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Old 08-30-2003, 12:27 PM   #1
Jan
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1959 CA Classic

Someone near me is selling what he calls a 59 CA Classic, 18'. It's part of an estate sale and he says it's in good condition. He's asking $6500 for it, and I'm a newbie. Even in good condition, isn't this a real project...something for a collector? We're just considering a nice little travel trailer.....I've been reading these wonderful posts for a couple of weeks, and am learning a lot. Would love to hear the kind of work one would expect on a trailer of this age. Also, since we're not handy, wondering something about costs.
Thanks for any input...
PS. This is my first post, so I'm kind of clueless, and hope I'm doing things right.
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Old 08-30-2003, 01:28 PM   #2
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Hi Jan. Welcome to the forum. Yes, you are doing it just right.

A '59 is a wonderful trailer from a great era in construction and materials. Very little plastic, veneers, vinyl, etc. We've had ours for almost 2 years and have had to do extensive work on it. It really helps if you have a basic understanding of the systems in a trailer of this age. They are pretty straightforward. If this 'Classic' that you speak of is in as good of shape as you were told, it will not need as much work as ours when we brought it home. Areas of concern right up front are soft spots in the floor from water leaks and the condition of the running gear, i.e.: axle, brakes, hubs, rims and hitch.

You didn't mention in what part of the country you're located. If you're not interested in taking on a vintage project, others I sure would be interested in a complete '59 18 footer.

Good luck with what ever you decide and let us know what happens.

FF
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Old 08-30-2003, 01:37 PM   #3
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Thank you, Flyfisher. Appreciate your help on what to look for. We're in Southern CA. We're attracted to a trailer that's small and light...we'd probably look for someone to do the rehab, if we were to get it. It's all rather daunting at first, and since we're just getting started, we may be wiser to find a newer model.
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Old 08-30-2003, 02:38 PM   #4
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Welcome, Jan!

I think I saw that trailer listed for sale in the San Diego paper this morning.

Don't be scared. Anyone with an interest and a modicum of "handiman" skills will do just fine. Parts are not hard to find. It is not hard to find people to work on Vintage Airstreams. In fact, one of the best sources for Vintage Airstream parts and service is an hour up the road, in Corona.

They say that the 3 most important things in the real estate world are "location, location, location." I would say that in the vintage Airstream world, they're "condition, condition, condition."

In my opinion, for $6,500, that trailer should be in VERY good condition. No dents or tears in the skin. Structurally sound (esp. the floor). Most everything should work (plumbing, refer, stove).

It will still need work, to be sure. It will probably need new brakes, wheels and tires. New LP tanks. Probably some minor electrical. Check out the plumbing thoroughly. Fly Fisher is right on--the systems are not complicated. You'll probably want to redo the upholstery/curtains/floor. Might want to polish (est. $500-$800 in eqpt/materials for do-it-yourselfers, $2,500 for a pro job). You don't need to do it all at once.

Presuming the condition is as stated, for another $5-7K you could have a VERY nice, shiny, restored Vintage Airstream. What would you have to pay for a new one?? Plus, the Vintage trailers are appreciating in value--you could probably always get your money out of it.

Don't be scared by the age of a vintage. Anything that needs to be done, can be done, by you or someone local. It will never cost as much as a new one, and you won't have to settle for the quality of a new trailer. Plus, you meet all kinds of nice people when you have a vintage Airstream. What kind of person do you think you'd meet if you bought a "Warrior?" Probably someone with a spear, that's who.

If you're local, pm me and I'd be happy to help with your search, if I can. Best of Luck with your decision.

Tom
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Old 08-30-2003, 03:22 PM   #5
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Almost Forgot....

There are some great websites that have been generously created by people who have been thru the experience. If you haven't seen these yet, check them out:

www.vintageairstream.com
www.insideout-design.net/maxwell/
http://globetrotter64.home.att.net/

The first site listed has a photo archive, and there are pix of a shiny '59 18 footer (aka Traveller) there. Check out what your future holds!
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Old 08-30-2003, 06:57 PM   #6
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That shiney trailer was mine.... I know that trailer inside and out, so if there is anything I can help with be sure to ask away....

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Old 08-30-2003, 07:16 PM   #7
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Hey Ken

bet you still wish you had it. Now you're looking for another one of the same period.

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Old 08-31-2003, 09:29 AM   #8
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Brad

Funny you mention that - as I wrote that post I was thinking how much I missed that trailer.

However I've been looking at a few here and there - no 24 footers though - found a 26 with the exact same interor as mine - not sure if I talked the guy into keeping it or he talked me out of buying it - kinda funny.

Ken
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Old 08-31-2003, 10:20 AM   #9
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Hi Jan, Tom (63 Flying Cloud) knows his stuff! I finally met him and his trailer a few weeks ago. I'm in San Diego too. I'm not an experienced restorer, but I bought a '65 Globetrotter and have had a lot of work done on it.
You'll love having a vintage Airstream, and they are appreciating in value. I'm always finding notes stuck in the door asking if I want to sell. (NO!)
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Old 08-31-2003, 12:24 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the help. Support from the Airstream community is such a positive force...makes me all the more interested in "making the leap." Thanks so much, Tom, for the links. Spent hours checking out the vintage Airstreams that have been restored. I can't help but admire a product that's sometimes 50 years old, and still looking and functioning great, albeit with a lot of loving restoration.
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Old 08-31-2003, 01:53 PM   #11
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Don't forget that some of these older trailers have the rather shocking design of toilets that empty right onto the ground! I was very surprised to find out that older units were made like this. It really was a different time. There's ways to work around it, modernize it, etc, but I was parked next to the new owners af a very original '58 Pacer at a rally recently, and they were still trying to figure out how to handle it.

The need for more modern facilities and showers led me to limit my search to mid-60s and newer units...
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Old 08-31-2003, 05:50 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by Stefrobrts
Don't forget that some of these older trailers have the rather shocking design of toilets that empty right onto the ground! I was very surprised to find out that older units were made like this. It really was a different time. There's ways to work around it, modernize it, etc, but I was parked next to the new owners af a very original '58 Pacer at a rally recently, and they were still trying to figure out how to handle it.

The need for more modern facilities and showers led me to limit my search to mid-60s and newer units...
I think you may misunderstand the the design. Some were set up as park models with no holding tanks. those were always supose to be hooked up. Even the ones with the tanks if the dump valve was open you can look right through the toilet and see the ground. This was a design feature so if you were hooked to a drain it would dump right into the drain instead of landing in the tank and have to be washed out. I bet your's is the same way.
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Old 08-31-2003, 08:33 PM   #13
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Now, that is information both interesting and worth knowing....thanks!
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Old 08-31-2003, 10:21 PM   #14
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I don't think I can see straight through mine. I've had to get to know my black tank better than I ever wanted to due to some buildup we had to clean out (ick).

Perhaps the 58 we were parked next to was a park model. As I understood it some old ones were straight through and wherever you parked you just dug a gopher hole and parked over it (I'm not sure if you'd call that the good old days or not). However, you would certainly know better than I would about that. I wouldn't want to lead anyone astray.

However, I guess knowing that there is such a thing as park models is a good thing too. When I was shopping around I fell in love with a 50's Safari, but it had no shower, and no tanks (it was a park model), and I decided that converting it to a travelling unit was a bigger project than I wanted to tackle on my first trailer.
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