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Old 12-04-2019, 03:21 PM   #1
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Newbie considering '64 Safari Fill-time

Hello Airstream world,

I'm in my early 30s and with personal events that have happened in my life, including the loss of my brother and a stressful "corporate" job I am going to take life by the horns and life full-time exploring. My first trip will be Alaska, followed by where ever in the lower 48 might call my name, currently, I'm located in the Northeast.

To be honest I wasn't looking at Airstream, but I came across a 1964 Safari and well... it is something I'm seriously considering. To start, I don't need a ton of space, but I do competition action shooting and do need room for that gear, plus a trailer that can handle some weight. I tow with a 2017 4Runner (which has been a big issue finding something that she is compatible with).

My concerns are a few, Airstreams seem reliable, but towing a 50+yr old trailer gives some concerns... are there things I should look out for? Are they really that reliable even with age? I'm single and can't handle constant issues.

Is a single axel fine, or will I "feel it"?

Price... they seem all over the place!! I've seen 45k-10k. What is reasonable? And resale?

This is the description of the listing I'm looking at:
22 feet + 0r - 3500 lbs. Complete rebuild in 2013. Frame OK & painted, new Dexter #11 axle, 45 down & 2" lift, new 3/4" fir plywood floor. Body, inside skins removed, new insulation & wiring, prime & paint, window frames resealed. All new 30 amp electric with 2 new batteries. Plumbing new copper & pex. Water heater original bowen, works but not used. tub/shower works but not used, toilet / black tank works not used last 2 yrs. Furnace works not used last 2 yrs. gas /elec fridge oversized works well. Stove / oven works fine. Interior cabinetry original no faults, both bed/couches not original. Exterior skins & door last polished in 2013, looks good but ready for a rebuff. Rope & pole awning as new. Faults, jealousie windows need new seals, they allways do, seal kits now available from VTS (vintage trailer supply). Vinyl floor covering shows wear in traveled areas. Stove top has rust. Comes with hitch, bars & sway bar, external gray tank, all hose and hookups, level jacks, wheel chocks, ect.

The seller told me the windows need new seals, new seal for the front door, apparently that is common? The floor is not insulated, there is no gray water tank, and he doesn't trust the hot water heater. I'm not sure of the costs of these items or if it is "easy to fix" and worth it.

The price is 13k. Any advice is appreciated!! I'm looking at it Friday so on a bit of a time crunch. Thank you all
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Old 12-04-2019, 10:53 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forums!

First off, it does not sound like you want to rebuild a trailer, or even to spend a lot of time futzing with it. So I would recommend buying something that is ready to camp in. The trailer you describe might need very little to put it on the road, but the huge dependency is on whether the rebuild was done correctly, or whether corners were cut. The only way you are going to know is to get someone who knows what they are looking at to help you inspect it. If you go to the Portal tab at the top of the page, and then scroll down, keeping your eyes to the right of the page, you will find a link to the Trailer Inspector's checklist, and a utility for finding volunteer inspectors.

Door, window, and hatch seals get dry and cracked on any trailer you buy. They are a maintenance item. Once done, they may last 10 years before you need to look at them again. the Jalousie windows are a horse of a different color, but none of this is rocket science.

But to your questions: Is a 50+ year old trailer reliable enough to consider? As mentioned above, it mostly depends on how well it was rebuilt 6 years ago, and how well it has been cared for since. If it was left outside in the pouring rain, with leaking windows, you might already of new floor rot.

Is there anything wrong with a single axle? Lots of folks prefer the security of the double axle, but there are plenty of out out here towing on a single axle. I personnaly like the single axle, because it allows me to spin it 180 degrees in my driveway--would be tough with a double axle, but this isn't something that many people need to do.

The prices are all over the place. In general the smaller, older trailers fetch a higher price, as they are more in demand. $13k doesn't seem a very high price for this trailer, considering that it is smaller, and older, and they claim to have done an extensive rebuild. Sounds almost too good to be true...Beware of trailers that have had a very superficial fix-up, but are rotting away beneath the fresh flooring. We have a name for these--"polished turd." But maybe the $13k price tag is because there is a lot of stuff that was not "rebuilt," and is not in working order. There is a suspiciously long list of "never used" items in that description.

