Free 7 Day Trial RV GPS App RV Trip Planner Campground Reviews RV Maintenance Free 7 Day Trial ×

Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 12-29-2019, 05:20 AM   #1
3 Rivet Member
2018 30' Classic
Lake Charles , SW Louisiana
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 235
Images: 9
Seeking Advice from Knowledgeable Others

New. We're looking to purchase our first Airstream and will likely go to the pre-owned market to start. It is not beyond us to purchase new but form a price point perspective, we'd prefer to purchase a pre-owned even it that includes our doing (or better, having done) a complete interior refurbishment and renovation.

Regardless, if considering pre-owned, any unit we are interested in will undergo a PPI at our expense before any negotiation or making of an offer is undertaken.

That stated, by word of mouth, we just came across a 2003 AS Classic 34 LTD (triple axle, w/o dining slide-out) yesterday of which looks (from the outside to be in good condition, no dents/dings, aluminum skin is in good uniform condition, thus no signs of immediate concern thus far).

We have an appointment with the Owner (who informed us yesterday is the 2nd owner) next week to look at it in detail as they are out of town at this time.

They are asking $42,500 for this trailer and claim it is in very good condition (inside and out) but of course we expect the interior to be dated given its age of 17 years) and if we were to make a deal on it, our purchase would include having a complete renovation of the interior performed.

NADA Base pricing* indicates this year/model values as follows:
  • Average Retail $28,650
  • Low Retail: $23,800
* NADA Base pricing includes Stabilizer jacks, awning, AM/FM cassette stereo, microwave and air conditioner.

Seeking advice from knowledgeable others as regard:
  • Any issues or known concerns with this particular year/model AS?
  • Is the fact that it only has 1-one HVAC unit a concern (seems insufficient at this time)?
  • Any issues with the triple axle set-up?

Would also appreciate views on the asking price vs. the NADA base book values. What's a reasonable offer excluding any issues found during a PPI.

If we were to pursue the purchase of this particular unit our renovation budget will be $50k.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	Airstream 34.jpg
Views:	43
Size:	117.0 KB
ID:	358301  
rewillia is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-29-2019, 07:25 AM   #2
Rivet Master
DaveP's Avatar

2004 28' Classic
Monument , Colorado
Join Date: Nov 2015
Posts: 996
I own and renovated a 2004 Classic 28.

There are no particular issues/concerns with the year or model other than what may be worn-out or dated.

One HVAC may be an issue if you are going to primarily use this in warm climates.

The triple axle models are harder to back up as they produce more side slip pressure on the tires than the double or single axle models. It is a long trailer. I assume you have experience with towing something of this scale.

The price at $42,500 is not unreasonable if it is in good shape. NADA pricing is usually too low. With the cost of new AS trailer over or near $100,000, depending on the model, many people are looking for good used trailers which has driven up the price of used trailers.

Have it inspected by a knowledgeable individual.

BTW, I think $50,000 is a reasonable budget for a good renovation.

Good look with your search!
2004 Airstream Classic 28 "Willard"
2014 Ford F150 FX4 Ecoboost
DaveP is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-29-2019, 07:35 AM   #3
Overkill Specialist
Commercial Member
GMFL's Avatar

2020 30’ Globetrotter
2014 23' International
Dadeville , Alabama
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 4,300
Images: 4
Blog Entries: 52
Price of 42500 seems fair if in decent condition. 1 AC is NOT going to work for you in LA. I would personally want 2 on anything over 23’. One AC likely means only a 30Amp service which might also be limiting in a trailer that size. Keep in mind all theses things can be changed and added, it just will cost more money to do it.
GMFL is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 12-29-2019, 08:16 AM   #4
Half a Rivet Short
2017 30' Classic
Carlisle , Pennsylvania
Join Date: May 2017
Posts: 9,193

On a 34' Triple I would check for rear end separation. I *think* they had it more under control by 2003, but that model did have the problem as you go back in years.

