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Old 03-12-2019, 12:12 PM   #1
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New to Airstreams

My wife and I are going to build a new house and plan to buy and live full time in a Airstream for a couple years plus or minus while that process is going on. We live in the Chattanooga Tn area and will park the Airstream on our lot and will have power and septic to us there.

We are looking for at least a 30'er probably from the 90s. From the little I have looked through the forums so far I can tell I have a lot to learn/research. The first time I looked at the for sale listings here I saw a 1995 34' Excella 1000 very clean that looked like exactly what we are looking for.

Any words of wisdom you would like to share with me would be appreciated.
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Old 03-12-2019, 12:26 PM   #2
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I thought I might ad a link to the house we are going to build, it is not at all the normal house you pick out to a plans book. If you do check our FB page out go back to the beginning of the page for the background info and photos.

https://www.facebook.com/Cordwood-Ho...dmin_todo_tour
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Old 03-12-2019, 01:50 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forums.


If your Airstream won't ever need to travel, the road ahead (pardon the pun) will be so much easier! It also means you can rely more heavily on 125v electric (though you may want to consider still going 12 or 24v so you can run off the grid on solar).



Perhaps you've also thought about keeping the Airstream as a guest house once you've completed the main house? I would give consideration to placement in regard to the new home so you don't have to move the Airstream again if you don't need to. This will also allow you to integrate the AS into the property a little more with landscaping and hardscaping.



You have probably noticed that the larger Airstreams are also less in demand , and thus often cheaper, so you're ahead of the game there as well. If you've got the space, a 34' is the most common "huge" one (there are some bigger, but they're "special" and rare).


With the larger ones, rear sagging is common, but if you aren't taking it on the road, this isn't a problem for you (you can brace with your "foundation"), so you have another opportunity for a "deal" there.


Finally, these things don't come well insulated from the factory, so if you aren't planning on a skin-off restore, that could potentially be a downside. Luckily you don't live in a place that gets too cold, but you will definitely want to skirt your AS for winter living.
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Old 03-13-2019, 09:24 AM   #4
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Thanks for that info. I had wondered why the used bigger ASs seem to be much cheaper, my first thought was it must be some kind of scam. Glad to hear they are cost less because of less demand. We had talked about maybe keeping it for guests especially since our new place is basically a one bedroom.

From what I have read so far I could tell cold weather might be the biggest issue we have. We have horses and live out in the country so thought I would just use hay bales for skirting, at least at first anyway. Between the skirting and having 110 power for extra heaters i hope the winters won't be to bad.

There is so much to learn about AS hope I can find a dealer or someone who restores them locally to talk with. If any of you live close to Chattanooga or knows a good dealer or another person near here that might not mind talking with a newbie please let me know. We always loved AS but never had any experience with them, it would be nice to be able to see and hear in person how all the pieces work together.

Jim & Donna
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Old 03-13-2019, 02:15 PM   #5
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1972 25' Tradewind
1976 31' Excella 500
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fullmonti View Post
From what I have read so far I could tell cold weather might be the biggest issue we have. We have horses and live out in the country so thought I would just use hay bales for skirting, at least at first anyway.

Yep. That's a pretty common move. Not necessarily the fanciest look, but it works! Just be careful that it doesn't get too cozy for varmints who may decide after a couple days that the Airstream is looking more inviting than *just* being underneath.



Quote:
Originally Posted by fullmonti View Post
Between the skirting and having 110 power for extra heaters i hope the winters won't be to bad.

I have mine set up for use in the winter with a single radiant electric oil heater, and it's nice and toasty... but I spent quite a bit of time insulating with PIC panels and sealing it up like a drum! Even so, I would think that in TN you'll be fine with skirting and a couple decent electric heaters. Windows will be your worst enemy once you're skirted. If you don't mind losing light, that's an easy fix (just about anything stuffed into the window cavities and roof vents... I've actually got throw pillows from the couch in my roof vents right now).


Quote:
Originally Posted by fullmonti View Post
There is so much to learn about AS hope I can find a dealer or someone who restores them locally to talk with. If any of you live close to Chattanooga or knows a good dealer or another person near here that might not mind talking with a newbie please let me know. We always loved AS but never had any experience with them, it would be nice to be able to see and hear in person how all the pieces work together.

You'll probably have better luck with owners than dealers. Dealers want to sell you something. Owners are in love with their rigs and love to help each other out.


Best of luck!
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Old 03-14-2019, 07:16 PM   #6
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Hello from another Coloradan: We have a 1986 Limited 34'. They don't make the triple axle trailer anymore, but they did up to 2003 or so. Our trailer has pretty good storage and is very comfortable. It has two furnaces and we to supplement with electric heat when we just want to take the chill of the morning off. It has a separate dinette which is handy. And there is room for a reclining chair and a couch. Comfortable.

Airstreams are aluminum of course, which is an excellent conductor of heat (or cold). The walls are only 1 1/2" thick. The trailers are somewhat difficult to heat and cool. Your climate zone it will be less of a problem, but constant below freezing temps can be a challenge. You will also have to heat water lines coming to the trailer as well as wastewater going out to the sewer system. Airstream dumps heat into the wastewater and fresh water tanks to help keep them from freezing, but the dump valves are not as well heated and can freeze up.

You have to maintain your black water tank properly. It needs water in it to keep solid waste form, well mounding up. Think of a portable potty where they always come with water in the holding tank. So you will likely have to dump the black water tank every other day or so.

Many folks use supplemental propane tanks of significant capacity. You will be running for propane. Using 50 pounds a week wouldn't surprise in the winter.

There are many areas of a 25 year old Airstream that need evaluated. The first major one is the OSB subfloor. If the trailer has developed a rainwater leak, this OSB material can turn to mush pretty quickly. I have repaired two soft spots in my trailer due to rain water leaks.

Look in Air Forums classified section. There are usually nice trailers for sale there.

David
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Old 03-14-2019, 10:56 PM   #7
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Thanks for the info. Is there a comprehensive list of things to check when buying a used AS some where? I have found some info about what to look for but I'm pretty sure only bits and pieces so far.
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Old 03-15-2019, 07:27 PM   #8
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Yes, I think so. I would suggest the Airstream Inspection Checklist found here on these Forums. The link is below.

It requires each and every "aspect" of the trailer get inspected and tested. It would help with a good evaluation of the subject trailer of interest.

Take a look: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f138...ist-43294.html

David
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Old 03-15-2019, 11:20 PM   #9
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Great list, thanks!
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Old 03-16-2019, 02:19 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by fullmonti View Post
I thought I might ad a link to the house we are going to build, it is not at all the normal house you pick out to a plans book. If you do check our FB page out go back to the beginning of the page for the background info and photos.

https://www.facebook.com/Cordwood-Ho...dmin_todo_tour


Looks like a great home! Very pretty.
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