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Old 06-10-2013, 01:55 PM   #1
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Maybe if I write it in English

So, I posted a question from my husband and I got...crickets. So now I will post it in English to see if I get any bites (his original question is below).

1) anyone in the Bay Area who would like to help us look at a trailer to see if the structural problems my husband notes below are something for us to worry about? (I've already contacted the local person on the inspector list but haven't heard back, so I thought I could cast a wider net)

2) does anyone read what he wrote below and feel like we should put the halt on our purchase of this in lieu of getting anyone to look at this for us?

I'm sorry I don't have photos of what he is talking about.

Thank you!!!


During a visual inspection of a 1991 Airstream Excella 29', the following discrepancies were noted:
1.) Forward Interior Endcap, separation centerline overhead
2.) Aft Interior Endcap, separation centerline overhead
3.) Exterior Aluminum, minor buckling starboard aft corner about 6" above frame. Buckling consists of two downward-curved arcs the first approximately 10" and second about 4".
4.) Exterior Aluminum, crack in aluminum port side hot water heater access. Crack runs vertical approx. 5" from forward upper corner of heater access door. There is also visible damage to the access door itself.
5.) Floor Rot, minor sponging just after of athwart ships starboard side in vicinity of starboard wheel well.

Anyone of these alone might not be an issue but in conjunction they could be indicative of a larger structural issue. I believe the trailer is structurally sound but may have experienced some impact above tolerance that yielded the damage. There are most likely some fatigue issues involved, which is to say that this trailer might have had a few years taken off of its life, but will be more than stable for the next two years while we plan on owning it.

The items observed I pieced together a couple days after first seeing the trailer, so there may be more damage I have missed. I'll be looking closer next time I see it. We would be interested in any advice on more significant signs of structural damage and to see if someone would like to join us for an on site inspection in San Jose prior to closing the sale.
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Old 06-10-2013, 02:06 PM   #2
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I am sure some of the engineers on the forum would have a better explanation, but my layman's understanding with structural issues on these rigs is that external clues are usually pointing to deeper problems. As such, I would be very cautious as belly pan removal and/or interior disassembly might be required to see or identify the full extent of any damage. Note that my experience has been limited to older ( and smaller ) Airstreams and SOB's.
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Old 06-10-2013, 02:36 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rsknuts View Post

During a visual inspection of a 1991 Airstream Excella 29', the following discrepancies were noted:
1.) Forward Interior Endcap, separation centerline overhead
The interior sheet metal is pulling loose at the front end of the trailer near the center of the ceiling.
2.) Aft Interior Endcap, separation centerline overhead
The interior sheet metal is pulling loose at the rear end of the trailer near the center of the ceiling.
3.) Exterior Aluminum, minor buckling starboard aft corner about 6" above frame. Buckling consists of two downward-curved arcs the first approximately 10" and second about 4".
The exterior skin of the trailer is bent/warped on the right rear corner in two places, arching downward in two different places about 10" and 4" in measured.
4.) Exterior Aluminum, crack in aluminum port side hot water heater access. Crack runs vertical approx. 5" from forward upper corner of heater access door. There is also visible damage to the access door itself.
The exterior skin of the trailer is cracked at the opening to the water heater toward the front of the trailer. The access door to the water heater is damaged too.
5.) Floor Rot, minor sponging just after of athwart ships starboard side in vicinity of starboard wheel well.
There is floor rot and minor sponging, meaning the trailer is and has been leaking, across the rear of the trailer just behind the right wheel well.

In summary this means:
  1. The shell of the trailer (both aluminum skins interior and exterior) is or has been experiencing some stress. The buckling and cracking skin means the frame (usually toward the rear) is bending downward over the axels. This could be from overloading, hitting bumps really hard, frame deterioration, rear/front separation, or other cause that you must determine and repair as needed.
  2. There are water leaks that will need to be identified and repaired.
  3. After the above two issues are repaired, the plywood floor structure will need to be replaced or repaired.
  4. To access all of these problems some of the interior finishes will have to be removed and replaced.
These are not easily and/or cheaply repaired. My advice would be to run and do not look back, unless you want a project.
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Old 06-10-2013, 03:50 PM   #4
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Not ignoring you guys. I am not in the area you need an inspector. Sorry about the "crickets"....
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Old 06-10-2013, 05:47 PM   #5
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While the following information usually pertains to "vintage" trailers:

Price vs Condition

I believe you will find it helpful in assessing the real condition of the one you're looking at. Depending on the price, ie. "well below average" IMO, I would keep looking.

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Old 06-10-2013, 05:56 PM   #6
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When you're looking for a volunteer inspector, I think your percentage will be better if you look at the list (accessed from the right-hand column of the Portal page, put in your state and the sort of inspector you need) and then send PMs to the most-likely candidates on the list. That way you're not relying on someone in the right area to read a regular thread that may not be a topic that interests them, or they may just miss it because it's not "fresh" and high in the list when they browse through.

If you send them a PM they get notified at least when they log in to AIRForums. If they're big nerds like me, a PM send them an email notification that they'll get when they're not on the Forums.
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Old 06-10-2013, 06:01 PM   #7
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Does the rear bumper area have evidence of "something" being mounted there? Like empty holes, marks on the frame, rivets in odd places?
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Old 06-10-2013, 09:48 PM   #8
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DKB, yes I got a hold of an inspector who can help me, thank you!

Overlander63, not from what we could see.

Thanks for the help everyone...this is such a great group.
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Old 06-10-2013, 09:56 PM   #9
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Just a thought in case there is another case like this one:

take lots of photos and post them. A picture is worth...
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Old 06-10-2013, 11:27 PM   #10
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My Granny always said that opinions are like armpits, everybodys got a couple and most of 'em stink. But since you ask, I'll give you mine. From the sound of it, the unit may well have a bent frame and you will be plagued with it forever. To use as a travle trailer, I wouldn't touch it at any price as the constant leaks and road wear will kill ya. OTOH, if you are going to set it in a permament spot, on a concrete slab, with a huge metal car cover over it to keep the elements at bay, at the right price, it would be a treasure. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 06-11-2013, 08:55 AM   #11
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The question is, how much are you paying for it, and what are you going to use it for? If it is really cheap, and you intend to park it and not move it, then these issues may be non-issues. If you intend to use it as a camper and tow it down the road, I would not spend another minute looking at it. Cracks and buckling in the skin are scary symptoms of much bigger problems (frame and overall structure). If you only intend to own the camper for a couple of years, then you want one that you won't be spending all your time repairing.

good luck.
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