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Old 08-29-2006, 03:59 PM   #1
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Help me sort through my inspection findings

We just got back from another exhausting inspection trip, this time 1050 miles roundtrip. The seller had stated it to be in "great" shape. We've decided we need to lower our standards somewhat but we're still a little nervous about a few things we came across in our rushed lookover. Maybe you have some input.

There was some rust on the bumper& the license plate holder, as well as quite a bit covered up by primer on the hitch - no biggie... we were expecting it... but on the rear/streetside wheel well, there was about a 5" hole rusted through.

The axles seemed okay & there were new tires. It has air brakes.

The carpet was removed so we could see most of the subfloor was okay. There are no curtains/blinds left. The area around the windows had been painted & it looked like there was either rust or peeling finish beneath it. The gaucho/mattresses will need to come out as they were still filthy after a steam cleaning. The toilet was really bad. The lower panel under the bathroom sink was missing & another piece of ill fitting plastic was wedged in there, when I removed it.. there was a nickel sized hole underneath that went straight through to the ground, I could see the grass below. To the right of that, there was a cardboard box wedged tightly in there that I could not remove because of the angle.

Under one of the beds we found another hole in the floor, about the size of a half dollar that had been chewed out. I mentioned it & the man showing it to us (which was not the seller, but the previous owner) said there had been a wharf rat infestation. He also told us that it had been cleaned up considerably, his son had really trashed it... and it was disgusting. It was sitting by a river most of the 4 years he owned it(hence the rats/rust?).

The upper face plate on the stove was missing so we'd have to find a replacement or it would be useless (the burners were floating). There had been more than one incidents of pipes freezing.

A few more things.
It needs a battery & latch for battery compartment door (he tried to tape it shut)
It needs propane tanks
There's a very large dent on the curbside rear.

There are plenty of things that I think we can fix, lots of broken door latches, missing gasket for the screen door, missing screens, floor covering, curtains, shelf behind the gaucho missing... but what kind of issues should I assume are in place w/the rusted through wheelwell & rat infestation? Can those holes just be patched & we go on our merry way? I've tried searching for a lot of this stuff & while I've read others warning potential buyer's about these things, I can't seem to find what you do if you find them.

I'm also trying to determine a value... by the Vintage Airstream standards I'd say it's between "as found" & "average" which is either $1100-2200 or 4000-8500. It's a 31' sovereign, '78, rear bedroom. Seller is asking $5995. I can't even imagine paying that much now after seeing it.

We're getting so discouraged! We've traveled 2400 miles to kiss 4 toads in the past 16 days, we're running out of funds & patience. I was wondering if they were all going to be "gross" inside, being 30+years old & all... and then we checked out a '69- 30', I almost didn't go inside because I already found there was SEVERE rear end separation/sag, but I went in just out of curiosity & fell in love with it, it was gorgeous & well kept.... I was so sad!
<sigh>
I'm almost willing to own a toad, tho! I just want to get started. We've been without a camper for about 6 weeks & our plans for the fall/winter are hinged upon this purchase. BUT... I don't want to be too hasty, either.

Thanks in advance for any input! Be well, Kelly
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Old 08-29-2006, 04:13 PM   #2
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Warts and all... I'd pass...

Flutter-

Sorry to hear about another disaster trip to check out a trailer... Thank goodness you hadn't bought it ahead based on seller representation...

I know opinions and feelings vary here, and that makes Forums interesting, but I'll toss in first vote to pass... That is a lot of money for a good shell and marginal frame (remember the wharf..). If it were beautiful and near perfect it would be worth less than $12K, so working backwards you'd have to be able to really fix everything for $6K to break even. With rat damage and probably dead rats and rat droppings everywhere, you could have to do more than spray Lysol in the trailer.. Removing inner skins and belly pan and furniture could be a bear... Add in rust and skin damage and almost certain broken water pipes plus a few major appliances at $1500 (fridge) and others, and it gets to be nightmare...

