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Old 02-18-2008, 02:41 PM   #1
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Worth Investigating Further? '66 Overlander In Austin - Craigslist

Hi all,

4th post and I'm already asking about the viability of a vintage AS. And I told myself I'd try to take it slow...

Anyway, I've always loved the iconic styling of the AS, and am especially drawn to the 50s/60s models. I just joined the forum for knowledge gathering/sharing, and I'd be interested to get you opinions on this listing. I'm not looking for a trailer in great condition because I want to do some of the restoration myself, but at the same time, I don't want it to become an absolute money pit and cost me a year's salary before I can ever use it (I already have a boat that serves that function all too well).

The Listing:
1966 airstream 28ft

The seller says it's a '66 Overlander 28 ft, but it should actually be a 26-ft, is that correct?

There are only 4 pics, but from what I can tell, the gaucho has been removed and the fore chamber is empty. The bathroom is in the rear, it has the twin beds, the kitchen sink and stove appear to be present (don't know if they are in working order), and I can't tell anything about any other appliances. The window over the kitchen sink seems to have some covering over it, so it might be broken?

The one exterior shot seems to show faded panels but no major damage, but no LPG tanks, which tells me the appliances might not have been used in a while.

The asking price is $2.5K (and this is the second time in two months it has been listed). It appears to be in "As Found" condition, so according to the Pricing guidelies that I was referred to on another thead over here (Price vs. Condition - Airstream Values), the Craiglist seller might be asking a bit too much (though obviously the guide is not absolute)?

So, I'm looking for some guidance on whether or not this is worth pursuing? From my research so far, the questions that I need to investigate by inspecting the trailer and asking the seller are:

1) Axles-- what shape are they in?
2) Flooring solid, or is there rot?
3) Interior appliances-- do they work, when was the last time they worked?
4) Plumbing -- same thing?
5) Electrical -- same thing?
6) Windows intact and in good working order?
7) Tires -- age and condition?
8) Wheels -- age, condition, when were bearings packed?
9) Awnings -- condition? (I see the support bars on the curb-side exterior shot)

Anything else?

Thanks in advance for your help!
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Old 02-18-2008, 03:56 PM   #2
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Hello, utee94.
Hard to tell looking at photos. I've been out to their lot out there on 71 several times (not too far outside of Bastrop on your way back to Austin - north side of 71, keep your eyes peeled for the silver).

Kind of a "different" place... sometimes they have a fairly good selection of 60-90's models, then a week or two later, the inventory is all gone. They will let you look 'em all over. There's a couple that lives onsite in a trailer... On a few, I've seen how creative some people can get with a can of silver spray paint. Fortunately, paint doesn't cover pits and corrosion well. Of the "vintage" trailers I've looked at there, there were a very few that seemed to be in "good" shape. Others would need ALOT of work to make nice and roadworthy. But that's what it is and from your posts, something it appears you're willing to take on.

When you do finally get your 'Stream, make sure and post pics of your restoration process, The forums folks are hooked on pics and love watching the progress. You can also get answers to any question you might have.

BTW, on any repairs, service work, etc., etc., stay away from CamperclinicII in Kyle/Buda. PM me for specifics.

Looks like the ranks of Austin 'Streamers continues to grow!
Bill
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Old 02-18-2008, 04:03 PM   #3
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Those are all good questions but don't take the answers at face value. Nearly all sellers say the axles and floor are good and that there are no leaks but these are almost alway not true.

The sink covers are suppose to be there. The toilet strangely looks like a non-RV unit. There is a phone number in the ad. Give them a call and go see the trailer. Take an ice pick or similar and use it to poke thru the floor where it intersects the inside wall. Do this everywhere you can reach... even in the closets. Take a big flashlight and look in and under everything. Open and close every door and every window. If you are very thorough and make a list of everything it needs you will be able get a good enough idea of what you are looking at.

One other suggestion, do an advanced search of the member list for other members in Austin. Send PMs to the ones with a similar year trailers and see if you can make a new friend. Ask them to go with you to look at it. Two sets of eyes are better than one and you will also get another perspective on what is a good deal.

Good Luck!
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Old 02-18-2008, 05:01 PM   #4
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Take it from a person who has bought 4 vintage airstreams 1975 and older. All of these trailers have leaks and at least some floor rot. It may be tucked under some place that isn't easy to access, or covered up with new pergo flooring, but it IS there.

