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Old 10-04-2015, 12:28 PM   #1
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1975 Argosy 26
Tulsa , Oklahoma
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Besides new Axles - what are the other big 'Gotcha' expenses

My wife and I just recently purchased an 1975, 26 foot Argosy. It's a rear bath model, and the trailer appears to be in 'fair' condition for its age, with some minor dents and minor surface rust on a few places on the outside (near where the awing attaches etc). We were able to pull the trailer from the private seller (about 40 miles away) to our home without any problems, at Highway speed.

We've done some work on a 'Canned Ham' type trailer previously, but this will be our first real remodel of a trailer.

While neither of us are craftsmen by trade, we are comfortable with basic to intermediate plumbing, electrical, woodworking and painting tasks. We've remodeled several homes, including kitchens and baths etc. Neither of us are afraid to get our hands dirty, or putting in some serious hours.

Reading through the forums, I know I need to have the Argosy inspected (we've not done that yet), and I recognize we will probably need the axles/suspension replaced (one of the few tasks we will probably leave to 'professionals'). The furnace works, but the air conditioner is shot so the air conditioner will be another 'big ticket' item.

My question is, besides the Axels, can you think of any other 'Big Ticket' (over $1000) items we are likely to encounter during the remodel?

We plan to paint the trailer, and do the majority of the work ourselves.

I know this won't be easy, or cheap, but I'm looking forward to the having a personalized vintage argosy when we are done!
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Old 10-04-2015, 12:39 PM   #2
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1971 25' Tradewind
Menlo Park , California
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Axle replacement is mechanically not difficult, so don't let that dissuade from doing it yourself. You'll likely want some help, and a couple of inexpensive floor jacks to help jockey the axles into position. Lots of threads w/ pictures on this topic....

Two other areas of common 'hidden' trouble: floor rot due to leaks, and
rear end separation caused by leaks along the rear bumper. Both have lots of threads describing diagnosis and cure.

- Bart
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Old 10-04-2015, 01:41 PM   #3
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1994 34' Excella
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Expect to replace the HW Heater, fridge, and furnace in a unit of that age, if they have not been replaced. Those are the only other costly items, and I have replaced then all in the past when refurbing my 1976 Sovereign. Have fun with the new rig and don't be afraid to ask for advice on the forum. Good luck, Chris
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Old 10-04-2015, 02:57 PM   #4
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Besides new Axles - what are the other big 'Gotcha' expenses

In addition to everything previously mentioned - tires, stove top/range/oven and battery charging - are other possibilities.
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Old 10-04-2015, 04:04 PM   #5
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1969 25' Tradewind
Shasta Lake , California
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I just went though this on our '69 Tradewind.

I started by putting 12v to the system and checked all the circuits , everything worked.

Next the 120 v system, good.

Put air pressure to the plumbing system, found a joint broken.

Added water to the black tank, found leak at fitting.

Poked all around the floor, solid.

First I replaced the axels ,brakes, bearings, wheels and tires.

To gain access to the hose clamp holding the valve to the black tank it was necessary to remove the entire interior and then cut the only good piece of subfloor to get to the clamp that was installed with the screw head pointed up.

Also found the floor rotted all around the edge behind the plastic interior panels.

Replace the last 4' of the floor and repaired water leaks.

Install underlayment and Marmolium floor covering.

Plan change, replace all systems and units.

Add A/C,Maxxair remote controlled vents , Digital TV anttenna, add PEX plumbing with sharkbite fittings, etc, etc.

Refinish most of the cabinets, replace partitions.

3 years and $22k later the first trip .

And still not finished.
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Old 10-04-2015, 08:23 PM   #6
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1975 Argosy 26
Tulsa , Oklahoma
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Thanks everyone for the tips! I'm looking forward to the Journey. Not just the one's we'll take when we've got the Argosy road ready, but the process of rebuilding her as well.

Glen Ritas - beautiful looking rig! I especially love the vintage clock!

I don't think I have 22K to put into mine, but we could probably swing half that. Question, did you do most of the labor yourself, or did you hire it done? My hope is to do the majority of the labor myself (at least, where I can).
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Old 10-04-2015, 08:37 PM   #7
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1991 34' Excella
2009 34' Panamerica
Telluride , Colorado
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Besides new Axles - what are the other big 'Gotcha' expenses

A 40 year old furnace can be and probably is shot and potentially lethal, that should be high on the replace list.
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Old 10-04-2015, 09:01 PM   #8
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1969 25' Tradewind
Shasta Lake , California
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It was me doing the vast majority of the work.

I did let the RV shop install the A/C ,vents, and antenna. Sure beats trying to lug the A/C up a ladder and crawl around on the roof. They have a fork lift and didn't even set foot on the roof.

Thanks, about the clock we found it online it's a modern copy.

BTW the area in front of the clock will have a counter top and a washer and dryer under it along with the spare tire and other storage.
I was going to install a new 30,000 BTU furnace there but we always go to full hook up sites and the little cube heater does the job just fine for us.

