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Old 09-21-2016, 10:53 PM   #1
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1976 25' Caravanner
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1976 Caravaner Renovate or Restore?

Hi, new here. I was looking for a long time for a 70's Trade Wind or Caravaner to renovate and competely modernize and redo the interior to fit us. Was looking for a good frame and shell while not caring so much about the interior. Didn't really think I'd find a Caravaner, but, then one fell into my lap. The problem is the interior is in such good shape I'm not sure if I'd be breaking any airstream Cardinal rule or ruining something that might be rare by taking out the interior and renovating instead of restoring. So a couple beginning questions for the good folks here. Any comments or suggestions welcome:

1- Renovate or Restore?

2- If I do renovate is their a market for all the original parts and where can I sell?

3- Am I throwing away something quite valuable by renovating?

I'll try and post pictures later if there is any interest.

Thanks.
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Old 09-23-2016, 04:00 PM   #2
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Before even purchasing, you will want to go over your prospect with a fine-toothed comb to make sure there aren't issues hiding anywhere. We got some valuable information from the Long, Long Honeymoon bloggers. They have an e-book about buying used and vintage Airstreams. It has a laundry list of things to look for so you avoid the money pit. There's plenty of info here too.

To restore or renovate? That is the question. Take your trailer out for a few short camping excursions close to home, and get all the systems hooked up. Then start looking for issues. Make note of said issues. If everything works properly and you actually like the trailer the way it is, leave it alone. Just make sure everything is cleaned up and kept maintained. (The original AC and furnace could have years of dirt that would keep them from working properly.) When it gets down to it, restoration and renovation are really personal choices. When you're talking about 60s and older trailers, restoration makes more sense when you're talking about real wood cabinets and all the mid-century modern fixtures & colors. Though some people may say it's OK to loose the earthy harvest colors of the late sixties and early 70s. When it comes to the 70s, there might be less screaming about updates. Then a lot more plastic components started showing up. The cabinets might have paper laminate. We're old enough to remember the 1970s so it was a no-brainer for us to bring our trailer mostly into the 21st century.
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Old 09-23-2016, 04:43 PM   #3
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1976 25' Caravanner
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Starstream View Post
Before even purchasing, you will want to go over your prospect with a fine-toothed comb to make sure there aren't issues hiding anywhere. We got some valuable information from the Long, Long Honeymoon bloggers. They have an e-book about buying used and vintage Airstreams. It has a laundry list of things to look for so you avoid the money pit. There's plenty of info here too.

To restore or renovate? That is the question. Take your trailer out for a few short camping excursions close to home, and get all the systems hooked up. Then start looking for issues. Make note of said issues. If everything works properly and you actually like the trailer the way it is, leave it alone. Just make sure everything is cleaned up and kept maintained. (The original AC and furnace could have years of dirt that would keep them from working properly.) When it gets down to it, restoration and renovation are really personal choices. When you're talking about 60s and older trailers, restoration makes more sense when you're talking about real wood cabinets and all the mid-century modern fixtures & colors. Though some people may say it's OK to loose the earthy harvest colors of the late sixties and early 70s. When it comes to the 70s, there might be less screaming about updates. Then a lot more plastic components started showing up. The cabinets might have paper laminate. We're old enough to remember the 1970s so it was a no-brainer for us to bring our trailer mostly into the 21st century.
Thanks, makes sense what you said about 60s vs. 70s. We remember the 70s too. You're right, lots and lots of vinyl and plastic.
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Old 09-27-2016, 10:42 PM   #4
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My 1970's laminate interior to so immaculate I'll probably never remove it! I'd rather sell as is and buy a wreck than destroy the vintage charm Click image for larger version

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Old 09-29-2016, 11:57 AM   #5
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My 1970's laminate interior to so immaculate I'll probably never remove it! I'd rather sell as is and buy a wreck than destroy the vintage charm Attachment 272493!
Vintage charm is in the eye of the beholder. When it comes to vintage, we're hardcore for 1930s-mid 60s for most things, not just travel trailers.

The POs of our trailer actually took very good care of it and were very proactive about keeping it dry. But they did travel quite a bit, including a trip to Alaska which was mentioned in their notes. Some of the paper laminate was peeling off some of the cabinetry and some of the upper lockers had some cracking where they were riveted to the ceiling. Removing all that old stuff not only allows us to stretch our creative muscles (1 artist and 1 former Navy Seabee with non-conventional construction experience), it meant we could get to 35+ years of dirt.
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Old 01-04-2017, 04:41 PM   #6
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Slowly but surely. Got all the demo done, taken most all of the vinyl stuck to the inside aluminum off. Started to paint the bathroom before it got too cold to do any more coatings. Bought a replacement toilet and enough pex pipe to replace all the water lines. Good thing too because previous owners didn't winterize properly and the cooper was split in several places. Working on making penny tiles inside while it's cold to do the bathroom floor, the rest of the flooring is probably going to be a wood laminate.

