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Old 08-02-2003, 03:09 PM   #1
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Picking out my first Airstream, is this good?

I just went up the road (1 hour) and looked at a 1970 Safari 23' for $3500. It was in very good condition. It only had a few small problems. It had two very small exterior dents, and the owner told me ahead of time that there was a problem with the water heater. When I got there he explained that water was coming up in the bath area, but not in the sink. Personally, this sounds like a problem with a water pump, not the water heater, but I don't know the system. Outside of this, everything was in good shape. The only detraction I could see was the lack of air conditioning. Can you add a roof AC using the roof vent, or does a roof AC need a specific kind of opening? I don't like the idea of sticking a window unit in.

He was firm on the price. Should I jump on this one, or can I find a better deal if I keep looking?
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Old 08-02-2003, 03:43 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum!

I am a motorhomer, but I will try (I did own three trailers too)

The deal sounds good, but here is what you need to know going in (IMHO)

Roof air can be added. If you want it and want to use the prewire and drain it requires cutting a hole for the AC. If you or your other half, if applicable, are handy you can do it yourself. There is an in wall drian tube for the AC condensation. If you want to use it you will need a pan for the AC. Two models have an available pan. A duotherm penguin (low profile) and the carrier 1500 BTU. Look at the cost being in the 900 dollar range if you DIY. If you have a dealer do it add 500 to the cost. YMMV

The water problem is more than likley just a 20 dollar moen insert. They get stuff in the orifices and the stop working. This can be gotten at a home supply/hardware store.

Two other things to look at. Tires/bearings/brakes. Ask when they were last done. If the trailer has been sitting awhile 2 years or more this will need to be addressed.

Lastone: Axles In this vintage there was a lot of axle failure due to the rubber compunds used not staying resilent. You need to check the angle on the arms. If they are at 0 or negative (pointing up) then this is a bad deal. 2 axles installed can run close to 1800.00 If the axels need to be done and you tow it long distances you can wreck the whole trailer. :eek

For more on axles go to www.inlandrv.com

sounds like a good deal, but it is always best to do some research!
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Old 08-03-2003, 07:41 AM   #3
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Three more questions from the newbie:

1) If there is a problem with the plumbing, and it's somewhere between the water heater and the bathroom, how do you get to the pipes, since the bottom of the trailer is enclosed?

2) How can you winter camp in an airstream? In a regular trailer I've been told you can wrap the pipes in heat tape, then put skirts under the trailer.

3) If you wanted to use a pair of solar panels, where do you place them and how do you secure them without messing up the shell?
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Old 08-03-2003, 08:36 AM   #4
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Picking out my first Airstream, is this good?

Greetings Narnian!

Quote:
) If there is a problem with the plumbing, and it's somewhere between the water heater and the bathroom, how do you get to the pipes, since the bottom of the trailer is enclosed?
The plumging in an Airstream runs above the floor and most can be accessed via closet floors or through the rear one-stop service compartment (on coaches so equipped). You may find "false-floors" or shelves in the bottom of the closets that hide the pipe runs (they may be attached with screws or rivets depending upon the trailler (wood screws in my '64 Overlander - - rivets in my '78 Argosy). The low-point drains and other shut-off valves are generally immediately accessible if a bit hidden.

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2) How can you winter camp in an airstream? In a regular trailer I've been told you can wrap the pipes in heat tape, then put skirts under the trailer.
It can be done, my coldest experience with my Airstream was in October of 2000 when the overnight temperatures fell to 24 degrees. When below freezing temperatures were called for, I disconnected the city water supply. Heat is ducted to the holding tank areas and you can assist by opening lower cabinet doors to allow additional heat to circulate to the areas where pipes run. For more extreme cold for longer periods, wrapping the city water supply with heat tape and skirting the coach to block wind would also likely be necessary. Other than the copious amounts of LP that the furnace might consume, I believe that most Airstreams will allow for a significant amount of "winter" camping.

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3) If you wanted to use a pair of solar panels, where do you place them and how do you secure them without messing up the shell?
I have three solar panels (installed by AJ Solar at the Rapid City, SD WBCCI International Rally in 2002). All three are mounted on the roof (your space would be somewhat more limited on a 23' foot coach). The mounting brackets attach to roof ribs at as many points as possible, and the mounts were carefully sealed with Vulkem (a special sealant recommended by Airstream). The power supply cables were then routed through the plumbing vent pipes to the control panel that is mounted on a bedroom wall ('64 Overlander) and is then routed to a bank of three gel cell batteries. The last option on the installation was a Trace Inverter Charger to replace a failing converter. You can see a part of the solar array on my trailer in the photo below:

Kevin
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Old 08-03-2003, 08:46 AM   #5
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Thank you! That really clears things up. It sounds to me like it's a lot easier to winter camp with an Airstream than the other brands.

