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Old 04-09-2007, 06:31 PM   #1
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new here; looking at '87 Sovereign -- nervous, questions ...

Subject line just about says it all. Have had Airstream in our minds for a few years. Have looked at a few older used models. Never purchased one. Had bad experience with pulling a cargo trailer about 45 years ago and disliked them ever since, but now rethinking subject. Saw one AS today...1969; bad axles, needs lots of help, $6,500. Wondering now about considering something much later - pay more up front and perhaps less misery during ownership? We like the classics but are not stuck on that concept. Expect to travel to AS dealership tomorrow to look at '87 25' Sovereign priced at $14,00 OBO. Love the interiors of the new/near new models but those $38,000+ price tags hurt too much on fixed income.

Is this '87 a model/year with decent reputation? Anything special to look for? We're pretty green at all this but I usually research things pretty well so here I am asking. Tow vehicle is 1992 Chev. 6.5T diesel 1-ton. Good shape for it's age and I don't lust for new fancy pickup if my old one hangs in there.

I also suspect private-party purchases save buyers money. Am checking ads within this website.

Nice to be here; thoughts, tips or comments appreciated,
Dennis
Odessa/Ritzville, WA state
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Old 04-09-2007, 08:25 PM   #2
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Dennis, welcome to the forum. Try clicking here:
http://www.airforums.com/forum...lla-27666.html

Your question has been answered many times on this forum, so navigate your way to the "buyers guidelines" sub-forum, and, after that, if you have more questions, try a few ideas in the search box at the top of the screen. If, after all that, you have more queries, this is the right place to ask them. Be advised that an Airstream that is rotted and corroded, and only fit for the salvage yard can have the same outward appearance as a trailer in excellent condition. I would advise a detailed inspection by someone with a good knowledge of Airstream trailers and their weaknesses. Good luck.
Nick.
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Old 04-09-2007, 08:46 PM   #3
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Thanks Nick, I have been...........

I spent a lot of time this afternoon doing search functions and reading in this website. Lots of good things; confusing array of information at first, but it begins to sort out pretty quick, then the volume of facts is appreciated. Getting an expert to check out the unit at the AS dealership tomorrow is a good idea but I have no idea how to find one. I suspect there are a lot of AS units that would fulfill our desires/needs and the varieties are still something of a blur to us. I would hope an actual AS dealership would offer some expertise, but unfortunately, "buyer beware," always seems to be the key. If we were rich we'd probably just buy new and call it good. But..... I also suppose that even AS new products take a bad depreciation hit after taking it off the lot.

Dennis
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Old 04-09-2007, 09:04 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DennisT
Getting an expert to check out the unit at the AS dealership tomorrow is a good idea but I have no idea how to find one.
Some forum members will help. See here:
http://www.airforums.com/forum...tor-22956.html
Nick.
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Old 04-10-2007, 12:06 AM   #5
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oh wow!

That is some unit - just saw the pics. Honestly, rear wrap windows are fairly rare... especially at that length. Mid bath means no worry's about rear separation.... I'd jump at that price with that rear end.

Only possible faults that I see is that there is possible rear streetside dents... didn't look too bad from the pics, but I wish the photo was bigger. ASof Spokane has the ablilty to fix it... I'd ask how much that is worth doing... but honestly, it looks hard to see. I've got some "love marks" on mine, that just add to the look of being actually used as a trailer.

If the floorplan and interior design work for you, and all the systems pan out, I'd buy! Nice wheels too!
Marc
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Old 04-10-2007, 12:38 AM   #6
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3m

Thanks, 3M. Comments like yours are not only encouraging but give us perspective. Hard to judge these things early in the game when we have virtually no background to balance against. Feature comments help for this reason.

But not sure what you mean by rear separation.

Your thumbnail signature photo looks like Trees of Mystery.

Dennis
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Old 04-10-2007, 01:16 AM   #7
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Trees of Mystery...

