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Old 11-13-2018, 06:33 PM   #1
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1988?

Okay, we're tired and not thinking clearly. We saw this 1988 34' Airstream on PPL's website https://www.pplmotorhomes.com/used-r...tream_rv-39863 and got to thinking that maybe we could take somewhat less for our Foretravel and get into this now and then trade up to something quite a bit newer in a couple of years. We had been wanting an early 2000's 34', remember.


Questions: 1. What are some known issues with a coach of this vintage? I know about tires, batteries, and to check for water leaks. I'm asking for specifics. Should we be seriously interested we WILL have an inspector check it out for us. 2. Does anyone know this coach? The red numbers 1906 are on it, which would indicate a long-time WBCCI member. 3. Are we completely crazy in even thinking about a coach this old?


Comments? Thoughts?
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Old 11-14-2018, 03:25 PM   #2
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1986 31' Sovereign
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I have an 86 31' Sovereign. Mine is solidly built and has good tankage, simple systems and lots of storage. It does need to be stripped and polished but structurally, it is sound. We have towed it over 80000 miles in 14 years.

You will probably need axles. I just did mine and, with labor, spent $2500. My 31' tows beautifully and I suspect, with that third axle, a 34' would be rock solid.

When we bought ours, we thought we'd use it for a while and see if we liked the lifestyle and then fleet up to a newer unit. Liked the old 31' so much, we never got around to trading up.
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Old 11-14-2018, 05:30 PM   #3
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Our 87 has been structurally sound all around. New axles at 25 years of age, fridge and water pump replaced, and some minor seam leaks, but it was well put together.
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Old 11-18-2018, 03:00 PM   #4
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We're probably going to go look at this one later this week. I've sent a PM to an inspector in Houston, but haven't heard back yet. Again, if anyone knows anything about it please PM or email me.
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Old 11-18-2018, 06:19 PM   #5
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David:
Prior to 1996, Airstreams were narrow body.

8 foot versus 8 1/2.
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Old 11-18-2018, 07:10 PM   #6
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Yes, we know. Also, in the 90's there were some issues with the clear coating. Don't know about the 80's. That's why I'm asking.


BTW, the price on this one dropped, so maybe they are anxious to get it sold. It could also be that it was overpriced to start with. We're thinking that maybe Tuesday might be the day to drive in and see what's what.
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Old 11-18-2018, 08:06 PM   #7
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I have 2 Airstreams that were sold in 1988. I think it was a good year for Airstreams. But that is pretty old. They have the OSB floors. And water leaks. So you need to do some good checking for floor rot and frame rust. If it has the vista view windows check very carefully for leaks. One of my trailers sits an one is on the road 5 months of the year. I am still running the original axles and see not need to change yet. I do not think there were any design or quality issues in 1988 except for the floor and leaks. And the converter. On my trailer that sits I am getting ready to take out one of the beds, a wall panel, and a good chunk of bad flooring because the WH is about to fall through. I replaced the A frame due to rust when I got it. So I am batting about 1 out of 2 for good purchases from that year.
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Old 11-18-2018, 08:25 PM   #8
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Just looked at the pictures close, and it looks like damage at the roadside rear with the city water supply hanging down and almost touching the ground. Front roadside behind the a frame looks to have some of the underbelly hanging down. The fridge is original and there is no dinette in the unit, which is slightly odd. Good friend picked up a 1999 with dinette 2 years ago for 10,500 CDN. I could be wrong, but it looks like that unit started life as a twin bed model, after seeing the rear side compartment blocked off. Shows water leaks at the side and reart of fridge. I would check it out very well with someone that knows this model.
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Old 11-18-2018, 08:55 PM   #9
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1986 34' Limited
1975 27' Overlander
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Hi: Our 86 Limited has been in the family since new. It may have over 200k miles on it. It is still a very comfortable and reliable Airstream. The solid wood cabinetry has held up very well. It still has the original axles under it, and I still see a decent starting angle on them. The clear coat had faded off as is the case with many Airstreams. So I stripped and polished it. All 34' of it. This Texas trailer your reference looks much better than ours did. The interior looks nice. We replaced the stinky carpet in ours with a cork floor. I also replaced the plumbing as our has that gray poly-butyl stuff and had developed some leaks. I consider the OSB subfloor a negative in our trailer. Airstream used the stuff for about 25 years. It does not like moisture. I've made two floor patches in mine, so check the subfloor carefully. I replaced the belly pan aluminum on ours as galvanic action corroded the rivets through the aluminum.

I've replaced the water heater, furnaces, fridge, air conditioner, batteries, toilet, shower fan and water pump. These "RV" appliances are built "light duty" and just sorta wear out. You could expect some of that kind of maintenance.

This trailer has a Hensley hitch bolted to the front of it. That hitch will stop sway. That hitch takes some getting used to. It is a bit difficult to back into the thing. Hensley hitches do have some wear points to check out.

The longer trailers are an Airstream bargain in my view. They are very comfortable travelers. We have had ours since 05 and I have no troubles towing or backing the thing up. You get used to it.

You are not nuts for considering a 80s Airstream. You will save money, you will learn how to do some maintenance.

David
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Old 11-20-2018, 03:59 PM   #10
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We went to PPL today to see this Airstream. It is too much of a project for us. There is a large section of belly skin torn loose near the front. It does look like it started out as a twin-bed model and somewhere along the way it was "converted" to a queen bed. Unfortunately whoever did the conversion didn't do a very good job. A section of the OSB in the left rear corner is missing. PPL will not do anything to get power to a trailer unless there is a signed contract in place, so we couldn't check anything. The battery box looks like it needs some tlc, and it is possible that the batteries aren't the right size. The water faucet at the rear looks like it is an add-on, and not all that well done.


Someone who has the time, space, and ability to do what needs doing could end up with something pretty nice. PPL says they go strictly by NADA, which shows this one as $11,000 on the low end and $13,000 on the high end. (Asking price was $18,500, now $15,000.)
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Old 11-20-2018, 07:46 PM   #11
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You are wise to pass on this one. It doesn't sound like it was well presented in the advertisement. I like ads that depict the trailer as it is, and don't include a lot of "marketing fluff".

It is unacceptable to not demonstrate the trailer to you after you traveled that far. Every on site prospect wants to see what works and what doesn't so they can "appraise" the value of the trailer. Big demerit for PPL in my view. I wondered about that rear bedroom and the center bath, but Airstream has produced a lot of different floor plans through the years. I've never seen a toilet in the hallway that way.

I drove all the way to Santa Fe once to inspect a vintage Airstream. The dealer was honest and straight forward. But like you, I found some major frame issues and also interior delamination and decided it was too much of a project for me. And I like projects.

David
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Old 11-20-2018, 08:22 PM   #12
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1994 34' Excella
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Wise to pass on that unit. There are a lot better trailers to be had that don't require near as much initial work. I am surprised that PPL took that attitude of not trying to show the trailer in the best possible way to sell it. That would send red flags up immediatley. I sent you a PM about another trailer closer to you. Chris
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