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Old 06-15-2004, 12:08 PM   #1
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Wink We have Questions!!!

My husband and I found an Airstream in Atlanta that were ready to buy, but have some questions fiirst. It is a 1973 23' Safari. The outside looks to be in good condition except for the clear coat oxadizing or peeling or something on the top. It has a cracked vent lid that will need relpacing over the front couch. It needs new tires, battery and gas tanks. The axils look like they have rust on them, but the guy says they work. There is rust on the bottom of the tow thingy. All windows are in good shape. We are told all gas, electric and plumbing work, but can't use gas tanks because they are so old, they will not refill. The interior is in great condition. He put in new carpet and I would probbably make covers for the couches. A couple of the cabinet slide things need relpacing. So, we kind of want to know what would be a good price for this and if it is out of the ordinary to ask to take it to get and inspection (since we don't know about the axils or is anything inside actuallt works). If it is reasonable to get it inspected, where wold be a good place in Atlanta to do it?

Any help or advice would be great. We don't have a ton of money to sink into this after paying for it, so we are kind of chicken.

Beth
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Old 06-15-2004, 12:28 PM   #2
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Beth

Have you looked at this coach in person or have just seen it in pictures?
There are numerous post that have to do with the worthiness of the axles. Another place to look for explanations on worn out axle's in www.inlandrv.com.
The axle's are probably the most costly thingy you would have to replace, with the exception of a full floor replacement. Be sure to examine the floor carefully especially around the areas that have water (bathroom, galley sink, hot water heater). And welcome to the forum.
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Old 06-15-2004, 12:29 PM   #3
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Three Way Camper in Marietta is a formwer Airstream dealer, and quite experienced with them. Be careful about sellers saying things like the axles "work" or they are ok, as this may be a costly mistake. Items like outside finish, vent covers, and tires are easily repaired or replaced, or refinished, others things not so. I would also suggest checking thru some of the threads on this site for obvious problem areas.
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Old 06-15-2004, 12:52 PM   #4
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Greetings Beth!

Welcome to the Forums!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bethybeth
My husband and I found an Airstream in Atlanta that were ready to buy, but have some questions fiirst. It is a 1973 23' Safari. The outside looks to be in good condition except for the clear coat oxadizing or peeling or something on the top. It has a cracked vent lid that will need relpacing over the front couch. It needs new tires, battery and gas tanks. The axils look like they have rust on them, but the guy says they work. There is rust on the bottom of the tow thingy. All windows are in good shape. We are told all gas, electric and plumbing work, but can't use gas tanks because they are so old, they will not refill. The interior is in great condition. He put in new carpet and I would probbably make covers for the couches. A couple of the cabinet slide things need relpacing. So, we kind of want to know what would be a good price for this and if it is out of the ordinary to ask to take it to get and inspection (since we don't know about the axils or is anything inside actuallt works). If it is reasonable to get it inspected, where wold be a good place in Atlanta to do it?

Any help or advice would be great. We don't have a ton of money to sink into this after paying for it, so we are kind of chicken.

Beth
As with purchasing a used car, there is no reason that a reputable seller should refuse a serious buyer's request to have a rig inspected by a qualified technician. There are several systems that if not operable can become very expensive to remedy. A pre-purchase inspection can reveal any ills that the coach may possess allowing the price to be more accurately negotiated. Be prepared, however, that the services of a professional may run in the vicinity of $200 for a thorough inspection.

With your own examination of the coach along with the verdict rendered by the technician, you can make a more informed decision. There are some guidelines for establishing prices for Vintage coaches that you might want to read found at:

Vintage Airstreams Price vs. Condition

Also, don't automatically condemn the LP tanks to replacement. If the tanks happen to be original Worthington Aluminum tanks that were often provided on Airstreams it is far more economical to have the new OPD valves installed along with recertification.

Good luck with your inspection and evaluation of the coach!

Kevin
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Old 06-15-2004, 01:01 PM   #5
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I have a 73 safari, and I can give you a little hind-site on mine. The axles are passable for the moment, but will need to be replaced in the not too distant future. look at inland rv's site for info...my torsion arms are at 90 degrees. if those arms go beyond 90, they need to be replaced.

Mine also had the cracked forward vent cover...extremely common. easy to fix, though. big thing is the floor, and the problem is that it is very difficult to get a good look at it just about anywhere in the trailer. there is "something" against every wall, in every space. so you can't see the edges. One thing that I just discovered, and I've had the trailer for 2 years now, is that the rear edge of the floor had totally disintegrated. This area is totally concealed by the bathroom fixtures...toilet, tank, and shower. there is one little area that you can see, and that is if you stick your head in under the sink, and look to the right. in that corner, the floor is visible. (and looks ok on mine, for the most part). I did see one little area of dry-rot, but it didn't look to me like it was anything other than an isolated situation, in a spot where there is no weight on the floor, and as it was totally dry, it was caused by a leak that had long since been repaired. turns out, I was only partly right. the rot extended from that spot toward the curbside of the trailer, behind/under the black tank...invisible. I would suggest that when you inspect this area, get a small mirror and try and get as good a look at this section as you possibly can. you might also be able to get a small glimpse from the curbside closet, particularly the corners. another tell-tale sign in my case is the fact that there was a fair amount of rust on the underside of the frame, from where it exits the belly pan to the bumper. Anyway, I didnt' know about this damage until recently, when I dropped the belly pan.

you should also be able to see plywood up front, if you pull the couch out. its awkward, but you should be able to get in to the front wall with a flashlight and get a good look at the floor.

