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Old 07-11-2009, 07:39 PM   #1
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Question looking for solid advice

we live in alaska and are looking for our first airstream. we are thinking about a 30'. our budget is 10k. we rarely find airstreams in alaska and search craigslist frequently in major cities. often by the time we call, the airstream is sold. there is a local one listed on craigslist for 12k. its a 31 1986 sovereign. it appears to be in good shape. no dents, leaks, etc. some overall fading and peeling on the outside. we have seen it. we want one in the next few months for living in during the winter in the south. looking for advice.
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Old 07-11-2009, 07:46 PM   #2
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Exactly what advice are you looking for?
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Old 07-11-2009, 09:04 PM   #3
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I have a 84 Sovereign , that's a 30'ter and,....you might want to grab it if it's in good condition..All of the good ones are gone on sight..
Tow it with a 3/4 and, at least 6.0 for over the mountain pass, etc..
Just be sure to check the sewer vents (for replacements of the rubber gaskets). Do your homework..for sure..
Good Luck!
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Old 07-12-2009, 01:49 AM   #4
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looking for advice on if this is a good price and what to look for in possible problems for this year/model. we read that this cannot be polished like older airstreams and are not sure how to get it looking good once we are that far. thanks for any advice!!
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Old 07-12-2009, 07:41 AM   #5
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It took me two years of looking to find the right size, condition and price for my trailer. Keep looking and be patient.
There are several factors in a trailer choice.
The first is the size. Get the smallest size that will work for you. That could be anything from 17' to 34'.
Next it the weight. Airstreams can weigh anything from 2000 lb for some of the smaller vintage trailers to over 10,000 lb for the larger curent model trailers. What are you willing to tow and what will the roads be like? I've got a 17' trailer that is 2850 lb. It's easy to tow but has low ground clearance. I have to be careful on dirt roads. You need to think about things like this.
Cold weather - Alaska can get very cold. Are you going to store the trailer all winter? Will you set it up for cold weather campng? Fitting the camper out for cold weather use will mean installing tank heaters and adding a lot of wiring. You could do this with any model year but getting a vintage trailer and restoring it with an eye to sub-zero camping is an idea.
Model-Age-Condition The golden three in trailer price. Firure out if you want new, used, restored, as found (read it as junk; you have to restore it) or salvage. From my experience, you will have to pay about $10K to $20K for a good solid trailer of any year. (cost of the trailer plus fixing it up) It will cost you a lot more for a luxury trailer or a show stopper. Get your price range in mind and stick to it.
Trailer inspection - Check the outside for dents or missing panels and trim. Check the underside for damage. Check the frame and the axels. Check the date code on the tires and look at tire condition. Check all the appliances for propper operation. Check the water and holding tanks. (fill them up and drain them out) Check the toilet and shower. Check for evidence of leakage on the walls and floor. Check the floor for soft spots (look near the door, under windows, near the bath and in hidden spots) Check the seats and the upolstery. It seams that almost every item that is broken will cost about $1000.00 to replace or repair. If the trailer finish needs to be restored, that's about $3000.00.
Let's say you got the 86 you were looking at. $12,000 for the trailer. $3000.00 to refinish, $2000.00 for new upholstery. $1000 for new tires. total -$18,000 That's within to price range for what you want only if everything else is perfect. Add in a new AC and replace the black water tank and you're over budget.

I hope this is what you were looking for.
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Old 07-12-2009, 08:09 AM   #6
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Get on the Airstream Forum and read, read and read...........toastie
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Old 07-12-2009, 08:24 AM   #7
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Another option if you can't find a good trailer locally is to rent a place to stay in the south next winter and take 2-3 months to look around for a trailer down there. With the internet, you can likely find a mobile home, condo or triler to affordably rent by the month. I'm sure you would find a good Airstream selection in Texas, Arizona, etc..

