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Old 01-20-2006, 11:09 AM   #1
prettytall
 
Tallville , California
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 17
Need Help Choosing Trailer Please!

howdy all!

firsttimer here!

im need guidence on the purchase of a small airstream travel trailer. i want to realize a dream of traveling around the country with my Black Lab, work and live life. im a finish carpenter who works on ultra high end custom homes, so the limits of my restoration is pretty much open. its only me (all 6'5"), my i dog, and tools. i would like to pick up a cheap "watta deal!!" travel trailer which needs help, restore to my taste, hit the road.

Questions -

1) what model(s) should i consider, there are so many?

2) how much should i expect to budget for a restoration?

3) where can i find such a trailer?

4) what are some of the points, issues, pitfalls of concern?

5) good sites/referals for help and parts/supplies?

thanks in advance!

thetallone
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Old 01-20-2006, 11:16 AM   #2
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From personal experience....

Do not buy a project to begin with......
Do you want to use the bathroom & shower in this?
Are you planning on dry camping or staying in a park/space with hook-ups for sewer/water/electric?
What is your tow vehicle?
Are you going to make the bed up/down every day or are you going to want a fixed bed?
Are you comfortable in a twin bed or a double bed?
Is the dog sleeping inside?
Do you want air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter?
Do you plan to cook your meals and store your food in the trailer?
Do you plan to store much beyond clothes and necessary personal toiletries?
Do you care if it gets stolen?
Answer these questions truthfully and that will be your starting point....

Good luck!
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Old 01-20-2006, 12:51 PM   #3
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Hi and welcome to the forum. i second the above advice and also advocate taking your time and finding exactly what you want. do not let anyone falk you into something that needs major revisions to meet your needs. the right trailer is out there, just waiting for you. patience is a virture and the treasure of pleasure is at the end of the rainbow,,, donna
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Old 01-20-2006, 01:05 PM   #4
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What you have above is good counsel. There is frequently much more required in restoring an old trailer than merely cabinet work; frequently trailers that need cabinet work are in need of a frame-off restoration including fabricating and replacing outriggers or an entirely new frame in some cases. It can be done if you have the time, facilities and money to spend on it. The needs of each of us vary greatly. I'm 6'5" tall also, and nothing less than the island queen rear bed with the RV queen mattress replaced with a full queen is comfortable for me to sleep in. The smaller trailers' beds just don't cut it! Then there's the closet arrangements, bath arrangements, etc. etc. etc. Until you've lived with this stuff for a while, you really don't know what you'd like. I lived in a 23' Safari for a year and loved it, but there were some changes I'd have made in the layout had I decided to refurb an older trailer after that. IMHO, anything smaller than 23' is just too small for fulltiming comfortably. It CAN be done, it's just not as comfortable.

Find one that's useable out of the box, and try it for a year. By then you'll have a really good idea what you need and what you want (often two different things) and can make good decisions about what you want to do!

Good luck and happy hunting!

Roger
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Old 01-20-2006, 01:28 PM   #5
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Small is relative.... I would aim for the 23 to 25 foot range. Older Airstreams are lighter weight - easier to tow.

If you buy a trailer older than mid 1970s... you should be prepared to replace the axle/s. This is an easy job - but the parts are costly. Look for a trailer that is leak-free and has no soft spots in the floor.

We spent about $2700.00 rehabbing ours including one axle. We didn't buy tires or wheels and we did ALL the work ourselves.

here is a partial list:
$165.00 toilet
$70.00 pump
$450.00 upholstery fabric/materials (we got spendy tapestry) You could save here..... we needed 22 yards.
$50.00 faucet
$20.00 carpet (scrap)
$20.00 laminate (scrap)
$100.00 lumber (counter and table)
$100.00 assorted plumbing parts
$100.00 assorted repair parts, screws, metal tape, gaskets etc.
$900.00 axle, shocks, brakes and shipping
$ 500.00 rockguards and outer protection
$ $200.00 univolt replacement/w extra electrical bits
$10.00 cleaners - this trailer was filthy!
$2.00 aspirin and band-aids

other expenses: new battery, high end mud flaps for tow vehicle, insurance.....

