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Old 09-10-2013, 02:05 PM   #1
1 Rivet Member
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Dallas , Texas
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Posts: 12
some call us crazy...

Hi everyone. Just joined the forum. My wife and I planning something a little crazy, but alas, we've done crazy things before.

The Plan:

-Locate vintage AS in original but fair condition that will fit me, my wife, our to be 2 year old, and newborn infant.
-Purchase said AS that we can fix/repair as needed until summer '14 comes. It will be stored on my in-laws' land.
-Live in/fix/repair AS in winter months (Texas--should be okay I hope)
-Locate and purchase tow vehicle.
-2nd week of June arrives; travel for 6-8 weeks west to see friends, look for job and potential homesteads to move to. On the list now is Colorado (was there for 5 years) north to Montana, west to Washington, south through California, east through Arizona/NM, roll back into Texas 1st of March in time to "move" if we find a place!


So far, I've joined airforums!, wife is TOTALLY on board, we've located a potential AS (on our first day of searching people's back yards/driveways!) a 1970 tradewind in original but pretty well-cared for condition, and we've gotten permission from in-laws.

So that's a little about the plan. We'll see what happens!

Matt & Cate

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Old 09-10-2013, 02:17 PM   #2
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 2,323
Welcome to the forums! If your definition of crazy starts with buying a vintage Airstream, then welcome to the insane asylum.

My word of caution would be to educate yourself and know how to perform a thorough inspection prior to purchase. There are checklists and threads on the forum about how to perform an exhaustive inspection. Don't rush to buy the first one you see--there are plenty of trailers that match your size requirement, and the better condition you can find one in, the less time you will spend rebuilding it. Manage your expectations--a 50 year old trailer is no better than a car that has been sitting in someone's back yard for 50 years. You aren't going to expect to take a road trip in that old car after a few months of new seat covers and carpet.

good luck!

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Old 09-10-2013, 02:28 PM   #3
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2009 23' International
Jamul , California
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Posts: 32
Thumbs up

I'm relatively new to the Forum, but I'd say you're in the right place!
Good luck with your adventure. Lots of helpful folks here.
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Old 09-10-2013, 02:52 PM   #4
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1968 17' Caravel
Battle Ground , Washington
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That's not even close to 'crazy' for around here!

Welcome, and good luck. Feel free to share and ask questions, lots of folks here have been through their trailers from top to bottom and will be able to help!

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Old 09-10-2013, 02:55 PM   #5
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1999 34' Excella
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Hillsboro , Texas
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Hey, I resemble that!
Peace and Blessings..
WBCCI# 30676
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Old 09-10-2013, 04:04 PM   #6
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2014 20' Flying Cloud
Boston , Massachusetts
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 75
If that's crazy, sign me up!

We're getting the same kind of comments, and we're buying a new one (with warranty) and only plan weekend/week-long trips for the foreseeable future.

Best of luck! Can't wait to hear more about your adventure.
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Old 09-10-2013, 04:05 PM   #7
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Dallas , Texas
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Thanks guys! After lurking a little while this looked like the place to be for good info from helpful people.

I'm more worried about the mechanicals of the trailer we found. Axles, brakes, leveling jacks, suspension, furnace, frig, plumbing etc. Any links to those checklists or how much those things typically cost to repair/replace? I found a link to a cost vs value but it was from 2010.

Thanks again.

btw, the AS I'm eyeing is a 1970 Trade Wind Land Yacht. Was last registered in '08 but has been hooked up the guy's septic/electric since and has been an apartment and guest house. The owner has done a pretty thorough job doing little jobs, like new screens, all new seals on the windows and door, fixing lights, new vents, etc. He also claimed everything worked like it was supposed to. All except the AC which will need repaired or replaced. Said it runs but doesn't shut off. idk. He's asking close to $7k. There are some dings here and there and a little bit of hail damage but no leaks or evidence of. even the carpet was stain free. I have pics but that may reveal its location!

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Old 09-10-2013, 04:28 PM   #8
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1955 22' Flying Cloud
mapleton , Utah
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 464
All the mechanicals you mentioned are fixable within your time frame, if a bit expensive. The one thing you probably wont be able to get done is a floor/rear end separation as this would necessarily involve a complete gut. read lots on this and be very sure to inspect thoroughly.
Were all crazy 'round here
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Old 09-10-2013, 05:08 PM   #9
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Hmm, yeah. Expensive and this teacher's salary are not compatible. :/ However, we will be selling both our cars, an old utility trailer we used to haul dirt bikes in, plus most of our household. And will be rent free (fingers crossed). Hopefully that will be enough to make this dream happen!

