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Old 10-14-2009, 04:08 PM   #1
Rivet Master

1973 25' Tradewind
Beautiful , Oregon
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 547
Hi From Oregon New to Looking for AS can you advise

Hi to you all, I hope I can introduce myself, summarize what I have learned from my initial travels around this forum and run my impressions by you and then ask a few questions.
My name is Tony I live in Southern Oregon. My wife and I are in the market for an AS now. A little confused. As most people of modest means I am after the best bang for the buck. Some of the impressions I have gotten are Below. Please correct me and or help me modify my thinking to keep me out of trouble.

I am newly on the street looking at AS an there is an old saying when a person with money meets a person with experience the person with experience is going to get some money and the person with money is going to get some experience. I canít afford too much of that experience.

First the tow vehicle: If I got the right impression my van limitation is 6600.lbs x .8 so it would be best to keep weight at 5300lbs. I bought my Ĺ ton Chevy Express van new back in 2004 with the intention of using it as a tow vehicle for a moderate sized Air Stream in the future. At the time of purchase I was after a 3/4 ton but I wanted all wheel drive more and it is the only full size van with it. It has 5.3 L V8 with a 3.73 locking differential and a tow package. It has a wheel base of about 130". I have never towed any hard side trailer.

As far as restoration, my skill level is in the area of wood working. I have built a cedar canoe, kayak and build furniture for a living. I have set tile for a living in the past. I have built a shop, and a couple of additions to my current house. In the past I restored a 1899 Victorian house. Carpet, tile, plastic laminate, vinyl and wood flooring no problem I can fix some things but couldnít guarantee I could put a toaster back together after taking it apart. Would not trust myself fixing appliances or LP gas. My mechanic skills are wanting.

Any airstream exterior style suits me but I am most attracted to the looks of the AS after rounded windows ( preferable single pane). I want to eventually make the inside of my AS look like an interior of a classic wood yacht being sensitive to the original. I would like the beds spread apart front and back incase I get kicked out of bed for snoring. So that seems to call out for the rarer center baths which I have not seen in person?

As a wood worker over time I have acquired Stanley hand planes. Over many years these iconic planes went through some changes that represented significant improvements (other not so much). Then they went down hill after WWII. A question I have is what are the changes that represented significant improvements, miles stones if you will, like perhaps the grey water tank? changes to windows etc. Things that make a difference. I suspect that along with some of the good changes in features and design there were aesthetic trade offs. Could someone elaborate on what changes they feel made a positive significant difference in livability, up keep, durability, desirability and safety?

My evaluation to date subject to change with your help is: I absolutely do not want to have to do a full frame-up restoration. I donít want to deal with frame problems, aluminum wire and I am not inclined to doing things like axle replacement myself. I would like to have a grey water tank. I am more inclined to change things out as needed and get on the road in a relatively short time. I lean toward 25' or less. I have a concern about getting into the state and national parks out here in the West. At this time I am not firm on floor plan but lean toward a center bath. Due to the interior materials of the newer AS they donít speak to my heart but maybe later models should speak to my head and as said wallet long term? I guess to use a expression from real estate I am looking for a trailer with good bones. Let me do the deep cosmetics.

To those with experience where does this seem to leave me?
Where does this seem to leave me? Does this seems to leave me post 1973 for the grey tank and windows and a coach that someone else has at least partial restored and plan on tearing out the interior cabinetry etc? I donít want to pay for an interior that I would only want to tear out and reinstall cabinets etc of fine light weight wood my way. Any ideas would be great. If I am over looking things please let me know. Thanks in Advance. Tony

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Old 10-18-2009, 10:09 PM   #2
Dreaming of Streaming
Pink1's Avatar
2004 22' International CCD
Davis/SF , California
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 227
Blog Entries: 2
Hi Tony,
Gee, you sure write nicely! I bet you could write a best seller about all that is going to come from this first initial post!
I am sure that you have seen at the top of this page, "the classified." That is where I look, my bf checks Craigslist often and we used to google Airstream a lot. Its out there!

"I want to eventually make the inside of my AS look like an interior of a classic wood yacht being sensitive to the original."

