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Old 12-02-2006, 09:50 AM   #1
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Help before I bid !!!

Hi,

Ive been looking for an airstream for a while and have come across this one on e-bay -

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eB...7379014&rd=1,1

Im going to go look at in Tommorow (its about a 3 hour drive) It seems like a decent looking unit, and in a price range I can afford. I realise that it is a 30+ year old vehicle and will have flaws, but, I don't want something that is going to be a continual thorn in my side - I have a 1970 VW Bus to restore and countless other projects!

So... what should be the main things to look for?? I can't really check the sub - floor / frame as its all under wraps - any tell tale signs of rot/seperation. Should I test tow it? Check Gas/elec etc.. I am in construction so units etc are not too much concern for me - the body is - I know what you can get into if you don't get a decent body.

I do like the fact it has awnings etc - kind of leads me to thinking if someone is willing to put so much money into it, what he's dressing up can't be too bad! But ive seen some women that can't answer to that!

Thanks

James
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Old 12-02-2006, 10:24 AM   #2
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Hello James -- and welcome to the Forums! It is an excellent idea to personally inspect before considering a purchase. I'd take a good flashlife and pocketknife. Look under everything, behind the couch -- open all doors and pull out bins. You'll be able to actually find several areas of perimeter plywood floor -- I know I did when looking at a similar vintage Overlander. Look for any damp or softness. A musty smell inside is almost a certain indication of moisture problems with floors.

You can tell how far they've gone with maintenance if the window gaskets are soft and pliable -- not rocky hard. A common area for moisture invasion is the junction of the back bumper and rear shell.

Find out whether the new fridge is a small 110v unit or a true two-way (110v or propane). The new A/C & awnings are a plus. Vintage Airstream's Price vs. Condition webpage provides some idea of price range. Grey tanks weren't installed in Airstreams until 1973 (the '74 model year had them for instance).

I'd hope you've researched some asking prices in Classifieds here and at the VAC. I haven't followed any eBay options recently but there can be a surprising run-up on price at the very end. Unless considering the Buy-it-now there is absolutely no benefit in bidding until right before the auction closes. Have a top price and be satisfied with walking away if it goes crazy.

Best wishes -- and let us know how the inspection goes!
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Old 12-02-2006, 10:46 AM   #3
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Okay -- I looked at the full size pics. That does look like a two-way fridge. Just be aware that starting it up on LP can take a full day before it gets cold.

Surface or clearcoat issues are very normal with 10 year old Airstreams, especially if they've been kept out of doors. That shouldn't really affect the value of this unit.
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Old 12-02-2006, 11:06 AM   #4
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look for leaks

I am olny a "newbie" myself having just bought my first AS. But after looking at many I have two suggestions:

1. Take what the owner says regarding condition with a grain of salt. Sadly, almost all the ones I looked at where not in the condition that I was told they were in. Some people fudged, some were not aware of things, and some simply flat out lied. Just keep this in the back of your mind.

2. Assume some leaks. NONE of the units that I looked at were without leaks. Unless the owner tells you that he has checked for and found all leaks, caulked, replaced gaskets, ect assume you will have leaks somewhere. Use the knife (I used an ice pick) as suggested especially inside all cupboards and along inside floor (mine had about 2" of rotted floor in the rear just where Bob told you to check).

And best of luck!
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Old 12-02-2006, 12:30 PM   #5
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With a 70 trailer you should always check that the axels still have some downward angle to the trailing arms that the wheels are mounted to.
It's not the end of it but you should know if you need new axels before you buy.
I have seen bad axels on 87 trailers, it would depend a lot on former use and how far you want to pull the trailer when you use it. If it gets hooked up in a park and left, the axels don't matter much.
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Old 12-02-2006, 02:03 PM   #6
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thanks for the replies - Ill make sure to inspect as much as I can - I also checked the price guide link and it does seem to fall in the right price range... average condition, with the buy it now option on the high side. Ill check out that axel - what should i look for?? You mentioned that the fridge runs on LP, how does that work?? Would it be easy to test??

What would you reccomend me to do to perform a thorough inspection on the unit?? How does it look to you guys from the pics and the info that he has given??

Thanks Again

James
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Old 12-02-2006, 10:17 PM   #7
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It looks to me like the rear might have some sag to it. If you look down the belt line it appears to drop somewhat at the bathroom area. It is too hard to tell from the pictures. Other things that I noticed is the cabinet doors have been replaced or are missing. This is pretty typical of 70's trailers. The frig does look like an RV fridge. It is tough to say if the axels are worn, most likely they are. The pictures have lawn chairs in front of the wheels which makes it hard to see. The picture from the street side looks low. The picture of the CAT heater shows the vent below it blocked. this might mean that the unit does not have a furnace. The owner also states that the hitch (HA) can be bought, but is not part of the deal. He will want at least a grand for the hitch. They are the best you can buy and sell for almost 3 grand new.

