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Old 05-24-2012, 11:26 AM   #1
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Blythe , Georgia
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To Buy or not to Buy?

I have an opportunity to purchase a 76 Soverign for 3,000- my friend tells me it is a 26ft. but i can not find any information on 26 ft 1976 Airstream Soverigns only 31ft.
He is asking $3000.00 and it is still all ORIGINAL. (except the ac and fridge)

It is in tip top shape and needs some cleaning. It has been run into something (someone like me must have been pulling it)

My husband is an air craft mechanic so he says that the sheet metal work will be no problem for him.

I dont know if I should jump on this or not. We have been looking for an Airstream for some time now and have found one in good shape. It is just a little older than we wanted.

If we do get it do we keep the original floor plan or change it up?
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Old 05-24-2012, 11:46 AM   #2
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An old Airstream can be a money pit. Leaks, rotten wood subfloors, rusted out frames, worn out axles, electrical problems, plumbing shot are typical. They are repairable but it can be a long and expensive project.

Floor plan changes involve weight and balance (very critical) and window, plumbing and tank locations for example. Best to upgrade what's there, or find a more suitable trailer.

Find some help inspecting this trailer thoroughly and do your research on repair/alteration costs, sometimes $20K to $40K.

doug k
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Old 05-24-2012, 11:48 AM   #3
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You are right about Sovereigns—31'. The Overlander was 27' and the Tradewind was 25'. But the length is not necessarily the same as the name. Our 25' is really just shy of 26', for example.

Photos of it would help, especially the damage and the side of the trailer so how it sits on the axles can be seen. Any older trailer, no matter how good it looks, will probably need some repairs and costs can mount up quickly. Fortunately a mechanic in the family helps a lot if he shares your desire for an Airstream.

What you do with the interior is up to you. But, there are not a lot of ways to arrange trailer furniture. The heaviest things should be over the axles, so kitchens and bathrooms tend to do best in the middle. You want plumbing to have short runs and drains go to the grey and black tanks efficiently. Different era trailers have their own issues and you'll probably get responses shortly about what else to look for.

On the Portal page on the right side you can find out if there are people in your area willing to inspect trailers and advise you on what you may be buying.

Gene
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Old 05-24-2012, 12:16 PM   #4
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Old 05-24-2012, 12:28 PM   #5
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Looks good inside except for the decor. After shining it up, the damage may not be so noticeable. The crunches on the lower panel could be covered up with segment protectors (rock guards). Someone may comment whether the axles need replacing.

If it has been sitting for years and years, things may not have been kept up. Constant use means someone was probably fixing things. How old are the tires? How is the floor? Have the electrical and plumbing systems been upgraded?—they probably need it by now. Anything of this vintage needs a thorough going over.

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Old 05-24-2012, 04:58 PM   #6
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Your friend might have measured the length of the body to get that 26' when the trailer (coupler to bumper) is 31'. Personally I would not worry about fixing the dents in the front unless I had to pull the front apart to fix the floor.
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Old 05-24-2012, 06:05 PM   #7
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There are better trailers... plus you won't lose a friend when you're feeling like you're standing in a cold shower tearing up $100 bills every time you attempt to do more than put band-aides on trailer problems.. .
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Old 05-24-2012, 06:38 PM   #8
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It appears to be missing the coupler, a tongue jack of any kind, propane tanks, 2-way RV fridge.... these are non-trivial things.
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Old 05-24-2012, 07:18 PM   #9
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I'm not into buying an Airstream with any body damage. In my experience a 1976 with a good body, a good frame, and a mostly good floor, will cost from 10 to 14 thousand USD above purchase price just for parts and supplies to make it into a decent but not perfect trailer. DIY time will be three years. I work alone. If my wife helped it'd take 5 years.

The trailer in your picture with the front damage could be covered up and look fine with a front segment protector (rock guard) available from Airstream dealers.
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Old 05-25-2012, 07:38 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DKB_SATX View Post
It appears to be missing the coupler, a tongue jack of any kind, propane tanks, 2-way RV fridge.... these are non-trivial things.
That right there would be the deal breaker for me. I paid about that for a complete 1975 Sovereign a few years ago, mine came with a new fridge and furnace. I chose to tear it completely down to deal with some known frame issues. It may be back together by Christmas...if the world doesn't end on 12/21/12 first

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Old 05-25-2012, 08:00 PM   #11
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I noticed the damage on the lower curbside segment first... then lesser damage on the two curved ones. That wierd marker light on the side ... somehow doesn't look original. Put on to cover a hole?

Curved segments are a pain in the neck to get straightened out.
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