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Old 02-15-2011, 08:59 AM   #1
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Need spec info on what trailers are made of.........

The more I read, the more I'm worried. There are more people on the restoration board than anywhere else on the forum!
Where can I get information on what exactly the trailer is made of. I've looked at the spec sheets, but they don't tell me what I want to know.
Any help on these questions would be appreciated!

1. What do they make the floors out of?
2. What model years have changed the flooring?
3. How do you know you have a leak?
4. Will I spend every waking moment worrying about this???

We've had three Pop-ups and no leaks whatsoever (I hate cranking it up). We bought one box trailer that only last 3 years before the whole thing was junk. Ironically, we had a terrible flood in 2008 in WI where our park model was completely flooded (up to the kitchen counters). When the water receded (3 weeks later) we had to completely gut it, but the floor was perfect!!! Not a ripple in it. It took us a year to put it back together, but it's better than new. I don't want my husband to ever have to do that again.
I'm afraid to buy old and afraid to buy new Where can I find out what these trailers are made of?
Thanks!!
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Old 02-15-2011, 11:11 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by funhouse View Post
The more I read, the more I'm worried. There are more people on the restoration board than anywhere else on the forum!
Where can I get information on what exactly the trailer is made of. I've looked at the spec sheets, but they don't tell me what I want to know.
Any help on these questions would be appreciated!

1. What do they make the floors out of?
2. What model years have changed the flooring?
3. How do you know you have a leak?
4. Will I spend every waking moment worrying about this???

I'm afraid to buy old and afraid to buy new Where can I find out what these trailers are made of?
Thanks!!
I think the answer to your questions may be fairly easy. You mentioned that your SOB was junk after only 3 years. That speaks volumes in itself. The reason you see much activity on forums restoring/updating AS is because they last 40, 50 & 60 years or more (with proper upkeep). Most sob's have a hard time making it 10 years.

Quest. #1 - The floors are made from plywood.
Quest. #2 - Not sure any change here other than type of wood perhaps (others will chime in with info).
Quest. #3 - Routine inspection.
Quest. #4 - No. Most AS go much longer than any of the sob before leaks develop. Some never leak. I've seen AS being used out in the woods for hunting camps that have not moved for 40 years with no leaks. You will need to do your routine inspections just like you would with any camper or even your own house. If you find a leak in your AS, sob or house you catch it early and have it repaired.
I found a 65 Safari 2 years ago. I spent the better part of a year restoring/updating the entire trailer. It is currently 45 years old and I expect that it will out last me. Happy hunting.
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Old 02-15-2011, 11:21 AM   #3
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On some models subfloors were made of OSB, a composite board very prone to coming apart when wet. I think it was on some of the shorter and cheaper models.

From time to time things change, sometimes in the middle of a production year, and it is hard to trace down. Your best bet is to keep reading threads while remembering that a lot of what you see is about trailers with problems and not necessarily representative of all trailers. At the same time keep looking, contact an inspector when you can so you get another opinion.

It's no different than looking for an older house—you do your best and you can be sure you will miss something.

If you spend every waking moment worrying, you should not buy an Airstream (or possibly anything else). Every purchase has some anxiety but extreme reactions more appropriate for the doctor telling you that you have terminal cancer indicate other types of problems which have to be solved first. Good luck.

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Old 02-15-2011, 11:39 AM   #4
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Yes, Gene, you can tell after our flood incident that I have a fear factor to deal with. I want to spend time camping with my two little girls, not every weekend fixing a trailer.
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Old 02-15-2011, 11:49 AM   #5
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Part of the reason that you see so many people on the restoration boards is because when you DO take on a restoration there are a lot of details to consider. These things have been around so long that there are plenty of them to find that have been neglected and are fun projects for people so inclined. It's not really an indication that they are more in need of work.

In fact generally, they're less inclined to need work in my experience. All campers need something. Your pop-up was very simple with few areas that could go wrong. We started that way and its' great once you don't mind the cranking and minimal space and bathroom facilities. As you look for a more sophisticated camper, there are more things to consider. All campers have some leak at some time. How many are still around 30-40-50-60 years later to even consider as a restoration project?