Other high ticket items could include fridge, AC and furnace
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Old 01-20-2006, 01:37 PM   #6
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Welcome and Good Hunting...

Questions above are good, but there are sooo many more...

Price Range?
Planned length of time to own the first one?
Other mechanical skills besides finish carpentry (which is a great one!)
Travel Destinations?
Preferences for civilized camping (Commercial parks.cable TV/pools) or "Boondocking" and state parks, remote areas...

I'd encourage lurking and reading messages, and doing what many have also done: drive your car or truck to local Forum Rally or gathering. You'll see a variety of trailers from brand new to very vintage, and interiors from stock to gutted and redone in flame maple.. (Search for Uwe's posts..)

Personal advice to anyone over 6' tall: test the bed configuration(s) and be sure you can find a location and arrangement that you fit. May mean getting double to sleep at 45 degree angle. Also check bath/shower (in socks) to see if you fit toilet and shower, if you plan to use them... While some may be bold enough to specify a single model recommendation, most of us would just recommend strongly looking and looking and looking some more, and when one pops up that looks like a good match on as many criteria as you can articulate, be prepared to grab it fast! Under 20' are easy to tow, easy to fit into small spaces, very compact and crowded inside even with dog for a few rainy days. 20' to 27' more roomy, better bath layouts, usually a double bed somewhere, and couch/work spaces. Over 27' will take a strong truck, some planning and have lots of room fo rlong trips, but not be so easy to fit into state and feedral campgrounds without some planning.

John McG

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Old 01-20-2006, 01:55 PM   #7
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Hi Tallone,

Lots of good points made so far. I have a 1968 Trade Wind (24ft) and wouldn’t want to go a bit shorter than that for extended periods of road time. I would give serious thought to Rogers comment on bunk length. While I fit quite well in mine, you would have to be folded into the bunk. An additional thought is that the older trailers like many of us here favor, and incidentally the ones generally needing rehab, are narrower than the new ones. I think the wide bodies started in the early 90’s but I’m not to sure about that. The wide body trailers are poplar among the long-timers for obvious reasons. The rule of thumb I have seen here is you want a trailer that is as small as possible on the road, and large as possible when parked. I like my narrow trailer and would not be afraid to move into it for a few months at a time, which as fate would have it I am doing in March until fall….. If you can, I suggest looking at as many coaches as you can before taking the dive and maybe see if you can attend any local rallies and chit chat with owners in person. As far as prices go I paid $3,000, added axles, brakes, new rubber, shocks, refrigerator, water heater and furnace for about that much more. In the end I expect to have between $10- 12,000 in the deal when I get it where I want it.

This link is a good place to get some idea of what you can expect to pay for a vintage unit: http://www.vintageairstream.com/rr_t...condition.html .

Good luck and let me know if I can be of any help.
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Old 01-20-2006, 03:45 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tallone
howdy all!

firsttimer here!

im need guidence on the purchase of a small airstream travel trailer. i want to realize a dream of traveling around the country with my Black Lab, work and live life. im a finish carpenter who works on ultra high end custom homes, so the limits of my restoration is pretty much open.

thetallone
Hello adventurer!

As a 5 year full timer and working on the road, I certainly know the things racing through your mind.

I originally considered a 70s model, but fortunately landed on a 1995 28 foot excella.

If you’ll be working on the road, dependability is paramount. Don’t want to miss the appointment in Kansas City, MO due to the black tank falling out!



Get the best condition AS yout budget can stand.


Good luck, have a great time!

Michael
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Old 01-20-2006, 03:49 PM   #9
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All good points of advise above. Another consideration is ceiling height. At 6'4" myself, I have found some units I can't stand up straight in. No way could I live in one of those. I have standing room clearance by just over an inch in my Trade Wind and the overall size of 22' body shell suits me just fine. Don't spend all that much awake time in there anyway unless its inclement weather outside. While giving conseration to various years, lengths, widths, layouts, etc. you should look over and in every Airstream you can. Go to the dealers and check out their stock. This will give you an idea of layouts and a general feel. Check out local want ads and look at them all. You'll soon create a list of wants, needs and don't wants. Your list will narrow down the field and you'll eventually find the one that suits you perfectly.