YES, that's were we were! Fun and beautiful place!

Rear separation - the longer rear bath units of the mid-late 70's rear bath models (say 28ft and above, but some 26 and longer units had this issue too) had an issue where the rear bumper frame would crack right about where the axles attach. If you were to jump up and down on the rear bumper, someone from the side might notice the frame actually moving up and down, but not the shell - as the two are "separating."

You could jump on the rear, and I'm sure you won't notice any issues with that unit you're looking at. Look at the axles, make sure they're pointing at least level, should be down. If not, axle replacement may be in the cards. Again, always hard to tell from photos. The AC looks newer - test all the systems, and see if they will guareentee them for a period of time. Is this a consignment unit or one traded in? They mention a newer fridge. I'd ask if they could turn it on prior to you going to see it to see if the freezer is cooling off (keep in mind, it takes a while for the fridge to get to operating temp). The freezer box should be getting cold by the time you get there though. Check for new OPD valves on the propane tanks, test the water lines by turning on the water pump. Make sure the water heater and furnace turn on and light.

Join us for Memorial day for the NW forums "Area 33" forums rally when you buy it... I'm sure you will! I really wish I had one of those rear wrap units... If it had a dinette and couch in front (like the current CCD's), I'd buy it in a heartbeat under you (but I'm happy with our Argosy! ). Your tow vehicle should be just great with it.

I've had nothing but positive interactions with AS of Spokane, fwiw.

Marc
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Old 04-10-2007, 09:05 PM   #8
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Saw the '87 Sovereign; report below, have hours to decide !!! ??

Looked at the 1987 25' Soverign today. Asking price $14,000 at dealer. Thanks to folks who gave me tips on this.
First, it came from the Washington state coast; I'd rather it hadn't, but it does not appear that hurt it much. Has new alloy wheels and tires. Recarpeted. New AC/dc converter. Recent work on fridge which seemed to work. The nice wrap-around windows front and rear with protection on front one. Mid bath. Original couch in good shape. I crawled under and the torsion bar arms are slightly sloped below level. I have some concerns there, however, "fenders," still ride about 4"+ above wheel. Comments on this particularly invited. Of course dealer said it is fine.

Looked under sink, lifted the little, "floor," panel and the sub-floor under there is 3/4 inch wafer board; not sure that is original. All floors seem firm under the new carpet. Hard to impossible to pull up carpet and look. All hardware seems in good shape. Plumbing looks fine; no signs of water damage. Clear coat still good on about 80% of the trailer. Some aluminum vents, hardware was not maintained and has some surface oxidation which I guess cannot be improved. Brakes 50%. Bearings repacked at this dealer, (Spokane AS), and new seals installed. Rear bumper not dented or distorted. Left rear scrapes less than minor; no punctures. Dealer recommends buying his $700 anti-sway-bar hitch set up. Basic set comes with trailer. All woodwork inside in very good shape. Bath seems in good shape.

I pulled up top cover over rear bumper and examined each end of that storage compartment. Looked inside the 3" holes on each end that look into the frame as suggested here. I see surface rust but not to any depth. I've looked at a lot of rusty metal where the scale is so deep it has to be chipped off and this is not that way. For a 20-year-old unit then, is surface rust in there normal?

Can't think of what else to say. He is holding it until we sleep on the whole idea and call him tomorrow. I'll be gone to Lodge this evening from 7:30 to 10 PM PST.

Don't know what else to say or can't think of it in my present mental condition, ( ! ). We like it, but big decision as we have never done anything like this before. OTH, it is probably a smaller risk than buying new and we can't afford that anyway.

Comments invited,
Dennis ... breathless...
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Old 04-10-2007, 09:18 PM   #9
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hi dennisT

no pictures for us to view?

your comments suggest too much pressure...

many trailers, many options, many good deals.

