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Old 10-26-2014, 05:39 PM   #1
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The standard progession of a Airstream Wannabe...

Greetings from Dallas. After several years of general cajoling and persistance, my lovely bride has convinced me we should get an Airstream. This conversation began years ago with a desire to go camping. That said, after 10 years in the Marines, I really don't have an interest in sleeping in the dirt ever again.

But I do like the idea of hookng up an heading out. While visiting a few Airstreamers this weekend at a local campground, I began to feel the bug setting in. We saw three trailers, one new, one vintage, one from the 80's. All unique and just cool. All the other boxes on wheels at adjacent spots hold NO APPEAL.

So I found this amazing place and began looking. First I figured I'd go down the restoration/rennovation path. Then I got to thinkning about the work and I moved to the new AS camp, hey it's only money! But now I'm back to the vintage route. The biggest factors being cost, weight and the ability to make something special that we'll have for the next 20 yrs.

So here is my question. Is it possible to do a bit of both? I want to RENONVATE not RESTORE. But I don't have the time, patience or skill to endure some of the anquish I've read about over the past few weeks. Are there rebutable folks who will bring a trailer to the "aluminum tent stage"? Can I find a 25' to 30 foot trailer with a properly restored frame and subfloor? I'd happily pay for a set of good bones that have dealt with the frame and subfloor issies. From there I'd feel much conforatble starting with blank canvas that I can begin from.

This idea can't be orignal. Is this a reasonable approach? How do I get started?

Dan in Dallas...
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Old 10-26-2014, 06:19 PM   #2
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There are still plenty of good original 'one owner' Airstreams out there that don't have floor or frame issues. What you start with is the important thing. Ask a Forums Ambassador from your area to inspect the prospective project with/ for you. Pay a little more- get a good one, then take it a little at a time. There are also projects that someone started and are part way there for you. Use the winter or downtime to do the bigger stuff and don't get something too torn down where you can't get it accomplished in time to go camping!
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Old 10-26-2014, 06:33 PM   #3
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You might consider one just a few years old.

That is that I did and it worked out well for us. I bought a 2005 in 2009 (I think it was 09!)

I have the tools and (I think!) a lot of the skills to restore an older model, but didn't really have the inclination to undertake a large project, nor the space - I cant store the trailer at home.

I didn't quite want to spring for a brand new one - we had the cash, but I just didn't want to spend that much as we don't spend as much time traveling as many folk do.

I settled on an age bracket that I would look for, expecting that even though Airstreams may not depreciate as much as other makes, I would still save a considerable amount, which I did, and yet I would not yet be in the age bracket where I would have to start thinking about replacing major appliances. I didn't kid myself that I wouldn't encounter a few problems.

It has worked out for us pretty much as I expected. We have enjoyed the trailer a lot in the time we have had it and it has really cost me very little.

I did buy and install a new Hensley hitch, but apart from that and performing reguar wheel bearing repacks and keeping all the caulking in good shape, about all I have done includes

- replacing poor quality original skylights with much better Maxim units,

- replacing 15" wheels & trailer tires with 16" wheels and Michelin LT tires.

- minor electrical repair (just bad connectors) to tongue jack, AC, and HW heater.

I think that's about it.

Looking forward to heading south again this winter. We have travelled with the trailer to either California, Arizona or Florida every winter since we owned it, plus shorter trips the summer months.


Brian.
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Old 10-26-2014, 06:50 PM   #4
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Thanks for the note Brian. You're appoach makes sense, someplace between the two extemes where I seem to be bouncing between!

I found the "NADA guides" is this a reasonable estimate of trailer value for used equipment?
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Old 10-26-2014, 07:00 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hostage46 View Post
Thanks for the note Brian. You're appoach makes sense, someplace between the two extemes where I seem to be bouncing between!

I found the "NADA guides" is this a reasonable estimate of trailer value for used equipment?
I'm not sure about the NADA guides - hopefully others will comment - I just spent a few months checking asking prices everywhere I could. If memory serves, we paid $45k for our 2005 Classic 30' from a dealer about 4 years old - I suppose a new one at that time might have been $110k so I felt ok with that.

It was very hard to find one in the age bracket I wanted here in Canada, so after looking for a few months, I wound up buying one in Ohio and importing it to Canada - turned out to be very easy to do.

Good luck in whatever you wind up with, I expect you will enjoy it!

