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Old 03-03-2016, 11:46 AM   #1
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Quit gutting AIRSTREAMS!

What is with everyone wanting to gut trailers in an effort to "make it their own"?

A trust that an occasional person could pull this off, but in general I bet far more abandon the effort soon after getting the furniture out.

The layout for an Airstream was designed by professionals for a specific reason. They knew what they were doing.

Now, we have big dreamers that watch a 1/2 hour TV show, and think: "I can do that!"

First off, those shows are a lot of fiction. The nasty tank removal, plumbing, bad electrical, inoperative running gear and propane leaks are almost never shown. Cute curtains and fancy faucets are highlighted.

If your talking about replacing a gaucho with recliners or a futon, go for it! If your attempting a coffee bar kitchen with computer desk and a relocated bathroom to make room for bunk beds and a cast iron clawfoot tub, do yourself a favor, stop.

Buy an old Airstream. Make it safe. Camp in for a year and enjoy your investment. Then start planning.
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Old 03-03-2016, 11:56 AM   #2
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...Buy an old Airstream. Make it safe. Camp in for a year and enjoy your investment...
Exactly what I have done. Going on the 8 year of ownership and enjoyment of my 6 metre Miunet. I spend about 300-500 dollars a year and a few enjoyable hours on improvements. Next is paint the exterior and then upholstery. Sure I would have liked to gut it and change the floor plan to the current FC 20 footer but would not have had 7+ years of summer camping enjoyment.
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Old 03-03-2016, 12:18 PM   #3
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What is with everyone wanting to gut trailers in an effort to "make it their own"?
I'm not gutting one. I wouldn't dare! Not because I have a moral objection to it, but because I'm spastic with any kind of tool in my hands. You've heard of people who are all thumbs, well I'm worse— I'm all toes!

There will always be people gutting Airstreams. Sometimes it's unavoidable if the previous owner let it waste away until there's nothing salvageable but the frame and shell. Sometimes it will be people who want their trailers to sleep more people than it was designed for, and so they need to build in bunk beds. Sometimes it will be a mobility-impaired person who wants to go Airstreaming but can't manage to move around in one without widening the aisles or making the bath handicapped-accessible. Or it might be someone converting one to the world's most stylish mobile pizza parlor.

There are plenty enough Airstreams out there that one person— or a couple dozen people— gutting their Airstreams will never devalue your Airstream. It's theirs, and they can do with it what they want, without interference from us. Just as the one you bought is yours, and you can keep it 100% original if you like.
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Old 03-03-2016, 12:32 PM   #4
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Prot, I must not have made my point clear.

I agree, you bought it. Do whatever the hell you want with it! In the end it gives me a cheap parts trailer to acquire!

What I mean is that "buyers" may be trying to accomplish a task WAY above their skill level. If you are not comfortable remodeling the master bathroom at home, what makes you think you are capable of re-engineering a vehicle that will be going 70mph over railroad tracks and then coming to a quick emergency stop?

I guess my concern is the glamorization of "vintage trailers" and the "tiny house" BS. Sure, they are great. But, don't go in with a sawzall before you understand why the wall is where it is.

Next thing you know, people will be installing shotgun racks.....
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Old 03-03-2016, 12:37 PM   #5
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Prot, I must not have made my point clear.
Now you've made it perfectly clear, so even a thick-headed person like me can understand. Basically you're saying, "Don't take it apart unless you know that you can put it back together." Which is good advice for ANY handyman project from home carpentry to auto repair, and anything in between.
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Old 03-03-2016, 12:38 PM   #6
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There are plenty enough Airstreams out there that one person— or a couple dozen people— gutting their Airstreams will never devalue your Airstream. It's theirs, and they can do with it what they want, without interference from us. Just as the one you bought is yours, and you can keep it 100% original if you like.
Couldn't agree more. Old Airstreams are just that, old. Very, very few have any historical or cultural significance.

Our 19' Bambi, purchased new, is (preceded by its owners) sliding into the "old" category. If somebody wants to gut it after it leaves our hands, fine. We will have had our pleasure from it.

Tim

PS Just saw DanB's clarification. I still don't know why people shouldn't gut an old Airstream. As somebody who has made/built things for many years, there remains the possibility of "learning by doing." Poorly installed furniture is no less hazardous at 70mph (with or without railroad tracks) than a rusted out frame in an Airstream which an owner doesn't want to touch for fear of making a mistake.
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Old 03-03-2016, 12:52 PM   #7
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Huge difference between repairing and gutting.

You said "Poorly installed furniture is no less hazardous at 70mph (with or without railroad tracks) than a rusted out frame."

Really?

A rusted out frame failing at 70mph causes an accident possibly flipping the trailer and TV. The worst case scenario I can think of is a broken cabinet would be it flying out a window. And that would be damn near impossible!

