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Old 11-03-2014, 08:17 PM   #1
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Best Airstream to purchase for someone looking to renovate it?

Hello and thank you for taking to time to read this and help out. your advice and expertise is highly appreciated.

We are looking to purchase an old Airstream and renovate it to our liking. Apparently this has become quite the fab these day. With so many people doing this I would imagine there has to be some information out there that could help point us in the right direction of which model/year/length/ect. is the easiest to renovate and remodel.

Any information would be helpful even if it is not precise. Such as, "Anything before a 1975 is really hard to get parts for, therefore I would recommend staying above that." or "They didn't make very many of blank Models , so they are tough to get new parts for and I would recommend staying away from them."

Thanks!
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Old 11-03-2014, 08:36 PM   #2
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Every Aistream made can be easily disassembled and remodeled. That is the beauty of the design. Do you have a size or year (look) in mind?
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Old 11-03-2014, 08:40 PM   #3
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From a cost standpoint the cheapest trailers to buy would be the 70's models. Most of these will require floor replacement but even young trailers have issues with floor rot. Center bath models are more rare in the 70's but they have less problems and tank placement is over the axles where it should be. Older Airstreams were designed to be towed with cars with crappy suspension so bathrooms were put in the rear to reduce tongue weight. Older trailers don't have gray tanks so you will have to add that. Late 70's trailer started to put them in but they were on the small side till the 80's. In the late 70's frames got a little better but in the early 80's they started putting OSB floors in them which rots at the speed of sound.

Perry
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Old 11-03-2014, 08:50 PM   #4
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It does depend on what you are looking for, but 70s Sovereigns are plentiful and relatively cheap when compared to smaller models.

It worked for me because I wanted space, and I didn't want to spend a ton on a trailer I wanted to gut...


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Old 11-03-2014, 10:25 PM   #5
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Welcome to the Forums.

There was a recent thread started on this same topic--you might get some sage advice from it:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f44/...th-125949.html

My two cents: Any vintage trailer will require a lot of time and money to renovate. You don't want to select your candidate based on which is the "easiest," or most readily available. You want to carefully decide which model fits your tastes and desires best, so that you end up with exactly what you want when you are done--then you go looking for that year and model and try to find the shell that is in the best condition. If you can go to a Rally, especially a vintage Airstream rally, you will have the opportunity to roam through a variety of years and sizes, and you may find just the right model for you

MANY of the people who do full-blown renovations say that they would never do another one (I am one of those, and I haven't even finished my first trailer yet), so make sure what may be your only renovation count.

Calibrate your expectations--any trailer that is ~40 yrs old will require axle replacement, probably a complete shell-off and floor replacement (with frame repair), lots of plumbing, cabinetry, mechanical and aesthetic updating, etc. Have a look through the many "full monty" threads here on the forums, and you should see what you are signing up for.

If you would rather go camping than spend many months or years refurbishing, then the easiest camper to work with will be one that someone else has already done a complete renovation on, and what you are doing is redecorating (but watch out for the trailer flippers).

good luck!
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Old 11-03-2014, 11:14 PM   #6
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Nothing about renovating a vintage trailer is "easy."

Some vintage parts are available. You can scour through Vintage Trailer Supply, Inland RV, Out of Doors Mart and any other vintage parts suppliers you can find. They will have some solutions to things that you need to replace. Other things you'll have to make yourself from scratch.

We did not do a shell-off on our 40 year old trailer. But over 3 years, we patched the rotted floor places, fixed the common problem of separation between frame and shell at the rear, and removed and replaced everything inside the trailer except for the windows and the inside skin. While I was designing and building new dinettes, my husband was installing solar panels and replacing the axles and the interior plumbing.

He points out that the skills and adaptability for a trailer renovation are about comparable to gutting a kitchen down to the studs in an old house and putting a new kitchen in. There is mechanical work, plumbing, electrical, appliance repair and/or installation, woodwork, surprises, compromises and lots of attention to detail. It takes a lot of tools and a lot of know-how that, if you don't have it at the beginning of the job, you'll gain on the way.

We bought a trailer that was big enough to sleep our family of 4 (kids were in college when we bought it), but small enough to park in tight National Park campsites. It fits in our driveway, which lets us work on it with relative ease. It has enough space for us to live in even when it's raining, and it's short enough to pull easily with our existing truck. What trailer you get depends on what you want to end up with.

It's been a great adventure. I'm really glad we did it. We created the trailer that we want to have for the rest of our lives. We have no plans to buy another or to sell this one. We made it into what we wanted. We worked hard and learned hard.
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Old 11-04-2014, 07:46 AM   #7
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TomSawyer,

We wish you success as you progress with your decision and project. I found a lot of pleasure was in the renovation itself. The disassembly can be a bit like an archaeological expedition. I learned when you think the component is ready to be pulled out, there's always one more rivet or screw. When you find and remove it, reapply the rule, because there's another.

One thing we considered was that we wanted a full size bed where we could each get out on our own side. The newer 27 ft and longer units have this layout available. For us, our 64 Safari (22') dinette model has a rear bath and the door is set further rearward allowing more distance from the front wall to the galley cabinet. By moving the refrigerator rearward and shortening the gaucho a few inches we had what we wanted. I'm about to start on our 68 Overlander (26'). It's door and furnace are further forward, so it makes it a little more challenging. The thought is, you may want to consider what changes, renovations, and modern conveniences you want and consider things like the door, furnace, refrigerator, hot water heater, wheel wells and bath placement. (Things that penetrate the walls/skin are more work to relocate.) Do they limit or support your plans?

Good luck and enjoy. By the way, you can take a look at 64airstream.com. It hasn't been updated for a while, but it shows our work on the 64. Since then, we've changed to a two way refrigerator and a full-time bed configuration.

Roy and Marie
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Old 11-04-2014, 11:07 AM   #8
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I truly enjoyed the renovation process.

It wasn't "done" in four months, but it was bought, gutted, rebuild, and gone on its first 1,000 mile camping trip in four months.

People ARE different, some like that kind of thing and some don't, but I can say with certainty that a quick project is more fun than one that stretches over years and years.

It took me a long time to figure that out.


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Old 11-04-2014, 12:13 PM   #9
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We managed to do our 3 year renovation while still camping 30+ days a year in the trailer. The camping experience helped us understand how we would be using the trailer and what features we wanted to be sure to include.

Our first trip saw us with new axles and a repaired floor, but with no bathroom, no gauchos, an airbed where our bed would eventually be and an ice chest where our refrigerator eventually would be. It got better from there. The only change we ended up making in the original layout was to move the doorways that define the hall. When we replaced each of the bulkheads (the walls that stick out from the sides of the trailer), we took a few inches from the streetside and added it to the curbside. This gave us room for a real shower in the bathroom and a mid-dinette that seats 4.

We had to build the new shower pan, bathroom vanity and mid dinette from scratch, but by then we knew what we wanted and we'd found people on the forum to give us good advice. Our renovation blog is in my sig line if you want to see pictures.
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Old 11-04-2014, 04:51 PM   #10
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Wow you guys are scary. I've in the process for 2 months 4-5 days a week and only half way through stripping off walls, rugs, and flooring while wife paints cab doors etc. Bathroom is a biggy for my prior owner installed 3/4" plywood with tile on top and I'm trying to get it up one layer at a time with a wood chisel 2/3rds done and still have to strip the bedroom let alone the rebuild. I hope to be finished enough to take grandkids to keys in June!
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