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Old 05-11-2016, 08:51 PM   #1
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Guidance for first time buyer

Hallo!

I'm hoping to pick everyone's brain here, and eventually end up with the most magnificent full-time setup.

A bit of background.. I'm a mechanically savvy person, adept at 'creative' problem solving, skilled sculptor who is looking to take a fairly solid trailer body (shell, floor, pipes, wires - ideally - intact and working well) and turn it into a custom built (by my own two hands and an awesome laser) house/spaceship. I want the classic exterior and a sincerely un-classic interior.

In looking for my right trailer, I stumbled across a wise post on this very forum (whose author I have lost and I am so sorry about this! I will remember and put an edit on this post, I swear!), advising those who want to customize to find a trailer that is not original pieces, to not ruin an airstream but to find one that has already been cleared out of OG bits. That is what I want to find!

Please, with all your awesome AS wisdom, y'all in Texas especially (I went to UT, does that count for anything? If it counts against me, I renounce Mack Brown!) please help me find what I'm looking for!

If you can give me wisdom, encouragement, inspiration, any of it, I'd love it!

Here's to all of our dreams,
May they come true,
Except that one dream about the cow that ate me,
That was a terrible dream.

Claire
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Old 05-11-2016, 08:54 PM   #2
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I'm sorry I can't help you find your Airstream, but welcome to the forum! Wish you best of luck in your search.
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Old 05-11-2016, 09:13 PM   #3
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1983 31' Airstream310
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I do respect your desire to recycle some project that another has baled on, BUT understand that renovating a trailer is more science than design. You have to understand tonque weight and how much weight your trailer is rated to carry. Axle ratings and being able to measure side to side weights. Airstream engineers have it down to a science as to where to put the weight and where not too. They also take into account the possible weight for storage bins and compartments.

The advantage of buying an old tired, but stock interior, is that you can divide the trailer into sections and by weighing everything you take out of that section; you know how much to put back. If you end up putting back less weight in the front, you must also take out the same amount of weight in the back.

If you for example, decide to ceramic tile the whole rear bathroom/ shower, you will end up with a rear heavy trailer that will be untowable. The resulting trailer sway would cause an accident. Google trailer sway, as it even happens with unevenly loaded stock trailers. Scary stuff.

I totally renovated my 310 turbo diesel moho, and even though I didm't have to worry so much about weight placement, being a moho; I was still very concious about how much weight I was putting into the moho.

The cabinets (I'm a cabinetmaker by trade) I built for the moho have no bottoms, very small side gables, no backs and used the counter top as the top of the cabinet. They were a face frame, with everything hung off the front of the cabinet.

Cheers
Tony
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Old 05-11-2016, 09:21 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Isuzusweet View Post
I do respect your desire to recycle some project that another has baled on, BUT understand that renovating a trailer is more science than design.
Thank you so much, Tony, for immediately giving valuable advice! Although I am not one for trying to reinvent the wheel with a bigger, heavier wheel, I know I will keep in mind your very wise caution to keep true to the original balance and weight of the design.
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Old 05-11-2016, 09:29 PM   #5
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Guidance for first time buyer

My 72 was a basically stock but a "well used" trailer. I felt bad for about three minutes after stripping the stock stuff out.

My 75 is still essentially stock, but if and when its current use is finished, I will strip the stock interior out of it also.

The way I see it, Airstream made lots of stock trailers, there will always be stock trailers, but not another like mine.

That said, I can also respect that there are folks who want to see these trailers remain factory stock.


Superat stultitia.
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Old 05-11-2016, 09:43 PM   #6
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The way I see it, Airstream made lots of stock trailers, there will always be stock trailers, but not another like mine.
Haha we are of a like mind! I want my trailer to be my own, and there is no substitute! But if I can get there by taking a trailer that is not such a great candidate for interior restoration, all the better for all of us!

It's for the greater good!
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Old 05-11-2016, 10:25 PM   #7
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Dear Murphy,

First - welcome aboard. Aluminitis - We are Borg, resistance is futile.