By the time you do a full redo on the trailer, this will be both a costly and lengthly process. That's not to say don't do it. Only to say that you need to understand the 10's of thousands of dollars and (possibly) years of work it could turn into.

uncle_bob is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-29-2019, 09:22 AM   #5
Rivet Master
2018 25' International
Slidell , Louisiana
Join Date: Sep 2017
Posts: 3,477
Originally Posted by GMFL View Post
Price of 42500 seems fair if in decent condition. 1 AC is NOT going to work for you in LA. I would personally want 2 on anything over 23’. One AC likely means only a 30Amp service which might also be limiting in a trailer that size. Keep in mind all theses things can be changed and added, it just will cost more money to do it.
I completely agree one A/C is not enough for the humid south for anything over 25. Our 25 has two and we have found situations when we were glad we had two.

I found the NADA prices to be fairly accurate for late models in the two years I watched them. I did not follow the prices for models older than 2014 so I can't confirm nor disagree with your assessment.
BayouBiker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-29-2019, 09:34 AM   #6
Rivet Master
Caffeinated's Avatar
2015 27' Flying Cloud
Portland , Oregon
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 1,014
NADA guides are notorious for under valuing Airstreams.

2015 27ft FC FB
WBCCI #3960
2019 F150 ecoboost
Caffeinated is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-29-2019, 09:53 AM   #7
Toaster Life
2010 23' International
Tucson , Arizona
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 188
How do you plan to use the trailer?

The AC issue may not matter to you at all, depending how you use your trailer.

No matter what they say these vehicles are not made for extremes of hot or cold, in cold weather you can only run the furnace when hooked up to shore power and even then condensation becomes an issue. Likewise no one is mentioning it but running AC also requires shore power and comfortably cool indoor temperatures in humid climates will result in condensation this time on the outside of the inside skin where you can not see it... so probably not a good thing in terms of mould etc.

Net net your rig has wheels, so you can chase the comfortable climate camping spots, buy both moving North or South depending on the time of year and also up to higher altitudes in the summer months.The whole point is to be camping in spots where it is pleasant to be outside - like Goldilocks not to hot or too cold.

Our 23ft Christopher Dean has all the bells and whistles, but we prefer quieter National Parks and off the beaten path so rarely are able to use the AC (and it is terribly noisy when it runs), and while we drag a pair of Honda generators around with us on some trips, generators are noisy and about as welcome as an ant at a pic-nic in most places.

We do deploy the roll our blinds for shade, we have 3 of them on 3 sides and also open the front window stone guard for shade too. We also use 1 ceiling fan with the other open to vent the trailer, or open windows to help. This seems to work for us well.

As for a dated interior, if it is good condition keep it that way and play up the style it has. We had slip covers custom made for our "Toaster" in a washable fabric and it is really nice to be able to wash all the covers as needed. We use a European Duvet on our bed, Ikea has great duvets and covers in many colours and designs, at very reasonable prices and making the bed is a breeze.

I would add a solar connector to the battery, we like the movable solar panels as we can move it to follow the sun. We had factory installed solar on the roof, still do, but tend to park in shady spots which negates the solar.

Think how you plan to use the rig, on shore power or off shore power and let that help you decide. The older rig in good condition may not have the finicky electronics the new ones have, things that are devilishly hard to trouble shoot.

