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Old 06-08-2011, 01:30 AM   #1
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Value of 1953 Airstream in need of repairs

I'm new the the forums, the AS community, and even the trailer ownership community. (17 years old, VERY ambitious) I've found a '53 AS, I don't know the model, and I don't know what condition the systems are in. What I DO know, is that the trailer was bought in 1964 from a family who blah blah...it's been sitting since 1964 in Utah. Generally speaking, the exterior isn't too bad off, except for the endcaps, which need replacing or repair...almost certainly repair, and the windows need replaced streetside, (stupid neighbor kids as it were!!) and the basics of resealing the lights, vents, and the likes. The interior needs some serious help, except the cabinets, which are strangely entirely (that I could see) in good enough condition that I would be happy using them as is in a "show trailer" (forgive my terms, I'm a car guy ) The Zolatone paint needs redoing, but that can wait until after all the critical stuff is taken care of. Appears to have the original toilet and bathroom sink. Appliances are original, galley sink is original, has the original gas lights (I've seen this term, does this mean they are LP powered?) Someone seems to have added (I didn't get a chance to look too closely) a forced air heater, although the original PanelRay is still there, and looks to be in great shape (hopefully the innards are too) I found a spot under a broken window, next to the couch which made me almost loose all my meals I've ever eaten. A board was covering a disgustingly rotted spot in the floor, although it was the only one this advanced I saw. Another note on the outside, the trailer seems to have two waste holding tanks, or an extra drain connection. There are also ports which logic says would go to the tanks on both sides of the trailer. I looked at the bellypan and it needs replaced. Those are the details I could think of off hand, and here is a bunch of pictures I took. My apologies for the blurred ones, but the iPhone only can do so much when a person is shaking with excitement
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Old 06-08-2011, 01:40 AM   #2
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Forgot to include the link heehee 1953 Airstream pictures by jasonhaymond - Photobucket
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Old 06-08-2011, 01:57 AM   #3
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You want to know the value? It sounds like its worth under 1500, some here will say they should pay you to take it away. The value is hard to place until you start to tally up what it will take to get it usable again. To restore it can cost anywhere from 5000-10000.00 just to make it functional. To go all out can skyrocket from there. Most likely all systems are shot, and if the windows are damaged, the floor will most certainly be rotted around the edges. Its a major undertaking. Not to mention replacing the endcaps is not for the faint of heart without a donor trailer. Be careful with the initial excitement, I have been there, paid way too much for a trailer, and took on a lot more work then I anticipated...

Maybe I'm wrong, and hopefully thats that case with this one! Best of luck and welcome to the forums!
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Old 06-08-2011, 02:18 AM   #4
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Thanks for your thoughts! When I talked to the owner, I got the feeling he was thinking somewhere in your ballpark. I think I can definitely swing less, especially considering the current owner lived at the location of the trailer growing up. My grandma lived two doors down, and he knows her fairly well, and some of my aunts and uncles too. I'm definitely not really looking forward to replacing the floor, and working on the frame (hopefully it won't be too bad since it hasn't been on the road for 40 years or so) All but one or two windows streetside are broken, and there's the soft spot by the couch (more like hole) but I think all in all the bad floor will be a good thing for me. If it didn't need replacing, I'd be tempted to leave it alone, and not look at the frame, and all the goodies down there. As long as it didn't damage the cabinets or furniture on the back or bottom, I'm content. On the note of the windows, do I need to get tempered glass? The original windows seem to have broken rather jagged like. I meant to put the link to my photo album in, but didn't...
1953 Airstream pictures by jasonhaymond - Photobucket
Thanks again!
-Jason
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Old 06-08-2011, 04:57 AM   #5
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Jason,welcome to the forums. What you've got your hands on is a 1952 Cruiser 25 ft built in California. It is one of 26 made that year. According to the serial number it was the third last one built that year so was probably first titled in 1953.
52Cruiser