Take it slow, and look closely. Take an icepick with you and poke around the perimeter, and under the cabinets.

Good Luck,

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Old 02-18-2008, 07:30 PM   #5
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From an old post

I can't find his original post, but Overlander64's advice on evaluation a vintage coach seemed so complete that I copied it into my personal Airstream notes. So here's a cut & paste version:


-- basically, start at the bottom and work up. Among the things that I would suggest:
Inspection and Assessment
Axle condition -- the Dura-Torque axles have a tendency to either wear out or take a set due to inactivity that can prove disasterous to a coach. To assess the condition of your axles, check: Dura Torque Axle
If the axles check-out, the easiest method of servicing your brakes would be to purchase "fully-loaded" backing plates that essentially include new brake shoes as well as all related hardware. A search here on the Forums will return several discussions about these backing plates. I would also suggest having the drums resurfaced and matched to your new shoes -- I had this done on my Overlander and the difference was tremendous.
Again, if the axles check-out, the shocks are also usually candidates for replacement on most Vintage coaches.
Check the banana-wraps for evidence of punctures -- a puncture often indicates a problem with one of the steel outriggers -- pay particular attention to areas near heavy appliances such as the refrigerator, water heater and water tank. Outriggers are generally easily replaced.
Examine the frame for evidence of excessive rust -- an unscientific method is to use a rubber mallet to tap along frame rails while listening for rust particles vibrating on the belly skin -- about the only way to be certain is drop a portion of the belly skn for inspection.
LP Gas System -- this is an area where I would suggest professional help in testing the lines as well as the regulator for proper performance -- both of my coaches required new rubber hoses and regulators when this inspection was performed.
LP Gas Tanks -- it is still not uncommon to find Vintage coaches with tanks that have not been brought up to the OPD standard. If your tanks happen to be Worthing Aluminum, they are well worth the expense of new OPD valves and certification -- if they are older steel tanks, it may be more effective to replace with new tanks.
Water system -- check for the following:
Fresh water tank will need to be checked for leaks or other damage.
Water pump will need to be inspected and checked for operation -- if it is an original PAR pum, rebuild kits are available, and IMHO are well worth the expense and effort -- my PAR pumps have been far less troublesome than the newer pumps.
Water heater -- its burner performance should be part of the professional LP inspection, but it will also be necessay to verify that it is free of leaks -- pin-hole leaks are probably among the most troubling of the mystery leaks that result in visible moisture where the source seems to be invisible.
Water lines -- inspect for evidence of freeze damage as well as leaks.
Faucets and fixtures -- Airstream typically utilized high quality household type faucets, and rebuild kits can often be sourced from your local plumbing supply.
Electrical can be divided into 12-volt-DC and 120-volt-AC.
The Univolt is the coare of the 12-volt side, and it is a component that often requires replacement. This device converts incoming 120-volt-AC into 12-volt-DC for use in the coach's DC system.
For most reliable performance, a battery needs to be in the Univolt system to help stabilize the current provided to the coach.
Many will replace an operable Univolt simply because they have a nasty habit of boiling the electrolyte in a battery drastically shortening its life.
The coach's shore power cord needs to be inspected for condition as well as the circuit breaker box for the 120-volt-AC power supply.
Major appliance inspection:
Air conditioner -- if the unit still has its original Armstrong Bay Breeze air conditioner, it may be worth repairing if it isn't currently operational -- these units have the reputation of being much better built than what is currently available -- I just wish that I could have found a tech willing to repair my original Bay Breeze on the Overlander as it was so much better at its job than the new replacement.
Refrigerator -- the Dometic RV refrigerators can be expected to last for several decades with proper care and the necessary attention to leveling the coach when parked to insure that the refrigerator is operating as near level as possible. In the era of your coach, the refrigerator should have the ability to operate on LP Gas as well as 120-volt-AC. The LP Gas side of the equation should be part of the professional LP inspection, but the electrical inspecion often needs to be performed separately.
Range/oven tends to be a very personal decision -- many will opt for new while others will try to restore the original.
Windows, doors -- weatherstripping usually needs to be replaced to insure leak-free windows.
The plumbing vents that penetrate the roof often need to have their gaskets and weatherproofing seals replaced.
Holding tank and valves -- the blackwater tank is usually quite durable, but may be subject to damage from freezing. Often, the dump valve will need to either be rebuilt or replaced -- be aware that Airstream typically utilized Thetford valves rather than the more common Valterra valves.
Rear end separation -- while often more common on longer coaches, it is not uncommon to find it on an Overlander -- mine suffered from it as a result of a rear bumper mounted spare tire carrier added by a previous owner. A search of the form for this topic will provide several threads where identification and repair of the problem are discussed.
Frame sag or droop, again is a problem associated with the larger coaches, but still may be found on an Overlander. There are a number of indicators, and a search for this topic on the Forum will return a number of threads discussing identification and repair of this problem.
Floor -- the floor typically has some damage on most vintage coaches. If you are lucky, the biggest problem will be soft spots that can be repaired with synthetic consolidants. Patching or replacing floor panels can be quite an undertaking. The places most prone to problems are near the entry door as well as exterior access hatches, in the vicinity of the rear bath, in the vicinity of the fresh water tank and/or water heater, and in some coaches in the vicinity of the refrigerator. An ice pick or sharp awl can be useful in probing the edges of the floor nearest the outside wall for evidence of damage -- the areas nearest windows can be among the more suspect areas.
Beyond the mechanical systems, most of the decisions are aesthetic in nature, dealing with cabinetry refurbishment/replacement, and soft-goods replacement.
Good luck with your inspection! With an inspection completed, you can more precisely budget your available time and funds for your refurbishment.
Kevin
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Good luck, UTee. Don't hesitate to take as much time as you need. You are the customer and you need to be satisfied that your cash outlay is appropriate for the merchandise.
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Old 02-18-2008, 07:36 PM   #6
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Or you can just realize that it WILL need it all and just plan on it.

