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Old 07-17-2012, 06:12 PM   #1
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1961 Airsteam International Overlander

A friend of mine is getting rid of his 1961 Airsteam International Overlander. It has been cosmetically restored pretty thoroughly. He has used it for close to ten years as a hangout spot in his back yard - it is sitting on a concrete pad and seldom moves. He recently had it towed to a storage facility (he sold this house, the new house doesn't have room for it). It has been replumbed with copper. I haven't seen it since it's moved, and frankly never looked at it with an eye that I might own it.

He paid $13k a long time ago, he wants between $10k and $12k, but said he would sell it to me for $8k (we are pretty good friends and he is pretty anxious to get rid of it).

Knowing this (which is to say very little) and without pictures, what do you think it's worth?
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Old 07-17-2012, 07:04 PM   #2
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If it has no frame rot..Doesnt need anything major and you are happy with the overall unit that could be a fair price. Pictures would tell the real story though
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Old 07-17-2012, 07:25 PM   #3
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1961 Airsteam International Overlander

Greetings photomikey!

Welcome to the Forums and the world of Vintage Airstreams!

Quote:
Originally Posted by photomikey View Post
A friend of mine is getting rid of his 1961 Airsteam International Overlander. It has been cosmetically restored pretty thoroughly. He has used it for close to ten years as a hangout spot in his back yard - it is sitting on a concrete pad and seldom moves. He recently had it towed to a storage facility (he sold this house, the new house doesn't have room for it). It has been replumbed with copper. I haven't seen it since it's moved, and frankly never looked at it with an eye that I might own it.

He paid $13k a long time ago, he wants between $10k and $12k, but said he would sell it to me for $8k (we are pretty good friends and he is pretty anxious to get rid of it).

Knowing this (which is to say very little) and without pictures, what do you think it's worth?
In the overall scheme of things, the exterior cosmetics are among the lesser considerations when looking at a Vintage Airstream that hasn't received a total restoration/renovation - - the exterior cosmetic restoration was the last item takcled on my Overlander so that it would be pristine when the coach hit the road. The foundation, running gear, frame, and floor need be totally sound before the exterior polish becomes important . . . floor and/or frame work is costly as well as time consuming. While this coach served as a "lawn ornament", I suspect that the water heater, furnace, water pump, and Dometic refrigerator likely have not had regular exercise and one or more is likely to require replacement. A new water heater or furnace would cost about $750 each, the water pump would be the least costly at around $300 for an OEM type PAR pump, and a new Dometic or Norcold refrigerator will run between $1,000 and $1,200.

The running gear would also be suspect due to its lack of exercise. I believe that 1961 was the first year for Henschen DuraTorque axles so the rubber rods have likely taken a set and frozen in place which would result in no spring action and a very rough ride for the trailer. The drum brake hardware (springs, adjusters, etc.) may have rusted to the point of breaking at the most inopportune time so a brake overhaul may be necessary even if the shoes aren't totally worn out. As long as the coach sat unused, I would also be concerned whether the tow (even a short distance) to the storage lot might have caused damage to the bearings and/or spindles . . . . as long as the coach sat unused, the wheel bearings should have been repacked before moving (I learned this on my collector car the hard way . . . it sat in storage up on blocks for five years, put it down on its wheels this spring and within five miles the bearings in both front wheels had failed due to lack of proper lubrication).

Before any kind of premium price for this coach could be established, much more information would be required. Areas of concern beyond the above issues would be:
  • Condition of the frame and floor. The frame isn't as likely to fust when in the dry climate of California unless the coach has spent a number of years near the ocean. The floor would be suspect in a coach with a history of sitting for many years in the Midwest, but again, the dry climate of California may have prevented or lessend the potential for floor damage. The floor should be inspected around the perimeter with a sharp awl or ice pick for evidence of soft or rotted spots . . . some rot can be repaired, but if it is wide-spread, floor replacement can be required which is both time consuming as well as expensive.
  • Checking the condition of the upholstery as well as the foam the lies beneath the slip covers is another important part of determining the value of a Vintage coach that is carrying a premium price. In my opinion, on a coach of this price range should have good to very good upholstered goods in addition to quality draperies throughout. A complete replacement of softgoods was over $4,000 in my Overlander more than six years ago.
  • At this price point, I would expect the cabinets in presentable condition needing little more than a thorough oiling and a few minor repairs. It takes patience and an understanding of wood grains and color matching if any of the cabinetry needs to be replaced. The refrigerator cabinet had to be rebuilt in my coach, and I had a cabinet maker who handled the rebuild . . . it is impossible to readily identify that the refrigerator cabinet was new in 2003 or 2004.
  • Bathroom fixtures should be serviceable but showing some wear. Refinishing the bathroom fixtures is a viable option with a cost somehwre between $750 and $1,500 depending upon the vendor selected. I lucked out on my Overlander as a friend in a vintage car club was a professional bathroom refinisher and he did a complete respray of my bathroom for $750 . . . this was his first Airstream, and he indicated if he were to write a contract for another such bathroom he would charge closer to $1,000 as he found the need to use three different primer/sealers based upon the three different materials in my Overlander's bathroom (ABS plastic, Fiberglass, and Formica).
  • The floor covering should be clean and serviceable at this price point (IMHO). Should the floor covering be original square tiles asbestos content would be highly suspect (most 9" x 9" tiles of this vintage contain asbestos), and you would need to anticipate what you would want to do when you are ready for new floor coverings . . . install orver the existing tiles or remove the old tiles with the asbestos precautions required for that product.
  • The LP tanks are probably missing or of an age where they will need to be recertified with new OPD valves installed. The coach would likely have had aluminum tanks when it was new and if these are still present the upgrade and recertification would be well-worth the cost if, however, the tanks are steel it may be cheaper to purchase new tanks of your choice. Again, at this price point the coach should at least have a pair of serviceable LP tanks (IMHO).
  • The coach will also likely need new window, door, and compartment gaskets unless they have been recently replaced. It amazed me how quickly the seals and gaskets deteriorated on my Overlander even with regular treatment with ArmorAll.
  • The tires will likely need to be replaced if they didn't need to be replaced prior to the trip to the storage facility. The rims will also likely be split rim which will also require replacement as most tire dealers refuse to service these style rims today. It is hard to make an estimate for cost of wheels and tires . . . my guess would be between $750 and $1,250.
Much more needs to be known about the coach. I am not trying to disuade you from considering the coach, rather, I am trying to provide some of the areas that should be in good or better condition for a coach at the proposed price point. I overpaid when I purchased my Overlander in 1995, but I have no regrets as I have the exact coach that I wanted and it has become a member of the family.

