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Old 10-17-2008, 04:34 AM   #15
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1973 Argosy 26
Norristown , Pennsylvania
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Originally Posted by Woody.303 View Post
I just read thru the sticky "Vintage Trailers: What can we agree on?".

This brought up a series of questions that I would like to ask the masses of Airstream owners, and especially those that have done major repairs themselves.

What year/s had the least amount of major and/or minor component failures?
What year/s are now the most desirable for restoration?
What year/s are known to be the easiest to work on?
What year/s were known for the best corrosion protection, in terms of both rust and aluminum oxidization?
What year/s were the trailers known for being "well built"?

And lastly, if you had to do it all over again, what year Airstream would you buy?

Hi woody; Our forums contains immense ammount of information in which you can immerse yourself for ever. Secondly, there may be as many different opinions, as there are posts. Replies made in reference to the quality of aluminum itself are accurate however, much of it will depend on where in US the trailer spent most of it's life. It also depends on how it was cared for, maintained and stored. How many times was the trailer in Alaska or any other bad roads. Before you zero in on any particular model or a year, be sure that you do not hinge your life on getting exactly what you want, unless you are willing to pay the piper. I think that you should first decide what size trailer will be comfortable for you. What interior layout appeals to you. What amenities you cannot do without. Once you make those decisions first which require looking at many many trailers, you can begin to size your pocketbook to your taste. From here on, be prepared for some or many disappointments, because the deals may not always go your way. If you allow yourself to be discouraged by it, things may even turn for worse.

It took us over three years to find what we wanted and when we did, the condition of the hidden parts of the trailer [such as frame] nearly broke my spirit. There was few facts on my part which allowed us to be able to camp comfortably. One I own a boat business with fabricating capabilities. I have hands on knowledge in engineering and fabricating including welding. Have best welding equipment and a shop to do anything. As a rule I have never been known to give up on any project, because any challenge has a way to drive me to no end. But I must admit that the strongest push I got was the love for my wife Margaret Kay. There was no way that I would allow myself to give up or do something half fast. To me, she deserves the best. For that reason the huge project of total remodel including building a new Stainless Steel frame became fun, instead of painful experience. As any other labor of love which usually always produces the ultimate results. Please do not be misled that I have a perfectly finished trailer, because that is not the case. At the end of my two year restoration period, I was forced to cut some corners in order to be able to take my wife camping. Perhaps I will never be done tinkering with it, changing, improving and modifying, and I know that for a fact. Airstreams are not just for camping, it becomes your second love from which it is impossible to shake loose from, because they are not capable of breaking your heart. Wallet yes, but not your heart. Until you own one for few years, you will not understand it.

I wish you plenty of luck in finding your dream trailer, be strong and persistent and you will be happy some day as I am. Thanks "Boatdoc"

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Old 10-18-2008, 09:10 PM   #16
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Cincinnati , Ohio
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All y'all,

Thanks for the many replies, the humor and the help.

I guess I was just feeling a bit down. I really do like my trailer, it fits me nicely. I'm starting to feel at home in it. I was just bothered when I discovered the many problems with it. A bit of naivety on my part allowed me to purchase this trailer without having a professional look at it.

I've discovered that I have a sagging frame with a small amount of frame separation. I haven't yet removed any of the belly pan material to figure out the extent of the damage, and I'm quite afraid of what I might find when I do.

This was quite discouraging news, and prompted me to want to look at trading this one in on something with a few less problems.

I'm capable of fixing this frame, and I'm willing to do so. However, there are a couple of problems.

Problem #1
I'm leaving for Kansas in a couple weeks, and will be needing the trailer out there with me to stay in. I won't be home for at least 15 months, and will be full-timing in the trailer while I'm gone.

Problem #2
I can't necessarily afford to buy an additional trailer. (I suppose I could if I absolutely had to, but it would really tighten the budget a bit more than I'm comfortable with.)

Problem #3
Because I am capable of doing this job myself, I will have a hard time reaching into my pocket to pay someone else to do it. I'm also a perfectionist, and want things done right. Usually this means that I have to do it myself.

