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Old 02-25-2015, 08:44 AM   #1
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Need advice

My wife and I are looking at buying a 1985 Sovereign. Kind of a barn find, all original, been stored inside its whole life, even the tires are original. I am told that everything works nothing leaks. It has only been used a hand full of times in its life. what should I be worried about with the age of everything is it all going to need replacing soon since its hardly been used will it last for a long time? Just dont know enough. Any advice would be great. any ideas of a value of such a find? Thanks
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Old 02-25-2015, 09:01 AM   #2
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Greetings from the Flotida Panhandle

Welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

The very first thing that you need do is to replace all of the tires. The trailer should not even be moved with the thirty year old tires. beyond that, it will just be a matter of checking out all of the systems to see what still operates properly.

There may be a number of issues with some of the systems based solely upon age.

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Old 02-25-2015, 09:02 AM   #3
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pictures would help.
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Old 02-25-2015, 09:26 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocco1964 View Post
My wife and I are looking at buying a 1985 Sovereign. Kind of a barn find, all original, been stored inside its whole life, even the tires are original. I am told that everything works nothing leaks. It has only been used a hand full of times in its life. what should I be worried about with the age of everything is it all going to need replacing soon since its hardly been used will it last for a long time? Just dont know enough. Any advice would be great. any ideas of a value of such a find? Thanks
Even an expert takes a risk when buying vintage - if you can, look for a volunteer inspector in your area (Sioux Falls isn't the end of the world, but you can see it from there!). Here are a few quick ways to know whether to run (or at least drop the price drastically) or move forward.

Does the current owner have a valid title? It's virtually worthless if he doesn't (or can't get one before you do the deal.) A legit owner who's simply misplaced the title can get a new one pretty easily (might take a month)... if he says he can't because he bought it 12 years ago and never registered it or paid taxes, just walk away, or only take on that headache if the trailer is $500 or less.

Next SNIFF. Mouse urine? Or a real strong chemically smell (rotten particle board.) BAD news. Do a search for the gross and disgusting details. Also see "hanta virus". Look at the condition of the exterior skins. Pristine? good news. Look at the line of the floor, is it straight? Good. Stand on the rear bumper and bounce up and down. If the bumper moves independently of the body you've got bad frame damage and subfloor damage. A give-away price is appropriate, because you'll have to transport it on a flatbed and do a "full monte" frame off repair. If the unit passes the sniff test, then you take an ice pick and poke around the edge of the floor (in the cabinets, etc.) If it' goes in like cardboard, you've got a rotten subfloor.

Barn find - concrete floor, steel building, heated (GOOD) or dirt floor, old leaky wooden building with no climate control (BAD).

Even letting great unit sit will cause damage, appliances may simply rust out and propane lines can leak, BUT if it hasn't had lots of clumsy half-a$$ed "upgrades" and in fact is untouched, it will be easier to repair because you won't have to undo someone's mess before you start the upgrades.

Price reasonable? It is NOT vintage until it's fixed up - this is a 30 year old trailer, period. Fool wants $19,000 - well IF I strongly wanted this size and layout I might pay $5,000 for an unmolested trailer with great exterior skins. (you can find a newer 34 foot trailer for less than $19K). Problem is some fool will probably overpay for this one, better it be someone else.

Appliances work - doubt it, they've sat a long time, rust and gaskets wearing out alone will be a problem, but maybe not a fatal one.

Hope that gets you started on looking with slightly more critical eyes. If you get it for $1000 - you can sell it for a profit as a parts trailer, so that would NOT be a mistake, even if it didn't give you a working Airstream.)


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Old 02-25-2015, 09:36 AM   #5
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Yes remove the wheels and go get tires before you pull it out. It would be a real shame to have a tire go and damage the wheel well on the way home.

Odds are the axles will need replacement. This type of axle does not store well and the rubber loses it's elasticity. Not some thing that has to be do right away put one that should be considered. You can check them by looking under the trailer at the inside of the wheel on the other side. You will see a trailing arm from the axle to the spindle going into the center of the wheel. That arm should be pointing downwards at about a 10 degree angle. If horizontal or pointing upwards the axles will need replacement.

Short of a freeze up in the plumbing system everything else should have survived. Unless you are stealing this one I would ask to see the water system pressurized be handing over the cash. Because a problem there could be a deal breaker.
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Old 02-25-2015, 10:56 AM   #6
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No title isn't the end of the world, at least not in California. The 1971 Sovereign I bought in December wasn't registered for 10+ years. It took a lot of papers to fill out and someone to verify the VIN, but I got it done for $76.

My '71 is all original. Just assume nothing works and everything will need to be fixed or replaced and figure that into the purchase price.

Airstreams are crazy popular here right now. Even Airstreams needing a lot of work are going for $5000. Look at the '71 on eBay now needing 2 windows and a refrigerator (and probably a lot more) currently over $7000 and I don't think early 70's AS are as popular as other years. Just my .02 cents.
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Old 02-25-2015, 11:32 AM   #7
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The old saying "a fool and his money are soon parted" can only describe the prices paid for some Airstreams!!! I guess it is a good thing for some of us that are selling, or have sold quality trailers.
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Old 02-25-2015, 11:49 AM   #8
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The old saying "a fool and his money are soon parted" can only describe the prices paid for some Airstreams!!! I guess it is a good thing for some of us that are selling, or have sold quality trailers.
While I think part of that is true, some (including me) are willing to pay more for an AS that hasn't been 'customized' by the PO. Same holds true for the classic car market. It's only original once.
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Old 02-25-2015, 12:38 PM   #9
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thanks so much for all the advice, the seller is asking $13,900, I dont want to insult him but what do you think a fair price based on the little info I've been able to give you would be?
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Old 02-25-2015, 12:47 PM   #10
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Need to know more about it. Lenght and layout of the interior are ery much required to get an idea.
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Old 02-25-2015, 12:57 PM   #11
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a rear bath versus a rear bedroom makes a difference in value. Amongst other things already mentioned. Don't take the bait that you will need need axles right away.
That price you got less the set of tires is not too very far off. Once we see some good photos we can help you narrow the value down ...I've had two Sovereigns and made money selling both.
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Old 02-25-2015, 01:34 PM   #12
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This one has a rear bedroom. I haven't been able to physically see it yet, it is a little ways from home, I have just seen the pics from the ad. I'm trying to see if I can attatch them
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Old 02-25-2015, 01:55 PM   #13
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Here are pics hope I did it right
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Old 02-25-2015, 02:16 PM   #14
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Need advice

The pictures are really small...

But anyway, if the trailer has been out of the elements for all of its life It very well could be in immaculate condition.

It is OFTEN a very good choice when buying used to pay more for good/great condition, sometimes it is the smart move to pay significantly more.

I have a driver quality 55 Lincoln that I paid good money for, and I have a 39 Ford that I paid a little for.

At this point in time they are both drivers, but I have five or six times the money in the 39 as the 55.

Buying a clean unit, and paying for it, is almost ALWAYS cheaper than paying a little for a raggedy unit and renovating and restoring it.

A good clean trailer of this age that is stored inside is going to be a rare find.

You will need new tires and axles.

The refrigerator might not want to work if the chemicals have clumped inside the cooling unit, the propane regulator might be toast, and the water pump diaphragm might be toast after all these years, but if the plumbing has not frozen up over the years it should be cool, as should the rest of the appliances and fixtures.

If I had the cash, and the trailer was stored inside as advertised and in mint condition I would have no problem offering 10K and eventually settling on an amount closer to the asking price.

That is my take.


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