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Old 08-31-2006, 01:51 PM   #1
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First Trailer - Need Advice on Condition


I'm looking for my first airstream and have just returned from looking at a 1984 Sovereign 29. From what i can tell it is in very good original condition. It is clean, undamaged, and the systems are all in working order. The owner seems honest and forthright.

Following advice from this forum I checked it for tall sag and frame separation and it seems to be okay.

There is one problem area however. Inside the left wheel well, on the forward side, part of the metal cladding and its support member has corroded away, leaving a hole. Inside the trailer, in the hallway between the bathroom on one side and the closet on the other, there is an area of floor about 15" x 15" that is spongy. This is in the same general area as the hole in the wheel well.

The rest of the frame that I could see appeared rust covered, but intact.

I'm not much of a do-it-yourselfer and I don't want to get into major repairs. If this problem could be fixed professionally for, say, a few hundred dollars, I would be very interested in the trailer, as otherwise it is very nice.

Can someone please advise me as to how serious this problem is likely to be?

Thanks in advance.

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Old 08-31-2006, 03:38 PM   #2
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Safest answer if you're critical about capping cost of repairs would be to contact the service managers of several Airstream Dealers and ask them for ballpark estimate to replace section of floor and wheel well sheet metal...

My hunch (less scientific than estimate..) is that it will run more than "a couple hundred $", considering that some opening up and removal and replacement fo carpet is involved. Dealer might also likely want to assure leak is completely sealed in that area to avoid further liability... If floor boards to be replaced are open and easily accessed, and sheet metal in wheel well is simple cut, rivet and seal with Vulkem, it might not be much more...

Folks here have bought trailers they liked in worse condition and with lots more to repair than that, so it might also be worth offering a little less and see if seller has others willing to pay their price with known damage..

John McG

In Theory, there's no difference between Theory and Practice, but in Practice, there is usually a difference...
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Old 08-31-2006, 05:42 PM   #3
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Without really seeing the potential purchase, it is a guess and by golly! However, if the floor is "spongy" my guess is you will need to replace a portion (at least) of the floor. If the spongy area is near the water heater or other water line, then check the pipes to see if there were some broken. That would indicate lots of work, and expense.

There are some forum folks who will come and inspect trailers for potential buyers if you post a request. This can happen if you are in the same area as someone who feels comfortable doing this. Generally [I think] if you offer to reimburse folks for their travel expenses (gas probably) and maybe buy them dinner or something to thank them that is all people might expect.

There is a great thread (you may have seen it already...) on considerations for buying an Airstream. You might want to check it out. Lots of good information there on what to look for, etc. I think there is even a link to a printed list of items to review.

Older trailers usually need some work/repair. If you are planning on having someone else do it for you expect to take out the wallet! Maybe a handy man/woman type friend would work with you on a project?!

Good luck! I would take a digital camera next time you go look at a trailer and then you will have references to things you forget about when you get back home. Really helps the memory factor!

Mrs. NorCal Bambi (traveling in S Tardis)
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Old 09-02-2006, 10:18 AM   #4
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Thanks for the advice. As the trailer was offered on an ebay auction, I did not have the time to have it professionally inspected. In the end I decided there was enough uncertainty that I would not be confident in bidding. In future I think I'll restrict my search to a newer vehicle.

Again thanks for taking the time to reply. It helped a lot.

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Old 09-02-2006, 10:32 AM   #5
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Hello Dan and welcome to the Forums! From your description I would believe the rust hole is on a 4-5" high piece of steel just below the level of the floor that runs sideways away from the frame. This is called an outrigger and a system of these support the shell perimeter. On my Argosy 3 of the 4 outriggers at the wheelwells had rust-through. Taking this to a welder will be necessary. The floor issue can get fairly involved. If you're not up to the work (and it would take a significant investment of time, delay before using, etc.) other systems are over 20 years old and you'd be lucky to have only $1000 in repairs. I would agree with the Airstream dealer idea, though that may be hard when you don't own the trailer yet. That's the only way to get to the heart of the matter.

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