Welcome and let us in on your progress. Ask alot of questions and you'll get many varied and good answers here.

Brad
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Old 01-20-2006, 05:57 PM   #10
prettytall
 
Tallville , California
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wow!! you folks are awesome and on top of it!! thanks for all the wonderful and insightful replies!

heres the goods......


Quote:
Do not buy a project to begin with......
but i have the time


Quote:
Do you want to use the bathroom & shower in this?

yes! inside when the weather is bad, outside when the weather is good.

Quote:
Are you planning on dry camping or staying in a park/space with hook-ups for sewer/water/electric?
probably a blend of both.

i will wet hookup when possible. if not ill dry run. depending on the setup of the jobsite and whats facilities are available in the area.....many of the homes can be remote....but only till the utilities are hooked up (which is not long after the finish work starts).


Quote:
What is your tow vehicle?

right now its a 96' Grand Caravan (3.8L)....dont know the tow rating on it....but want to keep it as light as possible as the trannies in those things are less than good....eventually i will move up to a more stout tow vehicle and probably a longer travel trailer.


Quote:
Are you going to make the bed up/down every day or are you going to want a fixed bed?

hell i cant even make my bed now (i like a messy bed actually, its comfy)!!

Quote:
Are you comfortable in a twin bed or a double bed?

i have NEVER slept in a bed that was long enough for me.....as a result i cannot sleep with my feet under the covers....they have to hand off the end, but i do like room to move around....and if i have a "guest"....it would be nice to not have to take her outside, kwim?


Quote:
Is the dog sleeping inside?

yes, in my bed.


Quote:
Do you want air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter?
AC has always been a luxury....so if i can get it, bonus....GOTTA have heat....cant stand being cold.....has anyone thought of or installed this in a remodel trailer? ive used it in homes before....works great.....




warmboard requires a small boiler....like these....(gas or electric)...they also provide instant domestic hot water.....

http://www.blueridgecompany.com/radiant/hydronic/325





Quote:
Do you plan to cook your meals and store your food in the trailer?

when the weather is good, cook outside, otherwise inside. store inside as well.


Quote:
Do you plan to store much beyond clothes and necessary personal toiletries?
after years of living next to the Jones and beating myself into the pavement keeping up with them.....they can have it....take it all.....minimal clothing and toileties.

Quote:
Do you care if it gets stolen?

i hope "home defence" is legal in the states i will hit! yes.....seeing as it will be my home, i dont want someone to drive away with my "stuff"


Quote:
Price Range?

cheap as possible, as much as necessary?

for the bones im looking to spend ~3K, then start remodeling. im not going to restore to show quality as one would do with a classic car....but remodel and customize to my needs "will build to suit" as it were.


Quote:
Planned length of time to own the first one?

till i cant take it any longer and purchase a larger one, or a house and "settle down" again?.....i suspect a couple/few years.


Quote:
Other mechanical skills besides finish carpentry (which is a great one!)
givenn the tools i can do most anything.....what i cant do ill contract out.

Quote:
Travel Destinations?
where ever the rich are building houses....idaho, montana, wash, oregon, arizona, new mexico, colorado, utah...ect....oh and central mexico for time off (plot that puppy on the beach), siesta time.


Quote:
Preferences for civilized camping (Commercial parks.cable TV/pools) or "Boondocking" and state parks, remote areas...

ive been a backpacker most my life, so this will be a treat....but will be nice to "come home" to some of the comforts and not crawl into a tent.


Quote:
As a 5 year full timer and working on the road, I certainly know the things racing through your mind.
I originally considered a 70s model, but fortunately landed on a 1995 28 foot excella.If you’ll be working on the road, dependability is paramount. Don’t want to miss the appointment in Kansas City, MO due to the black tank falling out!
true true!! thanks for the input.....looks like i should be looking in the 19-25' range as its going to be my primary and dont want to get cabin fever.

thanks again for all your wonderful and helpful replies......considering what i have provided you all with, where would you steer me?

thetallone
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Old 01-21-2006, 07:22 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tallone
howdy all!

firsttimer here!

its only me (all 6'5"), my i dog, and tools.
Would you like to be able to stand up comfortably? Maybe you should consider on the classic motor homes. They will give you the head room to walk around without the stooped over posture you will gain in a trailer.
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Old 01-21-2006, 07:51 AM   #12
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Not all trailers have a low ceiling. He could stand completely upright in mine. Need to duck under the AC and at the entrance to the bathroom but everywhere else is high enough. Some other trailers will have similar ceiling heights.

