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Old 01-17-2014, 10:09 AM   #1
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Shopping for a vintage AS

We have a 17' fiberglass trailer which we spent five months in last winter and are living in now in S Florida. It works well for just the two us but we would really like something that could sleep four so we could take our two grand children and also have a little more space to spread out when it's too cold or rainy to stay outdoors.

I have 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee V6 gas rated to tow 6200# max. It pulls our 2900# trailer great with just a ball hitch. I'd get a WDH if we get a heavier trailer.

We would like to get the smallest trailer that would sleep four. Two twin beds would be much preferred over a 3/4 size double but that wouldn't be a deal breaker. We would rather have a dinette that made into a double bed but a gaucho would be OK. We rarely expect overnight company but really want to be able to take the grand kids (now 3 and 1 yr old) once in a while.

I'd be willing to spend $10 to $15k for something in excellent shape (good cosmetics, good axles, everything works, no dents, assurance the frame is sound and floor rot has been addressed).

We have been to a couple of AS rallies and toured several 17 to 27' Airstreams in campgrounds.

We have been scanning craigslist, the ads here and the Argosy Facebook group for a 1970s argosy 24 or 26 or a 24 or 25' silver trailer of that approximate vintage.

We are spending the winter camping pretty much all over Florida and southern Alabama and hope to maybe find just the right trailer for us over the winter.

I'd appreciate any words of wisdom from you experienced folks.

The next post details my shopping experience so far.
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Old 01-17-2014, 10:38 AM   #2
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SHOPPING EXPERIENCE SO FAR:

Responded through craigslist on a 25'ish (ad didn't spec length). No answer back.

Responded to an ad here that was only two days old, when no answer I private messaged the poster, no response.

Responded via Facebook message about an Argosy 26. A couple of back and forth messages, then no reply from seller going on a week now. I asked for pictures and got one of their truck with the trailer in the background.

Looked at a 74 Argosy 24 twin asking $4500. Stored in N Fl under a carport, looked like it had sat for several years, filthy inside, door had been jimmied by thieves, broken lock laying on floor, door looked bent. Paint mostly worn off.

Looked at a 1976 Argosy 26 double asking $5000. Nice pictures on the Internet, when we got there trailer was full of junk and black mold everywhere. The nice paint job in the picture had been applied with a roller. Pics were probably from when the seller bought the trailer many years ago.

Looked at a 1973 Argosy 24 double asking $4500. Sort of clean, paint not too bad but had dorm fridge, seller didn't know if furnace worked, he stated AC didn't work, no fresh water tank, plumbing and wiring looked hacked up.

Looked a a 1977 Argosy 24 double asking $4500. Had been repainted but paint was peeling in several places, AC cover missing, dead lizzards in kitchen cabinet. Pretty grubby everywhere inside. Standing on rear bumper caused it to flex maybe 1/8" relative to body. Extra frame reinforcement welded under rear but substantially rusted off.


Would you say this is typical of the vintage shopping experience?

I am am a handy retired engineer with a lot of tools so can fix pretty much anything but I really don't want to tackle a full restoration. Sprucing up the interior, maybe converting a double to a twin would be OK though. All 4 trailers I've seen so far would need a lot more work than I want to do. All had a high "icky" factor.

Advice? Should I stick to shopping for a $10 to $15k unit? Would that price likely bring one where somebody else did all the hard, expensive work?
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Old 01-17-2014, 11:03 AM   #3
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It sounds like you've done some research and have a decent idea of what to look for and look out for. I think that for the $10-15k range you should be able to find something with solid floors, good frame, and all working appliances. Don't expect it to be pristine, or polished. The axles are always a bit of a crap-shoot because lots of folks think they are made to last a lifetime, and as long as they seem springy, they assume they are OK.

Two trailers came up for sale in the Houston area a month or two back in the $8-12k range. Both sounded like they could fit your needs, but I'm sure they are taken by now.

I think your shopping experience so far is typical of the vintage buying experience. Trailers priced at less than ~$10k will usually have had minimal real work done to them, will require a lot of repairs and refurb, and will have plenty of red-flag band aids applied (paint rolled onto the walls, dorm fridge instead of RV style, jury-rigged plumbing, etc.).

The general rule I would offer is that if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is (either a scam, or the trailer really is not a bargain). You are likely just wasting your time looking at most of the trailers you mentioned. Every owner thinks their trailer has a solid floor and no leaks. Most of them aren't trying to deceive, the just haven't really checked very thoroughly. Look for trailers that have been used regularly, and have actually had work done on them. Ask the owner to show you pictures/receipts to prove the work has been done. Do a search for "inspection checklist" on the forums, and have it in hand when it is time to look a trailer over.

