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Old 03-02-2019, 04:53 PM   #43
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For professional help closer to home, you'll find Bob Jones RV in South Houston. They installed our new fresh water tank & axles in 2016.
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Old 03-03-2019, 07:44 AM   #44
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I belong to another forum that id for hobby machinist. They made a post that is permanently at the top of the forum page called "How to Buy a Lathe" It answers the most common questions about how to check for wear and damage when buying a used machine tool. It might be worthwhile to make a post like this to answer what I am sure are the repetitive questions I am going to ask.

If I were to find an airstream to buy, and it hadn't been moved in a while, what would I need to know to get it road worthy enough to tow?

1. What bolt pattern are the rims?
2. Are the bearings available at the auto parts store?
3. Will the brakes try to engage if they are rusty?
4. If the axels are bad can I still tow carefully?
5. Where are the jack points on an airstream?
6. What else do I need to know?

Thanks

-John
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Old 03-03-2019, 06:39 PM   #45
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The Long, Long Honeymoon folks wrote a book about shopping for Vintage AS. I believe you can buy it as a Kindle Edition on Amazon. You can also ask one of the local members, or find someone near where you're shopping, to come with you to look at potential candidates. Of course, it goes without saying to bring someone who's been thru the restoration process or has been a long-time owner.
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Old 03-06-2019, 06:55 PM   #46
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Hello John: I'll take first crack at answering your questions.

1. What bolt pattern are the rims?

They are 6 bolts on 5 1/2 " bolt circle.

2. Are the bearings available at the auto parts store?

Yep. Or e-trailer. I don't have the universal part numbers in front of me, but they are standard tapered roller bearings with several manufactures. Grease seals are available too, but you do need the part number for them. They vary.

3. Will the brakes try to engage if they are rusty?

Not likely. They may make some grinding noise at first. A bigger problem may be greasy brakes due to a leaky grease seal. If you pull the "emergency brake" pin on the front of the trailer, the brakes ought to lock up. I test one side at a time with the tires off the ground.

4. If the axels are bad can I still tow carefully?

Yes. They won't fail and the wheels won't fall off. A bad axle has no suspension action left. The rubber rods are hard as hockey pucks. So the trailer rides rough. Many folks have towed old Airstreams on bad axles without problems, except a popped rivet here and there.

5. Where are the jack points on an airstream?

Never jack an Airstream on the axle tubes. You will likely affect tire alignment.
Jack it up on the axle mounting plate, best between the tires on a dual axle trailer, or behind the tire on a single axle. Stabilize the trailer with a jack stand on solid ground, again located on the axle plate or the frame rail right behind the axle plate. Don't crawl under the trailer unless you know it is stable on a jack stand.

6. What else do I need to know?

There is a lot to learn for sure. Make sure the tires are not weather checked and at the correct air pressure for the load carried. Don't over inflate or under inflate. Make sure all the exterior lights work; like tail, brake, turn signals and marker lights. Make sure the trailer battery is charged up or has 12.5 volts available for the emergency trailer brakes. Make sure the tow vehicle has a category 4 hitch, and the ball size is 2 5/16" dia. Make sure all the trailer doors, windows and roof vents are secure. Tow the trailer a little ways and then test the brakes. Adjust the brake controller so you get the trailer to stop with just the trailer brakes at 20 mph or so.

Hope this helps...

David
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Old 03-07-2019, 09:22 AM   #47
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Before worrying about the possibility of towing a trailer off someone’s property, make clean title status the first priority of your search. RVs are even more notorious than old cars for “losing” their title somewhere along the way. If a title isn’t mentioned in a for sale ad, it’s your prerogative to call them. We called a few of those ourselves. Anything which didn’t have a title was off the list. Which shortened the list very quickly, unfortunately. Only make an exception if the seller is the last title holder. It’s far faster & cheaper for them to acquire a new copy, even if they last had it registered in another state. And they must have that title in hand before you give them any money. Besides making sure the trailer & title VINs match, make sure the manufacturer’s weight specifications are still on the trailer & match on the title.

