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Old 06-13-2010, 09:10 AM   #1
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Monroe , Louisiana
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Introduction and some questions

Hey everyone!

I'm new to the forum and to be honest I haven't purchased an airstream yet. I looked at one yesterday actually and I was wondering if anyone could answer a few questions I have.

My wife and I looked at a 76 Caravanner. 26 feet I think. It definitely needs some TLC. It seems to have been through quite a hailstorm. Dings are very obvious on the awning side, there is one grapefruit sized dent in one of the corners and both sides have some pretty big scrapes like it was drug through the woods and the owner didn't care about scratching it up. The inside does not have the original refrigerator and was replaced with a smaller fridge. The AC does not work. Several seals around windows look like they need to be replace.

There are several flourescent lights that plug into a power strip clipped to the walls and the tub, sink, and toilet definitely must be replaced. Also, the owner drilled into the outside and ran cable tv plugs to the outside and siliconed the hole.

I don't know if they are supposed to have a door knob on the inside, but the one that is there is very loose and the outside latch is broken.

Does $2000 sound like way to much for all the defects I described? I'm not afraid of remodeling and I expect to have to do a lot of work, I just don't want to overpay for something that needs a lot of elbow grease.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 06-13-2010, 09:29 AM   #2
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Dewey , Arizona
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Welcome to the forums!

The Caravanner is one of my favorite models, it is 25 feet long the same as a Trade Wind. The wide open interior is what gives the Caravanner the nickname of the party Airstream.

It sounds like this one needs to be rescued and returned to it's former glory. Exterior panels can be replaced, but it is labor intensive and the curved pieces can be pricey when you add in the cost of shipping. The flat side pieces are much easier to replace and the aluminum can be bought in sheets from several placed. RV refrigerators and AC units can run you a few bucks as well.

There is no "door knob" on the inside, but it has a horizontal lever which is used to open the door.

Pictures of a great looking unit can be found here:
Vintage Airstream - '76 Caravanner

2K does sound a bit high and you might consider negotiating with the seller for a better price. A good guide for prices can be found here:
Price vs. Condition - Airstream Values

Posting a few pictures of the trailer would be helpful as well.
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Old 06-13-2010, 09:39 AM   #3
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1964 26' Overlander
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre
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Introduction and some questions

Greetings crowemagnon!

Welcome to the Forums and the world of Vintage Airstreaming!

Quote:
Originally Posted by crowemagnon View Post
Hey everyone!

I'm new to the forum and to be honest I haven't purchased an airstream yet. I looked at one yesterday actually and I was wondering if anyone could answer a few questions I have.

My wife and I looked at a 76 Caravanner. 26 feet I think. It definitely needs some TLC. It seems to have been through quite a hailstorm. Dings are very obvious on the awning side, there is one grapefruit sized dent in one of the corners and both sides have some pretty big scrapes like it was drug through the woods and the owner didn't care about scratching it up. The inside does not have the original refrigerator and was replaced with a smaller fridge. The AC does not work. Several seals around windows look like they need to be replace.
Body damage whether scrapes, gouges, dents, or hail stone craters is expensive to repair as it generally requires panel replacement. Some hail stone craters pop out over time with the contraction/expansion of the aluminum as it heats and cools. Panel replacement can quickly add up to thousands of dollars. If you can live with the skin damage, just remember that it will have a detrimental impact on future resale value.

A replacement RV refrigerator is likely to run around $1,200 a little more or a little less depending upon model and whether it is installed by an RV tech or if it is a do-it-yourself project. A new air conditioner will likely run at least $750 again - - a little more or a little less depending upon whether an RV tech handles the installation or if it is a do-it-yourself project.

Window seals and gaskets are a normal wear/maintenance item and can be expected on nearly any coach purchased for restoration/rennovation. The materials are readily available and aren't a huge expense; it is the labor/time involved to handle the replacement properly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by crowemagnon View Post
There are several flourescent lights that plug into a power strip clipped to the walls and the tub, sink, and toilet definitely must be replaced. Also, the owner drilled into the outside and ran cable tv plugs to the outside and siliconed the hole.
The flourescent lights that you describe are very likely a previous owner addition. They are something that you could either verify their safety and continue utilizing or remove completely. The cable penetrations could be revised by intalling proper exterior junction assemblies that are available from a well-stocked RV Dealer's parts and accessory department - - a non-silicone caulk such as SIKAFLEX Polyurethane Adhesive-Sealant - GRAY.

