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Old 08-23-2012, 11:07 AM   #1
New Member
1978 25' Tradewind
Cap City , Utah
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 5
Congratulate me! New 1978 Tradewind. A Few Questions. . .

2 weeks ago I bought a 25' Tadewind (1978) and couldn't be happier.

I have a young family and my wife wanted me to sell the BMW motorbike because of the kids and we used the money for something we could all recreate in together.

We jumped in with both feet and found one for (what I thought) was a decent price and great condition. It needs a polish which I've been working on, and we'll replace the carpet and upholstery, but other than that everything seems to work okay.


1. Value. Too late now, but I wanted to get your feedback on price. After looking for a few months I thought the $4k I spent on the rig was a good buy. Other AS in the area were going for $8k and there was one for $2500 but was completely trashed. I'll post some pictures below.

2. How do you change the power from AC to battery power? There has to be a switch somewhere, right?

3. I'm not even sure how to hook up the sewer line. I'm going on a trip tonight (the maiden voyage) to a spot about 1 hour away. It has full RV hookups but I'm not sure how to "hook up" at all, let alone open the valve to pump it out.

4. Should I fill the potable water tank before I go, or do it on-site?

5. When I get to a place that has "full hookups" do I need to bring my own hose to hook up the tank?

Sorry for all of the questions! Man, I'm super stoked about this rig.

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Old 08-23-2012, 11:32 AM   #2
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1973 29' Ambassador
Seattle , Washington
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 97
congrats! have a blast
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Old 08-23-2012, 11:41 AM   #3
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 2,825

Welcome to the Forums, and to the Airstream adventure!

Here are my opinions on your questions:

Value: It all depends on many, many variables. Primarily, its a matter of what do you have to fix to make it useable/nice. It is hard to give you a straight answer without knowing what the previous owner did (ie., replace axles, repair floor). In my opinion, when you buy a 40 year old trailer, the most important thing is the condition of the shell (since a lot of the balance of the trailer would get thrown out in a full blown refurb). So, if the shell has minimal dents, the floor has minimal rot, and the unit is in safe, towable condition, $4000 probably isn't too bad. There are many threads on the forums here that give checklists of "what to check" when buying a vintage airstream. It probably would be beneficial, even though you have already made the purchase, to go through the checks, just to make sure your rig is safe and road-worthy.

Power: You have duplicate sets of wiring in your trailer. The outlets that look like conventional household outlets will deliver 110 vAC if your trailer is plugged into "shore power." You may have lights that run off of 110v, and others tha run off only 12V supplied by your converter (and battery). You will have to poke around to see how many modifications the previous owner put in place. If you have the old Univot converter, make sure you have a functional deep cycle battery installed, because the converter is not designed to operate without a battery in the system, and may burn out prematurely. Before you set out for your maiden voyage, make sure you have an adapter that will allow you to plug your trailer into the power pole at the campground. They will likely have 30 or 50 amp outlets.

Sewer hookup: You probably have an "outlet" pipe to your sewer system in the middle of the back of the trailer (under, and in front of the rear bumper). It might have a white or black PVC cap on it. This is what you will hook your sewer hose to (otherwise known as the "stinky slinky". You have to provide your own hose. You can probably get one at Walmart, but make sure it will mate with your connection. The valve handles to open and drain your black and grey tanks will likely be visible with your bumper hatch open. You don't pump out your tanks, they drain by gravity, so make sure when you make your attachment, there aren't low spots that will allow black water to pool.

Potable water: If you fill it before leaving, your trailer will likely tow better, as this will put more weight in the front of the trailer. Plus, it may save your bacon if something goes wrong in the filling/plumbing at the park.

Hoses: You will need your own "garden hose" for attaching to park water lines, and your own sewer hose to attach to the sewer.

I appreciate your sense of adventure, just heading out and giving it a whirl, but the time you spend in your driveway, figuring out what is what, and how it all works will be time well invested. No sense in having an epic on the first trip out. Plus, these old trailers can be dangerous. It makes sense to make sure your propane system and appliances are not leaking, that your electrical system isn't ready to melt and burn, and that your water tanks aren't preparing to fall out of a rotting frame. Also, consider the condition of your tires (they actually have a shelf life), brakes, and lights.

Also, opening up all the beds, and drawers, and removing the zombie mice and roach carcasses (with no women or children present), will make for a better night's sleep.

Good luck!
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Old 08-23-2012, 12:16 PM   #4
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1977 23' Safari
Niagara on the Lake , Ontario
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 841
Images: 3
Most RVr's are friendly (especially Airstream owners) and we all started out as beginners and are still learning the tricks of trailer travel so don't be afraid to ask your neighbours at the campground for help or advice.

Reading the Opps stories here might give you some insight on what not to do, or atleast provide a good read.