A new water heater is around $300, not a big deal to replace. If the furnace is original, it is probably ready to be replaced as well--another $500 or so for that. You should ask how many of the appliances (water heater, furnace, etc.) were replaced during the rebuild, or at least try to get an estimate of their age.

If you could post the ad for it, or some pictures, I am sure the folks here on theses forums could pick out a variety of issues at a glance.

Good luck!
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Old 12-04-2019, 11:05 PM   #3
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I think I found the ad for that trailer (Vermont?). Says the title is missing, but that "Vermont doesn't title trailers this old." Do your homework on what it will take to get a title for that trailer. It may end up being a bigger hassle than advertised. Price still seems almost too good to be true. There are lots of scams out there, and usually if something seems too good to be true, it is...

Good luck!
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Old 12-05-2019, 07:49 AM   #4
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Thank you for your thoughtful response! I looked at inspectors in my area and sent messages, we shall see if I get a response. The seller is a life long Airstream enthusiast and seems knowledgeable, he claims the rebuild of the floors was better than new and wasn't a full shell off but all the electrical, frame painting, axel etc was done. I do question the leaking seals and if that affected the floors, good thing to look out for. Also with the "not used" items.

I like the idea of being able to do a 180! I am staying away from long trailers because maneuverability is important.

Thank you for the feedback on pricing, I'll keep a close eye out to see if it is indeed "too good to be true". I assume it is because it is in the middle of no where. Really. But who knows.
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Old 12-05-2019, 07:50 AM   #5
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Yes! Thats the one

https://vermont.craigslist.org/rvs/7016434313.html

Note taken about the title
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Old 12-05-2019, 10:35 AM   #6
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Welcome! Sounds like a great adventure. Weíve had a 1967 for several years and prior to that another vintage trailer. We love taking it to off grid interesting places. That said, however, as much as I love our vintage, when I read your post my thought was that maybe you should try to find something that would be easier for you to take care of? Vintage airstreams are so cool....but my husband and I are constantly repairing or working on something and we have one that is already redone. Long road trips are hard on our old ASóseems like something is always coming apart from the jarring or other things. We do all our own work because weíve had a hard time finding someone to work on the vintageóthey just arenít used to them. Also, we donít insure ours so if something catastrophic happens weíve lost our investment (we are ok with that) so that is something to consider too if you need to have something you can insure you might have to buy newer. Anyway, Iím really not trying to talk you out of itóIím just letting you know some of the downsides to balance when thinking about your new adventure. The upsides are also great though and we adore ours despite all the effort that goes into it!
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Old 12-05-2019, 10:42 AM   #7
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IMHO the wisdom from above I completely agree with...
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Old 12-05-2019, 10:43 AM   #8
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I would start off with some shorter trips before heading to Alaska. I would put money into as much solar and battery capacity as possible. Look at a Goal Zero 3000. I just drove over to SC and parked 2 nights for zero dollars. I kept the fridge and freezer running with no problems. Look at Gone With the Wynns- they have 1200ah capacity. Also, I'm a guy with a lot of tools. Here's a recent acquisition: Milwaukee 18v site lights. I bought a compact site light with flood mode and a 9ah battery. It will run a very long time. I also bought a compact site light. These are professional quality and very sturdy and put out a more balanced light. They are much better than my Makita 18v lights. Here's something else: I just ordered a Boosted Rev. Although I don't have it yet, it should be much more powerful and useable than my Ninebot ES1 which is on its way out at 300 miles. Look at electric-scooter.guide. For winterizing, look at this: Viair 450P-RV. Keep us posted on the journey. Here's mine- @coasttocoastphotoatl
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Old 12-05-2019, 12:51 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nh3gungirl View Post
I am going to take life by the horns and life full-time exploring.
Sounds like a nice change of lifestyle - one that I hope you will enjoy! I have two things you may want to consider:

First, have you thought about what it means to live with "there is no gray water tank" in a full-timing, rambling lifestyle situation? It would mean either using full hook-ups for disposal of all your wash water (showers/sinks) or toting around an external (heavy when full) gray water tote daily as you can't legally just run gray water on the ground.