The bathroom fixtures such as the bathtub/shower unit and vanity unit are custom made Airstream parts and aren't easy to replace. These generally can be repaired by home bathroom refinishers, but it can be a challenge finding one who is willing to tackle RV fixtures. The toilet is an easy replaced item as it is an industry standard fixture made by Thetford.

Quote:
Originally Posted by crowemagnon View Post
I don't know if they are supposed to have a door knob on the inside, but the one that is there is very loose and the outside latch is broken.
The door lock assemblies utilized on 1970s Airstream coaches are obsolete, and a complete OEM replacement is VERY expensive. Several Airstream dealers carry replacement parts to rebuild your original lock - - but it is possible that it may need some parts that are no longer available. There is a modern replacement option available from Airstream dealers, but it will require some modifications to your door.

Quote:
Originally Posted by crowemagnon View Post
Does $2000 sound like way to much for all the defects I described? I'm not afraid of remodeling and I expect to have to do a lot of work, I just don't want to overpay for something that needs a lot of elbow grease.
Given the body damage, it is a difficult call. Even if you decide that you can live with the body damage, there is the question of resale value should you decide to sell following rennovation. An option might be to utilize auto body repair techniques to repair the damage and then paint the exterior, but this method would also have some impact on the value of the rennovated coach.

Good luck with your investigation and decision!

Kevin
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1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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Old 06-13-2010, 10:09 AM   #4
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Monroe , Louisiana
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Wow! Thanks for the quick responses. I knew it would be a project for sure. I wont be replacing panels anytime soon if I do purchase it. It simply isn't in the budget. All the other things don't intimidate me really, I'm very DIY and have access to some great tools.

Here's a link to some pictures my wife took. Some aren't so great and she didn't take pictures of what I would have but you can probably get the general feel for its condition.

Airstream pictures by complete_geek - Photobucket
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Old 06-13-2010, 11:18 AM   #5
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I fogot to mention that the Caravanner has additional windows that the Trade Wind does not. It really brightens up the interior of the front area.

The door in your pictures is reversed from all of the others I have seen and I doubt that the latch and lock are original as well.

It looks like the PO (previous owner) was parked full time with shore power and added a bunch of stuff to run off of 120 volts. The added light fixtures and the refrigerator are good examples of that. The 12 volt system most likely need some work. The battery charger in the one picture is most likely the result of a Univolt (converter) failure some time ago.
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Old 06-13-2010, 02:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by azflycaster View Post
I fogot to mention that the Caravanner has additional windows that the Trade Wind does not. It really brightens up the interior of the front area.

The door in your pictures is reversed from all of the others I have seen and I doubt that the latch and lock are original as well.

It looks like the PO (previous owner) was parked full time with shore power and added a bunch of stuff to run off of 120 volts. The added light fixtures and the refrigerator are good examples of that. The 12 volt system most likely need some work. The battery charger in the one picture is most likely the result of a Univolt (converter) failure some time ago.
The extra windows were one of the best features I think. It seemed a lot bigger on the inside than I would have guessed.

You are right about the PO parking it long term. I was wondering about the fridge, do RV fridges run on 12 volts from charged up batteries?

My wife and I decided to bite the bullet and made an offer of $2000 which was accepted. I work with the lady selling it and she is super nice so I don't feel to bad asking close to what she wanted.

So I guess by tomorrow afternoon I can say that I am officially in the Airstream owner club.
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Old 06-13-2010, 07:40 PM   #7
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1964 26' Overlander
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Introduction and some questions

Greetings Crowemagnon!

Welcome to the World of Vintage Airstream ownership!

