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Old 09-01-2014, 10:12 PM   #1
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Adventure awaits - dreaming of streaming!

Hi there,

I'm Tiffany and my husband, Michael, and I are not owners yet but currently looking. We are aiming for a 70's Sovereign, Excella, or similar as we intend to full-time and travel. Looking for $2k-$7k range if any one spots a good one out there. We plan to fully renovate into a rear bedroom (even if it wasn't originally) and explore with our two dogs, Havoc and Rudy.

We first started out on the Tiny House plan but decided we wanted to be much more mobile for stick-built, siding type homes. We have made the switch to the Airstream for its quality, nostalgia, and community. Plus we can park easier, insure easier, and be more open to adventure, wherever it may lead.

I have lurked here for a while reading as much as I can and decided this site was too valuable not to be a full part of. I appreciate all of the knowledge and assistance already given and look forward to fully joining the AS community and hitting the road soon!

-Tiffany
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Old 09-01-2014, 11:25 PM   #2
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Dear Michael and Tiffany, Howdy!

Check the classifieds... And Craigslist. Searching will be difficult, but you know best what fits your level of "acceptable".

Once you locate prospects, there are "trailer inspectors"
Across the country who may assist in a review as your delegated person. The business end will be yours alone. The inspector will provide, in most cases, an objective inspection.

Once in your possession, how much do you plan to "renovate/update"? A "full Monte" where you strip the trailer down to the frame... Or
A patch job?

Best wishes!
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Old 09-02-2014, 12:24 AM   #3
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Welcome to the forums! This is a great place to ask questions and learn all things Airstream! Be sure and follow cwf's advice, and ask oodles of questions here on the forum, so you can learn as much as you can!

I would suggest you consider attending (before you buy) an Airstream Rally, they usually have "open houses" and folks will invite you to tour their Airstreams. You will see new ones, renovated ones, classic ones and original vintage ones... you can ask lots of questions, see what folks do, ask about their "problems" and really get a sense of what you like and don't like!

One thing I would suggest, is that you talk and research about the potential changes you are thinking about making a rear bedroom... doing that might mean making huge changes to where the water and black tanks would be located... this immediately brings into mind, many dollars of additional expense. It would all depend on what you begin with and what you intend to do. Just ask the questions and folks here will likely respond!

Have fun looking! It is one of the best parts!
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Old 09-02-2014, 09:19 AM   #4
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Welcome to the forums!

Another resource that is worth some time is to listen to the back episodes of the Vintage Airstream Podcast (The VAP). The early episodes in particular discuss a lot about buying, retrieving, and restoring vintage Airstreams. The podcast also may help to calibrate your expectations, ie., any 40 year old trailer you buy for a few thousand dollars will REQUIRE a lot of work and additional expense.

Also, decide on your priorities up front. If you want to spend your time camping in your trailer as soon as possible, as opposed to months or years renovating it, then you should be looking at trailers that have already had the work done on them, which will put you in a higher range of purchase price.
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Old 09-03-2014, 05:16 PM   #5
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Thank you all for the warm welcome and great ideas!

I hope we aren't in over our heads and I don't want to get discouraged, but the "plan" is to do a full renovation as our goal is to head to states such as CO and WY. From what I've seen so far, insulation and subfloors seem to be the biggest problems looming ahead so I don't see any way other than to purchase vintage and redo. The newer ones I assume have the same insulation issues that would prevent (or make very uncomfortable) full-timing in a CO winter?

Since we started this path as planning to build a Tiny House on a trailer, the idea of renovating the Airstream doesn't seem too far off except our exterior is already built for us. I definitely prefer the rear bedroom for weight issues and privacy so that's what we're trying to do. I understand redoing the floorplan may push us back further but if we find "the one" and it ends up being a rear bath, then so be it. This is going to be our home for a long time so I just want to make sure it fits us and our personalities. I know trying to "redo" something versus building new presents its own problems but am hoping we're along the same path still. This is why I've priced our budget in the lower range as we are expecting to rip it apart any way.

As for getting out there, we are certainly excited to get the ball rolling but are realistic in our timeline still. Our original plan was to never sign another apartment lease and our current lease is up July 31, 2015 so we've got the clock ticking. I know this prevents us from getting out there and camping right away but we wouldn't have had that option with the Tiny House any way so trying to be realistic and keep ourselves grounded. Of course, every night I see another awesome Airstream on the web and just wish we were further down the road already but they say patience is a virtue.

As stated, I have already found this site to be invaluable. Practically every time I think of something to post, I search and my exact question has already been posted. Full-timing in a Sovereign in Colorado winter? Yep, that's been asked. Just trying to read and absorb as much as I possibly can.

Thanks again for creating such a warm community!
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Old 09-03-2014, 10:21 PM   #6
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Just a few more thoughts to throw into the "for what it's worth" category:

I have been working on a complete renovation of a 21' '73 Globetrotter for 3 years now, as my full-time hobby. They get very time consuming and expensive!

