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Old 06-19-2012, 07:12 PM   #1
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raleigh , California
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New or late-model rebuilt?

After a 2 year break we want to go back into airstreaming. Thinking about buying new or having a late model rebuilt to our specs by Timeless trailers in CO. What would give a better quality??
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Old 06-19-2012, 08:14 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by NCstreamer View Post
After a 2 year break we want to go back into airstreaming. Thinking about buying new or having a late model rebuilt to our specs by Timeless trailers in CO. What would give a better quality??
If your pockets are deep enough, TTT will create something approaching aluminum perfection.

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Old 06-19-2012, 08:17 PM   #3
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Old 06-27-2012, 02:27 PM   #4
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I have the same question as NCstreamer. I'd really appreciate a good response!
My concern is also with formaldehyde. So I'd want the rebuild to include new 'green' insulation and to take out any pressed wood (which also contains formaldehyde). In terms of quality, would an older or late model airstream be better suited for such a rebuild?
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Old 06-27-2012, 02:56 PM   #5
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There certainly is a running debate about the quality of the factory built trailers. I'll go ahead and poke the skunk a bit with this assertion: Commercially built Airstreams are assembled (with the exception of the exterior skin) much like any other trailer, with many of the same materials. They are made by common humans who work a shift and have production targets, cost reduction goals, and all those short-comings of mass production.

So, if you want a higher quality build, with real attention to detail, and perhaps better materials, then a professional restorer/rebuilder, whom you can interview, look at their portfolio, and make requests for customization, is (arguably) the way to go. Don't expect it to be cheaper than buying a new trailer fresh off the lot.

Now the question of rebuilding a newer model vs and older model. First, it is a matter of taste, ie., what body style appeals to you (50's, 60's, 70's, or recent). Second is a matter of materials. Trailer shells were made of 2024 T3 Alclad up until the late 70's or somewhere in the 80's if my failing memory serves me right. The Alclad means that it can be shined up to a mirror finish, and the temper means that the shell is less prone to denting. I find it interesting that there are all these vintage trailers rolling around with hardly a hail dimple to be seen, yet anyone who has been watching ebay very much is used to seeing recent model trailers that have been totaled by the insurance company because they were in a hail storm.
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Old 06-27-2012, 02:56 PM   #6
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In my humble opion vintage is the way to go from what I've heard and read the quality and craftsmanship just is not there today.
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Old 06-27-2012, 05:09 PM   #7
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I have no doubt that a trailer done by TTT (or several other well-known restorers) would have better quality. The only concern I would have is future resale - if you get out of Airstreaming again, you might have a lot of $$ in a personalized trailer that would be hard to recoup.

Honestly, it's one of the things that kept me from having a larger vintage trailer than my now-sold Minuet restored.

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Old 06-27-2012, 06:22 PM   #8
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I don't have the money to pay a professional restorer to do my trailer for me, so I muddle along the best I can, when I can.

However, if I did have the money, there is no way I would buy a brand new unit today. I would much rather have a well rebuilt older unit. A custom restoration/build is going to beat the living daylights out of anything that is factory original, regardless of when the factory built it.

Personal preference is anything built prior to about 1985 with a soft spot (in my head) for the 1970's vintage.

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Old 06-27-2012, 06:44 PM   #9
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we rebuilt a vintage 31 footer, not as nice at TTT does it from the frame up as we were fortunate to have a very well taken care of coach. There are still a few things that we want to do, at a cost of course. We did a price comparison and felt that we could save 10's of thousands on an upgraded coach compared to $96-106K for a new 31' footer. What really convinced us was even with the upgrades, new tanks, axles awnings floor..... the Airstream still weighed only 5200# dry. New 31 footers are up there a few more pounds with today's materials.
Another option (a little closer if distance is a limitation) is Capital City Customs INC in Raleigh where they also rebuilt Airstreams with their own customized shop to fabricate, turn/bend aluminum and build cabinets.
Either way they both build from the bottom up, the recommended route I would go, to build the coach to the personality. It also keeps the great reputation of AS trailers going with one more vintage still on the road.

Good luck and "build it and they will come" that is, all the folks wanting to look inside.

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Old 06-27-2012, 07:07 PM   #10
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You might want to talk to TTT first. I think they can get an unfinished shell from JC and build from there. I have seen one of their builds on a new trailer. Nice. Are you particularly sensitive to formaldehyde?
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Old 06-27-2012, 08:13 PM   #11
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what do you want to start with?

ya want to start with a 70 year old thing to completely rebuild, and still have a 70 year old thing albeit exceptionally nice. Or, are ya gonna have a custom trailer built? Why don't you have TTT just start from scratch? New frame new axles, basements built in with NOTHING on the roof of a supposedly streamlined trailer; a true smooth belly pan; enough height to accomodate tall people. top of the line appliances, etc, etc. See, it ain't that hard, just roll in a wheel barrow full of "inflata us bucks" and let'r rip. uhh, in a high inflationary time, intrinsic stuff is worth more than money. so, let your wallet be your guide, cuz mr. inflation is just around the corner, imho. A super nice trailer would be a nice thing to have; and you can claim it as a second home....
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Old 06-27-2012, 08:46 PM   #12
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I like the design (several choices), features, build quality, warranty, and resale value of the newest Airstreams. If not satisfied with some accessory or feature I can upgrade at will. I can set up a maintenance schedule to ensure it doesn't leak, corrode, or fall apart and do it myself or have a reliable shop do it for me. If something fails during a trip, I can take it to an Airstream repair facility and they will know what they are dealing with. If I croak my wife has something of assured value. Good investment as RV's go.

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Old 06-27-2012, 09:25 PM   #13
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If I was in your position I would actually have a 1946 -1949 Spartan redone by Timeless. I agree with the posters above. If you're gonna have a custom trailer built why not have one that's a classic.
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Old 07-03-2012, 11:56 AM   #14
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Thanks everyone! I'll def go with a classic. Seems like the 1970's models are easiest to come by. I got a quote for an entire gut/rebuilt of a 31' for around 64k. Yikes! I shoulda known. We may try and do it ourselves! Double yikes
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