The only thing I've found that someone could nit-pick about an Airstream vs some other brand (SOB) campers is that the riveted seams can eventually leak. I compare that to the nightmares I've had with rubber roofs and the like on other models and I'll take the riveted seams any day. You found what a lot of those SOBs are made of with the box trailer you mentioned.

Then there's price. Airstreams are generally more expensive. Some of that due to quality of construction and some probably due to the "cool" factor of an Airstream. As mentioned in some other threads, many of the internal components (appliances, heating, air etc.) are common across a variety of brands. Those are where my experience says you're more likely to find issues - and that'll be true with any brand.

The floor in my '66 was in sound shape even though it had sat neglected for over a decade. It did have leaks over that period and the floor was wet. I'm replacing it, but just because I want a "new" old Airstream.
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Old 02-15-2011, 01:25 PM   #6
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Five years ago we bought a 1986 31' Sovereign. We have towed it some 40000 plus miles and spent the equivalent of two years in it since.

Every now and then we have to fix something. We had a leak under the awning rail. We had the cooling section of the refrigerator fail. We replaced the floor (the previous floor was just ugly and there was some rot at the door). Most everything else we did was optional -- either for convenience or appearance.

The bottom line is that the cost in terms of both $$$ and Hours of Labor per unit of Big Fun is very low. My wife and I owned a small airplane which cost roughly a gazillion dollars a year to own much less fly. We also have a boat which is, as long known, a big hole in the water you pour money in. The Airstream has been a joy.

So, shop carefully and bring one home. Then go camping. Have big fun. Fix things that break. Don't worry about it.


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Old 02-15-2011, 01:25 PM   #7
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Normally an Airstream does not leak. But then, “normally” an Airstream owner, partly because they like their Airstream and have a desire to keep it as new as possible condition, will learn how to maintain it. It is, like everything else worth having, in need of being maintained.

So if you want to determine if the floor in a particular coach is in good shape, you can get yourself an ice pick. Open the utility doors from the outside to gain access to the inside flooring and poke around the floor at the base of each corner (this is where most normal leaking occurs). If the floor is soft then there has been a leaking problem. If the leak has gone undetected for a long period of time, the floor may be completely rotted away (see attached picture). The same can be said of the rest of the flooring. Is it soft or gimpy – or hard, like you would expect plywood to be ….?

Another way to determine if there has been leaks it to take the nose test: if the inside stinks of a musty foul smell that never goes away, chances are it is or has leaked, and that for some time. The smell will originate in the insulation, and once that exists, no amount of cleaning or drying will rid the smell.

So what would you say about a floor that’s in the same condition 30 or more years later as the day it was installed? Would you replace it? I wouldn’t. This is why you read here about the few that had problems and are being replaced: if repair work isn’t required, nobody is going to write about the repairs they need to do. But if repairs are needed, you could learn here about what you need to do to get things fixed. …

Its anybodies guess how many vintage trailers there are that need no repairs for every one that needs work, but then again the fact that we’re talking vintage should say something ….. Go http://www.airforums.com/photos/show...imageuser=8174 for the picture
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Old 02-15-2011, 01:38 PM   #8
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I'm restoring a '58 Overlander now and, amazingly, I don't need to replace the floor. There's some minor floor damage in the entrance from a missing door seal, but it's easily repairable. I attribute this to the very dry climate of the Southwest. It had several leaks when I bought it last May and I'm still chasing a few leaks now, but I'm confident I have them on the run.
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Old 02-15-2011, 02:07 PM   #9
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When I buy an airstream I buy new. First in 87 (sold in 2010) and then bought my current one in 2010. I do check the seals and sealer when I buy one and make sure nothing was missed, if anything was missed I just add sealer where needed, then check it all a couple times a year when I wash and wax.
I don't worry about it.
To me, it's just natural to look at things once in a while to prevent a small thing from becoming a major repair.
The factory does a decent job of putting these things together. The problem is that some people neglect them after they buy them.
If you get a used one that was taken care of you are lucky. If not, are you handy?
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Old 02-15-2011, 03:06 PM   #10
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We've had three Pop-ups and no leaks whatsoever (I hate cranking it up).
I'm not trying to talk you out of Airstreams, but you do know many pop-ups now are available with electric lifts?

