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Old 01-23-2016, 09:49 AM   #1
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1976 Argosy 26
Denton , North Carolina
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Buying a '65 Safari - what "bad signs" should we be looking for

This is our first post to this forum, so please feel free to direct us to previous posts if this has been answered before

My husband and I have been looking to buy a vintage Airstream for a while, specifically at models in the 20'-27' range (Safaris, Trade Winds, Overlanders) that we can tow all around the country for about 6 months, starting in April. We plan to gut the interior and remodel it to fit the work/travel lifestyle we plan to have over the next year, so we've been specifically looking for Airstreams that "have good bones" (no major exterior repairs). Replacing some floor boards, fixing some leaks, replacing some plumbing, basic electrical work, resealing windows and the like are expected, but major axel issues/chassis issues, etc. are not something either of us are knowledgeable enough to detect, let alone repair.

We've had a very difficult time finding what we're looking for in what seems to be a very competitive Airstream market. Recently found a '65 Safari in Chattanooga that looks to be in decent shape, and have been in contact with the owner. We would be traveling over 350 miles to check this trailer out and would obviously be making the decision to purchase that day. What exactly should we be looking for to see if this is Airstream is the right project for us (i.e. not any major exterior overhaul)? I've already inquired with the current owners if there are any known leaks, and they have noted some minor water damage in a 2 foot area near the kitchen cabinets in the floor.

Thank you in advance for any help! We are really excited to now be a part of this community!
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Old 01-23-2016, 11:56 AM   #2
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1998 25' Safari
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Well if it still has it's original axel, it will need replacing. the rubber in that age will be hard by now. But the good thing is it's not a hard job and you end up with new axel, new brakes, new bearings and seals and a nice smooth ride.
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Old 01-23-2016, 12:22 PM   #3
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1974 Argosy 20
2014 20' Flying Cloud
Kooskia , Idaho
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jebrant3 View Post
(snipped)

We plan to gut the interior and remodel it to fit the work/travel lifestyle we plan to have over the next year.... Replacing some floor boards....

I've already inquired with the current owners if there are any known leaks, and they have noted some minor water damage in a 2 foot area near the kitchen cabinets in the floor.
Welcome to the Airstream madness.

Unfortunately, from the snipped out comments above, I wonder if you understand what a job it is to renovate a 40 year old Airstream.

"Replacing some floor boards" is not what you do in a plywood floor Airstream in which the floor is an integral part of the structure of the trailer. You often wind up with a shell off repair, and then you find even more things like frame issues.

The current owner says there is "minor" water damage in a 2 foot area. I bet there is a lot more than that.

A gut job interior renovation like you are planning takes far more than you might imagine in time, skills and dollars.

I am not trying to be a wet blanket on your ideas. However, way too many people have started on an Airstream renovation and found just how difficult it really is. I want you to become a happy member of the community, not one with a gutted project and lost interest.

Since any major gut job renovation is going to cost you $10,000 to $15,000 in materials and untold hours of labor, you might re consider and purchase a newer trailer in close to great condition rather than getting lost in a black hole of restoration and renovation.

And I really hope that this is not considered a post of discouragement to the final goal of good camping. It is meant as a realistic positive post. Just understand how complex and costly renovation and restoration can become if you are not fully equipped to do it.
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