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Old 05-29-2017, 02:26 PM   #1
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Another Rookie, lookin' for some help!

Hi everyone, new here and new to the world of trailer owning (OK potential trailer owning). I am looking into possibly buying a '65 safari and was wondering if you all would comment on the price that I may pay and what to watch out for when I go to look at it!

According to the current owner everything works great except the subfloor needs to be redone, she states the body is in great shape but cannot speak to the potential for rust on the frame, they are asking $15,000 for it. I would eventually want to redo the interior and make it our own. See attached pics and let me know if this is a good value or not. Thanks for any help in advanced!
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Old 05-29-2017, 02:43 PM   #2
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The problem with subfloor damage is the amount of the trailer interior that will have to be dismantled to repair it. If it's the entire subfloor, that usually means gutting it. Start looking for the threads concerning this issue before you decide on anything. It's generally an expensive and time-consuming endeavor, which really should have been addressed by the current owners, if it was damaged when they bought it. So yes, as pretty as it looks, the price might be a bit high. All used RVs, Airstreams included, leak. How previous owners maintained and stored a trailer makes a big difference. Though they're rare birds, finding a trailer which has been kept dry is worth the wait. Our '79 is one such critter, but making the interior our own and updating old systems like axles and propane has come with enough challenges. Don't regret that we didn't have to restore from the ground up.
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Old 05-29-2017, 03:39 PM   #3
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Thanks for the quick reply! So if I don't have the money to do my full restore at this time but it is usable and there appears to be minimal to no rust, would this be a good buy?
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Old 05-29-2017, 05:17 PM   #4
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My gut tells me no. Problem with the chassis is you can't see it when the trailer is intact. From the underside it's covered by the belly pans. There are ways you can tell if it's failing though. The couple who make the "Long, Long Honeymoon" videos and blog do have a book about buying vintage Airstreams. It can be found in digital form on Amazon. Also check out the Vintage Airstream Podcast. Can't hurt to see if you can find an experienced owner in your area who can look at this trailer with you. Some people on this forum specialize in that kind of stuff.
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Old 05-29-2017, 05:46 PM   #5
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There is another resource you can look into if you want someone to help you inspect the trailer. We have a mobile RV repairman who happens to keep his utility trailer in the same storage lot we use. Turns out he's worked on a few Airstreams. If you can find someone like him to go with you, might be well worth any fee they happen to charge.
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Old 05-29-2017, 06:58 PM   #6
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Thank you for the reply!

I guess a better question is, if the trailer is in serviceable condition to be used until I can renovate, is that a good price or is that a little steep?
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Old 05-29-2017, 07:08 PM   #7
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Value is in the eye of the beholder. Myself, I would not plunk down $15k for that trailer, but many people will. It looks good on the surface! So the value may be there.

The advice to get someone who is knowledgeable to go with you to look it over before you buy it is the best advice you will get. Even if someone goes with you, you still will not positively know the condition of the frame and structure without taking a few things apart. That is potentially a very expensive repair, that you have to accept the risk for, or not. That is where you have to determine "value to yourself".

Two things you can easily do to check for rust or damage from rust without dismantling anything (but not a 100% sure way to prove nothing is wrong):
1. At several places while walking around the outside, tap the palm of your hand beneath the trailer on the belly skin. If you hear what sounds like gravel rattling around, that is most likely loose rust and/or pieces of steel frame that have delaminated. If you hear rattling it may be bad. In this case, if the owner will not allow someone remove enough belly pan to look inside the belly, walk away.
2. Have someone stand on the rear bumper bounce their body weight up and down a few times while you watch closely. The bumper should not move separately from the trailer wall. If it moves this is called rear end separation, when structural parts and bolts are rusted away inside the wall. Movement is bad, walk away if there is movement.

add edit:
A renovation is not the same thing as a frame rebuild. You could spend as much as you pay for the trailer if you have to hire someone to do it.
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Old 05-29-2017, 07:30 PM   #8
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You're welcome to the assistance and off to a good start by asking questions before you purchase.

