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Old 12-16-2007, 10:12 AM   #1
1 Rivet Member
1968 17' Caravel
Las Vegas , Nevada
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 15
The Hunt is on! Need advice!

New to the Idea of trailer camping (way too many hotels without a view), we are a family of 3. My tow vehicle is a 2005 Ford F-150 Supercab 4x4 5.4 liter. I love the nostalgia of the older Airstreams and have been eagerly reading and searching for them. I am a finish carpenter by trade so buying a fixer upper has always been an attractive option. I would prefer to stay 22 feet or less. I looked at newer model airstreams this weekend (2000 models and newer) and my question is how much more practical are the newer models ease of use, safety, as far as towing etc. I live in Las Vegas so we would be traveling hundereds of miles any direction to go anywhere, through mountain ranges and so on. Any input/advice would be greatly appreciated. thank you!!!

Are there any trailer rallies that take place that anyone can attend??
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Old 12-16-2007, 10:22 AM   #2
Vintage Alum. Enthusiast
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1959 24' Tradewind
Phoenix , Arizona
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: I currently do not own a 2nd Airstream
Posts: 4,342
Images: 40
Hi and welcome. Looks like you're showing early signs of aluminitus and be warned, there is no cure. As for me, I like the vintage units, they have so much character and personality. Plus they're just plain sexy. Being a finish carpenter, I can forsee a vintage unit in your future where you redo the interior to your family's camping needs.

As for trailer rallies where anyone can attend, the Four Corners Unit has a number of rallies planned throughout the southwest where one can come and check us out. We would welcome you to the potluck as well. This would give you the opportunity to see some vintage as well as newer units and compare.

4CU 2699 / AIR 10 / TAC AZ-1

I'm haunted by aluminum.
Charter Member of the 4 Corners Unit.
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Old 12-16-2007, 11:15 AM   #3
Rivet Master
1960 22' Safari
in the wilderness , The great Mojave Desert
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 4,050
Hi and welcome!

Look on the portal page and check the upcoming rallies. Look for California Streamers. You are more than welcome to come to any of our events. Come on Sat. and check out the mix of vintage and new and stay for potluck.

Calstreamers will be on the beach in mid Jan and the FCU will be near Tucson at Mt.Picachu for New Years. Also Oasis RV is in Tucson so you can swing by there and check out a bunch of Airstreams. Kinda of a twofer deal in Tucson. You can see em in the showroom and in their natural element.

I gotta warn you though. Going to a rally and seing a herd of Airstreams is very dangerous. You suddenly feel like your missing something huge and it can only be cured by getting your own Airstream.
I'd rather be boon docking in the desert.

AIR# 13896
CA 4

Yes, we have courtesy parking for you. About an hour North of Los Angeles.
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Old 12-16-2007, 11:29 AM   #4
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1993 21' Sovereign
Colfax , North Carolina
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 21,252
Here is one for you to look at.
It is on the East coast, but looks very clean, and for sale by an Airstream dealer:Sales :Out-of-Doors Mart
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Old 12-16-2007, 11:30 AM   #5
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1958 30' Sovereign of the Road
Plymouth , New York
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 1,776
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Listen to the Vintage Airstream Podcast

I think for any newbie, listening to the 59 Episodes of Welcome to the Frontpage - The Vintage Airstream Podcast is required. We talk about what to look for in those old Vintage Trailers when buying - and of course, we're biased to the old Aluminum. Good luck, Rob
Rob, Zoe', Stanton, Bryce, Braedon and Finn Baker
Do you Listen to the
Plymouth, NY 13832
Courtesy parking
Flag Pole Holders -

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Old 12-16-2007, 11:57 AM   #6
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1958 22' Flying Cloud
1956 30' Sovereign of the Road
1963 16' Bambi
Southeastern Area , Tennessee
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 2,115
Welcome Next, I forsee the shiny glitter of silver on the desert in your future ~ a vintage Safari maybe?

I agree with everyone's advice and you're smart to look for a rally. I love my 1960 Tradewind. Based on it's width and weight, my guess is that it is easier to tow than some of the recent models. When looking at length in older vintage, consider they are not nearly as wide as today's Airstreams so smaller ones can be tight living on longer trips. As far as safety, vintage should be just as safe as new if you know your frame and running gear is solid, and your electric and LPG systems are intact and working properly. One thing that makes me hesitate about a long cross-country trip in my Tradewind is having a single axle rather than double. But it shouldn't stop anyone as long as you carry a spare and maintain your running gear well. There are things about vintage that aren't as practical or convenient. For instance, I would LOVE to have a gray holding tank and stop toting around the blue tote. However, iIf you are doing a total resto, you can retrofit with some of these conveniences. Many here have done just that.

