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Old 12-05-2019, 12:25 PM   #1
1 Rivet Member
Currently Looking...
Americus , GA
Join Date: Dec 2019
Posts: 7
Looking for some educated opinions

I am hoping to get some info from the knowledgeable people who've been here before me. I am looking at my first AS purchase. I met a older man who buys and sells campers. He has two mid 70's land yacht trade winds.

The first option is one that is original and complete (we're not talking showroom). He said that it has all been checked out and that the components work. This one I can purchase for $6500 and I have some pictures. I know also though it will still need work being a 40 year old camper etc before we take it out and use it.

The second option he has is the same camper but the previous owner gutted it and no doubt lost ambition (or money). This would leave a semi clean slate to make it back like it was but newer and a little more up to date. I'm not looking for some pinterest dream home by any means!

I guess considering the prices and what a remodel vs rebuild would be what are the general thoughts? Has anyone done one of these model AS and also what issues should I be looking for? I did look for the rear floor rot and separation since it is a rear BR model. It looked like there had been some work done but a wooded cross brace put in. This was on the non gutted one. I have not seen the one that's gutted yet.
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Old 12-05-2019, 01:14 PM   #2
Half a Rivet Short
2017 30' Classic
Carlisle , Pennsylvania
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How many months / years of free time do you have available to do a rebuild ( or simply a fix up ) ?

How much "under roof" space do you have to tear something like this apart while you work on it ?

What are your goals once you are done?

Indeed rear end separation (normally fixed by welding ...) is part of what to be concerned about. Frame rot and floor rot are also part of the list of biggies.

Even if none of this turns out to be a big deal, there are still the minor things. Batteries, tires, brakes, hubs, axles all *may* need attention / replacement. Appliances likely will need TLC. Things like the charger / converter and A/C units probably are past their use-by dates.

None of that addresses the livability of the trailer or any of the renovation decisions.

Budget wise, the trailer its self is likely to be a fraction of the total you spend out of pocket. How small depends on a whole lot of things. People do spend 10's of thousands of dollars doing this.

If you do *all* the work yourself, it will take a while. Unless you are familiar with (and tooled up for) a wide range of tasks, there will be some learning / redo loops involved. Paying somebody who is good at this will cost.

Is that saying don't do it? Most certainly not in any way. Simply be sure you have the time / space / money / dedication to follow the task through. Better to plan on it taking a lot and being pleasantly surprised vs overwhelmed.

There are a *lot* of people out there who start one of these projects and then abandon it after $20,000 has been poured into it. It sits for a while and gets sold off for ten cents on the dollar. You do *not* want that to happen to your project.

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Old 12-05-2019, 01:47 PM   #3
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Post up some pics and let's have a look. Tradewinds are nice models and almost anything is fixable. As pointed out however costs can add up. Has the gutted rig had any work done at all? Running gear work perhaps?
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Old 12-05-2019, 01:51 PM   #4
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Even if fifty more people post, uncle bob's advice will still be the best. Kudos Bob.

Paying someone Else BIG bucks to do it for you is no guarantee it will be done right. I had an Avion done and the guy that did the cabinets used cheap drawer pulls 2 of which failed almost immediately. (The guy is out of business now so no point in revisiting that.) I ended up replacing the single center mounted pulls with dual side mounts... and the contortions it took to do that in place on a finished cabinet do not bear remberance. Sumbi*** glued the Kreg joined tops down so popping the lid off wasn't an option. I finally mounted the new slides with command strips in the back so they would stay put while I screwed them in. And then a pex joint went powie.... and then the old electric jack failed and the steps needed a bit of welding and... and... and... and...

Find a vintage heavy WBCCI unit and become "grasshopper" to someone else's "sensi" if you proceed. The people who enjoy this stuff will often work for adult beverages or a minor spree at Harbor Freight.... or they may want you to buck with them (which IS perfectly innocent).
Today is a gift, that's why they call it the present.
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Old 12-05-2019, 07:59 PM   #5
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Here are the pictures I do have of the complete one. I have not seen the gutted one yet. I do however have the time ( retired military ) and pretty good woodworking etc skills. I don't have covered space to work but I'm in the south and if windows needed to come out etc I could probably find some.
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Old 12-06-2019, 08:17 AM   #6
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2017 30' Classic
Carlisle , Pennsylvania
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The gotcha with "covered space" comes in if you start pulling the cabinetry out to do this or that. It has to *go* somewhere. Moving it around inside an enclosed space is reasonable. Hauling it off to a storage barn .... maybe not so much. Since it could be out for many months, it does need to be put away.