IF you love it, go for it!

but don't look back, regret may be following.

used trailers all need something, right now or soon.

can you afford replacement appliances or running gear?

is this unit really really the one...

the spouse wants?

and don't shoot your full budget just on the purchase price.

"hold it" for ya, that really reads like dealer/sales jive...

let us know how the decision plays out.

cheers
2air'
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Old 04-10-2007, 09:26 PM   #10
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Thanks,

Thanks. Yes I took photos. It takes me a while to download, reduce in size, etc. I can do that late tonight when I get back home. OTH, I have never posted photos on this site and while I am sure posting instructions exist here, it will take me a bit to follow that out.

Dealer didn't say he'd hold it really, I just told him that I'd let him know tomorrow and, of course, he's happy to oblige. My time frame....but I don't want anyone to wait unduly either.

I do realize maintenance and fixing things are a part of costs.

Dennis
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Old 04-10-2007, 09:42 PM   #11
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Price is in the range...

Dennis-

If it is any help, prices in low to mid $ Teens are the range for clean late 80's 25's, and have been for a while.. We paid $13K for our '88 Excella from private party in 2003, saw others in range from $12K to $14K while looking..

Our fixit list included control board for fridge (worked for 5 hours, then shut down...) at $100, plus one new valve and pressure testing for a propane tank ($100..) and some cleanups.. We decided year later to replace pinks and muaves and chocolate carpeting with new upholstery and blinds and curtains and carpet, but that was cosmetic, not required...

Other questions to ask yourself:
1. Is it twin or queen, and is that the bedroom you really want?
2. How long can you live with interior decor?
3. What shape is A/C and furnace?
4. If you had top replace axles in 3-5 years, would you be OK with that?
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Old 04-10-2007, 10:20 PM   #12
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If it was on the coast check the awning where it attached to the trailer - the awning material itself. They rot along the edge where it attach's to the trailer (the slide in molding) if they are not properly covered.

Take it for a test tow - use their lot truck if you have to, to make sure it rides OK and that the brakes, all the lights work, etc. I think this is one of the most critical things a person can do when buying a used trailer and too often people don't. There's things like bent or twisted frames, or even cracked/broken, it may dog track, the brakes may work on only one side or not at all, or work poorly, and when you stop hop out and check the wheels for abnormal heat. That could be sticky brakes or wheel bearings. Tow with your windows down so you can hear unusual squeaks or clicks or bangs, go over some bumps, make sure you get it up to the speed you would normally tow it at.

Check the propane tanks to make sure they are not expired or just about to. I believe they have to be the new type valves so if this has been sitting on a lot somewhere they may not be the current type required.

Check the tires for dot date and for cracks. Not just on the front and back sides but also in the tread. I know you said new aluminum wheels - are they balanced? If not you will want to do that.

Did you look at all the roof vents/other areas like antenna/AC areas on the roof for water stains or signs that someone might have touched up? If there a not signs of leakage that's a really good thing.

If it has rock guards on the front if you can see behind them, make sure they weren't put on because it took some significant dings.

Did you try all the windows and vents to make sure that everything opens as it should, and the closes and seals as it should.

What does it come with? Water/Sewer hoses, not sure whether it has a built in power cord???, wheel chocks, etc but if not you'll need to buy all those things if you don't already have some at home.

How old is the battery? Are the posts clean or do they look corroded? Check the fluid level to ensure it's been maintained.

Did you try the interior lights, etc, without the trailer plugged in? Just offers a quick test of the battery.

Are they giving you any kind of warranty on any of it?

Did they say why the carpet was replaced? If you have allergies, if it had pets or smokers in it are those going to be a cause for problems for you?

The bed(s). Check the mattress, is it clean or stained? Take your shoes off and lay on it - is it comfortable? Could you sleep on it every night for a weekend, a couple of weeks, or however long your trips are intended to be?

How do the dinette/gaucho seats feel? Is the foam in them good or dead and needing replacement? Turn them over to see if they have stains on the other side. Foam isn't particularly cheap.