To what do you refer when you talk about the "floor/rear end separation"? Sounds daunting. That the hub of the electrical/plumbing?

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Old 09-10-2013, 07:07 PM   #10
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1984 34' International
Toronto , Ontario
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Welcome to the forums. What an awesome adventure you've got planned.

Some things to keep in mind with the older trailers is that their holding tanks tend to be comparatively small when compared to newer models - and you might even miss a grey water tank completely, which when travelling with a family can turn into a huge pain in the proverbial in no time at all.

I've got three young kids, a three year old and one year old twins, and we usually manage a maximum of three to four days when everybody is using the trailer facilities, then we're out of water and the grey tank needs dumping. This even though we make sure to take Navy showers and conserve water any way we can. Of course, that's our choice for not staying in places that offer full hookups - we dry camp most of the time, with the occasional power hookup - and if you don't mind staying in commercial campgrounds then many of these issues don't apply.

You know first hand, that having young kids and constant cleaning, bottles, food prep, etc go hand in hand, so having unlimited water might just be the better option right now.

To make this work for us, we usually stay in Provincial Parks, where my wife and I can use the park showers. We'll be replacing the regular toilet with a Nature's Head composting toilet next year, which will allow us to re-purpose the current black tank as an additional grey tank. That should extend our dry camping time to about a week for now, longer as the kids get older and we can just chuck them in the lake to get clean

Additionally, on older trailers you'll often find older appliances. On my 1984 model, I start the hot water heater with a switch in the bathroom. On some older models, you'll be outside in the rain, using language you shouldn't use in front of your kids trying to light that %$%*^( thing.

When we started looking for our trailer, we were advised to concentrate on 1980's models. Well built, larger holding tanks and the frame separation issues that plagued trailers throughout the 70's had been mostly dealt with. Our 34' International is build solid and has all the comforts of home.

We've converted the back bedroom into a bunk room for the kids, my wife and I sleep on the gaucho at the front of the trailer. We converted and re-upholstered it so it turns into a full queen size bed. A memory foam overlay makes it a really comfortable place to sleep.

If you want to read more about a family fulltiming with kids, check out the Mali Mish blog. These guys are on the road with three young kids.
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Old 09-10-2013, 08:07 PM   #11
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1972 25' Tradewind
Hopkins , Minnesota
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Before you pay that much...or even half that much for a '70...try to enlist the help of one of the volunteer Forum inspectors to help you go over it with a fine toothed comb. A dream is a great thing...and an adventure too. But be prepared for that dream to set you back $10 - $15 grand...and that's just if you do the work on your own. If it has been sitting idle for a long time, the axels are questionable, the tires expired. Have you thoroughly checked the floor for soft spots? Does it have the original Univolt?

Yes, everything is fixable....usually at a hefty price...especially if you have a family that you are relocating. Fixing up a vintage Airstream is not for the faint of heart.

Best of luck to you!!
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Old 09-11-2013, 07:15 AM   #12
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Dallas , Texas
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Thanks for all the great words everyone. Now I'm scared. But I'm not surprised, as my "other" dream is to get a vintage BMW 2002 from the 70s too. But that's a real pipe dream for the next 10 years. We'll see.

Arktos, any idea where I would post to solicit the help of a forum inspector? Should I just post in the general section for a PPI?

Thanks for being so kind and welcoming. This board reminds me of the bmw2002faq forum.

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Old 09-11-2013, 07:30 AM   #13
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
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Another good resource is The Vintage Airstream Podcast (The VAP). You can subscribe to the podcast, but the real value for you would be to get the DVD with all the back issues--they discuss many things that will be of interest to you, inspection, recovery, all the different repairs and upgrades. Best of all, after listening to a few hours of the podcast, you will have your expectations better calibrated.

Also, have a look at There is a section that talks about price vs. condition that might be a useful guideline to you as you look around.

good luck!
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Old 09-11-2013, 08:22 AM   #14
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1972 31' Sovereign
Lexington , Minnesota
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Posts: 3,406
On the portal, scroll down on the right side you will see inspectors listed. It's a good thing to do, especially if you're not very travel trailer savvy. Vintage Airstreams do take a fair amount of maintenance to keep up. There can be a lot of hidden damage in one of these.
A good friend of mine says I've joined a cult.....


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