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Old 09-14-2017, 11:07 PM   #1
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Ventura , California
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Seriously Considering This... Please Help!

Hi all! I am new to the forums and pretty new to airstreams. We've been looking and researching a ton for about a month or so. This forum has been invaluable.

We scour craigslist on the daily and we've looked at a few in person. We're anxious to get started on our renovation but are trying our absolute best to pay a fair price and to not have there be any "surprises" when we start peeking into the walls / floors / frames / etc. We plan to do a full custom restoration (gutting, new subfloor, insulation, wiring, custom interior).

We found one on craigslist that has us mighty intrigued and we'd love any and all help by the community here!

It is a 1970 Ambassador. Looks somewhat original but in below average shape. The electrical works but no gas or water systems have been checked. It has 4 brand new tires, newly packed bearings and apparently the axels still have the slight upward curve they are supposed to have. The brakes and trailer lights work. Looks like a good amount of rock damage to the belly (and some places with bondo?) and a medium sized dent on the passenger side ceiling. Also, the main thing that worries me is that the previous owner had it completely painted white (you can tell in the pictures that there are several spots that still have some residue / streaks). The current owner recently stripped it using citra. Are there any negative side-effects that paint or citra can have on the exterior skins? Is this a red flag?

We're in California and from what we've found so far, the price seems to be competitive (especially after the 4 new tires / newly packed bearings / brakes / trailer lights). He is asking 6k.

I've looked at the buyers guide and pricing posts so and according to those this trailer is probably fairly over-priced (falling between the "as-found" and "average" conditions). Any thoughts and comments would be greatly appreciated! This trailer is located pretty far away from where we live so we want to be as sure as possible that it is worth the drive.

Thank you!
-Bradley
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Old 09-14-2017, 11:15 PM   #2
CRH
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That is a trailer that is gonna need a complete interior job, complete exterior job, and all systems updated. About all it has going for it is that it is an Airstream. If the frame is solid, you can get it cheap, and you don't mind spending a huge pile of cash and hundreds of hours of labor, go for it.
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Old 09-14-2017, 11:39 PM   #3
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1974 31' Sovereign
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"and you don't mind spending a huge pile of cash and hundreds of hours of labor, go for it."

No joke!

More likely thousands of hours and dollars.
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Old 09-15-2017, 12:39 AM   #4
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1972 31' Sovereign
1975 31' Excella 500
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Benton , Arkansas
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If you're handy, willing, can push a big project through to completion, and you have about 15 or 20K to spend getting it done as a DIY project, it could be a nice trailer. OTOH, if you just want "functional", you could spend a lot less.
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Old 09-15-2017, 12:47 AM   #5
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1983 34' Excella
1967 24' Tradewind
Little Rock , Arkansas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brzeller View Post
...

We're in California and from what we've found so far, the price seems to be competitive (especially after the 4 new tires / newly packed bearings / brakes / trailer lights). He is asking 6k.

I've looked at the buyers guide and pricing posts so and according to those this trailer is probably fairly over-priced (falling between the "as-found" and "average" conditions). Any thoughts and comments would be greatly appreciated! This trailer is located pretty far away from where we live so we want to be as sure as possible that it is worth the drive.

Thank you!
-Bradley
Is this supposed to be one of the 4 new tires?

Is that the wiring to the brake lying in the ground by the flat one on the right? Kinda looks like it, but the picture's detail is poor because of the strong backlight and bad exposure.



Overall, I wouldn't cross the street to look at what I see in those photos. And, it's incredibly overpriced, at least in my opinion.

Keep looking. You never know when you'll find a much better starting point.
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Old 09-15-2017, 12:50 AM   #6
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1972 31' Sovereign
1975 31' Excella 500
Currently Looking...
Benton , Arkansas
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IMHO it is selling for more than double its value.
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Old 09-15-2017, 01:02 AM   #7
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1983 34' Excella
1967 24' Tradewind
Little Rock , Arkansas
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Rivet Agreed

Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Morgan View Post
IMHO it is selling for more than double its value.
IMHO the asking price is more than quadruple its value.
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Old 09-15-2017, 01:52 AM   #8
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Ventura , California
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Posts: 3
Quote:
Originally Posted by vswingfield View Post
IMHO the asking price is more than quadruple its value.
Welp, this is exactly the feedback we were looking for. Thank you all for chiming in.

Regarding the price - we've looked for about a month now (across several states) and this is actually one of the better trailers in this price range. Have literally found 0 under $5k. Even the ones at $5k are gutters and in similar, if not worse, condition as this one. Any advice for finding fair-priced trailers? We are looking for a DIY project (gut + full custom renovation). We've heard several times that it pays off big to pay more up front for a better starting point.

Also fyi: regarding the wheels / brakes - these pictures were taken before that work was done.

