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Old 09-12-2011, 08:54 AM   #1
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Are we being too picky?

Husband and I drove 375 miles to view a 1986 Sovereign 29' AS. The owner was obviously very proud of it and told us on the phone it was ready to hitch up and camp. He had not been able to use it for 4 years due to health reasons and it has been stored in his barn.

Another couple went to look at it Saturday morning and they left, saying they had to think about it. So we got the call around 12:30 and loaded up our truck and took off. As we pulled up, I'll admit from the road it looked very good. Aside from some heavy brush/tree limb scratches, it was nice and shiny.

But inside the smell of moth balls was so overwhelming I almost had to stand outside. All the curtains were extremely soiled so would have to be replaced. The fridge/freezer was 4 years old and used once so that was a plus. The shower area and toilet - honestly I don't think I could have used either due to the condition and I doubt they were cleanable. The sofa needed a very deep cleaning as well.

The carpet, while it had been installed new in '96, smelled terribly from said moth balls so it would have needed to be replaced. My husband looked at the underbelly of the trailer and said rivets were popping out. There was a steady drip, drip, drip off the water hookup outside. My husband is 6'4" and he felt very cramped in the back bedroom area (double bed) We could hardly pass each other in the hallway because it was narrow - one had to pop into the bathroom to allow the other to pass by.

It was in need of a deep, deep cleaning before it could be used. He wants to sell it badly - said he'd go to $6500 if we would hitch it up and take it home.

Tires need to be replaced, no awning, screen door needs replaced, not sure the steps leading into the AS are sturdy enough for much longer.

Positives: newer frig/freezer, loved the cedar lined wardrobe, loved the pull out pantry, the formica countertop was actually very neutral so could live with that. All the plastic light fixtures had really yellowed with age, however.

Are we being too picky? This was our first look at one that had not been remodeled before going on the market. We would have to find a place to store it for the winter before we could really get inside and started fixing it up. We drove home and looked at our 25' Starcraft with all the storage and thought how easy it was to hitch up and go at a moment's notice.

The AS has been on the market for over a year asking $8500 and he's had people come in to view it - no takers.

Comments appreciated!
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Old 09-12-2011, 09:12 AM   #2
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I found this chart on VintageAirstreams VERY helpful in determining what to pay for a vintagehttp://www.vintageairstream.com/rr_t...on.html#TableB
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Old 09-12-2011, 09:23 AM   #3
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I'm not qualified on most technical aspects on these trailers yet, but have had the opportunity to look at a dozen used models in the recent months leading up to our purchase of a '74 Ambassador 29'.

Based on what I've seen in my market, you should be willing to walk away if the interior is too rough. It isn't always the case, but a rough interior, which is pretty easy to maintain, might point to a lack of care elsewhere on the vehicle. If the inside looks (and smells) bad, can you trust that it has been properly winterized? Have axles and bearings and brakes been properly maintained?

Four years idle is a long while and just about anything can deteriorate a good amount under the right conditions.

That said, certain, truly vintage models may command a higher price almost regardless of their condition - if the right buyer sees something unique or collectible in that rolling stock.
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Old 09-12-2011, 10:21 AM   #4
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No... you are not being too picky.

A lot of times when we find a trailer, we fall in love and have to tell ourselves why we shouldn't buy it (needs a total shell off restoration, been in a flood, new exterior panels needed etc.) but, to try and talk yourself into a trailer isn't good either. Go with your instinct. Moth balls - ick - that will take forever to get out, if it ever does. I would say it's a sign that if he's had it for sale for a year and he still has it, that he's over priced and it needs too much work - the interior is work too, all items add up.

The right trailer WILL come along, sometimes it just takes longer than you want it too!

Good luck!

Tina
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Old 09-12-2011, 11:09 AM   #5
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Keep looking. You will know when you find the one you want. If you have misgivings on first inspection, you will have even more on closer examination.

I believe moth balls are used more often to mask other even worse odors than they are for controlling moths.

Ken
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Old 09-12-2011, 11:58 AM   #6
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Offer what you think it is worth and see what happens. No older trailer will be perfect, but only you can evaluate what you think it is worth.
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Old 09-12-2011, 12:04 PM   #7
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Being parked for 4 years, can have a negative effect on the rubber rods within the axle tubes.

Also, lack of proper PM, could include water leaks from several sources, especially the sewer vent pipe cover gaskets, that only last 2 to 3 years.

