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Old 01-28-2022, 05:36 PM   #1
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1984 31' Excella
Fitchburg , WI
Join Date: Jan 2022
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Going to look at our first Airstream

Hello, I'm new to the forum. I've been poking around here for a few months. Now were going to look at one this weekend (and possible pull it home). It's a 84 31' Excella side bath. Mostly gutted on the inside so I can see most everything. I feel I've done my homework enough to know most of what I should be looking for, but I 'm asking:

What else do I need to be sure to check out?

Thanks for your advise. I'll keep you in the loop,
Bill
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Old 01-28-2022, 06:55 PM   #2
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Photos would help others evaluate.
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Old 01-28-2022, 09:46 PM   #3
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How far are you towing? Brakes? Lights? Battery for breakaway switch? Suspension? Permission note from wife?
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Old 01-29-2022, 06:04 AM   #4
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1984 31' Excella
Fitchburg , WI
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I understand it is hard to give advice when so much is unknown at this point. Thanks for mentioning the battery for the brakes. Good point. If we decide to buy it, it's about 150 miles back home. My wife is coming with me so we're good there.
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Old 01-29-2022, 08:39 AM   #5
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Soft spots in the floor denoting leaks. Rust on the A frame. Leaks. Dents bigger than you can live with. How are the holding tanks and valves? Look at the A frame where it enters the trailer under the battery compartments. Look at the floor under the WH and the fridge. I am skeptical of the term "mostly gutted". That would be a huge discount for me to buy it. Gutting is not an "asset" in my opinion.

Ours had the original 9 pin trailer connector. I had to change that and replace the breakaway switch to tow it home. I had a local tire company come on site and check and dry pack the wheels and look at the brakes and change the tires. I had a 650 mile pull home and no turn around time on site to work on it myself to get it ready to pull. It had been on site for 17 years.

You can fix most anything on these trailers so it is just a question of knowing for sure (not really for sure but a good estimate) what you are getting into and how much work/expense you can expect down the road.

I do not regret buying and repairing either of our 2 trailers. But...one ran over budget at the time because of a rusty A frame that had to be repaired at JC and because of very stubborn leaks that were frustratingly hard to track down and repair. And the leaks are still somewhat a problem after 10 years using it. Have had to remove and re install the drivers side awning. Reseal the Vista windows. Remove the TV antenna. And replace the front vent. To stop leaks. Now I still need to recurve the door a little and reseal another Vista window. I was 15 years younger when we started. I could not do it all over today.
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Old 01-29-2022, 08:54 AM   #6
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

On an Airstream of that age, I would look hard at the axles and brakes. The current owner may have some information in that area. Then again, he may have acquired the trailer recently and not have a clue about the axles.


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Old 01-29-2022, 11:35 AM   #7
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Take a look at the Inspection Checklist in this thread. It'll give you good ideas.


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Old 01-29-2022, 11:42 AM   #8
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1988 32' Excella
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Make sure you check the DATE CODES on the tires, just because they "look good" doesn't mean they wont explode on the way home and destroy the trailer.
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Old 01-29-2022, 01:18 PM   #9
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Wheel bearings, brakes and tires all keys points for safe transporting back home. If seller will arrange for inspection in advance as condition of sale, great. Most will not. If not, take possession and go directly to a local tire shop.

Ditto to the Permission Note from your wife.
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Old 01-29-2022, 01:42 PM   #10
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2022 Interstate 24X
Carlisle , Pennsylvania
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Hi

First step would being sure your tow vehicle is up to the task.

Next (as mentioned above) brakes, tires, axles, bearings all need to be in reasonable shape. On a trailer that's been sitting, that may not be the case.

Signal lights all need to work as does the breakaway setup ( so a working / charged battery).

Part of the structure of an AS comes from the frame ( so no crazy rust). Some comes from the floor (so not a lot of rot). Some from the inside and outside walls ( so they need to be there to some degree). Without cabinets and the like, the trailer is lighter weight so you can get away with a bit. It also may be imbalanced so who knows just how much.

Things like doors / windows / awnings / A/C units / fans all need to be tied down well enough that they have a chance of making it down the road.

Drive slow and stop often to check things !!!!

Bob
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Old 01-29-2022, 03:37 PM   #11
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How much is your budget for this renovation?