Well the $22k includes the $5500 purchase price and a $2000 Casita bathroom and the $2000 washer and dryer plus everything else so far.

Oh, I hated the stock bath tub and shag carpet so I ordered all the parts from Casita and modified them to fit. Its a wet bath and the black tank is part of the pan. It works great.

Have fun with your build and remember it takes twice as long and costs at least double to complete.
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Glen & Jane 1969 all electric Airstream 25' TradeWind
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My Build Thread https://www.airforums.com/forums/f11...ml#post1997059
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Old 10-04-2015, 09:41 PM   #9
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1972 31' Sovereign
1975 31' Excella 500
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Benton , Arkansas
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I have about 20K hard cash in mine including purchase price and outsourced nothing. Lots and lots of my labor.

I was able to use the stock air conditioner, all other systems and fixtures are new.

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Old 10-04-2015, 09:56 PM   #10
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1999 34' Excella
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I also say change the furnace for safety. Even if it works, at 40 years old it most likely is leaking through rust holes in the combustion chamber.
The LP pressure regulator and all rubber hoses within the LP system should be change if they are original.

Add a carbon monoxide alarm. Replace the smoke alarm.

If it has the original converter, get rid if that thing and get a mult-stage converter.

If you are removing/replacing cabinets during the remodel, go ahead with new appliances too. It will save a lot of rework later.
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Old 10-05-2015, 11:36 AM   #11
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1969 23' Safari
Palmer Lake , Colorado
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Our trailer sat unused but was lovingly maintained and kept clean and waxed for nearly 30 years. The floor is solid front to back and no issues with the bath overall nor the tub with any leaks or cracks. We fixed obvious things up front but then system by system started to fail. A/C, Water Heater, water system (copper is all gone replaced with pec), water pump, toilet, electric converter, black tank valve, etc.. Don't fool with the furnace. Our furnace came on but did not shut off even though the fan stopped running which made it a death trap - only the mechanic who did an inspection caught that by removing it and running it on a test stand. Axle and shocks are fine and the stove and refrigerator both work great. Definitely install CO2 and smoke detectors.
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Old 10-05-2015, 12:01 PM   #12
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1969 23' Safari
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the interior of that trailer is top notch! Great work!
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Old 10-05-2015, 03:13 PM   #13
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1972 23' Safari
Arlington , Massachusetts
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Enjoy your new project. What repairs you have to do depends a lot on how you plan to use it. We purchased a 1972 23ft. Safari that was in moderate condition. PO had done a few weird things but it was serviceable. Had we just wanted to take it locally with full hook up we probably could have gotten away with fixing a few leaks, some minor floor rot and added an AC. We could have saved money by putting in an electric refrigerator and used the electric heater that came with the trailer. EXCEPT we wanted to take her on a 4,000+ mile cross country trip followed by a week in the Black Rock Desert. Although we could have done a lot of this ourselves we were strapped for time so we took it to the local Airstream dealer for new tires, breaks and bearings plus AC (definitely want to have that done by a pro) and a propane/electric refrigerator (Having a propane fridge makes long stays off the grid much easier) and replaced the heater. BTW, we have camped for several weeks twice in Aug./Sept and I can tell you, we have used the furnace a lot more than the AC. Oh, and we decided to replace the awning to match our color scheme (a lot more money than you'd think) We did all the interior renovations on our own including new floor, painting, replaced all lights with LED, designed and built some storage cabinets and a couch that folds out into a very comfortable queen sized bed. We also sealed all the leaks, replaced some plumbing and rewired a few lights, replaced some exterior lights and did some exterior repairs. After camping about 6 weeks we realized that the toilet and black tank needed to be replaced, we needed a better battery and charging system and we wanted a grey water tank and outdoor shower. This work was done by Joel Harp (Highly recommended) in Sacramento. So now after spending a lot more than we originally planned and much less than required for just local RV full hook up type camping, we have the perfect Airstream for us. We have the huge propane and fresh water tanks of that era, lots of storage and a fresh new interior that suites our tastes and needs. It's reliable and tows like a dream and we can boondock in the desert for 12 days, and stay in State and National parks for days without thinking about dumping or needing more water. Now all we need is solar and a new door knob and we'll be all done. Just kidding, old trailers are like old houses, they are always in need of some repair or improvement but I wouldn't trade her for a brand new one.
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Old 10-05-2015, 09:10 PM   #14
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1975 Argosy 26
Tulsa , Oklahoma
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J Morgan, that is an impressive trailer! I'm not too far from you over in Tulsa. If you have any good NW Arkansas restoration resources, please let me know.

We will definitely replace the heater, and based on my limited reading, I like the idea of a composting toilet, although the good ones are a little pricey.

PaintedWagon, I thought it would be cool to going burning man, but my wife was less keen on the idea :-)

--DD
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