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Old 08-10-2017, 07:18 PM   #1
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1986 34' Limited
1975 27' Overlander
Conifer , Colorado
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Build Features of the 1981 25' Trailers

I need some guidance please. I'm interested in a early 80' 25 foot Airstream.

I believe the early 80s trailers still had 2024-T3 Alclad exterior aluminum at .032 thick.

I believe the early 80s trailers had 5/8" plywood subflooring, not OSB.

I believe the early 80s trailers had improved frame steel from the rusty stuff in the 70s trailers.

But I can't find the facts on these beliefs. I'm looking for another project trailer and the 25' size with twin axles appeals to me.

You Airstreamers who renovate these old trailers or own one may be able to guide me with the facts. And you might also know a darn good reason to stay away from these trailers. They might not have been Airstream's best efforts.

David
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Old 08-12-2017, 01:31 PM   #2
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1986 34' Limited
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Conifer , Colorado
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Do any of you Airstream history buffs out there know the build configuration of the early 1980s Airstream trailers?

David
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Old 08-13-2017, 08:44 PM   #3
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1986 25' Sovereign
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The 1986 trailer we refurbished did have an improved frame. Using carpet allowed AS to have a large spans where the Gaucho was, which would be an issue for some of the other flooring types. Two cross frames were added.

The OSB sub-floor which was in great shape everywhere that there wasn't a leak, same issue with plywood, if you have a leak the pink insulation gets wet keeping the moisture on the wood and it goes bad.

I repaired the rear exterior end-cap with an English wheel (5 panels). They were certainly strong skin, which required a heat treatment to prepare the skin for reshaping. Don't know the chemical composition.

I would agree the interior is not up to current standards. Too much stuff installed makes the trailer seem small. The faux wood, bright green and orange accents, shag carpet.... I did not like the the lack of kitchen counter space, no drawers, and inferior plumbing with plastic fittings and thin-wall plastic tubing. For us that meant new PEX plumbing (no shark-bite fittings), removal of a truck load of extras, installation of a 8' long kitchen cabinet with 3' of work space and two 10" deep 3' wide drawers.

We like the center bath, the advantage is the tanks are in the center over the axles, so that no matter how full or empty that location has little effect on the tongue weight.
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Old 08-16-2017, 04:25 AM   #4
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Thank you for taking the time to respond, appreciate it. Sounds like you have done very extensive work to your 86. Re making end cap panels is huge. It takes just a lot of knowledge and skill to do that.

We have an 86 Limited 34'. It does have the OSB sub floor which is known to soften with moisture, maybe worse than plywood. I have two patches in mine, and I try to keep the leaks at bay. Our trailer has been hailed on three times. It is clear the end caps are of a different grade of aluminum than the side and roof skins. The dents are mainly in the end caps.

I think I read that Airstream changed grades of aluminum from the Alclad around 1983. It might very well be a better aluminum than the older trailers. I know my 86 isn't Alclad, but it polished up pretty good.

I don't know what year the Argosy style panoramic windows came to the full Airstream model line. Again I'm thinking 1983. My 86 has them, and I've seen classified ads of 81 trailers that do not have them.

I'm just thinking the early 80s trailers may be good project trailers and still have somewhat of a vintage look to them.

David
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Old 08-18-2017, 12:41 PM   #5
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I did a little research on Airstream.com. It isn't the easiest to sort out as it is more marketing than descriptive. I am focused on the 25' twin models. Here is what I think I know so far:

1978: Standard and Int'l trims.

1979: New straight galley, new door window, new gaucho, new dump valve location.

1980: Excella II model names. Also Caravelle and Caravanner lightweights.

1981: Int'l is base, then Excella II, then Limited. 25' twin is a lower level model

1982: First 34' model. Panoramic window in front. Emphasis on longer trailers.

1983: 27' is the shortest model. Int'l, Excella, and then Limited trims. No 25' twin available.

I can find no information on construction materials like exterior skins, subfloors, or cabinets. I think the Limited had hickory cabinets which are very nice indeed.

What can you add?

David
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Old 08-19-2017, 10:15 PM   #6
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The 1978 or 1979 25' we had (can't remember which of the two it was) was a rear bath, twin bed model. The floor was plywood but less that 3/4", likely 5/8" which fits in the C channel.

The floor did sink around the frames, which was noticeable when the carpet was replaced with vinyl.

The forming method for end caps does put a lot of stress in the metal including elongation. I would have guessed the shaping of the metal would have made the metal in the end caps stronger. Which might have allowed AS to use thinner sheet metal in the end cap. You might want to search on end cap metal thickness to find if others have posted about it.

see post number 3:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f259...ce-148328.html
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Old 08-20-2017, 08:12 AM   #7
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Well, I can see why AS switched materials. The more vintage material is harder but it only can take a 1.2% change of length before fracture. The number of failed skins in the press must have driven them to switch to the 3003. Just my opinion. Later they did up the thickness to .040.
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Old 08-20-2017, 03:24 PM   #8
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1986 34' Limited
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Thank you for the thread showing the history of Airstream aluminum. Very helpful.

I think OSB floors started in about 1984.

And I know nothing about the frame designs. When did 6" frame channels come to be?

David
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Old 08-20-2017, 05:37 PM   #9
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Some of the 25 Excella II in 81 were narrow body like the Caravelle's. Not all of them though.
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Old 08-20-2017, 07:42 PM   #10
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The center bath layouts started to come along in the mid 70s. I understand all of the 79 trailers had street side dump valves, handier than the bumper dump valves of the 70s trailers. These 79 and beyond trailers likely had larger waste water tanks, both black and grey.

Maybe the 81 trailers are very similar to the 79s. I think by 83 the Argosy style panoramic front windows were coming into Airstream production. Same with OSB flooring.

David
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