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Old 11-09-2007, 06:56 PM   #1
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1973 Airstream Value

Hi folks,
I am going to look at a 27 ft., 1973 Airstream travel trailer tomorrow. I have never owned a travel trailer and everything I do know is from reading this site.
I do not know the model of this trailer, forgot to ask, but the gentleman tells me it is in good condition and just needs cleaning up and some interior cosmetic work done on it. He claims there are absolutely no leaks, no corrosion and that everything works except the regrigerator. Seems it want work on gas but will on AC/DC. He had it advertised for $4500, but said he would sell for $3500.00.
I know I haven't given you a lot to go on, but was wondering if someone could give me a ballpark guess as to how much this trailer might go for. I'm going to look at it tomorrow and will take some photographs. Maybe that will help with your appraisal. I also forgot to ask about tires and axles, but I'll be sure to check that tomorrow. Thanks.
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Old 11-09-2007, 07:06 PM   #2
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You be sure to check the flooring under the carpet, for leak damages, and any signs of rear seperation, frame damage etc. If its in good shape with the usual redo needed you are certainly in a good price range, with room to sped some on restoration and improvement. The important stuff like axles, skin and frame damage, etc will tell the tale.
Hope to see you in an Airstream at our next Springstream in Ga Rally in Hiawassee, April 11!!
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Old 11-09-2007, 07:15 PM   #3
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Alan hit the big items, don't forget to check all the appliances. Furnace, water heater, refrigerator stove and AC. Take a good look at the floor where it connects to the shell at the rear of the unit. The 70's design was an invitation for water to enter from the rear bumper and rot out the floor. This often leads to rear sag. Take a look at this document. It's a little dated and the prices are all a little low.
Price vs. Condition - Airstream Values

Good luck...

BTW, 27 feet = Overlander
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Old 11-09-2007, 07:18 PM   #4
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that certainly is in a good price range, but i agree that you should look everything over carefully. also get on your back and slid under the bath section and if possible move the insulation so you can see for sure that the flooring is in tack and not rotted out. at that price you culd afford some but you dont want redo the whole section. we have a 25 foot tradewinds `73 model and have to repair some of ours but not to bad. be sure to check the water tanks for cracks and leaks. good luck hope to see ya aroud.
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Old 11-09-2007, 07:20 PM   #5
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If it's in good rolling condition, no significant dents, and is "livable" inside, it's worth about $4,000, plus or minus. If it hasn't been used for some time, what you find usually is freeze damaged pipes, brittle fabric--especially the drapes, bad water pump, rusted out heater, and water heater either perforated or just about to. But you also find working fridges and A/C, pretty good electrical wiring (but needs new converter and battery). What I have just described can be purchased for between $2,500 and $3,000.

The fridge is a big ticket item these days, about $1,200 new. It's also important to understand the condition of the A/C even if you don't intend to use it, since they are heavy and about $600 to replace.

If you find it to be livable but no fridge, it's in the $3,000 range.

Joe
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Old 11-09-2007, 07:35 PM   #6
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I just called to get directions to his house and while talking with him some more, found out there is a sizeable (basketball size) dent in the rear of the trailer (not sure where). He said that although it is dented from where someone backed into something, it does not leak at all. That has definitely got me to thinking twice about buying it now, but...guess it want hurt to go take a look.
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Old 11-09-2007, 08:02 PM   #7
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How to inspect

In my experience, here's what you're faced with if the interior is otherwise reasonably clean and livable:

1. You can't check the tanks in a short visit. This is potentially the biggest issue in a vintage trailer. If you have time, fill both tanks (stick a hose in the toilet until the water is within an inch of the bottom of the toilet) and look for leaks out of the belly.

2. Hook the trailer up to city water and see if the pipes are OK.

3. Now that the fresh tank is full (from step 1 above), disconnect from city water, open a tap to dump pressure, then turn on the pump and see if it primes itself and pumps from the fresh tank.

4. Plug in to power and try the A/C.

5. Check the lights on shore power and on battery.

6. Look for rear end separation. Other threads describe this.

7. Estimate whether you can fix any dents or live with them. Body putty doesn't work on Airstreams, so you can't really pull dents from outside. To get at them from inside requires removal of inside skin, which is a big job.

