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Old 07-12-2008, 09:32 PM   #1
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What to look out for in an older AS?

I've recently been bitten by the AS bug. I think it's love - can't sleep at night or concentrate on work.

Sounds like there is a general consensus that there are some manufacturing issues with the newer models. Some people get good ones with few if any problems, most have some issues that can be resolved, and a few brand new AS's are plagued by terrible, serious and unresolveable problems. Honestly, it scares me to spend that much $$$ and possibly end up in the latter category.

So now I am considering buying used.

How many years ago did the quality seem to drop off? Or, put another way, what model years should I avoid? Or was there always a certain percentage that had quality issues?

What issues should I look out for when buying a used AS?

After reading these forums for a couple of days I now know to look for corrosion, soft floors, hose leak test, what else?
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Old 07-12-2008, 09:44 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by LeisureTime View Post
I've recently been bitten by the AS bug. I think it's love - can't sleep at night or concentrate on work.

Sounds like there is a general consensus that there are some manufacturing issues with the newer models. Some people get good ones with few if any problems, most have some issues that can be resolved, and a few brand new AS's are plagued by terrible, serious and unresolveable problems. Honestly, it scares me to spend that much $$$ and possibly end up in the latter category.

So now I am considering buying used.

How many years ago did the quality seem to drop off? Or, put another way, what model years should I avoid? Or was there always a certain percentage that had quality issues?

What issues should I look out for when buying a used AS?

After reading these forums for a couple of days I now know to look for corrosion, soft floors, hose leak test, what else?
Bad axles, Dura Torque Axle

frozen tubing, bad door and window gaskets, rusty frame, rear end separation, rusted LPG bottles, if they are steel, inop tongue jack, possibly broken windows that were replaced with plastic, missing rivets, damaged entrance door, ill fitting entrance door, leaky water heater, bad brakes, inop AC, sticky walls, cigarette smoke odor, leaky fresh water tank, bad tires, damaged sheet metal, silicone sealer on the exterior, inop toilet, rotten spots in the floor, damaged drapes, leaky windows, damaged sheet metal, inop exterior lights, bad ceiling light switches, discolored ceiling light lenses.

The list can go further, but this will get you started.

Andy
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Old 07-12-2008, 11:14 PM   #3
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...How many years ago did the quality seem to drop off? Or, put another way, what model years should I avoid? ...
the a/s hasn't been built that can't be broken...

and the notion that any one year or era should be avoided is naive...

they all have issues.

the folks building them have an average time of employment approaching 20 years....

and people buying them like specific years or models or lengths for a variety of reasons...

new ones come with a warranty, old one do not.

it's a metal vessel on wheels, with appliances, gadgetry, furnishings and other crap inside.

so do ya want an old vessel with old or replaced stuff inside or a new vessel with the same?

the only "general consensus" is that every one from every year may have issues.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f44/...tml#post561346

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f142...ars-40462.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f468...tml#post525869

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

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f187...oid-31944.html

at some point it becomes useful to GO LOOK AT TRAILERS....

physically looking at units just like searching for the common issues here has it's value....

there are 3 things that ARE DIFFERENT NOW...
1. we can connect, compare, complain or commiserate very quickly today (this doesn't mean there are more or less build issues) ...
2. the 'new buyer' tends not to understand that rv construction in general is flimsy regardless of brand OR era...
3. many of these same 'new buyers' don't understand an rv (new or old) isn't a japanese car or rotisserie chicken...

u gotta cook this bird yerself, learn to deal with surprises, expect things to break and GO CAMPING to enjoy the primary value...

cheers
2air'
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Old 07-12-2008, 11:17 PM   #4
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You can have quality issues with any trailer, new or used. I think your chance of serious issues goes down with newer. I personally would look for a newer, used trailer. The depreciation hit has already been paid for by the first owner. The appliances are less likely to be worn out or need service yet, same for axles, tires, door and window gaskets, etc. All of the things Andy referred to above.
OTOH, there are some very nice older trailers that have been refurbished, or well taken care of - but these are hard to find and you pay a pretty penny for a restored vintage unit.
My 2 cents.
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Old 07-13-2008, 12:18 AM   #5
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Welcome to the forums! We are nearly neighbors!

Good responses so far! Buying a Airstream is similar to purchasing a used car or a new one... you can get great deals, and lemons. The important thing is to find one you really like, size and design... one that is usable now (unless you have the restoration bug...) and jump in and go camping!

I would suggest you find some airstreams near you and go take a look at all makes, and years you can find. Check out the rally schedule and show up ~ likely folks will be willing to discuss their airstream and show you theirs! There is a rally near Lava Beds the second week of August... The nearest Airstream dealer is in Eugene.