John McG
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Old 08-29-2006, 04:23 PM   #3
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"its in great shape!"

Your not alone. I went across country three times to see pieces of junk. Then I found the one called "beautiful" in "near perfect condition." I even had an RV center check it out (what a waste that was). New tires, wheel bearings, propane system, refridg, oven thermostat, water heater, air conditioner, a new converter, and battery, water pump, repaired a few floor spots, and then I had to do the cosmetics. Now its like I want it. You could do the same....but I recommend just keep looking...a nice one will come your way.
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Old 08-29-2006, 04:27 PM   #4
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Thanks. I had just edited the part about the fridge, that was a misunderstanding.. my husband read the post & told me the PO said it does work. The pipes are all supposed to check out okay now.

The seller said the price is negotiable.

BUT... yes, the rust & the rats.
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Old 08-29-2006, 10:25 PM   #5
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Hello flutterbee ,

Really you do not want rat issues as the carcasses could be all over ,and how did they kill them off ? If rat bait ,they could be stuck in the bellypan and other areas .I have to agree with the others here ,skip it and keep looking
as there are alot of used airstreams around ,check with gary at bumper road
in lincoln nebraska ,he was selling used coaches in a variety of conditions.
I will PM you his phone number,we bought our tradewind 1960 from him .
We just came upon this airstream trailer lot on the corner of a main street
and he had all these airstreams for sale ,the larger coaches were going
for good prices.this one you guys are thinking of needs everything it sounds like.Haste makes waste unless its a great deal.

Scott of scottanlily
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Old 08-29-2006, 11:01 PM   #6
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Well, just as a comparison... (food for thought here....) We paid a little more for our Bambi than your seller is asking... we had to do a complete frame off restoration. All the parts were there, and everything original works, but everything was dismantled and reassembled. I figure after the cost of the Bambi originally, and the restoration, we have as much in it ($) as it is worth on the market, maybe a bit more. But, it is just what we wanted so we are happy campers. We haven't counted labor in our cost.

I would probably pass on this offer unless the person comes way down.... and then be prepared for a whole lot of work. With that many holes... I would expect that the insulation is shot, the frame would be rusty, etc. Which means you will never go camping this year, and maybe next.

I would sincerely make a list of items you want to be sure are okay and ask the sellers to send you many, many, many digital pics ~ close detail. If they are reputable they should be able to do this. If they have the excuse they aren't "techie" I am sure they know someone who is. I would be very skeptical of someone who wouldn't send me pics...

I know this sounds gloomy... the right trailer is out there somewhere for you! It all boils down to what you are willing to go through to find the right one! We looked for a couple of years before we found ours. But I only wanted a Bambi or Bubble. (Fussy little old lady here...)

Good luck, you will find your 'stream! I would take Scottandlily's suggestions and look in Lincoln. Look near home, driving so many miles to see a sad trailer will give you headaches.

Mrs. NorCal Bambi (traveling in S Tardis)
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Old 08-30-2006, 12:59 AM   #7
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Have you tried a want ad?

We have published a fairly comprehensive list of online sites other than eBay where you can look for an Airstream. Some of those sites allow free want ads. You might want to be rather specific about your requirements and how far you are willing to travel.
If you do post any want ads, I suggest using a non-traceable free email server such as Yahoo for email replies because you’re likely to get a lot of replies and your email address will probably fall into the hands of those who sell email addresses to numerous merchants.
This won’t weed out the people who misrepresent the condition of their used Airstreams, but it might make your shopping easier and give you more Airstreams to choose from.
I have posted free want ads when I was looking for an Airstream in the past and received replies with some pretty nice units that were fairly close to my location.

http://www.airstreamlife.com/extra/forsale.html
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Old 08-30-2006, 03:28 AM   #8
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Good Job passing on that one. There are some decent ones out there they are just getting harder to find. Based on your description I wouldn't have paid more than half of the asking price if that. Unfortunately people have discovered that Airstreams are a desirable item therefore they are "worth a lot of money" I looked at 68 Ambassador that was in decent condtion for it's age but needed quite a bit of work. The guy wanted $10k for it because it was a "collector's item" I made him an offer that he turned down. Last I heard it was still sitting there. Problem is the longer they sit the worse they are going to get.