These are before and after demo pics. Used the Jasco stripper, goof-off and WD-40 method to get everything off the walls.
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Old 01-04-2017, 04:44 PM   #7
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My 1970's laminate interior to so immaculate I'll probably never remove it! I'd rather sell as is and buy a wreck than destroy the vintage charm Attachment 272493!
That chair you have right there in your photo, looks similar to an original chair supplied by airstream in some of these models. I kept a lot of stuff that might be worth something, what do you think an original chair might be worth? Our color scheme was orange, looks like yours is green.
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Old 04-05-2017, 10:49 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by tonydead View Post
That chair you have right there in your photo, looks similar to an original chair supplied by airstream in some of these models. I kept a lot of stuff that might be worth something, what do you think an original chair might be worth? Our color scheme was orange, looks like yours is green.


Hi Tony, no clue! Interesting though, I thought the chair looked kinda '70's .. from Cost Plus
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Old 05-15-2017, 08:58 AM   #9
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Electric is done.
Front dome painted.
Back bathroom dome and shower painted with tube & tile epoxy.
Bathroom penny flooring started.
Gas line done on outside and old water heater taken out.
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Old 05-30-2017, 09:18 AM   #10
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Water heater installed. Had a big reminder on how these were individually put together and you always find something unexpected around every corner: They had glued a couple of aluminum corner pieces on top of and on one side of the old water heater with vulkem in an attempt to make the original install more water proof I assume. This provided a great deal of resistance when trying to slide the old water heater out because I couldn't see what they had done inside the walls. Finally got it out and we've decided to keep the new access door rather than try and use the old aluminum door because it overlaps and seals the perimeter much better than the old design. We will just paint it aluminum.
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Old 05-30-2017, 09:23 AM   #11
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Penny Floor in bathroom poured with epoxy. Looks great, it looks like water until you touch it to make sure it's not wet. Use a coffee can for a block out around the toilet hole, only I figured I needed 7 inches and a coffee can is only 6.25 in diameter. We wrapped the bottom a few times with mastic that not only provided a great seal when pushed down to the the plywood, but, also was easy to strip out because we left the wax paper on the outside.
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Old 05-30-2017, 09:30 AM   #12
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Decided to do the new wheel wells with CDX plywood. I know it's not as good as using sheet metal etc. but, it's still an upgrade from the original cracked plastic ones. Glued and screwed really tight. I got really lucky on my cuts being just right for the drivers side to fit perfectly over the existing lip and between the heater and converter (zero room for error). Especially since my table saw bearing burned up half way through and I had to make most of the cuts free hand.
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Old 06-12-2017, 09:42 AM   #13
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I'm so happy to have found this thread!! I started my search with full intention of renovating and modernizing it. I've found a 1973 Ambassador that's in excellent condition, all original, beautiful exterior, and the layout and skylights I love. But, I've wondered about that "Airstream Cardinal Rule" you mentioned and have had some conflicting feelings about it. I'm a 1970's model myself and the plastic/faux wood look is not one I'm fond of.

Your photos are great and encouraging . And that floor though!!! Wow. That looks incredible! I love that it's beautiful, different, unique and adds character, which is along the lines of what wanted to do with mine. I would love to see your finished product!
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Old 06-16-2017, 10:16 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by go_lope View Post
I'm so happy to have found this thread!! I started my search with full intention of renovating and modernizing it. I've found a 1973 Ambassador that's in excellent condition, all original, beautiful exterior, and the layout and skylights I love. But, I've wondered about that "Airstream Cardinal Rule" you mentioned and have had some conflicting feelings about it. I'm a 1970's model myself and the plastic/faux wood look is not one I'm fond of.

Your photos are great and encouraging . And that floor though!!! Wow. That looks incredible! I love that it's beautiful, different, unique and adds character, which is along the lines of what wanted to do with mine. I would love to see your finished product!


Thanks! There was nothing worth keeping in our 70s trailer. We needed to remove 40 year old carpet, cushions and drapes anyway. Everything else is made of plywood and plastic. It's not considered vintage or antique in my book if it's not solid wood.

We will keep posting pics here until we are finished. It's a slow go though, we are still waiting for summer weather to show up in the northwest and it's almost July!!!
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