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Old 02-21-2019, 04:00 PM   #15
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1968 26' Overlander
CORDOVA , TN
Join Date: Apr 2018
Posts: 60
I am exactly like you, just 2 steps further down the road.....

I too am very capable, very experienced, and able to do almost 100% of the repairs and refurbishing needed......I am currently doing it.

You are being very smart by asking questions now. I did not, but I got lucky....

There is a lot of information to take in, as things Airstream are unique to Airstream, in many aspects.....

I would encourage you to establish a budget. (so you can laugh at it later)

Also, think about how much time you have to spend on the renovation/ refurbishing, and how soon you intend to be able to go "glamping"....

Also, what level of "finished condition" you want to achieve.....

Decide for yourself, if it is ok to invest $20,000 in an Airstream, and 3 or 4 months of serious hard work, aching back, sore knees, cut fingers, knots on your head, and gunk in your eyes, and possibly have an Airstream that may only bring $15 -20,000 when you decide to sell it, which means you get nothing for your labor, but had the pleasure of using the Airstream .....

I found a 1968 Airstream Overlander International, in very good condition.
It was "technically" fully functional.....but you absolutely cannot depend on 50 yr. old appliances/equipment....you will be disappointed every time you go camping.
So, in spite of the "good condition" of my Airstream, I have had to replace everything that has gas or electricity running through it.
The furnace, the water heater, the Fridge, microwave, power converter, countless little things like light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, etc.
My oven is still not working properly, but I am getting there....

Fortunately I am a cabinet builder, so I was able to build new seating/bed for the front of my Airstream, because the original gaucho/dinette was just not right for us....

Previous owner of my Airstream had totally replaced all the plumbing supply lines with pex, and did a good job, or otherwise I would have had to do that in all likelihood.

Previous owner has replaced the Air Conditioner at one point..I have not really put it to the test though, and will not be surprised if I end up needing to replace it.

I am going to have $20,000 cash and approx. 250 hrs in my airstream by the time I get it to "very nice", but not near total restoration condition....

.I love the retro feel and look of the Airstream, but I want the finishes shiny, the paint smooth, and every single thing working very well. My Airstream has the original vinyl shower partition thing (i love it), the original accordion door between the kitchen and the center bedroom (double love it), and all of the original wood cabinetry, except for the front gaucho thing that had to go....And I am probably going to tear out the center gaucho bed and build a "cafe" style seating/twin bed setup there, just to make better use of the space. My gf and I are both small business owners, so even when we are on the road, we will need to tend to business matters, so a little designated business nook will be handy...


My Airstream is 26', and I personally do not want one any smaller....Remember, in an Airstream, there are no slide outs, no vaulted ceilings, etc.....so, the length is where you get space, and you want to be comfy....and the rear bath on my Airstream is great, and my gf can actually take a bath in the tub, but it consumes a lot of space in the camper.

I hope you find this information helpful...., it is real, and you should find your own situation similar. Very nice folks here, many of whom have done exactly what you are considering, as I have.

Welcome aboard.
Mike
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Old 02-22-2019, 11:07 PM   #16
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I would love to see some airstream restoration in progress or some finished trailers. I live right next to the Westlake RV Resort just west of Houston near Katy. I don't know anything about airstreams but I have owned boat, horse, equipment and motorcycle trailers so I might know something useful.
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Old 02-23-2019, 06:17 AM   #17
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1966 22' Safari
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Originally Posted by John_Dennis View Post
I would love to see some airstream restoration in progress or some finished trailers. I live right next to the Westlake RV Resort just west of Houston near Katy. I don't know anything about airstreams but I have owned boat, horse, equipment and motorcycle trailers so I might know something useful.
John, there are plenty of people currently involved in AS renovations. To view one being renovated will answer a lot of questions. I think there’s an Airstream rally coming up in Mineola on May 2nd. I went to it a couple of years ago in Belleville and they had a couple of seminars. Those are good to spend a day during open house to view/discuss with owners. If you’re ever in Fredericksburg let me know. I can let you know about what it costs, the labor involved and the effort it takes to find one you want to wrap your life around. Good luck.
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Old 02-23-2019, 07:10 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John_Dennis View Post
I would love to see some airstream restoration in progress or some finished trailers. I live right next to the Westlake RV Resort just west of Houston near Katy. I don't know anything about airstreams but I have owned boat, horse, equipment and motorcycle trailers so I might know something useful.
Check your private messages.
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Old 02-23-2019, 09:09 AM   #19
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1972 31' Sovereign
Lexington , Minnesota
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We have a '72 that we bought 11 years ago, and gut renovated. It is very doable for someone with your skills (similar to ours), but time consuming for working folk living in the north woods. We weighed her when we were close to finished with the reno, and she weighs in at about 6400lb with basic supplies and propane (no water). We tow with a Ram 1500 with hemi truck. Tows like a dream.
Many have done this, or are doing it now, and document on the Airforums. Our reno is "Little Girl Refurb" in the '70's section. There are many others of ours and the other eras to look at. I would do some quality reading before and after you purchase so you can benefit from the experience and expertise of others. We did that, and are grateful to others who showed us the way.
Good luck!

