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Old 02-06-2012, 06:37 PM   #1
2 Rivet Member
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Portland , Oregon
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 50
Everybody's Got a Story; Here's Mine

Over the last ten years, I've come up with many reasons to justify getting a 60s -70s era Airstream.

I finally think I found one that's going to stick. Here's my scheme:

I'm a high school art teacher and I own a house with my boyfriend and daughter in Portland, OR. This year I took a great job an hour south of Portland in Silverton. Now, we love our house in Portland and we love Portland as a city and it's definitely not a good time to sell. But I am not about to drive two hours (if I'm lucky) a day, either. So for this school year my daughter and I rented a tiny house in Silverton, where we spend our weekdays, and then we go back up to our house in Portland on the weekends. It's okay, but two houses, two yards, two sets of utilities... boo. Not great.

So my brilliant idea is to buy an Airstream at the beginning of the summer, give up my rental in Silverton, and have the coach reasonably ready to live in by the time school starts in the fall. My parents, who are handy, cheerful, and have a house on a double lot about 10 minutes away from my house in Portland, a house with a sewer hookup no less, are happy to host the trailer during the summers, and help me out with some of the fixing. They also have tow vehicles. I'm quite handy, too, but at 120lbs, a little brawn goes a long way...

There's a nice camp site in Silverton that has a good monthly rate, laundry, wifi, all that jazz, that's about five minutes from my work. So things are pretty simple at that end.

So now I'm doing some shopping, aiming to purchase in April or May. I'm looking for a mid-60s-late-70s coach, preferably 24'-26' but 30' would be okay. Airstream is of course ideal but I hope it's not anathema to say I'd be happy with a Silverstreak or Avion, too.

At this point I get it that I probably won't end up saving a ton of money with this scheme. I do think that I stand to come out ahead, though -- and with an Airstream, finally!

I would like to spend about 4K upfront. Does this seem unreasonable? I've been doing quite a bit of looking and I think if I have a little luck it could happen. I can handle things being disheveled and appliances needing to be repaired or replaced. Since I'll be able to bake bread and roast turkeys to my heart's delight when I'm at home on the weekends, I can get by with a toaster oven and an electric kettle if need be! What I don't want are window replacement issues or major moisture problems. I'll have at least $1500 to put into repairs and upgrades over the summer.

I guess I'm just here to say hello and get myself established. Best case scenario I'll just be looking at trailers in the Portland-Seattle area, and would love help with the inspection process when the time comes. I guess I could also use your thoughts on my scheme in general. It has been an interesting experience sharing it with my friends and family; their responses have run the gamut from "of course this makes sense, it's perfect for you, you crazy cat!" to "wow, that's even worse than your last idea."

Okay, I guess that's plenty for now--
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Old 02-06-2012, 06:51 PM   #2
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Carriesue, I have been living in mine for about five years now. I do a lot of Airbrush work and murals...I love it and I do hope you get the one you are looking for. Vintage airstreams I feel are built even better than the new models. Mine is a 70 model and came with leopard skin print carpet (of all things). I also took the time to do all the wood walls inside with Valspar marine Varnish. They say the Airstreams come to you, and not you looking for them. By hanging out on this site I bet you will hear shortly of some one who wants you to have theirs. One of my favorite members on here is Melody Ranch. He's pretty close by me and he's a wiz with Airstreams and advice. Also the owner of this site (Iforgot his name) but he's here to help too. Welcome! Billy Ines Oh the owners name is ANDY.
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Old 02-06-2012, 07:01 PM   #3
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Others may have more experience or detail to add, but I'd say my main concern would be your cost estimates for the trailer. It's generally the case that the cheaper the trailer is, the more work or money needs to go into it. A 40-50 year old trailer is going to have issues.

We looked for about 6 months (in Northern California) before finding one in good enough condition to allow us to camp in it while working on it. I don't know what the availability of used Airstreams and kin is in the Portland area, but be prepared for a wait.

The issues that could be deal breakers for you for any given trailer are those that will require a chunk of money or a lot of time right off the bat. Do some reading up on the forums about the following issues, know how to spot them, how much work and money repairs would cost and whether you would want a trailer with that issue. If a previous owner has dealt with the issue in question, get details about what was done and when. These are some of the things we encountered and have dealt with gradually in the two years we've owned out 25' Tradewind model Airstream.

Axles - If they haven't been replaced, they'll need to be.

Leaks - This requires more labor than money, but leaks lead to other problems and must be stopped.

Wiring - Are the trailering lights functional enough to tow it where you want to go?

Floor rot - Leaks lead to soft spots, rust, rodents and rot.

Rear end separation - On the older Airstreams, water leaked into the back end, damaging the floor and leading the floor to separate from the shell. This can be an expensive and/or time consuming repair. For us it was time consuming, but it is now done and we've moved on to more aesthetic issues.

Sewer and drains - If you'll be parked in a place with sewer hookups you'll only need to check to see that everything works and nothing leaks. The older, pre 1974 Airstreams didn't have a grey water tank. If you want to camp away from hookups, you'd either need to catch it in a container (what we do), or add a gray water tank.

Water heater, furnace, refrigerator, stove - Make sure you know what actually works (have them demonstrate it). The older Airstream furnaces were subject to a recall, so a replacement may be necessary.

These are the things that are most likely to run you out of your budget. Knowing how much each thing costs helps you in your bargaining. "You said the fridge worked, but we can see that it doesn't. Even a refurbished used one will run me about $800. Can you bring the price down, or do I have to go home without your trailer?"

I don't mean to sound doom and gloom. On the contrary, I want you to join the ranks of Airstream owners, but without getting stranded on the way by unanticipated repairs. Best of luck!
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Old 02-06-2012, 07:01 PM   #4
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Welcome to the forums, and good luck in your search. Few things to keep in mind...the smaller the more expensive, so you'll tend to find the 31'ers all day long. Of those that you likely will find in your preferred size range, they will either be "refreshed" or "restored" and will be priced accordingly, or you'll find something that might be lower priced, and will likely be "priced accordingly" as well.

I, personally, think that your 4k up front budget might be a bit too low, and you'll easily put more than $1500 just in replacing/repairing the major systems (fridge, a/c and/or furnace, water heater, etc).

Regardless, if you're patient and willing to spread it out over many, many months/years, you might just be able to find what you're after!

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Old 02-07-2012, 06:34 PM   #5
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Hey Thanks

...for the warm welcome and the initial tips. It's very encouraging to have so much expert advice around!
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