And if you're very concerned about post-purchase "issues", a new Airstream may be better than a used or vintage one. There's the 2 year factory warranty to help calm your apprehensions.
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Old 02-15-2011, 03:20 PM   #11
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A new Airstream may be better than a used or vintage one. There's the 2 year factory warranty to help calm your apprehensions.
Yes, calm your apprehensions and empty your wallet.
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Old 02-15-2011, 05:46 PM   #12
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Yes, calm your apprehensions and empty your wallet.
Yes, there is that, too. Just try to save enough for a bottle of good booze to deaden the buyer's remorse...
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Old 02-15-2011, 06:24 PM   #13
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all rvs leak...

either water gets IN, or is created inside or pipes drip and sinks over flow.

toilets rise or floods happen.

it's a house on wheels and everything that can happen to a house happens to a trailer....

now imagine your house covered in aluminum foil that needs regular care WAY beyond paint or stone.

they've been making streams for 75 years plus.

so like 75 years of houses or cars, MANY materials have been used in construction over those years.

the subfloors are NOT all plywood,

and even plywood isn't plywood by historical standards.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by funhouse View Post
...I'm afraid to buy old and afraid to buy new...
skip the airstream, really.

stick with what u have, it's paid for? and been lined with sweat equity.

so it will surely be fun 4 camping...

it's really just all about the camping.

is there any fear in that?

the only way to avoid buyer remorse is NOT to buy one...

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f349...rse-39275.html

or sell one...

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f161...rse-33773.html

Quote:
Originally Posted by funhouse View Post
...Will I spend every waking moment worrying about this???!
if you have to ask the answer is probably affirmative.

based on this and the other threads (talk me in to it, so i can talk my hubby into it)

the real question should be SELF directed,

why 4 art thou airstream?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by funhouse View Post
...Where can I find out what these trailers are made of?
now as 4 what "trailers are made of"...

the floors are made of memories and and the ceilings made of dreams....

the insides are furnished in the now which is full of risks, work, effort and reward...

but the outside...

well the outside is pure vanity.



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Old 02-16-2011, 04:07 PM   #14
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Very happy to hear all the above responses! FYI, we are keeping our 40' park model. It has a very nostalgic past with all of our sweat equity and looks brand new inside. We wanted to get a trailer to hit the road with. I love to camp in the state parks in WI. We've been camping for the past 30 years and I would love to travel too.
It just seems to me that AS should be made to last and last. I know the old trailers are still around after all these years. My question really is:
Will the new trailers be around as long as the old ones? Do they still make them out of the same material? If we really keep a close watch on our new (or relatively new) AS, will it still be here in 30 years?
Would love to hear more replies Thanks!
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Old 02-18-2011, 10:48 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by funhouse View Post
It just seems to me that AS should be made to last and last. I know the old trailers are still around after all these years. My question really is:
Will the new trailers be around as long as the old ones? Do they still make them out of the same material? If we really keep a close watch on our new (or relatively new) AS, will it still be here in 30 years?
Would love to hear more replies Thanks!
It seems you are looking for reasons to not buy one, except, then I read another post and think you are looking for reasons to buy one.

Since you've already been told they are made of different things at different times, there's no answer to that question without looking in detail into every model built. No one can tell you whether anything will be around in 30 years until 2041. These questions are so general in scope they can't be answered without a treatise.

Do you go through this every time you buy a car or any big ticket item? I wonder too about such things and I do ask questions and do research, but there's nothing definite in life and eventually you have to make a decision, hope for the best and sometimes, hopefully not often, you will do a really dumb thing. Everyone makes mistakes and regrets get you nowhere. Regrets before you buy anything are especially toxic.

Ask yourself which model you want—check out floor plans, amenities, water storage, everything that's important to you. Decide how much you can spend. Answering those questions will vastly limit the models available. Then ask about problems with those specific models and years and you may get better answers.

I hope I am not too harsh. It seems like you are stuck on how to go forward and going around in circles.

