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Almost Ready to Run from Snow!

Posted 01-18-2011 at 11:04 AM by LawChick

I haven't had as much time to blog and play on the computer since we brought "Esmeralda" home. We got a lot done yesterday and there's snow predicted for Thursday. If we could finish cleaning and get her stocked and loaded, we'd pull out of here before it hits again! I should be working on her now but wanted to catch up a little on my blog.

We have new tires, new brakes, and new batteries. That's a start. We also have floor rot, of course, in the bedroom and Lord knows where else. We're winterized, so when we turn the water on again, there are sure to be surprises, knowing the nature of AS ownership.

We have no idea whether the heater or hot water tank work and haven't tested the LP for leaks yet, so it's turned securely off. Plenty of time for all that when we get to a warmer place. Meanwhile, there's Walmart bathrooms, campground bathrooms (although some have the water turned off this time of year in this part of the country!) and always relatives' places in Florida for refuge if we get down there and find all the tanks and the plumbing leak. Whatever is wrong, *sigh* will have to be fixed.

We knew it would be like this, though, and it's going to be a work in progress always. That's part of it, isn't it? Making a hobby of tinkering with one's AS. It certainly will be for us.

Right now, if I can get the Mister to agree, I'm for taking 'er to Florida and doing some sealing, tinkering, etc., down there where it's warm enough to play with our new toy.

Not much time to blog - there's a trailer waiting for us which is now parked alongside my daughter's house. She can't get to her carport for the moment. But, she's good about it. (Probably plotting how to stow away with our two grandchildren when it pulls out headed south!)

Attached a photo from when we first brought her home and she was out at the campground in the snow.

btw, we were getting ready to hitch 'er up and get out of there by now - I know all you er, northerners (I was about to say d... yank...) are going to say that's NO SNOW and my trailer is NOT level! Well, most of it melted before we made it back to the CG, and I don't know why it looks so unlevel - unless we had started jacking! Also...note to self, lesson #10 or so, do NOT put trailer on concrete pad that requires truck to be backed up a gravel incline about a foot deep in wet gravel. Was a rock throwing, bed swinging CHORE!
Happy ASing. I said AS-ing. Not....LOL
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  1. Old Comment
    Great story, LawChick. You had the wife and me in stitches. Quick question, if you don't mind. We are looking for our first Airstream. (We have RV'd for years in SOBs.) How did you spot your floor rot? Any tips in that regard?
    We like the 90's era Excellas very much. I know you guys and Esmeralda will have many years of fun. I hope to see you down the road.
    Posted 01-19-2011 at 12:34 PM by Dan R Dan R is offline
  2. Old Comment
    LawChick's Avatar
    Well, first of all, we didn't find it until we'd had her a week. I thought we had inspected pretty well. I had crawled underneath, looked at the belly pan (tight and no sags, etc.) We had found every possible place to look at the frame, whammed on the belly to see if we heard any flaking, etc.

    I thought we looked well into the storage compartments, but I didn't look or feel well enough. In my defense, it was so cold I just wanted to hook up and take her home by the time we were really buying her.

    Back in the fall, when we first fell in love, wasps or dirt daubers seemed to get after us every time we tried to inspect too closely. Pulled out the awnings, then ran for our lives as wasps swarmed. It's really uncomfortable, if you ask me, trying to thoroughly inspect on the lot. Next time, though, I'll know to bear it and inspect much more closely. Also, back in the fall when we first started wanting her, I hadn't read extensively on the forums and really should have asked someone to come and inspect.

    However, even had they found it, I think we still would have bought her. We were in love, ya' know?

    After we were home and had started cleaning, I opened up the storage compartment under the bed in preparation of vacuuming the old blue carpet under there. (It had a lot of acorns underneath...hmmm - a squirrel in residence?) I noticed one section of the rail under the bed had a tiny bit of telltale blackish color where it met the carpet. Pulled the carpet away, stuck my finger in, and found less than hard solid floor.

    Hollered for Mister B, and he opened the curbside storage from outside. I then had lots of light under the bed (do this before you buy one! Another lesson). When he shed all that light on the subject, I saw I could pull up carpet alongside the storage area - between that rail holding up the bed and the side wall of the trailer. Pulled it up, and there it was - floor rot, and soft, too. I'll try to take a photo and show you exactly where it is and what the first hint looked like.

