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Old 04-06-2008, 01:06 PM   #1
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Peachland , BC
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 5
1973 Excella 500 31 Ft

This is a great site and forum -- chock full of useful and helpful information. Thanks to all who contribute!

I've had an eye out for a vintage Airstream for a few months now, and checked out a couple of offerings in this area (British Columbia). Because I have very little experience in this field, I'm a little leery of the possible traps that buying something this old can bring.

Here's about the best I've been able to find locally. It's a 1973 31 ft Excella 500. The owner claims it's substantially original, and the pictures seem to bear that out. He's asking $7,500.

I've read very good advice in some of the other threads about checking out the trailer (and I'll try to find someone in the area who can do this professionally), but I'd really be interested in hearing comments from forum members after they see the pictures, and maybe some of the things to watch for in this model and this vintage. Is there anything obvious I should know about and check out?

Cheers!
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Old 04-06-2008, 01:19 PM   #2
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1993 21' Sovereign
Colfax , North Carolina
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 20,193
Hi, welcome to the forums.
I'll give you a quick critique, based on what I see, and what I've seen:
First, the trailer has a Carefree/A&E main awning, most came with a Zip-Dee. The Carefree is quite a bit cheaper to buy, but if it needs parts, some may no longer be available, as they are Airstream-specific.
Most 1973 model trailers had no grey tanks, if this is one of the few that has one, it is only about a 10 gallon tank.
The trailer is sitting very low, you will probably be looking at getting new axles for it soon.
The front rock guard is smashed, and will need a new insert at least.
It needs new curtains throughout.
The body looks straight, and the windows look in good shape.
The air conditioner and fridge look like the originals, if they work now, they may fail soon. Or they may last years.
How old are the tires? There are date codes on them, and it may be significantly different from the date they were installed.

Back in the good old days when I knew how much a dollar was worth, I'd say it was a lot of money for a trailer that age, and in that condition. We paid less than $3000 (us) for ours, and have had to replace everything it looks like that trailer needs. We did get a good deal on ours, but you should be able to find one in the condition of that one for less than what they want for the one you found.
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Old 04-06-2008, 01:51 PM   #3
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Corona , California
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Condition.

I think that price is about $2500.00, at least.

The rockguard is original has was sort of not good when new.
Repairing it would not be wise, since it still would be flimsy.

I agree with Terry's observations.

In addition, the Reefer needs gaskets. The ceiling lights are white, not yellow as that coach has. The TV antenna is electric. There are no parts available to repair it.

There is some kind of damage to the right rear corner, or was, and improperly installed.

There is some metal damage.

I would suggest that you check the window gaskets, the entrance door gaskets, the access compartment gaskets, and especially the sewer vent pipe cover gaskets.

The axles appear to have gone south.

Andy
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Old 04-06-2008, 02:01 PM   #4
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Roblin , MB.
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Hello from Manitoba,

Looked at your pictures you have posted and have a few comments.
The outside skin looks really good - possibly the coach was stored inside?
The front window rock guard is toast but you can purchase them new.
The drapery and upholstery look good in pictures but would need close up inspection.
I notice that wood parquet flooring has been installed and that is good if it was done properly.
The rear bedroom is pretty rare and a bonus if you like that.
Major things you need to look at and expensive to replace are; axels, brakes and bearings, tires, leaks and rotted floors, plumbing (has it been froze up at some time) holding tanks, water tank, air conditioner, fridge, window and door seals, awning material, Univolt (the 12 volt converter) - the original ones make good boat anchors, battery, has the date stamp on the propane tank expired.
Don't be surprised if a forum member from B.C. doesn't reply to your post with advice and possibly an offer to do an inspection for you. You will find that forum members have so much information that they are more than willing to share. Learn how to use the search feature on this forum as there is a wealth of information on there and if something has ever broke or been replaced you can read about it.
As far as the price being asked is concerned - I personally don't think it's out of the way and that is only an opinion on my part - but you should be checking out the major things I have mentioned because if you have to start replacing them the cost can add up very quickly.
Another thing, does an equalizer hitch come with the unit as that is another major expense if you have to purchase one?
Do you presently own a tow vehicle that will handle this size of a trailer?
We purchased a '74 Sovereign 31' last year and I was very fortunate in that a forum member from Winnipeg was able to do a very close and professional inspection for us.
Something else to consider is if you were able to purchase something close to home you would not have big transportation charges and well worth considering as you kick around the asking price.
Good luck to you and if you haven't caught aluminitus yet - you soon will.
If this unit doesn't work out for you don't dispair the right one will show up at some point.

