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Old 10-23-2015, 04:49 PM   #1
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bvcg1's Avatar
1971 23' Safari
San Antonio , Texas
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 65
Inspecting the Frame for Deterioration

I'm going to look at a '70 Sovereign tomorrow. From the pictures I've seen it appears to be in remarkable condition for its age, with all original interior. He's only asking $5K, which makes me somewhat skeptical.
I've heard that the rear frame of the older Airstreams were subject to rot/deterioration and that they were subject to some form of separation?? That by jumping on the back bumper you can tell if this is the case?

Would y'all mind chiming in and give me an idea of what I should be looking for, and areas where I should pay special attention as it regards structural?
If you know a member of the Forums that is an expert in these matters I would appreciate knowing who that is so I can PM.
Time is short as I will be the first scheduled to look at it tomorrow and the seller has a line of people interested. It may be one of those 'grab it while you can' situations.

I really appreciate it!

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Old 10-23-2015, 05:19 PM   #2
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1975 31' Sovereign
howell , Michigan
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 147
Few things all with the rear leveling jacks in the up position.

1 put pressure on the bumper see if the frame moves with the body staying still can you get any seperation between the top of the frame and the body.
2 look for ripples in the aluminum behind the cut out for the wheel well
3 look to see if the axle plate welded to the side of the frame is flat not bowed in
The rear
4 walk inside, is the rear of the trailer floor going down compaired to the rest of the Floor

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Old 10-23-2015, 05:25 PM   #3
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1981 31' Excella II
New Market , Alabama
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 5,280
It has hard to tell but you can tell end stage rear end separation by jumping on the bumper. You can also open the rear compartment lid and see of the rear cross member is rusted out. The plate that holds this lid funnels water under the floor and also rots the frame. Look for rust on the part of the frame you can see. Check the floor in the back as much as you can with the bathroom back there. Go spend some time in the floor and frame section of this sight. Best way to tell is to remove some belly skin.

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Old 10-23-2015, 06:03 PM   #4
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1989 32' Excella
Sharon Springs , New York
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 75
It will be difficult to check out much of the frame without taking the belly panels off but in our 1989 AS we were able to see the rear cross member by lifting up the rear bumper storage compartment and also if you look on either side of the inside of the compartment there is a hole (2"-3") that allows you to see part of the frame side-rails and whether they are rusted through. That plus looking under the forward A-frame will give you a good idea of it's overall condition. In our case all of the above looked good and I even used a moisture detector (ice-pick will work) to make sure the flooring was solid especially below the windows and door. Check the door step to make sure it feels solid as if the door leaked it can rust out the outriggers supporting the step. Last test that worked for us, LOL, even with all the checks we made for rotted floor sections on our new-to-us AS we missed a 9" diameter rotted part under the street-side kitchen cabinet. The good news was that it was dry and after the floor crumbled away, we could see the exposed outrigger was rust-free and appeared to still have a black protective coating intact. We paid $15k for ours and even with that one rotted spot feel that we got a super deal. Had our trailer tech. look it over and he said that it looked great underneath and the brakes and bearings appeared well maintained. We would recommend having a professional check it out after you buy it just for safety sake. Remember, almost anything on an AS can be repaired/rebuilt, that's part of the adventure. Good luck with your AS!!!

James and Rebecca
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Old 10-25-2015, 02:07 PM   #5
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Currently Looking...
Columbus , Mississippi
Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 32
This Airstream reputation for reparability is very important to me. I currently have a '98 Aerolite, made by Thor (same company makes Airstream?), in excellent condition, but I am looking for an Airstream (I like the full word better than that AS mess. Just looks right!) now. One main reason is Airstream's basic structure seems to be built really well. You can keep them a long time, and this fits my way of living - everything I have is like me - old. I like things that can take a knocking and keep on clocking. How'd it go yesterday?
That old man, he don't think like no old man.
"He's pinned under an outcropping of rock. Lucky for him, the rock kept the dirt from burying him alive". Dirt, it's nothing but dirt, I tell ye...
"I thought I was wrong one time, but I was mistaken." Command Sergeant Major Jim
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