Texas did raise the inspection weight limit for trailers to 7,000 lbs. Any thing under that no longer has to be inspected before title transfer or yearly registration. However, you will still have to transfer the title within 30 days of purchase. The paperwork to transfer title is in PDF format on the DMV website. They can be printed to paper. Just like a car, both you & the seller have to complete it. Wish it was more convenient now, but you will still have to take all your documents to your nearest county tax assessor’s office. There will be a title transfer fee, registration & plates, as well as sales tax for the purchase price of your new project. Keeping the sales tax in mind could be helpful when you’re determining whether or not a seller’s price lines up with your budget. Percentage rate TX is currently charging for vehicle sales tax should be available thru the DMV or state tax office.
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Old 03-13-2019, 03:16 PM   #48
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What is a landyacht

I may go look at a 28 foot 1971 land yacht

What is that compared with other models in that size range like an overlander?

Thanks

John
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Old 03-13-2019, 05:05 PM   #49
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Our trailer has the Land Yacht tag on it. It can actually be found on several models in the older vintages. Is the owner able to give you a VIN number if the original manufacturer tags are no longer on it? Andy from Inland RV in CA could probably help you determine what model it is if you can provide him with the VIN.
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Old 03-14-2019, 06:27 PM   #50
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I see a lot of airstreams in photos that seem to have some horizontal buckling along the sides midway between the top and bottom. What causes this? Is it repairable?
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Old 03-14-2019, 08:18 PM   #51
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Horizontal buckling... My husband & I haven't been shopping for awhile so I'm having a hard time picturing it right now. But if I were to hazard a guess I would say any kind of buckling is a bad thing. It may be repairable, probably a full shell-off renovation with repairs to the chassis. How much of a project are you looking for & where do you plan to work on it? We live in a deed-restricted subdivision & our trailer has to be kept in storage elsewhere. We do most of our work at the storage unit. A shell-off isn't a good candidate for that. The "neighbors" will be too close. Unless you can find a fully enclosed storage space with enough room. If you're looking for potential candidates anywhere within a couple of hours of Houston, my husband & I would be happy to help you examine it. Our schedule is pretty open, especially during the day/weekends.

Some others might have a better diagnosis for you if you can copy/paste some of the listing photos on this thread.
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Old 03-14-2019, 09:20 PM   #52
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Airstream used "Land Yacht" on most of their models back in the 70s. The model name is associated with the length of the trailer and on the tag on the side of the trailer. Let's see if I have it right.

Globetrotter 21'
Safari 23'
Trade Wind 25'
Overlander 27'
Ambassador 29'
Sovereign 31'

The 70s trailers had issues with the "lightweight building techniques". One of the main trouble spots is the rear body seal, or lack thereof. Rainwater would migrate into the rear seam between body and subfloor. The plywood subfloor would rot, the tie down bolts would rust and break, and then the rear of the body would separate from the frame. "Rear end separation" it is called. This weakens the semi monocoque construction allowing the frame rails to deflect up and down over bumps and the like. Sometimes to the point where the rear frame rails would bend, or buckle some. The aluminum skins might deform too, usually behind the rear axle. It is repairable, and it is hard work to do so.

My 75 Overlander had a mild case of rear end separation, due to subfloor rot and rusty bolts. I didn't have any frame rail buckling. I took the rear bath out and the waste water tanks down and the axles off to make the repair.

You check for rear end separation with the bumper bounce test. Stand on the rear bumper over the left, and then right frame rails. Bounce up and down like you going to do a swan dive. Look for a gap that might widen between the body and the frame rail. The body and the frame should bounce together. If a gap opens up, the rear body has become separated from the frame. See photo of my trailer's 3/8" gap.

If a 70s trailer has rear end separation, and many do, plan on $1500 to repair yourself if you can weld. Mobile welding cost me $500. Hope this is a start.

Maybe you should of said "Having a bad dream of fixing up an Airstream".

David
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Old 03-15-2019, 12:40 PM   #53
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We have a service manual which came with our trailer. It’s not an owner’s manual. Was produced for repair technicians. Each section is one system – exploded schematics & parts numbers. One of the advantages of being able to look at a service manual is actually seeing all the components you may not see while shopping. Then the various recommendations on this thread might come into focus a bit easier. There are more than 100 pgs. in what we call the “bible”, meaning making a good quality PDF of it to email isn’t possible. The file will be too large. But you’re welcome to use the PM feature on this forum to request some pages, the chassis chapter being one example. Or we can work something out for you to see the whole manual & make a wish list of the sections you might find the most helpful.

