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Old 10-12-2019, 03:23 AM   #1
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1969 27' Overlander
GLEN CARBON , Illinois
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 1
1969 Overlander - In need of advice please...

Hello everyone,

I really need the advice who people who love Airstreams as much as my husband and I do. Let me tell you our story as briefly as possible...

I wanted an Airstream for as long as I can remember. When I finished an album back in 2002, and had a tour lined up to promote it... my husband and I decided the best way to travel would be in an Airstream.

We searched across the country and found one. We lived in Portland, Oregon at the time. The Airstream was in Tarahote, Indiana.

We traveled to my parents house in Illinois, which was 2 hours away from where the Airstream was. I asked my folks to come along to help us make a good decision.

We went to see the Airstream together... me, my husband and Mom and Dad.

After looking over everything we ultimately made the decision to purchase it.

It was polished to perfection. The inside looked amazing. Original... but very nice. The person selling was a retired Police Chief and we believed everything he told us.

We made the purchase and pulled it back to my parentís house where I promptly wanted to pull out the old carpet and replace the floor. One simple change before heading back to Portland.

I purchased Armstrong flooring in a wood grain. When it arrived, we started removing the old carpet, which required removing the couch. This led to the discovery of a rotten subfloor.

My Dad is a master wood-worker. He said it wouldnít be too much problem to replace that so we pulled the lower skin across the entire front.

Long story short... 6 months later and several thousand dollars in tools and supplies and hard-work we had the Airstream ready to go. Thanks to my parents for letting us take an Airstream apart on their driveway!

So... we went back to Portland with our new Airstream and the tour began.

We traveled and lived in our Airstream for the next 10 years! Yes, it was beginning to have issues... we pulled the furnace (which we never used) and the oven because it stopped working. We pulled out the couch and replaced it with a desk.

By 2014, our lives took a different turn. We left California and took the Airstream to St. Louis, where it has been in covered storage since.

Just before we left California, two windows were broken by ill-behaved children... since we were about to leave and there was no time to order the new windows, we covered them with cardboard and duct-tape. Yes... a very quick fix to get the rig to St. Louis.

Once in St. Louis, we had little time to do anything with the Airstream. Since itís in covered storage we havenít worried over the windows. The cardboard covers are still in place... but thereís more.

Again... back in California... we discovered back-end separation. The pulls for the black tank had begun to get very difficult to pull. There had been leaking around the water inlet for at least a couple of years and there was rusting in the back-end.

Anticipating that we would pull the Airstream to St. Louis, we did have the axles replaced at Andyís in Los Angeles. They did a great job. While there we asked about the back-end separation but didnít have the money to have that repaired at the same.

We also had new tires put on it for the trip. So...

Our 1969, 27í Overlander has been in storage now for 6 years. The axles have less than 3,000 miles on them while the tires have about the same miles, theyíre now 10 years old.

This past week I made some calls to see what it would cost to have the back-end separation addressed... the completely rusted out-riggers... the black tank that needs to be replaced... the windows...

Iíve been told that Iím looking at no less that $50,000 and more like $100,000 to have the shell pulled to repair the frame and replace the insulation and floor.

Weíve been in love with Airstream for many years and enjoyed our Airstream perhaps more than most since we got to live in for 10 years. No other house... it was in a few different parks through that time - not on the road - but nevertheless we really enjoyed it. Now...

We simply donít have that kind of money to bring it up to its full glory. And... we have no place to do work on it ourselves, not mention we donít have the tools.

Our goal this year has been to get entirely out of debt. Part of accomplishing that goal is addressing long-term costs ó such as storage for things youíre not using. Weíre not using the Airstream because it is currently UN-inhabitable and not safe for traveling. And now...

...from what Iím hearing from shops that do restoration work, weíre unlikely to afford having it repaired AND cannot do it ourselves.

The skin on our trailer is genuine aircraft aluminum. The kind that shines to a mirror polish.

The inside is - at this point - not original. Thereís a lot of work to be done...

What do I do?

I need advice from people who understand the love of Airstreams...

What would you do?

Should I list it for sale?

With all itís current short-comings ó along with the way it looks after being in storage for nearly 6 years now - I doubt Iíll get much for it, which simply breaks my heart.

I need feedback... and thank you in advance for taking the time.