Other than the things listed above, you might check out this thread that has good information to generally think about with a trailer! http://www.airforums.com/forums/f353...eam-22920.html

Good luck. BTW, once you have the "bug" you can't get rid of it! Aluminitis is for life!

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Old 07-13-2008, 08:21 AM   #6
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I was always surprised at the simularities between Airstream and Harley Davidson. I also tell people Airtsream is the Harley Davidson ofcampers. That has always been able to sum it up. I like my old airstream, I loved my old Harley. I would by both and have had no regrets . I have met great people and pain in the rear people along the way in both as in life. Do your home work, and it seems the longer ones are more prone to problems.
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Old 07-13-2008, 06:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In View Post
Bad axles, Dura Torque Axle

frozen tubing, bad door and window gaskets, rusty frame, rear end separation, rusted LPG bottles, if they are steel, inop tongue jack, possibly broken windows that were replaced with plastic, missing rivets, damaged entrance door, ill fitting entrance door, leaky water heater, bad brakes, inop AC, sticky walls, cigarette smoke odor, leaky fresh water tank, bad tires, damaged sheet metal, silicone sealer on the exterior, inop toilet, rotten spots in the floor, damaged drapes, leaky windows, damaged sheet metal, inop exterior lights, bad ceiling light switches, discolored ceiling light lenses.

The list can go further, but this will get you started.

Andy

"we can fix that in a weekend"

This quote was uttered by either my wife or myself pre -vintage airstream purchase -- but not currently owned up to by either of us.

;-)

Neither of us regret the purchase however.

Dive in. As long as you have this group as a resource, you cant go wrong!
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Old 07-13-2008, 06:32 PM   #8
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Like Harley, Airstreams built in the seventies were mostly junk. Be very carefull with
"good deals" or inflated "classic" prices during that era.
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Old 07-13-2008, 09:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
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Like Harley, Airstreams built in the seventies were mostly junk. Be very carefull with
"good deals" or inflated "classic" prices during that era.
Ouch! That hurt...
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Old 07-13-2008, 09:57 PM   #10
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Ouch! That hurt...
It should, we all got ripped off during that era; Beatrice Foods bought &
ran into the ground American icons.
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Old 07-13-2008, 09:59 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Mike Leary View Post
Like Harley, Airstreams built in the seventies were mostly junk. Be very carefull with
"good deals" or inflated "classic" prices during that era.
American made cars and trucks back then, were mostly junk too.

Technology advances.

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Old 07-13-2008, 10:10 PM   #12
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Quote:
I've recently been bitten by the AS bug. I think it's love - can't sleep at night or concentrate on work.
A single rear floor/frame rot repair will cure you of that.

Quote:
Like Harley, Airstreams built in the seventies were mostly junk.
This is a matter of opinion, and while I can't speak for HD, the Airstreams I' ve seen, when properly maintained, seem to hold up fine. Rubber gaskets, seals, and appliances do tend to fail after 20+ years. Just a fact of life!

My advice is to either buy a complete restoration (with pics) or a 1-2 owner unit which has been rigidly maintained. Either will cost you some $$$. Unless of course you're handy with metalworking, welding, carpentry, plumbing, and willing to learn a few new things along the way!
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Old 07-13-2008, 10:32 PM   #13
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A single rear floor/frame rot repair will cure you of that.
LOL, Our first (of four) had that ; Airstreams are not leakproof, no yacht,
land or sea, is.
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Old 07-15-2008, 11:40 AM   #14
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Whoa betsy !

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Leary View Post
Like Harley, Airstreams built in the seventies were mostly junk. Be very carefull with
"good deals" or inflated "classic" prices during that era.
I could be polite and say I beg to differ.
However I think your ridiculous utterance is better served by my saying this...
BULLS#!T
NONSENSE
GROSS OVERSTATEMENT
CRAP

My guess is 70s era has had fewer Lemons and fewer warranty claims than any era since.
Beatrice is a convenient whipping boy. But I have yet to see any evidence they dictated to plants to cut corners in materials or workmanship.
Manufacturing management and plant labor did not migrate over from Beatrice's other entities as I understand it.

I could not care less about Beatrice, Thor, nor Airstream the current Company. I do care about someone poisoning the market for used units of any specific era without concrete evidence. You have done a dis-service and are painting with way too wide a brush.
I reject & ignore your thoughts regards 1970 era Airstreams since I have owned a couple of those and find nothing you said to be true in my case. It is that you stated it as a fact, not as an opinion that raised my ire.