Whatever you decide good luck, and Happy Camping.
Toasterlife is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-29-2019, 10:53 AM   #8
3 Rivet Member
Commercial Member
SilverPal2's Avatar
1954 22' Flying Cloud
2017 30' Classic
Currently Looking...
Ojai , CA
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 128
Send a message via ICQ to SilverPal2
NADA is typically about 20% under the real value, the asking price is typical for this year and model. The critical component of the transaction is condition. Body condition and corrosion are the most important to value. The interior should be odor free and everything must work as expected. Assuming the trailer is located in the SE corrosion and rust may be present
WBCCI 261 AirForums 24539
Accredited Appraisal Firm
SilverPal2 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-29-2019, 05:10 PM   #9
jcanavera's Avatar

2004 30' Classic Slideout
Fenton , Missouri
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 9,702
Images: 143
Send a message via AIM to jcanavera Send a message via Skype™ to jcanavera
If that 2003 was reasonably taken care of the most likely defects or items that may need dealt with might be the seat cushions and carpeting. Typically the original sensing system for the fresh water and holding tanks is probably not functioning properly. If I sold my 2004 slide out at this point the main issues would be the seat cushions (sofa is leather and looks great) and my liquid tank sensors which are not up to snuff. I extraction clean the carpet every season so it still looks good. I know all my appliances look good and all function properly. Water fixtures and sink all are still good too. Unless that previous owner upgraded, that 2003 trailer came with a 13.5 K air conditioner unless it was upgraded at order time. That's woefully inadequate and always was a major flaw in those tri-axle unit. I took the 15K option when I ordered my 30' slide out and I have found it works very well for me. Obviously the tri-axle unit probably needs to have a rear air unit for sure if you plan to travel in a hot climate. I think even if it has a 15K unit, that might not always give you the comfort level you would like for a tri-axle.

Obviously tires and maybe brakes may be needed and possibly wheel bearings dependent upon how it was maintained. FYI You might consider LED bulbs for the tail lights. I had mine changed out and it makes a big difference in your brake lights being seen when the sun is hitting the back of your trailer on the road.

The slide out unit in mine is in good shape, remember not to extend or retract the slide out if the stabilizer jacks are not down. That's probably the most important issue in keeping the slide out working properly. Hopefully that got drilled into the heads of the previous owners. When you view the trailer, if those stabilizers aren't down but the slide is extended, I'd have very grave concerns about the condition of the slide unit itself. They can be damaged by that practice. Also check the condition of the gaskets that seal the slide out unit. I heard (although I've never talked to my dealership) that Airstream does not stock those gaskets and you have to get them from the after market. I wipe those down annually with silicone spray to keep them soft and lubricated.

Things to think about for the future may include, replacing the refrigerator, air conditioner, and water heater. I have a microwave/convection unit that is still working well. So far I keep my fingers crossed because I'm still on original equipment. I have replaced the air conditioner shroud due to UV exposure. The original cracked at the screw holes. I also had to replace both skylights (one under warranty) in the first 3 years of the trailer's life. All suffered from over torqued screws when they were installed at the factory (according to my dealer).

42K probably is a very reasonable asking price. Personally even though my Classic is 30' model, I'd probably be asking more than 42 if I ever sold it. The biggest reason is that mine has been stored in an insulated garage when not in use for all but the first 2 years of its life. Inside storage really helps keeps a trailer in top condition. The slide out offers so much more room. Note that that slide makes that hitch weight heavy and I had to upgrade my hitch and components to Class V equipment.

One last thing on the slide out. The slide in that era trailer sits on rollers that carry the weight of the slide. The rollers truly sit on the carpeting, so understand if you attempt to remove that carpet and put in a hard surface floor, those rollers might mar the new floor as the slide is extended and retracted. I was told that later model slides (don't know when that change occurred) have a different system that allowed hard surface floors to be put in them.

Jack Canavera
AIR #56
'04 Classic 30' S.O.,'03 GMC Savana 2500,'14 Honda CTX 700
jcanavera is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-30-2019, 01:37 AM   #10
Experienced Learner
aswell's Avatar
2000 34' Excella
Somewhere , Earth
Join Date: Jun 2018
Posts: 49
Originally Posted by rewillia View Post
  • Any issues or known concerns with this particular year/model AS?
  • Is the fact that it only has 1-one HVAC unit a concern (seems insufficient at this time)?
  • Any issues with the triple axle set-up?
As others have stated, the triple axle slides sideways quite a lot when backing up while turning. Just today I watched the tires slide across concrete during a tight turn backing into a site.