The good news is that you live in Texas, the bad news is that you can travel a LONG way in Texas to find a nice Airstream.

The better news is that Texas has two "Airstream only" parks (use the Google option under the search tab to find them.) AND where there is an Airstream Park there are older Airstreamers who age out of ownership and move to independent living facilities or nursing homes. Sometimes they die IN the Airstream so if that is a deal breaker - be sure to ask.

Every park I've ever visited has about half a dozen Airstreams for sale - sometimes WITH the membership in the park, sometimes not. In Texas a lot of Airstreams are kept under a roof (Hail and sun baking precaution), and many have been mostly stationery for years. That can be hard on the axles and tires, but the body can be ding free because of that.

IMHO, don't limit yourself to a "gut job" though - because frankly some people who start these projects are so impulsive they don't bother to do any research or planning ahead of time. They can do a lot of damage just doing the gut job. And really nasty old rodent hotels - hanta virus!

You may find a nice 20 year old unit with aged interior just calling "pick me, pick me" as you walk by. There have been a few brilliant redo's of brand new off the factory floor Airstreams. (That may be a bit over the top but... you buy it, you do what you want with it.)

Do be sure to spend a lot of time looking at and going through as many different Airstreams as you possibly can - new and used. The design of a floor plan can be deceiving. For instance the big Airstreams (25' and up) are now all "wide body" - 8.5 feet. Older ones are 8.0 feet and that makes a BIG difference in door swings, hall widths and storage. The curve has changed too - new ones are a bit more squared off - older ones really are tubular. People who've seen only vintage units have gasped when they see my upper storage.

After that, do think outside of the box. The dinette has changed a lot recently due to hydraulic lift tables and table tops that rotate and slide. And some very clever convertible furniture options can really allow you to transform spaces for multiple uses.

And of course your real challenges - to make something both Beautiful and Lightweight AND Low Maintenance. Ever seen a "ghost chair"? It's made of clear acrylic. Beautiful and quirky at the same time. There are impressive end tables, coffee tables, etc. made of the stuff.... but OH polycarbonate looks like crap if you don't constantly dust and polish it with special cloths and cleaners.

In the end Formica IS kinda hard to beat - Takes a lot of abuse, cleans easily, and you don't have to sell your first born to replace it if it gets damaged or you just want to change your color scheme. I did my Avion with stainless steel on the cooking/dishwashing surfaces. My stove cover will have to be a wooden one or I won't have a place to use my induction burner If I have hookups, I use the induction burner because I can set it on a timer so the tea kettle becomes the alarm clock. REAL Coffee is a pour over away!
I wouldn't be without a propane hob, but those cheapo-cheapo Nu-Waves continue to perform flawlessly.

Paula
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Old 05-13-2016, 02:15 PM   #8
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OP, the one critical detail you have left out is your budget, both what you expect to pay up front for the trailer, and what you intend to put into it in total.

If you are hunting for a trailer in that sub-$5000 purchase price range, it is very unlikely you are going to get the "solid bones" that you are looking for. If you are hunting in this price range, expect to kick a lot of tires and go through a lot of "buyer's inspection checklists" (available on the portal page) before you give up in disgust and buy a shell-off candidate out of desperation.

Now, if you are willing to go up to the $10-12k purchase price range, then you should be able to find that trailer that someone bought, repaired the floor and frame, and put into working condition and went camping in for a few years before letting the trailer go to the next owner. It won't be a work of art, but should be safe, solid, and fully functional. You still need to know what you are looking at, though. There are plenty of trailer "flippers" out there that take a shell-off candidate, do some superficial fix-ups, shine it up and put a $12000 price tag on it, advertising it as "totally rebuilt."