Quote:
Originally Posted by crowemagnon View Post
I was wondering about the fridge, do RV fridges run on 12 volts from charged up batteries?
There are two possibilities. The most familiar would be what is referred to as the Dometic 3-Way RV Refrigerator (see link) - - it runs on LP Gas, 120-Volt electric, or 12-volt DC - - I am sold on this option and have used it with total satisfaction since 1980. You cool the refrigerator on LP or 120-volt - - then travel with the refrigerator maintaining its cool on 12-volt DC. This option allows you to travel with the LP valves in the closed position.

The lesser known option is a special 12-volt DC compressor RV Refrigerators. in this case the refrigerator always operates on 12-Volt DC. An example is the Norcold AC/DC RV Refrigerator see link.
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Old 06-13-2010, 09:34 PM   #8
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If you can, get someone in your area who knows Airstreams to look at it with you. There are lots of things to look for, all have been covered on the forums many times but if you have never seen one, reading about it and then picking up problems on a real trailer is not easy. If you have lots of time and the skill set to fix things it may be a good deal, but restoring an Airstream is very time consuming. Things always take much longer than you expect and you will spend more money than you expect too. Finally, if the exterior dents are so bad you can't live with them, I'd find another trailer. You can not work aluminum like sheet metal. Unless you want to use filler and paint the whole trailer the only way to get ride of the dents perfectly is panel replacement and that would be expensive even doing the work yourself. If you think you can live with the dents, make a low ball offer and see what happens.
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Old 06-14-2010, 09:27 AM   #9
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Thumbs up Jackpot

Glad yall bought it. From the pix it looks like you might have done real good. I would have payed 2g for it. And I would not have sold it for 2g if I was the seller.

The Air Conditioner appears to be an Armstrong.
No longer in business, but VERY REPAIRABLE and VERY WELL MADE. A product that needs to be investigated and well checked out before replacing. Might just be a fan motor or capacitor. I would find a good (non-RV) A/C guy to check it. It is very similar to a household window unit. Freon can be added to existing ports.
If you give it up, DO NOT let anyone throw it to the ground. Get help and lower it gently, it might be desirable for parts to another Airstreamer.
Data and manual for some of them available right here in these forums. I am guessing at the make from pix of the SHROUD on the roof. The Shroud appears to be in pretty good shape itself. A replacement shroud is around 300 bux, so take care of it even if you replace A/C.

Search these forums ASAP and learn how to get on and where to stand on and how to walk on the roof.

NEVER stand or sit on or climb up over the dome shaped end caps front or rear (fore or aft). If you are up there and your ladder falls do not try to get down over the dome caps. Don't get up there without figuring a way to secure the ladder or have someone available to replace it if it falls. (cell phone in your pocket).
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Old 06-14-2010, 03:56 PM   #10
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Glad yall bought it. From the pix it looks like you might have done real good. I would have payed 2g for it. And I would not have sold it for 2g if I was the seller.

The Air Conditioner appears to be an Armstrong.
No longer in business, but VERY REPAIRABLE and VERY WELL MADE. A product that needs to be investigated and well checked out before replacing. Might just be a fan motor or capacitor. I would find a good (non-RV) A/C guy to check it. It is very similar to a household window unit. Freon can be added to existing ports.
If you give it up, DO NOT let anyone throw it to the ground. Get help and lower it gently, it might be desirable for parts to another Airstreamer.
Data and manual for some of them available right here in these forums. I am guessing at the make from pix of the SHROUD on the roof. The Shroud appears to be in pretty good shape itself. A replacement shroud is around 300 bux, so take care of it even if you replace A/C.

Search these forums ASAP and learn how to get on and where to stand on and how to walk on the roof.

NEVER stand or sit on or climb up over the dome shaped end caps front or rear (fore or aft). If you are up there and your ladder falls do not try to get down over the dome caps. Don't get up there without figuring a way to secure the ladder or have someone available to replace it if it falls. (cell phone in your pocket).
After reading the forums here more indepth I am very glad I decided to pull the trigger on it.

Lucky me on the AC then. My brother in law has his own AC business, so hopefully he can refurbish it for me. I don't look forward to climbing on top, especially in the Louisiana heat but I will definitely be reading on here the way to stand and walk properly.
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