Originally Posted by digitalmaine
Greetings experienced ones... I have made the decision to buy a used airstream (not just any travel trailer) as we have sold our camp. My thinking is why not have a camp we can move to different places!
My situation: I have a wife (who frankly is not that keen on me taking on another project), two kids (boy 7/girl 9) who are totally psyched. My former camp was really rustic-as in an Airstream will be the taj mahal by comparison.
I have about $3000.00 I can spend initially. I have looked at Craigs list and ebay and google and have learned a lot (electronically), but need advice from people who have actually physically repaired/owned/used airstreams extensively.
My skills are good (rebuilt mahogany chris crafts back from dust), enough plumbing experience to be handy, electrical passable.
My initial questions revolve around layout. My vehicle is capable of towing anything. What models would be best? Ambassadors? Tradewinds?
I would also like guidance on what problems to look for? It seems floor sag was an issue in some models and I see many people have put new axles under their trailers.
Sorry to be so vague-yet needy. I don't want a giant project-but need to know how to inspect frames? trouble spots?
Any help SERIOUSLY appreciated!
Dear Vague yet needy fellow Mainiac
I argee with all of the advice above. Also.....
Have you discovered RJ Dial's website www.vintageairstream.com
? Read all sections and study price vs. condition
page. Also study the Archives
section for floor plans and sizes. Mr. Dial is the ultimate perfectionist and sometimes gets carried away rebuilding tail lights and axles then freely admits after the fact it would have been a better choice to buy and replace that part new first time around. His interest is vintage which many believe to be better built and offers valuable information about cost and value.
I would guess with offspring you should be looking at Safari (22') on up to the big guys. Many larger Airstreams are a better value because Wally Byam named the smallest one Bambi
and now every person that looks at a trailer under 22' yells out BAMBI and then ask if it is for sale.
Having worked on boats will be a benefit and also a relief as RV's and related parts are about one third the cost of the same part used on boats. Unless you shop at West Marine then be prepared to pay four times as much.
Your wife sounds unconvinced about this idea and I dare guess that it could have something to do will your optimistic budget. Yes one can buy a trailer for 3k but is it ready to go camping? In the state of AirstreamDreamLand traveling on Interstate fixerupper first take the next EXIT 10k for time and money needed to be ready to roll. Now I am being optimistic.
It is all worth it and a great way for a family of four to travel and start saving some of the money spent on the travel vessel. So the budget is part of the decision of how quickly do you want to travel as compared to the time and $ spent refurbishing the trailer.
So, to recap.... 3k trailer and add $500. for every small project and 1000k for every large one like appliances and axles. That will easily get one to over 10k which is what most here will admit to. Many have spent much more.
Don't even think about free labor.
General rule is do not buy the first trailer you look at for sale. Poke, probe, prod and peel back floors and bellypan. Scatch an sniff. Hop up and down and open and close. This includes black tank. Have fun searching and learning along the way. Attend a few rallies and bring a check book. Be prepared to travel a long distance for the right model for you.
Good luck finding the right one and if it is a fixer upper by the time you roll out from under the trailer your wife may not be mad at you anymore.