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Old 10-12-2019, 10:17 AM   #2
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Belegedhel's Avatar
1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 2,604
There are plenty of folks who replace the rear most section of subfloor and repair the frame as a "shell-on" operation. Sure the "best" and probably most efficient way to completely rebuild a trailer is to remove the shell, but if you really don't need to replace the entire subfloor and rebuild the entire frame, maybe you don't need to do the shell-off. All that being said, most professional shops are still going to charge you some real cash, even to fix just the rear end separation in a quick-and-dirty way. Certainly less than the $50k you have been quoted, but still probably $10-20K.

My recommendation would be to get a very good inventory of what needs to be done--try using the Trailer Inspector's Checklist from the Portal tab. Call up a few repair shops and get their "best price" estimate of repairs. Now it is time to decide what you want to do. If the repairs are still outside your reach, and you are ready to part with it, then put it up for sale.

You are right, though. If it needs a shell-off, then with the exception of a few new parts, a buyer isn't going to be any further ahead with your trailer than they would with most other field-finds. Trailers in the size and age range of yours that are ready to go camping immediately, I have seen go for around $12-14k. You might be lucky to get around half that. There is a seemingly never-ending supply of folks who are willing to take on the big project of rebuilding a trailer...but most of them expect a bargain starting price.

good luck!

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Old 10-12-2019, 01:32 PM   #3
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
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Posts: 2,604
And welcome to the Forums!
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Old 10-12-2019, 08:19 PM   #4
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1986 34' Limited
1975 27' Overlander
Conifer , Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 5,381
Images: 1
Hello from Colorado: My son has a 69 Globetrotter 21', and I have a 75 Overlander 27'. My wife has a 86 Limited 34'. I've done extensive work to all three trailers, including rear end frame to body separation. I have also renovated a 66 Trade Wind 24'.

Your description of your Overlander suggests an old and worn out Airstream Overlander. I would suggest you sell it as is to a hobbyists who wants a big project. I could easily see $15k in parts and 1200 hours in labor to make it like new again. I believe a good body on an old Airstream is worth $5k. Yours would be less due to the two broken windows. You do have newer axles that are worth quite a bit in themselves. Take 10 pictures inside and out, write an accurate description of the thing, and post it on the classifieds here in these Forums. See what happens.

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Old 10-13-2019, 01:22 PM   #5
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1972 29' Ambassador
Boynton Beach , Florida
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 504
You can read the accounts of many Airstream restorers here on the Forum, to get an idea of what you're up against. Most of these folks aren't professionals at this, they just figured it out as they went along. Personally, working on my Airstream was my "treat" that I got to do when all of the more pressing issues of the day were completed.

I personally replaced the floor in the rear without doing a shell-off "full monty". The main problem is that it's next to impossible to get get the plastic out in one piece, as it's old and loves to crack. I had planned to move the bath to the center, so breaking everything into little pieces was already in the cards. The rear end sep can be just that the bolts holding the upper frame and skin have rusted out, or the plywood that they bolt into is gone.

Rebuilding one of these trailers requires more than just a little change jingling around in your pockets, even if you do the work yourselves. If you love the journey of rebuilding, can spare the cash and can develop the skills, go for it! Find a local Maker Space and ask about help from them- those folks love projects like this.

If that isn't you (which is quite OK), face up to it sooner rather than later, and sell the trailer to the next glassy-eyed enthusiast. But please, just don't put off your decision too long and let it rot away!
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Old 10-13-2019, 11:46 PM   #6
4 Rivet Member
1969 18' Caravel
Greenville , whereEverIroam
Join Date: Dec 2017
Posts: 468
Images: 5

Most Airstream owners realize that they are in some sense, stewards of this trailer for a while -- there may have been previous owners, there will likely be new owners eventually.

It sounds like your trailer can be refurbished, but you lack the time or space to do it.

You presumably purchased your Airstream for far less than a new one would have cost, and you had ten good years in it: that's a good run, and those memories are golden.

You may not get the price you'd like, but because it's an Airstream, there will be a buyer interested. Few SOBs enjoy that market. But your AS is not likely to appreciate in value, but will depreciate further the longer it rots away.

The time, cost, effort and tears it take to work on these is always underestimated, and rarely earn back your dollar investment (not even counting your labor, if you DIY) The ROI is measured in the joy it brings you during and after the hard work.

Sell this one to a good home, then purchase another in better shape, or move on to the next phase of life - free of debt - priceless! You brought this camper to experience the freedom of travel, now let it bring you one last freedom - from it's storage and upkeep and worry.

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