That sounds Owesome!

"chaos? oh man that sounds like FUN! if i put ON a name tag, can i take OFF my clothes?" 2airishuman
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Old 10-18-2009, 10:31 PM   #3
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 8,812
hi tony

welcome to the big show.

twin beds at the rear, center bath (with shower) is not common in LESS that 25-28 footers.

i'm sure there are some shorter models that were done that way (i can't think of any), but wheel wells take space

and rear bath, center twins are FAR more common in those middle sized trailers.

lots of floor plans posted here and with the older owners manuals NOW online at from the mothership,

looking at those may be useful.

so is the vintage archive and fred's airstream model pages...

u may not wanna pay for a trailer with a functionally intact interior...

and there are certainly 'distress sales' from folks who have started the gutting but need to sell.

but generally the LEAST EXPENSIVE approach is to find and BUY a trailer that is in the ABSOLUTE BEST CONDITION that YOU can afford...

and as CLOSE to the target floorplan/size/era, EVEN IF the STYLING/DECO doesn't fit your image.

THEN GO CAMPING IN IT, learn the issues relative to that unit

and the issues relevant to YOUR rving needs.

b4 tearing it apart for a makeover.

then play with the floorplan and amenities.

cad makes it easy to do a zillion mockups and texture/materials looks.

then find an OFF season and gut it or start the make over.

budget and time needed will both be WAY UNDER estimated.

but having camped in it already u will at least have a notion about your real needs...

and a vision of the CAMPING goal at the end of the rehab.


unless u just wanna project (and don't really wanna camp) to keep the tools busy...
all of the true things that i am about to tell you are shameless lies. l.b.j.

we are here on earth to fart around. don't let anybody tell you any different. k.v.
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Old 10-18-2009, 10:34 PM   #4
4 Rivet Member
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1961 22' Safari
Union , Oregon
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 446
Images: 11
Hello from the "right" side of the state. Experience in boat building, I have found, is a great help and gives a background in dealing with compound angles. Much needed knowledge because Airstream cabinetry is an adventure into the realm of compound decreasing radius curves.
I suggest you start looking for mahogany soon. I rebuilt my interior with the thought of the old wooden boats and spent months looking for the right colors of mahogany.
A grey water tank is a nice thing to have. Don't be too shy of installing a new axle. It's really not that hard of a job.
Keep us posted.
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Old 10-19-2009, 10:32 PM   #5
Rivet Master

1973 25' Tradewind
Beautiful , Oregon
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 547
I hear the message that " generally the LEAST EXPENSIVE approach is to find and BUY a trailer that is in the ABSOLUTE BEST CONDITION that YOU can afford..." loud and clear. I learned that one from buying old American made tools. It is better to find one already restored from someone selling it then doing it yourself or having it done. Also it is nice to find one close by. There are a lot of parallels between great old American made tools like Oliver and Porters and great old American made trailer like AS. Along my trail to some nice shop tools I made some mistakes and hopefully the lessons will be transferable to the trailer search and acquisition. I also see the countless ways to empty the wallet upgrading a basket case or even a well used AS.
2air I do have a version of AutoCad that I can use to do some mock ups the floor plan as your suggest when the time comes.

Sam Yes, I live on the arguably "right" side of the state but you, in addition, live in the land of tall green firs. I know I am on vacation by the time I hit Union on my yearly trip to Bend to get the canoe wet a few time. Love the lakes up on Century Dr. I hear you, I always have my eyes peeled for good lumber. Just picked up some nice(expensive) lace wood on spec. I did see that they used ribbon Mahogany in a vintage AS, I think a 65 that was just on Ebay. Actually it was probably Sapele.
I am hitting all the Craig lists Around the West to get price ideas and sales info. I also see many a AS not sell on Ebay. Mostly 30 feet give or take.
My approach is I will know it when I see it and the longer I look the more I will learn and the more money I will have in the bank. So the pain of the waiting will have dividends.
Pink thanks, I can only hope I can write acceptably and without too much embarrassment.
Thanks to you all, I am all ears.
Best Regards

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