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Old 10-28-2018, 02:29 PM   #1
Rivet Master
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Sioux Falls , South Dakota
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 1,026
Known issues to check

We may be getting close to getting our first Airstream. We're focusing on 30-34' no slide trailers in the 2000's. There are two in the Classifieds that might suit is, a 2002 in Delaware and a 2008 in Oklahoma, both 30' coaches.

I know to check the date codes on the tires and batteries and the general admonition to check for water damage. Any places in particular to check for damage, such as spots that are more hidden than normal? What other known trouble spots should be checked?

I realize that it is fairly easy to list things to check on those two, but then if a 2004 34' pops up, what about that? At this point I'm kind of looking for general problem areas for coaches from those years and lengths.

David Lininger, kb0zke
AIR 54240
Heartland mpg 181 (sold)
1993 Foretravel U300 (for sale)
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Old 11-28-2018, 08:21 AM   #2
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2002 30' Classic S/O
Melbourne Beach , Florida
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 3,926
Good luck with your search!

Axle and brake info below is from my personal experience. The rest is hearsay from reading on here.

I believe there was a problem with the way the seal above the bumper was assembled in the 2006-2008 area. The result was water leaking and floor rot along the rear wall. There are posts on here about repair.

Another area to check is the axles. My 2002 was only moved a hundred miles or so twice a year for over 10 years. The rubber rods had taken a set and the ride was really rough. Check this by measuring from the center of the wheel to the fender lip. Then jack the wheel off of the ground and measure again. If the trailer is fully loaded the difference should be around 2-1/4". If much less than that, the axle is probably bad. My bad axles probably contributed to some damage apparently done prior to my purchase by dragging the read end. Since replacing them I have dragged a couple of times on steep driveways and done more damage (deepened the dents in the skin of the curved segments and gaps between the skin and the molding above the bumper). I'm adding a lift kit to mitigate the issue.

Another thing, and in my opinion this is a design problem, my 30' trailer had the same brakes as my 25 but weighed 50% more. I was concerned that it was not as safe as I would have liked it to be, so I fitted disc brakes. Having experienced hard stops with both the original drums and the discs, I wouldn't buy a 30 foot trailer without disc brakes, or if I did, I would plan on adding them. If you do the work yourself the parts will run around $1200 for Kodiak single piston calipers and substantially more for Dexter multi-piston calipers. Certain models in the 2000's had disc brakes standard. There was a recall on the actuators so if you find one, check to see if the recall has been done. If not, an actuator is around $500. Braking power is probably not an issue with a 34 as they have 6 brakes.

I think I have read on here about frame issues with some versions of 34' trailers. Do some searching to see what you can find.


"You cannot reason someone out of a position they have not been reasoned into"
Al, K5TAN and Missy, N4RGO
WBCCI 1322
2002 Classic 30 Slideout -S/OS #004
2013 Dodge 2500 Laramie 4x4 Megacab Cummins

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Old 11-28-2018, 09:43 AM   #3
Rivet Master
1981 31' Excella II
New Market , Alabama
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 6,128
Well right off, I would say trailers from up north are going to be exposed to salt and that is never a good thing. Interior damage from water intrusion, especially in the back is where I would concentrate. Brakes and tires and things like that are consumable maintenance items and pale in comparison to floor and frame rot. Second to that is making sure all the appliances work. Fridge is a big one and cost more than most of the other items. The AC is the second most costly to replace. On trailers of that vintage, I would say the axles are fine unless riding unusually low. If the axle arm is horizontal or pointed towards the ground, you are good. Way too much attention is put on axles. The axles on my 81 are sagging a little but otherwise fine. Small items left on the countertop are still there after a day's ride. It would take 10's of thousands of miles to even see axle problems. I expect more problems are due to out of balance tires. Looks for rot and corrosion. Get a moisture meter because many times you can't pull up the floor to look. Pin probes on a moisture meter and penetrate through floor coverings to tell you what is going on. Most novice floor repairs are hack jobs so unless it was documented, WALK AWAY FAST.

Good Luck

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Old 11-28-2018, 09:44 AM   #4
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2019 30' Classic
Canfield , Ohio
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 2,054
Hi David

My advice would be to check the owner. That may sound odd, but let me explain.

If you find an owner who has genuinely been attentive to the airstream's needs over the years, and has repaired or upgraded systems in the coach as needed, you can ease your mind a bit on the trailer's integrity.

Get to know the owner if he is available and the more you talk with each other, the more you will get an idea of how the trailer was taken care of. Asks the right questions up front and inspect the trailers as you do and I think human nature will take over and people will become more truthful.

It's difficult to lie about that soft spot on the floor when you are stepping on it.
2017 Airstream International Signature 27FB Twin
2019 Airstream Classic 30 Twin
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Old 11-28-2018, 10:00 AM   #5
Half a Rivet Short
2017 30' Classic
Carlisle , Pennsylvania
Join Date: May 2017
Posts: 8,695

Once you buy the trailer, what's the plan? If the next step is a total guy job and redo in "your style" then a lot of things really don't matter and should not be on the list. If the next step is to spend 20 years camping in it "as is", then just about everything matters. Indeed there are a lot of intermediates between the two extremes.

There are some things that matter no matter what you are doing. Floor rot / frame rot / rear end separation are the three biggies. That *assumes* that there is no visible damage to the trailer. Past that everything else is in the "routine fixit" category. A fridge that's fine right now might be dead when the trailer comes out of storage in the spring .... stuff happens.

If this is going to be a rebuild, there are a lot of things to consider. Finding a trailer that already has this or that done can be a good news / bad news sort of thing. How well it works out depends a *lot* on just how well this or that work was done. Figuring out how well it was done without tearing it all apart (and knowing a lot about the mod) ..... not so easy. I would avoid a trailer with major mods ....

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Old 12-01-2018, 04:48 PM   #6
Rivet Master
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Sioux Falls , South Dakota
Join Date: Mar 2011
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Thanks for the comments. We're full-timers, so the trailer has to be pretty much ready for use. I understand that what works right now may not work the next time I use it. That's life. What I'm hoping to avoid is buying something that is going to need a lot or work right away just to make it usable. An example of that is the 1988 34' at PPL Houston. A large piece of aluminum is hanging down near the LF corner, it was a twin-bed unit converted to a queen and a piece of painted plywood is all that covers the openings on the sides, and there is a large hole in the OSB floor in the LR corner. PPL won't hook it up to power until someone makes a binding offer. Someone with the time, space, and ability to do the work can have a nice trailer. I'm not that someone.

When I find a trailer that looks interesting enough (and the Foretravel is sold) I'll arrange for an inspector to actually check it out. I did have an inspector on stand-by for the one at PPL just in case it looked decent.

I've talked to someone who changed the axles on his 34' and he says it is a reasonable job. If I have to change axles I'll switch to disc brakes at the same time.

If I can talk to the current (or previous, in the case of one at a dealer) that will be a big plus. Having service records is a plus. A trailer that is 10-15 years old and has spent most of that time sitting in one spot is NOT what I'm looking for unless the price is reduced accordingly. I would expect that such a trailer would have axle problems, as Al mentioned above.

David Lininger, kb0zke
AIR 54240
Heartland mpg 181 (sold)
1993 Foretravel U300 (for sale)
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