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Old 01-18-2013, 04:43 PM   #1
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Hello all. I just returned from a vacation in Florida where I stayed at a retirement RV park in Davenport. No, I'm not retired, I'm only 29. My partner and I went down to spend a week with his grandmother. She owns two RVs in the park, one she uses for family when they come to visit her, a 1970 something Airstream. It was my first encounter with an Airstream.

Those sleek lines, that old charm and character struck me right away. Over 300 RVs in the park and I was staying in the only Airstream. I fell in love with it. It's been a week, and I can't get it out of my mind.

As a result, I am looking to buy my first trailer. I live in Vermont and from what I can see there aren't many in this area. I've only just begun exploring the forums and classifieds and wanted to introduce myself and see if anyone could offer me a few tips. My partner and I are looking for a trailer that would suit us and our two dogs (a 10 lb Chihuahua mix and 40 lb Basset mix). We are hoping for something road ready and usable, but we aren't afraid of putting a little work into either, and preferably something within a 6 hour drive of VT (New England and upstate NY areas).
Any tips and encouragement would be greatly appreciated.
Looking forward to hearing from you all.
Thanks.
TIM
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Old 01-18-2013, 06:05 PM   #2
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I suppose the first thing to know is what kind of TV (tow vehicle) you have. That will determine the size of AS you will be looking for. Then what are your plans finance wiss. Buy cheap and spend time and money making it road worthy, or buy not so cheap and be roadworthy but maybe not finished, expensive and finished.. Good luck with your search.

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Old 01-18-2013, 06:17 PM   #3
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Just Fallen in Love...total newbie

Greetings Tim!

Welcome to the Forums and the world of Airstreams!

Quote:
Originally Posted by VtTim View Post
Hello all. I just returned from a vacation in Florida where I stayed at a retirement RV park in Davenport. No, I'm not retired, I'm only 29. My partner and I went down to spend a week with his grandmother. She owns two RVs in the park, one she uses for family when they come to visit her, a 1970 something Airstream. It was my first encounter with an Airstream.

Those sleek lines, that old charm and character struck me right away. Over 300 RVs in the park and I was staying in the only Airstream. I fell in love with it. It's been a week, and I can't get it out of my mind.

As a result, I am looking to buy my first trailer. I live in Vermont and from what I can see there aren't many in this area. I've only just begun exploring the forums and classifieds and wanted to introduce myself and see if anyone could offer me a few tips. My partner and I are looking for a trailer that would suit us and our two dogs (a 10 lb Chihuahua mix and 40 lb Basset mix). We are hoping for something road ready and usable, but we aren't afraid of putting a little work into either, and preferably something within a 6 hour drive of VT (New England and upstate NY areas).
Any tips and encouragement would be greatly appreciated.
Looking forward to hearing from you all.
Thanks.
TIM
You are correct in your assumption that you may need to travel to find the coach of your dreams, but there are a number of factors to consider. When we talk about Vintage Airstreams, we generally think of trailers more than 25 years of age so there is a large variety of Vintage Airstreams given the company's more than 70 years of production. Your question regarding size of coach is difficult to answer as every owner has his/her specific needs for area that feels comfortable. The size of the coach also can hinge upon the lenght of time that you intend to be in the coach. If your anticipated use is just for weekends and an annual two-week vacation, you may find that a smaller coach under 25' would fit the bill . . . on the other hand if you pland to trave for weeks or months at a time, you may find that the larger 27' to 31' coaches would be more practical. Another factor to consider is what kind of tow vehicle you are willing to live with . . . the larger coaches are gonig to require a more capable tow vehicle than the smaller coaches.

I have uploaded a pdf file containing weights and measures for various Vintage Airstream coaches. These are dry or empty weights and do not include options, fluids, accessories of personal possession all of which can add a significant amount to the gross loaded weight of a given coach. It is quite easy to add between 800 and 1,800 pounds to the base weight between fluids, options, accessories, and personal possesslions when looking at this table.

When looking at Vintage Airstreams, you can think of them in "eras" where they had similar features. The following might help some in terms of some points of change (dates are approximate):
  • 1957-1964 -- These coaches will have an approximate 13-gallon blackwater tank and no gray water tank (gray water collected in blueboy or directed to sewer). These coaches will also have the door-within-a-door with jalousie window(s) located beside the entrance door. Only the 1964 coaches will have factory installed Univolt power converters so the other models of this generation will have dual 120-volt AC/12-Volt DC systems (lights will have both AC and DC light bulbs). The 1964 coaches also standardized the rear one-stop-service-compartment.
  • 1965 -- This was a transition year that was virtually identical to the 1964 with the exception that the entry door had a solid exterior door with a separate screen door; and the jalousie window(s) beside the door disappeared.
  • 1966-1968 -- The feature of note with these coaches are the windows. During this era, Airstream utilized Corning Tempered Curved glass windows for side windows, and for quite some time, these windows were unavailable so owners had little choice other than to use acrylics when replacements were made. Recently, these windows have become available in the reproduction market so it isn't uncommon to find a coach from this era with acrylic windows that need replacement.
  • 1969-1980 -- These coaches saw the switch from hardwood veneer plywood in the cabinets to plastic laminates and the change from cabinet doors to tambour roll-up fronts. The longer coaches from this era need to be watched for issues with rear droop (the frame sags and the floor will slope from the axles to the rear) as well as rear end separation and in some instances front separation. Harvest gold and avacado green were among the three most common interior color schemes. The front windows will be three-piece with a large opening center window and two smaller side windows referred to as wing windows (wing windows do not open).
  • 1980 and Newer -- I am less familiar with these coaches so will hope that another Forum member will assist with comments on them.
A site that you can surf that will give you more ideas about the features common to the various vintages is the Vintage Airstream Photo Archives.

