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Old 02-26-2013, 12:50 PM   #1
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What to buy ???? Help, Please.

After tent camping on cross country road trips for many years these bones are looking for a softer bed. My dh and I are looking for a 60's 17'-20' AS. I have read a lot of forum topics and don't think we have the skill level to restore one ourselves. We are pretty handy but that stuff looks difficult.
Can anyone give me advice what might be the best route for us on the type of trailer we buy.
(1) buy one in need of restoration and hire a reputable restorer/carpenter to fix it.
(2) buy one already "restored" and hope the PO didn't cover up flaws that would entail us having to rip stuff out at a later date to fix.

I just saw a 65 Caravel on CL Tampa for $14,500 that is supposed to be in great shape but I'm scared of spending that kind of money on it in case the floor is rotted under the bathroom or something else hard to detect.

I would like to restore one ourselves but my husband works a lot of hours and doesn't feel like spending the bit of free time he has sweating over it.

Any input or previous experience would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 02-27-2013, 06:55 AM   #2
CLOUDSPLITTER "Tahawas"
 
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2003 25' Classic
Zanadude Nebula , WNY
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Welcome Aboard....

In 1988 our "first" trailer was a 1963 22' Safari...


...it would have been much easier,(cheeper) had we been a little more knowledgeable about what we were getting into. Don't even know if the Forums were around back then, but we went 16 seasons, learning all the way, no catastrophes, injuries or damage. Just (quite) a bit more $$ than expected.

Bought our Classic in 2004, joined here in 07. BassAkwards for sure, but we got thru it.

You've started well...by being here.

My plan should have been.

Do as much research as possible.

Look primarily at trailers currently being used, ours was a "spare" room=$$.

Avoid brain farts and take my/our time. DW admits shortcomings in this area also, and she's not happy 'til I'm not happy.

If you can't find your "dream" in the time frame allotted, be willing to accept a temporary substitute, a great way to learn trailer camping...and even an SOB,(some other brand), can be drug to an Airforums Rally, another great source of info, Check the rally calendar.

Good Luck in your search...

Bob
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Old 02-27-2013, 07:31 AM   #3
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Welcome to the forums. Tons of great people and knowledge here. I agree with Robert Cross to look for a trailer that is currently in use and attending a rally may be the way to find one. Have a look at the inspection list, use the search function to learn everything you can about everything on that list. Be prepared. Personally, I like a project. It's therapeutic for me. I expect less than perfect and I expect that anyone selling a trailer may not be completely honest, thus going in prepared with knowledge. Good luck in your search!
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Old 02-27-2013, 07:33 AM   #4
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Gardengal,

We love our Airstream, but realise they are not for everyone, especially restoring one. Also consider something like this: Casita Travel Trailers - America's Favorite Lightweight Travel Trailers | Lightweight, Aerodynamic, Durable, Easy-to-Tow, High-Fuel Efficiency

Good luck on whatever you decide to do.
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Old 02-27-2013, 07:46 AM   #5
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We have not bought yet, but will sometime this year. Keep a note pad handy when reading this forum and take notes about anything you think you might want info on later down the road.
We are interested in a 25', so I look through the classifies and copy out each one in the years we are looking at. Then you can make a list on a spreadsheet and get a idea of the prices for that size and that range of years.

One of these days, we will find ours.
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Old 02-27-2013, 07:49 AM   #6
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I really believe that if you are not planning on doing restoration, you will by far get the best bang for your buck by finding a trailer that has already been "restored". Do know that the definition of "restored" varies greatly!

If money is not an issue, I would research and find a safe, ugly airstream to "learn the ropes" for a year, then start the hunt for one to hand over to a restoration company.

When your new trailer is ready, dump the old one and start living the dream.
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Old 02-27-2013, 07:51 AM   #7
CLOUDSPLITTER "Tahawas"
 
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Is this the trailer? Anyone here know the unit?
1965 17ft Airstream Caravel Bambi

Looks nice...but a little low on the axle, may need to be replaced.

