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Old 06-30-2009, 12:19 PM   #1
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Looking for Airstream to remodel

I am suddenly becoming a newbie Airstream enthusiast, and have the following notion that I’d like to run past some of the experienced Airstreamers here. I have learned a lot already on these great forums.

I like the idea of remodeling an older airstream, and want to concentrate on the interior. So I am interested in finding one with a very solid and intact shell and chassis, but with a trashed or gutted interior. The idea of scrounging for odd little parts, fixing leaks or structural damage, and continually discovering new problems is very unattractive to me. I like the idea of starting with an empty interior so I have essentially a clean slate, and also because I respect the original design and décor heritage (even though it may not be my taste) and don’t want to trash something that is in good condition.

What are the chances I will find a solid exterior/ trashed interior trailer. If the skin needs polishing and re-clearcoating, I guess that’s not the end of the world. Or if the axles need updating or something. But dealing with major leaks, rotten floors, rusted frames, rodent infestations, major dents, window problems, etc. I’d like to avoid.

I have the feeling that most trailers with a trashed interior are also going to have a trashed exterior, but hope I’m wrong.

I like the vintage trailers, but it doesn’t have to be. I understand they gradually got bigger over the years, which is an advantage because I’m 6’3”.

So help out with some ideas! I guarantee that if I go down this path, I will be hanging out here a lot!

Thanks!

David
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Old 06-30-2009, 12:27 PM   #2
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You can find that trailer (in fact, I could sell you one) but you needn't have a gutted interior, actually. Most older trailer interiors will be dated and/or shabby anyway so no harm in ripping them out.
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Old 06-30-2009, 02:22 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forums!

Bingo! I think you nailed it on the head here...
Quote:
Originally Posted by db4570 View Post
I have the feeling that most trailers with a trashed interior are also going to have a trashed exterior
Usually the things that "trash the interior have an effect on the shell - i.e. water damage, critters, careless or nonchalant owners, vandalism, etc.

Good luck with your search though...you may find a rare one that fits your specific criteria - like some one who changes their mind halfway through a restoration of their own.

Shari
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Old 06-30-2009, 03:37 PM   #4
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David:

Here you go. It would be a road trip and you would be getting it from Georgia.

1972 AIRSTREAM overlander 27'

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Old 06-30-2009, 04:17 PM   #5
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Does that say $48.00??? Whooooh
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Old 06-30-2009, 10:47 PM   #6
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Thanks for the responses so far.

Even for $48, that one looked like it may need a lot of exterior work. At $4800, I think the guy's on drugs.

So, Summerkid, what have you got? I'm thinking 25-28 foot, probably rear bath. I was recently in one of each, and the mid bath one seemed a little claustrophobic. During what years did the rear bath ones have troubles?

I think this is going to be a long, slow process. Keep ideas coming!

Thanks!

David
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Old 07-01-2009, 04:27 AM   #7
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Ugh, no, I don't traffic in lumbering behemoths (except for the b'friend) ... my trailers are all pert little darlings ...
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Old 07-01-2009, 05:59 AM   #8
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David,

Remodeling a gutted interior is not all that difficult, and somewhat serves as the "dessert" after repairing structural issues.

While the "gutted, straight shell" is a good way to go, it will most likely not come without significant structural issues which really should be addressed PRIOR to remodeling.

Old Airstreams need new window and door gaskets, vent gaskets, seam and window frame sealing, and the vista view windows (if equipped) usually need to be removed/refurbished/reset. All exterior lights will most likely need to tinkered with or replaced altogether (my recommendation).

While I've only been involved with two of them (and assisted with a 3rd), they all had significant rear floor/frame issues from moisture damage. I also had to repair most of my outriggers on my Sovereign. The crossover leg of the plumbing had burst below the floor (in freshwater tank compartment) which required removal of the freshwater tank and frame restoration).

This is a great opportunity to remove/replace all of the insulation, which will most likely have become a haven for multiple mice colonies. (They also tend to collect behind cabinetry and appliances, which will most likely need replacing.)

New axles (a must if you plan to tow it anywhere) will run $1100-$2000 depending upon brand and whether or not you install them yourself.

There was no specific year of rear bathroom model problems but rather an issue of preventative maintenance/neglect on part of owners. Longer units are more susceptible to rear end separation due to their length (distance of rear bumper from axle), regardless of rear bath or rear bed. The rear bathroom just provides another source of moisture to rot the floor at the rear shell/floor/frame holding point (plumbing leaks). Worn axles and unbalanced running gear = excess vibration. On longer units, the moment arm is longer and force more severe.