There was also a small amount of damage to the floor near the entry door, but this is impossible to inspect if there's wall-to-wall carpet installed. I found it when I removed my carpet.

I have to say, though, from hanging out here, and talking to other airstreamers IRL, that this sort of damage is typical for a trailer this old. it would be rare to find one that doesn't have something like this. I am mainly just "disappointed" at my floor rot discovery...I still don't think I've been had, or anything like that, and that the price I paid for the trailer was fair, considering its overall condition. However, if I could have seen the floor damage at the initial inspection, I may have been able to use that knowledge to negotiate a lower price.

Oh, and on the propane tanks: I'm not sure there's such a thing as a tank that is "too old" to use. there is such a thing as a propane valve that is too old to use; the gov't issued new standards that went into effect a couple of years ago. (google "OPD valves"). the old valves on propane tanks can be removed and replaced. old tanks can be tested and re-certified. Its not worth the expense to do this on the tank that runs your gas grill at home...cheaper to just throw it out and buy a new one. But the 30lb alluminum tanks that are common on airstreams cost $125-$150 each. very much worth it to have the gas company install new valves for 20 bucks or so each.
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Old 06-15-2004, 01:05 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bethybeth
We are told all gas, electric and plumbing work, Beth
Beth you need to get this trailer checked out. I was just at a rally where fellow who just bought his first used Airstream was told that everything worked and that he had a new two way refrigerator. As we told him it was a standard 110 volt electric fridge. Not even an RV model. His airconditioner constantly tripped the breaker.

Point being you have lots of internal systems to check. Will it hold water pressure? No leaking pipes? Does the furnace, water heater, stove, refrigerator, and air conditioner work? Each system should be checked and those not working should be considered when determining an asking price.

Bottom line you need to exercise some caution here. If you really love this trailer, have someone familiar with RV's preferably Airstream's check this unit out before you buy.

Regards,

Jack
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Old 06-15-2004, 01:31 PM   #7
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Jeeeeez

I wish I would have joined the forum before I got my AirStream. You guys sure have a lot of information.
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Old 06-15-2004, 01:42 PM   #8
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Having been around this A/S stuff I would go in planning to find some rot. I've not seen an old one that didn't have rot somewhere. On my 58 I went around with an ice pick and was solid as a rock, but as I've been taking it apart, I'm finding some small areas of rot.

How much rust do you have? On the 70's models with Vista View, they tend to leak run down the side walls and into the belly where water sits and rots the frame. Look at the belly carefully - look for areas of white powder that would indicate rusting frame against the belly. Take a rubber or regular hammer and tap the botton belly - should not hear anything inside the belly - like rust pieces.

Axles to me are not biggy - I'm big on getting axles replace anyway at that age - then you get a whole new drive train/brakes wheels - like a brand new trailer. I would also do a rebuild kit on the coupler.

Appliances are also not a biggy to me, all are fairly easy (just a "little" money) to replace. Plumbing is easy to repair. Just negociate price down for any appliance that does not work.

What you want to do is make sure you have a good structure - floor, frame and running gear. - if thats good, price is right, then I'd get it. Bad floor, rusted frame I stay away from.

That is unless you find a really cool 58 Overlander International like I did after looking for over a year for one that was in the same condition as 59 Traveler you sold the year before that was in perfect condition because your wife thought it was too small - but could not find in the same condition so now you have to do a major restoration. At least my frame is in great shape and floor is for the most part in great shape. But I digress
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Old 06-15-2004, 01:51 PM   #9
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Thanks so much...

Thanks so much for the replies. We will defianlty check out the floor. The guy just took out the old carpet and put in new. He says the floor is fine, but you never know who to trust. We will climb under it and check it out. My husband thinks they replaced the carpet to hide something. The guy says his wife just didn't like the old shag, and they had new carpet put in the house and had extra... I guess we will see tomorrow. Oh, and for those who asked, we have seen it in person (twice). We already made the mistake of saying we were going to buy a 72 Winnebago on Ebay and driving all the way to MD just to find out it was a total piece of junk. I think that is why we are being so cautious this time. We are scared...

I have talked to the present owner and he has agreed to us having it inspected with Three Way Campers. That will defiantly make us feel better.

The price we are at right now is $3000 unless we find more wrong. Does this seem reasonable? Also, does anyone know how we can find the original price (for our insurance)?

Thanks Again,
Beth
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Old 06-15-2004, 02:04 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bethybeth
My husband thinks they replaced the carpet to hide something. .

The price we are at right now is $3000 unless we find more wrong.

Your husband is very wise.

The purchase price tends to be more in the nature of a "down payment", than the actual cost of the coach. But a good '73 Safari would find lots of buyers at $3,000.

Good luck!

Mark
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Old 06-15-2004, 02:05 PM   #11
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$3,000 would be an absolute bargain if its in great shape -
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Old 06-15-2004, 02:31 PM   #12
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I paid twice that. AND (fwiw), my insurance company thinks its worth 6500.

I will add, though, that it had a new 2-way fridge (an *actual* 2-way rv fridge , that the PO reports cost 1600 bucks to have installed, as it was difficult to fit in the existing space, and took some time for the installer to modify), 3 good awnings, and a working air conditioner. and I get unsolicited comments from other airstreamers on how good the condition of the skin is, and how nice it looks. So..just for a frame of reference...
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