8. Hook up to a tow vehicle and check the running lights and all functions of the tail lights.

9. Turn on all the stove burners. Light the oven pilot and see if the oven will light and control temperature (simple check to see if you set it at a low temperature and it turns on, then turns off in a minue or two)

10. If you pass all the above to your satisfaction, here's what you face if the trailer hasn't been updated:

a. New tires, $500
b. Probably new axles eventually (you need them now, but you'll wait until the trailer MAKES you get them), two at $375 each
c. remove carpet and figure out what kind of flooring you want, Pergo at $150
d. refurbish the brakes (just buy new brake plates for $55, it's the best way to get the latest magnets, etc.), $240
e. New water pump, $95
f. New radio, $125
g. You'd think new shocks, but not important according to many members
h. New water heater, $300
i. New heater, $550 (not required, in my opinion)
j. 50/50 chance you'll need a new A/C unit, $600

11. So, for $3,000 above the purchase price, you'll have a nearly new performing Airstream. If you bought it off the showroom it would cost you $45,000.

12. One more thing. In your case, new fridge, $1200. However, if it works on AC power, then you maybe able to clean the burner with compressed air or maybe replace the gas valve for an inexpensive 100% repair. Usually it's the other way around, they work on propane but not on AC--the heating element is burned out. Replace for $75. Sometimes they don't work on either, due to dirty burner and burned out electric heater, but the amonia system is still good, so be careful not to throw away a working system. In my experience (4 vintage Airstreams) the fridges always worked on propane (one required a good blast of air).

13. Did I forget to mention polishing? Polisher(s) $300, polish $150 (no kidding), and 2,000 hours of elbow grease.

But it's all rewarding. Remember, it's the journey, not the destination, or so they say.

Zep
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Old 11-09-2007, 08:16 PM   #8
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That trailer is probably an Overlander. I'm particularly interested in the type of air conditioner on top of and the age of the ac unit. The door handle also. I may have seen this trailer being serviced a few months back. Is it located near you?

As others have said, floor rot is a really big issue in this era Airstream. Be sure to check the floor around the back as others have said. Also check around the radius areas in the front of the camper (to the right of the door and directly across from there on the roadside). Also check around the wheel wells and the water heater for floor rot. Stand on the back bumper and see if the bumper separates slightly from the shell. There are several threads on inspecting an old Airstream, lots of good advice in them.

$3500 sounds reasonable to me, providing most things work.

Just my 2 cents. And welcome to the forum.

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Old 11-09-2007, 09:45 PM   #9
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Hey Jim, yes the trailer is near me, but I don't think this guy has had it in for any kind of service. The owner bought the trailer about two or three years ago. It was filthy, but in relative good condition otherwise. He has been doing the cleaning up and other minor fix ups himself. He has another airstream and with his work just doesn't have the time to put into this one. I'm not sure about the brand of a/c, but he said it would run you out of the trailer it was so cold. We are going to hook it up to water tomorrow and check out plumbing. He did mention that the pipes had been changed to PVC. I don't know if this is good or bad and I wonder if others have done the same at some point in time. I would think copper pipes would be best. Hopefully I'll know much more tomorrow. Thanks.
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Old 11-09-2007, 10:04 PM   #10
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Well good luck, and let us know how the inspection goes tomorrow. Don't forget pictures. We love to see other folks new "finds"!

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Old 11-09-2007, 11:20 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TimeOut
... We are going to hook it up to water tomorrow and check out plumbing. He did mention that the pipes had been changed to PVC. I don't know if this is good or bad and I wonder if others have done the same at some point in time. I would think copper pipes would be best. ...
Copper is not good. Too many nooks and crannies near the outer shell walls where pipes can freeze. Use PEX. Very reliable and withstands the expansion of freezing water. Not cool like copper, but you don't lie awake at night wondering if your pipes are breaking.

Joe
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Old 11-10-2007, 06:34 AM   #12
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I have a 73 27ft overlander I may have paid to much mine is in good cond. everything works had a couple busted pipes (copper) fixed them refig. only works on propane but thats ok I could fix it but what the heck. I paid in the 4500. range...
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Old 11-10-2007, 08:48 PM   #13
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So, any updates?
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Old 11-10-2007, 09:02 PM   #14
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No, sorry. I had to postpone until tomorrow. Had to take some stuff to my daughters dorm room up in Atlanta and didn't get finished in time. Days are so short now.
I also just spotted another one in Henry Co. (aren't you guys close to there?). Its a 1973, 31 ft., Electra 500 model. Is that correct, "Electra"?
Guy wants 4000. Called and left a message. We'll see.
Would the 31 foots be that much harder to pull than the 27 footers?
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