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Old 10-21-2009, 09:52 AM   #1
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19' Used Bambi Purchase - Need Advice - Newb

Well been searchin' and researchin' for about three months now. Been to Bates RV in Tampa a few times, been on the internet daily checking inventory and talking to the folks at Colonial AS up in Jersey and all over RV Trader Online and our own Classifieds here on the forum. We're down to a 19' Bambi as the optimum trailer and the search is intensifying. I am going to see this trailer tomorrow:

1999 Bambi 19' Airstream - Airstream Trailer & Airstream Motorhome Classifieds

No price has been negotiated and that is not the purpose of my post. I need help in knowing what to look for in this 10 yr old trailer. From my research on the forum I have come up with this list:

Bad axles, frozen tubing, bad door and window gaskets, rusty frame, rear end separation, rusted LPG bottles, if they are steel, inop tongue jack, possibly broken windows that were replaced with plastic, missing rivets, damaged entrance door, ill fitting entrance door, leaky water heater, bad brakes, inop AC, sticky walls, cigarette smoke odor, leaky fresh water tank, bad tires, damaged sheet metal, silicone sealer on the exterior, inop toilet, rotten spots in the floor, damaged drapes, leaky windows, damaged sheet metal, inop exterior lights, bad ceiling light switches, discolored ceiling light lenses.

Not sure how Ima gonna figure all of that out on visit #1 but I'll do my best to hit the high points. If the forum could be so kind as to point out the 5 things I MUST verify before purchasing or at least know about so I go in eyes wide open I would appreciate it.

A few questions I have:

1. Is it easy to get a replacement rear mattress? I just think its creepy sleeping on someone else's mattress. Best place to buy one?

2. How difficult is it to refinish the floors? We despise carpet and will likely replace with Lino at least or maybe some kind of laminate. Is this as easy as a DIY in our home?

3. Wifey is real good with upholstery and making pillows etc, so we will defnitely change the pillow fabric and any drapes, etc. Anything to beware of in this project?

Again - just let me know what the major "oh s*&t" problems might be so I can be on the lookout for them.

Thanks!
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Old 10-21-2009, 10:15 AM   #2
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Hey Big John,
I noticed from the pictures that the walls are lined with the carpet like material. In addition to the things you have listed, you may want to look for dark gray spots on the ceiling about mid way over the bathroom sink on both sides. It may have not been an issue with the 1999 models, but it certainly is with my 2005. According to the AS factory, it is caused by the flexing of the interior aluminum panels, resulting in a fine aluminum dust leaching through the liner. Not a structural issue, but rather unsightly.

Check for any corrosion in the door hinges, tail light bezels, grab handles, and edges of the exterior panels. Again, only an aesthetic concern.

Regarding the mattress, we bought our AS new but we get a did get a memory foam topper and cut it to fit. It may be an alternative to getting a new mattress, which could be expensive because of its unusual shape.
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Old 10-21-2009, 11:36 AM   #3
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I would just say bend over and look at the axle. As you look in from one side to the back of the wheel on the other side you will see the arm from the axle beam to the center of the wheel. That arm should be slightly downward towards the wheel. If it is level or pointing upwards the axle is showing its age.

While floor rot should not be a problem in a trailer that young you got take an ice pick and probe just inside the door, hinge and latch areas, for soft spots. Highly unlikely but worth a check now rather than a discovery later.

As for changing the flooring it is not hard. I would suggest that if you do it you remove as much of the interior furniture and fixtures as reasonable and lay the floor through out. This will make the installation easier and look a lot neater.
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Old 10-21-2009, 11:54 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by big_john View Post

1. Is it easy to get a replacement rear mattress?

2. How difficult is it to refinish the floors?

3. Wifey is real good with upholstery and making pillows etc,

Again - just let me know what the major "oh s*&t" problems might be
hi john

1. yes it's easy to get a mattress, but not inexpensive. a/s sells them, many rv mattress vendors can custom cut to fit.

problem is it's just a chunk of foam and not so comfy. u'll have to try it. there are many upgrade options.

2. the ENTIRE interior sits on the flooring. so to do a GOOD job, stuff needs to come out.

one can cut around the interior bits and just recover the walking space but this usually doesn't look so good.

3. this means she/you can personalize the interior. LOTS of threads on doing interior accents.
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oh sh!t? well ANY major issue not discovered or disclosed may fit that expression...

but imo YOUR LIST of things to check is for OLD trailers.

yes many of those things are potentially problems with a 99 but u could be overwhelmed checking NON issues and miss important things.
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so 5 things for THIS unit...

1-make sure ALL the appliances and lights work, EVERYTHING, so TURN IT ALL ON....

including the furnace and a-c and fridge should be TURNED ON. stove, lights, jack, pump, audio/video, EVERYTHING.

PLUG the trailer into shore power AND use the 7 pin connector and check that EVERYTHING is operable.

2-make sure the plumbing is sound.

fill the water tank, run the pump and check the interior pipes while water DRAINS into the tanks, toilet too...

then go outside LOOKING for leaks.

3-check the shell, windows , roof top, and door for structural issues and signs of water entry. TAKE A LADDER for this.

4-FIND the factory sticker for WEIGHT specs and CONFIRM the CARRY CAPACITY.

then decide YOU will be able to live with a trailer that can only carry 400 or 500 or whatever POUNDS the sticker notes as spec.

5. LOOK CLOSELY at the TIRES.

find the 'born on day' and if the tires are over 5 years old, REPLACE THEM.

cracks, odd wear, thin thread, UNDER INFLATED or ANY signs of weakness REPLACE THEM.
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obviously the brakes will need to be checked and bearings repacked but these are inexpensive items and not deal breakers.

so don't confuse maintenance issues with structural problems, but do look for signs the unit has been 'cared' for.

a unit well cared for is a good thing and unit neglected and unused is a mystery and 'oh sh!t' in waiting...

cheers
2air'
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Old 10-21-2009, 12:41 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by big_john View Post
Well been searchin' and researchin' for about three months now. ..............................
1. Is it easy to get a replacement rear mattress? I just think its creepy sleeping on someone else's mattress. Best place to buy one?


Thanks!
A few years ago we replaced a mattress in a 15' travel trailer.
We went to a Denver Mattress Co. store. http://www.denvermattress.com/
We tried out several mattresses for home use and found one we liked. They then made one to our dimensions. It was a few inches higher than the original mattress and much more comfortable. If I remember correctly, they did not charge extra for the custom size.
Regards,
Ken
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Old 10-21-2009, 02:31 PM   #6
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The previous posts give good advice, one thing I'd add:

Ask the seller to turn on the refrigerator the day before you come to check it out, and bring a thermometer to see if it's okay.

The fridge and the AC are the two most expensive things to replace.

Make sure there is water in the system and start water heater while you're inspecting the trailer.

Good luck from a '99 Bambi 19' owner.
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Old 10-21-2009, 02:37 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by w7ts View Post
A few years ago we replaced a mattress in a 15' travel trailer.
We went to a Denver Mattress Co. store. Denver Mattress Company More Mattress, Less Money 1-866 Dr Choice
We tried out several mattresses for home use and found one we liked. They then made one to our dimensions. It was a few inches higher than the original mattress and much more comfortable. If I remember correctly, they did not charge extra for the custom size.
Regards,
Ken
Funny! We also went to Denver Mattress and they would not make a mattress to fit our AS.
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Old 10-21-2009, 02:50 PM   #8
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Have you thought of asking the sellers to tow it to an authorized A/S service center and pay for a bumper to bumper inspection?
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