Keep looking you will find the right trailer sooner or later.

Aaron
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Old 08-30-2006, 07:15 AM   #9
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Flutter, this is probably silly to mention, but have you tried this forum Classifieds? An amazing variety of trailers can be found there and you have the ease of PM's to discuss condition, ask for photos, and so on. You may find your treasure right here. ~G
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Old 08-30-2006, 07:42 AM   #10
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Thanks, everyone. We aren't even going to make an offer on this one. We may even dip into the savings & buy newer just so we can start camping soon. We're going to look at a '96 excello tonight.Our plans have been to buy older & fix up to the point of sustainability, but that will really take some time. We're hoping to spend a few months working in FL this winter & a month down in the Shawnee Nat'l Forest this fall.
I miss my little aliner pop-up! I haven't been camping in months. That definitely adds to the sense of urgency.

maxandgeorgia~ that's the thing, this one WAS from the classifieds... w/out mentioning names... it's listed here, by a "reseller"... and I'm going to wait a couple of days before I leave feedback because I'm pretty angry with this guy right now.
I thought that we were a little safer buying from somebody who "knows" airstreams, we spoke with him on several occasions & asked tons of questions. Luckily, he didn't show it to us... although there was some inconvenience in that, as well- he overnighted the keys to the PO, who lives in a rural town... so they don't have postal service on the weekends. We drove all the way there on Sunday, no keys... woke up monday, called at 10, no keys, stalled & stalled... finally around 2 we got the call that they were there. It really made for a long day. Fortunately, we were in Asheville & enjoying the heck out of it.

Scottanlily~ thanks, I will try to call that guy today!

ASL-store~ I'll see what I can come up with.

I really appreciate all of the replies, this can be such a frustrating experience! It helps so much to hear your stories & have guidance, as well.

Many Thanks! Kelly
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Old 08-30-2006, 07:51 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ~flutterbee
We're getting so discouraged! We've traveled 2400 miles to kiss 4 toads in the past 16 days, we're running out of funds & patience. I was wondering if they were all going to be "gross" inside, being 30+years old & all... and then we checked out a '69- 30', I almost didn't go inside because I already found there was SEVERE rear end separation/sag, but I went in just out of curiosity & fell in love with it, it was gorgeous & well kept.... I was so sad!
Thanks in advance for any input! Be well, Kelly
Kelly, go for the 69. It's much easier to fix separation then get out dead rats.
The 69 is a great year. It's the first year for the wider body and still has a wooden interior.
There are fix plates available from Airstream, for the sag. Just jack it up and weld them in.
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Old 08-30-2006, 08:15 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shacksman
Kelly, go for the 69. It's much easier to fix separation then get out dead rats.
The 69 is a great year. It's the first year for the wider body and still has a wooden interior.
There are fix plates available from Airstream, for the sag. Just jack it up and weld them in.
Really? I mean, it was severe, we could see insulation between the bumper & frame w/out even pushing down on it. He had insulation shoved up in there because he spent last winter in Colorado.
I just called the closest airstream dealer's service dept & they wouldn't be able to work on it until at least November and said it would be at very least 2k...
Wow. I do get excited to think about that one, it was just beautiful.
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Old 08-30-2006, 08:27 AM   #13
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Trailers For Sale Or Rent....

Quote:
Originally Posted by ~flutterbee~
We just got back from another exhausting inspection trip, this time 1050 miles roundtrip. The seller had stated it to be in "great" shape. We've decided we need to lower our standards somewhat but we're still a little nervous about a few things we came across in our rushed lookover. Maybe you have some input.

There was some rust on the bumper& the license plate holder, as well as quite a bit covered up by primer on the hitch - no biggie... we were expecting it... but on the rear/streetside wheel well, there was about a 5" hole rusted through.

