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Old 11-03-2011, 02:43 PM   #1
lig
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Need purchasing advice-Original 1966 Sovereign

Hi! I grew up camping and have gotten DH interested and excited to go camping as a family. He hates the tent, and after researching, has his heart set on an Airstream. He has found one. Here are the specs:

1966 Airstream Sovereign International Land Yacht. 31foot. 2 axle. No leaks. Ceilings in good shape. Minor dents and dings. Sleeps 4. Good original condition, and has never been touched rehab wise. Has all original manuals. Has the 2 original folding dining chairs. Table has 2 removable leaves. Has original roof air that works. Has original dinnerware. There are two brand new mattresses, but other than that it is completely original.

We know it needs new tires and needs a new awning. It has not been used in 10 years. We just got updated pix, and it looks really clean and REALLY original. LOL.

They are asking in the low $3000, not sure if this is a good price. I welcome any and all advice as I know nothing about airstreams. I'm worried about upkeep and an any repairs. (It is over 40 years old! There are gonna be repairs!)

We just want something that is fun for week/weekend trips with our kids. We take great care of our things and are looking for quality that will last as our boys grow! TIA!
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Old 11-03-2011, 03:04 PM   #2
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look at it from the side...if the lip of the wheel well covers any portion of the wheel...it probable needs axles. 2000$
avoid plexiglass windows...original curved Cornings are available...expensive. 300 each +/-
look at the underside of the cabinet above the stove...by the fan/light....is it water damaged from a vent leak? $$$
The floor at the entrance door...check both sides of the entry. A common rot spot.$$$
Check floors under all exterior access doors...and the water tank up front.$$$
does it have a modern converter? it needs one.150$
Battery? It needs one... 200$probable needs a fuse panel too if the converter needs replacing....100$
Does it have an AC? 800$
Does it have awnings? condition? 1800$
Tires?

It ads up quick....many times it pays to shop around and pay more/get more.
That price for a 66 is OK...now add up where you are going.
PS....66's are Great...I luv 'em.
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Old 11-03-2011, 03:23 PM   #3
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Additional

Melody Ranch gave you some great advice. In addition, you may be able to get an experienced owner to look at it for you. See the Inspector section in the right hand column of the page. (It's on mine if I click "Portal").

I'd emphasize two points that MR made -- axles and floor. They are the things that you'll have to deal with very quickly.

If the axle is original, you need to change it. If you can get free labor, you can get a quote from https://sites.google.com/a/colinhyde...ions.com/home/ or Inland RV Center - The Nations Leading Expert in Airstream Innovations

The floor is a critical part of the structure. Check it well with an ice pick.

I would recommend that you assume that -- eventually -- you will put 10K into it.

'66 is a good year.

John
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Old 11-03-2011, 05:04 PM   #4
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Need purchasing advice- original 1966 Sovereign

Greetings lig!

Welcome to the Forums!

Quote:
Originally Posted by lig View Post
Hi! I grew up camping and have gotten DH interested and excited to go camping as a family. He hates the tent, and after researching, has his heart set on an Airstream. He has found one. Here are the specs:

1966 Airstream Sovereign International Land Yacht. 31foot. 2 axle. No leaks. Ceilings in good shape. Minor dents and dings. Sleeps 4. Good original condition, and has never been touched rehab wise. Has all original manuals. Has the 2 original folding dining chairs. Table has 2 removable leaves. Has original roof air that works. Has original dinnerware. There are two brand new mattresses, but other than that it is completely original.
You are looking at the flagship of the Airstream line for 1966. The 30' Airstream Sovereign Land Yach International was top of the line, and featured most of the up-scale camping features available at the time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lig View Post
We know it needs new tires and needs a new awning. It has not been used in 10 years. We just got updated pix, and it looks really clean and REALLY original. LOL.
You may also find that it needs new wheels. I don't know whether Airstream had switched to solid steel wheels by 1966, or not, but I do know that my '64 Overlander was factory equipped with split-rims. If the coach has split-rim wheels, you will likely have great difficulty finding a shop that will install new tires on them. Modern replacement wheels are readily available, and for plain steel wheels, they aren't particularly expensive.

