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Old 11-01-2002, 04:32 AM   #1
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Buying a trailer that has sat for 10 years

Hi,

My first post here.

I will be looking at a 67 Airstream soon that has been sitting for ten years. It appears to be in good shape but I do not have experience in assessing the systems and would appreciate any information that might help. I'd also appreciate tips on overall assessment--what to look for.

Many thanks,

Nicholas
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Old 11-01-2002, 05:10 AM   #2
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Sat in one placed lived in or unused?

Covered or uncovered?

If you found this for sale, can you tell us how the seller described it to you to get us started? Model?

There are a number of resources we can point you to, if you give us a little more info on your find.

Best regards;
-BobbyWright
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Old 11-01-2002, 05:55 AM   #3
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Look it over GOOD!

Go over it thoroughly. Check the floor, especially the bath and under windows. Check the windows as the '67 models have frameless glass, the couple I've seen have leaked, some of the other members may have some better insight into that. Something I do in my looking for a unit is open all the cabinets and inspect the walls and floors for water trails and see if the wheel wells are still attached, surprisingly I've looked at a couple lately that have had the wheels wells come loose and have evidence of water damage around them. Don't forget to check for axle sag.

Good Luck!

Jason
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Old 11-01-2002, 06:54 AM   #4
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I live in Mich. and have seen the temp inside my motorhome get over 120. Look for damage from heat, warped and cracked wood, delaminated counters or anywhere adhesive is used. Leaks have had years to go undetected and do damage, be very careful of the floor perimeter and any wood near the walls. Any rubber, fabric and plastic will also be affected. The brakes will be shot and for the price I would replace drums, bearings, seals, and backing plates. Look at the frame and stringers as best as possible, they have had years to rust away.

John
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Old 11-01-2002, 11:33 AM   #5
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Look for permanent resident critters (Mice etc.) which will lead to lots of mousey DOO. Mouse doo is not healthy and must be cleaned out.
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Old 11-01-2002, 01:40 PM   #6
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Buying a trailer that has sat for 10 years

A concern for such a trailer in the midwest that might not apply to the west coast would be the gas appliances. Between mud daubbers, and other insect/rodent pests I would be suspicious of trying to light any of the gas appliances prior to having the burners inspected and cleaned. Just during normal off-season storage, I usually end up with cobwebs causing problems in either my water heater or furnace burners.

Another concern would be the propane tanks if they are still with the trailer. I didn't learn this until about a month ago. The tanks that I took off of my Overlander (four-year old OPDs that were replaced with new Worthingtons) had been sitting, partially filled and unused in my carport for more than two years - - thought that I would use them on my recently acquired Argosy rather than re-certifying its tanks - - my dealer informed me that the propane in my OPD tanks had become contaminated during storage and both tanks would need to be purged and the valves would need to be removed to clean the tanks before they could be re-used - - the cost of the service was going to be more than the two tanks had originally cost so they will likely be turned in to the propane dealer for disposal. The warning that I received from the dealer was that the contaminated gas could have permanently damaged every one of my propane using appliances had I connected the tanks to my Argosy as planned. I knew that gasoline became unstable during prolonged storage and would damage an automobile, but this was my first education regarding old propane and RVs.

Kevin
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Old 11-16-2002, 03:48 PM   #7
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Update on sitting trailer

Hi again,

Thanks to all of you for your replies.

The trailer in question is a 30' sovereign and is a 1968 not a 67.

New information:

It has sat for 8 years not 10. It sat in the lee of a building away from trees. It sat unused. It had been used steadily up until the present owner purchased it to restore. He didn't get around to it and is now looking to move it on to a new home.

The skin is essentially good, although there is a deformity (light bowing) over the wheel wells. I suspect it is sagging a bit. The trailer sat without the front and rear stabilizers being lowered.

The exterior vents and panels and trim are all there. The major concern (apart from brakes and axles and the like which we would have serviced before any major move) is what sort of problems may have emerged in the water systems and electical system. The information on the propane was very welcome, thanks Kevin. How would one go about checking the water systems? Do the batteries (there are 2 deep cycle marine batteries behind the rear utility hatch) charge up from mains?

There are some water stains on the base of the vertical wooden panel next to the fridge and some under a window that was broken and replaced. It is all dry now.

That's what we have for now,

Thanks,

Nick
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Old 11-16-2002, 06:18 PM   #8
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You're getting some good advice. Let me add... I'd probably put the trailer on jackstands before moving it and replace all the tires... while pulling the drums and inspecting the hubs and brakes.

If the batteries have been sitting there uncharged for 8 years, just replace them. Trojan makes some great 115AH Group27 batteries.

Go around the perimeter of the trailer with an awl, trying to punch it through the floor... especially under windows.

If you have any doubt there have been mice or rats in it, wear a good mask during the inspection. When I was younger, I got spinal meningitis from inhaling something while clearing a rats nest off the intake manifold of a car that had set for one winter... I almost didn't make it... and the pain makes you beg for death. Don't take the chance.
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Old 11-17-2002, 02:28 AM   #9
 
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Overlander64,

Could you explain how propane can damage a system , even if it is old? I think the person who told you that, was either pulling your leg or incompetent.

