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Old 01-03-2013, 02:47 PM   #1
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needing advice from Airstream experts! please read!

We have found a 76 Airstream 31 foot shell. No bathroom no couches or furniture the only thing it has is a rusted out stove and a sink... the back window is out but was replaced with ply wood to hold in a window shaker...the job was done well. According to what we saw in pictures... i had my sister inspect it and she said everything was solid in and out of Airstream and that there appeared to be no leaks around the window shaker. Umm the air conditioner doesn't work and there are three small dents in the rear body frame according to the guy selling it. But nothing major. This is our first Airstream ever and we are newbies so advice is greatly appreciated. He was selling it for 1500 we got it down to 1300 thinking the stove worked...but we aren't sure about that price anymore. Would a 1000 be a good number for a good Airstream shell? Oh and there's no water heater! So its a big job. But I'm 21 and my husbands 23 and we want to live full time in it when we are done making it to our liking. Is this a smart decision? Anyone know what its like to remodel completely. Its a sovereign land yacht.
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Old 01-03-2013, 03:11 PM   #2
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$1300 would be a fair price, it sounds like it will need a lot of work. The good news us that stripping out the inside is part of the work, and it as already done. A couple of questions. Are you planning on parking it and living in it one one spot, or will you be moving it around? How much skill do you have with plumbing and electrical work? Also check the floors for soft spots..
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Old 01-03-2013, 03:27 PM   #3
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This is just my opinion!
Unless your sister knows a thing or three about Airstreams she might have missed frame corrosion that can't be seen externally or front/rear separation. Unless the original axle's have been replaced and the tires are good, the way you discribe it I think scrap/salvage is value is the real value. If you are really determined to buy it I suggest offering $500 and expect both to install new tires and new axles (complete with brakes, hubs, bearings, etc), and there will at least some repair of to the frame. At a $500 to $1,000 sale price you could easily have $15k to $20k in the trailer before you finish renovating, even if you do most of the work yourselves.

Best Wishes!
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Old 01-03-2013, 03:30 PM   #4
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Well we won't being moving it around alot just if we decide we don't like the place or not, well the guy said that the plumbing and electric was all there he didn't touch it and we wouldn't either unless we had to and my husband is good with that we also have family members and etc that are skilled in that as well. As for the floors his sister said it was sturdy no soft spots. so do you think it would be to much to take on?
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Old 01-03-2013, 03:31 PM   #5
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needing advice from airstream experts! please read!

Greetings jerr1955!

Welcome to the Forums and the world of Vintage Airstreams!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jerr1955 View Post
We have found a 76 Airstream 31 foot shell. No bathroom no couches or furniture the only thing it has is a rusted out stove and a sink... the back window is out but was replaced with ply wood to hold in a window shaker...the job was done well. According to what we saw in pictures... i had my sister inspect it and she said everything was solid in and out of Airstream and that there appeared to be no leaks around the window shaker. Umm the air conditioner doesn't work and there are three small dents in the rear body frame according to the guy selling it. But nothing major. This is our first Airstream ever and we are newbies so advice is greatly appreciated. He was selling it for 1500 we got it down to 1300 thinking the stove worked...but we aren't sure about that price anymore. Would a 1000 be a good number for a good Airstream shell? Oh and there's no water heater! So its a big job. But I'm 21 and my husbands 23 and we want to live full time in it when we are done making it to our liking. Is this a smart decision? Anyone know what its like to remodel completely. Its a sovereign land yacht.
Unless conditions have changed drastically, Vintage Airstreams in the 28' to 31' length range are seen on the market with regularity in Florida. I think that your logic on price is good, as the presence of excessive rust on the range points to uncontrolled moisture problems. My concern would be about hidden rust on the frame where it cannot be seen due to the bellypan. Recently, there have been much more numerous reports of damaged frames on "as found" Vintage Airstreams, particulary when found in rust-belt locations or in areas near the coast. One rudimentary way to check for potential rust problems in the frame is to either use the heel of your hand or a rubber mallet to tap along the frame rails while listening for the rattle of rust flakes/particles.

It sounds like this trailer could be a major project. Have you considered how much time that it will take to restore/rebuild the coach? Have you considered the costs for new appliances and materials . . . and your overall rebuild budget?

There are Volunteer Airstream trailer Inspectors listed here on the Forums (check out the homepage). My suggestion would be to seek out one of these individuals and ask for assistance with the inspection. There are so many places where the novice can be unaware of a particular concern or problem. The 1970s era Sovereigns (31') as well as some Ambassadors (29') were noted for frame droop/sag as well as rear end separation. Both are curable conditions, but can quickly become quite costly. With droop/sag, the frame actually develops a downwar bend behind the rear axle . . . in the severest cases, cracks may develop in the frame near and/or between the axles -- the factory issued a frame reinforcement kit to address this problem and it is still available from the factory for owner's with coaches that have not previously had the repair. Rear end separation typically occurs when water leaks are untreated . . . the floor rotting permits it to detach from its mooring which results in a situation where the body moves independently of the frame . . . the easiest way to identify this problem is to have someone sit or stand on the bumper while observing the gap between the frame rail that the bumper attaches to and the body. . . . the wider the gap that open the worse the separation . . . the condition can be worse on one side than it is on the other.

