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Old 08-08-2012, 05:09 PM   #1
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1974 31' Sovereign
Bothell , Washington
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What should I offer and can I pull it? :)

Hey folks! I hope to get some feedback from this great forum on a 31' footer I'm looking at buying. I just took a video of the setup today. It really looked nice for the age.



Questions:
Does it appear to have rear sag at all to you?

Any apparent axle issues (last time on the road was a 400 mile trip from Idaho to Western Washington a year ago) that you can see?

Any other apparent problems from the video?

Will I be able to pull this thing with my 2004 Tundra Double Cab with a tow package? It is rated to pull 6700lbs, and I know this thing dry is 5085. I'm planning on always connecting to water and keeping the water tank empty. I'm also planning on doing a composting toilet in the unit. This is also only going to be making on big trip from Seattle to Texas for me to live in... not something I'm going to be towing around regularly... unless I just love Glamping so much I can't stand not doing it every weekend!

They are asking $5999..... what do you think a fair offer would be for this unit? Everyting I tested worked. It does have an ONAN generator, which I hadn't seen before on other 31's.

Thanks so much for the input!!!!!

-Leo
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Old 08-08-2012, 05:51 PM   #2
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Rear sag wouldn't be apparent where you were looking (at the trim above the bumper) but rather it would show if you step on the bumper and see that it moves independently of the shell.

Did you go through the "Trailer Inspection Checklist" from AIRForums and perform most or all those inspections? I'd say that the price is within the realm of possibility based on what the video shows, but I'd have to poke and prod and test everything on the checklist before I could say for sure that I'd pay it if buying for myself. Actually operating all of the appliances & AC, checking the plumbing, etc... stuff you don't show on the video but may have done off camera. It appears to have a newish toilet, which is good, and the visual condition of the interior looks quite good. Considering the era of this trailer, it's good to ask if it has its original Suburban furnace or if that has been upgraded... several of the RV furnaces Suburban produced in the late '60s into the latter half of the '70s had an important recall for CO release into the living space, so that's a safety issue to check on.

I can tell you that in the Texas summer, if you're not in a shady campsite you'll want the rear and side awnings that this trailer doesn't have. Since you're talking about starting off with a tow to Texas, you'll want to know how old the tires are (by date stamp, not by the word of the seller) and you might possibly want to test the axles. They look like they're not overly compressed, but they probably have stiffened if they're the originals.

If the dent you showed is the only deformation of the shell, it's good for its age. I'm sure it's quite easy to back a 31' trailer into something and make a dent like that, so it's not an unusual thing.

As to towing with your last-gen Tundra, I'm sure it can be done if it's just for relocating the trailer, but might be a little borderline if you're doing lots of travel with truck and trailer loaded down. If the trailer's empty weight is close to the published figure, you've got quite a bit of headroom for carrying some extras, and the best vehicle value is almost always the one you already have so it's worth trying it out (properly equipped of course) to see if the combination satisfies your needs.
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Old 08-08-2012, 05:56 PM   #3
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First off, welcome to the forums!

You may want to check out this Price vs Condition info to give you an idea of the fair price and it may also trigger some thoughts on the condition.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do!

Shari
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Old 08-08-2012, 06:27 PM   #4
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Nice Video !

always fun to see.

I think your Tundra is Pushing it as far as a tow vehicle,but could be done with the right set-up assuming you drive slow and careful.

Those michelins are so old,they need to be replaced before you tow it anywhere. ( a blow-out will cause lots of $$ damage)

Have the owner show you the AC,Heater and Refer all work,as well as the plumbing,If they don'y make that a haggling point.

Hope this helps !
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Old 08-08-2012, 07:02 PM   #5
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I would not go $5999 on it. It has at least two bad outside corners and probably has some floor damage. I paid $5000 for an 81 that needed a lot of work but probably less than this one. This one has the vista view windows (hotdog windows at the top) with the pealing window tint. These are hard to fix. The interior looks ok but you don't know what is under the carpet. Places to look for floor rot problems are around the door and where the straight sections meet the curved areas. Also the back is a big problem where the bumper plate goes up under the trailer. This is a BIG leak area and leads to rear end separation and rear frame rot. I would say you have a project there that will lead to $5-10k of materials and 100's of hours of labor to put it back in great shape. I would not pay more than $2000 for one in that condition and that is if I was bored and had plenty of time for a project. You can make it right but it will take some work.

Perry
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Old 08-08-2012, 07:10 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by perryg114 View Post
I would not go $5999 on it. It has at least two bad outside corners and probably has some floor damage. I paid $5000 for an 81 that needed a lot of work but probably less than this one. This one has the vista view windows (hotdog windows at the top) with the pealing window tint. These are hard to fix. The interior looks ok but you don't know what is under the carpet. Places to look for floor rot problems are around the door and where the straight sections meet the curved areas. Also the back is a big problem where the bumper plate goes up under the trailer. This is a BIG leak area and leads to rear end separation and rear frame rot. I would say you have a project there that will lead to $5-10k of materials and 100's of hours of labor to put it back in great shape. I would not pay more than $2000 for one in that condition and that is if I was bored and had plenty of time for a project. You can make it right but it will take some work.

Perry
Perry,

Thanks for the post! Are you saying you can see from the video that where the bumper goes into the ody there is a problem, or IF there is leak/rot there it is an expensive fix?

