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Old 02-18-2009, 03:50 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by atobols View Post
This is what really scares me! We can do a lot of things, but I really don't want to get into replacing the frame or the floor.

We won't even consider buying unless we can get inside and check it out. What do we need to look for specifically that would tell us that it isn't structurally sound?
Like CanoeStream said, take a knife or better yet an ice pick or sharp-pointed awl. If there is floor root, it is most often found around the edges. The likely spots are under any and all windows, right in front of the front door, and in the bathroom, especially if it's a rear-bath model.

There will be furniture in the way in most of these places. Open the access doors and get to the back edge, and push the ice pick into the floor. If it goes in, that's a soft spot. It it's a soft spot, that is floor rot. Very small soft spots (in small numbers) can be repaired without doing a full floor replacement. Large soft spots, or worse yet, just areas of total decay where the flooring is gone, will require a floor replacement.

Test the entire perimeter of the coach, and test under every plumbing fixture too (sinks, faucets, the bathtub itself if you can get under it). Yes, it feels VERY weird to poke someone else's property with an icepick, I can assure you. But what would feel even worse would be to pay top dollar for it, get it home, and then find out you need to replace the floor.

Protect yourself. If the seller doesn't want you poking it with an icepick, then there is likely something to hide.
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Old 02-18-2009, 03:54 PM   #16
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I did look and saw that it said 1800 - 2400. I just figured that this one was probably in the "about as bad as possible" condition rather than "as found." That should cut the price in half, right?
Heh... well, yes, kind of.

"About as bad as possible" is relative though, you know? Mine needed a rear floor and partial frame replacement. I knew this when I bought it, and was still okay with it. The key for me was KNOWING what I was getting into. It didn't take me by surprise. Also, I included the known condition into the amount I was willing to pay for the coach.

I really do suggest you take a look at those major renovation threads. They are a real case of "the good, the bad, and the ugly." I read through them all on a bi-monthly basis. I find them to be inspirational, seeing the amazing work people have done on trailers that were in far worse condition than my own.

There is plenty of support here for you. But remember, there is ALWAYS another one.

Good luck!

-Marcus
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Old 02-18-2009, 03:57 PM   #17
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... Your excursion Ford probably (but not for sure) is not gonna be the right Tow Vehicle for this trailer. (but you could prob get it home with that)



Excursion is probably the PERFECT tow vehicle -
  • 7,000# + dry weight -
  • Tow capacity is probably 11,000# (V-10 or Diesel). The sovereign loaded for camping will be in the mid 6,000 # range, still easily handled by a 5.8 liter Excursion.
  • Excursion is at least 6" larger than the Suburban/Yukon in all dimensions.
Don't forget, you will STILL need an anti sway weight distributing hitch - a good Reese Dual Cam on the used market should be less than $350 - double that if you buy new.
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Old 02-18-2009, 04:10 PM   #18
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Excursion is probably the PERFECT tow vehicle -
  • 7,000# + dry weight -
  • Tow capacity is probably 11,000# (V-10 or Diesel). The sovereign loaded for camping will be in the mid 6,000 # range, still easily handled by a 5.8 liter Excursion.
  • Excursion is at least 6" larger than the Suburban/Yukon in all dimensions.
Don't forget, you will STILL need an anti sway weight distributing hitch - a good Reese Dual Cam on the used market should be less than $350 - double that if you buy new.
Wow, I was a little worried for a second there. Thanks for reassuring me. We do have the v-10 and we bought it specifically for towing. DH has already been searching for a used Reese distributing hitch too. I guess he does know what he's doing sometimes.
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Old 02-18-2009, 04:12 PM   #19
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Looks like a 31' center bath. I see many more with rear baths, so to me the center bath is more desireable. As others have already stated, plan on lots of work to bring her back to road worthy/usable condition. Any thing can be fixed if you throw enough money at it. But major problems are very expensive to fix.

If this is an auction and you are unable to arrange a "preview" inspection I would strongly recommend you do your research on potential trouble spots. It would also be a good idea to look through the listing of volunteer inspectors on this forum, to see if you can locate someone in your area who may be willing to look things over with you on the auction day.