Good luck with your investigation and decision!

Kevin
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Old 07-17-2012, 08:31 PM   #4
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We should gather Kevin's replies to questions like this and make a FAQ. They are too good to lose in the sea of bits on this forum.
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Old 07-18-2012, 12:11 PM   #5
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Kevin, what a tremendous response, thank you for all of that info to consider. I will be looking at the trailer on Tuesday and will let you all know what comes of it.
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Old 07-27-2012, 01:50 AM   #6
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I went to see it yesterday. It was twilight and the light was fading fast. Because of this, I didn't take any pictures.

Going down Kevin's list...

There is a significant dent on one of the corner panels on the front (the end with the tow hitch). By significant, I mean the size of a basketball (or larger), and irregular. It is not particularly deep - it does bump against the interior skin, but you can't see it unless you're rubbing your hand against the interior and looking for it. It occurred to me while I was looking at it that this is not the kind of thing you can bondo over and sand down. Do you drill the rivets out and replace the whole panel? How much would that cost?

The floor felt solid throughout. I gave it a good bounce near the door, and pressed (hard) with my fingers - no soft spots. I did not feel comfortable attacking my buddy's flooring with an icepick. :-) He states it has never leaked to his knowledge.

Checked for rust in, out, and under, didn't see any. No rust on the frame connected to the hitch.

Mattresses have been replaced in the last 5 years, they feel solid and comfy.

Dining upholstery is in good or great condition, this may be aftermarket stuff, it looks new or near-new (but is done in a 60's fabric). Curtains are in good shape, some are vintage-look and some are ugly, it's about 50/50.

All the window locks work. Missing half or more of the window cranks. Window cranks on the front and back seem to work okay, the windows over the beds don't have cranks. Are these replaceable, and are they expensive?

I did not feel any of the cabinetry needed replaced, although a good cleaning may be in order.

I don't recall if he said the furnace worked, it is OE, it looked old and beat up (but then again there's not much to a propane furnace outside gas and fire, it can be pretty beat up and still work fine).

Looks like the whole coach has been re-floored with 12x12 peel-and-stick. I don't know if this is a contradiction in terms, but it seemed to be quality peel-and-stick, not the stuff you see in public housing projects.

Two LP tanks and two batteries included. One battery had been disconnected, I'm not sure why. It appeared to be sitting backwards in its housing, the short black wire that was grounded to the frame was sitting (disconnected) nearest the + terminal, and the longer red wire was nearest the - terminal. I asked if it was backwards and he indicated no.

The water heater was new when he bought it, he has never used it, it looks brand new, I am assuming it works.

The fridge is ~5 years old, aftermarket, but nice, woodgrain, fits with the theme.

The A/C works and blows cold.

He has jack stands attached to the frame under the coach, 2 in the front and 2 in the rear (in addition to the 4 wheels), it is quite stable.

The plumbing has been re-piped with copper. I live in San Diego where it doesn't freeze, and I don't anticipate towing this baby anywhere a freeze will occur.

A 1/4" copper valve was added under the trailer to allow for depressurization of the water system when it was replumbed. At some point while depressurizing, my buddy snapped off this valve, and now the whole water system won't work (because it all drains out this broken pipe, where the valve was). Fixing the copper is not an issue, it is relatively easy to get to, although soldering in such a tight spot will be a PITA. But the water system hasn't been pressurized in a few years. Anything bad that could come of this?

The blackwater tank (under the toilet) had a valve on it that you would pull (from the outside) to release the dirty water. It looks like it got yanked on extra hard, and the entire assembly came off. Now there is just a hole back there, nothing to keep your blackwater from draining straight to the ground. (When you push the lever to flush the toilet, you see the ground.) Would one repair this? Do I have to replace the whole tank? Is that even possible?

Any comments, plus comments on the overall value of the trailer would be of help here. Thank you all for so much assistance so far.
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Old 07-27-2012, 08:40 AM   #7
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Definitely NOT worth 8000. You would be asking for major trouble and a financial pit. Reading your posts here I gather that it would do you a great deal of benefit to study thru these forums...read up on projects....talk with some people who have been thru it all.
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Old 07-27-2012, 12:20 PM   #8
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8000-12000 buys a pretty nicely maintained or restored 60s Overlander.. more for one that is customized or exceptional, and progressively less for one that needs stuff done.
Without photos the above sounds like 5-6000. Under 5000 usually need a lot.
But if you are doing the work yourself, and can be patient you can turn 5000 into 9 or 10000 in awhile. Of course this is all my opinion based on my experience in the Southeast.
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Old 07-29-2012, 10:43 PM   #9
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Looks like we have a handshake deal to buy it for $6k. I feel like it's a fair price, and so does he. Thank you all for your help.
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Old 08-02-2012, 05:56 PM   #10
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Now that's what I'm talkin about.! Good luck and happy streaming.
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