    I said a few Sunday School words. Checked the other side, same place, no rot. Then we went on a manic hunt all over the trailer, pulling up old carpet and plastic coverings in corners under cabinets, etc. Took drawer out from under sofa, crawled under there and whammed on the floor at the front and in the curves. Pretty solid. One spot, about two inches, between the entertainment center and the door has had some water damage, but not too bad.

    It appears that the storage compartment was leaking - maybe for quite a while. Because it's generally pretty dark when the bed is lifted up, especially with curtains closed like they usually are at dealer lots, we couldn't see as well as we should have demanded. Also, once I found the floor rot, I also found the evidence on the exterior of attempts to repair it. I should have seen that! But a seam sort of under the awning arm had been Vulkemed, as had other seams in the general vicinity. Since there was melting snow dripping off the roof for days, and the floor wasn't wet, I think the previous owner may have gotten the leak mostly stopped. I learned to look for areas outside where extra sealant had been applied. Probably, it leaks there or has leaked.

    Here's what I will do next time, if we ever trade or buy another Stream. Open both outside storage doors, then lift the bed, preferably on a sunny day. Then crawl in. I would also take the drawer out from under the sofa and crawl under there. You can see a lot up there laying on your belly, including wiring from the batteries, battery cases, etc. Besides, there was lots of lint and dirt and needed a good vacuuming.

    I would also make the dealer raise the Stream so I could check the axles and also see if the wheels spin freely. Our brakes howled, screeched and screamed so much on the way home that we kept stopping to feel bearings and brakes. It hadn't been moved in about four months. We ended up replacing the brakes. The axles are good.

    From the start, we knew there might be floor rot, maybe even some frame decomposition. The frame seems fine, luckily. I still want to get one of those lights and look more, but it seems very good. Painted black still.

    Here's the thing, though: We wanted her. And the price was right. We had cash to pay, and expected to spend more to fix her up, and expected to work on her as a hobby.

    She's immaculate inside. New fridge, new air conditioner, everything seems to work properly, etc. Inside it's more what we want to do than what we have to do. However, once you let yourself fall in love with a particular Stream, I think you may dicker on the price, but in our case, we were hooked.

    From the beginning, the important thing to us was solid, safe and sound running gear. After all, we can do everything else later, but we wanted to be able to safely and confidently pull her down the road as a priority. If nothing else worked, we'd still be able to enjoy her and sleep in her. Now we will begin doing other things - probably sometimes in a campground on our travels as we polish, shine, decorate, etc.

    As for the floor - sigh - guess we'll have to replace that section at some point. Not right now. We aren't anywhere near falling through yet and we need to make sure the leaks are plugged that caused it first - and see if we ultimately discover other bad spots.

    We aren't going wait to have the floor fixed before we use her. If we have to reinforce it in that area with an over-patch for a little bit, that's ok. Eventually, we'll probably tear out the bedroom anyway for some remodeling projects. At that time, we'll see about the floor. But for now, we're ready to start rolling around having fun!

    Take photos to study when you get home. We did do that part, but I should have used the flash under stuff more.

    The bottom line, I think, from reading this forum for the last few months, is that there is going to be something or other wrong with a used Stream. But as you know from RVing - that's true of other brands, too - and they aren't nearly as cool.

    Hope you get one soon! And we'll see you out on the road sometime. Incidentally, there are people in the forums with much more experience who will arrange to inspect one before you buy, if you want.

    (who still needs new shock absorbers - for the trailer! I think I need some, too, after all the crawling and twisting I've been doing cleaning and looking - knees are creaking!)
    Posted 01-19-2011 at 11:23 PM by LawChick LawChick is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Thanks so much Law Chick. I am starting a folder with things to look for / inspect and your message is going into it. Your comment about all used RVs having something or other wrong is spot on. And they definitely are not as cool. Oh, tell your hubby not to sweat the backing issues. It is all part of the process. I once had to make a full circuit around a camping loop at Disney World's Fort Wilderness to get lined up again after backing and filling for fifteen minutes. Quite a crowd was lined up watching me by the time all was said and done. We all pay our dues. Dan
    Posted 01-22-2011 at 10:07 PM by Dan R Dan R is offline
  4. Old Comment
    We are beginning to look for an AS also but definitely need one with twin beds in the back to accomodate an oxygen concentrator. I don't want to have to crawl over it in the aisle when I'm in a hurry to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night. We have very limited knowledge about repairing the camper but want to go see my husband's sister in Oregon and brother in California. We are Buckeyes! Any suggestions or ideas would be appreciated.
    Posted 01-28-2011 at 06:11 PM by Crazy Grace Crazy Grace is offline

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