The shortcomings of Airstreams in terms of insulation are that you only have 1.5" of space to put it, there are windows and the ribs are very good conductors of heat. If you want to be full-timing in Colorado within a year, consider seriously how you will heat it (much like full timers in TX or Fl are concerned about how to cool their trailers in the summer). The improvement you get in insulation won't justify the time you spend completely gutting the trailer to replace it. There just isn't any way to get R17 within the AS constraints.

Don't underestimate the restrictions of a trailer that has a certain layout, and what it will take to revise it, especially if you want to be on the road in a year. Some serious thought went into the way these trailers are designed, and there are holes to patch and holes to create when redesigning. All a matter of time and money--but you don't have unlimited time.

Good luck, and I hope you find what you are looking for soon so you can get to work!
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Old 09-05-2014, 01:38 PM   #7
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Here is something worth checking out:

1984 Airstream Sovereign 29 - Maine

It is on the opposite side of the country from you, but if it is in as good a shape as advertised, it might be everything you are looking for. It is a bit higher than your starting budget mentioned above, but if you don't have to spend any time or money on renovation, you could come out way ahead.
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Old 09-05-2014, 02:06 PM   #8
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From this Coloradan to you: If the winters get too harsh in CO, you can just pop over to Moab, Utah where it's more temperate in January.
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Old 09-06-2014, 02:45 PM   #9
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Worth it in the long run?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Belegedhel View Post
Here is something worth checking out:

1984 Airstream Sovereign 29 - Maine

It is on the opposite side of the country from you, but if it is in as good a shape as advertised, it might be everything you are looking for. It is a bit higher than your starting budget mentioned above, but if you don't have to spend any time or money on renovation, you could come out way ahead.
I definitely saw this one pop up and was immediately interested. It does have what we're looking for including layout. I don't think the price and haul from Maine will work within our budget right now though.

However, given your previous thoughts on the insulation, when another option like this one arises, do you think it's better to just live with the insulation as is and worry about internal heating scenarios? I just can't see spending this pricing or even up to $20k like others I've seen if we're eventually (probably sooner rather than later) going to need to pull it apart and replace insulation any way. Wouldn't it make sense to do the work now and start out on the right foot? Our timeline is definitely up in the air but we're figuring out some options if we have to go past 07/15.
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Old 09-06-2014, 02:49 PM   #10
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CO is too cool?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ericpeltier View Post
From this Coloradan to you: If the winters get too harsh in CO, you can just pop over to Moab, Utah where it's more temperate in January.
Hi Eric! I would really appreciate your input on CO winter in an airstream. Would you agree foregoing the insulation replacement is the better option? Any info on other heating methods would be very helpful.

Thanks!
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Old 09-06-2014, 05:40 PM   #11
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So...bear with me...

I question what you plan to replace the insulation with. If you take standard residential thickness fiberglass (which is what is in the walls of most older Airstreams), it is R13. Cut the thickness in half (1 3/4" thick walls), and you have R6.5. I recently reinsulated my vintage Airstream, and whether using foam board, fiberglass, or any other conventional substance, the best I could hope for is about R6-7.

The Prodex folks brag about R17 for their product, but if you read the details about the installation, you only get this kind of insulative property if you have the proper required airgap on either side of their film--and it is several inches. When you squeeze it down into an AS wall, you end up with something like R6 or 7.

No matter what you insulate with, the biggest sources of heat loss are still going to be the aluminum ribs and the many (single paned) windows. Airstreams were just never designed to endure extremes of temperature for long periods of time. Colorado isn't such an extreme place--there are plenty of days in the middle of winter that get up in the 60's, but no matter how warm you keep the interior, you have to figure out how to keep your tanks and plumbing from freezing.

Most people who are replacing insulation in an Airstream are doing so because it reeks of mouse urine/corpses, and figure they will replace with something that may be more resistance to moisture and critters. If you start with a trailer that isn't full of critters and rot, you will be way ahead--no need to open the walls.

Don't get me wrong, I love that you want to live in an Airstream, and especially in Colorado (place of my birth), but I am trying to help you manage your expectations. The biggest headache associated with a 70's era trailer is floor rot and leaks, not insufficient insulation. If you buy a 40 year old trailer that has had no renovation done on it, you will spend years rebuilding it, and it won't be because you distrust the insulation, it will be because it is a rotting wreck. You can pick up a 30' long 70's era trailer "field find" for $1500. By the time you replace the rotting floor and repair the rusting frame, fix or replace the broken appliances, and redesign the interior, you will spend much time and money.

My advice: Find something that is mostly good in the first place, break your lease early and use the money you would have spent on endless renovation to pay the lease-breaking penalty, and hit the road!

Good luck!
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Old 10-27-2014, 08:55 PM   #12
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We finally have an Airstream!!!!

Just wanted to thank you all for your wisdom and guidance. We ended up being overwhelmed by the prospect of renovation. We just purchased a 2005 30 Safari Bunkhouse and are so happy with our decision! It just fits us and our timeline better than the time it would take to have done everything we wanted with the renovation.

So happy to be a part of the Airstream community and can't wait to explore all the details of full-timing here on the forums.

Thanks again, All!
Tiffany
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Old 10-27-2014, 09:34 PM   #13
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Yeah so awesome ! Mike has an epic beard! Congrats on the purchase!
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