Bob
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Old 04-06-2008, 04:31 PM   #5
silverbullit
 
1964 30' Sovereign
calgary , alberta
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 1
73 Excella

I just happened to notice the threads on this trailer,Having owned this exact model and year,take notice of the black moss around the edges....I come from the lower mainland of Vancouver,and u have to watch for mold or mildew in trailers.If it has not been stored correctly for the winter,look out....Its quite original inside almost to the wall paper,as for price,for a Canadian airstream it is a little over price.I totally agree on the person who commented on the Awning,can't get parts for it anymore and a real pain to open....But on the good side,if ur lookin to restore,this is an excellent candidate,i have done 6 Airstreams....I've never had any problems getting parts shipped to Canada,i'm always in the states somewhere that has obsolete parts for sale...If this is about to be your first Airstream,good luck.....its definitely the way of life...
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Old 04-06-2008, 11:33 PM   #6
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Peachland , BC
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Great Feedback

I'm even more impressed by this board now. Talk about (almost) instant gratification.

The comments are all very useful. I've since done more research on my own as well, and I can see that this one could possibly take thousands more in parts and work to get it up to the standard that I would require for my purposes.

From my point of view, I'd rather pay more for a well-done restoration job than to have to go in to re-do someone else's work. However, these trailers don't seem to pop up much on the classified sites.

In today's 'net travels, I've come across a few other interesting ones in the general area -- 1984 Airstream Sovereign , 1965 international airstream , and this older beaut 1966 Streamline 25' Trailer - Vintage . All needing work to some degree or another.

I would still be interested in a) someone who can check out the originally mentioned 1973 model and give me an assessment (for pay, naturally), and b) some recommendations for a trailer that more closely fits my specs mentioned above.

Cheers!
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Old 04-07-2008, 08:17 AM   #7
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Roblin , MB.
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Hello from Manitoba once again!

There is a chance that after you do a full and proper inspection of thr '73 that there might not be all that wrong with it.
No doubt the replies you have received to your inquiry have painted worse case scenerios and that is because we don't want you to get into something you would regret later on.

According to Andy @ Inland the axels are shot and you could put that on your list of faults right away. I believe he determines this by looking at the space between the top of the tires and the wheelwells

Anyways - after a full inspection list all the faulty items and attempt to attach a $$$ figure to those items that you would need to replace.

There may be a chance that the seller might adjust his selling price to reflect the cost of necessary repairs. If not you may want to make the decision to walk away on the deal. No doubt there is someone out there who would pay the asking price and never consider the cost of having to do replacements and repairs.

In regards to the '73 not having a grey water holding tank you need to understand when you are parked you would have to transport the grey water in a blue tote tank to the dump. They come in various sizes and lots of folks have to rely on them. If you know you would always be connected to sewage service at campgrounds you would not have to worry.
At one time grey water would be allowed to trickle onto the ground or maybe down a gopher hole. Now with all the enviromental concerns regulations have been brought down to prevent this practice.

Bob
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Old 04-07-2008, 08:23 AM   #8
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Roblin , MB.
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Hi,

I forgot to mention that there is a list of forum members that have indicated they would be willing to do inspections and also what areas they would cover.
Try a search for inspections on the forum and it should show up for you. If not no doubt a forum member will respond with link to this information.