Brian.
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Old 10-26-2014, 07:07 PM   #6
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I also went with used trailers, at first because that's what I could afford and later because that's what I preferred. The first one I had, an early 70's, was about 20 years old when I got it. I've progressed through several trailer, each with a slightly different layout/better condition/newer each time.
I've found that NADA values are not based on the real market value. I think they are 10% to 30% lower than retail, because those values do not consider condition or renovations. On the other hand, many owners think their trailers are 10% to 30% more valuable than the real value.
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Old 10-26-2014, 07:10 PM   #7
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NADA is way off for Airstreams. Look at the classifieds and you should get a "real world" idea of the value of a used Airstream. We bought a used one ( 3 years old) and it was about half of a new one. It all depends on the model or size. Good luck on your search.
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Old 10-26-2014, 07:38 PM   #8
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We are new to the AS addiction like you however we have always owned some sort of RV. You have certainly found the right site to learn everything you want to know about AS and then some. We have one long term project and we are now purchasing one that is "almost renovated"....that's the beauty of these babies. If you have the room you can have you cake and eat it too!
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Old 10-26-2014, 09:14 PM   #9
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Greeting from the Florida Panhandle

First off, welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

As to seeking out an Aiirstream. We have owned one used and two new. There are many many very serviceable late model Airstreams out there. Vintage are great, but unless you buy it already restored, camping can be way off in the future.

Brian
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Old 10-27-2014, 03:51 PM   #10
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Ditto everything you have read here, but give new some consideration. The two years of warranty will be a nice thing....
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Old 10-27-2014, 04:58 PM   #11
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Renovation versus restoration is certainly an option. Consider also "personalization" of a less than 10 year old unit.

We bought a three year old Airstream in 2011. It has served us well for over 20,000 miles and 300 nights. The savings was significant versus a used model even with some repairs, upgrades and "personalization" decorating expenses. Based on current market prices we could sell it today for within $2000 to $3000 of our investment.

Once we decided to buy an Airstream, our search for a good used one took about a year. We looked at a number of units advertised on Craigslist, eBay, RVTrader, and on dealer lots. The education from looking at a number of ten year old or less units helped us understand pricing and what problems to look for. Certainly the many experiences of other owners we read about on Airforums were invaluable as well. One thing we found was there are many lightly used Airstreams in decent condition but even more "polished turds" that may look okay on the surface but have some problems underneath.

Winter is a good time of year for looking at used RV's. Prices tend to be lower in the off season. Many folks with lightly used trailers decide camping isn't for them put their trailers on the market at the end of the season. The number of potential buyers drops between fall and spring so buyers are often more negotiable, particularly when they haven't seen an interested buyer for a number of weeks.

A decently cared for lightly used trailer may be less hassle than a new one if the owner has taken care of any factory defects and kept up the maintenance. A well cared for recent model (5-10 years old) Airstream depreciates very slowly and has many years of use ahead of it. Even older units can be purchased without having to renovate. We know several people who have purchased well maintained 1990's units for between $10,000 and $20,000 who are enjoying the lifestyle without any major repair issues. We've seen beautiful transformations of these 1990's trailers which required minimal dollar investment and very reasonable sweat equity investments. Remember, you'll likely want to spend your time camping, not renovating.

When we started looking someone told us, "If you spend time on the search, your Airstream will find you." This advice turned out to be true. I won't go into the story of how we found her, but when we saw the unit for the first time in the owner's driveway we knew it was the right one for us. Over three years later we are completely happy with the age, style, floor plan and length we chose.

The other piece of valuable advice. "Don't be afraid to walk from a trailer. There will always be another one popping up in a few days."

Good luck on your search. Do your homework, look at many trailers, walk away from a couple of potentials, and your Airstream dream will find you.
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Old 10-27-2014, 06:11 PM   #12
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^^ good advice ^^
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Old 10-27-2014, 06:12 PM   #13
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I agree.... what a great community!!
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Old 10-27-2014, 06:50 PM   #14
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My wife and I had the AS bug since being around them as children. We had a little 15' Shasta but, our neighbors had an AS and once in awhile I was invited to sleep-overs in it.... I had the bug. My wife's grandparents had one and took her with them on many trips as a child. So naturally, when the time came for us to buy, it had to be an AS. Our one regret?...... Not buying one sooner.

A couple words of wisdom.... My brother spent the better part of 12 years laboring on his dream home. As a carpenter, mason, dry waller, and plumber he worked in his spare time, finally finishing in time for his divorce, never reaping the rewards of his labor...... Whatever you do, don't take that route!
Good Luck,


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