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Old 02-13-2009, 09:29 PM   #1
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1966 26' Overlander
Pensacola , Florida
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New here and looking for advice

Hi -

My husband and I and three kids (6, 9, and 11) are living in Pensacola FL. My dh has just retired from the Navy with almost 21 years in service.

More good news, we've sold our house - due to close the end of March.

The bad news . . . hubby doesn't have a job yet.

Here is where the Airstream comes in. We've talked for years about buying an Airstream and spending several moths touring the American West with the kids, post-Navy, pre-whatever happens next. So here we are. We have never been R.V.ing, only tent camping, we have no idea what we are doing.

We want an Airstream because they are so cool and light and supposed to be easy to tow. We own a Volvo wagon and think we might be able to tow a small trailer with it. Alternatively, we could buy a used S.U.V. but then we'd have less money to spend on the trailer.

We like the vintage trailers but are nervous about finding one in good condition etc. The newer ones are pretty darn cool too. All of them seem expensive - especially the new ones. We are trying to be kind to our budget.

Any advice or suggestions. Please tell me if you ever tried this and ended up divorced or crazy. I think we should be prepared for all the possibilities. And did I mention that the dogs are coming with us?

Thanks in advance,

Lisa in Beautiful Pensacola FL
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Old 02-13-2009, 09:40 PM   #2
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I just found a 1987 AS ready to go, no repairs, nothing wrong with it, for under 12k. Depending on your budget, shop around, be willing to drive to get it, and research research research. Go over it with a fine tooth comb. Spend a month reading and researching before you buy. And don't grab the first one you see. There are a lot of good ones out there, just waiting for a new home. and you don't need to get a new one either. Good luck! Steven
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Old 02-13-2009, 09:44 PM   #3
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Lisa, welcome to the forum.

About the advise, man those were lots of questions....but the tow vehicle first. I think the Volvo wagon would pull a small vintage Airstream, but I also think you won't be happy with neither the way it pulls it, or the way the five of you and the dogs will fit in it.

You don't have to spend a lot of money for a vintage trailer, but do make sure the axles, brakes, tires, and interior floors are good. If I were you, I'd find the trailer first, then deal with what it will take to pull it.
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Old 02-13-2009, 09:44 PM   #4
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Lisa,

First, welcome to the forum!

Second, thank you and your husband for your service to our country. (Navy wives also serve, as anyone who has known them know.)

As to advice, I don't believe your Volvo wagon would be suitable for towing anything but the smallest and lightest Airstream (for example a vintage Bambi) which wouldn't be big enough for your family.

So this means that you would have to spend some of your money on a suitable tow vehicle. However, suitable tow vehicles (pickups and SUVs) are selling at historically low prices right now.

Be aware that vintage Airstreams (25 years or more old) tend to be lighter and easier to tow than newer ones. If you buy one that is in active service there is a good chance that it has been maintained well enough that it won't need a whole lot more work than a newer one. On the other hand, if you can do the work yourself, there are many older units out there needing work that can be had quite inexpensively.

Good luck in your quest, and. . .as far as going crazy. . . you don't have to be crazy to be an Airstreamer. . . but it helps!
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Old 02-13-2009, 09:51 PM   #5
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1966 26' Overlander
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Thanks for the kudos. We Navy wives never get tired of hearing how we serve the country (mostly we serve dinner). My husband is a pilot and he is having cockpit withdrawal issues. He needs this Airstream to distract him from the fact that he is temporarily away from the big toys.

Great advice so far. Keep it coming. We're checking Craigslist daily for Airstreams and 2001 or 2002 Toyota Sequoia's (supposed to have better drive trains than the newer ones).

Any advice on what we should be looking for? (favorite models? Years?) Probably 25' or less.

Lisa in Pensacola
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Old 02-13-2009, 10:30 PM   #6
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Florida is home for a lot of Airstreamers. Check the Airstream Rally schedule and if there is one near you soon visit it on a Saturday as that is usually 'open house' (although many Streamers would be happy to show off their rigs anytime) and tour the trailers and mos important ask the owners all your questions. The most dangerous thing that will happen is "Information Overload!") If no rallys are being held check the members lists and PM (Private Message) the ones nearby with your questions.
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Old 02-13-2009, 10:34 PM   #7
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Beware of scams.

Hi, beware of scams on Craigs List or any other place; They have had newer trailers at really low [rediculous] prices. [first sign of scam] As mentioned before, any trailer that can be properly towed with your Volvo, will be way too small for your family. I believe that the 25 foot Six Sleeper is the smallest Airstream that would fit your family size and you will need a 1/2 ton tow vehicle to pull it. Look around and ask a lot of questions before you buy.
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Old 02-13-2009, 10:39 PM   #8
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New here and looking for advice

Greetings Lisa!