Gene
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Old 02-18-2011, 11:35 AM   #16
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Airstream Longevity

Funhouse- I agree with all the comments from other posters. On longevity, I believe that some of the older AS trailers are built better than the present ones, but I also believe that any new AS trailer made today will be around in 40 years if it is well cared for.

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Old 02-18-2011, 11:52 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by funhouse View Post
Very happy to hear all the above responses! FYI, we are keeping our 40' park model. It has a very nostalgic past with all of our sweat equity and looks brand new inside. We wanted to get a trailer to hit the road with. I love to camp in the state parks in WI. We've been camping for the past 30 years and I would love to travel too.
It just seems to me that AS should be made to last and last. I know the old trailers are still around after all these years. My question really is:
Will the new trailers be around as long as the old ones? Do they still make them out of the same material? If we really keep a close watch on our new (or relatively new) AS, will it still be here in 30 years?
Would love to hear more replies Thanks!
Realistically does it need to last 30 years? I bought my trailer new at about 53 years old. Frankly I cannot see myself hitching and unhitching, setting up a trailer when I'm deep into my 70s. I'd say a ten year run with anything is a good run in life. My '05 is aging very gracefully, in fact it looks almost brand new. I think it will still look great at 10 years old. And probably will be very serviceable at 15 years old with normal maintenance.

My point is unless you're young we're the limiting factor, not the trailer.
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Old 02-18-2011, 12:09 PM   #18
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Yes, I think the new ones will be around just as the old ones are. The basic construction design has not changed significantly over time. They are still made of aluminum. The suspension system has not changed in 40 or so years. What has changed are interior decor items, and the exterior finish on the trailers. Ours is 14 years old and spent much of its time sitting (the worst thing you can do to a travel trailer) It is still sound. There are little items we have fixed and some more items we want to fix (like worn upholstery) We did have one leak when we bought it, but it caused no lasting damage other than a fabric stain.

The Airstream is a wonderful trailer as well as family camping experience.
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Old 02-19-2011, 07:38 AM   #19
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It seems you are looking for reasons to not buy one, except, then I read another post and think you are looking for reasons to buy one.

Since you've already been told they are made of different things at different times, there's no answer to that question without looking in detail into every model built. No one can tell you whether anything will be around in 30 years until 2041. These questions are so general in scope they can't be answered without a treatise.

Do you go through this every time you buy a car or any big ticket item? I wonder too about such things and I do ask questions and do research, but there's nothing definite in life and eventually you have to make a decision, hope for the best and sometimes, hopefully not often, you will do a really dumb thing. Everyone makes mistakes and regrets get you nowhere. Regrets before you buy anything are especially toxic.

Ask yourself which model you want—check out floor plans, amenities, water storage, everything that's important to you. Decide how much you can spend. Answering those questions will vastly limit the models available. Then ask about problems with those specific models and years and you may get better answers.

I hope I am not too harsh. It seems like you are stuck on how to go forward and going around in circles.

Gene
I am trying to justify paying three times as much for a trailer as the ones I've seen at the trailer shows. Not only do we have to pay a huge premium to buy one, but we will have to travel half way (in either direction) to find a deal (which probably won't turn out to be a deal after all). We can buy a new 23' Jayco with a queen bed, sofa sleeper, and dinette for $13,995. The only trouble is, I don't like it. I love the layout, I just hate the color of it. DH says forget it, you will never be happy with it. Very true, but if I pay $30,000 for a used 2006 23' AS, that potentially has just as many issues as an old one, I feel like I can't do it. Like I said before, I'm not the "Coach" purse type. I need a reason to pay twice the price. I'd love to find an old one in WI, at a reasonable price, but I'm not the only one looking. As guess it's really about the tug at your heart. People love them and are willing to pay more to have them. Very much like a Coach purse.
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Old 02-20-2011, 03:04 PM   #20
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Sorry if I offended anyone with comparing Jayco to Airstream. I LOVE Airstream. I just think it will be next to impossible for us to find a small. late model AS that is under $15,000. It is disheartening but I will keep looking (for a while anyway). Thanks for your replies.
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