A straight shell, gutted but structurally sound (with all necessary repairs underneath) is easily worth $4K-$6K, but no one who hasn't gone through the process would pay it. That's why most units with end up completely restored and go for over $10K (with new appliances, etc.)

I maintain that no one gets the Airstream of their dreams for less than $10K, one way or the other. And when labor is factored in, it can seem like more. I say this not to discourage you, but to offer you a realistic assessment of one who's been there, done that. (My 2nd and final unit, a '73 Sovereign was purchased for $2275 on ebay, and I"ve sunk about $5K-$6K into it, not counting the countless hours of labor. I did not have to pay a welder, plumber, or carpenter, but the supplies, axles, and appliances do add up.)

Good luck in your search!
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Old 07-01-2009, 07:08 AM   #9
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Ron is correct with sharing his past experiences. I am constantly fixing and making new imporvements to my 1973 Overlander. Everything Ron has said is true. I still have some things to do in the future. My reefer is working great, but being over 30 years old I know I am on borrowed time. My air conditioner is over 30 years old and cools my trailer to where it is tolerable. Sooner or later I will have to replace it or find somebody who knows how to recharge sealed units. Just the cost on those two items combined is in the ball park of about $2,000. My axels were $850, my tires $400, three new fans on top, new lights, sealant, glues, paints, tools and the list goes on. Labor was free (me and my wife).

I have brand new locks for all the compartments that I have to replace. I still have some gaskets to put in. The list is long but I will say it has been fun. I like working on it and so does my wife. We love to do projects together. The problem solving can be challenging but this forum has everything you need when it comes to direction.

Brian
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Old 07-01-2009, 09:40 AM   #10
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As mentioned already I think you'll only get what you describe by picking up someone's abandoned project.

I suspect there is a group of buyers who want the rolling shell updated and ready to tailor to their tastes but as yet there doesn't appear to be a particularly economical way to get there.

The way these things were built doesn't make piecemeal repair easy and a shell off project requires space and $$$'s. (my gutted trailer has a "good" floor and a shell with a little attention needed, I'm already past $12K and I'm not quite where you would want to be).
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Old 07-01-2009, 10:00 PM   #11
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Here's one you could have a lot of fun with. No matter what you buy - vintage trailers are going to be work.

1950 Airstream trailer
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Old 07-02-2009, 12:38 PM   #12
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This one only has 1 hr left on e-bay, but you might watch to see if it gets relisted, you never know.

1969 AIRSTREAM INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL TRAILER CAMPER:eBay Motors (item 200356602268 end time Jul-02-09 11:47:17 PDT)
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Old 07-02-2009, 03:15 PM   #13
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1958 no interior

David;
Here's a 26', 1958, California model,tamdem axles, that has a great body. It's got a new floor, new insulation and wiring. A friend bought this to do a new interior and lost his ambition.
For $3500 you can't hardly go wrong with this.
PM me if you want more info or pictures.
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Old 07-05-2009, 10:13 PM   #14
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A lot to think about here, and a lot of good advice. Thanks!

Ron describes getting "A straight shell, gutted but structurally sound (with all necessary repairs underneath)" for perhaps $4-6 k, which has a certain appeal to it. IF I knew it didn't have any hidden issues, like bent frame, hunkered-down mice, undercarriage issues, etc.

My other fear is that I will get something that I will have to search high and low for salvaged parts for replacements. For instance, Ron describes having to replace all the window and door gaskets and seals. Sounds like a scrounging nightmare.

Another for instance- what happens if a window gets broken? My impression is that if it's one of those curved ones, I better start scrounging. How about an older flat one? Can they just be replaced with plate or tempered glass that a auto glass place can cut to fit?

I like the idea of buying one from someone who really knows them and is trustworthy, rather than taking a chance on one on Ebay just to find out it is a toilet after I travel to pick it up. The one Shacksman's friend has looks cool, but is an old one like that getting to the point where parts are impossible to find?

As far as the frame separation, I read on an AS history site that when AS got sold in the mid 70s, the new owners switched from 6" frame beams to 4", which was largely to blame for the sagging rears, and why rear baths tended to not be offered after that. I'd be interested to hear if that's a general observation here.

If I could get through the process for somewhere in the low $teens when it was done, and had a solid, 100% functional, shiny AS with a cool modern interior, I'd seriously consider it.

Any gatherings soon in the Northeast or Mid West where I might see a bunch of these babies?

David
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