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Old 10-04-2014, 11:52 PM   #1
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I am about to buy a 1969 Airstream Sovereign ...need advice before purchase

I am extremely new at purchasing a trailer, I would like this to be a fun project. I fell in love with the airstreams and found one that I could defiantly see myself owning. A few concerns the hitch and frame has rust on the outside. Doesn't look like it has made its way through. A lot of vintage airstream pictures seem to have this rust on the hitch. Should I be worried? Or is it an easy fix? Also the metal frame that holds up the step to enter into the airstream does have rust. This has made some holes. That part seems like I can attach a new step and it will be fixed completely. Any advice? Thank you
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Old 10-05-2014, 12:19 AM   #2
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The pictures of the rust on the frame...
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Old 10-05-2014, 08:04 AM   #3
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Is it a rear bath? Can you weld, and can you do a shell off restoration, and have a place to do it? The rust under the step is a indicator of what is going on with the frame above the belly pan. Looks like a project. Will need a new set of axles if they have not been replaced in the last 20 years. How is the floor, any rot or patches? Good luck-Rolland


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Old 10-05-2014, 03:56 PM   #4
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1966 24' Tradewind
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I'm surprised by the rust under the step. This is an indicator of more rust damage in the frame. Maybe the trailer sat outside in a wet environment, say Oregon. Does the trailer smell musty, moldy? I'm not impressed with the miss mash propane bottle arrangement either.

I suspect this trailer is a BIG project to make travel worthy again. Take a look at Red's thread "How I spent $30K on a $2k trailer. These old Airstreams are fun projects as long as you know what you are getting into.

David
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Old 10-05-2014, 07:25 PM   #5
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The trailer does not have a smell. Or at least a distinctive rusty smell. The floor looks great gently used. I am not sure if the axles have been replaced I will inquire with the AS current owners. The bathroom is the biggest project I currently see. To be honest I am not sure of what I am doing, however I do have people that are willing to help. If I purchase it I will have to travel from south Texas to central New Mexico. The owners say that they have traveled with it but not this distance.
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Old 10-05-2014, 07:31 PM   #6
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Rolland that was not the rear bath however, I checked underneath the body and there was no apparent rust so I don't think there was a leak. The rust is only on the frame.... That I can see
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Old 10-05-2014, 07:41 PM   #7
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I would recommend one in better shape unless this one is super cheap. You may end up rebuilding the whole frame.
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Old 10-05-2014, 09:32 PM   #8
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What most of us that have worked on these trailers see that you may not, is that when there is such obvious rust on the parts of the frame that are visible, its probably a lot worse on the parts hidden by the belly pan metal. I doubt you can yet comprehend the amount of work that is necessary to rebuild one of these rigs, especially if you have to do significant work on a rusted out frame and or rotted out floor.

Spend the money up front and get a rig that is much newer and or has been refurbished to a good usable condition. It will be cheaper in the long run. This one is a money pit and by your own admission you dont have much or any practical experience to tackle it yourself.

Sorry if that sounds hash, but that is how I see it.
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Old 10-05-2014, 11:36 PM   #9
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1979 30' Argosy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Basilou View Post
Attachment 223625Attachment 223626Attachment 223627

The pictures of the rust on the frame...
We all have different skill levels and monetary resources. I am sure almost everyone would prefer to find one that has been stored in a barn in AZ for 30 yrs but that's not likely to occur. I say look it over carefully and buy it if you think you can and want to handle the needed repairs. You will learn soon enough. But try not to get discouraged and give up before you get started. The worst is you will gain a ton of experience so if you can buy without exceeding the cost of a good education, go for it. FWIW
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Old 10-06-2014, 07:45 AM   #10
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Thank you for all your advice
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Old 10-06-2014, 08:08 AM   #11
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That area where you show the rust is very common. In my 66 there was rust around the door area too, and under the refrig vent. But that was all. I found no other frame rust, and only a small area of floor rot. I have had two 31 footers and neither of them had significant rust anywhere. No axles have been replaced. The thing still rolls if the bearings are good, it just won't ride as softly as we all might like.
I would go slow, and examine the floor all the way around with a sharp tool checking for damage. Pay special attention to the bathroom area, opening all outside hatches and looking inside. This may be easier to fix and restore than others are alluding to.
Realize that not everyone on this Forum is qualified to appraise a trailer from a few photos.In fact few are.
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Old 10-06-2014, 09:29 AM   #12
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Basilou, You need to do "The Airstream Dance" on the back bumper. Stand in the middle of the rear bumper and begin flexing your legs to get the trailer to bounce. Pretend your on a diving board. Sing "Up Up and Away" loudly. Watch the interface between the rear body and the frame rails. If you see a gap forming, then you know the rear body attachment steel has rusted away. This is called "rear end separation". It is not uncommon on older Airstreams.

Rear end separation devalues the trailer significantly, like well below $5000. Good frame repair can cost well above $5000 if done by a shop.

It is very easy to spend $10,000 getting an old Airstream travel worthy again just in parts. Axles, tires, floor patching, furnace, water heater, plumbing, converter, air conditioner, fridge, toilet, etc, etc. And then comes the decorating. Review the Classifieds for one that has been renovated and see which one would be the better value.

Trying to help you appraise the value of this old Sovereign.

David
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Old 10-06-2014, 04:54 PM   #13
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Everyone thank you this has helped tremendously, I am defiantly getting a professional out to check the damage of the AS this week.
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Old 10-09-2014, 09:43 PM   #14
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I'm a newbie buyer, i had the trailer "inspected" but even though he was unable to check certain things , i let my emotions take over .. I wouldn't say a complete blunder but should probably have walked and taken my time comparing and really doing some pre buying homework. I probably overpaid by a thousand or so ..
My advice is to create a spread sheet and list every single repair cost. list everything from floor rot, axles, tires, water heater, furnace, fridge, electrical stuff... lets face it, most components pre 1980's will need to be replaced. show this to the seller ... take it or leave it. My biggest lesson, sad to say but never trust a seller ... not everyone has the same morals when it comes to honesty and disclosing faults with a trailer.
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