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Old 09-11-2016, 12:18 PM   #1
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1966 sovereign land yatch

I need some advice please. I have the opportunity to purchase this beautiful airstream. It would be a dream come true to restore her to the beauty she can be. Issue: I am not experienced in rv repair. Everything works on it and some things were replaced 20 years ago (airconditioner, bathroom sink and refrigerator ). When I saw her, there was a terrible musty smell in there which I would hope will go away with restoration and cleaning. I will have to pay to store her and work on her in storage. Is this feasible for someone inexperienced or am I getting in over my head. Here are some pictures. I just want your honest opinions. Don't sugar coat it
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Old 09-11-2016, 06:35 PM   #2
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1986 34' Limited
1966 24' Tradewind
Conifer , Colorado
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Hello Ria from Minnesota from a former Minnesotan. We lived there about 25 years. Family brought us to Colorado.

Vintage Airstreams are expensive compared to other brands. The aluminum body, and the interest in the vintage Airstream hobby are major reasons. Long Airstreams are not worth as much as the short "cute" ones, but do make for more comfortable traveling. The mid sixties trailers are the last of the old body style, have unique windows that parts for are hard to come by, and have aluminum wiring which can be problematic. The 68 trailers are probably nicer than the 66s due to the new bathroom. Here are some items that would make this trailer worth $8500 in my view.

1. The body is complete with no major dents, missing windows, and all the doors are present.
2. The major interior cabinets are in reasonable shape.
3. The 115v AC electrical system works
4. The plumbing system doesn't leak all over the floor.
5. The trailer is "towable", meaning the tail lights, marker lights and brakes work. The tires and bearings would get you home with it.
6. The frame is not rusted through. Look at it from the bottom front and in the rear bumper storage area. Rust holes in the frame are not good.

Working on an old Airstream involves a lot of "shop skills". You need carpentry, mechanics, plumbing, electrical, and some knowledge of aluminum. Many homeowners have done house projects involving these skills. There is nothing on an Airstream that is terribly complex, but a rookie at these skills will have frustrating moments.

I have about 1200 hours and about $13,000 in parts in my 66 Trade Wind. It is now "travel ready" meaning all systems work as intended. I too rented a heated garage and worked on the thing for two winters. There is still more to do. Keeps a retired guy out of trouble. It is a nice size Airstream for Colorado mountain exploring.

The first photo is the day I brought it home, and the second photo is after two winter's work.

Hope this helps....

David
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Old 09-11-2016, 08:32 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by dbj216 View Post
Hello Ria from Minnesota from a former Minnesotan. We lived there about 25 years. Family brought us to Colorado.

Vintage Airstreams are expensive compared to other brands. The aluminum body, and the interest in the vintage Airstream hobby are major reasons. Long Airstreams are not worth as much as the short "cute" ones, but do make for more comfortable traveling. The mid sixties trailers are the last of the old body style, have unique windows that parts for are hard to come by, and have aluminum wiring which can be problematic. The 68 trailers are probably nicer than the 66s due to the new bathroom. Here are some items that would make this trailer worth $8500 in my view.

1. The body is complete with no major dents, missing windows, and all the doors are present.
2. The major interior cabinets are in reasonable shape.
3. The 115v AC electrical system works
4. The plumbing system doesn't leak all over the floor.
5. The trailer is "towable", meaning the tail lights, marker lights and brakes work. The tires and bearings would get you home with it.
6. The frame is not rusted through. Look at it from the bottom front and in the rear bumper storage area. Rust holes in the frame are not good.

Working on an old Airstream involves a lot of "shop skills". You need carpentry, mechanics, plumbing, electrical, and some knowledge of aluminum. Many homeowners have done house projects involving these skills. There is nothing on an Airstream that is terribly complex, but a rookie at these skills will have frustrating moments.

I have about 1200 hours and about $13,000 in parts in my 66 Trade Wind. It is now "travel ready" meaning all systems work as intended. I too rented a heated garage and worked on the thing for two winters. There is still more to do. Keeps a retired guy out of trouble. It is a nice size Airstream for Colorado mountain exploring.

The first photo is the day I brought it home, and the second photo is after two winter's work.

Hope this helps....

David
Thank you so much, david! This is exactly the advice I am looking for. I wasn't sure where to look for rust that impacts function. I did not think to ask about the break lights and breaks. My plan is to call around and price heated storage. The owner says that everything works. There are no leaks and never have been. Tha cabinets are in excellent shape. The bathroom needs some serious help though it is totally useable. As you know, there is not much to do here in the winter and this would be a labor of love!
Your 66 Tradewind looks amazing!!! I'm sure you turn a lot of heads!
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Old 09-14-2016, 06:44 PM   #4
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1986 34' Limited
1966 24' Tradewind
Conifer , Colorado
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Hi RiafromMN, I paid $500 a month for about 24 x 50 heated garage space with a 12' high by 12' wide door in Watertown, MN. My wife choked on the idea, but was happy I was out of the house most afternoons during the winter working on the Airstream. It does help pass the time during the long winter months. I enjoy "shop" projects.

