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Old 03-26-2015, 08:07 PM   #15
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Wanted: wisdom and experience. And a trailer lifestyle

Please don't get hung up on my original 2013 post lacking wisdom and experience. I didn't have any idea I couldn't ask you folks for a cheap rolling useable trailer at that time.
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Old 03-26-2015, 09:11 PM   #16
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Don't let the naysayers ruin your dream...however, many of us have come to the realization that even the expensive, used trailers demand time and money. The cheap ones just come with more surprises!

So what is your budget for this cheap, entry level adventure?
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Old 03-26-2015, 10:15 PM   #17
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I'm expecting total expenses between 10-15k to get running and useable plus more for upgrades that come along
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Old 03-26-2015, 10:33 PM   #18
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Oneshot...
Some of us here have had the dream of a 'reasonable' price like you were inquiring about. We had really bad experience... and we are trying to not blow smoke... because it really hurt to learn how messed up we were... From 'dream-to-scream'..

So.. a couple years ago we bought our first AS.... a 1999 34' Excella. We have invested a lot into it... and it is an 'ongoing' fix-fest... but I enjoy it. We purchased for $18k... upgraded to 50 AMP, added AC #2, ripped out carpet, installed engineered floor, replaced the bearings, fixed the electric brakes.. upgraded the LP rubber hoses and regulator, added a ProPride hitch... repaired some rust, leaks, floor rot...

Now we are considering re-upholstering... and the 34 is a joy to tow.. you would have some space for your critters and your bride and yourself...

Good luck... if anything we can help with... we will. Do your searching.... and, if you can get to purchasing one like we did, you can have some camping fun without the 'nickel and dime'....and long term disassembly (loosing parts, etc).
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Old 03-27-2015, 05:54 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Oneshot View Post
Thanks for the thoughts. We don't have a due date. I'm expecting a shell off could easily take 1-2+ years if I went that route. We will continue occasional tent camping and other forms of travel until ready. I kinda like the idea of the work and to get a trailer closer to what we need/want I think it could be a significant savings.
If that's the case then find something in your price range and have fun. Don't hold your breath on significant savings, you may save some in the form of sweat equity but you will have lots of hours that also have a value. If you haven't looked at my blog <points down> then you might want to take a look. I started with a trailer around 6 grand and probably have sunk about 4-5 grand in it since then, not counting the labor. I've lost track of all the hours that have gone into it. The only time I paid for some help was a couple hundred to weld brackets on the new axles. And I think mine was in better than average shape. I've seen much worse with frame damage from people posting on this board.

You asked for wisdom and experience, you're getting it. If it doesn't quite jive with what you were expecting, sorry, but it's all opinions from people who have been there and done it and are trying to help.
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Old 03-27-2015, 12:19 PM   #20
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My shopping list to AVOID based on this forum and others so far includes:

1) The OSB flooring instead of plywood years. (rotted flooring)
2) The Corning window years. 1966-1968 (pre-1965 window panes are not difficult to replace)
3) Tube frames in the 1940's.
4) The "lets lighten the trailer by using thinner gauge steel" era. (rusted frames)
5) The addition of clear coat.
6) Aluminum skin changes, dents, rips, tears
7) Smells
8) broken windows on old models
9) Inoperable appliances (to repair to original condition)

What else I should look out for? What of this is easier to repair if necessary?
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Old 03-27-2015, 02:44 PM   #21
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I think this is probably the minimum size we'd consider:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f46/...6-a-82366.html
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Old 03-27-2015, 08:27 PM   #22
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Oneshot

We have 2 'projects' at the moment. We picked them up 4 years ago and I am just now tearing back into the first one.
Our 73 Argosy26 was in 'campable' condition when we bought it , I knew nothing at the time, We went with the Argosy for $500 more over a 1964 Tradewind that the PO had gutted (I didn't want a project I said) Boy was I wrong! Shortly after purchase, I found this site. I was terrified and elated at the same time. Front and rear floor rot, bad axles, etc...
However, after perusing this site. I have found a treasure trove of knowledge and insight even when discouraged. I also look around at a lot of the 'project' trailers out there I am mostly comforted that I bought right (in my own mind anyway) We have less initially into both of ours combined than most basketcases I see. Keep your chin up and your eyes open. Your miles ahead of where I was when I started. As the GI Joe cartoon used to say...'knowing is half the battle'
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Old 03-27-2015, 10:38 PM   #23
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Oneshot,

All can be done my friend. I purchased a 1966 Overlander that had not been moved in 25 years for $1,500. Put four tires on it and pulled it from Maine-Florida-MO and back many a times before spending a dime in it. Got about 5K (total including purchase) in it now over the past 12 years and it has new axles, etc... So it can be done.

I would think about a 1969 or 1970 Overlander Twin Model an add bunks in the back. In 1969 the trailers got a little wider (good for kids) but the 69/70 models still had real wood in them. The 1960's models are a little less roomy though cool looking.

You can find nice trailers for $2500-$5000 if you just ride the back roads and stop and say "Hey, you want to sell that".