It looks fairly intact from the pictures and is an excelllent candidate for a restoration. If you want my opinion you should do it right and lift the body off the frame, build a new frame or at least repair and reinforce the original. That will let you add waste and fresh water tanks.
I would imagine that the entire floor needs replacing given it's current condition. You need to check the floor all around the perimeter of the shell right where the floor meets the interior walls, especially under any openings.
It is most important to repair the frame and floor first before tackling the interior. Being a "car guy" you wouldn't drop a new motor and a paint job into a car with a rusted out frame or floor pans would you?
It's hard to tell from the pictures that you took but the end caps don't look too bad. It may be possible to repair the small dents. Any sections that are creased will never look perfect again and would need replacing, which is doable but does require some special skills and tools.
The interior looks mostly complete and with all the original appliances, and that is indeed rare. It would make a great restored unit once verything is redone.
I wouldn't hesitate to pay $1500 for it in it's current condition.
Good luck and keep asking questions. We have a great bunch of guys here who will help you any way they can during your project.
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Old 06-08-2011, 09:06 AM   #6
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Jason, I'm in Utah and would be glad to take a look at it and help assess the condition. I've restored 2 Airstreams, and spent more money that I care to think about. The comments on this thread are fairly accurate regarding restoration expense. If you become an Airstream junkie you'll probably not regret making this purchase and spending years restoring it. At 17 you have many years and dollars ahead if you! Let me know if you need help. I'd be glad to, even enjoy, taking a look at your find.
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Old 06-08-2011, 09:35 AM   #7
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How cool, Jason. Hope you can swing it, and for as little as possible since you'll need every dime you get your hands on for this project. Being young and exuberant will come in really handy, as will having a few friends around that you can bribe with pizza when it's time for the heavy lifting. From the photos it looks like you'll get a chance to try just about every type of upgrade and repair step there is, from beginning to end. So stay jazzed, pace yourself, and have a blast.
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Old 06-08-2011, 09:59 AM   #8
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Sigh...why can't I find these 13 panel cruiser projects?

Nice find.
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Old 06-08-2011, 10:08 AM   #9
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Jason, This trailer Looks very familiar. I am 70% through my Cruiser and most of it has been fun but very time and money consuming. If you look past all the ugly stuff it will be a nice trailer in the end. I paid $750 for mine and found out this was a pretty good deal. I will have $8-9,000 in it if I don't include the new Cruiser barn:-) and some people spend a lot more.
Good luck
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Old 06-08-2011, 04:19 PM   #10
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Hi Jason

I spent the winter rebuilding the endcaps on a 57 Overlander. If you have time to devote to it the rewards will be far beyond what you can imagine. I bought mine from Tinman54 because he didnt have the heart to part it out. He bought it as a parts trailer. I fell in love and named her Holly.

Read Tinmans thread and if you finish that read mine , "I found the leak" and read other threads that catch your interest. But first but that trailer!!!!!!!

I let Holly sit almost a year while I read and learned and thought and planned.
Just try to pay as little as possible, under $1000.00 if you can
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Old 06-08-2011, 05:15 PM   #11
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So this is how it is on this forum huh? 9 or so replies overnight Thanks for all you comments and support. Even if I don't get this one, I'm still going to get something, although I'm not sure when. Stormy Weather, assuming you're reading, I'd be most grateful if you'd help me look at the trailer, and then later talk to the owner with me when I'm ready to buy. Having an adult of any age involved who's in the know will definitely help keep the price down. Thanks again folks!
-Jason
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Old 06-08-2011, 05:18 PM   #12
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One other thing I thought of today, if I were to take the end caps off, would it be likely I could find a shop that would simply match the shape, curvature, and (obviously) use the same grade aluminum?
-Jason
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Old 06-08-2011, 05:21 PM   #13
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A nice thing about the 13 panel trailers is that all the panels, inside and out are flat, no stretch formed panels. Any panel can be cut and replaced, the aluminum is 2024-T3 available at aircraft parts houses and many metal suppliers.

Do you have panels which need to be replaced because of tears or dents. Dents can sometimes be removed.

Bill

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Originally Posted by jasonhaymond View Post
One other thing I thought of today, if I were to take the end caps off, would it be likely I could find a shop that would simply match the shape, curvature, and (obviously) use the same grade aluminum?
-Jason
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Old 06-08-2011, 05:24 PM   #14
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Hello Jason

Felicitation to your project! From experience I can say you that the purchase price plays finally no role for the AS.
Here in Europe an old AS from America costs completely got ready at least 100'000 euros, however, these can also be 150'000 euros. Here this is why her sees only few vintage-AS!

Greeting Werner

(How much my Cruiser costs, I do not say. I want to take over no responsibility if somebody gets a shock, grin...)
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Old 06-08-2011, 06:02 PM   #15
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Jason If you don't buy that trailer please pass on the information to the forums here. One of us for sure would grab it up. You don't realize what a find you have there. It's virtually impossible to find any 50's unit still intact. Most are empty shells by now. I would jump at the chance to get it but unfortunately it's 1800 miles away from me and transport would be too expensive.
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Old 06-08-2011, 06:32 PM   #16
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A nice thing about the 13 panel trailers is that all the panels, inside and out are flat, no stretch formed panels. Any panel can be cut and replaced, the aluminum is 2024-T3 available at aircraft parts houses and many metal suppliers.