If you’re not immediately finding Airstreams to look at, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to start just by looking at RVs in general. While there are major differences between all the different types, there are some commonalities too. Water damage being the most common. All RVs leak eventually. Sometimes, all you need is your nose to tell you whether or not something is a good buy. We looked at every type of RV before narrowing our focus to buying an Airstream. One of the best places for that kind of field trip is PPL Motorhomes off Beltway 8 & I-69/Hwy 59. They sell RVs by consignment, so you will find them in a variety of conditions. Airstreams even show up there occasionally. They do keep their inventory current on their website so you can plan your visit when an Airstream or two happens to be on the lot. They also have one of the better RV parts stores in the area. There are 3 physical locations in Texas. You might find some Airstreams at their other lots too.

Our trailer was a very rare bird just in the fact she only had two previous owners, and came with lots of documentation. Including copious notes from Owner 2 who had her the longest. In a way, she was the very definition of a barn find, except we found her in a Dallas backyard. While the last POs did travel with her, possibly even to Alaska, they took good care of her. Can we take any credit for being so lucky? To a point. We did lots of research before embarking on our own shopping adventure. My husband had concerns about buying from a private seller, but we knew the cost & issues involved if a title isn’t included in the documentation. Our first candidate of the 2 Airstreams we looked at for purchase, was at a dealership west of Ft. Worth. We knew within 15 minutes (or less) it wasn’t a good fit for us. “SOLD AS IS” is always a big red flag. There was a back-up, our girl in Dallas. When I talked to the seller a few days previously they had someone looking at it that day. I kept the phone number anyway, because she was my gut-feeling trailer. We called & discovered she hadn’t been sold yet. They were nice enough to let us look at it that day & the difference was night & day. Knowledge is definitely power in this sort of endeavor. But don’t be afraid to trust your gut either.
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Old 03-15-2019, 01:52 PM   #54
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Not necessarily

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbj216 View Post
Hello John: I'll take first crack at answering your questions.

1. What bolt pattern are the rims?

They are 6 bolts on 5 1/2 " bolt circle.

2. Are the bearings available at the auto parts store?

Yep. Or e-trailer. I don't have the universal part numbers in front of me, but they are standard tapered roller bearings with several manufactures. Grease seals are available too, but you do need the part number for them. They vary.

3. Will the brakes try to engage if they are rusty?

Not likely. They may make some grinding noise at first. A bigger problem may be greasy brakes due to a leaky grease seal. If you pull the "emergency brake" pin on the front of the trailer, the brakes ought to lock up. I test one side at a time with the tires off the ground.

4. If the axels are bad can I still tow carefully?

Yes. They won't fail and the wheels won't fall off. A bad axle has no suspension action left. The rubber rods are hard as hockey pucks. So the trailer rides rough. Many folks have towed old Airstreams on bad axles without problems, except a popped rivet here and there.

5. Where are the jack points on an airstream?

Never jack an Airstream on the axle tubes. You will likely affect tire alignment.
Jack it up on the axle mounting plate, best between the tires on a dual axle trailer, or behind the tire on a single axle. Stabilize the trailer with a jack stand on solid ground, again located on the axle plate or the frame rail right behind the axle plate. Don't crawl under the trailer unless you know it is stable on a jack stand.

6. What else do I need to know?

There is a lot to learn for sure. Make sure the tires are not weather checked and at the correct air pressure for the load carried. Don't over inflate or under inflate. Make sure all the exterior lights work; like tail, brake, turn signals and marker lights. Make sure the trailer battery is charged up or has 12.5 volts available for the emergency trailer brakes. Make sure the tow vehicle has a category 4 hitch, and the ball size is 2 5/16" dia. Make sure all the trailer doors, windows and roof vents are secure. Tow the trailer a little ways and then test the brakes. Adjust the brake controller so you get the trailer to stop with just the trailer brakes at 20 mph or so.

Hope this helps...

David
and the ball size is 2 5/16" dia
I have owned several vintage AS trailers with 2" hitches.

As far as "horizontal buckling" goes, it may be an optical illusion. Polished trailers with panels that curve in one or more directions often produce reflections that look like buckling but are not.
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Old 03-16-2019, 10:01 PM   #55
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I just found my 2 5/16 ball hitch and was noticing how high it was. I have a 4 inch lift on my ram 1500 witch means I will need a drop down receiver.

What is the ideal hight to top of ball for an airstream?

Thanks

-John
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Old 03-16-2019, 11:30 PM   #56
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Ideally you want the front nearly level, just slightly lower than the back. Too high in the front will cause the trailer to be unstable, similar condition to not having enough tongue weight.
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