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin
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Old 01-18-2013, 06:31 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by goshawks00 View Post
I suppose the first thing to know is what kind of TV (tow vehicle) you have. That will determine the size of AS you will be looking for. Then what are your plans finance wiss. Buy cheap and spend time and money making it road worthy, or buy not so cheap and be roadworthy but maybe not finished, expensive and finished.. Good luck with your search.

Barry & Karen in Mi.
The only variation that seems never to be available is small, classic, finished (no work needed) and cheap.

It's important to have an idea of what sort of work you can and would want to do and how soon you expect to have it either usable or finished.

For example, we bought a 40 year old, 25' trailer three years ago. We spent 5 months (weekends - we both work) and a few thousand dollars to make it roadworthy (axles, brakes, rear end separation) and then we started camping. Later additions made it yet more functional (refurbished refrigerator, composting toilet, new water heater) and still more made it more pleasant (dinette, shower). We're still working on the cosmetic parts (real wood instead of laminate, window coverings).

Older trailers look more rounded and more classic. They may cost less at the beginning. But they take more work to get everything functional, so you'll need to spend either time or money later on. It's all about tradeoffs and knowing what you want.
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Old 01-18-2013, 07:41 PM   #5
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Welcome to the Forums, Tim, and welcome also to the world of Airstream excitement. It's OK to be enthralled with Airstreams...they are very "enthrallable," and we have all been there. We love our Bambi ... it's the best thing we ever did.

You just have to approach the acquisition of your Airstream with as much knowledge as you can and with sensible shoes on so that you are well-prepared. There is a great deal of information here and the depth of experience and knowledge is astounding. What's more, is that the Airforums community is very willing to share its knowledge and know-how.

Be open to it and do your own research as well ... and don't forget to enjoy the excitement of the new adventure that lies ahead of you. And above all, have fun, and we will see you down the road soon!
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Old 01-18-2013, 08:34 PM   #6
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Your right about there not being a lot to choose from in the area.

Do lots of research right here and in the sites mentioned above. If I wanted a vintage airstream that didn't need a lot of framework I wouldn't buy in New England! Buy out west in a drier area and bring it back here!

Or the ideal would be to find one that's been under cover but good luck with that! Most trailers are off the market til spring in this area anyway, so go slow and take the time to get the right trailer the first time!

Try hard not to buy sight unseen, some of the trailers I saw before I found mine were said to be road worthy. NONE were.

You are very close to one of the best restorers in vintage rigs. Colin Hyde Trailer Restorations in Plattsburg NY When you get a better idea of what you're looking for you may want to call him. He might know rigs for sale. At least you'll have a good repair place close!

Good luck! And don't buy the first one you see. Unless its a whales tail and then you better beat me to it!
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Old 01-18-2013, 08:46 PM   #7
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Welcome to the addiction! We bought ours 3 years ago next week! We live in Kansas City and drove 1200 miles one way to get our perfect Airstream and haven't regretted it for a moment! We bought a very gently used 19' Bambi CCD and have two labs that camp with us. It's a bit tight sometimes but we spend most of our time outdoors and the dogs are great about staying on their bed. Do your homework and ask lots of questions and when your ready there are inspectors that will look at an Airstream for you if it's too far to see it in person, we did this and it turned out great. Have fun!

Brad and Zell
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Old 01-18-2013, 08:49 PM   #8
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Lots of wisdom in the preceding posts... but no one mentioned to click the "CLASSIFIEDS" button on this forum. EYE CANDY!

A good place to start without even leaving home.

Paula
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Old 01-18-2013, 08:59 PM   #9
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Duh! That's how we found ours! Thanks for the reminder.
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Old 01-18-2013, 09:34 PM   #10
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Here are some more pictures of our pups and the inside.
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Old 01-18-2013, 09:42 PM   #11
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Lots of wisdom in the preceding posts... but no one mentioned to click the "CLASSIFIEDS" button on this forum. EYE CANDY!

A good place to start without even leaving home.

Paula
And you get a good idea of the going prices! GREAT idea!
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Old 01-18-2013, 11:54 PM   #12
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Thank you all for the quick responses. It's nice to know that getting bitten by this bug isn't out of the ordinary.

You all gave me a good amount of information to absorb and, of course, only fueled my desire to own one of these beauties. I appreciate the advice.

I have been checking out the classifieds and seen a few trailers in my price range and in what my untrained eye thinks is a reasonable condition. I will continue to educate myself and drool over pictures.
You'll be hearing from me again
Thanks
TIM
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Old 01-18-2013, 11:59 PM   #13
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We watched the Airforums classifieds, craigslist and ebay for about 5 months before finding one even worth looking at. They may be well preserved out here in the west, but they seem a lot more common farther east.

We bought the first trailer we looked at. It was close enough to what we wanted and we had the skills to fill in the blanks. I kept looking for months afterwards, out of curiosity and never saw another one that would have worked for us. So don't wait for the "perfect" trailer. Start sooner.
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Old 01-19-2013, 11:37 AM   #14
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The more I look the harder it becomes to resist the urge. My only "must" is road ready. Interior stuff we can putter away on and be comfortable camping in for this summer. The plan would be a few weekends probably along side family with Denali or Coachmen trailers so even a fully functioning bath is negotiable. I just want something I can have on the road this summer

I'm probably setting myself up for problems with this mentality.

Here are some shots of what I fell in love with. It's set up as a park model but still has enough unique charm to lure me in
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