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Old 08-22-2010, 10:46 PM   #1
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1973 31' Excella 500
Spring Green , Wisconsin
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Greetings All - Semi retired in WI

Greetings. I'm Lew, a semi-retired civil engineer from Wiconsin. My wife, Sheryl, is a retired retail rep. We have been involved in antique toys and trains (the ones you played with as a child) for about twenty years and have an appreciation for vintage retro things in general. I've never considered myself a restorer but more of a conservator and I've enjoyed bringing many electric trains back to life, to serve their intended purpose of putting smiles on the faces of young (well, they were young at one time) men.

As we've entered retirement, we've thought a lot about purchasing a camper to travel or maybe to park in one of the many campgrounds here in Wisconsin. Sheryl has spent many hours looking through the ads on Craigslist this summer, showing me every interesting camper she saw. And, yes we are seasoned campers as we have gone from tent to pop-up-to tent and back to pop-up camping. Five of our six grown children and their families are active campers and we enjoy many family camping weekends.

We didn't find any campers that really excited us. She wanted bump-outs, I didn't want a fifth wheel. She wanted bunk beds, I didn't want ugly, big, blocky or cheaply built. And neither of us wanted a motorhome.

Then one day she showed me an ad for a '73 AS Excella 500. We both were excited as it appealed to our interest in vintage things, it seemed it would fit our needs and it only had a price tag of $2500. I spent most of the next two days reading everything I could find about AS trailers on the internet. Fortunately I found this site and gleaned a great deal of information. I contacted the seller and set a time to look it over in person.

Sheryl found the ad on Thursday and we bought it on Sunday. I know many of you spend months looking for just the right AS, so we're either very lucky or we are in for some work...only time will tell, but at that price I couldn't see how we could go too far wrong.

Our goal is to have her ready for the road by next spring. Sheryl will be cleaning and setting up the inside, I'll be tending to the outside. She (the AS, not Sheryl) has a few dings and needs some TLC, but the inside seems to be mostly original. We'd like to keep her that way.

So, that's us and that's our AS. We call her "Betty" after my mother-in-law who is one of the most fun-loving people I've ever met.

Thank you to all of you who have posted so much valuable information on these boards. I hope some day I'll be able to return the favor.
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Old 08-22-2010, 11:16 PM   #2
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Welcome. It looks like s good find! Check out the restoration section and get ready for some work. I would check all the systems (electric sewer, gas lines etc) and most important the axel and brakes. Ask a lot of questions and I'm sure you will get all the help you need here. One again, welcome and congrats.
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Old 08-22-2010, 11:18 PM   #3
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Hi Lew...welcome to the forums all the way down here in Oklahoma! Have great fun with your new toy huh?
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Old 08-22-2010, 11:29 PM   #4
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle.

Welcome to the Forums. We're glad to hsve you with us.

Your new baby sure is a beauty.
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Old 08-22-2010, 11:31 PM   #5
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Hi Lew welcome to the forums and congrats on a great purchase. I know a little about your unit as I also own a 73 excella 500 31ft. Your units looks in pretty good shape. It`s nice to have the zip dee awning. The flooring, drapes and front couch are not original but you probably know that. You have the center bath and rear twin bed layout which is a very desirable floorplan. If you have any questions regarding repairs or location of any items please ask me and I will try to help. I now own a campground bur before this I worked as an RV technician and lived in my trailer for 9yrs full time, both winter and summer. Good luck and I hope you enjoy your new member of the family.
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Old 08-22-2010, 11:49 PM   #6
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Lew I took a close look at your pics. Your axles seem to be sitting very low. You are missing the cover for your propane tanks but you do have what looks like the original aluminum tanks. The hookup on the curbside front under the excella name is not original. A lot of your clearcoat is peeling.The vista view windows (overhead in bedroom and living room) will most likely be leaking as will the rear bumper cover at the rear of the unit wall. These windows and the rear cover caused quite a lot of damage to my unit. Pay close attention to these items as soon as possible. I had to pull my shell off and replace the entire floor and frame due to leaks in these areas. Post mor pics and ask all the questions you like.
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Old 08-23-2010, 06:30 AM   #7
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Welcome to the forum Lew and congrats on the Airstream. We're partial to the center bath models ourselves. Please feel free to post your questions and discoveries as you work you way through the fixing/cleaning/renovation process.

Regards,

Kevin
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Old 08-23-2010, 07:06 AM   #8
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1973 31' Excella 500
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Thanks, everyone, for your kind words and encouragement. It will be an adventure, I am sure of that.

She has been parked in a campground under the pine trees for the past six years. I'm sure that contributed to the peeling clear coat. On the other hand, she was being used and maintained which I feel is a positive. We were able to do a quick check of the water, gas and electric (110 V system) when we looked at it.

I looked for signs of water damage and didn't see any but I will definitely be looking deeper in the next few weeks. Someone prior to the seller had done a "fine" (as in excessive) job of caulking around all of the windows. The PO had installed wood laminate flooring from the galley back and carpet tiles in the front area, we knew the drapes weren't original and they don't hang correctly. I was hoping the couch beneath the throw cover was original because we like the looks of it, but, I thought it would have "L" seating to be all original. Is that correct?

Thanks to these forums I was pretty sure that we would be replacing axles, brakes and tires. And we'll need a WD hitch before we go on the road.

We've started putting together a list of what needs to be repaired, replaced or purchased. We'll prioritize and budget our time and money to take care of the most important things first knowing that the immediate goal is to make her road ready.

Wasagachris, I really appreciate your insights into this specific unit and your willingness to share your knowledge. I will definitely be asking lots of questions.

Finally, I forgot to mention that our TV is a 2008 Ram 1500 with tow package and electric brake controller. I tow a heavily loaded 7 by 14 foot covered trailer quite often.
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Old 08-23-2010, 07:31 AM   #9
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welcome lew and sheryl!! It's always nice to have another vintage participant. I have a '97 excella 1000 that we do all our camping in while I'm restoring the others. I really like the twin, center bath layout in yours. Also yours looks like it is in excellent condition for its age. enjoy the forums(lots of info & comraderie) and enjoy your new traylah.
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Old 09-01-2010, 10:33 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by wasagachris View Post
Lew I took a close look at your pics. Your axles seem to be sitting very low. You are missing the cover for your propane tanks but you do have what looks like the original aluminum tanks. The hookup on the curbside front under the excella name is not original. A lot of your clearcoat is peeling.The vista view windows (overhead in bedroom and living room) will most likely be leaking as will the rear bumper cover at the rear of the unit wall. These windows and the rear cover caused quite a lot of damage to my unit. Pay close attention to these items as soon as possible. I had to pull my shell off and replace the entire floor and frame due to leaks in these areas. Post mor pics and ask all the questions you like.
Welcome lew and sheryl! I agree with wasagachris. Pay very close attention to the axles they are quite expensive. Read these forums and get to know the cost of things like brakes ,axles, etc and make sure the price you pay reflects that! Congrats on finding the most helpful forum on the net!!
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