I'm gearing up to get on the Airstream team. I don't really want to get involved in a gut job but definitely can do some repairs. This is one I'm interested in.
Hopefully I can see it this weekend. All I really know about this Airstream is it’s a 1973 model. Would $3500.00 be a good price? Do you think it’s about 27’ long? It's a center twin with a rear bathroom. What model? I really like the 3 windows at the side front.
Does anything about the Airstream jump out at you that could be a problem?
If I bought it, what equipment should I take to be prepared to tow it away? I’m sure a new set of tires would be in order but hopefully they can make a 100 mile trip.
To get a nice airstream you will either pay for it up front or over the long run in the work and money you put into it. 3500 is on the cheaper side, so it makes me wonder what else is going on with it. We have a 73 Overlander, a 27 foot model, that one looks to be a bit longer, maybe a 29 or 31. Seeing weeds growing up underneath it does not give me a warm fuzzy either, it means that it has moisture coming up from the open ground for a while and that could mean frame rust.
Try and get an inspector to go along with you. After you own one of these and get into it, you know what to look for. You say you dont want to gut it and I can sympathize, but at that price, I would be very skeptical. At the very least it probably needs axles and tires, so there is 2 grand right up front.
Do a search on the forums for "inspection checklist." This will guide you as to what to look for. At a glance, I would say this trailer promises to be in "original condition," which really means that it has had little more than maintenance done on it in the last 40 years. Looks to have been neglected in recent months/years. As for potential problems, I would expect you to need to replace all 4 tires, both axles, various appliances (to include the air conditioner), fix leaks in the plumbing and gas lines, replace the shag carpeting and the mildewed upholstery, and finally to deal with the dreaded rear-end separation common to 70's era trailers.
If you want a trailer that you can tow down the road safely and take camping this weekend, then expect to pay $10k or more. A seller ought to be able to justify this price with documentation describing the refurbishment that has been done (ie., axles replaced, floors repaired, major appliances replaced, etc.).
I'm not trying to discourage you, just managing expectations. Just think if you bought a car that had been built in the 70's and spent most of its life parked in the weeds. You would likely not take it on a road trip any time soon.
I expect there is rear end separation and floor rot in the back of the trailer. So plan on major repairs. It looks good from the outside but you don't know what you will find in the back where the bathroom hides the damage. Jump on the rear bumper and see if it moves relative to the shell. If it does then you know you got problems. If it does not then you still may have problems. See if there is a member in your area that will inspect it for you.
I bought a 77' that looked just like this. Sadly, I thought that I would not be doing a gut job, but was mistaken. I paid around the same money for mine. I now have a total of 15K in my Airstream including the purchase price. I went all in with all new appliances, fridge, stove, heater, built all new cabinets, replaced all flooring, replaced all the upholstery, replaced all gaskets, replaced all plumbing (water and Gas), put solar on the roof, and put a polish job on it. I did all my own work. The 15K is out of pocket with no labor paid to anyone. You probably do not need all new stuff like me, but who knows if the stuff works. You will definitely need tires and new axles. You definitely will have some floor rot and will need to replace sections of the floor. That will involve taking out the lower skins on the inside of the RV. You will definitely have some rusted outriggers that will need to be replaced and welded on to the frame. You definitely will need a new furnace. I dont mean to scare you, but I thought I would rip out the interior and put a new one in. I was way off with the amount of work that I needed. If you are married, it will definitely put a stress on the marriage until the job is complete. Lots of time will be spent after work and on the weekends to get it back on the road. On the flip side, I now have a work of art and every time I pull into a campground (unless I'm at an Airstream Rally) I have the coolest RV in the the whole campground. My boys love camping in it and my wife tolerates me. The money is one consideration, but for me it was the time that it took for me to complete the restoration. I can't say that knowing what I know now about the amount of time that I spent, that I would do it again, but I can say that I love having it done and showing it off. Just consider what kind of time commitment you can make and your minimum budget with your purchase price should be at least $8K.
From the window placement, I think it looks just like my 73 31' Sovereign. The one I bought was advertised to have had the recall frame stiffening so I am OK in that respect. Good luck, Axles, tires and frame work will be mandatory unless they have put new axles under it in the last 20 years and had the frame stiffened. Just my 2 cents, Terry
I appreciate everyone taking the time to give me your thoughts about this little jewel. There is definitely a lot for me to consider here. My husband is more than capable of doing a lot of the work that would be needed to be done but he just doesn't have the Airstream bug like I do. If it's not something your really into, I can't see him dedicating as much of his time to get a project like this done. But then I was also hoping that there wouldn't be that much wrong with the trailer.
Here are some more pictures of the bathroom and kitchen. The Airstream is parked on a concrete driveway if it matters.
We have a 2013 Ford F150 Super Crew 4x4 Truck to tow with. According to the owners manual it should be able to pull 13000 pounds.
Well, again, there is always a lot below the surface. You have to ask the seller a lot of questions, and get down on your hands and knees with a screwdriver or icepick to test the floor all along the perimeter. You may be right and its a jewel. If it requires a shell off refurb, your husband may not be into it, and it could cause a lot of trouble. I wouldn't give up on it, just go armed to understand what you are getting into.
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