It WILL leak,
it WILL have frame issues,
it WILL have rotted wood,
you WILL have more work than you ever would imagine,
it WILL cost more than you could ever imagine,
and it WILL be VERY rewarding.
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Old 02-19-2008, 09:56 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaxon
Hello, utee94.
Hard to tell looking at photos. I've been out to their lot out there on 71 several times (not too far outside of Bastrop on your way back to Austin - north side of 71, keep your eyes peeled for the silver).

Kind of a "different" place... sometimes they have a fairly good selection of 60-90's models, then a week or two later, the inventory is all gone. They will let you look 'em all over. There's a couple that lives onsite in a trailer... On a few, I've seen how creative some people can get with a can of silver spray paint. Fortunately, paint doesn't cover pits and corrosion well. Of the "vintage" trailers I've looked at there, there were a very few that seemed to be in "good" shape. Others would need ALOT of work to make nice and roadworthy. But that's what it is and from your posts, something it appears you're willing to take on.

When you do finally get your 'Stream, make sure and post pics of your restoration process, The forums folks are hooked on pics and love watching the progress. You can also get answers to any question you might have.

BTW, on any repairs, service work, etc., etc., stay away from CamperclinicII in Kyle/Buda. PM me for specifics.

Looks like the ranks of Austin 'Streamers continues to grow!
Bill
Thanks Bill, it's nice to know there are already some helpful 'Streamers right here in Austin.

And many thanks to everyone else for your input. Overlander64's detailed outline looks to be thorough, which is definitely what I need, so thanks to Sugarfoot for retaining it and copy/pasting.

I'm certainly not averse to working hard on a restoration project, and I'd like to get into a vintage AS as inexpensively as I can for now, knowing that there will likely be a LOT of repairs necessary that I can budget (both my time and money) out over a longer period of time.

62Overlander's point is well-taken-- I have no illusions that I'm going to stumble over a pristine trailer that's been owned and perfectly maintained by a "little old lady" for the past 40 years (this actually happened for me on a car, but trailers are entirely different animals).

What I'd like to avoid (if at all possible), is buying a $2K trailer and finding out I need to put $8K into it just to make it useable, when there's a $6K trailer out there that's in much better shape, would be more immediately useable, and would ultimately cost me less money. I might be dreaming about that, too, but it will be a fun adventure regardless.