The axles seemed okay & there were new tires. It has air brakes.

The carpet was removed so we could see most of the subfloor was okay. There are no curtains/blinds left. The area around the windows had been painted & it looked like there was either rust or peeling finish beneath it. The gaucho/mattresses will need to come out as they were still filthy after a steam cleaning. The toilet was really bad. The lower panel under the bathroom sink was missing & another piece of ill fitting plastic was wedged in there, when I removed it.. there was a nickel sized hole underneath that went straight through to the ground, I could see the grass below. To the right of that, there was a cardboard box wedged tightly in there that I could not remove because of the angle.

Under one of the beds we found another hole in the floor, about the size of a half dollar that had been chewed out. I mentioned it & the man showing it to us (which was not the seller, but the previous owner) said there had been a wharf rat infestation. He also told us that it had been cleaned up considerably, his son had really trashed it... and it was disgusting. It was sitting by a river most of the 4 years he owned it(hence the rats/rust?).

The upper face plate on the stove was missing so we'd have to find a replacement or it would be useless (the burners were floating). There had been more than one incidents of pipes freezing.

A few more things.
It needs a battery & latch for battery compartment door (he tried to tape it shut)
It needs propane tanks
There's a very large dent on the curbside rear.

There are plenty of things that I think we can fix, lots of broken door latches, missing gasket for the screen door, missing screens, floor covering, curtains, shelf behind the gaucho missing... but what kind of issues should I assume are in place w/the rusted through wheelwell & rat infestation? Can those holes just be patched & we go on our merry way? I've tried searching for a lot of this stuff & while I've read others warning potential buyer's about these things, I can't seem to find what you do if you find them.

I'm also trying to determine a value... by the Vintage Airstream standards I'd say it's between "as found" & "average" which is either $1100-2200 or 4000-8500. It's a 31' sovereign, '78, rear bedroom. Seller is asking $5995. I can't even imagine paying that much now after seeing it.

We're getting so discouraged! We've traveled 2400 miles to kiss 4 toads in the past 16 days, we're running out of funds & patience. I was wondering if they were all going to be "gross" inside, being 30+years old & all... and then we checked out a '69- 30', I almost didn't go inside because I already found there was SEVERE rear end separation/sag, but I went in just out of curiosity & fell in love with it, it was gorgeous & well kept.... I was so sad!
<sigh>
I'm almost willing to own a toad, tho! I just want to get started. We've been without a camper for about 6 weeks & our plans for the fall/winter are hinged upon this purchase. BUT... I don't want to be too hasty, either.

Thanks in advance for any input! Be well, Kelly
Kelly, There is a nice A/S trailer for sale in Bettendorf, Iowa just off I-74 as you cross the Mississippi. I will try to get the particulars for you and give you all the info...price and contact number. There is also one older model 70's I think in Andalusia, IL that I saw last weekend. I'm not sure but I will check it out as to sale , price and phone number and let you know. At least they are much closer for you than 1000+ mile trips. Ed
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Old 08-30-2006, 08:46 AM   #14
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Hi Kelly,

Because of the long trips you've already taken, as well as the sense of urgency you mentioned, I would recommend trying to find a forums member who would be willing to do an inspection of an Airstream for you. Being frustrated about this process could potentially lead you to be less than objective when performing your own inspection. I do know the feeling - thinking that if you don't grab this Airstream, when would another one come along? What if the next one isn't even as nice as this one? The problem is, if you talk yourself into one that's not realistic for you, you will probably not get the enjoyment out of it that you deserve.

I think too that upon intial inspection, it helps to create a realistic list of the work that needs to be done (as well as the associated $$) to see if it's something you can handle. Also be honest about the work that you can perform yourself. What additional tools would you need to buy or rent to accomplish this? All of this should be factored into your purchase price.

Good luck with your search - the right Airstream is out there for you, somewhere!
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