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Old 06-03-2009, 09:43 AM   #1
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1968 28' Ambassador
Cedaredge , Colorado
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Save money By Buying an older AS

I don't think so. For all of you out there thinking of saving money by buying old and fixing it up, You better have plenty of time and money. I wish I would have found the forums before I bought. I would have known of issues that are costly like axels and rear end sag.

Do I regret getting our trailer, NO.

We new we wanted to remodel it. I just didn't know I would be replacing four sections of rotten floor, new black tank, putting in a grey tank, new fresh tank, replacing the bathroom.

Now I'm not complaining, it's something I like to do.

But the trailer looked a lot better than it was. It's hard to see whats hiding under the carpet, or under the belly pan.

You can see here what I am going though...
So, When buying old, if it looks good, be warned there is always something hidden.


May you have at least one sunny day, and a soft chair to sit in..

2008 5.7 L V8 Sequoia
AIR # 31243
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Old 06-03-2009, 09:48 AM   #2
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1967 26' Overlander
1968 30' Sovereign
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Mosheim , Tennessee
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Jason, These words from you are words from the wise (now wiser). By owning an Airstream trailer you have learned a lot in a short amount of time. The bad thing about purchasing ANY used trailer or tow vehicle may be the things the PO was trying to conceal.

Kevin with Baity the Lab/Pointer
//------AIR # 7303------\\
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Old 06-03-2009, 10:00 AM   #3
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1967 26' Overlander
Upperco , Maryland
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Short-term, it's a financial mess. Long term... I'd like to think our renovated Overlander will be on the road for years after other travel trailers have bit the dust. Cheap, never. A good long-term investment, I'd like to think so.
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Old 06-03-2009, 10:06 AM   #4
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1963 26' Overlander
Austin , Texas
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All Quite True, But...

The only travel trailer I would ever own is an Airstream. I have no interest in the white boxes. Lots of folks like them, and one of my best friends and my RVing mentor has one that works great for him and his family. But personally, I would not have an RV if it were not an Airstream.

So given that, my choices were to buy a new or newISH Airstream, or to buy a used rig and repair it. I can guarantee you I will spend far less on my renovation than I would have on a new Airstream, and for personal, aesthetic reasons, I prefer the vintage rigs from the 50s and early 60s over the Airstreams that are more than 5 or 6 years old but newer than the 50s/60s.

Sure, my renovation will end up costing me as much as a brand-new low-end white box would, but I'll have a brand-new 1963 Airstream when I'm done, and that's a trailer that I can be delighted with owning.

It's all a matter of personal perspective of course, and I don't fault anyone who makes choices that do not match mine. In fact, I celebrate the diversity!

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Old 06-03-2009, 10:27 AM   #5
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2004 25' Safari
. , Illinois
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It's the old, pay now or pay later...either way you go, yer gonna pay. If you pay later (buy a vintage to fix up), you get the honor of building it the way you'd like.
Computers manufactured by companies such as IBM, Compaq and millions of others are by far the most popular with about 70 million machines in use worldwide. Macintosh fans note that cockroaches are far more numerous than humans and that numbers alone do not denote a higher life form. -NY Times 11/91
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Old 06-03-2009, 11:04 AM   #6
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1975 Argosy 24
Malakoff , Texas
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 490
We looked at new ones....they are so household
does not have the income to justify the payments for a new one.
Therefore, it was necessary for me to go in search of the
"rebuildable dream machine". Isn't that what so many of us have done
and why? There is a simple set of questions / guidelines about restorating
anything. It is often the triple-double that gets folks....twice as long, twice
as difficult, and twice the expense. The fact is that some units(trailers)
are NOT worth rebuilding because the starting point is below reason.
Each person must decide based upon the money available. Your conclusion
may be true....but not always true. It may be that you need to take a break
from it for a while.
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Old 06-03-2009, 01:15 PM   #7
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1960 33' Custom
Saskatoon , Saskatchewan
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My 2 Cents.

I'm not interested in white box RV's and I'm not too keen on newer Airstreams either. I really wanted the iconic look of the 60's models but with modern functionality. I knew going in that I'd be replacing nearly everything. (I'm keeping the frame with coupler, bows , ribs, stringers and coupler, the window frames, door and the end caps interior and exterior). So I know it isn't going to be cheap but I do think that for about $27K I should end up with something that will last and looks just right too.

I checked out the new SOB's for $27K at an RV dealer sale just to see what they're like and came away with some design ideas but no desire to buy something so disposable.
1960 Sovereign 33' Pacific Railroad Custom
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Old 06-03-2009, 01:41 PM   #8
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1956 22' Safari
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Conifer/Evergreen , Colorado
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This whole discussion reminds me that it's all a matter of definition of terms, here's mine:
0-3 years = Brand New
3-5 years = New
5-10 = Broken In
10-20 = Old
20-25 = Funky Old
25-40 = Vintage
40+ = Really Vintage
Yes, to buy a trailer that is in the "new" to "broken in" categories you will be saving money and probably not have to invest much over the purchase price for awhile. When you get into the "old" to "funky old" categories alot of things can start to go out - like appliances, axles, etc. but these can be expected and kinda dealt with as they happen. But once you hit the "vintage" and "really vintage" categories, there are most likely going to be major issues that need to be dealt with before the trailer can be used - unless of course, your trailer has had a conscientious previous owner that has either restored or well maintained the trailer before you.

