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Old 03-10-2019, 07:17 PM   #1
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1981 31' Excella II
Saskatoon , Saskatchewan
Join Date: Mar 2019
Posts: 2
Post What to look for when buying pre-owned AS

Hi everyone,

My husband and I have a deposit on a 1981 30' Excella. In a couple weeks I'm flying to go see it in person. We are new to AS and trailers in general. What are some things we should look for when viewing a pre-owned AS?, what questions should I ask? What are deal breakers? Our plan is to renovate the entire thing as we need to change the layout to suite our family of not sure what are the must haves and what isn't to big of a deal. We are getting it for a really good price which is awesome...but makes me a bit skeptical

Thank you!!
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Old 03-10-2019, 07:21 PM   #2
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2013 30' Flying Cloud
Kingwood , Texas
Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 329
Blog Entries: 1
You might consider getting an inspector to look at the trailer for you. Look on this page on the right side about half way down.
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Old 03-10-2019, 07:59 PM   #3
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2002 25' Safari
Dewey , Arizona
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 14,794
Images: 62
Blog Entries: 1
This checklist will show you that there are many things that you can check. Having an experienced inspector would be helpful. One of the most important things to check is that the seller has a clear title with their name on it.

Good luck...


Wally Byam Airstream Club 7513
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Old 03-10-2019, 08:04 PM   #4
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1981 31' Excella II
Saskatoon , Saskatchewan
Join Date: Mar 2019
Posts: 2
Thank you so much for the checklist, it is much appreciated!
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Old 03-10-2019, 08:13 PM   #5
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1991 34' Excella
2009 34' Panamerica
Telluride , Colorado
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 2,476
Most assuredly the axles will have to be replaced, it's an age thing. Frame integrity next, see, then shell leaks. Other than that it's all about cosmetics.... Which sounds like you'll be discarding at the remodel.
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Old 03-11-2019, 12:13 PM   #6
2 Rivet Member
1976 31' Sovereign
Helotes , Texas
Join Date: Sep 2017
Posts: 70
IMO, the one thing you SHOULD do is one thing you CANNOT do. That’s to remove the belly pan. If I had been able to do that with my AS, I would not have purchased it!
Serious metal cancer on the frame is a game changer. It would never have felt comfortable patching my original frame, so I built a new one. I knew how to weld, but the whole fabrication of a new frame really challenged my skill set.
Not only that, it requires a shell off Resto that has enough challenges itself.
I performed the checklist, but it did not save me from the frame “gotcha”.

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Old 03-11-2019, 02:25 PM   #7
2 Rivet Member
Sharon Springs , NY
Join Date: Feb 2019
Posts: 25
We have a 1989 Excella, paid a decent price (to us) in 2015 ($13k) found some floor rot after purchasing, as the replacement fridge didn't have the condensation tube routed properly, cut out rotted section (18"x24") and replaced it. Pulled up/replaced carpet put down floating "click type" flooring, rest of floor looked good. Upgraded A/C and added e-z start to it, a.c. converter, new axles w/3" lift, 16" rims w/LT tires,ceiling/bathroom fans, replaced plastic toilet w/porcelain, converted rear twin bed to queen, hall closet temporarily to a crib, replaced electric jack, lights to LED. Have about $23k total in the trailer, much, much less than a new rig and easy to work on for a DIY person (s). In our case, we were able to camp in the trailer from day one and spread out improvements as we decided what we wanted to do. We got lucky, but good deals on older trailers, especially 80s/90s models are out there. An experienced RV inspector would be money well spent, good luck and safe travels!!
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Old 03-11-2019, 03:29 PM   #8
2 Rivet Member
Sharon Springs , NY
Join Date: Feb 2019
Posts: 25
Here are a couple of books that we used while working on our trailer for both ideas and inspiration. This first book is our favorite, "Restoring a Dream, My Story of Restoring a Vintage Airstream", Tim Shepard. It's a story of an EBay purchased AS that wasn't quite as intact as advertised, the author's lessons learned that he took to his next AS renovation. The next is "The (nearly) Complete Guide to Airstream Maintenance", Rich Luhr. This book covers preventive maintenance and explains many systems on AS trailers, it's a good spiral bound book to read and keep in the trailer. Good luck and safe travels...
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Old 03-12-2019, 11:04 AM   #9
1 Rivet Member
1992 35' Airstream 350
Saskatoon , Saskatchewan
Join Date: Nov 2016
Posts: 9
what to look for when buying pre owened

Hi Lindsay
Please call Ted at 306 249 1792, I am from Saskatoon and a member of the Alberta/Saskatchewan Airstream Club and may be able to be of some assitance.
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