Brad
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Old 01-21-2006, 09:10 AM   #13
prettytall
 
Tallville , California
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thanks for the replies! ive got it one instant notification, but im not being notified....oh the joys of modern problems.


Quote:
Would you like to be able to stand up comfortably? Maybe you should consider on the classic motor homes. They will give you the head room to walk around without the stooped over posture you will gain in a trailer.

yes, chapkent i would like to "stand erect" in my home, however i REALLY dont want to get into the motorhome dept as i want the freedom to "disconnect" and leave the "baggage"' behind, without buying and towing another vehicle (not to mention the possible maint. of a big coach/motorhome.

Quote:
Not all trailers have a low ceiling. He could stand completely upright in mine. Need to duck under the AC and at the entrance to the bathroom but everywhere else is high enough. Some other trailers will have similar ceiling heights.

flyfshr, i suppose i should find out what year trailers i could be comfortable in and go from there.....is there a database of owners who are 6'5" and over, who can stand erect in there trailers that date from 1950-1990?!? ha!

what i envision is NOT a accurite restoration of the trailer....im looking for a very open floorplan, possibly using different materials (i built mega-yachts for a few years, before Reganomics "War on Drugs" kicked that in the teeth with the o-so-effective "luxury tax") so im sure there are alot of crossover materials and processes out there that i can employ at reasonable cost......just have to find the correct "shell".

thetallone
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Old 01-21-2006, 10:24 AM   #14
prettytall
 
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just started looking thru the forums at the (zillions) of models and combos....wow......too many choices. im leaning towards the late 60-70s 20-25ft models to remodel. one thing a do know it that i DO NOT like the twin beds on the side......whatever i purchase and remodel i will end up with a large wall2wall bed in the back, head on the side, small closet and kitchen/lounge in the front. saw some pix of one with a small plasma....i like that idea coupled with sound system throughout.

the only partitions i see will be the bulk head seperating the "master" from the head and the partitions surrounding the head. other than that, minimal cabinetry and things that take up space...i im a big boy (not girth) but legs and limbs so i want to minimize my collision base.


i see this on ebay...."Landyacht" (great name)

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eB...RK%3AMEWA%3AIT


any direction to makes/model/years given that info?
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Old 01-21-2006, 10:43 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tallone
just started looking thru the forums at the (zillions) of models and combos....wow......too many choices. im leaning towards the late 60-70s 20-25ft models to remodel. one thing a do know it that i DO NOT like the twin beds on the side......whatever i purchase and remodel i will end up with a large wall2wall bed in the back, head on the side, small closet and kitchen/lounge in the front. saw some pix of one with a small plasma....i like that idea coupled with sound system throughout.

the only partitions i see will be the bulk head seperating the "master" from the head and the partitions surrounding the head. other than that, minimal cabinetry and things that take up space...i im a big boy (not girth) but legs and limbs so i want to minimize my collision base.


i see this on ebay...."Landyacht" (great name)

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eB...RK%3AMEWA%3AIT


any direction to makes/model/years given that info?
Tallone,

If you want to start with a center bath, you will need to look for a 25' plus trailer, the shorter ones only came with a rear bath.

Bill
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Old 01-21-2006, 10:49 AM   #16
prettytall
 
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morning bill, thanks for the info....details im looking for.

is this center bath config typical with most/all models and years of AS? if so what about relocating the head?

i saw some AWESOME pix of a 62 Sovereign here.....i REALLY like what they have done in this remodel although i would like to reverse the layout (i think the bunk is in the front?)


http://www.airforums.com/photo...s&c=502&page=3





Quote:
Originally Posted by wkerfoot
Tallone,

If you want to start with a center bath, you will need to look for a 25' plus trailer, the shorter ones only came with a rear bath.

