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Old 10-29-2013, 11:00 PM   #1
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Rivet What am I in for with a refurbished vintage Airstream?

Hi All,
Recently I got it into my head to buy a nice, already-fixed-up, vintage Airstream to use as a guest-cottage, mini office, extra-space. I figure it would cost me half what a garage would cost, without the need for a building permit and all the hassle etc., plus it would look beautiful, and from time to time I could take it on the road. I live on an acre in British Columbia; it rains a lot but doesn't get super cold, so I figure I could keep it warm and dry throughout the winter with a space heater.

I've been oogling some beautiful refinished trailers in the 24-30-foot range, in the $30K range, advertised with all new this and that, and all shined up.

So my question is: is this nuts? What's going to happen to that trailer if it's sitting outside in the rain for a few years? Is it hard to keep it shiny? Are they prone to leaking? (Or are all those pretty Airstreams I see pictures of kept in garages?) What are the highest costs of maintenance? Given that I know nothing about owning an Airstream, what things should I be aware of with this idea?

And generally, if I keep it kept up, do they hold their value?

Any advice is appreciated!
Thank you.
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Old 10-29-2013, 11:33 PM   #2
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Bright-polished airstreams that are exposed to the weather have to be "touched up" every couple of years, and they do require occasional maintenance to manage leaks. I share the opinion of many on the forums that they are better for traveling than semi-permanent parking, but they do look SO good.

How much a renovated vintage trailer is really worth is a function of what was done and how well, and of course what it's worth TO YOU. Honestly, all-in I expect to spend around that much renovating my '76 28-foot Argosy by the time it's painted.
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Old 10-29-2013, 11:37 PM   #3
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They will NOT keep their shine without constant maintenance. Especially on the Island with the salt air, fog and wet winters.
I spent 1 winter in Richmond, Lulu Island, BC in a 14' Shasta.
Without a drying heat source, it will be difficult preventing the musty smells in any material that has pours. Wood, fabric, foam etc.
Without some kind of shelter from the BC rains. You will be dealing with leaks.
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Old 10-30-2013, 11:59 AM   #4
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OK, thank you. If there are leaks, are they generally difficult to fix? Are there common techniques or products that people use, and are leaks easy to locate, or does it become a nightmare of exploration and ripping things apart to find and fix?
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Old 10-30-2013, 06:17 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by bantjes View Post
OK, thank you. If there are leaks, are they generally difficult to fix? Are there common techniques or products that people use, and are leaks easy to locate, or does it become a nightmare of exploration and ripping things apart to find and fix?
They can be, largely due to the fact that water can leak in one spot and than travel down the inside of the inner skin to another spot near the floor. Water cant travel upstream, but it can run underneath things like for instance the awning and then get inside and if you are lucky, you will have a visible drip and or wet spot. Not so lucky and it drips in a hidden area and by the time you find it you have rotten wood and rusty steel.

But if you compare Airstreams against typical flat sided, wooden framed trailers, you will see that there are quite a few 40 year old airstreams out there compared to lesser trailers and that speaks to the quality and the design that it survived all that time.
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