Bob
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Old 04-07-2008, 09:27 AM   #9
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1993 21' Sovereign
Colfax , North Carolina
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Here's a link to a virtually identical unit, but lots newer, for the same money:Airstream Trailer & Motorhome Classifieds - 1982 Airstream Excella 31' - Powered by PhotoPost Classifieds
The newer coach would likely not need axle work for many years, and already has quite a bit of the work mentioned done to it. In this case, I would look closely at the front credenza, as it isn't for everybody.
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Old 04-08-2008, 03:19 AM   #10
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Peachland , BC
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 5
1975 25' Trade Wind

Thanks for the follow-up comments; much appreciated.

My most recent contact in the area has provided these pictures of a classified offering.

The owner says that all is in working order, except "The front vent is currently in need of repair, i.e. the mechanism is faulty and is currently wired closed. Have not had time to repair."

Many items have been replaced, according to him. He's asking $11,800 for this trailer.

Opinions?

- Tilman




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Old 04-08-2008, 05:58 AM   #11
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1976 31' Sovereign
Currently Looking...
Chandler , Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
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Look here in the classifieds. Then see if a Forum member will go look at it for you. That Excella in post #9 looks good. This is where I got my "new" Sovereign, sight unseen, and have been very pleased with it. I certainly don't suggest buying a trailer without someone inspecting it; however, I got 107 pictures of mine before I bought it, about a third of them pointing out what the owner thought was wrong with it. I considered anyone that honest must be all right. I drove 1600 miles for the Sovereign in Michigan and 1800 to pick up my Argosy from El Paso, so don't limit youself to a trailer close to you if you can take some time off to go get the right one.
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Old 04-17-2008, 12:06 AM   #12
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Peachland , BC
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Pictures of 1975 25'

I just realized that my last posting's pics didn't show up for anyone else but me. I'll try again.

The owner's further answers to my detailed inquiries are:
No leaks on the exterior skin, it has been stored undercover and out of the sun. We are the third owners and as far as we know it has always been stored under cover.

No visible water damage as it has always been maintained and therefore nothing has had to be torn apart.

Plumbing has all been replaced in the last two years including last year new black and grey Thedford dump valves (original equipment) as well as new toilet seals also Thedford. Water heater works amazingly well and recovers within 15 minutes. Stove, furnace, air conditioning unit all serviced and in great working order. Fridge has had the cooling unit replaced by us and is propane and 110V (two way). The gauge sensors for the tanks could use a cleaning but this is typical of all these types of tanks and it just means that the gauges are not as accurate until cleaned. Water pump new in 2006, Tires, brakes, backing plates were all replaced last year so the running gear is in excellent condition. You could leave from here on a holiday, just add food! Propane tanks were replaced by us and are good until 2016. The front vent is currently in need of repair, i.e. the mechanism is faulty and is currently wired closed. Have not had time to repair.

Trailer is in excellent structural condition and is not the model or year that has the saggy back end.

Over all this Airstream has been cared for with the upholstery and curtains redone as well as marmoleum floor by us as the original carpet was not great for kids. All work was done to preserve as much of the overall feel of the era of the trailer.

I'm going to see this one in person over the weekend. Comments? Further questions I should ask?
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Old 04-17-2008, 11:33 AM   #13
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Peachland , BC
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Ah, too late for that last one -- it just sold.

Now on the hunt for something similar.
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Old 04-24-2008, 04:18 PM   #14
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1973 31' Excella 500
Marysville , Washington
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 219
I purchased my '73 excella 500 31' about three weeks ago for $1,100 US.
It's a center bath with 10 gal grey, and hose reels for power and water, yadda yadda yadda. The one you are looking at is in better shape ie mine does not have the couch cushions nor the decorative shrowd around the faucet (yet). This is where my user name of "Not Done" comes in handy. I was willing to pay the lower price in exchange for doing the work. Don't forget to check for water damage to the edges of the floor. Maybe that should be restated to read don't forget to check to see how badly the floor is damaged at the front, rear, and the door.
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