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Old 04-21-2015, 12:07 PM   #1
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Short Coming of 1968-1971 30'

I'm looking at few trailers in the 1968-1971 era. I do not have time to do a restore. I just want to find an Airstream that is generally in good condition. Wouldn't mind swapping out an oven, AC, or refridgerator.

With that said, what short comming do trailers of this vintage have? Not looking for advice on components that are broken but feartures of the trailer that are just poorly designed.
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Old 04-21-2015, 12:56 PM   #2
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same as every year vintage Airstream. Frame rust from leaks is possible, systems may not work. You should learn what to look for from searching here and find the best trailer you can afford.
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Old 04-21-2015, 01:14 PM   #3
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There are no gray water tanks on any pre 1973 Airstreams.
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Old 04-21-2015, 03:02 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wycolo View Post
I'm looking at few trailers in the 1968-1971 era. I do not have time to do a restore. I just want to find an Airstream that is generally in good condition. Wouldn't mind swapping out an oven, AC, or refridgerator.

With that said, what short comming do trailers of this vintage have? Not looking for advice on components that are broken but feartures of the trailer that are just poorly designed.
Any trailer of this age will need new axles unless they have already been replaced.

No greywater tank in this era which means you will have to either: 1) install one, 2) use a portable tank, or 3) stay only in campgrounds with full hookups

Longer trailers may have problems with rear end separation although this is most commonly considered a problem with early 1970s production

Plastic bathroom components from this era may shrink, crack, and yellow. Parts are no longer available so either you have to live with what you get, repair the plastic, or tear it all out and redesign it
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Old 04-21-2015, 04:18 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wycolo View Post
I'm looking at few trailers in the 1968-1971 era. I do not have time to do a restore. I just want to find an Airstream that is generally in good condition. Wouldn't mind swapping out an oven, AC, or refridgerator.

With that said, what short comming do trailers of this vintage have? Not looking for advice on components that are broken but feartures of the trailer that are just poorly designed.
Dear Wycolo: You've done yourself a true service by stating your goals honestly. You need "real world" advice based on what you want:
  • do not have time to restore
  • looking at 1968-1971 era
  • want "generally in good condition"

Now the honesty. 1971 was 44 years ago. I looked a lot better 44 years ago than I do now. A 44 year old Airstream in "generally good condition" is expecting a lot. The biggest problem is that most 44 - 47 year old Airstreams will have had more than 2 previous owners (PO's). Owners who don't know what they are doing or who are financially/physically unable to keep up with regular maintenance can rapidly change an older Airstream into a candidate for a full monte. Most are not vaguely in good condition.

So finding one that has stayed in the same family and been meticulously cared for or has been lovingly and carefully restored is actually what you NEED. The best advice I can give you is start looking with members at the Airstream Only Park in Georgia and look for WBCCI restoration rallies. Barn finds will be restorable, not restored.

Other than that, know why an older unit is for sale. Melody Ranch may need to thin the herd, another owner may have a disabled husband and they've decided to switch to an Interstate and limit their travels to 2-3 days instead of 2 week jaunts.

Avoid anything that has sat out in the weather for years.

Size does matter - especially due to rear end separation issues, and if a gray tank hasn't been added you may even be banned from camping anywhere that dump facilities aren't readily available. You might find a really good candidate tomorrow, but it may take a year or two to get something with those parameters.

What IS readily available? 2-6 year old models in good shape.

I do wish you luck, but do look at the rally list, do find out where your closest WBCCI unit is located. Try to find Airsteam only parks, etc. Meet people who HAVE them... because they know others who also own Airstreams.

Last - consider vintage kin. I'm getting an Avion, then there are Silver Streaks and several other well made aluminum riveted trailers.

Happy hunting.
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Old 04-22-2015, 01:29 PM   #6
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I have a 1969 23' Safari. Our model is a single axle trailer. My family has owned the trailer since it was new and it is all original inside and out beyond having recovered the seat cushions and new curtains but that is all it has needed from an interior surfaces perspective. What wears out are the mechanical items like water pump, A/C, furnace, battery, water heater, toilet, etc.. We changed out the original copper water supply for PEC. Interior components can be kept original and rebuilt. If it has a tub in the lav definitely check it for cracks or leaks as I've heard of people putting heavy items in the tub and towing it which can cause cracks and leaks - not an easy fix. And yes, check the bearings and the axle(s) before towing it. Our trailer was purchased in New Mexico and has been stored covered in a dry climate all its life and is now in Colorado.