Thanks again to all of you for your help and input.
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Old 02-19-2008, 10:22 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by utee94
What I'd like to avoid (if at all possible), is buying a $2K trailer and finding out I need to put $8K into it just to make it useable, when there's a $6K trailer out there that's in much better shape, would be more immediately useable, and would ultimately cost me less money.
My thought on this is that you could easily spend $6000 on a trailer that needs $6000 in hidden repairs. Unless you can find one that has been documented to have been repaired correctly, with pictures to prove it, you can assume that it WILL need axles, floor repairs, plumbing refurb, etc. I think you would be better off buying the $2000 trailer knowing that you will have to spend the additional money anyway. It seems to me that people buying a vintage trailer are doing it becuase they are looking for a project and hope to have something better than a new Airstream when they finished. That's what I have done. My trailer needs a lot of work, but I'm planning to repair the rear floor and frame this spring, use the trailer over the summer to camp while doing a "rolling refurbishment", then do the front floor next winter spring, and continue to camp while I continue to refurb the unit next summer.

I picked up my Airstream a month ago for $2900. The belly pan was off, so I was able to crawl underneath and get a very good idea of what I was buying. Check out my blog 1961 Airstream Restoration to get an idea of what I'm doing.
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Old 02-19-2008, 10:55 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoverOwner
I think you would be better off buying the $2000 trailer knowing that you will have to spend the additional money anyway.
This is my opinion too.

For these longer trailers, I would say that the $6000-8000 price range is likely going to yield you the worst deal, unless you can document the satisfactory function of all the mechanicals, determine that the floor is structuraly stable as-is and verify that none of the end cap panels are dented.

utee94,
Regarding your two senarios, a $6000 trailer may be closer to immediately usable, but it's likely you will still need to spend the same $8000 on it that you would spend on the $2000 trailer.
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Old 02-19-2008, 12:42 PM   #10
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RoverOwner and byamcaravanner--

Thanks for the input, it makes sense, and was exactly the kind of information I was hoping you veteran 'Streamers would be able to tell me.


I work fairly close to the seller's lot, so I think I'll go out and poke around tomorrow just to see what I can see. From what Jaxon said, and from other Craiglist postings, I think the seller often has multiple coaches at any given time.

My checklist:

1) Icepick
2) Flashlight
3) Gloves (I'm guessing it'll be pretty dirty)
4) Anything else...?

Thanks again for all of your help.
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Old 02-19-2008, 12:52 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoverOwner
I picked up my Airstream a month ago for $2900. The belly pan was off, so I was able to crawl underneath and get a very good idea of what I was buying. Check out my blog 1961 Airstream Restoration to get an idea of what I'm doing.
By the way, I looked at your blog and it seems like you got a great deal on a nice rig. Best of luck on the restoration. Hopefully you'll get some decent weather in the near future to help you along.
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Old 02-19-2008, 01:07 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by utee94
My checklist:
1) Icepick
2) Flashlight
3) Gloves (I'm guessing it'll be pretty dirty)
4) Anything else...?
Tape measure, Digital camera, Paper & pencil... Checkbook

Good Luck!
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Old 02-19-2008, 03:54 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by byamcaravanner
Tape measure, Digital camera, Paper & pencil... Checkbook Good Luck!
Oh yeah, especially the digital camera and take LOTS of pix from every angle. Good to go back and look through at your leisure back home. Make a "plus & minus" list of what you see/need with each trailer.

Most of all, take your time and don't feel like you've got to get one "right now". There will always be another one...

Unless of course, you find the vintage one grandma slept in only on sundays while parked in her climate-controlled garage, for $5K...
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Old 02-24-2008, 10:45 AM   #14
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Well, I went out to the RV lot in Bastrop with my digital camera, ice pick, tape measure, and flashlight in hand. But, the Overlander had already been sold, so I never had a chance to determine its condition. They had 11 other Airstreams and a couple of SOB, so it was still a very educational trip for me, since I had the opportunity to see many various sizes, model years, floorplans, and states of (dis)repair. They had some gutted 60s models, and a couple of REALLY clean 80s models, but I'm still hoping for a 60s, or perhaps early 70s trailer.

Most of them were 30+ feet which is a bit longer than I'd like, but I did see one 1971 TW that I didn't feel was too small for my needs, aside from the tiny all-in-one bathroom. It had all of the gas/electric appliances intact and the saleswoman told me it was all in working order (of course ), but the interior and exterior were in average-to-poor condition, with one very large dent in the front top endcap, and a lot of subfloor rot around the perimeter at front, back, and right at the entry door. She has ~$8K as the listed price, and I think she'd be willing to go down to $6K or so, but it seems to me that given its condition, it's really more like a $2K-$3K trailer.

So, as many have pointed out, there will always be another one, and this one definitely isn't the one for me. Thanks again to everyone for your help and insights, and no doubt I'll be asking many more questions in the near future.
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