Airstreams before 1973 did not come with gray tanks - which may be fine for a short-mid length trip, but full-timing might be a whole different story. You can always retrofit a permanent gray tank into the trailer (we did), but that may be more work than you are willing to do.

Second, is your comment "My first trip will be Alaska...". If it's in the winter months, you will definitely be "chilly". Airstreams are not really intended as 4-season trailers. Not to mention driving conditions in the snow...

Shari
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Old 12-05-2019, 02:01 PM   #10
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Buy a cheap SOB (some other brand) and use it for 3 to 6 months. Then sell, trade or burn it. If you still think an Airstream would meet your needs... start looking.

Oh, and look at OLIVER travel trailers. Not as sexy as Airstreams but ruggedly practical.
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Old 12-05-2019, 02:05 PM   #11
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Wow

An absolute steal at that price IF the restoration and subsequent maintenance were done correctly. Get an experienced helper to go with you to inspect if possible. Lost title may also be a huge headache and warrants further research.
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Old 12-05-2019, 07:30 PM   #12
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No AC?
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Old 12-06-2019, 11:05 AM   #13
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Hello and welcome.

A lot of sound advice above. My wife and I completely renovated (from the ground to the top) our 64 Safari. Many hundreds of hours and tens (at least 4) of thousand of dollars went into it.

If they did a good job on what they did do, that is a lot of people hours.
The price they are asking is not out of line, in fact it's pretty reasonable.

However, I think the list of things they have not done is significant.
Water heater, furnace, toilet, black and gray tank, new waist plumbing and valves, probably still using the original Univolt charger/converter, ETC.

I also would have some questions about the work they did.
The floor for example they say is "New 3/4" Fir plywood floor". Why not Marine grade ply?
They say "Body, inside skins removed, new insulation & wiring". Did they replace 120V AC wiring? 12V wiring? Both? What gauge? Did they wire for future solar? When the skins were out, did they re-seal the inside seams of the outside skin? Did they drill weep holes in the C-channel through the floor for water, condensation or leaks to escape?
I can't bereave the did not put a gray tank in while they had access .

In my opinion this will not be a plug and play adventure with this trailer. Bring plenty of money and dress warm.

Best wishes.

-Dennis
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Old 12-07-2019, 09:57 AM   #14
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So how did the Friday trailer inspection go?
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Old 12-07-2019, 11:15 AM   #15
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Update!

All super awesome advice all, the AS community sure stepped up

So overall the Safari has good bones, but Iím hesitant with the amount of work Iíd need to do to feel comfortable with going cross country.

3 of the windows NEED seals, and I would just do all of them as they have seen better days. As a result 2 of the windows have very soft wood under them... this makes me nervous. The rebuild was deff a home job, I think they did the best they could but I have an eye for craftsmanship and the current owner is no professional. As a result the electrical seems a bit sketchy, but Iím not an electrician. Just a hunch that it might not be right, a lot of the wires look much older than 2013 and I have a feeling he combined old and new. Lastly, even if these issues didnít exist it still needs a new water heater and grey water tank.

Iím going to wait the weekend to see if it sells and think things over in the mean time. Here are some pictures
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Old 12-07-2019, 12:19 PM   #16
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Run

If you could talk them down to 4 or 5 grand, spend a year or so working every day and spend 30 or 40 grand doing it right. Then you can go exploring the world in comfort.

Sorry for the sarcasm.

The window leaks make me cringe. We had a front window leak in our 64 Safari when we purchased it also. I sealed it, re-sealed it, took it out and sealed it. Water still pored in. WTH? I found out when I removed the inside skins. The trailer had been in an accident. One of the front aluminum end-cap pieces had been replaced. They must have done the repair work without removing the inside skins, they used Olympic rivets with no sealant inside. Water leaked down the inside skin until it reached the window frame then leaked thought the frame inside the trailer and through the wall to the floor. Bad memories! Moral of the story, hidden problems from poor workmanship can really mess with your plans.

To me it looks like they got into something and lost interest or funding and just want to make a little money and get out of it. These trailers can suck the life out of your bank account in a hurry.

