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Old 02-29-2012, 02:18 PM   #1
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Ofallon , Missouri
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 1
info on a 1977 31 ft with rear bathroom

I am looking at 1977 a 31ft rear bath. What should I be looking for as problems with the camper.

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Old 02-29-2012, 03:39 PM   #2
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1962 24' Tradewind
1962 24' Tradewind
Canyon , Texas
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 264
I have a 1969 31ft rear bath and suggest you do a search on "rear end sag" or "rear end droop." Personally, if I had it to do over again, I would probably keep looking for a mid bath unit. The rear bath is a great location for it, but unfortunately the extra weight and a multitude of other factors cause the rear floor to rot and sag. It's not just an appearance problem but can cause damage further forward on the trailer too. I have done some minor retro fitting, but the only cure "they say" is replace the back 8ft or so of floor and some of the metal. Many variations on the problem, based upon year, model, etc, but the result is similar.
best wishes, bill b.
I still love our 31 footer tho, it's like a troublesome child. It's worth the effort to keep it on the road.

1962 Airstream Tradewind
2001 Ford 7.3 Diesel
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Old 02-29-2012, 03:51 PM   #3
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 2,601
I answered this very question to another newbie and a fellow forum member suggested my response should be a sticky(a commonly refered to post). So here it is cut and pasted into your thread. Most of the info generally applies to all A/S but some is specific to thier question. I think it will be helpful to you anyway.

I'll try to address some of your questions and give you some general tips about Airstreams and trailers in general.
Probably the biggest problem with an older Airstream is something called Rear End Seperation. There is a basic design flaw with the door(cover) over the rear bumper storage compartment. It tends to allow water to flow in against the back of the trailer. This causes the floor to get wet and rot. Once water gets in it flows down into the belly pan(aluminium bottom) of the trailer. The belly is insulated with fiberglass insulation. When it gets wet it tends to trap the water and will lead to premature rusting out of frame components. So once the floor rots and the frame rusts the shell (body) of the trailer will seperate from the frame. To check for this condition jump up and down on the back bumper and watch for movement between the shell and the bumper.
Now some time in the 90's the 34 ftrs also suffer from Front End Seperation. The same effect but from different causes. Both the front and rear of the trailers have a "holddown plate" inside the walls. airstream eliminated this front plate some time in the 90's. look for two rows of rivets below the front window a few inches above the bottom of the shell. If you see those rivtets the plate is there. The front battery compartments tend to leak as well and if the batteries ever failed in the past, battery acid may have leaked into the trailer which can cause the floor to rot.
Probably the next biggest concern will be the condition of the axles. airstream uses "torsion axles". This type of axle does not have springs but uses rubber rods inside the axle case for suspension travel. The easiest way to check for axle condition is to observe the ride height. There should be a couple of inches between the top of the rim and the bottom of the wheelwell of the trailer. You can also jack up the trailer and watch for travel in the axle. The wheel should drop down as you jack the trailer up off the wheels. New axles can run you anywhere from $500 to $750 each depending on weight rating and the vendor you select.
Now you should confirm that all the appliances are in good working order. if you need to replace all the appliances it can cost between $2500 to $3500 to do so.
So about winter living. I actually lived in my 73 31fter for 8yrs in Canada. It can be done and it's my opinion that airstreams are better suited for this that most other trailers. Special considerations need to be taken to do so. The water and sewer line must have line heat attached and they must be insulated to keep them from freezing.
It is also adviseable to skirt in the bottom of the trailer to keep the cold out from below. The hiolding tanks actually receive heat from the furnace to keep them from freezing.
The only difficulty I had was one weak spot where the water line went into the belly and on occasion where it was extremely cold it would freeze.
You state that you will be full timing and have two children. In that case look for a unit with a center bath. That way in the middle of the night while you are your wife are sleeping in the rear bedroom the children can still get at the bathroom without disturbing you.
To live in it full time especially in the winter you will need full hookups, water, 30 amp power and of course a sewer connection.
Your father's truck can pull the 34fter for short hauls but a 1 ton would be better. Your trucks are too small to be a safe choice of tow vehicle. The older the trailer is the lighter it will be, IE: a 50's is lighter than a 60's, and a 60's is lighter than a 70's and so on.

You can do a member search from the members area and select a person who will inspect a trailer for you and give you their opinion on it's condition.
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1971 ambassador

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