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Old 06-10-2017, 10:16 AM   #1
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Newbie about to take the plunge! Help?!



Hey y'all!!

I'm new here on the forum. I started out on a mission for a small vintage camper, like a Shasta, that my daughter and I could take to the lake. I couldn't help (who couldn't?) but to fall in love with all the AS I came across during my search and finally just gave in to it. The magnitude of this decision is not lost because just the idea of going from a Shasta-style to an AS was intimidating. But after a lot of soul searching, I feel like it's a better investment financially (although bigger) and would afford us more opportunities. I love a good project! I'm not a master mechanic or carpenter by any means, but I am pretty handy and a quick study. Plus, I have a good friend that really is and he's just a phone call away. (Don't think I would even consider this without a backup plan and support crew!).

Just when I thought I was going to lose my mind and go cross-eyed looking, I pasted by a good family friend's house on my way to work. He had a new RV out front and his old AS parked in a shed in the back. Although it was bigger than I initially wanted and I figured it was way out of my price range, I begged (nagged) my husband to call thinking he might be motivated to sell since he had a new one. And guess what?? This is where things start getting REAL...

It's a 2001 Excella (30'). He bought it new from an insurance company because it was wrecked (why he was able to buy it new, he said). Apparently, it was on it's way to the dealership when it was rolled on it's side. He bought it with the intention of replacing the aluminum panels but said he was quoted more than he paid so he never did. It seems to be merely cosmetic as the trailer is completely functional. The worst part of the damage is on the street side towards the back, plus some scratches along the entire side. It's not caved in and you can't tell from the inside of the trailer...it just looks like some big wrinkles in the aluminum. The two front corner windows are plexiglass that he installed. He has the original replacement windows that came with the trailer, he just never had them put in because the plexiglass was serving the purpose just fine. The only thing missing is the radio but the wiring is all there as if it was just unhooked. All appliances work and the tires a year old. There's a tiny bit of what looks like water damage by the front door by the kitchen cabinet but it feels solid. It's been used over the last 14 years but not in a year or so. It doesn't smell like smoke or mildew. Other than dated decor, it's pretty clean for a 14 year old trailer.

Here's where I could use some advice: He's asking $10,000. I know this man and I trust that he's fully disclosed everything, good or bad. I also found a 1973 Ambassador locally for $13,999. My husband thinks that despite the body damage, it's ridiculous to even look at one that's 28 years older and $4,000 higher. My initial reaction is that he's absolutely right however, I don't know enough about the aluminum bodies, structural design, etc., to really know for sure. That's a lot of money to me and I want to make the best informed decision possible. My gut and common sense says 'Yes', but they also say, 'There's a lot to these Airstreams that you don't know and this could be one'.

Any questions, comments, advice, or suggestions would be more than greatly appreciated!
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Old 06-10-2017, 10:29 AM   #2
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2017 30' Classic
Carlisle , Pennsylvania
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Hi

Welcome to the forum !!

This is a bit exciting isn't it? There are a lot more choices out there than you would ever think. You never quite know what may be around the next corner.

If you ever *do* decide to fix any of the damage, it is *very* expensive. It is not something you can easily do all by yourself. The aluminum sheets have to come from Airstream. One risk you have is hidden leaks. Water gets inside the skin and runs down under it. It hits the plywood floor where you can't see it and rot sets in. That also is an expensive repair.

Find somebody with experience (there are lists here on the forum) to come inspect the trailer for you. Listen very carefully to what they come up with. Understand that any inspection can only find just so much. Make an informed decision on your purchase.

What I would do vs what you decide to do really is not relevant. As long as you understand what is what, do what makes sense to you.

Bob
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Old 06-10-2017, 11:59 AM   #3
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I would be very nervous here. An Airstream that rolled on its side???!!! I can think of a lot of bad things that can happen that you can't see it. Just rolling it back on the tires would make me cringe.
If it wasn't with it to the insurance company to fix, I'm walking away from this one.
As Uncle Bob says, there are a lot of choices out there.
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Old 06-10-2017, 12:37 PM   #4
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2017 30' Classic
Carlisle , Pennsylvania
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Hi

Pannel damage on an AS is a very expensive thing. Any accident (or hail incident) that involves many panels will be a gotcha. That plus the relatively low NADA values on any trailer get you to a verdict of "it's totaled" pretty quickly. Unfortunately there are a number of trailers that get into this state every year. The same sort of hail issues also take out fairly new cars and trucks.

