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Old 10-02-2012, 09:21 PM   #1
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Advice on mid '70s Airstream

I want to start by saying that I am new to this forum and am looking for advice. Recently I have tossed about the idea of restoring an airstream camper and have become aware of a camper that a coworker of mine has of the mid 70's era in about the 27 ft range. He has kept this particular camper that he purchased about 3 years ago at his farm about 150 miles away from where I am currently. The bad news is about 2 years ago the camper suffered some vandalism in that a couple of the windows were damaged and the door was damaged to the point that it no longer closes. So needless to say at that point the camper was no longer used and the coworker has not been back to this farm in over a year. My friend has stated that if I want the camper he will give it to me if I go get it. So I would imagine that its possible that the trailer has been damaged further or has become the home to numerous furry woodland creatures or its just simply no longer there due to being stolen in the time that has passed since he was last there. I suspect that tires would need to be replaced in the circumstance that I deem the camper is worth my time after looking at it as I would assume that they might be dry rotted and not safe to make 150 mile journey on the interstate. My question is there anything that I should look for when deciding whether or not this project is worth my time? (ie if certain things are damaged and will cost more to repair than is worth to mess with) Keep in mind that I can get this thing for free. I realize that this might sound a little too good to be true and am looking for advice on whether to move along and find something else but free is hard to ignore....
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Old 10-02-2012, 10:35 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by wildcat2020 View Post
I want to start by saying that I am new to this forum and am looking for advice. Recently I have tossed about the idea of restoring an airstream camper and have become aware of a camper that a coworker of mine has of the mid 70's era in about the 27 ft range. He has kept this particular camper that he purchased about 3 years ago at his farm about 150 miles away from where I am currently. The bad news is about 2 years ago the camper suffered some vandalism in that a couple of the windows were damaged and the door was damaged to the point that it no longer closes. So needless to say at that point the camper was no longer used and the coworker has not been back to this farm in over a year. My friend has stated that if I want the camper he will give it to me if I go get it. So I would imagine that its possible that the trailer has been damaged further or has become the home to numerous furry woodland creatures or its just simply no longer there due to being stolen in the time that has passed since he was last there. I suspect that tires would need to be replaced in the circumstance that I deem the camper is worth my time after looking at it as I would assume that they might be dry rotted and not safe to make 150 mile journey on the interstate. My question is there anything that I should look for when deciding whether or not this project is worth my time? (ie if certain things are damaged and will cost more to repair than is worth to mess with) Keep in mind that I can get this thing for free. I realize that this might sound a little too good to be true and am looking for advice on whether to move along and find something else but free is hard to ignore....
My answer to your question is probably pretty obvious but perhaps this will help. First of all, If the frame and shell are in good shape, I expect the trailer is worth repairing. However, this depends to a large extent on how handy you are with all sorts of repair work, how much time you are willing to spend on the project, and if you have a good place to work out of the weather. Another consideration is whether you want the trailer to be in "like-new" condition or in good, functional condition. The former could be very time consuming and expensive if it's been abused or neglected for many years. I recently did a major repair/renovation job on a 25' tradewind land yacht (74 model) but I expect there will always be additional work to be done to keep the trailer in good, useable condition. Fortunately, I am retired and have a fair amount of time for this sort of thing. My airstream had been parked and neglected for over 16 years and I feel my time and labor have been justified. We recently took our first trip in our "new" trailer with visits to AZ, NM, and Co. I was pleased that everything worked very well and we really enjoyed our project airstream. If you decide to proceed, good luck.
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Old 10-02-2012, 10:58 PM   #3
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Ditto on above...
Be sure that you get a free and clear title also. Free is not actually free unless you have one.
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:07 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by wildcat2020 View Post
Recently I have tossed about the idea of restoring an airstream camper and have become aware of a camper that a coworker of mine has of the mid 70's era in about the 27 ft range.
If restoring the camper is part of the benefit to you, I'd say definitely take a look. Free can be a great advantage or a hole into which you pour money.

Before you go look at this camper, I'd suggest you do a thorough check of classifieds here, on ebay and on craigslist and see what other similar trailers go for in various states of repair. Also do a search for replacement windows and door repair or replacement. If those are impossible to come by, no amount of free will make the project worthwhile.

We broke one of the curved side windows at the front of our 1971 25' Tradewind. Inland RV had a replacement that required only a bit of extra metal work to get the shape of the new window to fit into the old. The door, or even just the door latch, may be harder to find.

We love our 25' trailer. We love working on in and we love watching it change as we gradually renovate. I wish you the same pleasure, whether on this trailer or another.
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Old 10-04-2012, 10:42 PM   #5
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Free is good, but this trailer won't ever be free. Going to cost you money to go look at it and then get it home. Hopefully you will get a good hitch system or you already have one. Then you have to start on fixing what needs to be fixed. Count on 1500 plus shipping for a couple new axles. Probably 4 new tires, maybe 5 with a spare, there's another 600 bucks or so. That just gets you roadworthy.

Now you have to look at what problems it may have. Chances are it has some water damage. Original appliances work or do they need replacing. Can be some big money there depending on what works. How much work to make it nice or at least habitable on the inside? And how handy are you to do all this work and do you have the time and inclination. Lots of folks have big ideas but loose motivation along the way. You know your skill levels and motivation better than we do. Can you do it all and do you want to do it all?

I just picked up a 72 Overlander. Fairly good shape overall, but this winter will see some serious work to get it ready for next spring. I'm figuring on probably north of 2 grand for axles and parts and supplies for the work, not counting my labor. I've done quite a few good sized improvement jobs lately so I'm not put off by this one. Wife is on board, she was the one who was gung ho for an Airstream in the first place. Hope it all fits for you.
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Old 10-07-2012, 10:32 AM   #6
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150 miles isn't realy very far for a free tt.
tires if an issue, drag it to a tire shop and let them decide. used car tires will get you home , probably less than 100.00
once home will be sitting there for awhile anyway while repairs effected so why put new on just to sit ?
damaged e-door is big problem , if just hinges not that big a deal if pried oped then door frame may be damaged ( a very difficult repair ) but is hard to go wrong with free.
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Old 10-07-2012, 12:37 PM   #7
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Worst comes to worst, you can always part it out and make your tire money back!
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