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Old 12-29-2019, 05:20 AM   #1
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2018 30' Classic
Lake Charles , SW Louisiana
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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.
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Old 12-29-2019, 07:25 AM   #2
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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!
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Old 12-29-2019, 07:35 AM   #3
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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.
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Old 12-29-2019, 08:16 AM   #4
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Hi

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.

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Old 12-29-2019, 09:22 AM   #5
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Quote:
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.
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Old 12-29-2019, 09:34 AM   #6
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NADA guides are notorious for under valuing Airstreams.

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Old 12-29-2019, 09:53 AM   #7
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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.
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Old 12-29-2019, 10:53 AM   #8
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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
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Old 12-29-2019, 05:10 PM   #9
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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
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Old 12-30-2019, 01:37 AM   #10
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Quote:
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...
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Old 12-30-2019, 02:17 AM   #11
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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.
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Old 12-30-2019, 02:47 AM   #12
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Thank you all for the detailed responses. Your advice is being well taken to include many good points raised.
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Old 12-30-2019, 04:29 PM   #13
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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.
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Old 01-05-2020, 10:39 AM   #14
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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.
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Old 01-05-2020, 11:39 AM   #15
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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!
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Old 01-05-2020, 12:09 PM   #16
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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.
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Old 01-05-2020, 01:06 PM   #17
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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.
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Old 01-05-2020, 01:49 PM   #18
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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
email: unkbill123@gmail.com

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Old 01-05-2020, 05:08 PM   #19
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Quote:
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.
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Old 01-06-2020, 05:18 PM   #20
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Surely the O.P. meant that his budget for Reno was including the purchase price as well..
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