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Old 12-08-2015, 04:10 PM   #1
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What will this take to repair?

Looking to buy a 72 Airstream ambassador 29'. It has damage on the front, pic is attached. Can someone give me some insight on what it will take to fix? I am assuming a repair shop will charge big money to fix, I have metal work on cars but no riveting skills. do replacement panels generally line up pretty easy? Is replacing a section of the floor pretty tricky? I have some pretty decent carpernty skills.

What would the cost of replacement parts run me? are we looking at 3 panels or 4 to replace?

For some reason the pic is sideways...

thanks
Kass
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Old 12-08-2015, 04:32 PM   #2
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Don't think you are gonna like the answer. Probably been totalled by someone's insurance company...
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Old 12-08-2015, 04:36 PM   #3
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Welcome to the Forums!

You are looking at two damaged formed "segments." The cost to buy new segments will be about $500 apiece part+shipping. The bottom "banana wrap" will have to be straightened out unless you can find a salvage part. The center panel, behind the tanks is just a flat sheet, so if it is damaged, the cost of making a new one is relatively low.

To do the segment replacement, you could drill out all the rivets and remove the wrecked parts, and then install the new ones using "olympic" rivets, which are a blind or "pop" rivet that can be installed from the outside. If you buy new segments, then they will come without holes, so you can drill new holes to match what you have.

Alternatively, you can remove the interior furnishings and interior skins opposite the damage, and then buck-rivet the new segments in place. This is generally considered the better way to do the repair, though it is much more labor intensive with the additional disassembly required.

Your basic carpentry skills should be all you need to patch up the floor, but you will need to do something to rebuild the curved "C" channel that is inside the wall and also certainly wrecked. Frame might also need some welding.

So, as a minimum, you are looking at over $1000 in parts, plus a lot of labor if you do the repair yourself. If you have the work done, you can easily double that figure.

Now for more interesting news, the new segments are made of a different alloy from what your trailer was originally made from. If you want a perfect match, you are going to have to find some used, original, segments, and then you will have to deal with rivet holes that will almost certainly not line up.

So how much is the seller asking for this fixer-upper?

good luck!
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Old 12-08-2015, 04:37 PM   #4
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It will probably cost a lot more than the trailer is worth. The damage, inside and out, is going to turn out to be extensive. I am no expert on repair costs, but from what I have seen here on the net, I would guess in the range of $4000 to $5000.
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Old 12-08-2015, 05:06 PM   #5
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As badly as that front end is crushed you could have frame damage too. The floor will be torn up pretty badly - probably need to replace the front 2 to 4 feet of subfloor. Parts might not be THAT expensive, but if you don't do work yourself you'll have $5-8000 more.

And I'm not an expert, but some of those "wing windows" beside the rectangular front window are basically "unobtanium"

This is NOT cosmetic - and the frame may be twisted not just broken.

Paula
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Old 12-08-2015, 06:07 PM   #6
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I couldn't tell if the wing window was intact or not, but assumed it was. If the window also needs to be replaced, add ~$200 to the above estimate for parts.

Suffice to say, if you aren't convinced yet, this trailer requires major surgery and is not a project for the faint of heart.

good luck!
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Old 12-08-2015, 06:13 PM   #7
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What will this take to repair?

This is a "Parts" rig. The cost to repair this amount of damage (assuming no frame damage) will exceed the value of the rig. Even if it was "Free" you would lose money in this endeavor.

I would run from this as a restoration/rebuild project.
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Old 12-08-2015, 07:04 PM   #8
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I'd attack this one with the goal of getting a camping trailer, not a show queen.

I'd purchase for less than a grand (maybe way less), replace two panels, straighten the others and replace the corner of floor. I'm betting frame is ok. Looks to me more like puncture damage.

Make it safe, make it dry. Go camp!

Or better yet, go find another trailer.
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Old 12-08-2015, 07:28 PM   #9
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Get it cheap and Fix It !

Save the poor thing.

If you have DIY skills and like to read forums for information than this just might be the trailer for you.

Plus everyone knows that '72 Ambassador's are the coolest Airstreams ever built
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Old 12-08-2015, 07:41 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the responses. I appreciate your feedback. This rig is quite intriguing to me as it has a brand new AC system, new fridge, new wiring and plumbing, and the interior looks like a time capsule. Its a one owner trailer and the son in law is selling it (owner died). I might try to explain the extent of the damage and perhaps he will reduce the price significantly.

I restored an early Bronco - replaced 13 panels and 2 floor patches... I know how time consuming it is, however quite rewarding when its all done.

Seller asking $3900

Any thoughts?
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Old 12-08-2015, 07:56 PM   #11
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The interior looking like a time capsule can mean 1) that it has been restored to original appearance, 2) that it was well preserved, or 3) that you have a trailer full of 40 year old materials, many of which need to be refurbished/replaced

If your seller has done extensive work on the trailer already and literally all it needs is the damage repaired, that is one thing. If this is a 40 year old "field find" that has received a little TLC, then I would say it is in very rough shape, and almost any "field find" would be preferable. Ask your seller for pictures, logs, receipts, etc., that may illustrate the work that has been done (ie., plumbing and wiring).

My unvarnished opinion is that most vintage trailers that haven't already had a floor replacement/massive rework will need it if you scratch the surface, so it could be with this one that the damage in the front is just the tip of the iceberg. If you are looking for a project then this surely is one. The price would have to approach a give-away for me to get interested (actually, I'll take that back--I am over three years into a complete rebuild, and you couldn't pay me to do another one).

It is like they say about onions and vintage Airstreams: They have layers, and every layer you peel off makes you cry anew!

good luck!
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Old 12-09-2015, 07:34 AM   #12
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New fridge and a new AC are worth bucks, IF you can reuse them on another trailer if this one doesn't pan out. In other words, parts. Also, "Brand New"? Are we talking replaced in 2015, or 2010? Big difference.

No way for $3,900. Maybe $1,750 if the goods are less than three years old.
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Old 12-09-2015, 07:53 AM   #13
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To make a 'hunting camp'... not much $... but, to properly fix... a total restore.. significant time and $....

Can it be 'fixed'.. yes.. but the replaced panels will never 'match'...
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Old 12-09-2015, 01:36 PM   #14
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If it's for your personal use and you like the trailer then go for it with both eyes (and checkbook) wide open. If you don't know a lot about these trailers then it is worth the time and $ to pay a person that does to look at it and ask some questions. I found a local mechanic who is an AS expert and has been to several AS restoration seminars around the country in which teams actually frame off restore and re-assemble an AS during the seminar. He inspected mine when I brought it to CO even though it is passed down in the family I had no idea what shape it was - really - in. If it's a flip project then you may want to keep looking because Airstreams are so tightly built that damage like that very well is spread into the floor and frame. It's like a car the minute you get emotionally attached it's over, better to take a breather get some input and let the excitement fade back a little. I doubt there is a line of people with money out ready to pay for this unit so you have time
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