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Old 04-18-2012, 07:47 AM   #1
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south berwick , Maine
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Questions about a 1970 Sovereign 31

There's a 1970 airstream sovereign 31 being sold near to me. The owners are asking $12,500. The unit has new pergo floors, but the owners lack any maintenance records. I'm worried about the axle and the possibility of aluminum wiring in the unit. In addition the mattresses and cushions smell smoky and there are many cosmetic issues with the cuboards, tables, and shower. I'm told all of the appliances and air conditioning work. Overall the owners asking price seems steep. Does anyone have an idea what I should pay for an airstream like this? Or other questions I should ask? I would like to find an airstream to live in this summer while my old farmhouse is being renovated and once the renovation is complete I hope to restore the airstream. I have never done work on an airstream but have experience working on a wide range of antique tractors and farm equipment. Thanks everyone!

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Old 04-18-2012, 07:58 AM   #2
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Some things to check out, there is some good threads on checking your axles, read them they will tell you how to check them out. If they have never been replaced, then they probley are bad.

When they say "every thing works" find out when they used the trailer last. Ask them to set it up for you, on the grid and off. Check every thing, pump, ac, refrig, etc..

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Old 04-18-2012, 06:14 PM   #3
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I do think that price is steep for a 1970 unless they have receipts or some sort of proof of a full restoration. I would also be looking for a bit newer unit that includes the gray water waste tank, if I planned to use it at all.

There is an Inspection List and if you search the membership for someone near you, you can get someone to give you a second opinion.

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Old 04-18-2012, 07:00 PM   #4
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this thread got posted, withdrawn, and then reposted. Most of the comments are on the other copy.

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Old 04-18-2012, 08:46 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Zeppelinium
this thread got posted, withdrawn, and then reposted. Most of the comments are on the other copy.

Here you go Zepp.

Originally Posted by Zeppelinium

I agree, but it takes a lot of looking to get one for $3K. The longer Airstreams are lower priced, so keep that in mind. You can find 31 footers listed on eBay almost every week. If all the systems are working and it's not leaking, then even $5-6K could be fair, depending on how it stacks up against my comments below.

Price is dependent on 3 things, in order:
[*]First, good frame and shell. If you have that, you can build on it. You'll have to get new axles, which is a given, and new tires, so put $2K+ in your Airstream fixit account for that.[*]Second, systems and appliances. If the stove and fridge are working, that's the first step. You usually find the water heater is OK, but after 40 years it may be ready to perforate at any time. Look at the water pipes, water pump, and 12V converter/charger. These may be working, but a modern converter is a must if you don't want to ruin your battery. Cooper pipes are almost always freeze damaged, even if they dont leak. Once the cooper is swelled, you can't repair it because the fittings don't fit. Count on replacing it with PEX. Make sure the water tank and black tank aren't cracked. This is a major problem if it exists and it is probably the most difficult to correct--don't buy unless you're an expert craftsman.[*]All this being said, you still only have a useable camper and it's now worth $3K, minimum, but not too much more.[*]Third, interior and appearance. A polished trailer is a big deal and worth at least $3K, on top of any other value. If the interior has been refurbished in a workmanlike manner, with new foam, then that's worth an additional $3-6K. If the interior is superior, with fine finish and expert design, whether it's modern or faithfully preserves the original (See INSIDEOUT's Birdie), the added value can climb more than $20K.
It sounds to me like you're looking at a $3-5K Airstream, with another $3-5K in fixes (if you do it yourself). That's still a very acceptable price for a fully functional Airstream.

I bought a '75 Sovereign five years ago that had sat for 25 years. The interior is completely redone, with unique aluminum kitchen cabinetry and maple/birch for the remainder. All the dual pane windows have been disassembled and put back together with new solar film and gaskets. The black tank crack has been repaired and the dump valves for both tanks have been replaced. With all that it still only appraises at $16K. Next steps are polish and new axles.


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