You can make it happen, some people just get wrapped around the axle here on the forums and feel the trailer has to be perfect before you can use it. Trust me, a gutted aluminum tent can be great on a rainy day ;-)

Enjoy,,
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Old 03-28-2015, 08:53 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oneshot View Post
My shopping list to AVOID based on this forum and others so far includes:

1) The OSB flooring instead of plywood years. (rotted flooring)
2) The Corning window years. 1966-1968 (pre-1965 window panes are not difficult to replace)
3) Tube frames in the 1940's.
4) The "lets lighten the trailer by using thinner gauge steel" era. (rusted frames)
5) The addition of clear coat.
6) Aluminum skin changes, dents, rips, tears
7) Smells
8) broken windows on old models
9) Inoperable appliances (to repair to original condition)

What else I should look out for? What of this is easier to repair if necessary?
I'm sorry if I rained on your parade but this site, Craigslist and Kijiji are littered with trailers bought by people with the same dream only to find out that they have no skills or drive to fix what needed to be fixed. "Gutted ready for your restoration, all the hard work done" is a mantra heard everywhere. The people that want you to succeed are the people telling you the the cold hard truth, "There is no such thing as a cheap Airstream" although the above poster found one but that's a needle in a haystack find.

As for your list plywood rots just as OSB does. The plywood in my 310 was marine grade fir plywood, but as I said in my thread, came out as compost. Which brings me to the worst smell you will ever smell in an Airstream, Febreeze or pine scent as it's what's used to cover the musty smell of rotting mouldy subfloor. Even 2007 models had big problems.

Eveything else on your list can be dealt with, even the appliances, and with your list start discounting certain models, BUT, and this is a big BUT, remember no matter what year trailer its condition will be determined by its care and storage from the PO. You can have a great year Safari stored out in the elements, over grass and leaks not taken care of; compared to a mid 70's, 80's 34' stored indoors with the stabiler jacks supporting the rear end for most of its life. Which one would you buy?

Goodluck with the search. Remember this, by taking my motorhome apart and putting it back together, I now know practically every bolt and facet of my coach and can tell if something is wrong, and how to fix it.

Cheers
Tony
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Old 03-28-2015, 10:28 AM   #25
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Lot's of work and the real question is whether your patience will run out before it gets to be in usable condition. I had a friend who loved Airstreams and finally found his dream trailer that he was planning to rehab. Floor was bad and the work was considerable. He had it for 3 years and got to the point where he could tow it and sleep on the floor. During that time he had to replace the axle, subfloor, plumbing and stop the leaks. After 3 years he realized that with work and other life commitments that he just wasn't going to have time to get it to a mode that he wanted. He ended up selling it to an overseas buyer who was going to turn it into a roadside cafe.

I have all the respect for those who have the time and patience that these vintage units need to bring them back to a state that allows for practical use. Personally, I don't have that patience, so think long and hard if you truly have the time with your current job and family responsibilities to bring a vintage unit back to usable condition.

Nothing hurts more than my friend who spent 3 years of his spare time to realize that getting the trailer back to his expectations might take another 3 years. The key for him was the amount of rot and rust in the frame that he originally didn't take into consideration.

Good luck in your search. You might want to take advantage of the folks in your area who may be willing to help you inspect any trailer that you find. Check the Portal page on the right side for the inspection feature where you can find help.

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Old 03-28-2015, 11:26 AM   #26
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Check with Mark, the Airstream Guy. He was very helpful when I was looking.
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Old 03-28-2015, 02:44 PM   #27
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Eight needles in ten hay stacks for me!

As someone that has purchas ten trailers over the past 15 years, seven out of the ten were used after about a week or two of work and less than $1,000 bucks. Every trailer I've ever purchased was between $1,500 and $5,000 and never spent more than $3,500 on parts to fix the problems.

Again, ride the back roads, take you time, don't be afraid to ask and you will find a trailer, though not perfect, can be used after fixing a few issues.

If you really want to do it right truly the best way is the following.

Buy Two Trailers!!

One trailer that someone has totally restored, plan to spend 15-25k hook it up and roll.

The second trailer is one you want to "restore" which you do as you are having fun camping in the first one :-)

I will say this, based on you list you have limited yourself to almost any trailer ever built except maybe 1960-1963/64 since all trailers after 64 had clear coat ;-) and any trailer built before 1960 if not already restored often needs a total restore or very close to it.

Each era of Airstreams have there pros/cons (I've owned different ones from a 1956-1974). Sometimes the pros are nice wood, sleek design, old school 13 panels, etc... But the those cons are no gray and maybe black tanks, rot, $$$ for the "classic" look. Pros can also be low $$$ to purchase, a gray tank, more room, etc.. But the cons could be tambour, rear sag (on 29' or greater), double pain windows, etc..

Learn what's best for you and what you want. Take your time, and look in back yards, etc... You'll find what you want.

Enjoy,
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Old 03-28-2015, 02:59 PM   #28
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OneShot. Be patient and you will find the right fit for you and your family. My husband and I bought our first Airstream, a 65 Overlander twin in 2008. We bought it from the second owners for $5350 and yes it needed some work. It took us 3 years of kissing frogs to find a not so ugly frog We took our time made the necessary repairs, new axles, tires, window seals, electrical, flooring, tank, etc and enjoyed it for many many years & miles. We probably had another $5500 - $6500 into it but over time we worked thru its kinks and issues. Personally we were much happier going that route than buying a pos sob. That being said good luck in your search, don't get discouraged and enjoy the journey.
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