My recommendation is to be patient, and don't drive too far to look at a trailer (nobody likes to go home empty-handed)!

Good Luck!
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Old 01-17-2014, 11:18 AM   #4
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1973 21' Globetrotter
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Having just advised you not to drive too far for a trailer, I ran a search for "Airstream" on the Houston Craigslist site. The ad below might be just what you are looking for (though not super vintage):

airstream 25. 1987

There is also this "restored" Argosy located in what might be NW FL

Restored 1976 Argosy Airstream 28 ft

good luck!
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Old 01-17-2014, 11:21 AM   #5
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Shopping for Vintage, especially units from the 70's is a hit or miss situation. As you have seen, there is a lot of junk out there which needs major restoration and the owners either don't know or can't see or have just covered up the problems. And then they think that anything Airstream or Argosy is gold, not aluminum.

What you seem to need is a trailer that someone else has done the heavy lifting work on, that is kept it up or done the proper (not cosmetic) renovation already. That or a newer unit that has not already deteriorated to the point it needs a lot of work. They do exist, but go fast on the market. The junk sits, and you have already seen that.

You are realistic in your desires, and are willing to walk away from junk, which is good. Many newbees buy something in the heat of the moment, and then find later all the things it needs and become discouraged, or they start a restoration project that is beyond their abilities.

All I can offer is to keep looking and assume a good one at a fair price will come along within your time frame. The more you look, the easier it will be to make a fast decision when the right one comes along as you will have seen the bad ones.

You may consider going up in your price range, as you noted, up to $15K should find you a good unit I think.

One last thought. I suspect you understand that the smaller units generally have higher prices due to their rarity and the "cute factor". Your new 2014 GC is a good tow vehicle, you should be able to manage up to 25' with it. Some would say even longer.
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Old 01-17-2014, 04:29 PM   #6
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Thanks for the feedback.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Belegedhel View Post
Having just advised you not to drive too far for a trailer, I ran a search for "Airstream" on the Houston Craigslist site. The ad below might be just what you are looking for (though not super vintage):

airstream 25. 1987

Thanks, that looks almost perfect. I'm not willing to drive the 16 hrs to Houston from S Fl right now to look at it but will be going through Houston in March. Maybe then if it's still available.

There is also this "restored" Argosy located in what might be NW FL

Restored 1976 Argosy Airstream 28 ft

That is a little larger than I'm hoping for (28') but dry weight of 4000# would be OK. Trailer is near Pensacola, Fl, about 3 hrs from where my kids live. We will be there in mid-Feb and maybe check this one out then.

good luck!
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Old 01-17-2014, 04:49 PM   #7
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I lack historical knowledge of the older units, but just looking at the current models, only the Flying Cloud line offers twin beds at the 25'11" length called model 25 with the beds in back or 25FB with the beds in front. The International models are NOT available with twin beds.

The link below will take you to the Airstream factory historical information site which can serve as a reference for floor plans and other useful information.

Airstream, Inc :: Specifications

Good luck in your search and welcome to the forum.
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Old 01-17-2014, 06:13 PM   #8
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. . . and don't let the price fool you, there are "folks" out there asking a lot of money for the kind of trailer you've been "running into" . . . because they heard a rumor that these things are valuable . . . I've seen $10k price tags for vermin infested trailers needing complete re-build . . . where they include a "ripped off" photo of what it could look like "w/out much work at all" . . . but you've probably already found that out as well.
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Old 01-17-2014, 10:56 PM   #9
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I have a '74 Argosy '26, twin bed, rear bath. Which I purchased from the original owner for $2,200 in Oct. '09.
It was in OK shape for a coach of it's age. It had been repainted 7 years prior to my purchase. The paint is holding up fairly well for being 11 years old. There are some dents now from a falling tree. Nothing too serious.
I have replaced all of the plumbing with PEX, upgraded the electrical systems with a new 45 amp converter and a 1,100 watt inverter. Installed new galley cabinetry and countertops, stove top, water heater, galley sink and faucet and bath cabinetry, bath sink and faucet and toilet. Installed a micro wave in it's own cabinet. Removed the gaucho, built and installed a dinette. It is wired for cable TV and solar. The original A/C, furnace and refer still work.
Increased the grey water holding capacity from 12 to 32 gallons. Two new 30# propane tanks. New axles, brakes and tires.
We have traveled 20,000 miles with it since our purchase. 9,000 miles this year alone.
I have $11,000+ in it now.
I would not hesitate to hitch up and take it anywhere.
It would take a couple thousand more than what I have in it to convince me to sell it. Which means, it may be the last one I own.
There are a few pics on my blog that show some of the work I have done.
This is not a sales pitch.
It only shows how much $$$$ a person can sink in to one of these rigs. So another $4-5K for a new paint job. It would present itself really well.
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