When it comes to spending large amounts of money on something your heart really wants, it can be hard to wait for the right candidate to come along. For this particular trailer, you could probably look at it like a house whose foundation issues weren’t properly addressed. If you do decide to see it after all, I would be asking the seller hard questions. Like why they didn’t address the subfloor. Significant subfloor damage due to water will likely mean other issues that can’t be seen, such as wet, moldy insulation between the walls and potentially faulty wiring, which can become a fire hazard. If they weren’t willing to fix the subfloor themselves, did they address any other issues, such as where leaks were actually coming from? Besides the rusty chassis test, use your nose inside. Does it smell even slightly musty? Obvious use of air freshener/scent?

Keep your search to trailers in original, not-messed-with condition which come with a clear title. Then you’re not paying for someone else’s “improvements”, especially when you want to make it your own anyway. Also when you’re getting into the mid-sixties and older, you are talking more desirable decades to collectors. But they want something that looks like it just came from the factory. (With all the new, convenient goodies hidden within easy reach.) Even the entire trailer needs gutting, it’s much harder to actually accomplish restoration if someone else has already done the demolition. How will you know what the original materials were, or how the interior was configured? Where are those desirable vintage appliances?

Truth be told, much as we love our silver twinkie, Airstreams are one of the most common of the vintage RVs. You will eventually find the one that’s best for you. Hardcore vintage enthusiasts often go for rarer trailers like Airfloat, Spartan, Westcraft, Holiday House to name a few. Much smaller numbers produced and out of production a long time ago. (We would like to get our hands on all of those, and several others, ourselves.)

Right now you would probably be better off getting your RV experience before buying. You can actually do that without owning one. Attend RV boot camps to learn the ins and outs of towing and safely using an RV. Go rent a few different types, including AS, and take some of those trips or camping expeditions you might be itching to experience. Can tell you honestly the term “Glamping” is a bit of a falsehood. There will still be bugs like mosquitos and ticks; poison ivy, oak and sumac. (Itching in actual fact.) Along with bad weather and muddy campsites to ruin your fun. Possibly, rowdy neighbors disturbing the peace well after dark. If you have a family who is embarking on this venture with you, renting a variety of RVs will give you the opportunity to determine your best fit, and see if the RV lifestyle is really enjoyable for all concerned.
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Old 05-29-2017, 08:12 PM   #9
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Wow! Thank you all very much for the help! I'll keep you posted on what we decide. Not going to lie, it is a beautiful trailer from the pics and very tempting, but like the rest of you, we work hard for our money and we don't have much, so we are trying to be as wise as possible!
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Old 05-29-2017, 09:38 PM   #10
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https://santabarbara.craigslist.org/rvs/6111417867.html
This one? Price droped from 21K to 18K trailer does look clean, has a ext. patch on curb side from? interior does not look original except for the bath area. You need to look at it in person and evaluated the work it needs to make it the way you want and what that will or might cost. And try and see yourself using that layout in a camping situation.
It has been listed for nearly 1 month.
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Old 05-30-2017, 01:37 AM   #11
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Yes that's the one! I wish I knew a little more but that's why I'm here! Hopefully I can gain some wisdom from you guys! Thank you!
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Old 05-30-2017, 08:56 AM   #12
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There is an expression in the Vintage community: "polished turd." This is used to describe a trailer that is fundamentally in poor condition, but someone has spent a little money to spruce it up and make it shiny so that they can "flip" it for a good profit.

Many times when you buy a trailer that has subfloor rot, the seller will tell you that everything works, and it is ready to go camping. It isn't that they are liars, it is that they haven't inspected it thoroughly. In this case, when the sellers are advertising up front that it needs subfloor work, I would say that is a very bad sign.

Think of it this way: If you were buying a house, but knew that the foundation was sinking, and could cost a bundle to repair, would you go forward with it?

good luck!
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Old 05-30-2017, 09:54 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Ghost407 View Post
Hi everyone, new here and new to the world of trailer owning (OK potential trailer owning). I am looking into possibly buying a '65 safari and was wondering if you all would comment on the price that I may pay and what to watch out for when I go to look at it!