There are a few things I don't completely understand on mounting the solar panels, but I think I get the gist of it. If you get a chance to climb up on a chair and take a closer photo of the panels and mountings, I'd love to see how it's done.
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Old 08-03-2003, 09:02 AM   #6
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Quote:
Lastone: Axles In this vintage there was a lot of axle failure due to the rubber compunds used not staying resilent. You need to check the angle on the arms. If they are at 0 or negative (pointing up) then this is a bad deal. 2 axles installed can run close to 1800.00 If the axels need to be done and you tow it long distances you can wreck the whole trailer. :eek
This is true when it is unloaded (UVW). Not when at the GVWR. If they are already at negative with no weight they will more then likely go above 20 degrees

If you are loaded and do not go above or more then 20 degrees (negative)your axle have not failed. This is from QDS them selves. But they are getting week if they are in the negative.

QDS (Henchen)said if they are not more then that they do not recommend changing them out. This information was given to me around 30-40 days ago. Because mine sit at positive-negative under load. around 3-5 degrees.
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Old 08-03-2003, 09:41 AM   #7
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Picking out my first Airstream, is this good?

Greetings Narnian!

I tried to get a more detailed shot of my solar installation from the hill above where my Airstream is parked - - if my summer residence were two-story like my winter home, it would have been possible to get a more bird's-eye-view. I don't know whether this will clarify as it is just the rearmost streetside panel.

Kevin
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Old 08-03-2003, 09:44 AM   #8
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Picking out my first Airstream, is this good?

Greegings Narnian!

Here is a more detailed view of the mounting on the same panel.

Kevin
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Old 08-03-2003, 12:40 PM   #9
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Re: Picking out my first Airstream, is this good?

Quote:
Originally posted by overlander64
Greegings Narnian!

Here is a more detailed view of the mounting on the same panel.

Kevin
Thanks! I think that clarifies it. I'll save that photo on my PC till I'm ready to install panels. Of course, I have to buy an airstream first!
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Old 08-03-2003, 12:43 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by JPAIRSTREAM


This is true when it is unloaded (UVW). Not when at the GVWR. If they are already at negative with no weight they will more then likely go above 20 degrees

If you are loaded and do not go above or more then 20 degrees (negative)your axle have not failed. This is from QDS them selves. But they are getting week if they are in the negative.

QDS (Henchen)said if they are not more then that they do not recommend changing them out. This information was given to me around 30-40 days ago. Because mine sit at positive-negative under load. around 3-5 degrees.
This is totally over my head. I'll have to do some research.

If I am planning on living all over the midwest for a few months, am I going regret having one axle instead of two? This trailer I looked at is a single axle 23'.
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Old 08-03-2003, 03:16 PM   #11
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Originally posted by Narnian


If I am planning on living all over the midwest for a few months, am I going regret having one axle instead of two? This trailer I looked at is a single axle 23'.
That depends... is a four door car better than two? Is a 3/4 ton better than a 1/2 ton truck? I've had singles, a tandem, and now a triple axle. They each have advantages and disadvantages. A tandem may ride a little easier (softer?), and be a little easier to back up. You don't need to carry a spare. The single requires less maintenance, and fewer dollars for replacement tires. Which is more important? Your call.

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Old 08-03-2003, 03:38 PM   #12
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If your Axle has failed that means it is half the price to replace... I would agree that it is half the expence as well...
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Old 08-03-2003, 03:38 PM   #13
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New question.

I really have my heart set on air conditioning. I think it will cost me another $1000 to add it to this Safari, which is more than the $4000 I wanted to spend initially.

Is it possible to get a decent 23' to 27' old Airstream with Airconditioning for under $4k? Should I exhibit patience and wait for a better deal, or is this about what I can expect to pay?
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Old 08-03-2003, 04:33 PM   #14
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Picking out my first Airstream, is this good?

Greetings Narnian!

Quote:
Is it possible to get a decent 23' to 27' old Airstream with Airconditioning for under $4k? Should I exhibit patience and wait for a better deal, or is this about what I can expect to pay?
Nothing is entirely impossible, but it is not highly probable that you will find a coach with air conditioning with all other systems functional and generally good servicable condition for under $4,000.00 in the size range that you want (IMHO). Another consideration is that even if you find a coach with an original equipment air conditioner it may be nearing the end of its useful life which could mean replacing only a short time after purchase (this happened to me with my Overlander). With a new air conditioner, you will also likely get at least the option of a three year manufacturers warranty. You might have a slightly better chance of finding an Argosy within that price range.

Good luck with your decision!

Kevin
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