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Old 08-25-2016, 08:41 PM   #1
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1975 27' Overlander
Toronto , Ontario
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Looking for advice on body repairs for 75 Ambassador International

Hi Everyone,

It's my first time joining this forum as I am about to make myself owner of my very first airstream. I came across it by luck and and it's a 29' 1975 Ambassador International Airstream. It has been out on the road for 40 years actively used by the previous owner. Before I make the purchase, I wanted to ask for some advice on things to look out for when buying a vintage airstream as well as a few minor repair questions.

The owner used it last 2 weeks ago and he mentioned it tows well and that the brakes work good too. He's even offered for me to take a seat in his truck and go around the block with the Airstream behind it so I can feel it. Since it has been so actively used over the years, he would prefer we take it to a garage to get it inspected before he formally sells it to me so he knows it is safe for me to use. This alone makes me feel good about this sale other than the fact that he does not seem in a rush to sell.

The condition of the trailer currently is:
  • Stripped on the inside, all that is still there is one toilet ha-ha. It's been mostly used as a change room/prop item on photo/video shoots.
  • Oxidized aluminum on the exterior
  • Wheels with appropriate thread
  • Surface rust on the frame underneath (no flaking as far as I can see when I peeked between the belly pan in several spots from back to front, I know this most often does not mean anything)
  • Body damage, window replacement and odd looking bumper


Concerning me is some of the body damage on the outside. I have posted a few pictures and hope for some feedback on whether this is a doable job to fix up myself (I'm a hobby woodworker as well as fairly handy but I have never worked with aluminum in my life) or do I have to replace the whole side aluminum panel? It looks to have been a pole that he struck down from the door to the rear that caused some scratches, tears in the aluminum and bending of the aluminum pieces. I have attached the pictures.

Another question I have is with regards to the bumper. The owner has moved the AC a while back from the roof towards the back of the airstream, not sure why. The odd thing however is that it looks to me like the bumper and frame extend a little too far out. Has anyone seen this and know what the reason for this is? Also, in the bottom corner you can see that the side belly has been bend and epoxyed. There must be another way to do this so that it looks a little more appealing to the eye ha-ha.

Hopefully you knowledgable folks could help me out.


Thanks in advance for your help!

Bas
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Old 08-25-2016, 09:57 PM   #2
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1974 31' Sovereign
1979 23' Safari
Wayland , New York
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That is one well used and abused trailer. The bumper stick out is normal, room for the drain pipe you see in there plus usually had storage incorporated.

My big concerns would be.
That crease running down the side looks fairly deep and not just a surface scratch. This may have caused damage to the shell ribs as well as their attachment to the c chanel.
The modification to the rear to incorporate that air conditioning.

If he's asking more than a couple grand for it, I'd leave it unless you're a masochist. That thing will take a lot of work!
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Old 08-25-2016, 10:05 PM   #3
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
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Looking for advice on body repairs for 75 Ambassador International

Welcome to the forums!

It is all a matter of price, your budget for the whole project, and how many years you are willing to pour into it. But really, do yourself a big favor and do some serious learning before you rush to buy the first trailer you come across. Most trailers this old are candidates for a total rebuild, and this one is no different.

Good luck!
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Old 08-25-2016, 10:54 PM   #4
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1972 Argosy 20
Snoqualmie , Washington
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Are you willing to dedicate hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to end up with a really cool airstream?
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Old 08-25-2016, 10:57 PM   #5
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1972 Argosy 20
Snoqualmie , Washington
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DryFly View Post
Are you willing to dedicate hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to end up with a really cool airstream?


If not, run! This looks like a huge project
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Old 08-26-2016, 05:26 AM   #6
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1975 27' Overlander
Toronto , Ontario
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Thank you everyone for your advice on this one, it has been an eye opener. It definitely sounds a little concerning to me that the body damage along the side has very likely caused some internal damage. The owner is asking $3000(CAD) for it which sounds like a good deal to me? I am definitely ready to take on a project but understand and know that this one is quite the project to take on for a newbie. I do have to admit that this is the kind of trailer that I am looking for so I can have some epic before and after pictures as well as I want my first Airstream to be a test to see if I enjoy doing it. My budget as of now is not very much but I was thinking around 4-5 grand to start with. I would be doing most things myself with the help of a few friends unless an expert is needed. Thanks again everyone for your input on this one.
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Old 08-26-2016, 05:43 AM   #7
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1975 27' Overlander
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Here are a few more pictures!
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Old 08-26-2016, 07:53 AM   #8
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Crease in the side is, indeed, concerning. Budget is way low for this kind of rebuild. He's asking too much!
How is the subfloor?

Kay
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Old 08-26-2016, 08:08 AM   #9
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I just read a thread that was active for 9 years. The subject was on 21' long trailer; the larger trailer are just that much more.

Looks like a frame off job to me. I don't know the $$ for those but it got to take years to fix, and thousands of hours, not to mention the material cost.

You would be money ahead to find a $15,000 trailer and remodeling it.
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Old 08-26-2016, 08:38 AM   #10
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This is a major renovation and even doing the work yourself will be $10 - 20k or more and hundreds of hours labor if you want it right. That might be fun for some but that crease in the side scares the heck out of me. Cool looking camper though but count on everything you do leading to another fix. I had to replace about 5' of subfloor in the back of my unit and the amount of work is overwhelming because I am a perfectionist. Also, the Airstream begs for mechanical aptitude so unless your really handy and have lots of tools be prepared!




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Old 08-26-2016, 08:49 AM   #11
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Get your expectations calibrated, and learn what questions to ask. Start by reading a few of the "Full Monty" threads. This should help you to see what is involved (time, money, effort) in a complete rebuild. You can also buy the old episodes of the Vintage Airstream Podcast (TheVAP.com). The earlier episodes spend a lot of time talking about how the trailers are constructed, how to inspect, repair, etc.. Also, on the Portal page of the forums, you can download the "buyer's inspection checklist." This will help you to thoroughly understand how bad of shape the trailer is in.

None of this is rocket science, in fact many of the complete rebuilds are done by total Airstream virgins. Now, the reason they end up doing a complete rebuild is that their inexperience allowed them to unknowingly buy a wreck in the first place. I am guilty of that one myself, and am now 4 years into a complete rebuild of a 21' trailer that I bought thinking I would change the upholstery and carpet and be on the road in no time at all.

Just be aware that the price of entry of replacement major components for these trailers starts at around $500 and only goes up from there. When you add up what a stove, refrigerator, hot water heater, furnace and airconditioner cost, you might be bumping into your total budget, and you haven't considered any of the other nice-to-haves that you will talk youself into "as long as I am here." These are things like flooring, grey water tanks, replacement toilet and black tank, pex plumbing, and so on.

good luck!
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Old 08-26-2016, 08:59 AM   #12
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1975 27' Overlander
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Thank you all so much for your knowledgeable input and feedback on this, I would have never known that it would take this amount of work and $. As suggested by every single person that has given me their comments, I am going to decline on purchasing this Airstream. Once again, appreciate the comments and helpful links to better guide me in my search for my dream Airstream. I think we can close this thread .

Cheers
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