Welcome to the Forums!

I would echo the advice offered in one of the earlier posts, hold off on selecting your tow vehicle until you have settled on the trailer. Airstream isn't known for producing a tremendous number of floorplans capable of accommodating families. It can take some looking to find them, and often they will be the longer 28' to 31' coaches. One of the best known of the family friendly floorplans is the Airstream Safari 25' SS (Six Sleeper) and another is the Airstream Safari 30' Bunkhouse. Some threads that might help to acquaint you with these two variants can be found at:

Airstream Safari 25' SS (Six Sleeper) Sub-Forum

Airstream Safari 30' Bunkhouse

In the Vintage coaches, most of the coaches with capacity to sleep more than four were Center Twin floorplans with hammock bunks over the twins. Then the coach would also have a lounge across the front that made a modes double-bed. There were a few 31' Sovereigns produced with L-shaped lounges in the front that converted to sleep three in addition to the center sleeping area that could be twin or double depending upon the layout ordered.

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin
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Old 02-13-2009, 11:14 PM   #9
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1966 26' Overlander
Pensacola , Florida
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Ah, thanks Kevin, that is good to know. As a matter of fact, there is a '69 Sovereign (31' yikes) for sale on Craigslist not far from here which has "rare" bunkbeds.

Sounds like I should go take a look.

Anything I should be specifically looking for? I went to the '69 Sovereign subforum and read about something scary called "bottom sag" or something like that. I also read that I would likely need new axels for around 1.5K.

What is a good resource for comparing pricing on vintage models?

Lisa in Pensacola FL
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Old 02-13-2009, 11:33 PM   #10
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New here and looking for advice

Greetings Lisa!

There are two separate, but sometimes related maladies that can impact vintage coaches.

Rear End Separation: This malady has many causes including unbalanced running gear, running with holding tank full, permitting leaks to go unrepaired. In this malady, the rear bumper moves independently of the body -- you can place pressure on the bumper (try standing on the bumper and notice if a gap develops between the top of the frame beams and the coach body -- if a gap opens up, the coach has at least some degree of Rear End Separation. This malady can impact any Airstream coach -- I have had it on my Overlander and had it repaired at my local Airstream dealer (approximately $2,000). This malady is often accompanied by floor rot along the rear wall -- if this floor rot is present the problem becomes even more difficult and expensive to repair. A coach that has had this repair will often have patches above the frame horns shaped something like and elephant's ear.

Rear End Frame Sag: This problem is most often associated with coaches having factory installed gray and blackwater tanks during the Beatrice Foods Era -- 1973 to 1979 -- but not necessarily limited to just these years. Most of the impacted coaches were the longer 27' and larger rear bath models. Again the causes could be many, but one most often mentione was traveling with both waste tanks full or near full -- causing the tanks to become a lever pressing down on the frame. This lever motion eventually resulted in the frame bowing or even cracking. Airstream issued a technical service bulletin for repairing this problem along with a frame modification (steel plate reinforcement) kit to stop its progress. One way to determine if the coach has this problem is to look for unusual ripples or bulges anywhere around the wheel wells -- then look for evidence of any cracks where the frame can be seen within the wheel well. While I haven't had to deal with this problem it is my understanding that to have a dealer to install the modification kit runs close to $2,000.

So far a good source for establishing values, one of the most frequently mentioned is RJ Dial's website -- Price vs. Condition.

If you perform a forums search for Checklist or Buyers Checklist, you will find some ideas for the various areas that need to be examined on any pre-owned coach that is considered.

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin
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Old 02-14-2009, 07:53 AM   #11
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As others have mentioned....AS first. Then match your TV to it.

With 5 warm bodies,(dog's #?), the largest, ready for the road pre-owned your comfortable with would be my recommendation. Have you checked our classifieds?
Do as much first hand investigation as possible with the whole family. Test all accommodations. Head & beds!!
Try EVERYTHING, lights,heater,fridge,electrics,doors,windows, running gear, etc.
Don't pay any attention to the,"everything worked last time", line.
Take notes on everything you look at, +'s & -'s. DON'T RUSH, The hardest of all!!

Just found this link it might be helpful.....http://www.airforums.com/forums/f353...ist-13963.html



Krazy yes...divorced no.

Good Luck in your search!!

Semper-fi.
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