Kay
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Old 02-27-2019, 10:32 AM   #20
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2015 20' Flying Cloud
Brandon , Manitoba
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We restores a 30' 1968 Sovereign

We had a 1968 sovereign international (30') until last year, we pretty much fully restored it, renovating what could be fixed and replacing what couldn't. Despite the fact it had had a bigger fridge freezer put in at some point which weighted about the same as a piano, it towed fine behind our half ton Chevy.

As others have said generally the older ones are lighter, in the '68 all the wood was either real walnut faced plywood or in the case of the solid wood, mahogany (the real good stuff, not the stuff they tell you is mahogany these days) that for some bizarre reason they had lacquered brown to match the walnut ply. Needless to say I scraped all the peeling lacquer off everything and oiled it all.

I'd count on axles in the process whatever, because there's no point fixing it then shaking it to pieces.

The only real weak spot with the '68 was the windows - they do look lovely, but have a tendency to leak in driving rain. This can be stopped or at least minimized, but it does take some perseverance.

We ended up trading for a newer, smaller one because the 30' '68 came with a lot of storage space we didn't use as there are only two of us and we usually go for shorter ~1week trips.

Going down in size to the 20' Flying Cloud (a 2015) we have noticed no real issue with space, so a shorter one (vintage or not) may well work if there are only two of you. We certainly find it reduces stress levels in parking lots, gas stations, and tight campgrounds. For 10' less trailer though it isn't much lighter.

I've not heard of an Airstream with a centre bath, though I haven't looked for one either! I suspect that if you want that, you're looking for one that's been gutted or needs to be, and then build what you want inside - just watch the weight!

Not wishing to be a downer, but the other thing to consider with a renovation is that once you've restored it it's not the end. Be prepared for a higher level of ongoing maintenance to keep everything in its restored condition. Re polishing is a case in point, it looks awesome and we only had to do it every other year, and a re polish isn't as much work as the first one, but it does take time. This was also a factor in our move to a newer model since I always have nine projects on the go, but if you have the time/enjoy tinkering then this may well not be an issue for you.

Hope that helps,
(I could go further into the new/old economics if anyone is interested, but that seems a little off the original topic)

Robin.
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Old 02-27-2019, 10:42 AM   #21
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1977 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre
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Katy , Texas
Join Date: Jul 2013
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Greetings from Katy, Will be interested in your decision and progress. I was going to do the same thing but time and life got in the way. Consequently, I have a 25 foot '47 Spartan Manor that is ready to be built our. It has new windows front and rear, new axel with 3 new wheel & tires. Replaced entire subfloor and extended the tongue 18 inches to avoid jack-knife when backing. Not an AS but a very cool trailer ready for interior and systems. Will buff out to brilliant shine or stay with 72 year old patina. Located in Jewett, TX. PM if you would like to see it.
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Old 02-27-2019, 11:43 AM   #22
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1973 25' Tradewind
Geneva , Florida
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You might want to join the Facebook page "Airstream Restoration". Lots of pics and more importantly it's a good place to ask questions. I rebuilt a 1973 25 foot Tradewind. I was able to reuse a lot of my existing interior. I had to gut it "to the grass" and make welding repairs on the frame. The 70's trailers are notorious for having rear end rot due to the bumper design that allowed water to seep in under the trim. The rear needs to be properly flashed when rebuilding the trailer. Also a poor design was putting the bottom exterior wall pieces on top of the piece above it and then covering it with a piece of molding called the rub rail. If the rub rail wasn't kept carefully sealed water could slip behind it and into the belly, rusting out the outriggers. I had to replace 7 outriggers even though the subfloor above looked great. The 60's trailers have smaller Windows but their construction is better, IMHO. My 1973 Tradewind is also wider than a 1968 Tradewind as well as a foot longer.