I'm in construction, and use the trailer while on a job out of town. (My per diem is quite small, and I bought this trailer to avoid the outrageous prices of hotels.) Quite often jobs can last for a year or more. And as such, I'm not home very much. Because I'm basically "living" in this trailer, I need lots of wardrobe space. (Winter clothes take up lots of room.) I am also accustomed to living in a large house, and prefer having as much space as is possible. Hence, I purchased a 31 footer. I also need a bit of room for a printer and a few other office necessities. My modified diesel truck is capable of pulling much more than what I have now. I could realistically pull 15,000 lbs. without much problem. I live alone, but am considering getting a cat. (I like dogs too, but cats can be left alone for 12-16 hours if necessary.)

1. I'm going to need to hire the services of a frame straightening shop/welder.
2. This is probably going to cost me about $2500 to $4000.
3. A piece of c-channel will have to be welded to the inside or outside of the existing main frame member. And the appropriate cross-members shortened, and re-welded in place.
4. The black tank and fresh water tank will have to be removed. Which, in turn, means the toilet and DWV plumbing has to be disconnected.
5. I have a rear bath layout, so the weight of the bathroom/black tank contributed to this problem.

Question #1
What is the feasibility of holding off on these repairs for a year or so? (Assuming the frame isn't rusted too badly.)

Question #2
Does a sagging frame usually require a shell off resto? Does the plywood sub-floor have to be removed?

Question #3
Boatdoc, could you get me some specs/photos on the stainless steel frame that you used? Or a link on these forums? This has me intrigued.

Question #4
Is it feasible to sister on a piece of c-channel to only the rear portion of the main frame?

Question #5
What weight beam should I use? What weight beam is the original?

Thanks to all,


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Old 10-18-2008, 10:56 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Woody.303 View Post
All y'all,

Thanks for the many replies, the humor and the help.

My modified diesel truck is capable of pulling much more than what I have now. I could realistically pull 15,000 lbs. without much problem. I live alone, but am considering getting a cat. (I like dogs too, but cats can be left alone for 12-16 hours if necessary.)
Hi, only 15,000 lbs? I think the 12lb cat will be the deal breaker.

2005 Safari 25-B
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Old 10-19-2008, 07:20 AM   #18
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1973 31' Excella 500
Morristown , Tennessee
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Wow, Woody. Glad to hear you are afflicted with the aluminium disease but sorry to hear that your box has frame problems. That would have been worth a prepurchase inspection. I have a 31' Excella and agree it is much nicer than my previous 25' Land Yacht. I m now restoring and have it bad for an up-to-date interior with modern appearing materials but would like to limit the weight. Total tear-out, repair and replace. I'm going with Wilsonart laminates and Armstrong vinyl flooring with throw rugs. If plumbing needs repair, I'll use PEX to limit the weight.

Yes, I have it bad and will be using this trailer to go cross country with my family. Good luck.

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Old 10-19-2008, 08:34 AM   #19
1982 27' Excella
1970 23' Safari
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The great thing about vintage Airstreams is they are all built the same way except for size. I like the 27 ft. Excella I have now, I do upgrades as I get the time and money. I don't know if you ever get finished with one as with a house things always seem to pop up. I think the wife and I like working on it almost as much as camping in it.
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Old 10-19-2008, 02:59 PM   #20
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Norristown , Pennsylvania
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Hi Woody; Sorry for not replying sooner, but we just got back from camping at Prince Galitzin Park, north of Altoona Pa. First off, you should tie yourself to a whipping post and get a good whipping for not getting one of inspectors from the forums. Putting jokes aside however, without knowing the details pertaining the condition of your trailer, I as anyone else, would hesitate to send you on the road with it. Second possibility is to have the trailer delivered to your work site on a flatbed trailer properly supported. At the site you can level it and prop it up so that you can use it for required period. When you done bring it home and we will ask you to see some pics first, and possibly recommend how to go about repairs. If you wish to check out my frame, find posts titled "Quest for Stainless Steel frame" If you have any more questions PM me. Thanks "Boatdoc"
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Old 10-22-2008, 08:35 PM   #21
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I just got thru reading the entirety of your post "The search for stainless steel frame".

I am in awe..........

I'm still thinking about using regular steel for my repairs, simply because I don't want to take two years to do a shell off resto. That would definitely require the purchase of an additional Airstream.

This does beg the question as to why Airstream didn't use stainless from the factory.


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Old 10-24-2008, 05:26 PM   #22
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Man, I gotta throw my 2 cents in and say most all of you are right. I would say that any with wood interior have to be the easiest to work on. I always count on something going wrong...hence, what will be easiest to reproduce! Jimmy

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