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Old 03-14-2006, 06:21 PM   #1
2 Rivet Member
Fort McMurray , Canada
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 65
need a few pointers with purchase of to forum!


We are actively looking for an airstream, preferrably in the range of a 1973-79, and about a 30'....I have one in mind that I have inquired about, however, there are a few issues with it that seem to be reflected in the low price. It is a 31' 1978 airstream, rear bedroom. The exterior is in pristine shape, however needs new clear coat. At the front of the airstream, in front of the sofa, there is a noticeable soft spot, which woudl require replacement of the subfloor. We were comfortable with having to replace the floor finishes anyways. One of hte windows is missing a latch. He has tested the stove (which works), but he said he tried to start up the furnace and it didn't go, noting that it may need to be cleaned......As well he hasn't tested any of the other appliances. The electric jack doesn't work so it needs to be cranked manually. That is all I know....Everything 'looks' good....Some of the mechanical we are willing to fix, it we can knock him down less than the 6000 he is asking. Is there anything else I should be looking or asking about? Is this even a good deal? Are any of these repairs major or costly undertakings? Thanks in advance for any commentary!!!!
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Old 03-14-2006, 06:27 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forums!
I think for the amount of money the seller is wanting, he should be willing to test everything on the coach for you, if nothing else you will then know for sure what needs attention. Many of the 1970's coaches had a sag/sesperation problem, but the rear bedroom units are generally not regarded as having that issue. Another thing to look for in that year coach is whether the axles are still "springy", or if they are very stiff, and won't move.
A forum search for "axle condition" should provide you with hours of info on the subject. Good luck with your hopefully soon to be new to you coach.
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Old 03-14-2006, 06:38 PM   #3
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Hi and welcome. I had a elec. lift problem on my horse trailer which turned out to be only an bad connection. I would check the wiring . At any rate you're only looking at a couple of hundred dollars for a new one and no big problem lifting by hand. Good luck on your purchase. joe
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Old 03-14-2006, 06:54 PM   #4
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1973 31' Sovereign
Danielsville , Georgia
Join Date: Feb 2004
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I think there's an awful lot of potential repairs/replacements for that price. The pristine shell is to be desired (the clearcoat/exterior polish is the last thing I'd worry about, considering the structural/habitability issues you're probably facing) but some on the forum might disagree with that.

Having replaced the rear floor in both a rear bath ('72 Overlander) and rear bedroom ('73 Sovereign), I can say that while the rear bath rots out more often, the rear bedroom can be just as bad, if not worse. (Mine sure was.) Once the rear seal at the beltline/trunk lid fails, you're going to rot the plywood and rust the frame. My rear bed Sovereign's last crossmember had disintegrated by at least 50%.

If the floor is noticeably soft up front, I'd suspect frame rust and I'd be real careful of where the A-frame meets the shell. Mine is rusted pretty bad on the Sovereign (haven't gotten to the front half yet, other than to remove the banana wrap and bellypan forward of the axles. A friend (another forum member who shall remain nameless) just recounted his experience with an older unit on the road in which he nearly lost the coach when the A-frame "cracked" and bent at that point when hitting a dip at highway speed.

What I'm trying to convey is that with aluminum skin surrounding everything, it's kind of hard to adequately assess condition of the unit. I'd toss the furnace, plan on replacing most if not all appliances (nearly 30 year old appliances are not very reliable unless lovingly and carefully maintained...not likely in this case).

He probably won't take less than $6K because he knows there's another guy right behind you who's already purchased the polish and rented the polisher. (Okay, maybe he's just been pricing the polish.) And $6K might not be a bad deal if you don't mind spending another $3K-$6K to get it like you want it (not counting the hours of "therapy" you'll receive while drilling out rivets, scraping off old vulkem and silicon, etc.). It's just a good idea to know what you're getting into beforehand. Expect the worst and you'll never be disappointed!

Check out my pics for some "vintage 70s" fun!
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Old 03-15-2006, 06:45 AM   #5
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1994 30' Excella
Currently Looking...
Milwaukee , Wisconsin
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,935
Welcome to the forums.
Broken window latch and soft floor. A floor gets soft from water the water comes from above or below, is that latch above the soft floor? Chances are the floor will need to be replaced and not just patched. If you already see one soft spot there will be more. Take an ice pick and go around the perimeter carefully and slowly. Carpet can be taken up and then replaced so can inspect the floor. Check out the floor at the entrance and most important along the outside wall by the door. Rear end sag was mostly with the rear bath models but can happen with these too. Crawl under and check the frame for rust or obvious holes and sags. Level the trailer and stand back to look. Is it straight? Does it sag? Stand in the rear end and jump up and down, is it solid?
Lie down on the bed, how musty does it smell? Have you pulled off the mattress and looked underneath? What are the water lines like? Any leaks in the plumbing, the holding tanks? The water pump work? How about the wiring? Have you gone into the back closet and checked out the fuse blocks? Do all the lights work on both 12Volt and 120. Did you check out the hook ups for shore power?
I know there are other things which I am overlooking. Buying a trailer is much like buying a house. You will be living in it. There are volunteers available on the forum to inspect a trailer for you maybe one is in your area. Why not do a search and see.
Good luck and do not get discouraged the right trailer is waiting for you.
Chaplain Kent
Forest River Forester 2501TS
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Old 03-19-2006, 08:27 PM   #6
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1979 31' Excella 500
1975 28' Argosy 28
Rutledge , Georgia
Join Date: Apr 2005
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It's not uncommon to have a broken window latch on a 70's Airstream. I've towed mine over 2,000 miles with a broken latch that I haven't got around to replacing yet. If the gasket and the other latch are serviceable, the windw will not leak. I'd guess that the gaskets would be more of an issue than the latches, especially if your trailer has the heavy dual pane main windows. They tend to close pretty snugly all by themselves.

1975 Argosy 28 "Argosy"
1979 Excella 500 31 "Betsy"
1992 Lincoln Mk 7 LSC
2003 Dodge 2500 Cummins "TowHog"
"Lucy Loosehair" the cat - Airstream mascot
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