Thanks,
Leo
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Old 08-08-2012, 07:40 PM   #7
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Try and ice pick the floor on either side of the door and more importantly in the cabinet beside the toilet. That dent in the rear quarter panel may have opened the seal on the sheet metal just below the banana strip and allowed water to reach the bottom of the floor under that cabinet. That seam is a common leak spot
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Old 08-08-2012, 08:43 PM   #8
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You asked what you can pull it with. We have the same model, and put 4,000 miles on it going to Florida and back.

Our tow vehicle? A 2007 Ford Freestar 4.2 litre V6.
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Old 08-08-2012, 09:07 PM   #9
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1974 31' Sovereign
Bothell , Washington
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aage View Post
You asked what you can pull it with. We have the same model, and put 4,000 miles on it going to Florida and back.

Our tow vehicle? A 2007 Ford Freestar 4.2 litre V6.
Thanks for the input! I was worried I might be a bit underpowered... but it sounds like you had no problem with a smaller engine... any difficulty on the hills? THe manual says I am fine...
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Old 08-08-2012, 09:08 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aage
You asked what you can pull it with. We have the same model, and put 4,000 miles on it going to Florida and back.

Our tow vehicle? A 2007 Ford Freestar 4.2 litre V6.
Wow, can you load it up with gear and water and stuff? Now I'm starting to think that my 3/4 ton suburban must have a problem, my 31 footer really drags me down when we get to the Rockies.
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Old 08-08-2012, 09:09 PM   #11
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Welcome Leo!
The previous owner of our 75 Sovereign spent over 8 grand on ours. New axles, ac, fridge, plumbing, electrical. It spent over 20 years off the ground as a lake cabin and the last 10 in a barn. It's whole life was spent mostly in Texas and Oklahoma. We paid 6600.00 Looked at many in way worse shape starting at 6800 and up.
The AS dealer that worked on ours offered me 10 grand cash when I talked to him about polishing ours. He knew our trailer and the amount of work that had been done...
Your market for Vintage Airstreams is likely quite different there than here. Now that we own ours, I see them almost daily.
Welcome to Texas!!!
Chris
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Old 08-09-2012, 06:49 AM   #12
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It looks like there is some rust on the back of the frame. Most trailers of any age have rear end rot to some degree unless kept indoors or lived in a very dry climate. The leak path is covered up by the belly trim. I would be surprised if there is not a leak back there. One test is to jump on the bumper and see if the bumper moves relative to the shell. They should be hooked together. This is usually a sign of end stage rear end rot. If you don't see movement it does not mean you are good.

I would try to access the floor area under the bathroom sink and see what you can see. The rear bath puts more stress on the rear end of the trailer making the rear end rot more of an issue than with a center bath. Also to replace the floor in a rear bath you pretty much have to gut the trailer to get to it.

Perry

Quote:
Originally Posted by texasbound View Post
Perry,

Thanks for the post! Are you saying you can see from the video that where the bumper goes into the ody there is a problem, or IF there is leak/rot there it is an expensive fix?

Thanks,
Leo
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Old 08-12-2012, 05:01 PM   #13
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hey texas! It's a small world! I'm looking and saw the ad for the same trailer prior to finding you here on the site.

If you end up *not* buying it, could you give me a download on what you found out and why you opted out? If you decide to buy it, best of luck and I won't interfere.

Happy trails!
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Old 08-12-2012, 06:18 PM   #14
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Leo will have to fill in the details or maybe start a new thread, but we had quite the recovery mission yesterday.

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Old 08-12-2012, 09:54 PM   #15
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1974 31' Sovereign
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcheshire View Post
hey texas! It's a small world! I'm looking and saw the ad for the same trailer prior to finding you here on the site.

If you end up *not* buying it, could you give me a download on what you found out and why you opted out? If you decide to buy it, best of luck and I won't interfere.

Happy trails!
Norm nailed it... but somehow he had "somewhere to be" when one of the trailers wheels wasn't turning!!! Just kidding... honestly I probably wouldn't have been comfortable buying my first airstream without Norm there to help me check out all the BIG things, and the many, many little things.

In the end, the seller was willing to let it go for a reasonable price that will allow me to put on new axles, new tires (did those as soon as we got it out of there), and the various other mandatory upgrades before the fun stuff begins. This AS is going to be the traveling home for my fiance, my yellow lab, and my black lab for an 7k mile journey down to key west and then back to our new home in Austin.

Thank you again everyone for the great input and help! Especially two members here... DKB_SATX & nmbosa. Wouldn't have had it in me to take the plunge without their input!!
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Old 08-13-2012, 10:51 AM   #16
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Thanks Tex and Norm! Glad this baby is going to work out for you, i'm on the hunt.
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Old 08-13-2012, 11:49 AM   #17
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I'm glad you were able to negotiate a price that pleased you, and doubly glad you found an AIRForums inspector to give you a good idea of what you were actually getting for your money.

Now what's your goal for having it ready to roll to Texas? And where are the photos of the "recovery mission"?
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Old 08-15-2012, 12:37 AM   #18
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1974 31' Sovereign
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DKB_SATX
I'm glad you were able to negotiate a price that pleased you, and doubly glad you found an AIRForums inspector to give you a good idea of what you were actually getting for your money.

Now what's your goal for having it ready to roll to Texas? And where are the photos of the "recovery mission"?
Right now its all about axles! I have three bids and have to decide which one to go with... any recommendations?
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