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Old 12-02-2015, 02:14 PM   #1
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1976 25' Caravanner
Overland Park , Kansas
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Worth the Time/Money? 1976 Caravanner 25'

Excited to be making my first post here after "lurking" for a bit. Trying to sponge up some wisdom!

I have developed a pretty good idea of what to look for in purchasing an AS thanks to the many posts and guides available but figured some of you aluminum geeks wouldn't mind weighing in on yet another prospective first time trailer purchase. Some fresh ideas and perspective would be welcome since it's kind of overwhelming when most of the back and forth is within my own head! Being able to use the trailer straight away would be nice but not necessary. Ultimately we plan to reconfigure the floor plan and systems anyway to better fit out wants and needs. However, it could be a big advantage to get a feel for actually using it first, hindsight being 20/20 and all. It appears to be well cared for and not simply abandoned. The asking price is much more realistic than many other CL ads and makes me feel as if I would be dealing with a sensible person, ready to negotiate a little.

If it were located closer there would be no question about going to check it out. However, it's a 5 hour drive one way and I would have to either rent a truck or arrange to borrow my Dad's truck if we were really serious about buying.

Does it look promising? Is it worth the drive and potential disappointment upon closer inspection? Should we just save our time and money and look for something closer? What questions would you ask before driving all the way out there? Armchair observations wanted.

https://springfield.craigslist.org/rvs/5307035294.html
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Old 12-03-2015, 05:39 PM   #2
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1976 27' Overlander
Tampa , Florida
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Heres a pretty good thread on buying vintage. I put my detailed opinion in post 28.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f36/...-139925-2.html

Hope that helps.
Mic
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Old 12-03-2015, 06:13 PM   #3
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1972 25' Tradewind
North Vancouver , British Columbia
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The Caravaner is a layout that I really like, but they've replaced the gaucho opposite the kitchen with cabinets that don't really suit the trailer. The Caravaner had a reputation of having an ideal layout for entertaining. Aside from obvious damage to the king, you'd have to assess it for any other issues. Axles, furnace and water heater will likely need to be replaced sooner than later. It looks as though the fridge might have been replaced with an electric, residential model but I can't be certain as I can see a clear shot of it. You have to factor in usability and necessary repairs vs. cost.
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Old 12-03-2015, 06:17 PM   #4
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Here's a link to a site showing pictures of one of the same year with the gaucho still in place.

1976 Caravanner 25' - Vintage Airstream
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Old 12-03-2015, 06:17 PM   #5
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1976 25' Caravanner
Overland Park , Kansas
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Thanks Mixter! I remember stumbling across that thread not too long ago and felt that your summary was spot on. Called the owner and talked for a while today. Will be checking it out this weekend.
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Old 12-03-2015, 06:32 PM   #6
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1976 25' Caravanner
Overland Park , Kansas
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Yep, I've studied all those photos multiple times from the vintage gallery. You can never suggest that resource too many times though, so thank you!

I agree about the appliances that will likely need replaced soon and also thought the fridge looked like a residential type. I forgot to ask him about that today.
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Old 12-03-2015, 06:39 PM   #7
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I see nothing that especially stands out as a red flag. As noted by cameront 120 the second original couch has been removed and some cabinets put in that location. If the refrigerator is a residential 120 volt unit, that is a detriment if you plan to camp where hookups are not available.

There are all the usual cautions to observe. Tires, axles, checking for floor rot and rear end droop, any and all leaks. The exterior is going to need a fair amount of work to look decent. If the fresh water tank is leaking, missing, or otherwise not functional, that is another problem with non hookup camping. I am sure the electrical system probably has the original obsolete Univolt, and that should be replaced.

The dings and dents and general rough exterior surfaces only you can decide if you can live with.

Furnace and water heater will probably need replacing now or soon. All the soft goods, couch cover, curtains, floor coverings will probably need to be replaced, and they are not inexpensive.

You will be spending $4000 to $10,000 more on repairs and upgrades to make it decent.

I don't consider a 5 hour ride to look at it excessive at all, but then I am used to a lot of driving in my life. I would look at it first, decide, then go back to pick it up at a later time if the answer is yes.
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Old 12-08-2015, 09:32 AM   #8
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1976 25' Caravanner
Overland Park , Kansas
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It's Official

Thanks for the input all. No surprises upon inspection. The sellers were very kind and accommodating. They had trailer hook-ups and demonstrated the function of everything (except the non-functioning water pump). Then they left me with my checklist and tools to crawl all over it and poke around for nearly two hours while they worked on their new home.

Struck a deal for $5400 and towed it home without incident. Glad to officially be part of the Airstream community!

The exterior condition was actually not as bad as expected when seen up close and personal. The interior was a bit rough around the edges but overall average for it's age IMO. No strong odors were detected that might indicate smoking or extensive mold, just a bit dusty smelling. Inspected the sub floor in the usual trouble spots and it was better than expected though still rotting a little in some areas. No detectable rear end separation when bouncing on the bumper. Frame appears to be in good shape based on the exposed portions and peeking in thru the belly pan in one area. I will surely find some unexpected issues once I really dig in but I do believe it to be a good foundation for renovation and the fact that it is intact/towable allows the lady and I the advantage of measuring, planning, and testing our ideas over the winter.
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Old 12-08-2015, 10:53 AM   #9
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Congratulations on your new baby. What a wonderful Christmas present! Now you have the perfect excuse to buy all those new tools. You are going to have a fun winter this year. Hope to see you in an AS Sightings post soon. Pat
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Old 12-08-2015, 12:07 PM   #10
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Please post some pics. The CL ad has been taken down.
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Old 12-18-2015, 11:22 PM   #11
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1976 25' Caravanner
Overland Park , Kansas
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Ta Da

Okay, sorry for the long delay with pictures. The PO was very nice and gave us a tour of the trailer. Then I went about my business while he and his wife worked on the interior of their newly constructed house. Yes, that is a clipboard with a six page checklist based on all the suggestions from the forums on what to look out for plus a few of my own ideas. Just wanted to make sure I didn't gloss over anything in the heat of the moment. Some people say I'm quite thorough.

Everyone wants to claim that they got a great deal and of course we are happy with what we towed home. But I wouldn't say it was a steal by any means. Just so other prospective buyers have a reference, they were asking $6500 and we settled on $5400. Based on Mixters price guide and those of others I'd say this particular trailer is in the lower stage 3/upper stage 2/average category for its vintage.

Anyway, thanks to all on the forums and beyond who have shared their wisdom. I've done a lot of searching and lurking to uncover some really valuable info with respect to purchasing and knowing what kind of project we are taking on. Looking forward to contributing and being a part of the Airstream community!

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Old 12-18-2015, 11:33 PM   #12
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1976 25' Caravanner
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Here are some interior shots with the "warm" lighting.

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Old 12-18-2015, 11:42 PM   #13
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1976 25' Caravanner
Overland Park , Kansas
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And here is what we have to work with in terms of parking. Of course the backing situation never looks as challenging as it really is, with all the hitch-scraping angles and such. Can't really get it straightened out until clear of that tree.

Looking to move this spring/summer (currently renting) to a place with at least a paved driveway and small garage. It's a bit agonizing walking the dogs around our lovely neighborhood and realizing that nearly every house besides ours has a better work space....
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Old 12-18-2015, 11:51 PM   #14
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It looks like a nice trailer for the money.
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