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Old 08-21-2017, 01:56 PM   #1
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Langley , Washington
Join Date: Aug 2017
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1st Time Trailer Buyer Looking at this 1976 Sovereign 31'

Hello,
I've done some research before heading out today to view a 1976 Sovereign Land Yacht 31 ft trailer. From the photos (which can be deceiving) it looks to be in Average condition, with some updates of the flooring, toilet, tires and wallpaper being replaced. Hoping to get additional eyes on this and to see if my list of things to look for during a walk thru is thorough enough.

What I have listed as things to note during a walk thru:
  • Test Appliances
  • Floor Rot? Poke around parameter to see if there is any softness or apparent rot.
  • Tank Rust or Rot
  • Rust perforation of the frame
  • Tail Sag or Droop
  • Rear End Seperation

Do you guys have any other questions you think I should ask?

https://seattle.craigslist.org/see/r...260130436.html
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Old 08-21-2017, 03:03 PM   #2
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
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Welcome to the Forums!

If you look on the Airforums Portal tab, and scroll down while looking at the right-hand side of the page, you will see a link to help you find inspectors, and in the same place, there is a link to the "Inspector's checklist," which is a very thorough list of everything to look for, check out, test, etc..

I looked at the C-list ad you had linked. In the fourth picture from the left, it looks to me like you can readily see the rear end separation on the right hand side as you look straight at the back of the trailer. Rear end separation is very common in these trailers, especially in the 70's, and especially in wet environments like Seattle. Open up that rear hatch and have a good hard look at the floor close to the rear wall...it may not even be there. It will be hard to check for rotting floor all along the perimeter if your seller has put his new bamboo flooring covering up all the rotten spots.

I always get a little nervous when I hear that a trailer is "mostly original." This translates in my mind to meaning that they haven't done any restoration work on a 40 year old trailer, and it is just work that you are going to have to do. Get a list of everything that has been done from your seller, and ask for receipts/pictures. At a glance, they may have replaced the axles, but there are a lot of other things that deteriorate in 40 years.

For the price they are charging, I would say that you ought to be able to go camping immediately, and not have any major surgery to perform on the trailer. Price seems a bit high if the only rennovation that has been done on the trailer is bamboo flooring. Unfurl the main awning as well. it looks kinda sloppy as it is rolled up. The small window awnings ont he street side appear to be missing ecept for the arms.

good luck!
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Old 08-21-2017, 03:05 PM   #3
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Biloxi , Mississippi
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Print out and take a copy with you

http://www.airforums.com/forums/atta...8&d=1215128295

If possible take an experienced Airstream owner along for the ride. Good luck.
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Old 08-21-2017, 03:51 PM   #4
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Thank you!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Belegedhel View Post
Welcome to the Forums!

If you look on the Airforums Portal tab, and scroll down while looking at the right-hand side of the page, you will see a link to help you find inspectors, and in the same place, there is a link to the "Inspector's checklist," which is a very thorough list of everything to look for, check out, test, etc..

I looked at the C-list ad you had linked. In the fourth picture from the left, it looks to me like you can readily see the rear end separation on the right hand side as you look straight at the back of the trailer. Rear end separation is very common in these trailers, especially in the 70's, and especially in wet environments like Seattle. Open up that rear hatch and have a good hard look at the floor close to the rear wall...it may not even be there. It will be hard to check for rotting floor all along the perimeter if your seller has put his new bamboo flooring covering up all the rotten spots.

I always get a little nervous when I hear that a trailer is "mostly original." This translates in my mind to meaning that they haven't done any restoration work on a 40 year old trailer, and it is just work that you are going to have to do. Get a list of everything that has been done from your seller, and ask for receipts/pictures. At a glance, they may have replaced the axles, but there are a lot of other things that deteriorate in 40 years.

For the price they are charging, I would say that you ought to be able to go camping immediately, and not have any major surgery to perform on the trailer. Price seems a bit high if the only rennovation that has been done on the trailer is bamboo flooring. Unfurl the main awning as well. it looks kinda sloppy as it is rolled up. The small window awnings ont he street side appear to be missing ecept for the arms.

good luck!
Thank you for your feedback. I'm going to chat with someone nearby to get their thoughts on the trailer and will also be bringing the checklist you've mentioned. I wasn't sure about the pricing as the Seattle area is a bit spendy on nice trailers, especially Airstreams during our nice weather period. Your info have given me additional thoughts on the pricing I'd be willing to pay. They are open to negotiating, but with some of the work we're planning on putting into it aesthetically and now looking at some larger issues - it provides me with more ammo for a lower price.
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Old 08-21-2017, 03:54 PM   #5
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1978 31' Sovereign
1984 31' Excella
Springfield , Missouri
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I was going to mention the front curved windows, covered with curtains on the inside... why?

No front window rock guard

Axles will eventually need replacing.

Patio awning looks like it needs work, rear window awning has been removed. Roadside awnings look like the fabric has been removed.