As for Harley's 1970's life I don't know or give a whit.
This is a trailer forum not a bike board.
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Old 07-15-2008, 01:34 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Distantdrummer View Post
I could be polite and say I beg to differ.
However I think your ridiculous utterance is better served by my saying this...
BULLS#!T
NONSENSE
GROSS OVERSTATEMENT
CRAP

My guess is 70s era has had fewer Lemons and fewer warranty claims than any era since.
Beatrice is a convenient whipping boy. But I have yet to see any evidence they dictated to plants to cut corners in materials or workmanship.
Manufacturing management and plant labor did not migrate over from Beatrice's other entities as I understand it.

I could not care less about Beatrice, Thor, nor Airstream the current Company. I do care about someone poisoning the market for used units of any specific era without concrete evidence. You have done a dis-service and are painting with way too wide a brush.
I reject & ignore your thoughts regards 1970 era Airstreams since I have owned a couple of those and find nothing you said to be true in my case. It is that you stated it as a fact, not as an opinion that raised my ire.

As for Harley's 1970's life I don't know or give a whit.
This is a trailer forum not a bike board.
Kudos to you.

Some people just don't understand the difference 30 or 40 years can make in most any product.

Most anything built 30 or 40 years ago, is not up to todays standards, but that doesn't mean in the remotest sense that 30 or 40 year old stuff is junk.

30 and 40 year old cars, are not up to todays standards, but that doesn't make them junk, either.

Same is true for many many things in our daily lives.

Andy
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Old 07-15-2008, 01:39 PM   #16
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Quote:
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Like Harley, Airstreams built in the seventies were mostly junk. Be very carefull with
"good deals" or inflated "classic" prices during that era.
Mike,

I respectively disagree, we enjoy our 1979 Safari, 1973 Dodge W200 PowerWagon and 1977 Lincoln Continental and we think that all three are great.

Bill
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Old 07-15-2008, 08:33 PM   #17
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Having owned two 70s era ('72 Overlander, '73 Sovereign-still in possession), I have been impressed with both the construction and innovation, including the fake wood interior (although the 70s tones are not so much to my liking).

They are light and in my opinion, more attractive than most of the older models.

The structural issues I found in both of them were maintenance related, not design flaws. All involved water, either from the outside or plumbing, and owner negligence.

I don't know how one could compile statistics, but I wonder if there aren't more unrestored/partially restored 70s models out there than any other era, and therefore they get the bad rap (undeserved).

Does anyone know of the actual production numbers of those years? Did Airstream manufacture and sell more units during that period than before and after?
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Old 07-15-2008, 09:00 PM   #18
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Beatrice did make some mistakes in the years they owned Airstream, but I do not think quality was an issue. The same people at the same plants were still building the units designed by Airstream when they took over. Their decision to drop the smaller units and target larger units for the retired crowd was a disaster when the oil embargo of the 70's hit. It's one thing to pay $4 a gallon for gas, it's another to sit in line for hours and hope they don't run out before you get yours. Beatrice did do some very good things in the years they were around. They produced the first service manuals, started the Argosy line and also introduced the first Motor Homes for Airstream.

My 75 was well built and most of the original pieces are still working. This is not junk...
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Old 07-16-2008, 05:05 AM   #19
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Having owned two 70s era ('72 Overlander, '73 Sovereign-still in possession), I have been impressed with both the construction and innovation, including the fake wood interior (although the 70s tones are not so much to my liking).

They are light and in my opinion, more attractive than most of the older models.

The structural issues I found in both of them were maintenance related, not design flaws. All involved water, either from the outside or plumbing, and owner negligence.

I don't know how one could compile statistics, but I wonder if there aren't more unrestored/partially restored 70s models out there than any other era, and therefore they get the bad rap (undeserved).

Does anyone know of the actual production numbers of those years? Did Airstream manufacture and sell more units during that period than before and after?
Back in the early 70's, just before the "phony" gasolene crunch, Airstream in California was kicking out about 50 trailers per week, and sometimes a few more.

Ohio, was building 120 to 140 per week.

Those were the "BOOM" days.

Exact stats are no longer available.

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Old 07-16-2008, 06:43 AM   #20
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Andy said "Some people just don't understand the difference 30 or 40 years can make . . . . Most anything "built" 30 or 40 years ago, is not up to todays standards . . . but that doesn't mean in the remotest sense that 30 or 40 year old stuff is junk."

Andy - Your reply gave me a great LOL start on my day. Thanks. I was "built" (all are MY quotes btw) 30 or 40 plus years ago, and I do sometimes feel like junk, but sadly that's just the aging process for some of us, and our trailers. I sometimes wonder if ole Beatrice takes a potentially underserved beating?

Wishing you an equally good day, with lotsa & .
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