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Old 09-27-2012, 09:53 AM   #1
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1989 29' Excella
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any advice on the 1975 Ambassador?

Hi,
I'm considering my first AS.
It's a 1975 Ambassador that seems to have been well maintained and restored by an enthusiast.

Any advise about this model and year would be greatly appreciated.

thanks

Dave
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Old 09-27-2012, 04:34 PM   #2
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1975 Ambassador

Greetings Dave!

Quote:
Originally Posted by davcarv View Post
Hi,
I'm considering my first AS.
It's a 1975 Ambassador that seems to have been well maintained and restored by an enthusiast.

Any advise about this model and year would be greatly appreciated.

thanks

Dave
While I am not aware of any particularly prevalent problems with 1975 Ambassadors, there are some problems that may be present on nearly any Vintage Airstream. Some of the items that would be on my "must check list" would be:
  • Axle Condition: On a coach of this age, if the axles are not reasonably new, you can count on a high probability that the axles will need to be replaced.
  • Brakes: This coach is from an era where it might be equipped with Excella Hydro-Vac disc brakes. While these early disc brakes are quite effective, if they have not been converted to a modern configuration with a vacuum boost pump mounted on the coach, you may experience difficulty attaching the vacuum supply lines to a modern tow vehicle with computer controlled electronics. Some owners have converted the disc brakes to drum-type electric brakes.
  • Frame: The larger coaches from the 1970s were known to experience difficulties with frame cracks and/or droop (bending of the frame behind the rear axle mounts). The factory issued a steel plate reinforcement kit to address this problem and many of these coaches have had this issue addressed, however, if this problem is present, the reinforcement kit is still available through the parts department at Airstream Dealers as well as from Authorized Airstream Service Centers.
  • Separation: Separation can happen at either end of the coach, but is most likely to happen in the rear. Separation is a condition where the attachment of the body to the frame is compromised and the body moves independently from the frame. This condition can be identified by a gap that opens up between the trailer and the bumper mount when weight is applied to the bumper. Again, this is something that can be repaired, but it can quickly become a major repair as floor rot often accompanies this condition requiring floor repairs as well as correction of the separation. If the coach has had prior repairs for rear end separation, you may find patches above the rear bumper supports often referred to as "elephant ears" as the patch usually has a shape similar to that of an elephant's ear.
Floor rot and frame rot are two of the critical factors to observe as either can become quite expensive and time consuming to repair. The best advice I can give is to make use of the inspectors check list linked to on the Forums' homepage when examining the coach. A volunteer inspector is often close and willing to help you to assess the coach if you are not comfortable with identifying the conditions described on the check list.

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin
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Old 09-28-2012, 05:31 AM   #3
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Kevin
Do you know or know how I would query the forum for a volunteer in the Ohio area?
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Old 09-28-2012, 07:43 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davcarv View Post
Hi,
I'm considering my first AS.
It's a 1975 Ambassador that seems to have been well maintained and restored by an enthusiast.

Any advise about this model and year would be greatly appreciated.

thanks

Dave
Maintainance is one thing and restoration something else again. I would find out what has been "restored" and how?

To Overlander's excellent list I would add: If the furnace and hot water heater are original they are probably living on borrowed time and should be replaced rather than repaired. If the tambour doors have not been "restored" you will probably start to have problems when you start using them. You Airstream's original AC is an Armstrong. Your original fridge is a Dometic. They have reputations of being dependable even when 40+ years old.