Thanks again everyone!
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Old 09-15-2017, 07:20 AM   #9
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1988 25' Excella
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You time and money will be better spent shopping for a better trailer to start with.
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Old 09-15-2017, 07:35 AM   #10
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1974 21' Globetrotter
2016 30' International
Houston , Texas
Join Date: May 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brzeller View Post
Welp, this is exactly the feedback we were looking for. Thank you all for chiming in.



Regarding the price - we've looked for about a month now (across several states) and this is actually one of the better trailers in this price range. Have literally found 0 under $5k. Even the ones at $5k are gutters and in similar, if not worse, condition as this one. Any advice for finding fair-priced trailers? We are looking for a DIY project (gut + full custom renovation). We've heard several times that it pays off big to pay more up front for a better starting point.



Also fyi: regarding the wheels / brakes - these pictures were taken before that work was done.



Thanks again everyone!


Did this exact thing with a 74 Globetrotter. Bought for 6k and ended up putting another 35k into it. Had to take the entire shell off and fix a rotted frame. 41k would have bought me a real nice trailer...
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Old 09-15-2017, 07:44 AM   #11
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1967 17' Caravel
Austin , Texas
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Move along please, nothing to see here. Seriously, there has got to be a ton of better choices out there. This trailer will take a long time to correct and a ton of cash.
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Old 09-15-2017, 08:01 AM   #12
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Palmer Lake , Colorado
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Just looking at the pictures makes me feel like I need a shower. I think that one needs to be crushed and melted but then again beauty is in the eye of the beholder ...
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Old 09-15-2017, 09:16 AM   #13
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1983 34' Excella
1967 24' Tradewind
Little Rock , Arkansas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brzeller View Post
Welp, this is exactly the feedback we were looking for. Thank you all for chiming in.

Regarding the price - we've looked for about a month now (across several states) and this is actually one of the better trailers in this price range. Have literally found 0 under $5k. Even the ones at $5k are gutters and in similar, if not worse, condition as this one. Any advice for finding fair-priced trailers? We are looking for a DIY project (gut + full custom renovation). We've heard several times that it pays off big to pay more up front for a better starting point.

Also fyi: regarding the wheels / brakes - these pictures were taken before that work was done.

Thanks again everyone!
I know the feeling.

Years ago, before the internet, I made handmade kaleidoscopes working with my neighbor. She had been making arts & crafts since she was a teenager and had a string of customers when I started with her. We also went, independently, to arts shows across the country. I ended up spending March and November in Florida as well as going to other state for shows. All camping in my 1977 Dodge van.

I decided I needed an Airstream. I looked in Florida and across the southern states for over a year. Nothing. I gave up and started looking for any trailer. Another neighbor transported old and classic cars. I noticed a black GM motorhome on their property and just asked about it even though I really wanted a trailer. Turns out it was an old airport limo from LA and not a camper. Then my neighbor said, "I've got a friend who has been trying to sell an Airstream for quite a while." That's how I got my Tradewind.

That's also what I meant when I said that something will turn up. Be patient and find something that will give you a much better start.

BTW, I moved away from there (outside Austin, TX) to Little Rock. Went back to college, got a degree in Marketing and an MBA and ended up working for the state in economic development. I kept in touch with the neighbor who made kaleidoscopes through the years. She moved on into ceramics and other things but kept on doing shows. A few years ago I found a 20 foot Airstream for her in Russellvile, Arkansas.
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Old 09-15-2017, 09:30 AM   #14
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
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So according to the original post, the OP is looking to do a complete refurb of this trailer, and in subsequent posts, they say that they have loked fairly extensively in their area, and that this trailer is no worse than others in the same price range. So, with all that in mind, I would say that you know your local market better than any of us arm-chair commentators, go ahead and buy.

Now, I do wonder what you mean when you say that you "don't want any surprises." If you are doing as extensive a refurb as you describe, then most of the trailer is going to be replaced. As others have mentioned, it will take years and tens of thousands of dollars, but that is what you are signing up for, right?

My recommendation for someone who plans to completely strip the trailer and rebuild is to find one with the best shell possible. Don't worry about dents in the belly pan or crumpled banana wraps. Those are easy fixes. It is dents/gashes/heavy scratches in the shell that you don't want to have to deal with. As far as the paint and subsequent stripping goes, the chemical stripper should not have hurt the shell, but if the user took a wire brush to the shell to get the paint off, then you may have a lot of heavy scratches you don't want to polish out some day. Also, if they weren't careful with the stripper, they may have damaged all the plastic lenses on your clearance lights, etc., but you will replace all of this in your massive rennovation anyway.

As you dig into this, or any 40 year old trailer, there are going to be surprises, and most of that trailer is going to the junk yard. Don't kid yourself on the condition of the axles--they need to be replaced, but you can wait until you are done with the shell-off.

good luck!
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