Best of Luck,

Kevin
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Old 02-18-2009, 04:16 PM   #20
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4th Your excursion Ford probably (*but not for sure) is not gonna be the right Tow Vehicle for this trailer. (but you could prob get it home with that)
* EDIT:
I stand corrected. I musta been thinkin Explorer. Glad I had included a "not sure".
BTW you prob will not need the towing quality hitch Dennis mentioned just to get her home, of course depending on the distance etc.
I'd sure prepare to have someone trailing my pull home with a walkie-talkie or good cell conection if possible.
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Old 02-18-2009, 05:45 PM   #21
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Hello

Hi... Welcome to the wonderful world of Aluminium... Beware of the smell of urine.. We are up for projects BUT not a rat infested trailer.. LOTS OF WORK and wear masks at all times even in no urine smell also beware of the dangers of mildew. We looked at an Airstream today and could not even get past the door to look inside because of the urine smell ..
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Old 02-18-2009, 05:55 PM   #22
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We won't even consider buying unless we can get inside and check it out. What do we need to look for specifically that would tell us that it isn't structurally sound?
Many good comments here! We looked at a very nice (body) Overlander that smelled musty when we got inside. My inspections caused me to sneeze a lot and use half a box of kleenex the remainder of the day. I found very damp floors on several perimeter areas. A couple had rot on the top veneer. There was more general rot under the front window with a couple through-and-through holes. At the back bumper there was floor rot you could have put a cat through.

Floor perimeter checks to make: The rear bumper is a prominent leak area even without rear-end separation. Rubber gaskets age, get hard and lose their seal. Check for squishy floor by the door. Open things up to get access under as many windows as possible. Check inside around any gasketed exterior compartments (eg, battery or storage compartments). Read http://www.airforums.com/forums/f163...nts-24437.html
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Old 02-18-2009, 06:27 PM   #23
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It is a center bath, rear bed room since the rear bath model does not have a rear side window. That's good, less chance of rear frame damage. It looks like the weeds were just trimmed recently so this thing was probably surrounded by tall weeds which would indicate that no one has been inside for a long time. The body looks good on the one side in the picture. In addition to the other items mentioned in previous post you can almost count on freeze damage to the water lines, fixtures, water pump and maybe holding tanks. The AC is the old original Armstrong. It may still work, but that would be a stretch. All of this is fixable though.

Also don't expect that you will be the only interested bidder. These old Airstream's are quite often purchased by people you pull them to another location, clean them up a little and then list them for sale as "road ready" at a higher price. How do I know this, the 2 Airstream's that I have owned were initially in about the same condition and I bought them from people who had done just that.

You are looking at a lot of work, time and money. I used to keep a running total of the cost I had put in to my 1976 31' center bath that I bought in 2000. But I stopped doing this as the cost kept going up.

But if you can get inside and determine that the floors are solid and you are reasonably sure that its not rodent infested and there is no structural damage, then go for it. I lot of people on this forum have done just that.

I would say a max bid of $1,000.
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Old 02-18-2009, 06:41 PM   #24
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Arrow

On looking back on your orig post I see the actual sale will be at 4:00PM. Prob means you will have to pick it up the next day.
Canoe stream's advice is good. However you may not be able to open the exterior hatches (battery, rear access, refer, etc) without a key. I bet the keys are missing. Do not force the things too much to open.
Same with entry lock. I hope they didn't destroy it to get in. Inside flip the mattresses if they still exist and try to raise the bed platforms to expose what you might under them.
Take some flashlights that work for your inspection.
Take some leather gloves and plan on crawling around a bit on your knees on a probably filthy floor.
I made a poker stick by securely lashing the ice pick to a cane so I could probe in spots without always kneeling and to reach back into cabinets etc. I also carry a short ice pick or awl .
Check every window latch, some of the vent cranks in ceiling will be stuck so take care not to twist too hard.
Do the rear end separation dance on the rear bumper.
Check condition of entry door lock carefully. A replacement is prohibitive, but repairs are sometimes possible. I would ask the Auction Co if they have opened the trailer and if there are keys or how did they get in?
Do Not let all this scare you away. Remember if you buy it for under 2000 you can prob get your money back.
But it is a project and IMHO a great one for the handy and the agile.
If there are lots of folks at the auction the lookers crowding in and thru her could cause new problems, but what can you do?
Good Luck and let us know; now that we are all enthralled...please.
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Old 02-18-2009, 07:09 PM   #25
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The longer the trailer the less expensive it tends to be. I have seen trailers this size and vintage go for $3,000.00, if the interior is intact.

I have trailers from two generations, a 1975 and a 1992. I have been shopping craigslist for three years. I have renovated two of them and have a pretty good idea what I am looking at.

This trailer looks straight, no sagging. It is heavy and you will need a LARGE tow vehicle.

