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Old 03-06-2008, 03:40 PM   #15
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2007 23' International CCD
Lapeer , Michigan
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Perhaps this will be a good review with refelections from a restoration expert. I found this information and thought it very good advice for someone anticipating taking on a vintage project and in this case thought the comments about Almost all original would be addressed in this comment.

"Owning and running the largest Airstream rebuilding shop in North
America has taught me a great deal about these older gems. On a daily
basis we have opportunities to reverse engineer Airstream and other
all-aluminum trailers from the past 60 years.

1. Make does matter. Airstream is one of the best trailers ever made.

2. Year also matters. Many people disparage the early "Beatrice Years"
(early 70s)for chassis problems. In part, on the larger models with
rear bathrooms there is some validity to the claim of "tail droop." It
was not an universal problem across the fleet. We have had many of
these units in that have had not any chassis problems whatsoever.

Where we see the most chassis problems is in the period preceding the
Beatrice Years which were the three "Corning Years" 1966, 1967, and
1968. In these models the windows were made from Corning curved,
chemically tempered glass which was an innovative design departure
from framed windows. The problem was that they frequently leaked and
caused the floors and chassis to rot. For a while, the replacement
glass was not available and many owners replaced broken panes with
acrylic or polycarbonate sheet which leaked even worse. Of the
Airstream fleet we see from this vintage, over 70% needs at least some
floor repair and fully 50% needs some chassis repair. We have replaced
the entire chassis on several.

The areas where we see the most deterioration are under each window
and particularly under the rear bathrooms. On all years the water
issues are compounded by the installation of fiberglass insulation
under the floor and sealing it in with the aluminum belly pan. The two
work together to hold moisture against the floor and the chassis.
Units that come from dry climates are always a better bet but not a
sure thing. It is impossible to really inspect the chassis and floor
without removing the belly pan. We have also seen what appear to be
high mileage units that have perfect skins and solid floors that have
metal fatigue cracks in the steel chassis. You should always look in
any available opening where you can see under the bathroom, the
kitchen, the battery area, etc for signs of floor rot. The good news
is that the windows are again available and modern synthetic seals
appear to work better than the original rubber-based product.

3. Units with Jalouise windows have more floor problems than trailers
with standard windows.

4. There must be an unwritten rule somewhere that trailer electrical
systems from the factory are never good enough and all previous owners
must fidget with them to get them "right." We have found two-wire,
light gauge extension cords with the three-way head hard wired into
the trailer and passing through a rough cut hole in the liner panels.
We have seen 50 amp screw-in fuses in a single fuse block powering the
entire trailer that was rated at 15 amps. We have seen the electric
brakes rewired to the reverse lights on the tow vehicle. (when you try
to back up, the brakes lock up.) Some Airstream trailers built before
1974 have all copper wiring, some have all aluminum and a few have
both. Aluminum wiring is a problem. Many people will say it is not but
just check with the Consumer Product Safety Administration's Web site
and look for the horror stories. Some well meaning people have
retrofitted their older trailers with GFIC outlets where no proper
ground exists on their system.

5. Axles wear out. They work harden with mileage which can lead to the
spindle breaking off. There are no odometers on trailers so we never
know how many miles are on them. Some folks who may or may not know
better sell used Airstream axles on eBay. If you are looking at at
trailer older than a 1974 model, plan on replacing the axle. It is
very inexpensive insurance policy compared to the damage and risk of
injury a wheel running loose down the freeway can cause.

6. Plumbing freezes and needs to be repaired...properly. I never fails
to amuse our employees the extent to which some people will go to
avoid making a good and proper repair on a frozen pipe. We have seen
layers and layers of fiberglass, resin and string wrapped around a
split pipe that still leaks. We have seen sections of automotive
heater hose spliced into copper potable water lines. We have even seen
sections of garden hose spliced into copper propane lines and held in
with twisted bailing wire for clamps.

7. Originality may or may not count. Here I will get dozens of replies
disagreeing with me...but here is my two cents worth. Truly original
vintage Airstream trailers are rare and really cool to find. We had a
1969 unit in a few weeks ago that still had its original 8 track tape
player in it. It even came with a good collection of tapes! The tapes
were even ones I used to have! However, my Ipod takes up much less
space and has better sound quality. The fridge in this unit still
worked but the owners will have to go outside and light several
matches every time the pilot light needs to be lit. A modern fridge
has a remote start. The furnace has untold hours on it. It works now
but will it work next fall?