Get it inspected ....

Bob
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Old 06-10-2017, 05:07 PM   #5
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It would help if you could post some pictures of it so that we have a better idea of what the damage looks like. That being said, I would point out that we all buy these trailers more for the aesthetics than anything else. If you wrinkle up half the trailer's skin, then the aesthetics are at 50%. Repair to get it looking OK will be WAAAAAY more than the $10k you pay for it, so if you do make the buy, it better be with the thought in mind that you have no intention to repair it.

good luck!
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Old 06-10-2017, 06:39 PM   #6
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Thank you for the input!!

I totally get it...I gasped when I heard "rolled on its side". I was looking at this thing thinking trying to imagine it because it's not damaged to the extent that I thought it would've been. It even has a clean title, not a salvage title. I'll try to get some photos posted to give y'all a better idea. Honestly, if hadn't told me the story, I would've just thought he backed into something. I can live with a little "cosmetic character" as long as that's the extent of it because I'm a realist-- that new Bambi just isn't feasibly in my future .

I'm going to look at the 1973 Ambassador tomorrow. It has the skylights and a rear bath, which I would prefer. Of course, I have no real basis for those preferences other than I love natural light and I think the little tubs are neat lol.
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Old 06-10-2017, 07:17 PM   #7
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For $10k, I'd take that risk.
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Old 06-10-2017, 09:08 PM   #8
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An Airstream is a monocoque design system, which means the skin, floor and frame are all required to make it work. For example, if you pull the chassis out from under one of these they are surprisingly flimsy. It requires the floor to provide strength. My concern in an Airstream that rolled would be unseen damage. Personally, I'd be leery of it.
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Old 06-11-2017, 08:18 AM   #9
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2017 30' Classic
Carlisle , Pennsylvania
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Hi

.... but the guy's asking price is only $10K .... who knows what he'll come down to in order to sell it .... hmmmmm ....

Yes, it is a risk. It also sounds like an attractive price. Get a good inspector (from the lists on this forum) in to look at it. Then you will know much more about how much of a risk there is. The only thing we can do is make guesses. You *need* more than a guess.

Bob
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Old 06-11-2017, 06:40 PM   #10
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So, I looked at the '73 Ambassador today. All original and functioning...rear bath, mid twin beds, and skylights (that the owners didn't even know existed until I pointed them out). Excellent body condition...can't say I noticed a ding one. The interior was dated of course but all tambour cabinets worked beautifully (I opened every. single. one.) and I had a renovation of sorts in mind when I set out on this venture.

So now I'm faced with a decision: 2001 with exterior damage for $10k or 1973 in excellent condition that they're asking $13k, but made it very clear they would entertain an offer.

Here's the reality (that may make some cringe): I want to redo the interior-- paint and lighten it up. I despise the functional couch in the 2001 because it's hideous, regardless of comfort. I do love the tambour cabinets and as long as I can give them a facelift, they'll stay. And I will say that the 1973 looks like it would be a lot easier to renovate *to me*.

Questions, comments, guidance, and any direction would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 06-12-2017, 03:53 PM   #11
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Grab a bucket of paint and go to it !!!!!

I would also get the Ambassador inspected by somebody who knows what they are looking at. So far it sounds like a much better way to go.

Bob
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Old 06-14-2017, 02:38 AM   #12
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I would go with the 73. It's vintage and way cooler. Also the skin is better because it's thicker. You can also join the Vintage Airstream Club (VAC) an intra club of the WBCCI. Wally Byam Caravan Club International.


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Old 06-14-2017, 05:45 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Twinke58 View Post
I would go with the 73. It's vintage and way cooler. Also the skin is better because it's thicker. You can also join the Vintage Airstream Club (VAC) an intra club of the WBCCI. Wally Byam Caravan Club International.


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The skin is thicker on the older ones? I didn't know that but it makes total sense...

I went back and looked at the 2001 because he had pulled it out of the shed...wow. Not only was the damage WAY worse than I could initially see, I found another spot with water damage that looked moldy.
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Old 06-14-2017, 05:50 AM   #14
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I would go with the vintage. I have one myself and love it. With water damage the floor rot is the worst. I know cause I just replaced my floor with a shell off redo. I'm still redoing mine. Year 2. But for you I would go with the one that has less body damage and camp ready.


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