Also, many RV parks have internet. Bring your laptop if you have one and you can ask questions on the forum as they come up. That's the only logical reason to have internet when camping.
1977 Safari Land Yacht
2005 Toyota Tundra SR5
2010 Ford Flex Ecoboost
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Old 08-23-2012, 12:17 PM   #5
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1977 23' Safari
Niagara on the Lake , Ontario
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Looks like a great trailer, very similar to my Safari,
1977 Safari Land Yacht
2005 Toyota Tundra SR5
2010 Ford Flex Ecoboost
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Old 08-23-2012, 01:17 PM   #6
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2017 26' Flying Cloud
Alamo Heights , Texas
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 7,754
Images: 1
Blog Entries: 7
a little more about the sewer hose, in the event that your trailer doesn't have one. If the end of the pipe where the sewer cap attaches has 2 prongs, it's likely to be a Thetford connector (the original style for '70s trailers) and most of the stuff you pick up at Wal-Mart or an RV place is the newer Valterra style with 4 prongs. If you are just going from memory, it LOOKS like it might fit but it won't quite. There are thetford-to-valterra adapters, or you can do what I have done and buy hose and the connector separately and put a Thetford end on a new hose.

Somewhere there should be T-handles sticking out to operate the valves. They may not be next to each other! On my '75 Argosy, there is one inside the bumper locker and it's labeled "Main" for the black tank, and another next to the sewer outlet that's labeled "Auxiliary" and that's the graywater valve. It's good practice to dump the black tank first, then let the soapier water from the gray tank have the first pass at rinsing out the sewer hose.

Re: freshwater: be sure to get a white water hose that's labeled for drinking or potable water. Pay close attention when you initially put water in your freshwater tank, I found a nice leak in mine that way. If you are parking in a site with a city water connection, you may prefer that to using water from your tank because you can leave the pump off and it'll be quieter and probably higher water pressure.
— David

Zero Gravitas — 2017 Flying Cloud 26U | WBCCI# 15566

He has all of the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire. — Sir Winston Churchill
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Old 08-23-2012, 02:04 PM   #7
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Sioux Falls , South Dakota
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The trailer looks nice. A sage once told me that when a buyer and seller are both smiling, that's a good deal.

I didn't read all the answers yet. I bought a valterra t05-2285vp thetford to valterra universal sewer connection adapter. I got it from Amazon.

Amazon.com: Valterra T05-2285VP Thetford to Valterra Universal Adapter: Automotive

With that adapter, I can pick up a sewer connection from easy home center, and use it with no problem. New Thetford connections are available from Airstream. If they're like mine, they accept a standard 3" drain hose. Now I can have it both ways, use Thetford with a new hose, or use a standard valterra connector.

The fresh water hose is a special potable water hose. I like an external pressure regulator in addition to the OEM regulator. Those are available where RV stuff is sold.

Congratulations on the new adventure.
Click on the link to see a picture of the Sioux River falls near my home.
Eastern South Dakota is very pretty with hills, rivers, and trees.
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Old 08-23-2012, 08:54 PM   #8
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2012 27' FB International
Denver , Colorado
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 445
Congratulations!! Interior looks really nice. Hope you and your family have many wonder years of traveling memories!!
Blog: Glamper~An Airstream Diary
WBCCI #4846, WBCCI DenCO Unit
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Old 08-23-2012, 09:14 PM   #9
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1988 32' Excella
Robbinsville , New Jersey
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With the fresh water tank it is a good idea to sanitize it before use and every 6 months or before the the first time you use it each year if you use the trailer for less then 6 months a year, like most. With full hookups your first trip I would just use city water and not use the fresh water tank.
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Old 08-23-2012, 10:54 PM   #10
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2006 25' Safari FB SE
1972 23' Safari
Houston , Texas
Join Date: Feb 2009
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I looked for a few years to find a $4,000 Tradewind in the late 60's to early 70's age and wound up spending $8,000 on a 72. So the good news is that you got a good deal. The bad news is that you'll spend another $4,000 before you know it. Consider it an investment in something that will last. I spent another $8,000 on mine. Tradewinds are a great size to pull and large enough for a family to have a great time in. Enjoy the process.
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Old 08-24-2012, 12:40 AM   #11
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1963 16' Bambi
1962 22' Safari
Yreka , California
Join Date: Mar 2006
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Congrats on your new to you and your family Airstream! Don't worry about the price... it is a done deal... now go out and enjoy the time together ~ priceless!
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Old 09-13-2012, 10:47 PM   #12
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1978 25' Tradewind
Metro Phoenix , Arizona
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 1,492
Talking You got a very good deal!

I've also got a '78 Tradewinds International, and it's worth at least $7K if you go by the Airstream charts on this site.

And you got the dual battery boxes! Dude!!

One of the things you're gonna want to invest in is a good weight distributing hitch setup and a brake controller for the tow vehicle. I've got a Reese Dual Cam that I scored used and a Tekonsha Prodigy brake controller that I think actually contains some kind of magic particules.

It's a trailer that pulls really easy (maybe not uphill) and with the right hitch and controller you'll be gold.

Oh, yeah - plus extension mirrors for your tow vehicle.

By now, you've probably got 50 things that either don't work or you want to change out on it - don't be discouraged. Consider it a fun journey, not a destination.

You'll never lose a dime on that coach!!
"Between what matters and what seems to matter, how should the world we know judge wisely?" - E.C. Bentley, Trent's Last Case
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Old 09-14-2012, 08:53 PM   #13
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1987 25' Sovereign
Fort Collins , Colorado
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 499
You want full black and grey water tanks when you dump. You can hook up the slinky, but don't dump until the tanks are full, then black first followed by grey to flush the hose.

You might want a pressure regulator before you hook up to "city" water -- only about $9 or so and can save your plumbing.

Looks to me like you got a good deal!

“We are confronted with insurmountable opportunities.”
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