One thing to be aware of as you personally inspect the coach will be the windows. Airstream utilized Corning Tempered Glass Windows in 1966, 1967, and 1968. These windows tend to be a little fragile, and it isn't unusual to find a coach where the original glass has been replaced with some form of acrylic (with varying degrees of success). Recently, reproduction Tempered Glass Windows have become available, but they are somewhat expensive and there can be a significant wait time if the vendor doesn't happen to have the needed window in stock.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lig View Post
They are asking in the low $3000, not sure if this is a good price. I welcome any and all advice as I know nothing about airstreams. I'm worried about upkeep and an any repairs. (It is over 40 years old! There are gonna be repairs!)

The price being asked may not be too far off of the mark, but a coach that has been sitting unused for the period of time that this one has does raise a number of questions:
  • The DuraTorque axles are very likely worn out, or the rods may have taken a permanent set that will prevent them from providing the necessary suspension. Replacements are readily available . . . and it also provides a good opportunity to fully renew brakes, bearings, axles, and shocks.
  • While the coach may not have experienced the rigors of travel recently, even sitting, caulking and seam sealer dries out and if not replaced opens the means for moisture leaks. Not necessarily a huge issue, but suggests the need for a careful inspection around the perimeter of interior walls for evidence of rot . . . a fine awl or ice pick can identify soft spots.
  • Even if the they are currently fully operational, the original appliances are at or beyond their typical useful life . . . this would include the air conditioner, water heater, furnace, refrigerator, water pump, power converter, etc. Not necessarily a problem, but you need to be prepared for these appliances to gradually fail or require major repairs.
Quote:
Originally Posted by lig View Post
We just want something that is fun for week/weekend trips with our kids. We take great care of our things and are looking for quality that will last as our boys grow! TIA!
My '64 Overlander is the first Airstream that I ever camped in . . . the coach was brand new and I was five years old. The coach belonged to friends of my family and I became its third owner in 1995. I paid somewhat more for my coach in 1995, but that was before the days of the Internet and the availability of information . . . . the coach had beautiful skin, a 95% original interior, and all appliances except the furnace and converter were functional. The brakes and bearings had been redone, but the axles needed replacement as did the original A & E Travel Awn. I don't regret what I spent on the coach . . . and today it is like a member of the family.

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin
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Old 11-03-2011, 05:20 PM   #5
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If you don't want it let me know, I've always wanted one of the 1966 30' footers with the "L" shape front couches. 3K sounds like a good buy if the skin is in good shape. I currently have three 1966's at my house, a GT, Safari and a Overlander. It was one of the best years made.
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Old 11-04-2011, 01:35 PM   #6
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Thanks for all your advice everyone. It was a tremendous help! We are running from this camper as fast as we can. What a mess!!! It was completely misrepresented, and the guy totally lied to us. Thank heavens we only drove 77 miles to look at it. Ugh!! The floor and window sills have major water damage. The under carriage is ripped apart- see picture. The screens are all ripped. There is no way you could tow it 10 feet out of the field and who knows how many mice call it home!

Anyway, thanks again for your advice. It really helped us tremendously! There are a few others we're gonna look at. Can't wait to find the right one for our family!! This is NOT it!
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Old 11-04-2011, 02:30 PM   #7
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Reworking an Airstream isn't a hobby, it's a religion, a total commitment. The quickest way I've found to get over wanting an Airstream that needs 15 grand and three years of work, is to buy one. I see Airstreams from all years for sale with the interior gutted and part of the floor ripped out. And that's just the first week's work before any money is spent.

People buy them with big plans, rip them up, and then realize they don't have the abilities or the resources to finish them, and try to sell them again. Notice all the threads started by people buying a fixer and the lack of gloat on the finish threads?

A lot of these fixers are still sitting in barns and backyards like mine is. I'm one broken hip or one stroke away from never finishing mine. I hope I get mine done, but this is a BIG job . . . AND expensive.
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Old 11-04-2011, 02:50 PM   #8
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Too bad

Too bad it didn't work out for you, but it does give you the opportunity to do some homework. This site and this link should help: Price vs. Condition - Airstream Values

Also, can you send a Private Message to "rideair"? Just click on his name in the thread and you'll see the link. For the sake of the Airstream, not the owner, it would be good to pass on the listing info. The trailer may end up in good hands.

Good luck with the search.

John
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