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Old 12-07-2003, 05:38 PM   #1
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Pre-owned Airstreams - avoid which years?

We have heard that when considering the purchase of a used Airstream travel trailer, it is wise to avoid certain model years (prior to Thor) because of aluminum skin problems, etc. Anyone know about this?
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Old 12-07-2003, 07:05 PM   #2
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They're all good in my mind

I never heard of skin problems other than newer Airstreams are supposedly not polishable to a shiny finish like the older ones. I've heard to avoid early 70s rear baths and then I turned around and bought one. I have no problems with it and I think the floor plans of that era were pretty good. I think all Airstreams are worth their weight in aluminum as long as they are in good condition or fixable.

Personally I think Airstream took a turn for the better in the aesthetics department starting with the 1969 model year that introduced that slight midline bulge and rounded corner windows. The 1969 year might be the golden year because they hadn't gone to the plastic interiors yet that marked the 70s.

If I were to pick an Airstream strictly just to HAVE sans any practical reason to use it, it would be the 1969 Caravel.
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Old 12-07-2003, 07:43 PM   #3
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Each decade has it's own plus and minus issues.

If avoiding the clear coat peeling issue, you need to avoid any Airstream prior to 1999 (give or take a year).

There too, my feeling is that 99, 00,01 and up until late 02 was good. 2003 was not a very good year in regard to QC issues. Late 02 seems to have the same issues as 03. Were there good units made, you bet. Did and would Airstream stand behind it, without question.

I just ordered a 2004 and so have a few others. For the most part, the general feeling I get is that 2004 is a night and day difference to the 2003. I will be picking up my '04 in a few weeks and will post all details both good and otherwise to the "Help track the quality of the '04s" thread.

From what I gather, some of the 70s units had rear body seperation. I know nothing about the 60s except for somewhere in mid 60s, they stuck with a new standard twinkie shape and have used that same shape since then (at least that's what's on Airstream's website.

In all cases, I will say that any year you pick would in fact be better than that of a similar year SOB.... case in point...how many vintage other RVs do you see in use on the road? How many 1960, 70 and 80s Airstreams you see on the road?
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Old 12-07-2003, 10:56 PM   #4
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Wink

I own an '80 International 28' and it has "rear sag" problems. You can do a search on this site to find out more about why this happened, but it seems to involve the rear bath models longer than say 26'. It had to do with the weight of travelling with full (rear) tanks versus a compromised frame design made lighter because of weight saving measures. Not all of those specific trailers developed the problem, though. Good luck.
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Old 12-08-2003, 10:36 AM   #5
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The mid to late 90's units had problems with the clear coat. This was not resolved until Airstream switched over to prefinished panels from Alcoa. The problems were pretty bad and my feeling is that if you are looking a a 90's built unit and the finish seems good, you will have already passed the point where the clear coat problem would raise its ugly head.....or it is possible that the owner could have refinished the unit.

According to our tour guide when we were up at the factory, the clear coat problem was partially due to EPA requirements which made them change the formulation. He told us in some cases Airstream refinished some of these units at no charge only to have them fail again in a short period of time.

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Old 01-07-2004, 12:47 AM   #6
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Talking Let's get it right

rfield54
You said:
Quote:
More specifically ones made between about '76 and maybe '84, when Beatrice Foods owned Airstream.
Beatrice Foods owned Airstream from 1967 to 1979. Not up to 1984..Thor bought Airstream in 1979.
These are well known facts~Airstream Manufacturing History

Just thought you'd like to know..
Rearend sag problems can affect any yr and/or model under the right condition. Most, not all, are due to 'owners' abuse of the trailer.
This subject has been covered to the nth degree~
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Old 01-07-2004, 05:44 AM   #7
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Personally, I would avoid any Airstream made prior to 1936. I heard they had problems with the wood rotting.
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Old 01-07-2004, 05:50 AM   #8
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Talking hmm

Pick

You reckon?....lol

That's good for a new "thread"...
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Old 01-07-2004, 01:05 PM   #9
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I also heard that there is lead paint and asbestos in some too.
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Old 01-07-2004, 03:02 PM   #10
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If you purchase a 69, you need to know that that was a transition year and there are things that are unique to that year only.

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Old 01-07-2004, 05:27 PM   #11
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I believe in mid 1983 they changed the aluminum skin and you don't get the mirror shine like you do on previous years.
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Old 01-07-2004, 06:01 PM   #12
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There are really no bad years - even those pre 1936 that you see see so many trying to unload .

All years have great strengths and weaknesses. In my view I would try to find a trailer in the best possible condition you can afford and buy it - you will be happy.

I think the biggest thing you want to look for is frame rust (tap belly and listen for rust particles) and floor rot (check edges with an ice pick). Everything else is fixable or replaceable.

Even rust and rot can be fixed - but it can be lots of work.

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Old 01-07-2004, 06:10 PM   #13
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Years to avoid

I can't quite remember witch year it was but there is one that causes cancer.
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Old 01-08-2004, 07:17 AM   #14
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If you buy a new Airstream you will find a sticker on the sink counter next to the entry door which states a warning that there are components in the trailer, that according to the state of California are known to cause cancer........I guess I won't bring my trailer to California. I guess it turns cancerous once I cross the boarder!

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Old 01-08-2004, 07:21 AM   #15
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Mine is going to California...heck, I am so sick of the fact that so say CARB so say the nation....my thought is that if it's good enough for the rest of the 49 states, then it's good enough to come haunt California!
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Old 01-08-2004, 08:10 AM   #16
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Wink Early models

You might want to avoid the pre-1900 models. Their canvas shells do not polish up well at all. The furnace is a wood burner mounted on the ground outside the shell. The shower and toilet are external also. They do have some advantages. The mounting of the axels prevents rear sag and the light weight means they only need two horsepower. Lots of ground clearance and the treadwear with the steel tires is amazing.
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Old 01-08-2004, 11:29 AM   #17
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Thumbs up My vote is

sander17
You have my vote on avoiding any and all pre 1900's~!~!
You guys crack me up...lmao


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Old 01-08-2004, 06:48 PM   #18
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Avoiding what years?

Be careful of 1968 and a year or so before and after. These units were made with ALUMINUM electrical wiring for 110 volt circuits. Under load (electric heaters etc) the aluminum wiring builds resistance at the copper wall plug connection to the point that the alum wiring melts the insulation off of itself.
I had to install CO/AL wall plugs throughout the unit to reduce the tendency for coopper/aluminum resistance to build up. It is scary and best avoided.

Fred
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