Well worth an in person barter/inquiry, don't be rushed by, "have a lot of interest, better act quickly."

POI....Fla is a great AS State, look for a Rally.

Bob
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Old 02-27-2013, 08:57 AM   #8
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One way to build up knowledge about vintage Airstreams relatively quick would be to get your hands on the complete set of Vintage Airstream Podcasts (theVAP.com). You can listen to the podcasts during road trips, while commuting, etc., and absorb a lot of information about restoration, repair, inspection, and the many challenges of a vintage trailer.

If you decide to go the do-it-yourself route and start with a 40 year old trailer that has had little restoration, expect everything to be at least twice as wrecked as you think it is, cost twice as much to fix, and take 4 times as long. Hiring someone who is actually a professional Airstream restorer will be amazingly expensive. We're not just talking about a cabinet maker or carpenter here. A full restoration by a reputable professional will likely end up costing nearly as much as a brand new trailer. What you get is the vintage look, and a fully customized trailer that is built to your spec. If someone tells you they can "restore" an untouched vintage trailer for a few thousand dollars, they should be avoided.

As you have probably already learned, there is a vast amount of difference in the condition of vintage trailers, and owners' definitions of "restore". If you go the "buy something already restored" route, then do a search for "inspection check list" here on the forums, and go to the inspection armed. There are also forum members who volunteer as inspectors--try to engage one of them to help you. If a seller says they have put a bunch of time, effort and expense into repair of a trailer, challenge them to show you the documentation (ie., receipts, pictures of the repair process, blogs, etc.). Just because a trailer is in use doesn't mean it is safe to use. Fresh interior paint, upholstery, and a shiny exterior do not a "restoration" make.

At the end of the day, I would recommend you look for a trailer that has already had the work done. You will still get the chance do do some customization and repairs as time goes on. Expect to pay in the vicinity of $14k or more for a trailer of this description (and if it is fully restored, this is still a bargain). Don't pay a premium for things that are "original." 40 year old plastic is not real collectible. If a vintage trailer claims to be fully restored but has not had grey water tanks retrofitted to it (most trailers older than '74 need this), is still using the old Univolt transformer, has a dorm fridge instead of the RV style propane/electric model, then I would be pretty suspicious of the quality of the resto.

good luck!
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Old 02-28-2013, 08:25 PM   #9
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Thanks to all of you. It looks like I came to the right place to get good information. Even though I drool every time I see an AS I think I need to get a grip and slow down, attend a rally or two, have an inspection list, make a spreadsheet and watch those podcasts. I for sure need to get more knowledgeable because I looked and looked at the Caravel in the pic on CL and couldn't detect that the axle might be a little low. I was intimidated by the idea of replacing flooring, appliances etc. but since learning the high price of a professional restorer I have a brand new attitude about what I can do myself. And there's the pride factor of having done it myself. Thanks again for all the advice.
These forums are so great that I have to literally force myself to not sit here for hours reading.
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Old 03-01-2013, 06:08 AM   #10
CLOUDSPLITTER "Tahawas"
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gardengal View Post
Thanks to all of you. It looks like I came to the right place to get good information. Even though I drool every time I see an AS I think I need to get a grip and slow down, attend a rally or two, have an inspection list, make a spreadsheet and watch those podcasts. I for sure need to get more knowledgeable because I looked and looked at the Caravel in the pic on CL and couldn't detect that the axle might be a little low. I was intimidated by the idea of replacing flooring, appliances etc. but since learning the high price of a professional restorer I have a brand new attitude about what I can do myself. And there's the pride factor of having done it myself. Thanks again for all the advice.
These forums are so great that I have to literally force myself to not sit here for hours reading.
Very good decision....most newbies don't realize that AS's can talk, you'll know when you've found the "one". Learning the language is what takes the time.

Bob
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