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Old 11-10-2008, 11:15 PM   #1
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I am considering buying a 1970's vintage Airstream for a LONG TERM restoration project. I am initially interested in the Overlander. It is just my wife and myself and my intention is to buy something as a restoration project to culminate in my retirement. Hopefully, I will have it finished long before then, since I am only 46. LOL

What are the best models to look for in the mid-70's vintage for just a couple?
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Old 11-10-2008, 11:19 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by northmeck025 View Post
I am considering buying a 1970's vintage Airstream for a LONG TERM restoration project. I am initially interested in the Overlander. It is just my wife and myself and my intention is to buy something as a restoration project to culminate in my retirement. Hopefully, I will have it finished long before then, since I am only 46. LOL

What are the best models to look for in the mid-70's vintage for just a couple?
It depends on how friendly you are and what you will be using the trailer for. We are happy with our Safari and we have friends who use a Caravel or Bambi for many months at a time.

Bill
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Old 11-10-2008, 11:29 PM   #3
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Greetings Northmeck025!

Welcome to the Forums!

The Overlander (26'/27') and the Tradewind (24'/25') are popular with many due to their manageable size and useful floorplans. Probably the most notable difference among the 1970s era coaches was the addition of gray/wash water tanks in 1974. Beyond the addition of the washwater tank, floorplans and basic materials utilized were relatively constant during the time frame. Something you might want to check out in the size range as an option would be the Caravanner (25') it has a very open floorplan with numerous windows -- they are less common but available. In any event, you will want to look for the highest quality/best condition in your price range -- the better the starting condition the less likely for cost escalations in the refurbishment.

When I purchased my Overlander in 1995 (I was 36 at the time), I was fortunate to locate one in very good original condition. Even with its good original condition it did have a few problems that needed to be resolved -- furance, refrigerator, and water pump all needed replacing; and there was a problem with separation at the rear of the coach. By obtaining the coach in good condition, I was able to portion these projects over several years (five in total) while continuing to use the coach. In addition to resolving the problems, I had the coach polished and Plasticoated; and had the interior refurbished by Fowler Interiors in Symsonia, KY.

Good luck with your search for the ideal coach!

Kevin
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Old 11-11-2008, 04:21 AM   #4
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I am a bit concerned about some of the things I have heard about "droop" in the frames of the rear bathroom models. Is this a real problem?
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Old 11-11-2008, 04:23 AM   #5
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One other question, while it is fresh in my mind. Are there significant differences in quality (of frame, skin, and components) between Airstreams of different eras? In other words, are the older ones built better?
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Old 11-11-2008, 04:25 AM   #6
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The only problem I see with your plan is that you are planning to wait until retirement to use it. I am 42 and have owned my Airstream a little over a year. It has been the best money I ever spent. We have had so much fun this past season and I am now depressed to have to wait until April to go out again. I have done my restoration in phases. Last winter it was the back half and this winter it will be the front half.
Do it, you will not regret it, I promise.
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Old 11-11-2008, 04:29 AM   #7
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Oh, yeah... just remember the big girls need loving too. Do not be afraid of the 30 or 31 footers. They tow easy and no one ever says "our Airstream has too much space." Most people want the little girls because they think towing is an issue so the big girls tend to be very reasonable, especially the 70's ones.
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Old 11-11-2008, 06:14 AM   #8
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One thing that I know is important is a queen or double bed. We don't have kids or guests to worry about. I like the idea of the '70's era larger trailer, although I keep hearing that the longer trailers have more "droop" problems. Guess that is always a problem with "big" girls.
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Old 11-11-2008, 06:52 AM   #9
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"Tail droop" as it's known was only a problem in a few years' production after the addition of the gray water tank in the rear of the trailer without beefing up the structure. It's result is the separation of the frame/floor from the body at the rear seam. There are a number of ways to resolve it; probably the most common being the "elephant ears" approach that was the "factory fix".

The '69 trailers were the first year with the small curved windows flanking the front window. Those windows (a "D" style radius window frame with a mitered bottom joint), in '69 were only used that year. In '70 Airstream went to a full "D" shaped frame without that mitered joint. The windows used in '69 are no longer available at all and the later models are very difficult to find.

The other big change was that in '70 (and perhaps even some '71s) the interiors are finished wood. By '72 all of the trailers had changed over to the more "modern" plastic-finished cabinetry; a material much like contact paper. That interior material was used until at least the late '70s, and perhaps into the early '80s. There aren't many '80s trailers around as there weren't as many produced.

If you buy a "user" for the time being, you'll have an opportunity to find out what works and what doesn't for you. It will give you a much better perspective about how you want your "retirement trailer" to be laid out and what features you want/need and how to implement them. You'll be surprised at what you think is important now that really isn't, and what things you won't even consider right now that can become "deal-breakers" long term. Everyone is different in their wants/needs and you need to figure out what yours are.

Roger
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