Original units are cool but they might not be all that comfortable to
use, cheap to own or reliable. Some people think that an all original
trailer is worth more and to the collectors this is probably true.
There are, however, more users, travelers and campers than there are
collectors and curators. A vintage trailer is more like a house built
30, 40 or 50 years ago that was never updated and has been under
constant earthquake conditions than a "barn find" vintage car. With
that said, we try to match owners and trailers so that we aren't
ripping up nice vintage trailers to produce highly custom units. If
someone shows up with an all original unit we find a similar trailer
that has one wheel in the recycle yard for their project and a buyer
for the good one.

8. Make sure that your coach is in very sound physical condition
before you start redecorating. It is really disheartening to owners
and shops to have to take out all of your hard work on interior
finishes to get down to the bones of the project in order to repair
them. Start with the chassis, axle, belly pan, windows and shell
before picking out the "Route 66" fabric and the Coca-Cola accents.
The same goes for the electrical and plumbing system.

9. Units built before the early 70's do not have gray water tanks.
Campgrounds frown on dumping gray water on their property. Units built
before the mid 60s sometimes don't have sewage holding tanks.
Campgrounds REALLY frown at digging a hole under your trailer and
dumping into it! You will need to upgrade these systems so that you
can try to work around some persnickety rules that won't allow older
trailers into some campgrounds.

10. Some campgrounds won't let older trailers in. These rules are made
by zoning departments trying to keep things neat and clean. The are
aimed at Red Green who shows up with the 1980 Dodge Winnebago with the
sidesheets held on with duct tape, the tailpipe tied up with bailing
wire and the slant six engine dripping more oil than the Exxon Valdez
and he wants to leave it there until he "can make a few repairs." If
your Airstream looks nice and shiny (not necessarily polished) the
untrained eye of the gate keeper at the campground probably won't ask
how old it is. And if you are nice and safe while you are there, they
probably won't take a second look at the rest of us showing up as well.

I hope I haven't scared you away but that I have left you with open
eyes. Do not go shopping alone. Take a skeptical and hopefully
knowledgeable friend along. If you don't have a knowledgeable friend,
find a mobile RV repair tech to take with you or get the owner to take
the trailer to your friendly local Airstream dealer for a pre-purchase
inspection. It will give you great negotiating power. You should be
able to negotiate for any repairs required to keep you and your
intended trailer safe and dry.

Happy hunting!



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Old 03-06-2008, 03:54 PM   #16
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1956 22' Safari
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Conifer/Evergreen , Colorado
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Looks like pretty sound advice to me ~


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WBCCI #1824 - DenCO Unit Past President (2005)
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Old 03-07-2008, 10:12 AM   #17
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1998 25' Safari
Austin , Texas
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Posts: 65
Okay, I think I am going to try to sell the Tradewind (although I love nostalgia, vintage, etc.) and buy the Safari. I think the Tradewind is like a Cadillac compared to the Safari, but it makes more sense. Thanks for the help.
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Old 03-07-2008, 11:59 AM   #18
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1993 30' Excella
1969 18' Caravel
Lovettsville , Virginia
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Dude, you've only had the TW for what, less than a week? Why don't you at least drop the belly pan and have a look see at the frame condition first...

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Old 03-07-2008, 12:46 PM   #19
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1964 26' Overlander
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre
Anna , Illinois
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Which Stream?

Greetings DannyO!

Originally Posted by takenitez

Dude, you've only had the TW for what, less than a week? Why don't you at least drop the belly pan and have a look see at the frame condition first...

I'm with Bob. A well-maintained Vintage Airstream isn't necessarily something to be afraid of in regular use. I have no reservations towing either of my coaches anywhere that I choose to travel. It would be rather unusual to have all of the appliances fail at one time -- my Overlander and my Minuet have both required a few appliance replacements, but not all at once -- the Minuet needed a new water heater during its second season with me, a replacement for the original Uni-Volt during its third season with me, and a rebuild on the original PAR water pump last season -- it is still running with its original range/oven, and furnace (it didn't have an air conditioner when it came to live with me). Given the propensity for modern appliances to be designed for something in the neighborhood of a ten year useful life -- the appliance replacement routine could be an issue in a '98 as well.

I am not a do-it-yourselfer, and have had all of my appliance replacement and maintenance handled by my favorite Vintage-friendly Airstream dealer. By working with the service manager at the dealership, I have been able to have my work scheduled for slow times when there is a better opportunity to work with the coach, and I feel certain that through this advanced planning, I have been able to save some money on labor -- I know that I received very good off-season deals on the air conditioners for both coaches as well as a new furnace for the Overlander. If you have no serious reservations about the Tradewind other than the floor issue and "possible frame rust", I would encourage you to have it evaluated by a Vintage-Airstream-friendly shop before condeming what may be a very sound coach.

