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Old 07-12-2016, 01:59 PM   #6
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1978 29' Ambassador
1955 18' Globetrotter
1975 Argosy 22
PIGEON FORGE , Tennessee
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 8
You are either the bravest man in these United States or need to see a Head Doctor.
Most folks(ME for sure) could look at 1 to 3 items you called out, and: ...RUN ...LIKE ....Hell away. Unless the seller is paying you about $ 1,000.00 to take it of his hands.

But realistically, you need to find an A/S gutted w/ floor, axles, frame, etc done for $4,000 - $7,000 and then build out your custom unit. You'll come out far ahead in both time and $$$$

Gino D
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Old 07-13-2016, 02:24 AM   #7
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1959 28' Ambassador
Summerville , South Carolina
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 8
Well I was wrong on the year. The guy original had it advertised as a 24 foot 1962 and I spotted the double axles which immediately clued me to at least a 26. I then spotted the rise over the wheel well which indicated 59 or 60. I can't remember why I decided it was a 60, but it's a 59. The serial number is 289054.

So I think Gino is on to something. The only way I've ever known to get my feet wet was to dive in head first. I've purchased the thing despite the fact that my first comment upon examination was "This is so disappointing". The only thing holding the rear bumper in is faith. The bottom of the door jam is gone as well as part of the bottom of the wall just in front of it. The only part of it that felt rock solid was the area over the axles. The front wasn't too bad. I fully expect everything from the wheel wells back to be compromised. The area under the rear bath is probably gone completely. The front two tires held air. The back two are in my truck. The bearings looked OK. After looking the thing over and telling the owner what it actually was I offered him 1,500 and he took it. He's moving and it's got to go. I'll go back and pick it up tomorrow. I'm actually afraid to try the lights, but I don't have the externally mounted temporary ones. They may actually be OK. Hopefully I can post photos soon.

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Old 07-13-2016, 06:31 AM   #8
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1964 26' Overlander
1974 31' Sovereign
Milton , ON
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 616
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Originally Posted by jmonk View Post
I'm actually afraid to try the lights, but I don't have the externally mounted temporary ones. They may actually be OK. Hopefully I can post photos soon.

Consider getting a set of temporary tow lights like these from Harbor Freight.
You'll need to make the cord longer. If you decide to plug it into your tow vehicle to check the trailer lights and brakes make sure you have extra fuses.
Grant Davidson
Milton, ON

1946 Spartan Manor
1954 Va-Ka-Shun-Ette
1964 Overlander
1965 Avion C-10 Truck Camper
1974 Sovereign
2005 F-350 SRW 4x4 crew cab long box
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Old 07-13-2016, 07:42 PM   #9
1 Rivet Member
1959 28' Ambassador
Summerville , South Carolina
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 8
We made the trek from Conway SC to Summerville SC unscathed... relatively. The two rims that I put new tires on were pretty bad off and one ended up leaking pretty bad, but that just gave us another reason to stop and check everything more frequently. The tail lights came on when I plugged them in and didn't turn off until we unplugged them. The bumper and very front of the belly pan gave us two separate scares. I probably could have worked the bumper loose and put it in the truck, which is what I should have done. Fortunately I had brought a bunch of cargo straps and got it somewhat secured. At some point the front of the belly pan rolled under and started scraping and in my paranoia over the bumper I got pretty spooked. Naturally it had to happen on a one mile stretch of two lane bridge/swamp/bridge road that we so frequently see here in coastal Carolina. All said and done the trip went remarkably well. I've always heard how nice Airstreams pull, track, and back up. It's true. What a great trailer. We did lose a roof vent cover, which I kind of anticipated, and a piece of sheet metal by the black tank valve handle. (not enough tape) Otherwise I really don't think the trip was anything out of the ordinary. Now I just have to figure out how to post photos.

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