Good luck on your search for your perfect Airstream.
Traveling With Elvis
life with a 1956 Sovereign of the Road
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Old 12-16-2007, 12:23 PM   #7
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1965 17' Caravel
1983 27' Excella
Walnut Grove/Laguna Woods , California
Join Date: Jun 2004
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Small single axel can be fun

We have towed our 1965 Caravel over 80,000 miles. In 2003 spent 223 nights on the road. It has a single axel, no problem. If you get an older single axel Airstream, many in the Vintage Club would suggest getting a new torsion axel, as it is not uncommon for the old axels to brake, mine did.
As for the blue tote, we use one. The down side to a built in wash water tank is that when it is full, you have to hook up and go dump. Also, I have seen some "very creative" plumbing jobs with added tanks. Some of them are a real nightmare.
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Old 12-16-2007, 05:50 PM   #8
1 Rivet Member
1968 17' Caravel
Las Vegas , Nevada
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 15
Thank you all for the advice and any further input, I can and will use it !! I will keep you posted whith what I end up purchasing! We are pretty excited about our new adventure Also thank you for the invites to your rallies!!! John
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Old 12-16-2007, 06:18 PM   #9
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1969 23' Safari
New Orleans , Louisiana
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 699
Images: 18

You've caught the bug, fortunately, it's terminal ;-)

I recently bought a '69 Safari for $4K and it has a lot of plusses (new AC, good appliances, functional LP, plumbing, 12V/120V, nice interior renov, etc.) and a lot of minuses (rear end sag, single old axle, some dents) but I think I got a lot MORE than my money's worth. I figure the minuses are my way of learning 'streams inside and out and I've been fixing things around my home/studio for 30+ years anyway.

You'll want to CLOSELY examine the non-visible, unglamourous aspect of any vintage unit: frame (rust), axle condition, LP/H20/12V systems. If you're paying a premium price DEMAND that the seller have all appliances and systems ON and running when you arrive to see, don't take anyone's word for anything. There'll still be stuff you need to fix on most vintage trailers, consider it educational.

But that 85-degree day your buddy stops by and you show him inside your new/old trailer and crack open an icy-cold beverage from your miraculous PROPANE fridge will be unlike any other day of your life!!! I just had mine and I can tell you: it rocks. You'll be high before your first sip!
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Old 12-16-2007, 11:29 PM   #10
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1963 16' Bambi
1962 22' Safari
Yreka , California
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,936
Welcome and good luck!

Welcome to the forums and good luck on your search for the "perfect" Airstream! You have decided to look at a perfect time! Prices are often lower in the winter and you don't feel you have to hurry to get out and go camping!

Lots of good advice so far in this thread. I sincerely suggest you take up folks on their offer to visit a rally! Go to a couple if you can! You will meet great people and learn a great deal!

In the meantime I suggest you really do your homework! Think about your pocketbook, how much time you actually have to renovate or restore a trailer (great way to go, however) and how soon you want to be able to be on the road! Here is a great thread that will provide lots of "food for thought" about Airstreams and camping in general, no matter if you choose vintage (highly recommended by me!) or new!

Keep us posted! Be sure and ask questions if you go and look at a potential trailer to buy. Folks are glad to help out here! In fact, it is a good way to "see" Airstreams and imagine what it would be like for your family ~ see if there are any in your area for sale and go take a look see! Check out old, new, and all inbetween!

Mrs. NorCal Bambi (traveling in S Tardis ~ from the Great State of Jefferson)
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Old 12-17-2007, 08:55 AM   #11
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1991 34' Excella
Princeton , New Jersey
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 7,064
Images: 12
Originally Posted by Nextlevel
my question is how much more practical are the newer models ease of use, safety, as far as towing etc.
My first comment to anyone buying a Camper for the first time, Airstream or not, is Never buy New. No matter how much homework you do you can only answer all the questions through your own use history.

As for practicality and safty about the only major change in the last 20 years is the addition of disc brakes. However to offset that the construction standards in generaly of the rigs has dropped during that time also. Double sided tape has replaced half of the rivets in the skin and the windows a frameless

For your first I would look at the 90s.

Considering your area pay attention to the condition of the axles. Trailers that tend to sit, parked over long periods, tend to have axles that have taken a set. The axles should show a downward angle from the axles tube back to the spindle. Those that are level or show an upward angle will need work.
2004 Excursion 4x4
1991 34 ft. Excella +220,000 miles, new laminated flooring, new upholstery, new 3200 lbs axles

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