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Old 01-04-2009, 08:16 PM   #1
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Thinking of fully restoring an AIRSTREAM .. request help in estimating the work/cost.

Hello! I am a US Marine living in Eastern North Carolina, and I am considering buying/renovating an Airstream to live in while I take a job in Virginia for a year and leave my family here for continuity for schools, etc. I have been on ebay and other sights quite a bit. Have found a fairly functional 1974 Land Yacht Safari for 8k that needs only a new water heater and is fairly original. I have also found what appears to be a Trade Wind 1961 for $1200 which is in pretty humble shape on the inside, but appears to have a decent shell. I am fine with the woodwork, as that is my true passion, but I dont' know what to expect in cost for a new fridge, water heater, furnace, etc. I suspect the floor on this one is rotton, i could see in some of the pocket doors that it was old. The serial number was 243 "DL" or GL" (I think), and followed by 61. Looking for any advice anyone is willing to share. I have a decent feel for the sale of the trailers from following on ebay for several months now. Thanks for the help!

Brett
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Old 01-04-2009, 08:31 PM   #2
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Brett,

Thanks for the job you do. If I lived closer, I would come right over and inspect the craft with you. I am renovating my 1973 and find that I have a bad case of "Why not itis". There are lot of folks on the forum who may be happy to take a look at the trailer with you. If you just plan to sleep in it, it's a lot simpler than a restoration. It would be a good start to make sure it is dried in, the electric works and can be locked.

Most of the people here are a little more fanatic about their rides. Just read some of the threads and take a look at the pictures. I am hoping to complete my rolling palace by next summer. Like most others here, I am sure that there will be some bragging involved and some pride of ownership. If you get close to east Tennessee, just contact me and I am at your service until the job is done.
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Old 01-04-2009, 09:23 PM   #3
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Take a look on the classifieds at a 73Argosy in Greenville, SC. I think the name on it is AForrester. IMHO it looks like it has great possibilities, is near to NC and may not require a lot of work. Trust me when you start replacing the floor you find 100 other things that also need to be done which leads to "while I'm at it" becomes very time consuming and expensive. Remember this is just my opinion you know what you want. By the way, thank you for serving our country.

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Old 01-04-2009, 09:39 PM   #4
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From one vet to another, welcome and Semper Fi.

Your plan is a good one, and it seems that many people are deciding to do this as of late. I would be very cautious of the $8000 unit that only needs a new water heater. All of these trailers leak due to overlapping panels and thousands of rivet holes. I guarantee that there is water damage to your floor somewhere. The frame is likely in need of repair and strengthening as well. I know that it can take quite some time and money to rehab these old trailers (Some say to take your estimate, and triple it). Another thing to consider is how much time you have on your hands. As an NCO, I am constantly busy with not only work and PT, but additional duties, CQ, giving classes, etc. Will you have the time to work on it with a military schedule. Another thing to consider is space. Do you live on base? If so you will likely not be able to have the trailer in your drive to work on it, and will have to keep it in base storage (Not sure about your location, but all bases are different). If you own a home off base, then you are better off. How is your tool collection? You will need them all, and some new ones for metal working/riveting in the future of your remodel.

By all means I am not trying to deter you. Everyone on this forum would LOVE to see another old gal get back on the road. I just want you to know what I experienced in my first several vintage airstream purchases (Rotted floor, rotted frame, leaks like a sieve, etc). If at all possible, have an experienced forum member look the unit over with you since they likely know the problem areas and what to look for.

Again....not trying to deter you, but would like you to have as much info as possible in your pursuit of aluminum.

Steve
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Old 01-04-2009, 09:49 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brettbourne View Post
Hello! I am a US Marine living in Eastern North Carolina, and I am considering buying/renovating an Airstream to live in while I take a job in Virginia for a year and leave my family here for continuity for schools, etc. I have been on ebay and other sights quite a bit. Have found a fairly functional 1974 Land Yacht Safari for 8k that needs only a new water heater and is fairly original. I have also found what appears to be a Trade Wind 1961 for $1200 which is in pretty humble shape on the inside, but appears to have a decent shell. I am fine with the woodwork, as that is my true passion, but I dont' know what to expect in cost for a new fridge, water heater, furnace, etc. I suspect the floor on this one is rotton, i could see in some of the pocket doors that it was old. The serial number was 243 "DL" or GL" (I think), and followed by 61. Looking for any advice anyone is willing to share. I have a decent feel for the sale of the trailers from following on ebay for several months now. Thanks for the help!

Brett
Contrary advice - you're going to be separated from your family... which means a lot of traveling weekends to keep the bonds together. You'll also have some additional expenses maintaining 2 households - even if one is a trailer. Does a time-consuming, money-consuming restoration make sense at THIS time? And depending on where you stay in VA, campgrounds vary from expensive to more expensive.

I fulltime and save a lot compared to having a house -or even a big apartment. However for 1 year separation, if I wanted an Airstream rather than a SOB, I'd look for something ready to live in, and fairly big so that the family can visit during school breaks. At least consider a 28 footer or bigger that is mid 1990's or newer. Surprisingly they are often less expensive than smaller ones. And after a year you could sell it for the "perfect" A/S... or remodel it and have a family vacation home on wheels. The newer the unit, the less likely there will be poorly done "repairs" that have caused further damage.