According to the current owner everything works great except the subfloor needs to be redone, she states the body is in great shape but cannot speak to the potential for rust on the frame, they are asking $15,000 for it. I would eventually want to redo the interior and make it our own. See attached pics and let me know if this is a good value or not. Thanks for any help in advanced!
If I wanted to redo the interior to make it my own, I would buy a trailer that has already had the frame/subfloor repairs done. If the floor needs to be redone, and the condition of the frame is unknown, I doubt this trailer is worth more than $5k. You also have to be honest with yourself regarding your commitment to an extensive trailer renovation. I did a mini renovation (certainly not a restoration), and I contracted out most of the major tasks, yet at least twice I thought about dropping in the towel and selling the trailer. Trailer renovation/restoration is not for the faint of heart. So much time/effort/money is required.
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Old 05-30-2017, 12:44 PM   #14
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Something to keep in mind, this is what our trailer looked like during frame repair and floor replacement. Virtually everything has to be removed. We replaced the axles at the same time, and if the axles in a '65 have not been replaced they need to be.

This was before we decided that while we were at it we should remove the interior skins to rewire and re-insulate. I'm glad we did that. I had a friend who stopped before removing the interior panels and, when finished, he had a beautiful trailer but regretted that he didn't know the condition of the 40-year old wiring.

The exterior of the trailer you're looking at looks good, but I wouldn't pay that much for it considering the amount of work that needs to be done to replace the floor and repair the frame if needed.
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Old 05-30-2017, 02:13 PM   #15
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There are also some other practical, and necessary, things you should add to your list to research or solve before you buy a trailer.

1. Do you live in a deed restricted neighborhood? If so, where is your trailer going to live, and how much will it cost you each month? Covered or enclosed storage is best. Find a dry trailer? You will want to keep it dry. End up buying a total rebuild? You will want to keep everything dry as you’re putting it back together.

2. Buying a road worthy trailer with functioning signals, intact axles and brakes means you can tow it home. A trailer that doesn’t have those things will have to be loaded up on a flatbed truck or trailer to relocate it. Even if you get a title with Candidate B, does your state require a safety inspection before you can transfer the title? (Working signals, brakes, break-away switch etc.) Our state requires inspection for all trailers over 4,000 lbs., both for title transfer and registration renewal. Most states usually give you 30 days to transfer the title. There will be a transfer fee, registration/plate fee and the big one, state sales tax on the purchase price of your trailer. Go to DMV.org and look up your state. From there, you can find all the requirements for your state pertaining to buying a used vehicle and legally keeping it on the road. Should also be downloadable versions of the additional forms both you and the seller will have to fill out/sign to properly transfer the title.

3. Don’t forget the insurance. You will at least need liability to start. Keep track of all your expenditures, and plan to have your trailer appraised by the appropriate expert when the work is finished. Older trailers which have been restored or renovated require a special kind of insurance. A recent issue of the Blue Beret had an article on this topic. I’m not sure where our copy is, at the moment. If you know someone who enjoys classic cars, they can give you the scoop on the process and the specialized insurers who provide this coverage. Otherwise, all a regular insurer will see on your policy is the year of your trailer and will pay accordingly for a total loss.

4. What are your eventual plans when your trailer is ready to travel? (No need to answer that) Modern “developed” society seems to take a lot for granted these days, including common sense. If you’re a former scout or youth group participant, you might already know some of the useful stuff for enjoying nature, like first-aid and utilizing an old-fashioned compass. (Karl, the husband half of Starstream was an instructor in the Navy Seabees. He insisted his students learn how to use a compass, even though the military has all kinds of fancy electronics/GPS.) Now is the time to learn or refresh your memory. Get the kids involved in first aid, survival, emergency training and problem solving. There’s no excuse for them to not know at least the basics. It will help keep them a lot calmer in an emergency, and you never know when you might be the one who needs help. Besides looking into all the renovation/restoration threads, look into roadside emergency prep so you can deal with flat tires, dead batteries and so on. Roadside assistance isn’t always that easy to come by. Those who are vigilant, organized and prepared for the bad stuff are less likely to suffer from mistakes of their own making. You’ll also recover faster from things beyond your control. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. (Add emergency radio and weather station to the list too.)