No electric winder.

On the plus side the interior is looks very nice. Expect to replace refrigerator which is also missing wood panel on the freezer door.

$1500 for axles plus shipping
400 for rockguard
3000 grand for awning repairs to include new fabric
200 12v winder
1200 gas electric refrigerator plus shipping.
?? rear end separation.

I'd offer $9000 ... owner maybe insulted.

We bought this trailer in 2007 for $5,000.
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Old 08-21-2017, 04:04 PM   #6
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Seems like a lot for a 41 year old trailer that has not been updated. I would verify that all appliances work, make sure the wood sub floor is in good shape (check especially in the rear bath, by the entry door and under the front windows) and make sure there is not the beginning of "rear end separation" which is very common in this model and age of Airstream. If you bring an experienced Airstream owner from the inspector list on this forum, they will be invaluable to you.
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Old 08-22-2017, 12:19 PM   #7
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1977 Argosy 28
Euless , Texas
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This is the end of the camping season and that's when trailers come on the market. Summer demand has dwindled, owners still want the higher summer price, but, want to sell before having to pay to store it over the winter. The price may come down.

30' and 31' (basically the same) stay on the market longer, appear to be the most common and should be the lowest priced. Shorter trailers are in more demand and sell quicker at higher prices.

Rear separation in this vintage and floor rot in all years should be checked.

Rear Separation: Grey tanks were added in 1974 and rear separation was a problem for a couple of years because they didn't beef up the rear frame for the extra weight. This is also aggravated by floor rot. Stand on the back bumper and jump up and down. There should be no movement between the rear bumper and the body. If there is, pass.

Floor Rot: Common areas are either side of the door, in bathroom and along the rear at the back bumper. Open the back access door and see if you can check the floor plywood for rot all along the back. Take an ice pick, knife, awl or something pointed and sharp and check for soft flooring.

Take your time and don't be in a hurry, the price may drop. And if you don't get this one, a better one will come on the market. I spent 2 years looking before I bought my first Airstream and don't regret walking away from any I passed on. This price should get you a solid trailer that only need cosmetic work and is ready to camp in.
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Old 08-22-2017, 12:31 PM   #8
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2017 30' Classic
Carlisle , Pennsylvania
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Hi

Are you looking for a project or a camper?

Are you set up to do work yourself or will you pay somebody else?

Is there something specific about *this* trailer model / year that makes it a "must have"?

I would be very careful at the price he's asking. You should have a number of other trailers come up in that range over the next six months. Yes, you might have to drive to Arizona to look at one. Arizona can be pretty in the winter

Bob
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Old 08-22-2017, 01:32 PM   #9
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1970 31' Sovereign
Charleston , South Carolina
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Do you solemnly swear........?

This will be your new mistress. I got one, pretty much gutted, a year ago and am just now ready to take it on the road full-time. Your list will grow, and at a certain point you may decide to just redo it 100% - or put it in the classifieds for being over your head. Like a mistress, you will wonder what happened to your bank account.

You will need to have or get:

A working knowledge of electrical work, welding, plumbing, carpentry, HVAC, paint, axle mechanics, appliances and sealants. Getting that knowledge is worthwhile, paying to use someone else's is expensive.

Parts are hard to find and not cheap. Most parts will need a couple of other parts to make it work right.

It's a lot like remodeling a spoon.

Let the pro's install your AC, hot water heater, and axles, primarily for the warranty on the work, but it's also a lot easier than doing it yourself. Avoid the RV dealers and their shops for the rest - it is possible to find levels of incompetence there that you have never before imagined, particularly at the one with initials CW.
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Old 08-22-2017, 01:47 PM   #10
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1973 31' Sovereign
Boerne , Texas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lingtodt View Post
It's a lot like remodeling a spoon.
Well put!
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Old 08-22-2017, 02:10 PM   #11
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Great input here. My 1969 is original - which means when you walk into the trailer it looks just like it did as a brand new trailer excepting the new color and covering on the couch cushions and new matching curtains. Otherwise the carpet, table, counters, cabinets, bath, refer and stove / oven - even the TV antenna and 8-track tape player are all the same components as it was delivered new. I know this because my parents bought this trailer new. BUT - all the things that you would expect to be replaced with new equipment, are - furnace, water delivery system (copper --> PEC), water heater, elec converter, battery, umbilical to TV, electric connection for shore power, water pump, tires, wheel bearings (axles are in great shape), LP tanks & LP connections, A/C, rebuilt original head, replaced valve on black tank (no grey tank), and several other cosmetic and safety items like new breakaway module, adjust trailer brakes, CO2 and smoke detector, etc.. I had the electric lift replaced with manual as electric lifts seem to fail right when you need them on a cold snowing morning when you have a long day of driving planned (ours did just that - it's gone). Point is - "original" can be good but also can be misleading per the post above - everything I replaced with new was necessary because the component was no longer working and / or was not able to operate safely after nearly 50 years and 35+ years of sitting unused.
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