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Old 07-31-2010, 10:23 AM   #1
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Good afternoon Airstreamers.

We don't currently have an Airstream, but are seriously looking to buy one, and we were wondering if anyone has any helpful hints of things to look for when deciding whether or not to buy one.

We realize we will need to do work on one, but we are hoping not to run into something that can't be reworked -- like buying one with a bad frame or whatever. Does this ever happen?

Thanks and have a great weekend.

D. Hall
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Old 07-31-2010, 10:42 AM   #2
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Welcome! Just buy really cheap or get somebody really good to completely check out the unit before purchase. Airstreams appear to be designed to leak and to conceal those leaks from the casual observer. The wood floor and the steel frame are the vulnerable items in addition to all the other elements typical to other travel trailers.

There's a LOT to go wrong with any travel trailer. I'm glad I bought mine and there's a lot wrong with mine. There's good Karma associated with my Airstream. All the parts are available and the factory service manual was still available. The rest is just money and time. I was kinda looking for a project, so that's what I bought.
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Old 07-31-2010, 10:54 AM   #3
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Thanks for the info, and the falls picture -- very pretty.

Are parts interchangeable between models? I'm thinking new parts, such as cabinets, shower stall, etc. (Of course I understand that it is all due to sizing and available space.) What I'm wondering is, if we find one that doesn't have a shower, or the shower is really in poor shape, can we replace it?

Thanks.

D. Hall
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Old 07-31-2010, 11:04 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D. Hall View Post
Thanks for the info, and the falls picture -- very pretty.

Are parts interchangeable between models? I'm thinking new parts, such as cabinets, shower stall, etc. (Of course I understand that it is all due to sizing and available space.) What I'm wondering is, if we find one that doesn't have a shower, or the shower is really in poor shape, can we replace it?

Thanks.

D. Hall

I find many parts, model specific. I think the older molded fiberglass parts are the hardest to find.

I see posts about people molding their own fiberglass shower pans, so that tells me they may be a little hard to find:-)

Zero in on a model and year. Try, if at all possible, to get a center bath model with a good shower:-)

Gary
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Old 07-31-2010, 11:06 AM   #5
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Sounds like you are talking used. Vintage or a few years old? If you are looking forward to the work of a fixer upper, go for it. But, you probably will be lucky to break even on resale not even counting your time. The best deals in the long run are on an older unit that is well maintained or has had someone else do the work on it.

Incidentally I'm an Ohio Hall. My father was from Hubbard.
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Old 07-31-2010, 12:03 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D. Hall View Post

We realize we will need to do work on one, but we are hoping not to run into something that can't be reworked -- D. Hall
D. Hall,

When you find one you like, take lots of pictures, come back here to see what the gang thinks. When it comes to the frame that can be a lot of work. Here is a picture of rear-end-sag. What happens here is water gets inside and the wood rots. The frame is no longer attached to the hull/body.


This can be a fair amount of work but if you get the unit at a fair price you might consider.

Bent frame can sometimes be seen from the side of the unit but not always.


Then once you size it up and figure out how much work it is going to be, get in touch with www.inlandrv.com or www.odmrv.com and check on prices.
odmrv has lots of prices on-line Inlandrv you will need to call.

Then there is always the plumbing. If the unit was allow to freeze and there are busted pipes, it MAY cost 2 to3 grand to fix. You could fix yourself for lots cheaper but it is a major pain. Put water on the unit before you consider it at all.

Dan
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Old 07-31-2010, 12:44 PM   #7
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D, anything bad can and does happen. Fortunately it doesn't happen to everyone.

Are your mechanically inclined? Can you do plumbing, electrical, carpentry, rivets, etc., or are you willing to learn? Do you have a place to fix things? If so, an old unit may work for you. Some buy an old one and find out after a while they don't want to do the work, so you have to know yourself. If you think you can get by on the cheap, that's very hard to do. But you can spend more than you had to.

You can re-design any trailer, but the design has to make sense. Most weight has to go over the wheels, weight has to be balanced front to back and side to side. Storage has to be balanced also so you don't have all the food and clothes only on one side. If you look at floor plans over the years there's not a lot of variation. Some units were made with too much weight at one end and eventually they had separation at one end (Dan's photo above shows separation, though sometimes it's not obvious and can come from water and/or weight issues).

Some parts are interchangeable, some are not. You'd have to go back generations to find one without a shower, but there are wet baths (shower in toilet and sink room, everything gets wet), and separate showers, some next to toilet with curtain, some completely separate shower stall. Anything can be fixed or replaced. It can be hard or easy to find parts. You are more likely to find vintage parts for an Airstream than other brands because there's a market for them.

If you look on the Portal page on the right, you can find an inspector willing to look over a trailer for you. Since you have a steep learning curve, this feature can help you.

Read everything you can on the Forum. There are a multitude of threads about restoration and what to buy. Take your time to cut down on the possibility of regrets.

Gene
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