Good luck with your deliberations!

Kevin D. Allen
WBCCI (Lifetime Member)/VAC/Free Wheelers #6359
AIR #827
1964 Overlander International/1999 GMC K2500 Suburban (7400 VORTEC/4.11 Differentials)
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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Old 03-07-2008, 01:38 PM   #20
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1998 25' Safari
Austin , Texas
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 65
Kevin and Bob,

Thanks for the inspiration. To answer your question, Bob, the truth is I just don't have time. How long will it take me to drop the belly pan? I have a friend that's a welder, so if there is a problem, he can help me. To me, things usually boil down to a time and money issue. Between 56hr. work weeks, watching my 2 year old on my days off, and cooking/cleaning, I'm left with very little time. Just like Kevin, I am not a do-it-yourselfer, at least not for big things. To me, the difference in cost between the 2 trailers would offset any mandatory work needing done on the Safari. I'm just in a sticky spot. I'm really still torn. Thanks again. Anyone else with some insight? I'll look for a place in/near Austin to have it evaluated.
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Old 03-07-2008, 02:44 PM   #21
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the 98 safari READS like it has been badly abused, beat up...

and deconstructed from useful rv travel (note the list of removed stuff?)...

IF it really is 4k$ there are reasons for this price, beyond being a 'buddy'.

the tradewind READS like it is more travel ready and worthy...

soft flooring by the door IS common and not hard to correct, IF it's the only issue.

but there really is NO REASON to remove the pan or inspect the frame....

since you've expressed no desire or ability to do any repairs that my be discoverd.

so just get to the original goal of starting this thread...

and post the tradewind FOR SALE in the classified section here

if is UNLIKELY you will find a modern/ready to go trailer that doesn't have SOME hidden or major issues...

in the 4-8,000$ price range.

and still NO PICTURES?

all of the true things that i am about to tell you are shameless lies. l.b.j.

we are here on earth to fart around. don't let anybody tell you any different. k.v.
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Old 03-07-2008, 02:54 PM   #22
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1960 24' Tradewind
Anytown , Connecticut
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Being of sound mind I have this to offer; why not both? As you can tell I favor both models!

J. Rick Cipot
Sandi Gould
NEU New England Unit
Airstream Life Magazine
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2009 Silverado 2500HD
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1960 24' Tradewind
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Old 03-11-2008, 12:56 PM   #23
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1998 25' Safari
Austin , Texas
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I'm going to look at the '98 tomorrow, so I'll have more details.
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Old 03-11-2008, 02:39 PM   #24
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1963 26' Overlander
Austin , Texas
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Hey dannyO, you seem to be just about swimming in Airstreams here in Austin, while I'm having a hard time finding what I want in our fair city.

So, if you see an Overlander out there while you're deciding between the TradeWind and the Safari, please be sure to drop me a line! I'm not particular, I'm partial to pretty much any of the Overlanders from the 50s, 60s, or early 70s.
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Old 03-11-2008, 04:20 PM   #25
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1998 25' Safari
Austin , Texas
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utee, i'll keep my ear to the ground...would a tradewind work?
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Old 03-13-2008, 01:19 PM   #26
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1998 25' Safari
Austin , Texas
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utee, i was in bastrop yesterday and there is a place there that had tons of 'streams. i thought i saw a few overlanders there. i think it was called bastrop rv sales. everything looked overpriced.

on a side note, still no pics of the safari. 2air, it definitely has not been abused. it is very clean. it has about a 12in. in diameter dent in the rear, curbside corner panel (remember, backed into a tree?). everything else is in pretty primo condition. i think i am going to go for it.

concerning the safari, i am going to put a few bucks in it to restore it to being a six sleeper. does anyone have any ideas? the original dinette is gone and so is the original sofa. i've got a fairly blank canvas and need ya'lls help (you can tell i'm from texas, ya'll).
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Old 04-28-2008, 04:54 PM   #27
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1959 24' Tradewind
BREA , California
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Originally Posted by rickandsandi

Being of sound mind I have this to offer; why not both? As you can tell I favor both models!

I agree, if there is ANY way you can swing both, get both. then you will have the best of both worlds.
I personally am a fan of the classics, and will always go that route first, but i dont mind the work, and the frustrations and headaches, makes it that much more fun, however, ive been inside newer airstreams and they sure are nice.
if you can do it, go with both!!!
1959 Airstream TradeWind
1959 Cadillac Coupe DeVille
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Old 04-28-2008, 05:37 PM   #28
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With your requirements I recommend you do not buy either. You need to go to the dealer and buy a new one, make the payments and not worry about anything... unless you have the time that is.

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