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Old 01-16-2010, 02:31 AM   #1
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Talking New Family Looking for Advice on Used Airstream

Hello Fellow Airstreamers,

Iíve been lurking around this website for years learning, laughing and crying with you and your adventures and decided it was time I joined in on all the fun. Weíve been Popup Tent camping for years in our 2003 Colman Carmel up and down the coast of California and want to do longer trips across country. Iíve wanted an Airstream for years but the price has been a factor (my house payment is hard enough theses days).

Like many on this site Iíve been searching all the Airstreams links for that perfect combination of size, features, price, weight, etc.. At this point I know that Iíll need to find a unit that 7.5ft wide by 25ft, can sleep 3 (1 big dad, mom and a Son growing faster everyday) and donít want a new unit due to size and weight. I have a Ford F150 with a 5.4 and can tow 9000lb (or so they have me believe) but less is better on the gas bill and I have limited storage space.

That said Iíve believe Iíve found the ďperfectĒ (Iím old enough to know better by young enough to still believeĒ) Airstream that meets all my (and more importantly the Better Halfís) requirements in a 1969 TradeWinds 25 located not far from my home. The pictures of the unit make it seem almost new. However I know the asbestos flooring will have to come out and I want to make the front gauchoís in to a U shaped unit that makes into a larger bed which in turn means Iíll end up gutting the thing and starting from the bathroom back (I know how these thing go). Iím handy and can do a lot of the grunt work myself and Iím not afraid to write a check when Iím in over my head. I fully expect to drop 10K for new everything and upgrades to axels, shocks and adding disk breaks but itís a far cry from the $56K they want for a new one..

The unit is new to CA and comes here via Wyoming. The seller says he just brought it down to CA in December. I have some hope the running gear is in good enough shape to get it the 90 miles back home.. The Seller is asking $4000 Ďas isí and Iíll be inspecting the unit on Sunday with hopes of bringing it home. Iíve been beat out of 3 others so Iím almost desperate to take it regardless of any problems, but luckily the wife holds the checkbook and shoots better than me.

I noticed that some folks a willing to provide some insight as to what to look out for with specific Airstream Models and with a few pictures can help identify problem areas. I hate to be so needy so soon but timing is everythingÖ Iíve posted a few photos that the seller provided on the site and welcome any insight from the community on this unit and anything I should look out for. I thank you for reading my post and look forward to sharing all my ďfunĒ and ďPainĒ with youÖ

Thank you in advance for your assistance,

Jim
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Old 01-16-2010, 05:22 AM   #2
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1971 25' Tradewind
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In this case what does the "as is" mean? What actually works and what doesn't? What upgrades have been done and when? Check for water damage and floor rot in the nooks and crannies around sink, water lines, water heater, and where the floors meet the wall.

And don't forget to check if the axles will need replacement. Do a forums search on this and you will find more than you ever will want to know.
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Old 01-16-2010, 08:39 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the3Blairs View Post
I have a Ford F150 with a 5.4 and can tow 9000lb (or so they have me believe) but less is better on the gas bill and I have limited storage space.
The 5.4 Ford will be more than adequate for a trailer of this size. Just make sure you have proper weight distribution and sway set up--tons of thread here on that.
Also wise to look for any signs of rear separation. Not as common on the shorter trailers but it does happen. Many threads also but quick look signs are stressed or bulging skin towards the rear (as you look down the side of the trailer front to rear), parts pulled away above the rear bumper area, etc. This is repairable but a major budget/time killer if it exists on the trailer.
Good luck with the deal.
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Old 01-16-2010, 08:52 AM   #4
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I am certainly no pro, but I've seen Airstreams in poorer condition at 10K, one in particular was 500 miles North of us, we didn't purchase it because the seller would not budge on the 10K price. 4K seems pretty good, go take a road trip and see her! Make it a family adventure!

As my husband says when I tell him of something we need to fix "really Jes, its a trailer ya pull behind your truck", in other words anything is fixable if ya got the passion for it! Thats what hobbies are for! You will have a lot of fun tinkering with it!
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Old 01-16-2010, 09:00 AM   #5
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1971 25' Tradewind
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cantrell View Post
The 5.4 Ford will be more than adequate for a trailer of this size. Just make sure you have proper weight distribution and sway set up--tons of thread here on that.
Also wise to look for any signs of rear separation. Not as common on the shorter trailers but it does happen. Many threads also but quick look signs are stressed or bulging skin towards the rear (as you look down the side of the trailer front to rear), parts pulled away above the rear bumper area, etc. This is repairable but a major budget/time killer if it exists on the trailer.
Good luck with the deal.
Ditto all the above

For just about every opinion on the forum (you know what they say about opinions) you will also find the opposite. My following opinion is no exception.But that's just me and I'm a little nuts.

As far as the 90 mile tow, I would like to know when were the bearings greased last and are the brakes functional. I would not let the bearing or tire condition stop you from towing it home. If there is a question about the bearings and brakes bring some grease and listen for grinding. Be prepared to pull a wheel and grease the bearings or pull the brake shoes if the wheel heats up. If you have a spare bring it, but you can tow for a short distance on 3 wheels. Take it easy. Even with no brakes your F150 can stop you but give yourself a wide margin of error.