5. Adverse to making lists? Learn to love them. Handy for all kinds of things pertaining to your house and preparing your trailer for trips.

6. Let’s not forget bad habits. Distracted driving is bad when you’re not towing something. It’s very, very bad when you are. Takes much longer to make safe lane changes, brake or generally react. Yes, it’s a pet peeve of ours, so I have to say it. Everyone who will be driving/towing your trailer needs to start divorcing the cell phone now when behind the wheel. Turn it off/turn off sound and put it out of reach/sight when driving. Bad habits take time to cure.

7. Certainly understand if renting an RV is not an option. It can cost a pretty penny. There are other ways to get the outdoor fix, like day trips to state and national parks. Many have Ranger led activities. Check out your local nature centers too. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn how to recognize the harmless/harmful plants, animals and insects you may encounter on your adventures. Besides the grand views that put most places on our bucket lists, there are thousands of little things to learn about and observe. And they can be great photography subjects too. Interested in star gazing? Find your local astronomy club and check out their activities.

8. Also consider starting with tent camping. Many RV owners, ourselves included, grew up with and took our own kids tent camping. Your tent and other equipment are not necessarily going to become obsolete when your trailer is finished. We have a large, 2-room dome tent that makes a darn fine screen house. It even has a screen roof when you take the fly cover off. It’s bug free outdoor space, with a floor, and a nifty spot to stash the camp chairs when a storm is coming. Might come in handy if the kids are getting in your hair, or the teenagers want their own space. Many campgrounds allow an RV and tent on the same site. Just check the rules beforehand, and make sure you’re reserving a site which is designated for both. The skills you learn tent camping will be useful if you ever plan to dry camp with your trailer. And your tent camping equipment can help you conserve limited resources like electricity. Never know when some of that will help at home either. After Hurricane Ike blew through here in 2008, we had no electricity for 3 weeks, in an all-electric house. The camp stove provided hot meals and coffee, not to mention a big pot of hot water, since I refused to take cold showers. The lanterns helped us get around the house after dark.

Is there a conclusion to all this? I suppose it be, “What rule says you need A in order to enjoy B?” Those who enjoy life the most are the ones who have the attitude of Disney pirates. “It’s more of a guideline, than a rule.” More often than not, we’re the ones who limit ourselves with unreasonable, unattainable rules of our own making.

Kristal (the wife)
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Old 05-30-2017, 02:54 PM   #16
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Why not replace the steel frame with aluminum?
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Old 05-30-2017, 03:05 PM   #17
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Why not replace the steel frame with aluminum?
Anything can be done if you have the right combination of money and expertise! Aluminum could be used if you increased the size of the members to equal the strength of steel.

Here's a thread describing the building of a stainless steel frame.
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f36/...tml#post322122
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Old 05-30-2017, 04:59 PM   #18
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Why not replace the steel frame with aluminum?
And still use plywood as a subfloor? Better make that aluminum too then.

Cant believe I'm still awake after post #15. lol
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Old 05-30-2017, 06:44 PM   #19
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Cant believe I'm still awake after post #15. lol[/QUOTE]

Never ceases to amaze me how many people don't know that stuff. Got it off my chest and I'm good now.
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Old 05-30-2017, 06:47 PM   #20
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Another Rookie, lookin' for some help!

There is an off beat song about buying a $1000 car, spending another $1000 on it and still having a $1000 car. I believe in the same thing on old airstreams. A $5000 Airsteam that has $5000 of polish, paint and cushions is still a $5000 airstream that now needs $5000 of stuff removed to fix the basic structure.

'Oh why did I buy a $1000 car?'
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