I think if the decision to buy a pre-owned Airstream is based primarily on $$$, the most bang for your buck will come in the "broken in" or "old" categories. The depreciation has taken place and the repairs are not yet unmanageable. And if the trailer is well-maintain by you, some major issues may never have to be done - like floors. Once you get into older trailers - the purchase price goes down but the repair/restoration costs go up. It's kinda a like an upside-down bell curve. Most of the time, for DIY'rs the cost to restore a 25+year old trailer will not reach the cost of "brand new"...but they can pass 10 year olds and come close to 3-5 year problem!

There's lots of options...something for everyone!

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Old 06-03-2009, 01:44 PM   #9
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1994 30' Excella
alexandria , Kentucky
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Yep hindsight is 20/20.
I spent a bundle of $$ and time bringing our trailer up to spec. But I have had one heck of a good time doing it. The only thing I haven't enjoyed is that it took more time than anticipated (I wanted to use the trailer) but I would do it again in a minute. For my next project sometime in the future the trailer must have:
-the basic layout to fit our family
- Overlander or larger trailer
-overall quality of the coach must good - good skin - minimal dents
-rotten floors, drapes, old cushions and appliances don't scare me - most old trailers seem to have some degree of this problem
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Old 06-03-2009, 02:10 PM   #10
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I have to agree

I paid $4 K for my Argosy. I thought that I might get away with an inexpensive cool trailer. Think again. I ended up putting $16 plus K into it. I still need to paint it and buy curtains. I could have had a brand new Airstream. But NO WAY would a new trailer be as cool as mine. I remodeled the interior in a 60s diner style. If I knew then what I knew now, it would be a tough call.
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Old 06-03-2009, 02:59 PM   #11
The handy accountant
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1976 27' Overlander
Scarborough , Ontario
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For the price of a reasonably good new popup trailer, I have 24' of enclosed space and comfort in a hunk of aluminum that's 33 years old. All the major systems are in working order right now, and over time, as things wear out and need replacement, I will develop whatever skills I need to fix it myself (or bite the bullet and pay someone to do it, if it's beyond me). Bottom line is we can camp in it now, and enjoy it now, polish it up, and save up for the day when I get under it and open up the bellypan and find out the floor is supported by thin air.

And it looks really cool sitting in our driveway. I get hours of enjoyment thinking about ways to shave weight from the interior, or pondering building techniques. Since we bought it, I think we've spent about $200 total, on flooring, primer, paint and rivets. The fun per dollar ratio is still very high.

And it looks very cool sitting in the driveway.
Kevin and Leah
Accountants who tow sans regret
"I nostri cuori e le menti appartengono al flusso d'aria"
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Old 06-03-2009, 04:10 PM   #12
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Tipton , Iowa
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There are three basic rules in buying a fixer-upper Airstream. If you follow them, you'll be fine.

1. You have to know what you're really looking at (you have to educate yourself to be able to do this).
2. You have to be realistic about what you can and can't do.
3. You have to buy one that is within your ability and financial wherewithal to repair.

If you don't follow these simple rules, you'll never know what hit you!

AIR 2053 Current: 2006 Born Free 32 RQ Kodiak Chassis, & 1995 Coachmen B-van
Former Airstreams: 1953 Flying Cloud, 1957 Overlander, 1961 Bambi, 1970 Safari Special, 1978 Argosy Minuet, 1985 325 Moho, 1994 Limited 34' Two-door, 1994 B190 "B-Van"
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Old 06-03-2009, 04:56 PM   #13
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1956 22' Caravanner
Malibu , California
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We bought an old airstream fixed her up and she is perrrrrrrrrfect and hubby went and bought a bigger old one. We are now selling our Caravel and she is cute and no issues what so ever. YOU can save lots of money on a good old gal and the new ones also have issues after the warranty runs out. I think you had bad luck. A good idea is to call for a reference on the buyer and to check out who may have done any work on the unit. A wise investment is an older unit just an informed buyer is the smart buyer.
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Old 06-03-2009, 05:02 PM   #14
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1972 31' Sovereign
High Springs , Florida
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I live near an A/S dealer and stop there on occasion, so I know what the new units cost. My vintage 1972 was in really great shape when I bought it. Of course I put thousands into it, but I have nowhere near the cost of a new unit. And, yes I still need to put more into it, this time I need new bedding, and it's getting time for new tires.

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