We went overkill using commercial trailer tires, specifically the Hercules H901ST. They are way overated in terms of weight, but now I don't worry as much about damaging the tires when I see them slide across the pavement. And, the plus is that I am not as concerned about keeping the speed below 65 to avoid blowouts. The previous owner had several, we still have the scars, but the H901ST's are F rated and can handle 75mph at max load rating for an hour. As we aren't anywhere close to max load, I can cruise at 70 thru Nevada in the summer without worry.

We did upgrade our AC to an AirCommand, as they are significantly quieter than the stock units, but we went with the 13.5k version. Unless the temps get into the upper 90's it cools things reasonably well, but only because we used BusKote on the roof. Look into insulating roof coatings and apply the brand of your choice, it makes a HUGE difference in heat transfer from the roof to the interior, and might allow a single AC to be adequate, depending on where you will be spending time camping.

Also, you might consider replacing the axles, or at do some reading about how to tell when it's time. A rough ride is not good for any Airstream, and maybe more so for one that has been customized.

Lastly, it does swing wide, the previous owner left scars proving it. So, be very careful making tight turns...
aswell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-30-2019, 02:17 AM   #11
Rivet Master
Acheron2010's Avatar
2019 26' Flying Cloud
Morristown , Tennessee
Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 687
I like your taste. If I were to shop a used Airstream, I would be attracted to the Limited, Pendleton or other special series. I'd try to keep it under 30 foot just to make things easier to fit in most campgrounds.
2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500
2019 Airstream Flying Cloud 26RBQ
WBCCI #6679
Acheron2010 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-30-2019, 02:47 AM   #12
3 Rivet Member
2018 30' Classic
Lake Charles , SW Louisiana
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 235
Images: 9
Thank you all for the detailed responses. Your advice is being well taken to include many good points raised.
rewillia is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-30-2019, 04:29 PM   #13
4 Rivet Member
1976 24' Argosy 24
1999 30' Excella 1000
White Haven , Pennsylvania
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 368
That is a nice trailer. And the price does seem to be within reason.
But, I have to ask. If you spend 42,000 on a used trailer , and then 50,000 to renovate it.
At 92,000, wouldn't it make more sense to buy a newer trailer? Just sayin.
Gkiesel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-05-2020, 10:39 AM   #14
1 Rivet Member
ed , Alberta
Join Date: Jan 2020
Posts: 11
my thoughts exactly. Your resale value will never justify that. Youll be donating pretty much all of the reno costs. Itll never change the book value near that much. If someone wanted an older renoed AS they would likely prefer to do the renos themselves to get exactly the look they want. Just buy a new one.
Gcragg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-05-2020, 11:39 AM   #15
4 Rivet Member
vintageracer's Avatar
1977 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre
Nashville , Tennessee
Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 341
Just remember ANY Airstream renovation project no matter how small always comes APART easily. It's that "Puttin It Back Together" part that becomes the real problem!

DIYer or professional most any renovation project on an Airstream is never as easy as you think it will be when you start that project. One project typically leads to another and another with any OLDER USED AIRSTREAM.

Are you ready for the Time, Money and Heartache required for any Airstream renovation?

Just remember any Airstream renovation will take three times longer to complete than you expect, will costs 4 times as much as you expect to spend and will cause infinitely more heartache that you ever could have dreamed!

Once you understand the above and make the commitment to an older Airstream renovation remember to have FUN whatever you do and the sooner you "Gitter Done" the better!

Remember "Drive Fast, Turn Heads, Break Hearts"
vintageracer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-05-2020, 12:09 PM   #16
Rivet Master

2007 22' International CCD
Corona , California
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 8,674
Seeking Advice from Knowledgeable Others

Just remember the 90/90 rule of projects.