My major concern would be for the sag issue. If it has sag / seperation you would have to put alot of time / money into it to repair it. It could even need frame repair. If the axels are worn, plan on 2 grand to replace them. These are big items and should be checked carefully before you make any offers.
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Old 12-02-2006, 11:02 PM   #8
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Thanks again for more of your help - Ill make sure to scrutinise everyhting y'all have said and try to be smart.. I cannot notice any sag in the rear section, but thanks for pointing it out... Im completely new to Airstreams and towable vehicles in general so all your knowledge is really helping me - im in no rush to get one - just want a good un..
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Old 12-03-2006, 12:59 AM   #9
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Jayk47,
Don't neglect taking the previous posts seriously. These guys on this forum know what they're talking about and have nothing to gain by giving out questionable advice.

As a fellow newbie, let me suggest that you pack a lunch for your inspection. Whatever you do, don't get in a hurry....and don't let the owner rush you. Allow plenty of time to get over the "romance" of finding a vintage in good shape. This one is 36 years old, so look beyond the make-up and find the blemishes. Some blemishes you will be able to live with, others (like tail sag, etc.) should make you run.

I like to find out all I can about the trailer's history. Talk to the owner, and get him/her to open up. Every Airstream owner loves to share the history of the trailer. Listen closely, read between the lines. The owner's gone the extra mile in some cases on this trailer. Find out exactly WHY he wants to sell it even though he's invested so much money in it recently. Rule of Thumb: An Airstream with a Buy-it-Now may have some skeletons in the closets.

Good luck! Let us know about your inspection!
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Old 12-03-2006, 03:53 AM   #10
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Rule of Thumb: An Airstream with a Buy-it-Now may have some skeletons in the closets.
I'm not trying to be argumentative, but I was wondering why you say this? I have never sold on ebay, I have purchased a few things. If I was selling an item and placed a buy it now price, I would make the Buy-it-now at or a little higher than what I really think it would go for. This wouldn't mean I'm hiding anything.
Is it a common viewpoint that an item with a buy-it-now may be suspect? Any thoughts either way?
I'm always learning something here...
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Old 12-03-2006, 11:04 AM   #11
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buy it now

From someone who has sold on Ebay over 8 years, here is why you don't use Buy It Now.

Any item that is currently avidly sought out (as Airstreams are) should have many potential buyers and strong bidding. Putting a BIN on it would be foolhardy as you are limiting your buyers and the potential monies. It is meant more for new items that sell for a fixed dollar amount all the time, not something that could be bid up for more than it should be by an excited bidder.

If I feel my item is worth say $5,000. so I put a BIN on it, I have cost myself the potential of monies that someone may have paid over that. Much better to use a reserve price of 5,000 that will still get you your money but allow anxious buyers to over bid as well. See? So anyone with a BIN would either be very inexperienced and not thought it through, or perhaps be selling something with some problems that the are hoping to get rid of quickly. Note that I am not specifically referring to the AS that you are looking at, but just in general.
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Old 12-03-2006, 11:20 AM   #12
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Thanks, makes sense to do a reserve instead of a BIN.
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Old 12-03-2006, 07:46 PM   #13
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Report + Pics

Hi, again,

Long drive to Corpus Christi and back!!! But felt it was worth my while. The sellers were very informative and helped me look around the AS. It turns out they have been living in it for around 3 years, travelling through the States. It had originally stood in Arizona for sometime before the owners took on its restoration .It was originally bought on e-bay by them without seeing it! When they came to pick it up it was not as described and they did a lot of work making it liveable. It is now in storage as they have bought a property that doesn't have the capacity to store it - i viewed it at a storage lot .

I checked as much of the AS as I could - i could not see any sag on the lines of the unit - The inside showed no signs of any disturbance in movement. I did notice some of the outside weatherstrip had disjointed at the mid to rear part (in Pic) and the Axel appeared to have plenty of downwards play (advice from previous mails)- Areas that I could see the sub floor / frame were free of moisture and showed no signs of rusting - The body itself was in OK condition - It did have a few dents (one on front corner - one by wheel arch - and a couple of scrapes - also it had quite a few little fingertip size dents in various places) - im sure these things must detract from its value. Awnings were superb - glass also. All latches/openings worked outside, everything opened and closed properly. Inside was 80% complete - working fridge - propane heater (original gone) - oven worked - shower - toilet- water pump in kitchen not working, hobs working, a/c couldnt test.. Lounge area all complete...

So it all looked good to me. I was happy with the sellers, they didn't seem to hide anything, let me look at everything as much as I want - The trailer hitch he wanted $2000 for !! I don't think I could afford that as well. As regards to the price I don't really know why he put BIN at $6500 - im guessing he felt that was top dollar for the AS and he felt he'd be happy if someone took it for that amount - I myself would have done differently but It didn't arise any suspicions in me - he never tried to push me to buy it....

Anyway.... - I took a load more pics while I was there to scrutinise the unit more - pics of axel, rear end etc - Please have a look and see if you can see anything wrong!!!! Im a total newb so i really don't know what I should be looking for... Also tell me how much do you think its worth???

Thanks for all your help!!!
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Old 12-03-2006, 09:45 PM   #14
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Does anyone have any advice on towing this AS - I have a dodge 1500 4x4 pickup - good? Do i need a better hitch? Worth an investement??
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