I think if I had to do it all over again I might have bought an argosy rather than an airstream. I love the way people paint them with the vintage colors. Polishing the trailers takes a lot of time and it's a constant process to keep them polished.

I don't know if they allow us to post a link to our blog so if you want to see pics and get an idea what you may be facing feel free to PM me.
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Old 02-27-2019, 12:38 PM   #23
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2006 25' Safari FB SE
1972 25' Tradewind
Houston , Texas
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Airstream Renovation in Houston

Hi John, I live in Houston and am currently renovating a 72 Airstream Safari 23’ trailer and also own a 2006 Airstream Safari 25’ Fb LE. Both great trailers and am enjoying working in the 72 unit. Would be happy to meet you and give you a tour of both units. Some great advice in this thread all true from people who’ve put many hours into restoration done right. I live in West Houston off Eldridge but my trailers are down I 10 inside the loop off Washington.
I’m out of country for another week but will be back at work on the bathroom of the 72 in a few weeks. Easier to show you the work it takes than to write a long description.
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Old 02-27-2019, 12:40 PM   #24
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1962 22' Safari
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Nice history lesson Skyguyscott. Very informative.
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Old 02-27-2019, 04:35 PM   #25
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1970 25' Tradewind
Pittsfield Twp , Michigan
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One thing to note, in 1969 Airstreams got wider, 8ft I believe. Then in 1996 wider again, to about 8'6". Just something to remember when you step inside and say "I swear this thing just feels bigger for some reason"
We have a 1970 25ft Trade Wind and love it. About 5500lbs loaded, 600lb tongue weight (measured).
Tows great with our "little" Grand Cherokee Hemi
-Oz
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Old 02-27-2019, 05:04 PM   #26
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1968 26' Overlander
CORDOVA , TN
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john...There is a unit available that looks very nice, and would fit your criteria nicely.....email me if you want the info at yz450@comcast.net
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Old 02-27-2019, 05:05 PM   #27
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1968 26' Overlander
CORDOVA , TN
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wizardglass View Post
One thing to note, in 1969 Airstreams got wider, 8ft I believe. Then in 1996 wider again, to about 8'6". Just something to remember when you step inside and say "I swear this thing just feels bigger for some reason"
We have a 1970 25ft Trade Wind and love it. About 5500lbs loaded, 600lb tongue weight (measured).
Tows great with our "little" Grand Cherokee Hemi
-Oz
too cool
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Old 02-27-2019, 06:08 PM   #28
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Vintage Kin Owner
Grass Valley , California
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Question Money, Energy, Stamina, and Money

Those and more are what it takes. I've been engaged in doing what you say you want to do, to a vintage trailer. Mine was not an AS, but a similar chrome twinkie from mid 60s. It fell in my lap for $500 and I couldn't say no but I wish I'd thought it out more. It has been a money and energy draining experience. I thought I could 'do it all' too, but it needed a new door, baggage door, windows unstuck, old vents replaced, and worst of all a new floor, which I replaced myself-- one heck of a job. My warning to you is that it will take more time, energy and money to do, than you ever thought possible. Make sure that is what you want before you jump in!
Weigh that carefully in terms of how soon you want to go camping in the trailer after it reaches that point. I wish I'd bought and done one when I was 40 or younger, and not now at age 69! I wish you the best and good luck to you on your own project!
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