We have renovated our beloved 1964 26’ Overlander from a gutted interior and would recommend you consider how much you will pay for parts and labor and time required before it will be usable. We have also done a partial renovation on a 1989 34’ triple axle Excella, which is our “winter haven” at LYH in Melbourne. With well over 100 AS’s at this RV Park, there seems to be usable AS’s for sale all winter.

?’s
1. How much of the work will you perform?
2. How many appliances will you need to buy?
3. Plan on a new subfloor and flooring
4. Do you have templates for redoing the bulkheads, we had none.
5. Are all windows in the trailer and sealed appropriately
6. Dump valves all installed and function well
7. Can you test any electrical wiring in the trailer
8. Many more things to look at, but the checklist an earlier responder provided is probably very thorough
9. What is your plan if tail lights and brake lights do not work for your drive home
10. How about your furnace and AC? Both worked great in our 1989, but we installed new in the 1964.
11. Propane tanks do they meet the current code for connections?
12. Recommend getting a suicide door safety tool to ensure door stays closed
13. If you have an awning(s) use a zip tie to keep it from unfurling during your 150 mile odyssey (if you buy it) to your home.

Without pictures, I am guessing it may be worth $5K or less. I would also plan to double or triple your estimate on what the renovation will cost.

Why are you considering a gutted trailer? You have the skills and time and money and patience to spend up to two years getting it ready to use? If you are anxious to get on the road, this is not the trailer to get you there very quickly.

My recommendation is to check out a “ready to rumble” used AS to compare the costs with this huge cost and time to complete project. These used trailers still offer opportunities to make improvements, but they should be at a more reasonable pace than a gut job. A couple in Macon, GA are aging out and selling their 28’ with a slide out, that we looked at a couple of weeks ago, would require much less work than the one you are considering. They have kept it under cover. If you are interested I can provide their phone number via PM.
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Old 01-29-2022, 07:50 PM   #12
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Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Dietlin View Post
Hello, I'm new to the forum. I've been poking around here for a few months. Now were going to look at one this weekend (and possible pull it home). It's a 84 31' Excella side bath. Mostly gutted on the inside so I can see most everything. I feel I've done my homework enough to know most of what I should be looking for, but I 'm asking:

What else do I need to be sure to check out?

Thanks for your advise. I'll keep you in the loop,
Bill
My advice would be to enlist the assistance of a certified RV Inspector, such as https://nrvia.org/locate/
Cheapest $1000's you will ever spend to find out about a 38 yo Airstream, taking in account what you may end up spending. For sure it won't have ducted heating/cooling and ECO insulation. How new are appliances and is their a repair and maintenance record somewhere they had it serviced, etc. Shape of tires. Does it or has it ever leaked. Be careful, unless you're very handy at fixing RV's, IMHO!
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Old 01-29-2022, 08:13 PM   #13
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Fort Collins , Colorado
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If you decide to tow, besides having an adequate tow vehicle I’d suggest a weight distribution hitch with some sort of sway control. A gutted trailer may be light, but you need decent weight distribution with enough hitch weight for stability, and light may mean sensitive to things that could induce sway.
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Old 01-30-2022, 05:16 AM   #14
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1984 31' Excella
Fitchburg , WI
Join Date: Jan 2022
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Hello and thanks for everyone’s feedback. I really appreciate all of it. It’s so helpful to hear from people who have gone around this block when making a decision like this. This is not our first camper, but it will be our first Airstream. Not our first project, but way bigger than ever before. This won’t be a spontaneous purchase, we’ve been thinking & looking for more than a year. I’ve done a lot of reading on this forum. Thankfully we’re not in a hurry & we have space (heated, indoor) to work on it. The “project” is a big part of what we are looking for. Although I’m sure there will be surprises along the way, My wife & I love stuff like this. I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop & add photos too.
Thanks again, Bill
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Old 01-30-2022, 07:35 PM   #15
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1984 31' Excella
Fitchburg , WI
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My wife I made the drive, made the decision & pulled her home. Now the plans (work) we've been talking about for a year or so can begin. We still have our days jobs so we're giving ourselves plenty of time. I'm guess a year, maybe two. That's OK, we want to make nice. I'll add more pictures later this week when I can get started.
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Old 02-05-2022, 05:06 AM   #16
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1984 31' Excella
Fitchburg , WI
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OK, so now the work begins. What is the best spot on this site to post this project? I would like to share my progress as well as ask for advice along the way.
Thanks, Bill
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