Andy
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Old 09-12-2011, 12:26 PM   #8
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We paid the same price for a 29' 88 Excella that was in much better shape. All the cleanliness issues are doable. The question is : Do you want to do it?
At least you have something to camp in now and could take your time. We had a Starcraft before our Airstream. Very nice camper.
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Old 09-12-2011, 12:52 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In View Post
Being parked for 4 years, can have a negative effect on the rubber rods within the axle tubes.

Also, lack of proper PM, could include water leaks from several sources, especially the sewer vent pipe cover gaskets, that only last 2 to 3 years.

Andy
If you read the following, I don't think that leaks have been a problem over the past four years, Andy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kastlers4 View Post
He had not been able to use it for 4 years due to health reasons and it has been stored in his barn.
Although, I suppose the barn could have leaks...
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Old 09-12-2011, 01:10 PM   #10
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Thanks everyone. I think it would have been more of talking ourselves into the purchase. We told him no more than $6000 but even with that, we weren't sure.

We will keep looking - but if we had not taken the time to look at it, how would we ever know?
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Old 09-12-2011, 01:33 PM   #11
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You should look at as many as you can. But if you feel that one felt cramped inside, pass on it just because of the layout. There are layouts that feel quite roomy, and others that do not. You really should find one you are comfortable with.

As for the dirt, you'd be surprised what will clean up, and the smells go away eventually, though maybe not until you've replaced all the soft goods. You can probably find one for that price which doesn't require quite that much work. I think you're right in thinking that it's been for sale a long time for a reason. When you get a bad feeling about something (a car, a trailer, whatever) there's usually a lot more hidden stuff you don't know about.

When I bought my trailer I felt awesome about making the deal, and it turned out to need a lot of work, like replacing half the floor and welding up the broken frame, but the fact I was already in love with it made those fixes a lot easier to bear
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Old 09-12-2011, 01:44 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stefrobrts View Post
As for the dirt, you'd be surprised what will clean up, and the smells go away eventually, though maybe not until you've replaced all the soft goods. You can probably find one for that price which doesn't require quite that much work. I think you're right in thinking that it's been for sale a long time for a reason. When you get a bad feeling about something (a car, a trailer, whatever) there's usually a lot more hidden stuff you don't know about.

So true. We have made much progress beginning with cleaning. Doing this also helps you "discover" what work needs to be done to bring it up to spec in other areas. Moving through our '74 from bow to stern armed with a Magic Eraser, bucket of warm water and a bottle of Myers' Clean Day made us intimately familiar with our trailer.

After that, new light fixture covers, fresh curtains, updated trim inserts, upholstery and curtains can really make a huge difference.
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Old 09-12-2011, 02:11 PM   #13
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Remember the old Fram Oil Filter commercial?
You can pay me now.. or pay me later.
(pay a modest amount now for a filter, or a lot more for an engine replacement later).
IMHO, unless you love do-it-yourself projects and are really good at scheduling, doing and actually completing them... pay MORE for a better unit and you'll save both time and money. The other plus? You go camping NOW.

The odds of finding any used unit that is just perfect and suits your taste 100% is small. Heck, I like the Serenity - except the flooring is sort of dirt colored - and unless you get the pleather upgrade the couch fabrics come in "snot green/beige" and "dried poo brown"... so see?

Again, just my opinion, but soft goods from 1986 are 25 years old and that's always due or overdue to be replaced. Even if they've been cleaned regularly and used lightly, they will fade out or get dry rot - from temperature changes, humidity changes, sunlight if exposed to any, and just sitting around. With decent care they might have 1 to 3 more years use... but with any unit that old, figure on spending money for foam, upholstery, curtains and carpet or other floor covering replacement.

Filthy dirty interior - really says the minimal cleaning stuff hasn't even happened. Strong mothballs - hey they were getting ready to sell it - and didn't air it out with fans for a week? You can "hope" they aren't scamming you trying to cover the stench of mouse, rotting wood, black mold, etc... but you'd better pay like they ARE.

If it hadn't sold in a year, most people would try cleaning the interior, or paying someone to clean it thoroughly. Of course if they are broke and in poor health - they may have just had to let it go. In that case you should get a price that compensates you for the cost and time it will take to fix the neglect. (They could have sold it the day after they last camped in it.)

methinks you were smart to walk away. Odds are you were looking at a classic "full monte" unit - and you're going to spend $10K-$15K fixin' one of those if you do most of the labor yourself! $30K to $60K if you pay someone good to make it ideal for you.

Paula
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Old 09-12-2011, 02:28 PM   #14
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I agree with the above. You were smart to walk away and no you are not being too picky. One day you will find your Air Stream. Or in my case - it found me. LOL
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