Perhaps SOB, like Lance makes a 4 season travel trailer that I might consider today. Best of luck.

-Dennis
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Old 12-07-2019, 01:59 PM   #17
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One critical thing is whether the subfloor was replaced properly. A subfloor replacement is a huge job and it is an integral part of the structure as it is sandwiched between the body and the frame. If the floor was done correctly, and that the frame is sound, and the shell doesn't need panels replaced, then I would say it fits the "good bones" qualifier.

From the pictures, it doesn't look like a Pinterest dream interior, but it doesn't look like an aborted project either. If it is a matter of sealing windows, patching soft wood, and tidying up marginal stuff, you could buy this trailer, and pay someone $5-6K to do it right and still have a bargain (assuming paying $20K for a trailer is something you want to do).

But... If the subfloor was not replaced correctly, or they have made errors in the wiring that will require tearing the walls out again to correct, then this isn't the trailer for you.

Think also on what kind of camping you want to do. If you want to spend a lot of time "off the grid" and out of commercial campgrounds with full hookups, then having battery capacity, possibly solar, definitely a grey water tank, are all going to be things to consider. If you are going to spend time in the desert or South, then Airconditioning is definitely something you will want (that this traier does not have, but it could have it installed). Winter in Alaska? A true 4-season trailer (not this trailer), is what you need to look into.

Good luck!
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Old 12-15-2019, 07:53 PM   #18
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Welcome to the forum! Lots of wisdom here, so spend some time asking questions and researching. Some people here (and in other places) remember me saying that I'd rather ask a thousand questions before writing a large check than ask one question a thousand times afterward.


Earlier this year we ran into a young lady who is full-timing in a mid-60's Airstream. She had some issues to deal with on her trailer, but nothing terrible. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to do a lot herself, so she had to spend more money than some others might have to fix what needed fixing. Something for you to keep in mind.


As was mentioned above, I'd advise against buying ANY RV and immediately heading to Alaska. Spend some time with your new purchase in familiar territory. Get to know it and decide what you think needs changing and in what order. First emphasis should be on safety items - tires, brakes, axle, exterior lights, etc. Along with that would be any safety items inside, such as electrical and gas. You may find that something that you need to remove a cosmetic item in order to fix something else, and you want to change the cosmetic item, so you can do them at the same time. In that way something that may be low priority may actually move closer to the top of the list. Plan your work.


You will never have your trailer completely done, but at some point you will feel comfortable enough to take it on longer trips. It might be that one of those longer trips will be to the factory or one of the dealerships discussed here that will do some of the bigger jobs that you can't easily do yourself.
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Old 12-15-2019, 09:10 PM   #19
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I am a single elderly female Airstreamer so I understand your situation in terms of repairs. Although this seems like a bargain, unless you have a few thousand more to add to the repair work, I would walk away from this one. On the other hand, if you would like to learn how to do some of these repairs yourself, you could save some of those thousands and pick up some useful skills, which you would sleep better at night knowing you have once you are on the road.

So as usual, there is a choice here: buy it and plan on A) spending a fair amount of $$ making it right for you, B) pick up some very useful skills and save some of that $$, or C) pass on this one and wait for a better one to show up.

Best of luck, and be sure to let us know what you choose to do!

Vivian
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Old 12-30-2019, 09:43 AM   #20
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What happened!

Hi All,

Thank you again so much for the sound advice- wow- if the rest of the RV community is anything like the AS community I'm sure excited to be a part of it. With the work that needed done and my lack of wanting to potentially get into a full rebuild/deal with repairs, I went with SOB. Though my heart yearned for the Airstream it didn't make sense.

For $4k I found a 2007 Keystone Outback 18rs which has never had any leaks, and from what I can tell is ready to rock and roll. The furnace needs some service but it was well cared for overall. Once the distribution hitch comes in I'll tow it to a shop for a shakedown inspection.

With my desire to boondock having a trailer with a grey water tank is important, also having AC will probably be a lifesaver in some of the warmer states, and an insulated floor in the cooler states.

Hoping for the best with this one and excited for the adventure ahead!
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