The field test for rear end separation is to jump up and down on the back bumper. There should be very little movement of the bumper without the body following suit.
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Old 01-16-2010, 11:53 AM   #6
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Just note that in the pictures there is NO spare tire... The first exterior picture. you CAN see the spare tire carrier mount (under the body just under the LP tanks) and it is empty.

I would just check the tires and hit the road...

The price seems low for the condition...

looking at the pictures (this is not the best ... or even a good way to tell) it looks like axles may be in order. This can be done less that 1800.00 in your driveway. Adding the disc brakes at that time will be the most economical.

If you are planning on axles I would not even worry about the bearings. Just grab that deal and drive.

Get it home and look over every window and seam for sealant cracks, and take care of them first, then window and door seals.

Sanitize the water system.

Hook it to the truck and go...

I would do the running gear stuff early in your adventure and use it while you do the "remodel".

The Name "the3blairs" Is great!!!
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Old 01-16-2010, 12:22 PM   #7
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Let's put this in perspective - what did you pay for your Coleman? Probably more than $4K. Need I say more?

Think of this as a $10K Airstream, and you are just buying the base unit - knowing you will put money into it. Pictures look awesome!!
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Old 01-16-2010, 08:14 PM   #8
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So where can I see the trailer Seriously, if the floor, frame & rear end are all good, looks like a sweet deal to me! I'd be on it like flies on rice. Course, I don't always do my homework like I should....

Laura
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Old 01-16-2010, 08:35 PM   #9
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Rear End Seperation

I looked at this AS. Take a look at the rear. IMO it has rear end seperation. Take a look at some of the threads on this forum that explain the problem and the work involved to repair. Im in no way saying you should not buy this trailer but you may want to make sure you know what lies ahead of you.
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Old 01-17-2010, 07:30 PM   #10
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Now for the Rest of the Story!

Fellow Airstreamers,

Thank you all, for all the input; it was very timely and helpful. As for the 1969 Trade Winds – I was out bid… But that might not be a bad thing.

It the rainy time of year here in Northern CA but that didn’t stop us from driving to Capitola to check over the 1969 Trade Winds. The unit was in a muddy field but we were able to get to it and check it out. The outer condition showed signs of storage outside in a harsh climate. Althought many of the running lights had be replaces all the window seals were old and cracked. The lines of the trailer are straight but a number of upper and lower rivets were missing and had been siliconed over, upper and lower trim missing and all awning connections broken or missing. The rear of the unit show definite signs of advanced separation and dry rot. Could not open the back but you could see the rust holes and things were loose in the back. There was a lot of rust covered up with some new paint. The spare tire was inplace but was old, the trailer tires were old but decent tread with no cracking that I could spot - most likley I could get it home. The LP tanks were missing and all the regulator and gas lines were old. The emergency brake was original and would need replacing.

Inside the unit showed ok. The cabinets were in good condition but most all the plastic latches were broke or brittle. The metal curtains were old and hard to use and the cloth curtains were clean but old. Appliances were ok but all needed replacing. Lights were all in place but needed fixing and some had rust which makes me think there are roof leaks but I didn't see any. The real problem was in the bathroom where the floor was very soft. The plastic was good (a few cracks in the corners) but all the fixtures would need to be replaced or rebuilt. Smell of “petroleum” throught, I’m thinking solvent of some type to remove the glue used to stick the carpet (removed) to the original floor. The petroleum smell masked any mold smell – but from what I could see it look tight and as it was raining outside I didn’t see or notice any excusive moisture or dampness.

The unit was worth the $4000 asking price but although the picture looked good what you couldn’t see was the real issues. This is a "down to the frame' resteration. I’m 2nd inline if the current deal falls through. If we do end up with the unit I know this is a 2 year project and I’ll be rebuilding it to 2010 standards (keeping as much of the 1960 charm as possible).

Thanks to all the replied, well keep looking.

Jim
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Old 01-17-2010, 08:38 PM   #11
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I'm always one to feel that "things happen for a reason", or "things align when they are supposed to". If it's to be, it will be, and if not, then the one you need will find you- like a stray dog :-) Good luck and keep in touch,as we all enjoy another fellow AS lover.

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Old 01-17-2010, 08:44 PM   #12
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The3Blairs,

Good luck! Looks like a nice unit, but what do we know? Two years ago we paid a little more than that for our 72 Safari.... and it was in awful shape. I guess it all depends how bad you want it. Looking back, I would say we were dumb. But we have sure enjoyed working on it. It is seriously a money pit. It is true that you can always find something to spend money on in your AS. If you buy it, may you enjoy every minute of it. If you ever feel like you didn't get a good deal, go here to see our tales: Our hunk a hunk of burnin' (silver) love

Happy Trails!
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Old 01-17-2010, 08:52 PM   #13
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Oh, I guess I didn't read the "rest of the story".... I am sorry you were outbid. That only means your AS is still out there waiting for you to discover it! It will happen... Keep the faith.
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