Ask for a volunteer inspector to look at whatever you are interested in, though! You can't afford any hidden disasters in your situation.

This year has been hell for the RV dealers - and every campground I've visited has oodles of bigger used SOB's (square old boxes) for sale. It is a buyers market so you do a great deal now.

All new appliances will cost $2500 - $3500. Redoing the frame and floor - TIME as much as money, but again several thousand is possible... plus the axles usually need to be redone on a very vintage unit.

Paula
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Old 01-05-2009, 06:11 AM   #6
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Brett, we are in Newport not far from where you are, we bought a 65 in November and have done tons of work to it already and there is sooooo much more to be done still. What they said up top is so true. If you spend less on the purchase chances are you will still need to put in thousands more and millions of hours labor. If you plan on still buying, I would suggest buying a ready to roll unit. and get an inspector from here to check it out for you. They do it for free, and it's worth it. We didn't know about this when we bought.
Small jobs end up being much bigger. If you are needing to move soon, I would find something ready to go, fixed up by someone who knows what they are doing. I think there is someone in Charlotte who sells on ebay.
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Old 01-05-2009, 10:00 AM   #7
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Semper Fi Brett,

I'm in the Atlanta area and would be happy to look at the camper with/for you if it's nearby and give you my two cents worth (some would say that's really all it's worth ). There are lots of us around who have done complete remodels and can give some idea of the time and $$$$ involved with a trailer may want.

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Old 01-05-2009, 12:04 PM   #8
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Thumbs up Semper-fi

Brett,
I don't have much experience with re-manufacturing a vintage coach. That said, we did have a "63" Safari for 18 years that had to be restored every Spring. It was very well taken care of by the original owners but it was always the "small" stuff that took the time. This was long before we knew about the great folks here on the forum. Your here now so whatever your decision, it's going to a lot easier.

IMHO..
If I was starting over from scratch I would seriously consider a newer step-in, use right away unit just to get your feet wet.
If you've cruised the forums at all you have noticed how many Streamers just have to have more than one, you will have no control over that emotion.


If I was in your shoes that would be my solution. Spoken as an old VN Vet.
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Old 01-09-2009, 08:42 PM   #9
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Thanks so much for the reply and offer for help. I have continued to research options that are close to us. I would have 6 months to work on a project. I may get stationed abroad again this summer, so I am not positive I am in a position to execute. I very, very much appreciate your help. THanks! Brett
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alumin8 View Post
Brett,

Thanks for the job you do. If I lived closer, I would come right over and inspect the craft with you. I am renovating my 1973 and find that I have a bad case of "Why not itis". There are lot of folks on the forum who may be happy to take a look at the trailer with you. If you just plan to sleep in it, it's a lot simpler than a restoration. It would be a good start to make sure it is dried in, the electric works and can be locked.

Most of the people here are a little more fanatic about their rides. Just read some of the threads and take a look at the pictures. I am hoping to complete my rolling palace by next summer. Like most others here, I am sure that there will be some bragging involved and some pride of ownership. If you get close to east Tennessee, just contact me and I am at your service until the job is done.
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Old 01-13-2009, 02:19 AM   #10
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There is a very nice 72 Land Y in Florida on Ebay right now-not original but boy, did this guy go the whole 9 yards. It is beautiful, IMHO.

eBay Motors: Airstream 1972 Overlander Int'l - Vintage Updated (item 260343911032 end time Jan-15-09 18:00:00 PST)

I'd contact him personally and see if the price was negotiable. He's done the frame and all the hard stuff. Easy to visualize myself in. Thank you for your service! VK
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Old 01-13-2009, 01:11 PM   #11
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How much??

That's easy...jusst think how much to put you in the poor house and then double it. That's when you realize, you're only half done!!!!!

Just a leg pull......

Dan
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Old 01-13-2009, 05:59 PM   #12
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Wow,

Surprised to see Sneakin up selling his baby. Before I bought my first airstream I covered his site from beginning to end. He has truly done a MAGNIFICENT job, and his trailer is absolutely ready to go right now. The price at buy it now is likely better than what you will find for a restored trailer from any year.

Steve
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Old 01-13-2009, 11:28 PM   #13
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I'm so glad you agree on the Overlander(sorry thought it was a Land Y) It is so impressive what he did and the attention to detail; a joy to see! VK
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Old 01-14-2009, 07:31 PM   #14
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Hello Fellow Class of 91!

Brett,

It's a small world! Check out my blog - I've done what you are planning alot since 98. 98-99 in Quantico out at Lunga and Travel Trailer Village on Rt 234 (Dumfries Road), there at Lejeune from 03-05; both times in our 1985 34'er. In July 05, we sold the 85, and bought a 1958 30'er that I just spent May - Nov back on active duty there in Quantico again, staying for the most part at TT Village..

Go vintage, 69 or before if you ask me - 50s if you can! Check out our blog listed below.

Rob Baker
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