The interior on this old 66 Sovereign does look quite nice. The cabinetry is better than my Trade Wind. It does have that goofy fiberglass "airliner" bathroom. I have to admit Airstream did well on small space utilization, but I didn't care for the sink over the tub idea, and we didn't need the small tub. Here is a photo of the bath arrangement I made. There are many better ones in these forums, but at least it is functional.

There is an inspection checklist that might help you appraise this old Sovereign. Here is the link to it. The seventies trailers, especially the longer ones, have rusty frame problems more than the sixties for some reason. There are other checklists in these Air Forums.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f138...ist-43294.html

You are gonna want a pickup truck to pull this larger Airstream with confidence. And you will need an anti-sway weight distribution hitch. Such fun to spend your money instead of mine.

David
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Old 09-16-2016, 07:19 AM   #5
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There are a few things that we would have to know about the deal...

First, how much are you paying? Sometimes newbies around here find what they think is a deal, only to hear that a nicer one could have been had for less. Down here in Florida, a big boy (like a Sovereign) can be had for $2K-$10K, depending on condition. (though someone not afraid of a Full Monty should grab that '58 Flying Cloud for $2300 in Ft. Myers!).

The Bumper Jump: Stand on the rear bumper and jump up and down. Does it separate from the shell? That would mean a bad frame, very expensive to replace.

Bathroom Floor Flex: Does the bathroom floor feel spongy? Many older Airstreams have leaky plumbing that Previous Owners never bothered to fix. Requires that the bathroom be completely dismantled, and a new floor put in. Of course the parts will be brittle, and prone to breakage!

Can you see lots of tire above the hub? If it looks like your trailer has been lowered, it'll be needing new axles pronto, around $1500, if you do it yourself.

The musty smell could just be that the Previous Owner left old food and dirty socks closed up in there for 20 years, and loved to cook bacon at high heat. Or it can mean that generations of mice lived long, prosperous lives in the insulation.

dbj216 is correct about the value of smaller Airstreams vs. the big boys. Common sense and a look around in any RV park would say that this is a false premise, but the used prices don't lie. Two Sovereigns are worth about one Globe Trotter or Bambi!

But hey, I think that I can safely say that the vast majority of us vintage owners here on the Forum are Fools for Love; these trailers get into your blood. Working on mine is the reward that I give myself when all of my other pressing affairs have been dealt with. As long as you are willing to Do What it Takes, you'll have lots of folks willing to give you tips and advice here on the Air Forums, or at least have a sympathetic virtual shoulder to cry on!
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Old 09-16-2016, 01:36 PM   #6
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Thank you David and suzy for your advice and moral support! The previous owner is asking 8500 for her. I am calling around to find someone that can replace the electrical aluminum wiring and also replace the bathroom (mostly for looks).
Honestly, I have been thinking about this endeavor everyday since the idea came into my life. If I were a skilled carpenter of some kind, I would already be her proud owner. Finding others to do the work even offering whatever price they ask has been very difficult. It seems that most places want to do simple stuff and collect their pay. Major rewiring is not the easy work that pays fast. So, I am not getting any calls back even to get an estimate.
This is so much more than an rv trailer. It is history and so deserves to be done right.
Thank you both for your awesome advice and encouragement. I will keep researching for the repairs she needs and hope someone else doesn't buy her in the meantime. Though, If that should happen it was meant to be that way.
Maria
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Old 09-16-2016, 03:32 PM   #7
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RiafromMN: Please start at square one. Do you want a very expensive show piece with system failure rates which can bankrupt, not withstanding turning your trips into nightmares? Under what weather conditions will you use your 1966 and duration. I owned a 1968 and can tell you , you are asking for trouble. Parking only in full hookups campgrounds will afford you some workarounds but open your wallet and be satisfied with limited and expensive vacationing experiences. As you skew toward longer times (even full time ) and more severe weather you'll find any AS to be woefully inadequate, in fact, totally worthless. But in defence of the AS designers, they were going for (1) flashy (2) wealthy buyers=expensive trailer (3) extreme comfort -at the state of the art at that time (4 ) owners with little or no mechanical/cost to value ability/sense. Great marketing strategy and one can fully understand why $150,000 turds sell well. But ask yourself: (1) do I need tanks ? (2) pumps? (3) big propane bottles? (4) a battery or 12v or hard wired systems? (5) propane furnace and thermostat ? (6) propane or 110v hot water heater ? (7) built in propane cooktop and oven. (8) original design air conditioning ? (9) 110v wall plugs? (10) installed lighting ? (11) built in fans/ TV/ stereo/ blender etc/ (12) factory toilet or either sink? (13) cabinets or closets? (14) mattresses or couches or tables or benches etc. ANSWER IS : You need all these things, but in a totally different form. Put a generator on the tongue, park the 1966 in the middle of a parking lot, pretend the tires are flat, and how can I use my tow vehicle to support my rig? BigButtUgly will give you a shopping list lrahnmajusafret@gmail.com. Soon you'll say: "Then why don't I gut it?" Then you'll say: "Why don't I save big $ and buy a gutted one with new tires and floor rot already fixed?"
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Old 09-16-2016, 03:47 PM   #8
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To replace the wiring all the interior skins will have to be removed=total gut job.
Nothing wrong with aluminum wiring if the connections are clean and tight. The wiring in my 68 has worked fine for 48 years. I did clean and tighten all the connection.
But, I spent 2 years and around $13,00 on my 68 Trade Wind getting it back into really good condition. I did not total the hours but I'd bet, like dbj216, 1200 would be close. If you don't have time and skill or a bucket of money, you may want to find a newer Airstream. With the very high price the guy is asking plus what you will spend, you could buy a really nice camper and be camping next week.
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Old 09-16-2016, 08:18 PM   #9
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I am afraid I frightened you about the aluminum wiring. I read here on the forums that copper was in short supply during the mid sixties (war going on) so aluminum was used. My 66 still has its aluminum wiring, many still do. You can read in a hour how to protect against the dissimilar metals at aluminum wiring connections to outlets and the like. Aluminum wiring and copper outlets don't like each other, corrode, and then get hot. I don't believe you need to spend thousands to get the trailer all torn apart to run new wiring. You would do it if you had it all "gutted" for some other reasons.