Ron
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Old 11-17-2002, 07:33 AM   #10
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Bow over the wheels- there has been a lot of debate over the years involved, cause, etc. of frames bending on some of the older Airstreams. I would search this site for this info and try and see if this has affected the trailer. It is a major job or expense to repair.

The water system- figure on the pump being shot. I can't imagine the diaphragm would have lasted all these years. Don't know the possibility of it having frozen in your area, but that is probably the biggest and most expensive problem. Water heater also may be corroded, both the tank and gas. It will be pretty nasty from having sat for years if not drained. Anyway it can be hooked up to a hose and tested? The dump valve may also be shot from no use for this long, no gray water tank unless it has been retrofitted.

Electrical should be the best shape of all systems unless it was damaged by rodents. The batteries are definitely shot, but do charge off 110v when plugged in or on the tow vehicle.

The propane tanks are probably so old the certification has expired and won't have OPD valves anyway so contamination won't matter.

John
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Old 11-17-2002, 09:25 AM   #11
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Buying a trailer that has sat for 10 years

RE: Contaminated Propane Tanks

Greetings Ron!

I am quite confident that the advice that I received was correct. The tanks involved were steel, and had sat unused in my carport for more than two years. My Airstream dealer, Ace Fogdall RV, diagnosed the problem with the tanks when I proposed installing them on my recently purchased Argosy Minuet. There are three possible causes of contamination (that I am aware of) - - chemical reaction of the chemicals added to the propane to produce the distinctive odor if a leak occurs with the steel, corossion caused by high humidity and frequent temperature changes, poor quality propane from last fill (I suspected this as the last time these tanks were refilled was at a campground station where the attendant didn't seem to know what he was doing).

Kevin
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Old 11-17-2002, 09:58 AM   #12
 
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I'm still not convinced

Ron
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Old 11-17-2002, 10:10 AM   #13
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Buying a trailer that has sat for 10 years

RE: Contaminated Tanks

Ron,

All I can say is that you have to develop trust in the experts that you deal with. If my Airstream dealer with whom I have done business for more than seven years tells me there is a problem, I am going to trust his recommendation. He has yet to steer me wrong as I have very rarely encountered any trouble of any kind when I have followed his advice. In this situation, I had the additional reason to follow his advice as it would protect and prevent damage to the expensive propane appliances - - no sense risking replacement or major cleaning of LP burners in the refrigerator, water heater, furnace, oven, and range top I have had to replace the water heater, furnace, and refrigerator in my Overlander as a result of age - - didn't want to experience this prematurely with my little Minuet if it could be avoided. The added labor to just clean to burners after exposure to contaminated propane could easily surpass the cost of the soution that was implemented. I have encountered contaminated propane problems in some rental property that I own so wasn't terribly surprised by the findings.

Kevin
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Old 07-16-2014, 10:02 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cory_can View Post
I've read through most of the first couple pages of this thread (until it was side-tracked a few times) and I must say that several of the original posts OT have slightly turned me off purchasing my first AS. My wife and I are busy professionals (I'm 40 and my wife is 39). We have been camping in various ways for years and have an 8yo son. We recently went from a tent to a hybrid trailer and discovered quickly that we wanted something different. After looking at the common white box models we decided to look at AS (which I have admired for years) and we both fell in love. Our intention is to purchase new....not because it was "shiny" but because we don't have time to take on a project and wish to enjoy it immediately. We also prefer the updated interiors and amenities. My impression was that the entire community would be open-armed regardless of model and it would be a unique informal club (vintage and late model alike) that I would be joining. However, the mentality (from many vintage owners) that new purchasers are all snobby elitist that don't know what a crescent wrench is....is disappointing. My wife and I are busy and have made a good life for ourselves through hard work and schooling. I'm in the I.T. industry but regularly wrench my own car, do all my own properties landscaping and perform various "handyman" tasks to keep my home running. I'm sure I'lll be plenty capable of performing the same tasks on my trailer....computer, electronic, mechanically or otherwise. My point is that not all of the young purchasers of new AS are useless snobs with a cheque book. Being able to afford an AS isn't an automatic predetermination of a persons skills/values/attitude. I'll be the first to approach ANYONE with ANY unique or interesting trailer (or even tent setup) to start up a conversation and chat about our shared love of camping. It's about the camping after all ...the places you go, the experiences and the time with your family. Just because someone can afford a slightly nicer/newer atmosphere to sleep in doesn't change those facts.
Quote:
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Well said!
Larry
I'm with Larry - VERY WELL SAID -

We purchased an (almost new) unit and in no way does that make me some type of useless snob. I'm more than capable of looking after my unit - in house.

All this means is I have the ability (after a lifetime of work) to prioritize some funds toward something I want. If people think that makes me elitist - it only shows how shallow some peoples thought process can be.
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