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Old 02-14-2009, 09:27 PM   #1
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1972 31' Excella 500
Boulder , Colorado
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Nouveaux Hippie Dreams Begin With a Surprise Ebay '72 Excella 500

A couple of years ago, my husband and I started to become increasingly obsessed with Airstreams. We bought design books, looked at a ton for sale online, thought about all the fantastic restoration possibilities and oh my, the trips!!! We envisioned ourselves living in an Airstream and building an amazing off the grid home who knows where on land we did not yet own - the only thing missing from our lives was that Airstream - and oh yeah, we ran a completely hectic transportation business in Chicago and had just become parents.

The Airstream idea got pushed to the back burner while we focused on our family and learned that it was impossible to run our business and be present parents. Fast forward one year, we sold our stake in the business, moved back to my home state of Colorado and adopted a more sane, child-friendly mode of life. We still talked about Airstreams, but it seemed like just an idea. Unbeknownst to me, my husband had been secretly searching online and in the middle of me cooking for a dinner party announced "hey - we won an Airstram in Upper Peninsula Michigan and have to go pick it up!"

??? Yay? What?! Michigan? My husband is kind of crazy and that's why I love him

So that's how it all started! Now we have a BEAUTIFUL (if not somewhat neglected) '72 Excella 500 which we intend to turn into a palace. I really want to get started on all that interior fun stuff like curtains! cushions! shelving! but we need to get the dirty work done first. We are getting the axles looked at, need to do a little plumbing and need to get some electrical issues straightened out. Any and all advice welcome!!!

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Old 02-14-2009, 09:43 PM   #2
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1967 26' Overlander
Upperco , Maryland
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These forums are the Encyclopedia Airstreamica. I suggest reading some of the excellent renovation/restoration threads and witness how other Airstreamers have moved through the process. In general, I think of these projects as "outside-in, bottom-up." I think it's worth the time to "conceptualize" the project. Is the floor plan what you want? Are you doing a restoration or a renovation? What is the purpose of the coach? Boondocking? Weekending? Full timing? What is your working budget? What work do you visualize doing yourself and what do you think will be "jobbed out"? Some of the most important time you spend is the time thinking about the project. And then you'll probably do what most of us do, and begin your dream by evaluating the frame and floor.

I think everyone goes into this with a little different philosophy. Some folks want to get camping ASAP. Others really want to sweat every detail on the renovation. Some folks are willing to break the bank. Others want to squeeze the buffalo off the nickel. The more you can share about your Airstream vision, the better folks here can offer advice. Oh, and the more specific the technical question, the sooner one of the resident experts can jump on it. My suggestion... enjoy the feeling you have right now. Every project has a few... moments of less than perfect joy. Remembering how you feel now will help keep those moments in proper perspective.


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Old 02-14-2009, 09:50 PM   #3
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1970 23' Safari
Hampstead , North Carolina
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Congratulations! We know how you feel. We got our 1970 Safari off Craigslist last summer and it hasn't been worked on yet. We are looking for windows and doors. Ours was not "beautiful" but we intend to make her that way. I would love to see your progress. It looks like we will be on the same time frame. How much work do you need to do to it?

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Old 02-14-2009, 10:34 PM   #4
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Welcome from the Florida Panhandle

Welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

You've found the right place for really good Airstream information.
SuEllyn & Brian McCabe
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Old 02-14-2009, 10:42 PM   #5
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Ottawa , ON
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Welcome to the forum, Nausicaa! And way to go, having a crazy husband that followed your dream. As Hampstead says, this is The Place to find out everything there is to know about the Airstream. Just start reading the threads on the repair and reno work that the members have done, and you will gain an amazing amount of knowledge.

For a quick overview of the most often done work, there is a series of shorts on Youtube from the TV show "Classic Rides" that give you a quick look at the job to do. Just put "Airstream restoration" into the Youtube search box and you'll see them all.

Most of all, have fun!

“Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”
...John Wayne...........................
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Old 02-15-2009, 03:58 AM   #6
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1962 26' Overlander
1961 26' Overlander
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The best money I ever spent... just ask my kids. I bet soon enough you will be saying the same. Just curious though, how is it a hippie dream? I ask because more than one of my friends has "hippie frank" or "hippie" as the listing on their cell phones for me. Maybe you can help me understand my own obsession with the Airstream and the way of life it seams to create.
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Old 02-15-2009, 08:04 AM   #7
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Welcome and congratulations on purchasing your Airstream! They are so much fun!!

We have a strong Vintage Airstream Club as well as local chapter of the WBCCI (Wally Byam Caravan Club International). You should really consider joining and coming to our meetings and rally's. You will learn so much about re-doing your Airstream. Start off by going to

And....ask questions here. We are all here to help.
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Old 02-15-2009, 08:44 AM   #8
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Welcome to the will get alot of great info from here. We are in the middle of a room by room redo of our 74 Argosy, and we are having challenges along the way but so far it has been really fun and exciting....I also am seeing my self enjoying many many trips in our Argosy. With and with out the kids!!!
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Old 02-15-2009, 08:49 AM   #9
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I think the fascination with Airstreams probably varies from person to person. I suspect there is a nomadic impulse hardwired into our genetic code... thus our collective interest in travel trailers, boats, etc. I also think many of us fight the inherent "weight" of civilization and affluence. We have a paradoxical relationship to our "stuff." We covet and accumulate it but perhaps on some level, we resent it and long for a more elemental existence. A travel trailer is like a sonnet... a rigid poetic form that forces us to make creative and insightful decisions about the structure of our existence. We are forced to lose the "excess" and make decisions about what really matters.

Still, Airstream is perhaps not the most pragmatic choice. The curves, while elegant, create design challenges. A square box is perhaps more functional, but I think many of us find a certain aesthetic in the Airstream. I would like to imagine that vintage aluminum is a very large funhouse mirror. Seeing ourselves in it reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously.
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Old 02-15-2009, 09:03 AM   #10
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Very well put Hampstead38!!!
Steve "Centennial Man"
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Old 02-15-2009, 11:10 AM   #11
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was that airstream sold in the upper pennisula ? near a coffee shop perhaps ?9or going from memory here,didnt the old owners of the trailer own the coffee shop?
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Old 02-15-2009, 11:36 AM   #12
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Putnam , Connecticut
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It's an adventure getting one on the road. Read alot of the stories you find here. I suggest that you get a realistic idea of the cost before you spend any more money. At this point you can find an other project trailer and sell this one if it's going to be too much. Rebuilting an old trailer into a palace and taking care of the mechanicals so it will make another 30 years is expensive. You could buy a 2000 needing much less for less money. However, you will not want to tear out the interior of the 2000. For that you want something that needs it. You need new axles unless you plan to park it somewhere. The floor may need to be replaced and the frame repaired to make it save. Now lots for folks talk themselves and others out of all this because the money doesn't show. I haven't met anyone who wished they hadn't done it. Three friends eventually decided to "do it right" and discovered it was necessary and glad they did. Bad axles tear apart trailers.
Plan all your systems out before you start buying stuff. I know it's more fun to just start buying "this would look great in the AS" stuff, we have boxs of it that now doesn't. Think how you will be using it over the years and design with that in mind. For example my design was driven by being able to be self sufficient with no external support for up to two weeks. So more room for water, more battery, raised body with replacement axle for ground clearance, ect.
I want to really have the great trailer you've dreamed of and not a source of pain sitting in your yard not ready to use.
Now get out there and build a dream...
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Old 02-15-2009, 11:45 AM   #13
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Boulder Creek , California
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Welcome to the Airstream Dream. You will find all you need to know about your excella here. It's an incredibly helpful group of people. Don't be intimidated by your newbie status. That will go away quickly as you interact with the good folks here.
Try to make good use of the search functions. You can search the whole site or an individual thread, depending on what you are after. Also, don't pass up the blogs. There are lots of great ones going on. Some for travel adventures and some for remodel/ restore activities, and lots of photos.
Anyone who can describe themselves as hippies are okay in my book.
Good luck with your new adventure, Rich
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Old 02-15-2009, 11:56 AM   #14
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Congrats on the new member of the family and welcome to the forum. You will find an answer to each and every question you might have and plenty of folks will to share their knowledge and experiences with you.

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