Look for are water damage, any water damage.

The axles and brakes can be rebuilt. Take it straight to a service shop and have the brakes and bearings serviced. It doesn't matter how it rolls. It matters how it stops. I'd rather have it stop when I wanted it to then have it roll when I want. Although both are important.

Check the floor for soft spots. If it is soft, that is a real problem. The Tambor (rolling doors) can be rebuilt. There is a you tube video re: tambor door repairs.

One good thing is that it doesn't look like it was a live aboard. It was parked and stationary. That is a good thing, less wear and tear.

Make sure your rig will tug this thing around and good luck.
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Old 02-18-2009, 07:50 PM   #26
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An older fellow up the road from me has/had a late 70's model, rear bed, mid bath in excellent condition, new tires, nice awnings, clean, and usable immediately. He was ASKING 8000.00 for it. This was/is a trailer that could be used today. I would think more than 1500 would be stretching the budget and as everyone else has mentioned double your budget. We are in the process of refurbishing our old trailer and while we enjoy it the expenses never end!! Good luck in whatever you decide.

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Old 02-19-2009, 01:01 AM   #27
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Not what you want to hear BUT...

I wouldn't pay more than $600 for it. Worst case - scrap it for that much in aluminum - plus some of the windows are gold for other restorers...

Not saying you'd decide to scrap it, but at that amount you can't screw yourself if the unit turns out to be a total money pit, needing a new frame and floor, all new appliances and has walls infested with mice carrying the Hanta Virus.

----------

Here is another view. "Time & Money permitting" are THE big issues with restoration. I've seen some high speed beautiful jobs done, but often these do it yourself projects get sidelined by real life and it takes a year or two to complete them. Think HOW much older your kids might be before you can even start camping. The tight budget alone tends to make you put projects on hold because unplanned expenses always pop up.

Go right to the Classifieds here - look at new or vintage. There's not a lot of units in your price range that are ready to go, but it's almost certain that you'll find more and better choices than this one if you look at your goal - which I think is GOING CAMPING AS A FAMILY.

Don't forget the associated expenses with a bigger camper - tow vehicle, storage, maintenance and license taxes. Virginia sticks us with an annual "personal property tax" which would just make you puke.

This unit SAT in a field for 25 years - unfortunately that is not a unique story. Lots of SOB's and Airstreams end up that way because people who envisioned enjoying camping simply found that (a) they didn't enjoy it (b) other priorities interfered (c) someone had a health crisis, etc. So here is a really radical and stupid SOUNDING idea. Airstream recently made an agreement with some KOA's to add Airstream rental units - I'm sure these are expensive to rent (I'd bet $500 per week). If I were playing around with the idea of buying an Airstream I'd pay $500 for a test camp. If it turns out to be wonderful then move forward, if it turns into the vacation from hell that nearly breaks up your marriage - you have $4500 left for counseling.

We want to make you a "pod person" - but here's a really sad example of what can happen to people who don't do enough thinking FIRST (me!). I didn't have financial issues when I bought a 22 CCD in 2005 - then in 2006 I fell in love with a 25 FB SE Safari and jumped into it - now I'm lusting for a 27 FB CCD..... and valiantly resisting temptation. Economically I'm OK for the foreseeable future, no kids and 60 years old... but I lost a ton trading up, and I just choose not to BLOW another $15K. I CAN be happy in my 25, and I will. I hope you'll find something that makes you very happy too.

Paula
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Old 02-19-2009, 03:52 AM   #28
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We bought our 31ft, 1976 Sovereign a year ago. Granted it has been taken care of a little better than what you're looking at; however, most of these big old trailers haven't been used all that much in recent years. This one was owned by a elderly gentleman who just couldn't keep up with it any longer. I think he said he'd pulled it about 60 miles each year to a campground, except for the last 3 years he hadn't been able to use it. Before you decide you are facing a total "gut" job, get a good look inside and see if you could use this trailer with just a little running gear work until next winter when we all usually do restoration. Take a look at balrgn's posts on his rennovation of a 1946 Spartan. He's having a blast bringing that old trailer back and I'm sure it hasn't moved in at least 25 years. Start your bidding at $500.00 and go from there. If this thing is a total mess, stop before you get much past $1500. This old Airstream may surprise you and be in much better shape than you imagine. Can't wait to see what you find out. For your $5000.00, there is an older Sovereign out there waiting. You will love the center bath, 31ft. They are not a nightmare to work on and so much fun to camp in.
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