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Old 04-14-2012, 11:34 AM   #1
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Should I buy or should I run away

I've been looking locally for an airstream for about six months now, and found a 31 foot 1977 International Sovereign that I'm thinking about pulling the trigger on.

The good news is that the frame is solid, the rear is not loose or drooping and there are no leaks or floor rot. I'm confident of my skills to restore the interior.

The bad news is that some of the skin damage scares me and I've got no experience at all (yet) dealing with body repairs.

Here are pictures of the two areas of concern. This is all on the drivers side rear of the trailer - one problem area is a whole bunch of dent craters on the corner of the roof, the other is a roughly 10 foot long long horizontal dent and scratch mid-way up the side wall.

Question is about the cost and difficulty of repairing or at least minimizing this damage. Would greatly appreciate your guidance on what I'm looking at here, and whether this body damage should cause me to run away from this otherwise decent trailer. I'm not looking to make it perfect, but I would want to improve it a lot over the way it is now.

From reading here, it looks like the dents on the corner should be easier to repair than the horizontal scratch. But that's why I'm asking the experts.
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Old 04-14-2012, 11:52 AM   #2
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

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

That's a pretty nice looking trailer. If the mechanicals are good and the price is right, you probably are getting a good trailer. The end cap may need to be replaced. The scratches, I could live with. We have similar scratches on our Lucy from her extensive use. If you use the Airstream , it is going to get road scars. The only perfect Airstreams are yard queens.

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Old 04-14-2012, 12:10 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ddruker View Post
I've been looking locally for an airstream for about six months now, and found a 31 foot 1977 International Sovereign that I'm thinking about pulling the trigger on.

The good news is that the frame is solid, the rear is not loose or drooping and there are no leaks or floor rot. I'm confident of my skills to restore the interior.

The bad news is that some of the skin damage scares me and I've got no experience at all (yet) dealing with body repairs.

Here are pictures of the two areas of concern. This is all on the drivers side rear of the trailer - one problem area is a whole bunch of dent craters on the corner of the roof, the other is a roughly 10 foot long long horizontal dent and scratch mid-way up the side wall.

Question is about the cost and difficulty of repairing or at least minimizing this damage. Would greatly appreciate your guidance on what I'm looking at here, and whether this body damage should cause me to run away from this otherwise decent trailer. I'm not looking to make it perfect, but I would want to improve it a lot over the way it is now.

From reading here, it looks like the dents on the corner should be easier to repair than the horizontal scratch. But that's why I'm asking the experts.
Ball park cost if you had a dealer do it, would be about $ 4500.00.

But, it's not difficult to replace that metal, once you know how.

On the other hand, that trailer would always stand out from the others, so that you would know exactly which one is yours.

Then really, those dents and gouges don't hurt a thing.

If the price is right, go for it.

Only other thing, is make sure you check out the axles and make sure they are still serviceable. If not, then the selling price further drops.

Andy
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Old 04-14-2012, 12:18 PM   #4
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You will probably be able to reduce the dents on the end cap with a tool like "Pops a Dent" or "Ding King". The long crease is another matter.
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Old 04-14-2012, 01:04 PM   #5
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A trick I heard of on the VAP(vintage airstream podcast) to reduce the dents is to use a hot glue gun and glue an elevator bolt to the center of the dent and pull it out then heat the glue back up to get the bolt off. No holes needed this way. Otherwise a trailer that has any use is going to have some memories built in.
Good luck with your purchase!
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Old 04-14-2012, 01:18 PM   #6
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Those scratches and dings are not much to worry about. I would be more concerned about the length of the trailer. Unless you have a big family and need that much space, a shorter trailer will allow you to get in more campsites. I wouldn't bother with anything longer than 25'. Just my two cents.
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Old 04-14-2012, 02:40 PM   #7
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You might have luck getting the end-cap dents to look 'acceptable' without replacing that panel. There is nothing you can do with the scratch/crease that is going to make it look any better. It depends if you are happy with sealed and functional, or if you want it to look like new. Unfortunately, you have to be very cautious with Airstreams to prevent all kinds of nicks and dents from causing distracting flaws.

As I've just taken my Airstream to a dealer for a new panel, they did a complete walk around and marked down every little thing they could find - as they put it "If it's an Airstream, repair means replace" and they don't want to be on the hook for alleged lot damage.
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Old 04-14-2012, 03:17 PM   #8
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A trick I heard of on the VAP(vintage airstream podcast) to reduce the dents is to use a hot glue gun and glue an elevator bolt to the center of the dent and pull it out then heat the glue back up to get the bolt off. No holes needed this way. Otherwise a trailer that has any use is going to have some memories built in.
Good luck with your purchase!
Essentially this technique is the backyard version of the Ding King tool. I would use a piece of 2x2 wood.

As far as the long crease, you could get a piece of aluminum trim to match the others. Most people, except us experts, would not know it doesn't belong there.
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Old 04-14-2012, 03:34 PM   #9
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I see the dents several ways: you could live with it as patina, especially if the rest of the trailer is in good shape and the price is right; you could try and pull out (someone even mentioned using a toilet plunger or other suction device) the dents on the end caps, or have it replaced. After 10 years of working on ours, a usable trailer right off with some character sounds pretty good. The size is kind of daunting, but then you'd tailor where you drive and camp to the size of the rig. We're at the limit at 19' at state parks here.
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Old 04-14-2012, 03:38 PM   #10
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All bumps and dings have a story,, just make it yours and add a few of your own... We had a 40th b-day party for our AS April 7th,, Most of our dings are on the bottom edges..

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Old 04-14-2012, 03:48 PM   #11
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I had a 31 now have a 25. A 31 does limit campsites somewhat but I usually was able to find one,
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Old 04-14-2012, 04:04 PM   #12
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IMHO the only real concern about length is whether or not you have the tow vehicle to pull it and the yard/driveway space to park it!
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Old 04-14-2012, 05:29 PM   #13
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Hi,

You might consider getting a length of trim the same as the one below the scrape and work vertical strips down to attach to the lower horizontal trim. I notice in your picture the vinyl insert has been removed from the 2 horizontal trim pieces. This vinyl insert is available at Inland RV Centre. A person could only look at one side of your A/S at a time and nobody will ever notice the difference. This would be a relatively inexpensive fix when completed.
As far as the endcaps are concerned - can you see much of the damage if you are looking at it from ground level?? Or as Sodbust has mentioned above make up a very interesting story as to how the damage occured and stick to it.
I remember an elderly farmer from here and if someone was pointing some damage out to him his response was " a blind man would love to see that"!!
I wouldn't run - I'd buy - it will all work out. Our '72 International 31' we're restoring has a small dent in the rear end cap and I notice it occasionally and just think to myself that the PO must have been some p'd off when he backed into a tree limb!!
Good luck and don't be concerned about the 31' length.
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Old 04-14-2012, 10:15 PM   #14
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All I'm buying when I buy an old Airstream is the aluminum body. If that's not right, then it's either too big of a project, too expensive, or it's a parts trailer. There are trailers for sale with all good bodies. I'll pass on this one.
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