Do you have panels which need to be replaced because of tears or dents. Dents can sometimes be removed.

Bill
You have no idea how happy you made me. I think you have made my entire year! I feel rather sheepish for not having looked at it closer, and seeing the lack of...curveyness ...thanks for the heads up on that one! My biggest concern has been the endcaps. Everything else I know can be done with hard work. And to answer your question, they are dented. Severely dented. About 3 sq ft on the mentioned areas that are completely dimpled. The owner's father bought it as a project back in '64, and had aircraft repair experience. He had started the process of removing the dents. My biggest concern is that when I shine this baby up, you'll be able to see the imperfections. Going back to cars again, even if you do a pretty dang good job of hammering out the dents, unless it's flawless, you WILL see it when you look down the side. Do you know of a guide somewhere on the internet, or a book which details the dent removal process? I'd like to devote money to the frame, interior, systems, and the likes, but I'd still like to get it at least PARTIALLY straightened out. Thanks again Bill!
-Jason
P.S. if you go to this link.... 1953 Airstream pictures by jasonhaymond - Photobucket you can see the dimples I'm talking about. The tear/puncture pictured is on the front-streetside, about a foot from the bottom. Is this a "difficult" piece to replace?
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Old 06-08-2011, 06:35 PM   #17
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Appreciate the reinforcement on how great the trailer is (or rather, will be) wasagachris. And for anyone reading, I definitely plan on posting selling information if I don't buy it. I really like the guy selling it, but beyond that the two of us want to see the trailer in good hands.
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Old 06-08-2011, 07:23 PM   #18
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Unless the panels are perfect, you will see the imperfections, but then it is almost 60 years old. The challenge on the endcap panels is the bead at the bottom of each panel. If you can find someone who can duplicate that bead you will be OK, but a lot of work on the entire inside and outside. The front lower panel is not difficult, after all it is straight.

Take a look at the threads by InsideOut on both trailers, they have done panel replacement.

You might want to look at my double door Liner thread also. http://www.airforums.com/forums/f334...tml#post879786

You are looking forward to a complete body off frame restoration, inside and out.

Bill

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Originally Posted by jasonhaymond View Post
You have no idea how happy you made me. I think you have made my entire year! I feel rather sheepish for not having looked at it closer, and seeing the lack of...curveyness ...thanks for the heads up on that one! My biggest concern has been the endcaps. Everything else I know can be done with hard work. And to answer your question, they are dented. Severely dented. About 3 sq ft on the mentioned areas that are completely dimpled. The owner's father bought it as a project back in '64, and had aircraft repair experience. He had started the process of removing the dents. My biggest concern is that when I shine this baby up, you'll be able to see the imperfections. Going back to cars again, even if you do a pretty dang good job of hammering out the dents, unless it's flawless, you WILL see it when you look down the side. Do you know of a guide somewhere on the internet, or a book which details the dent removal process? I'd like to devote money to the frame, interior, systems, and the likes, but I'd still like to get it at least PARTIALLY straightened out. Thanks again Bill!
-Jason
P.S. if you go to this link.... 1953 Airstream pictures by jasonhaymond - Photobucket you can see the dimples I'm talking about. The tear/puncture pictured is on the front-streetside, about a foot from the bottom. Is this a "difficult" piece to replace?
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Old 06-08-2011, 07:43 PM   #19
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Sorry Bill, I didn't finish my thought on the location of the puncture entirely. It resides on the front-streetside corner. Right smack on the curve. What is the procedure for fitting the new corner piece? Rivet one side vertically, then work my way right to left on the rivet lines? Or does it have to be pre-bent?
-Jason
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Old 06-08-2011, 07:58 PM   #20
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I had the entire lower front piece replaced on my Liner. Had it done by MEL in Orange, since at the time it was above my skill level. Again it is a flat piece. Replace the entire thing from vertical seam to vertical seam.

Bill

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Sorry Bill, I didn't finish my thought on the location of the puncture entirely. It resides on the front-streetside corner. Right smack on the curve. What is the procedure for fitting the new corner piece? Rivet one side vertically, then work my way right to left on the rivet lines? Or does it have to be pre-bent?
-Jason
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