From my personal experience, I spent over two years looking for that "perfect" trailer, and finally ended up driving from Houston to Destin Florida to buy a trailer sight unseen. This brings up another piece of advice: Don't drive more than a few hours to look at a trailer, as nobody wants to go home empty-handed after driving 600 miles. I have now completed a shell-off and am still working on the cabinetry. Had I bought the very first trailer I looked at, I would at least be done with the rebuild by now!

The only other advice I have is that Craigslist is your friend, but the good trailers get snapped up quick, so be ready to roll at the drop of a hat, have cash in hand, and watch out for scams. Don't buy anything sight unseen, avoid ebay (prices get bid up higher than is reasonable), and don't believe anything a seller tells you (they all think their trailers don't leak).

good luck!
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Old 05-14-2016, 02:54 AM   #9
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Old 05-14-2016, 03:25 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by murphyslaw View Post
Hallo!

I'm hoping to pick everyone's brain here, and eventually end up with the most magnificent full-time setup.

A bit of background.. I'm a mechanically savvy person, adept at 'creative' problem solving, skilled sculptor who is looking to take a fairly solid trailer body (shell, floor, pipes, wires - ideally - intact and working well) and turn it into a custom built (by my own two hands and an awesome laser) house/spaceship. I want the classic exterior and a sincerely un-classic interior.

In looking for my right trailer, I stumbled across a wise post on this very forum (whose author I have lost and I am so sorry about this! I will remember and put an edit on this post, I swear!), advising those who want to customize to find a trailer that is not original pieces, to not ruin an airstream but to find one that has already been cleared out of OG bits. That is what I want to find!

Please, with all your awesome AS wisdom, y'all in Texas especially (I went to UT, does that count for anything? If it counts against me, I renounce Mack Brown!) please help me find what I'm looking for!

If you can give me wisdom, encouragement, inspiration, any of it, I'd love it!

Here's to all of our dreams,
May they come true,
Except that one dream about the cow that ate me,
That was a terrible dream.

Claire
Check out VARR Airstream in Heber City Utah. Good people with vintage AS inventory at all levels of finish.
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Old 05-14-2016, 03:28 PM   #11
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Check out VARR AS in Heber City, Utah. Nice people good selection of Vintage AS at different levels of finish.
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Old 05-17-2016, 12:09 PM   #12
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Baton Rouge , Louisiana
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Choosing and Renovating Airstream

I purchased a 1973 31' mid bath Land Yacht AS

Suggested advice:

Purchase a mid bath if you can. A forum member recommended this to me when I was looking. He said they pull better since weight in center. That is if you are shopping for 31'. The shorter ones have become more popular lately.

Renovation, I removed the following items:
Original refrigerator-you can now purchase an Avanti AC/DC refrigerator
Inverter-replaced with NOCO Genius battery charger.
Furnace-replaced with wall mounted propane unit
Toilet-Visa portable (Dicks Sporting)

Added:
Flat screen TV on cabinet wall (near frig)
Radio, cd player (above frig)
Small fresh water tank
Solar panels to charge battery (last to do)

Converted:
Fresh water belly tank to grey water holding tank
Many of the parks have reliable fresh water and showers.

AC make sure you check it for brand, age and is it cooling before you purchase.

Also, my opinion of the Airstream "Air Frame" was well ahead of its time and still is. But the appliances were dated and you can purchase many new appliances to fit your needs.

Last and importantly, chances are you will need to seal where the wall (outside) skin meets the covered belly skin. The connection is directly beneath the aluminum trim that runs along the bottom of the AS.
I used a spray on sealer that you can purchase from HD or Lowes
hope this helps
BW
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Old 05-17-2016, 12:55 PM   #13
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I really respect all of you who get a vintage AS and restore it. Something eternal about that. I however, have no desire to do that. I want mine to be so newly fresh that it still smells like it. Maybe in 25 or 30 years, someone can buy mine and do a restore on it.
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Old 05-17-2016, 12:56 PM   #14
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I'm the same way. I bought a 2014, and in 20 years it will be vintage and I will still own it. I may do a restore or two along the way.
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