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Old 02-02-2013, 05:45 PM   #1
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Buying a gutted AS

If I am considering doing a custom renovation, wouldn't buying a gutted Airstream be the easiest way to get started? Besides saving me the obvious steps of tearing out the insides, I'm imaging that it would be easier to spot problem issues and necessary repairs. What is the general consensus on this type of sale?

Of course, the main con I can think of is that we wouldn't be able to use it for more than a glorified tent for a while.
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Old 02-02-2013, 05:52 PM   #2
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It seems to me like it'd be the way to go if you want a custom interior--that way those of us who prefer original interiors don't cry "boo!" at you customizing--we'll just reserve that for the PO who messed it up! LOL

Good luck in deciding!
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Old 02-02-2013, 06:05 PM   #3
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exactly. i did the same thing. i got my 57 for $900 gutted. it had a hard life...exterior is perfect though. shes still gutted... design is close to original, except will feature a queen bed in the rear instead of a bath in the rear.
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Old 02-02-2013, 06:22 PM   #4
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As someone who is doing a slow motion hybrid sort of gutting, there are advantages to having the original interior in place.

We really like the Airstream lightweight design aesthetic of the vintage Airstreams. We are not so keen on 40 year old, ratty, worn out, fake wood panels. So we are doing a "remove and replace" restoration. It will look very much like the original, but with real birch. The exceptions are the dinettes which needed to be sturdier for utility's sake, and the bathroom, which needed to be gutted and where we chose to replace the formed plastic with real wood, using an original design based on the aluminum extrusion framing and trim in the rest of the trailer.

The advantage of having the original walls in place has been that the aluminum extrusions are right there. Removing and replacing a bulkhead is a lot easier than also having to measure and bend a new extrusion to fit. The vertical and cross pieces of aluminum that make up our galley would be nearly impossible to find or replicate. The original aluminum assembly is a bit convoluted at times, but the results are sleek, strong and very lightweight.
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Old 02-02-2013, 08:42 PM   #5
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From your location you have two very good Airstream specialist to help you decide and help you with knowing what it will cost.
Out of Doors Mart at exit 208 has a few older units as well as new ones that can allow you see what options you have. They do excellent repair work, if you were to find a unit that needed some upgrades/replacement. I have had lots of work done by them and plan on getting more done.
Capital City Customs in Raleigh by Jordan Lake, can off shelf and rebuild an Airstream from the floor up. They have the tools to fabricate extrusions, woodwork everything. You can go to their site and see the 1970 Airstream that they rebuilt before/after.
These two companies I am very familiar with, but even with them, it is time consuming, costly, but done right as I have had no issues over the last seven years with many upgrade repairs. I have no interest in these companies other than being a consumer/customer and they work for me.
The advantage to the older Airstream are the weight. You can go to the Airstream Company web page and get an idea of weight and length. Our 1972, 31 foot International with all the upgrades and additions still weighs #5400 lbs dry. Today's 31 footer may weigh an additional #1000 to #1500 lbs.
Now you may NOT want a 31 foot due to a required tow vehicle, not based on just weight but length and that will help you decide. We don't worry about the length as most parks can handle this length as it is no longer the 1970's and they have been upgraded. Even when we toured the National Parks out West, very few if any were we turned away due to the length of the Unit. I think Glacier was the only place due to the length of the Suburban and we made the 22 foot vehicle length to do the "follow the sun road".

Great choices out there and some great contacts close by. The NC RV show will be in Greensboro Feb 15-17, that might be another forum to help you see what can be done and what can be bought.

Good luck!

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Old 02-02-2013, 08:53 PM   #6
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Thanks for that info!! I have researched the restoration folks in Raleigh & we are planning to hit the RV show in Greensboro in a couple of weeks.

We know that we are going to need to go vintage for the weight factor. I'm not necessarily looking to make this a $50k upgrade, but I know the sky is the limit when it comes to custom renovations.
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Old 05-11-2013, 08:17 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by NJtoNC View Post
exactly. i did the same thing. i got my 57 for $900 gutted. it had a hard life...exterior is perfect though. shes still gutted... design is close to original, except will feature a queen bed in the rear instead of a bath in the rear.
i am also interested in buying a gutted airstream, the cheaper the better as long as the outside is mostly intact. any advice for me? im a total novice.
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Old 05-11-2013, 09:30 PM   #8
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Why are vintage airstreams so much lighter compared to new models of same size? Thinner aluminium siding or lighter frames? Are new refrigerator's that much heavier? Just curious.
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Old 05-12-2013, 12:22 AM   #9
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Why are vintage airstreams so much lighter compared to new models of same size? Thinner aluminium siding or lighter frames? Are new refrigerator's that much heavier? Just curious.
Lighter frames, less or no particle board, lighter framing on the cabinetry (the early 70s cabinets have aluminum frames), simpler interiors, fewer bells and whistles (TVs, appliances). It all adds up. Plus the older ones are 6" narrower than the new ones.
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Old 05-12-2013, 11:27 AM   #10
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If gutted = cheaper, by all means. Gutting an airstream only takes a few days, less if your not preserving the parts and pieces. Figure on floor replacement, axles and some frame work. A dent/scratch free exterior would be the driving factor for me. Of course, if you found one that didn't need a floor, that would be huge too. But I'd have to drop the pan before I believed it.
Good luck!
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Old 05-15-2013, 11:58 PM   #11
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Here's a candidate.

Airstream Trailer - 1970 Safari 24 ft.
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Old 05-16-2013, 08:15 PM   #12
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A bit of an update since I'm the one that started this thread....we bought a '57 Overlander a couple of weeks ago. It had been sitting in a field for a couple of decades and now we begin the gutting phase. We are trying to preserve everything, so it's a bit slow....if only to use as templates, so we're trying to be careful. But make no mistakes, this puppy is gonna be modern when we get finished. Whenever that may be.
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Old 05-16-2013, 08:27 PM   #13
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Nice! 11 panel? Pics?
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Old 05-16-2013, 08:36 PM   #14
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@Danruehl--13 panel!! Here she sits at my parents barn:
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