While you are in the south, run a "trailer wanted" ad and catch those people thinking of selling before they run an ad and you are competing with everyone else for the same trailer. Running your own want ad might even work from Alaska...
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Old 07-12-2009, 08:55 AM   #8
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I have a 1986 31' Sovereign. Look at the floor (or poke it with an awl) along the endcaps where the seam meets the floor. Mine had rotten floors at every one of the places where the seams met the flooring. I bought mine 2 years ago for $10K, but didn't see the bad floor. After repairs, it's a nice trailer & very comfortable for my family! I've probably put $3,000 into it so far.
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Old 07-12-2009, 11:17 AM   #9
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Well..

Quote:
Originally Posted by wn2fly View Post
looking for advice on if this is a good price and what to look for in possible problems for this year/model. we read that this cannot be polished like older airstreams and are not sure how to get it looking good once we are that far. thanks for any advice!!
wn2fly,
They can be polished.
Whether it will polish as well as the older ones or not is an open question.
More like, beauty in the beholder's eyes..
There is no doubt that, afterwards, the polished Airstreams (that I have seen) all looked much better than it's original appearances.
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Old 07-12-2009, 12:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevin242 View Post
Another option if you can't find a good trailer locally is to rent a place to stay in the south next winter and take 2-3 months to look around for a trailer down there. With the internet, you can likely find a mobile home, condo or triler to affordably rent by the month. I'm sure you would find a good Airstream selection in Texas, Arizona, etc..

While you are in the south, run a "trailer wanted" ad and catch those people thinking of selling before they run an ad and you are competing with everyone else for the same trailer. Running your own want ad might even work from Alaska...
Good Advice! Paula
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Old 07-12-2009, 02:34 PM   #11
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As you must know, everything costs more in Alaska. Getting parts can be a challenge if there's no dealer in Alaska, but everything can be mailed or FedExed, but the shipping costs may be greater than in the lower 48. If you buy it and then take it south, make sure all the running gear and tires are in very good condition. It's a long way to Edmonton, the first big city. That you live near Anchorage is helpful.

Airstreams are considered a 3 season trailer, so taking it south is a good idea. I don't know how the tanks were heated, if at all, on that model. Electric tank heaters need 120 v. to work (if they have a 12 v. option, the batteries won't last long) and more effective is having a heat duct from the furnace run through the tank area. If you were to stay in Alaska's interior, you would use up a propane tank every day.

If I lived in Alaska, I'd look into 4 season trailers—one is Arctic Fox. Or if you want to spend the winter in the lower 48, buying an Airstream here and storing it here during the summer is an alternative. A lot of people in Colorado have short summers and it can be a pain winterizing and summerizing the trailer several times a year, or keeping it heated for long periods of time can be expensive.

There are some Alaska residents who are Forum members, so maybe they'll see this thread and give you advice. And if you find a good one, there are Forum members who will inspect it for you. On the Forum page, look to the right side for inspectors.

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Old 07-13-2009, 12:45 AM   #12
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this is exactly the kind of advice i am looking for you. i appreciate all of this. thank you.
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Old 07-13-2009, 01:26 AM   #13
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we had originally thought we would buy here and travel to the lower 48 before winter, knowing that the road conditions are not great. we have 4 pets to bring with us. storing it in the lower 48 would be great. but because we are not finding a good selection to choose from, maybe coming down there to buy is better. we have been trying to look around cities where we know people so they can take a peek at it before we make airline arrangements. are you saying that if we found something we were interested in, an inspector could take a look and give us an honest opinion? that would be ideal. has anyone used this service and had experience with this? our friends that live in the lower 48 are not airstream fanatics like us so they would not be looking for the nuts/bolts.
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Old 07-13-2009, 08:14 AM   #14
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Even if you don't know somebody in particular city, you could alway call the Airstream dealer (or a general RV dealership) and have it professionally inspected - probably around $300.00. They would have a standard checklist and you could add specific things for them to check as well (floor rot, tail sag...). If it checks out well you could then go to look at it and possibly confirm the deal.
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