Unless you want a totally custom interior, it is usually more cost effective to purchase the Vintage Airstream that is in the best condition that you can afford as restoration can be quite expensive even if you are able to do all of the labor as RV appliances tend to be quite expensive . . . . and when materials are purchased with an eye toward weight savings, materials can become more costly as well.

I am not trying to disuade you from purchasing this coach, rather, I am hoping that you are going into the situation with realistic expectations.

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin
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Old 01-03-2013, 03:36 PM   #6
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What is front rear separation?? And he pulled it and said it was fine...
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Old 01-03-2013, 03:53 PM   #7
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$1000 is an OK price BUT....
76 Airstreams at 31 feet had a problem with hogging on the rear bath models. Check out the frame and the shell near the rear end.
Check the door. Replacement doors are hard to come by and very expensive.
Are all of the compartment doors there? Again, high cost to replace.
Are all of the windows there and working? Curved windows are expensive.
How many dents and dings on the shell?
Check out the holding tanks. They can be expensive and difficult to replace.
Water heaters, stove top, toilet, microwave, refridgerator etc. can all be replaced.
You will need the skills to build cabinets, do electrical work, do plumbing, do sheet metal work and upholstery. Skills you don't have will cost you dearly. Expect to spend about three years to get everything finished.
I had a 72 for about three years and never did get everything done but I got it ready for the road in 6 weeks. We used it and improved it until it was broken into and trashed.
Good luck to you....the journey can be as much fun as the destination.
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Old 01-03-2013, 04:03 PM   #8
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$1300, your buying a idea, a dream, the cost of fixing it up can be spread out over the next 10 years. You and your husband have plenty of time to fix it up !If you just want to use it as a park model, and your not going to be towing it around a lot. You can probably use the old axles for now, but you will need tires. Figure $400 for that.

If its a park model you can install a home hot water heater, mini fridge, and electric heaters. That's the cheapest way to go.

They are right about the frame. I Live in Florida and have replaced two or 3 feet of the rear frame and members and three or 4 feet of the front frame. The floor in the back was rotted out and had to be replaced as well. But again if you're using as a park model You don't have to worry about a rusted frame as much as if you're actively towing it all time. fix it up now and then hold onto it. Later in your life when you have kids and a home of your own you can put the time and money into it to make it roadworthy again. It could be a great family project in a fun way to go camping. Between now and then do your best to keep it dry with no leaks to prevent any further Rust or floor damage.

Do you have any pictures that you can post?
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Old 01-03-2013, 04:04 PM   #9
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Greetings jerr1955!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jerr1955 View Post
What is front rear separation?? And he pulled it and said it was fine...
Front end separation is very similar to rear separation, but it is a bit more difficult to identify. The condition starts with floor rot and is sped along by a tow vehicle with too stiff suspension or an improperly setup weight distributing hitch. Some clues to look for include:
  • Look at the front of the coach immediately behind the LP tanks just above the rub-rail molding. You will find a double-row of large rivets that is approximately centered below the front window and just above the belt line molding.
    • Examine these rivets looking for rivets that can be moved by pushing with your thumb. If you can move any of these rivets there is reason to suspect that the front of the coach has been experiencing unusual movement.
    • From the interior, look below the front window examine for any indication of soft or rotted flooring.
  • In worse case scenarios, the front reinforcement panel is rusted away where it attaches to the frame. When this rust-out occurs the main attachment between the frame and the front of the coach is compromised and that can contribute to severe separation.
In my experience, front end separation has been less common than the rear end separation, but it has been reported much more frequently of late.

The trailer won't pull much differently, if any, when it has front end separation, rear end separation or frame droop. A difference in towing behaviour of the coach while towing would be reason for great and immediate concern. Towing a coach with any of these maladies will, however, tend to make the condition worse.

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin
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Old 01-03-2013, 04:38 PM   #10
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Wow thank you all so much! The thing that bugs me is that we aren't in FL we are in al right now, and that's why we are so concerned in making a leap. We won't be traveling in it but I still want it to be travel wortthy. And this brings on more concern for everything listed. Idk what to do...it is so nice on the outside and the inside is nice to but with everything you guys said I'm like ahhh. I will try to get pics up so you guys can see it...I really love it but the money and time worries me if the frame and floors sag and separate...but I'm trying to be realistic.
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Old 01-03-2013, 04:40 PM   #11
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How much did it take you to fix the frame? If you don't mind me asking...
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Old 01-03-2013, 05:36 PM   #12
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Unless you have access to good used rv parts(surplus or salvage) get a good catalog and start a list of things you will want, add up the prices and double. Reevaluate what time you will need, money and expertise and figure out your top dollar in a time period you want to spend then go buy one already at that stage, even in great shape any used rv will need a lot or time and money. Been there, done it, wouldn't do it again.
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Old 01-03-2013, 05:40 PM   #13
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The cost of a frame repair can be as little as a few hundred to patch it up or it could be around two thousand for a complete frame replacement. But, that is just the frame metal work. That cost does not include the cost of removing and reinstalling all the sheet metal and/or sub-floor to enable you to get to the frame before you can do the repair.

Use the search function shown at the top of the page and you will find several examples in detail of similar repairs
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Old 01-03-2013, 05:56 PM   #14
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Overlander64 about the kit can you explain that a little more my husband wants to know more about it
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