In any given project, the first 90 percent of the work takes 90 percent of the time and money. The remaining 10 percent also requires another 90 percent of the time and money.

Note that it is flat-out impossible to bust this rule with any amount of planning in advance. It appears to be a law of nature, not engineering.
Rich, KE4GNK/AE, Overkill Engineering Dept.
'The Silver HamShack' ('07 International 22FB CCD 75th Anniversary)
Multiple Yaesu Ham Radios inside and many antennae sprouting from roof, ProPride hitch, Prodigy P2 controller.
2012 shortbed CrewMax 4x4 Toyota Tacoma TV with more antennae on it.
rmkrum is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-05-2020, 01:06 PM   #17
1 Rivet Member
2008 27' Classic FB
St. Louis , Missouri
Join Date: Nov 2018
Posts: 11
We searched hard for a pre-owned model and eventually bought an 08 Classic through a used-only dealer. Based on my experience, your renovation budget sounds reasonable, and the asking price does, too, as a starting point. (We found the book values to be WAY off. Another data point— State Farm insisted on an insured value much higher than our actual purchase price.) I suggest you might think about it this way: with your generous refurb budget, you’re not far from a new purchase price, and certainly not far from a newER model that would require no refurb at all. So: if you think you will enjoy the updating process, stay on course. If you’re anxious to get on with camping with minimum headache, buy new or newer.
Skrausestl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-05-2020, 01:49 PM   #18
2 Rivet Member
2012 31' Classic
The Villages , Florida
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 43
Images: 1
I am selling my 2012 31' Classic Limited. I have been RV'ing for 50 years and owned 5 different RV's over most of that time. Started in a tent and camped in 49 stated as well as Can. & Mex. I have done a lot of repairs on each of the RV's owned as I have done lots of wood working as an amateur cabinet maker and fixit person.

NADA's prices are always low for Airstream trailers. I will be glad to share a lot of knowledge from a lot of experience if you want to talk on the phone as well as text or email.

phone/text: 352-459-9993

Uncle Bill
Uncle Bill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-05-2020, 05:08 PM   #19
Rivet Master
mefly2's Avatar
2015 25' FB Eddie Bauer
2013 25' FB Eddie Bauer
2012 20' Flying Cloud
Small Town , *** Big Sky Country ***Western Montana
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 2,677
Originally Posted by Gkiesel View Post
That is a nice trailer. And the price does seem to be within reason.
But, I have to ask. If you spend 42,000 on a used trailer , and then 50,000 to renovate it.
At 92,000, wouldn't it make more sense to buy a newer trailer? Just sayin.
Ditto -

You will never get your remod or refub costs out of it.
2015 25' Eddie Bauer Int. / 2020 Ford Expedition 3.5 eco B
2019 Chev New Silverado 1500 6.2 V-8; equalizer hitch
AIR# 44105; formerly WBCCI 2015.1
Terminal Aluminitis; 2-people w/ 3+ dogs
mefly2 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-2020, 05:18 PM   #20
New Member
1975 27' Overlander
Shawnee , OK
Join Date: Nov 2019
Posts: 2
Surely the O.P. meant that his budget for Reno was including the purchase price as well..
Jody Ray is offline   Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
A Knowledgeable Airstream RV Dealer daharvey On The Road... 0 04-20-2010 05:50 PM
Seeking advice on replacing butyl tape sealant on ridged aluminum SOB SilvrSausage Vintage Kin 0 09-22-2007 11:03 PM
ELECTRICIANS (or others knowledgeable) please help. SmokelessJoe Electrical - Systems, Generators, Batteries & Solar 42 08-26-2007 05:23 PM
Desperately Seeking Hipster Fulltimers/Advice! iamsusanq 2002 - 2005 International 17 12-08-2004 08:50 PM
Seeking Advice.... jtshipp On The Road... 9 05-17-2004 04:42 PM

Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by


This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Airstream, Inc. or any of its affiliates. Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:58 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.