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Old 05-15-2014, 08:02 PM   #1
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1973 31' Sovereign
Boerne , Texas
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First Airstream

My husband and I are looking to buy our first airstream. We are concerned about rust and frame issues. Can anyone tell me when to walk away and what to consider repairable?
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Old 05-15-2014, 08:58 PM   #2
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Everybody's walk line is going to be different, and it may even vary from trailer to trailer for the same person. My personal walk line was that I wanted to avoid doing sheet metal work, but the trailer I bought ended up needing a complete shell-off, and I have replaced a flat panel and a formed segment--it is a slippery slope. You end up discovering that none of it is rocket science, and anyone can learn to do the repairs needed.

Recently, I have seen forums members taking on projects that seem a bit desperate--trailers that have been crushed by falling trees, etc., I would definitely walk from one of those--but others see them as a challenge.

Long and short, do plenty of research on the forums, buy the back issues of the "Vintage Airstream Podcast," and you may succeed in calibrating your expectations. There are a lot of trailers out there in varying states of disrepair. I don't think they are so hard to find that rebuilding a destroyed trailer makes sense. But that is just me. If you want to spend your time camping, rather than rebuilding, then look for a trailer that has already had the "heavy lifting" done. Any trailer that is 50 years old, and has never had any renovation done to it will need a lot of work. It is all a matter of time and money. If you don't want to spend the time fixing it yourself, then it is going to cost to get someone else's work. The bargain priced, all original 50 year old trailer that can go camping with a little sprucing up is a rare animal indeed.

good luck!
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Old 05-15-2014, 08:59 PM   #3
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Oh, and welcome to the forums!
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Old 05-16-2014, 12:03 AM   #4
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1973 31' Sovereign
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Thanks. We looked at one today with significant rust damage to the frame. I'm all okay for fixing it up, but I'm not sure I'm ready to remove a frame from the body (if that's the right terminology) to weld it properly.
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Old 05-16-2014, 08:54 AM   #5
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Click on the tab called "Portal" right under the Air Forums banner at the top of the page. Down the Portal page, on the right hand side is a link the "inspection checklist." This will help to guide you doing inspections. The deal-killers, as I see them, are rear-end separation (which usually comes with frame rot and floor rot), extensive floor rot, and damaged aluminum skin that will require a panel replacement. There are also forums members who volunteer to do trailer inspections. If you find one that you are getting serious about, it may help to find an inspector to help you. The tool for locating them is also available on the Portal page.

good luck!
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Old 05-17-2014, 02:57 PM   #6
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1973 31' Sovereign
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Well, we bought a 1973 Sovereign with a center bath and back bedroom for a price we considered to be more than fair. It does have rear end sag, but my husband plans to gut it, at least partially, so we'll see how it goes. It'll be a learning experience no matter what.
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