Check the curtains for stains. It could be from open window in the rain or it could be leaks.

Check under the back to make sure the belly pan isn't beat to death or torn from being hauled over a curb. Make sure if it's been replaced that it was done right.

Open the fridge vent on the outside and look at any wood that may be there to make sure it's not rotted out. If the trailer has been sitting on the coast (as I live on the coast these are all things I've learned the hard way) the vents are a source for water to get in and thus a source for rot.

Sit down in it and look around the whole area you can see and look at everything. Does it look OK, or perhaps out of place, or that it's been repaired or that little area over in the corner looks repainted and then take a look to make sure the PO wasn't hiding a boo-boo or did a mediocre repair.

If after all that it looks like it's a trailer you'll feel really good about living in while you are out enjoying the world, buy it. If any of the above things turn out to be problems you have some options - offer to pay less and write down the things you've found so you can price them out in the dealers parts dept; ask for a warranty; ask the dealer to repair those things and negotiate so they do the most of them; take it as is knowing you'll need to do those things eventually; or look at others.

Too often I've created my own deadline and then later wished I'd of taken that really hard second and third look. Not that, knowing myself, I wouldn't have bought anyways, but at least I'd of driven a better deal or not been quite so disappointed and done the whole buyers remorse thing later.

Pictures, pictures, pictures. Look hard at them, and share them with us.

Barry
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Old 04-10-2007, 10:39 PM   #13
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Hi Dennis,, if the trailer looks decent,, and if both of you love it,, then go for it,,, i agree with 2 air,, hard decision i know,, but you will know the right one when you see it,,, you do not have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince,, did you sit in the trailer and see how it feels inside?? did it feel right??? hope you were not overly rushed,, trailer looking takes hours,,, good luck,, happy trails,,, donna
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Old 04-10-2007, 11:16 PM   #14
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decisions

Thanks to all. First, 2air, for initial photos see http://www.airstreamofspokane.com under, products, pre-owned. It's the only '87 there. Not many photos, but a start.

I'll download my camera to my laptop shortly, but still have to find the manner in which to post them.

Addressing other comments you all offered:

If I had to replace axles in the next 2-3 years that would not bother me. They quoted around $2,800 for that. Or I could insert them in the deal now...somewhere...and have it behind me.

Bed is new Airstream mattress; wife checked that out as well as the flip-out couch-bed and pronounced them both great (and she's critical). Pretty much full size bed in rear of trailer running lengthwise to body. Both beds fine for me too; I can live happily with them both. Interior decor is just fine; warm feeling; actually we liked it better than new hickory interior of new model sitting there. Bedroom arrangement seems just fine with us. Remember, this would be our first RV/trailer ever !

I think the AC is fine, but would check it out further. Furnace seems fine.

Not sure about propane tank expiration dates; good idea there. They are installing new connectors/fittings.

Test tow is sensible and would probably have done that anyway. Previous owner had this a year as their second used Airstream. He is military retired with good job now and his wife went to work on two jobs so they traded this in on their first NEW AS. At least that's the story. He is car collector and put on the new tires and alloys during this past year.

We looked at vent/root attachments as best we could...from inside only. Looked good; no stains. There is tinted protector over front wrap-around window, but no rock guard. Some tiny marks where rock guards would have protected but very slight.

Comes with power cord for external comm'l AC. Has support feet/jacks on each corner, screw adjustable from outside with speed wrench. Some surface rust on jack assemblies underneath.

Have yet to check batteries.

No reason stated for carpet replacement. We could smell cleaner inside, but my wife is terribly allergic to mildew and she could not smell any problems; never know what cleaner smells cover, but she's usually pretty keen on that.

No curtain stains. Belly pan/rear undercarriage looks undamaged. Bumper appears to never have been, "hooked."

Condo, thanks; sounds like price range is pretty fair.

Whew.

Dennis
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