From a design perspective everything works great. Even the latches for the cabinets still work and the exhaust fans for the lav and above the dinette work great. I have left the original TV antennae on it even though we no longer use it. Airstream built these trailers to last for decades if they are cared for and maintained and to be used in all conditions and climates. The interior is functional and the storage space available is cleverly and thoughtfully designed and plentiful. The 1969 model year was when they switched over to the smoother front cap and the curved windows on the sides. This trailer was built in California but I don't think it makes it different than the Ohio products.

It is an inconvenience to not have a grey water tank. I had forgotten this the first time we took it out and was wondering where the water was coming from in the back when we parked in a space without sewer hook up and someone was using one of the sinks. Sure enough upon inspection there is a drainage pipe coming in behind the blank tank valve (by the way that valve had to be replaced also - the old one had dried out and was not sealing). So we have to be sure we have full hookups where we go. Not a big deal for us. But it would be if you like to dry camp in which case you just need a blue boy portable tank. It's a personal decision but for me but I do not plan for the addition of a grey water tank because of the significant work and disruption to the underside of the trailer and the associated cost for labor.

It's all personal preference. The layout of the inside will be good for some people's preference and not for others. Definitely have a qualified mechanic who has first hand experience and knowledge of Airstreams do an inspection. When I brought the family trailer to Colorado for us to use I made a list with three categories - 1) safety (the old trailers didn't have smoke detectors nor Co2 - definitely add them) hitch and frame integrity (rust is the enemy), break away brake activator (was frozen and needed to be replaced), LP Gas system integrity (needed to be replaced at the tanks), furnace operation, electrical, axle & bearings, tow vehicle connector (electric), hitch system integrity. 2) Mechanical - items that would not really impact towing safety but are needed to realistically live in and use the trailer like water system integrity, electrical outlets and lights, A/C, Refrigerator, water heater, electrical shore cord & connector, lav operation, water and black tank integrity, battery & charging system. Then I have a list of what I call 3) cosmetic items on exterior finish, missing or popped rivets, seam sealing, etc. which we are working through one at a time during our short summer season. I have also added a camera on the back of the trailer so I can make lane changes with confidence. Bottom line - in the first 14 weeks of this year we've been well over 5,000 miles with this trailer and have not had a single issues that compromised safety. Sure we had problems that popped up and needed to be fixed on the road but that will be the case with any RV regardless of age.
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Old 04-22-2015, 02:50 PM   #7
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1969 23' Safari
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1964 24' Tradewind
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I'm with kdickinson, a lot of great info up there in that thread...I have a 69 Safari that I have been restoring for sale, Really good solid trailers but with lack of maintenance slow minor leaks turn into big problems, a 1/8 inch gap in your seam exterior sealant or a single leaky rivet can let a lot of water in and kill a floor quickly and its a bugger to replace a floor in an airstream. Same goes with failed seals and gaskets. You want to find a trailer that has been family owned and USED and maintained regularly, a trailer left sitting without use is the worst possible kind it means minor issues that go un-repaired can turn in to big problems

As for the years you have listed 69 was the last year of real wood interiors after that they went to luan board with a kind of MacTac vinyl wood grain applied to it. In my opinion it's easier to fix a real wood interior than it is to attempt to match an old vinyl one if a wall is damaged, unless you are a SignLady with a digital printer that is :-)

Also if you have bathroom floor rot in those years you will need to remove all the 45 year old ABS plastic interior for repair...it's pretty brittle after that many years...go cautiously

and if you do happen to find a 69, a tip I just recently learned for mine is that if you open the back bumper hatch you can actually use a mirror to see the condition of the subfloor under the bathroom fixtures. That tip will work with other years as well as my '72 Argosy has the same rear bumper access panel. Prod all the perimeter of the trailer wherever you can access the floor boards with an awl or small screwdriver to look for hidden rot

I think its the years 68,69 & 70...those years have curved corning glass windows. Hard to find replacements for, so pass on trailers with broken windows unless you have a source for a donor windows first. On the plus side the frame structure of those windows are awesome. I've had all my window latches off for about a month for glass beading and a repaint and no water has come in. Pretty amazed really...guess I should put them back on one day ;-)
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Old 04-23-2015, 04:15 PM   #8
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Vintage Trailer has the new curved windows. We replaced three of ours on our 1967.
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Old 04-23-2015, 05:05 PM   #9
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I think the 69 was the 70's body style. Whatever has real wood in it rather than plastic coated junk would be better to restore if you are wanting to restore it back close to original. A 70's trailer would be fine if you plan to gut and start over. It would be a very rate find if any of these trailers were camp ready.

Perry
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Old 04-24-2015, 01:31 AM   #10
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1969 23' Safari
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It would be a very rate find if any of these trailers were camp ready.

Perry
he, he....Mine's almost camp ready as long as you have a flatbed tow truck. New axles and tire are in the driveway. YAY!!!!
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