Overall, if you have not dealt with vintage before, I can guarandangtee you will spend a lot more money and time than you think.
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Old 09-28-2012, 08:47 AM   #5
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The guy that did the restore seems to know what he's doing. He restores and sells coaches on EBay and has a good rep on there.
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Old 09-28-2012, 09:33 AM   #6
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The guy that did the restore seems to know what he's doing. He restores and sells coaches on EBay and has a good rep on there.
What is his ebaY handle?
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Old 09-28-2012, 12:30 PM   #7
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If I were to purchase another 70's model airstream I would make a deal with the owner to drop the belly pan enough to take a look and inspect the frame. Agree to drill out 10-15 rivets and willing to replace and/or will to pay someone/shop so that you can inspect the frame. After all if your frame is rusted out you have nothing.Can't be seen from the outside it's all covered in aluminum.
If this owner has been restoring airstreams he probably has already dropped the pan and should have taken pictures to show the extent he when to to restore is airstream. Ask to see pictures or documentation of the work he has preformed to restore or maintain. Most owners are happy to show you the work they have preformed on the Airstreams. If the owner has no pictures and not willing to drop the pan for inspection RUN AWAY !!
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Old 09-29-2012, 07:30 PM   #8
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any advice on the 1975 Ambassador?

Greetings davcarv!

Quote:
Originally Posted by davcarv View Post
Kevin
Do you know or know how I would query the forum for a volunteer in the Ohio area?
The Volunteer Inspectors can be found via the Forums homepage/Portal. Scroll to the right and you will find a place where you can indicate location and type of Airstream RV and any inspectors in that area will be referenced.

Another possibility if the coach is in Ohio and within reasonable towing distance of Jackson Center would be to arrange to have the coach inspected at the Airstream Factory Service Center . . . there would be a charge for the service, but you would have a good assessment of the coach.

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin
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Old 09-30-2012, 08:23 AM   #9
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It's Scott44638
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Old 09-30-2012, 11:05 AM   #10
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I am going to assume for a moment that the trailer you are considering is a rear bathroom model, as they seem to have been the more popular model in the '70s. I don't really know if what I am about to say applies to other models, but I know it does to the rear bath for '74 and '75.

For sure, by now the frame and pans that hold up the black and grey tanks have rusted out to the point of being either dangerous, or non-useable.

If the trailer had been in a very dry climate, or if it had been stored inside, or if the current seller has already re-built that section, the above may not apply. I would definitely want to know for sure about that issue, since it is either a fair bit of work to clean up if you want to do it yourslef, or costly to have done.

Best of luck on finding the right trailer for you!
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Old 09-30-2012, 11:27 AM   #11
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All the above is good stuff and do apply to a greater or lesser extent dependant on these variables, but have not spoken about the elephant in the Airstream:
1. How much?
2. How much you got?
3. Are you turned on or off by labors of love on a vintage Airstream?
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Old 09-30-2012, 03:02 PM   #12
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WOW,
All this advise is awesome and welcome but extremely intimidating....
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Old 09-30-2012, 03:03 PM   #13
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The ask is 8400.00
I'm not turned off by labors of love but I've no exp working on my own stuff.
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Old 09-30-2012, 04:25 PM   #14
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Quote:
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The ask is 8400.00
I'm not turned off by labors of love but I've no exp working on my own stuff.
The prices on Airstreams seem to have been going up. For $8400 on a 75 I would expect a pretty much road ready unit, which looks good and pretty much everything works, and some major items such as furnace and hot water heater replaced, might not be new, but not the original. I would also it to look good cosmetically. I would expect to need to do some work.

If this was a unit where not much work was done on it but looks good I would expect to pay $3500- $4500.

If this was a neglected unit which needed a lot or work I would expect to pay about $3000.

If this was an on frame restoration with newer appliances and furnishings and a polished or refinished exterior I would expect to pay $12000+. If this was a frame off total restoration I would expect to pay about 20 grand.

If you get into a fixer upper expect to put in more time and money than you think you will. Don't expect you will recoup all of your investment if you sell.

In my opinion where the deals are is someone who knows what he is doing and has really restored a vintage Airstream and is selling at a reasonable price, rather than someone who makes a few cosmetic changes to flip it at a profit.

Also as a general rule of thumb the pre 1970 Airstreams are more expensive than 70s and 80s models.
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