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Old 07-13-2020, 06:33 AM   #1
2 Rivet Member
2011 22' Sport
Join Date: Jul 2020
Posts: 22
New Project or Ready to Roll

Wife and I have been camping (again) since 2015 when I built a 5x10 teardrop. Two years later, I found a 1966 Arrow (canned ham) and did a partial renovation, some ribbing, internal walls, one side panel, electric and plumbing upgrade. It's about 85% complete. It has 10 feet of living area and we can actually stand up. What a difference. Saturday, I returned from a 11 day trek to Ohio and back and a portion of four days fixing this or that. I tell myself its a 54 year old trailer and just needs the attention.

The Arrow has been a labor of love (and I mean labor). It pulls fine with a 2016 Nissan Frontier 6 cyl. It's fine for a weekender at a local campground but the 11 days has taught me that we need something bigger...probably in the 16-20 ft range. My next project will be an Airstream.

Question is: does it need to be a project at all? While we have an aversion to debt, a $25-35k Airstream would not be a problem. I noticed at this price point there are both 20 year old untouched bambi and caravels as well as restored/renovated 1960's vintages in the same models. It seems to me that an early 2000's Airstream would be the way to go as there would be less concern about the need for a frame off restoration, new axles/hubs, brakes, etc. Is there a point (say the 1980's, 1990's or 2000's) where there is good availability of parts without the need for a major rework? Are there makes/years that should be avoided?

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Old 07-14-2020, 06:36 PM   #2
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1986 34' Limited
1975 27' Overlander
Conifer , Colorado
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Hello from Colorado and welcome to AirForums. You have some very good questions. Here is my "free" advice, which is worth the cost.

I'm a vintage Airstream enthusiasts and a member here for ten years. It is a good Airstream website with mucho information. I think Airstreams are well built and last a long time. We have a 86 Limited 34' triple axle that has been in the family since new. I've done quite a bit of renovation to that trailer. Then I jumped into the vintage hobby when I retired. I found a 66 Trade Wind 24' and did extensive renovations to that one. The 66 to 68 trailers had unique Corning glass windows that were neat looking, but leaky. Parts are hard to get for them. So I sold it and bought a 75 Overlander 27'. I also did extensive renovations to that trailer. I think it will make a good family trailer for us and my sons. Parts are easier to find for it. Renovating a vintage Airstream is a lot of labor, like maybe 1000 hours and a lot of cash, like maybe $13000.

I feel the 70s trailers were built for light weight and low cost. The bodies are fine, but the interior materials are not as good. And it seems the frames tend to rust more than other decades. Airstream experimented with many aluminum extrusions and cheap laminates in the 70s that don't hold up very well in my view. But I feel my 75 Overlander has had these problems mitigated and it is now a solid "like new" vintage Airstream.

Our 86 has held up well. But it has a OSB subfloor as most 80s and 90s trailers, which isn't the greatest if it gets wet, and most do. We say all Airstreams leak rain water or are gonna leak rain water. A guy has to stay on top of weather leaks.

The 90s and oughts are heavier. The "wide body" started about 1999, more room, more weight. I don't know the towing capacity of your vehicle, but it may be in the 4000 pound range. You gotta watch your towing limits.

We often read here on the Forums to buy your second Airstream first. Many folks end up wanting a bigger one. I find my Overlander 27' is very comfortable and easy to handle for me. My son has a 69 Globetrotter 21' which I find too small. I like a bathroom, a kitchen, a bedroom, and a place to sit on a cold rainy night. Many others are perfectly fine in a small trailer, but as mentioned, as we get older, we like our comforts of home.

Search the AirForums Classified tab and enter your requirements for an Airstream. I think it is a buyer's market right now due to the pandemic. We are not traveling this year unfortunately. Our Airstreams are sitting. But Airstream traveling is safer than motels and restaurants in my view.

Take your time, have fun looking around. I think the early oughts trailers may serve your needs quite well. Second, a well renovated vintage trailer may be fun too knowing you may have more "projects" with it. It would be lighter weight and may hold its value better. You would want to see photos and receipts of the work that was done to it to "renovate" it. Just a polish job and new curtains doesn't count for much in my view.

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Link to my 1975 Overlander Improvement Journal:

Link to our 1976 Renovation Project:
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