Bill
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Old 01-21-2006, 11:02 AM   #17
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Tall,

here, let me just say this. When you say you want a wall to wall bed in the back, there were no standard configurations that match this in the time frame you're talking about. You will have to remove most nearly all of the interior cabinets, bulkheads and appliances. You will have to reconfigure the holding tanks underneath so you will also remove the belly skin. You will then have to, from scratch, build a new bathroom, side style. You could stash the water heater under the bed, like I think they do on the new coaches, and rerun most of the plumbing.

Take it from me: What you want isn't completely going to be achievable. You want the interior configuration of a later day model in a vintage body and it doesn't work very well. I have thought long and hard on how to achieve a queen size bed in either my coach or one like Glen's with the mid-bedroom. All that I have ever been able to come up with is something that either you tear down every morning in order to get in and out of your coach, or something that you have to crawl over to get to the bathroom.

A lot of people come to this forum wanting it all and sometimes you just can't get it. I really feel that you need to assess your wants and needs and rank order them. Is a comfortable, permanent bed more important, or is a vintage exterior (since, when you get done, it won't have a vintage interior). Is it better to get a fixer up or get one ready to roll - this appears to be a price issue, but it's not. Unless you buy a brand newish one, you will end up paying about as much in the near term for a fixer as opposed to one in ready-to-roll shape.

Fixing one is a LOT of work. Odd parts, cramped work areas, it takes me a whole evening just to fix a busted coupler on the kitchen faucet, because you have to remove the sink first to even get at the coupler, then you have to reseal it and put it back together. Every appliace will have to be ordered mostly since your local RV dealer won't have them in stock.

My opinion is, find a reasonable priced 25 footer from the late eighties. It'll have your rear queen like you want and you may get to do some fixin to it, too.

Just my .02.

John
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Old 01-21-2006, 11:14 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tallone
morning bill, thanks for the info....details im looking for.

is this center bath config typical with most/all models and years of AS? if so what about relocating the head?

i saw some AWESOME pix of a 62 Sovereign here.....i REALLY like what they have done in this remodel although i would like to reverse the layout (i think the bunk is in the front?)


http://www.airforums.com/photo...s&c=502&page=3
Tallone,

I do not know about typical, just that it was available in 25' and longer units. My 1954 Double Door 29' Liner has a center bath and we are putting a short queen in the rear.

Bill
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Old 01-21-2006, 11:21 AM   #19
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Arrow Vintage floor plan w/ rear nose bed exists....

John,
What you state is 99.9% true.......
Our 1950 Airstream Cruiser (which is for sale) has a "Hollywood" factory bed which is a factory fixed platform bed that takes up the entire rear nose. It has a cabinet base and two storage pods with hand hole covers in the deck top.
The size is equivalent to a large custom king, even larger perhaps, and because the bed is laid out across the rear, if you were a seven foot person you could sleep comfortably.
There is a large driverside mid to rear bathroom with a factory flush pedal toilet that has (believe it or not) a vented factory holding tank. This could be converted to a wet shower easily.
This was one family owned. No floor rot. All original and in very good condition.
Not many people have seen this floorplan......
We have a photo album with 59 pictures of the inside and outside that we can share with those interested....

If people send us an email we will send a photo album invitation

@ silverport@hotmail.com

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Old 01-21-2006, 11:25 AM   #20
prettytall
 
Tallville , California
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thanks john,

yeah, i understand what i want is looking to be a total custom job, which is ok by me....as i have to have what i want in the end. i really like what the 64 sovereign folks did.....stripped it down to the frame and back up.....turned out great and got what they wanted....have to contact them on that.

in thinking about this project im interested in using a product that i found back when building boats.....built a 70' luxury sportfisher for bill bennett from vegas.....guy wanted a 70+' luxury sportfishing yacht that did 70kts.....powered by a jet turbine engine.....crazy boat....anyway we used this product called Plascore. its a honeycome material thats ultra light, ultra strong, corrosion, water, fungi proof....1/2" 4x8 panel weights a few pounds....all the cocobolo veneers were layed up on it....killer stuff, anyway i would like to use that in my construction process.....keep the weight down.....again im not going so much for accurite reconstruction as design and comfort as i see it.

check this stuff....pretty cool....

http://www.plascore.com/
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