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Old 01-10-2014, 01:58 PM   #1
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1979 25' Tradewind
Brookings , Oregon
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 1
To Buy, or NOT to Buy.......??

Hi Everyone-I don't know if this is allowable, but I an not officially the owner of this '79 Trade Winds Land Yacht. How do I find out the reasonable price to pay in it's original condition? It has been sitting for a #of years, and appears to be in tip-top shape, inside & out. The nada says $2G, but the owner wants about 3X's that. The refrigerator needs replacing. I am really, wanting this for a semi-permanent home. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

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Old 01-10-2014, 02:08 PM   #2
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2005 39' Land Yacht 390 XL 396
Common Sense , Texas
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 5,282
All I can suggest is for you to shop the used market for similar trailers and see what they are going for. Like everything else used, price is driven by condition and demand.

Welcome to the forum, and good luck with whatever you decided.


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Old 01-10-2014, 02:09 PM   #3
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1985 31' Limited
Glenville , New York
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 155
Images: 18
The answer is super simple... It is worth what the market will pay...if no one will pay then the owner must lower the price to meet expectation. Negotiate and if he won't sell at a price you're comfortable, move on... Make an offer and walk away, if it's still for sale a month from now, re affirm your offer and walk away. I have made a few purchases over the years that way...sooner or later they cave, especially when your offer is the only one he/ she receives! Make your offer below what you really will pay so you can make "concessions" and raise your bid to meet him in the middle. Good luck!
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Old 01-10-2014, 02:16 PM   #4
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
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Do a search on the forum for "inspection checklist" and "buying checklist," and you should find several threads advising you on what to look for when considering buying a vintage trailer.

As for price, the NADA prices are practically meaningless. The best way to determine what people are paying for trailers is to find comparable trailers that have sold on ebay (search for auctions that are complete), and build yourself a little database. These prices should actually be the high end, as I find that values get bid up by folks who are "shopping victoriously." Anyway, you should also look on Craigslist, the Airforums classifieds,, etc. for comparables. You can also look at, and there is a section on the site that provides a guideline for what a trailer is worth depending on condition. Again, this is just a guideline.

Keep in mind that this trailer is 35 years old. You wouldn't buy a 35 year old car and expect to be able to take it on a road trip safely, right? Well, don't be blinded by the shiny aluminum. There is a world of decay and ruin that you will only find with partial disassembly. Every owner thinks their trailer is worth more than it is, and thinks their trailer is in better condition than it is (unless they have recently rebuilt it from the frame up). Typical problems you will find are nonworking appliances, old axles that have lost all their elasticity, leaks that result in rotting subfloors, funky carpet, and stinky upholstery. Replacing the broken refrigerator you mention will be $600 to $1000 depending on the model you buy.

Good luck!
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Old 01-10-2014, 03:44 PM   #5
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Virginia Beach , Virginia
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Originally Posted by rubyinak View Post
Hi Everyone-I don't know if this is allowable, but I an not officially the owner of this '79 Trade Winds Land Yacht. How do I find out the reasonable price to pay in it's original condition? It has been sitting for a #of years, and appears to be in tip-top shape, inside & out. The nada says $2G, but the owner wants about 3X's that. The refrigerator needs replacing. I am really, wanting this for a semi-permanent home. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
What Belegdhel said - times 10! Buying an older Airstream is a HUGE gamble for anyone without a LOT of experience in inspecting them. Sitting for a long time is NOT good for an Airstream, and it's especially bad if it's been outdoors in an area that gets significant rainfall. Has it been inside in a climate controlled building? If not, presume you've got a rotten subfloor and rusted frame!

Now - a word from the peanut gallery that you didn't ask for. Take just 5 minutes to consider getting a brand new one - or one that has sat on a dealer's lot for a year without selling - or one that is less than 10 years old.
  • you can get financing on new or near new, and rates are LOW
  • one that is 7-9 years old will have a lot of depreciation but may not need new curtains, cushions, upholstery, etc. Check Carefully and you could get you a ready to roll BARGAIN!
  • new/on the lot: you will have a 2 year warranty so if anything expensive blows up (like the AC - happened to me!) you're covered
  • you can go camping on the first warm day
  • if you're looking for something you can own proudly for the next 10-15 years this will stay together given reasonable maintenance - unlike most SOB's
  • it's an easier sell - though you will take a hit on initial depreciation if you sell it in a year or two.
  • renovation costs - there are scads of stories here about people who have spent $20K-$30K AND a lot of their unpaid labor to rebuild an older Airstream. Payments? The difference between the two might be shockingly small!

1979 - 35 years ago - maybe more if this model was actually built in 1978. Anything original is ready to croak if it hasn't already. MONEY PIT warning!
If nothing else look for volunteer inspectors in your area to help you go over it.... and of course get your cell phone or camera and post many pictures. That might help us help you decide.

Semi-permanent home? Like a summer cottage on a permanent lot? Airstreams have that certain something that square old boxes don't, but they are really TRAVEL trailers - and an SOB will get you more space for the dollar.

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Old 01-10-2014, 03:53 PM   #6
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Marine city , Michigan
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I'm shopping for a similar size and vintage AS. If it's in really nice shape $6k doesn't sound bad at all. I've seen some real crap where owners are asking 4 - 5k.
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Old 01-10-2014, 04:02 PM   #7
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2006 25' Safari
Fort Myers , Florida
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Hey Rubyinak, consider your budget and this trailer. You "know" it needs a fridge - that is about $1300. There are sure to be other items needing replacement. Are you willing to add 10K to the asking price with you doing the work? If not, then move on. Even if the floor is in decent condition, my guess is that you would easily need to spend about 10K to get "ready" for you. It may sound high but I bought one seven years old in pretty good shape and have spent that much albeit on camp items AND upgrades, etc. but it adds up fast.
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Old 01-10-2014, 05:05 PM   #8
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1977 Argosy 24
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Milltown , Wisconsin
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If all original, figure a new water pump, new water heater, new furnace, new refrigerator. Remove and clean the fresh water tank, new valves on the gray and black water tanks, new tires, even if they have good tread if they are over 4 years old replace them. Maybe new air conditioner. Reupholster and carpet or laminate floor covering. I have redone 3 Airstreams and one Avion, and had to do everything on the above list plus more to everyone of them. After all it's 35 years old!
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Old 01-10-2014, 06:51 PM   #9
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1974 Argosy 26
Morrill , Nebraska
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It depends on what you mean by "semi permanent home".
If you intend on parking it and not towing it more than to get it to where you want it.
As long as it has good enough tires to tow it slowly to it's destination. SAFETY FIRST!
If the refer is bad and you won't be traveling. A dorm or other small refer will work as long as you have 120 volt AC power. A 30 amp source of power is pretty typical for your coach. Especially if you want air conditioning.
Unless you intend on traveling there is no need to replace the axles. New axles will be expensive and will deteriorate if not used for travel.
The water heater probably will need replaced. But the water pump may not if you have access to city water. The furnace should be checked out by a QUALIFIED technician. You may want to replace it for safety reasons.
The entire propane gas system and all appliances should be completely checked out. Again, by someone qualified.
Repairing any leaks should be high on your list. Unless you can park it under roof.
If you use city water. The fresh water holding tank may not be necessary (need filling). But would be a good back up if the pump works.
A modern converter would be a plus. Since it will provide all of the 12 volt DC power you need if parked and connected to shore power. A battery would only be needed when towing.
It is very easy to dump thousands of $$$$ in any used trailer.
The final decision is yours.
If possible have someone with A$ experience do an inspection.
Good Luck

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