Again, what I referring to is the folks that back a trailer next to the garage and go in with a cordless drill and taking the interior down to the plywood floor or worse.
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Old 03-03-2016, 01:10 PM   #8
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I would agree that there are way too many Airstreams and Argosy's which are gutted and the person doing that has no real idea of what to do and the skills to do it. We see questions here on the forum all the time related to electrical, plumbing, floor, dents, skin questions which indicate that the person asking has no real clue and no knowledge. They want a nice simple answer to fit the problem they have come up with, like anyone can do it from the cookbook. Their question essentially says "show me the cookbook, I will follow the directions and it will be done". But don't ask me to really understand anything, or even do any real research on the topic. I want a step 1, step 2, step 3 answer. Sometimes they even say it in their posts, something like "don't give me the technical BS, I don't want to try to understand it, just give me the answer".

That sounds condescending I know, like I know it all and the newbe can't ever reach that level. At one time I knew virtually nothing about Airstreams too, but I learned, and I also had a basic knowledge on many technical things. But my knowledge was gained over many years. So, it can certainly be done. However, all to often the person buying and gutting a trailer not knowing anything about carpentry, plumbing, electrical and so many other issues is most likely going to wind up with a project they never can finish.

I am not a purist. My '74 Argosy is a different vehicle than the one which came out of the factory, but I made the changes as needed and when I understood what the problems were. I never would have considered gutting it, thinking I knew more than the original planners and engineers.

It is a total guess on my part, but I bet less than 40% of the gutted Airstreams ever become hole, functional vehicles again, that is ones which are truly well done, not hack jobs. That is sad, as once gutted, much is lost.
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Old 03-03-2016, 01:21 PM   #9
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I didn't gut my 75.

Fourteen days and a little cash made a pretty nice trailer.

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However, the 72 I did.

120 days from purchase to first trip, changes and refinements continue.
And yea, we spent more on this one.

It was well used and threadbare when I got it, but had it been in great shape I still would have gutted it. I knew what I wanted to do with the trailer even before I started shopping for it.

A studio apartment of sorts, queen bed, residential fixtures, and a full shower. We have used it a lot over the last couple of years.

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Fwiw, the next trailer I get I am going to gut it too, but I hope it is a Silver Streak.


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Old 03-03-2016, 01:30 PM   #10
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JM - Did the 75 have solid floors? It does look pretty nice. Pat
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Old 03-03-2016, 01:37 PM   #11
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JM - Did the 75 have solid floors? It does look pretty nice. Pat

The floors were good save the two smallish patches the PO installed before deciding the project wasn't for him.

The patches are not like I would have done, but they were good enough for that project. Otherwise the floor was solid.

We did that one on a $1,500 budget that included new pex and a new water heater.


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Old 03-03-2016, 01:38 PM   #12
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However, without the interest of all of those 'hacks' the market would be much less alive! Think about all of the new parts, equipment, techniques, and gear that have come out in the last years to support the growth of the vintage trailer market.

It reminds me of Atlas Shrugged when the small business owners realized that their business model could only survive with the larger companies to provide the economy of scale to bring down the cost of equipment, transportation, etc. while they blamed them for 'keeping them down' once they were gone a $50 drill bit cost $500.

A few eggs will be broken to make an omelette. Besides gutting them just saves the me time and makes them cheaper to buy. Nothing I can't fabricate myself




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Old 03-03-2016, 01:41 PM   #13
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When I was traveling in my fifth wheel it used to be campground entertainment to check out all the bumps and bruises on the rigs in the campground and wonder the story behind them all. I certainly had my own collection. I still have the same truck and I have several dents and dings that make me smile reminiscing the difficult learning curve. Now that I've fallen into the Airstream spell reading all the gutted Airstream for sale ads does the same thing. People sure seem to bite off more than they can chew with these rigs. I have a long history of buying, selling and renovating stuff and I just about got my comeuppance on the one I bought. The OP will be happy to know I'm putting it back as close as possible to original. Different flooring, different toilet, different air conditioner, but pretty much stock. If this thing had another ten years of accrued damage from deferred maintenance I'd have thrown in the towel I'm sure. But I didn't buy an Airstream because they are so cool, even though they are. And I didn't buy one because I love to renovate stuff, although I do. I bought it because it actually fits my perceived requirements better than any other rig I could find and lord knows I looked at, and pondered the possibilities, of hundreds of SOBs in an effort to find something suitable. Besides a trail of tears they are sure potential budget busters. I'll easily have double invested over what a similarly capable SOB fifth wheel would have been and I'm on the very low end of the scale Airstream wise.
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Old 03-03-2016, 01:52 PM   #14
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there is some good advice here ....
the fans who are watching the rv restauration show on tv and think they can do similar things for small money ....

forgetting all to often that those guys are specialists and that their finished product is way way more expensive than a current new trailer. It does look almost easy on the tube :-)

I have great respect for peeps who done it and like their results
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