Past that, there are things that are a bit more involved. The most insane is pulling the shell. Will it come to that? Probably not. If it does, you need a lot of space ....


In addition to woodworking, you will be playing with plumbing, electrical, gas, running gear (brakes, hubs, axles), HVAC, sheet metal fab, and many other things. None of it is rocket science. All of it can be handled DIY. However, there are tools to be bought, and skills to be learned.

Lots of fun !!!!

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Old 12-06-2019, 11:39 AM   #7
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1967 26' Overlander
Spartanburg , South Carolina
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This is just a suggestion. Buy them both if you have interest in both a project and camping while traveling. The gutted one is probably a couple of years away from being useful so camp in the first one and work on the second one to make it what you want. Then decide which one to keep or sell.
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Old 12-06-2019, 12:04 PM   #8
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1981 31' Excella II
New Market , Alabama
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You can take years to get a gutted one back up to usable condition. I would buy the one that is still intact. Problem is with a gutted one you have to figure out how to put it back together. This takes some skill and if you don't have skill you will get some or give up like the last guy did. I can fix just about anything but if it is not there then you start over and you have to be a jack of all trades. Even with one in decent shape it takes months to get it 100%.

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Old 12-06-2019, 01:08 PM   #9
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If you want an old one, just buy the one you showed pictures of. Looks pretty good. Price seems okay. The shell looks okay.

If I wanted a trailer to travel in as opposed to a collector or project project I would look newer and more money up front.

(just one of 50 answers not as good as Bob's)
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Old 12-06-2019, 02:08 PM   #10
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
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The first decision you need to make is: You you want to go camping, or do you want a rebuild project? If you want to go camping, then neither of those trailers is the one for you.

If you want a trailer that is truly ready to go camping, even if just safe and functional, and by no means a Pintrest wet-dream, expect to pay $12k or more for it. $6500 gets you a project, and the owner (trailer flipper) knows it's a project, and has priced it accordingly.

That very first picture tells me everything I need to know about that trailer. There appears to be 1" of frame droop on the drivers side frame rail, and a half-fast wooden patch has been put in place (this is NOT-repaired correctly or adequately). So, make no mistake, though "everything is functional and checks out," this trailer is in need of a shell-off rebuild, or at least some major surgery. There are probably many sections of rotting subfloor hidden by that shiny engineered flooring.

The other gutted ("clean slate") trailer, I wouldn't take unless someone were going to pay me to take it, or I was going to turn the trailer into a coffee vending wagon, and the interior was going to be torn out anyway. The only advantage a gutted trailer affords you is that you have a better chance to see what a wreck you are acquiring.

Good luck!
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Old 12-06-2019, 02:28 PM   #11
Half a Rivet Short
2017 30' Classic
Carlisle , Pennsylvania
Join Date: May 2017
Posts: 9,112

Dumb boy Bob here only just connected with the fact that the OP in Georgia......

A couple of hours drive north of you is the Top of Georgia Airstream Park.


It's the "home base" for the Airstream club there. There are more older Airstreams sitting up there than you can count. There are members who know a *lot* about restoring older trailers. There also might be a few for sale .... who knows.

Truth in lending: I happen to be a member there and *have* consumed a few beers with those fine people .... it is a bit of a drive down from Pennsylvania.

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Old 12-06-2019, 04:09 PM   #12
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1981 31' Excella II
New Market , Alabama
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The one if your photos is a major renovation and you already have structural issues at the back and maybe a rotten frame. This is a project trailer. If you want to camp like someone said above, then you don't want and old Airstream. If you have to have one, then get one that is already rebuilt and that means documentation of the process. You can't just replace a floor. The frame, floor, and shell are a unit and have to be connected to keep things together. Floor goes between the shell and frame. It is not for the faint of heart.

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Old 12-06-2019, 08:53 PM   #13
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1973 21' Globetrotter
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We will love to hear what you do. And hep as best we can if you get a project going.
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Old 12-06-2019, 09:00 PM   #14
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1969 18' Caravel
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All good comments here.

One suggestion; if you are at all even considering taking on this as a project, please, please please read some of the lengthy threads here of those who have done a full shell off restoration. Many of the threads have lots of interesting pictures of the process, challenges and ingenious solutions, not to mention mad skills, resourcefullness and craftsmanship.

Its a big job, but so is the reward at the end. If those threads do not scare you off, and you have the time and budget, GO FOR IT!
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