Replacing the aluminum wiring would not be on my high priority list. It is just something unique with the mid sixties Airstreams.

You got to inspect your trailer, assess what it needs to be travel ready, and then make a plan. Like bigbutt says (what a name!), you can camp in an aluminum tent, and many vintage Airstream owners do that initially. Then they save up and spring for that new water heater, or new fridge, or new toilet. It does not have to be all at once. My priority would get it safe to tow (axles, brakes, tires, lights, hitch), clean it up, and take it to Redwing and watch the eagles fish the river for a couple of nights.

AirForums members often sign up as "inspectors" to help new folks inspect a potential purchase. If I still lived there, I'd volunteer to help you. Getting an experienced vintage Airstream owner to come with you would be a good idea. You can find an AirForums inspector by opening the AirForums website, click on the "Portal" tab, the first one on the left at the top of the page. Then scroll down about halfway and look for "Find an Inspector" on the right side of the page. Fill out the information, and the webpage will send messages to inspectors in the Rochester area. I'll bet you will find some help.

David
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Old 09-17-2016, 09:09 PM   #10
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David, thank you for the advice on getting an inspector. I am going to do that. It should be well worth the cost to have someone lay eyes on her. Someone that knows what to look for. The current owner seems very honest but he is in another state and it hasn't been used in a few years so there may be issues he is just not aware of.
I was laughing about the reply from suzyhomemkr about the many generations of mice that might be living in there. The first thought was to have a couple of barn cats clear it out! You are from minnesota so you know about barn cats!
I must be going crazy but I drive past another vintage airstream all of the time. It has been sitting in a driveway for at least a year. I havent seen it moved. Today I stopped and left a note on the vehicle next to it stating that if they are thinking of selling it, please call me. Lol! I felt like some kind of vintage airstream stalker! Oh my!
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Old 09-18-2016, 07:56 AM   #11
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Hi riafrommn, Yep, there are going to be issues the current owner is not aware of since the trailer has not been used for a long time. Yep, there are going to be critters in it, yuk. There were in mine, and in most old Airstreams. But they can be evicted. I think a barn cat would be effective but too slow at it. But the worse thing is moisture. A leaky window can rot out the subfloor causing more work and money.

I didn't realize this old Sovereign is out of state. That makes the AirForums inspector a good idea so you don't have a long drive to view a trailer you don't want. Many AirForums volunteer inspectors do it for fun, and the love of the hobby. Try searching for one in the area near the trailer in question.

I purchased my 66 Trade Wind in Litchfield, MN, from an e-bay account. I'm not good at "auctions" but called the number and asked to see the trailer before the closing date. The lister took his ad down and I was able to purchase the thing.

Don't fret, there are lots of vintage Airstreams for sale, and you will find one that suits you. It may take a while, and there will be disappointments, but determination will succeed. Here is a 66 Sovereign for sale in Minnesota for $8500. It is a cute ad. Maybe it is the one you are pondering. My point, there are lots of vintage Airstreams for sale in all kinds of conditions.

http://www.airstreamclassifieds.com/...-30-minnesota/

David
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Old 09-27-2016, 10:55 PM   #12
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My trailer had a very musky smell, I removed curtains, old smelly gaucho and original foam mattresses, removed a thick layer of dust and grime , pulled up carpets and decayed under felt ... All gone, smells all gone .. I put in new under felt and replaced carpet ! People think I'm nuts, but I quite like it. I have a cordless vacuum cleaner for when traveling.
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Old 09-29-2016, 01:48 AM   #13
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I was thinking the musty smell could be resolved with some fabric replacement and elbow grease.
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Old 09-29-2016, 01:50 AM   #14
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The airstream you listed here is exactly the one I am looking at. Too funny!
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