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Old 12-05-2007, 11:32 PM   #1
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Release the Hounds!! Newbie and my creampuff

Greetings to all:

Just a short note to introduce myself . . . my name is Bill and am the fortunate owner of a well-preserved and modestly updated 1966 Airstream Overlander.

Originally, I was in search of something to occupy a ranch in Northern Arizona that was a bit larger than my Volkswagen Westfalia. A travel trailer was the logical choice (nevermind I have no tow vehicle). I had thought of buying a cheap SOB (Jayco, etc.), but the more I looked the more depressing the selection became. It seems like every person on the planet has at least one derilict travel trailer parked behind their house that they're trying to get rid of. My wife and I quickly agreed that buying a "Prowler" or some other plastic catastrophe along the same lines was just not how we wanted to spend our weekends.

Not to mention their limited life expectancy. The nature of such plastic beasts goes something like this: you buy it, it breaks, you fix it, it continues to fall apart and then you become one of those goons posting a derilict travel trailer on Craigslist because you're sick of having it parked behind your house!

I have always loved vintage travel trailers (The Shady Dell Trailer Park in Bisbee, Arizona was a monthly getaway for my wife & I . . . before kids, that is) and the aesthetics of vintage trailers has always appealed me. While I would like a Spartan Imperial Mansion (heh) the Airstream is the standard by which all others are judged and from a utilitarian standpoint, nothing holds up better.

So, I started looking for an Airstream without really knowing the specifics of the models, the common issues, etc. I spent a bit of time researching on-line, mostly looking for models to avoid, problems you may run into, what to look for, re: tired axles, appliances that don't work, etc., and then started searching nationally.

And then last month, AirForum member Robin Lee (username draftwomyn21) posted her Overlander for sale on the AirForum. I ran across it on Craigslist, of all places. She purchased it in Colorado, brought it back to Arizona, re-tiled using Marmoleum, re-upholstered, etc., etc. She did an extraordinary job.

So, after looking it over two or three times, crawling around underneath, looking through the various cabinets, checking the components, the maintenance records, testing the appliances, etc., I bought it. I always imagined buying some old roach trailer and restoring it myself, but at this point in my life, the one thing I do not have is time.

What really makes this Overlander unique and remarkable (apart from it being remarkably preserved and well-cared for) is the optional dinette installed by Airstream at the factory (in place of the gaucho). I was really looking for something with a factory-installed dinette and I didn't realize how rare they are. I felt fortunate to have found one locally.

Though it is a little "too nice" for hauling up the back-country of the high desert, at least I know it will likely last for another 40 years.

Pictures here: http://www.lassendas.net/overlander/

I have started the hunt for a tow vehicle (since I don't actually OWN anything that can tow it) and I have spent several days reading the tow vehicle forums. YIKES!! I have decided NOT to post any questions there, as I don't want some know-it-all to pronounce my death sentence! "Be careful what you wish for" and all that.

Comments, suggestions, advice, etc., welcomed.

Regards,

Bill
1966 26' Overlander
Team No Adventure Racing
Mesa, Arizona
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Old 12-06-2007, 12:02 AM   #2
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Hi Bill and welcome aboard.

That my friend is one very nice looking trailer. You got lucky.

So now its time for a TV. A 1/2 truck/SUV or 3/4 truck or van should do you just fine and yes you'll want a WD hitch.

Fortunately for you folks are selling off their SUVs and trucks wholesale to buy gas sippers so search the local paper and you'll find something to fit your budget and get the job done.

Disclaimer: You must have a 3/4 diesel and a Hensley Arrow or everyone in your state will die! Die I say.

Your trailer is light compared to the new ones so a big diesel and an uber hitch is not required. Nice but not required. However a decent wieght distribution hitch is required. It really is a safty issue that can save you big bucks and possibly injury.
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Old 12-06-2007, 12:09 AM   #3
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Welcome to the forums! Congrats on your "new" Airstream! Nice find! Pics look sweet!

Be sure and check out the rally calendar at the top toolbar and see what is going on in your area... Airstream rallies are great times and a wonderful place to meet other folks that have Airstreams. Wonderful place to talk to others about those little mysterious details that creep up!

Have a great time!

Mrs. NorCal Bambi (traveling in S Tardis ~ from the Great State of Jefferson)
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Old 12-06-2007, 12:19 AM   #4
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Bill,
Welcome to the forums!
That is a great looking Overlander. The original dry weight for your trailer was 4250 pounds. Like many other things, it has picked up a few pounds along the way. A decent 1/2 ton truck should be fine for towing it. My 75 Trade Wind is very close in size and weight and my 07 Tundra is more then enough truck to do the job.

Once you get the TV, the next thing is rallies! The 4CU of the WBCCI has several local rallies here in the area. The next one is New Years at Picacho Peaks. After that we have Dead Horse 2 in Cottonwood in February. Both events will be a lot of fun and it would be great to see you there.
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Old 12-06-2007, 06:47 AM   #5
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Welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us. I looked at your photos; nice Airstream.

As to a tow vehicle, remember that you won't use your Airstream unless you are comfortable with your towing combination on the highway. An insufficient tow vehicle is the primary cause of perfectly good Airatreams becoming very expensive pieces of yard art.
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Old 12-06-2007, 08:23 AM   #6
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Welcome to the forums. That is one beautiful Airstream you found. I love the colors!
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Old 12-06-2007, 08:33 AM   #7
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Love it....love it.....love it! And, WELCOME TO THE FORUMS!
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Old 12-06-2007, 11:28 AM   #8
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Team,
Welcome. Needless to say, you scored! To get a rig that someone has spent that much time and attention to detail is priceless. I like the tone of the wood. Sweet find.
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Old 12-06-2007, 01:29 PM   #9
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Great trailer. Great post. You have the right frame of mind for taking on a vintage Airstream. A great way to get the kids in the right mindset as well.

Welcome to the forums. No matter what you can think of, you will find an opinion (and counterpoint) here. We all love to share our life experiences and since this is the eCampfire of Airstreaming it is all taken with a grain of salt.

Have fun,

Barry
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Old 12-06-2007, 05:05 PM   #10
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Great post! Waiting for pictures of Arizona.

Greetings Bill,
Your trailer looks great too......but........it might look nicer in comparison with my sorry looking rig parked next to it, for say, one? two? weeks every year. Do you have any beer? Can I borrow a towel? Dave
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Old 12-06-2007, 09:20 PM   #11
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1966 26' Overlander
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TV, neighbors, idiocy, etc.

The irony of this trailer is it was for sale on the Air Forum . . . I don't know what the response was to it, but obviously no one bought it. The PO said one man was interested but was from out of town and wouldn't get a chance to see it for weeks.

That's when I swooped in. Old-timer, if you're reading this . . . really, it's not as nice as the pictures

As far as it being "priceless" . . . oh . . . it indeed had a price, about 2x what I wanted to spend! However, time is the finite commodity which I value most of all, and once upon a time I used to restore vintage cars and in the end I was never quite able to fully enjoy them because they served as a constant reminder of where I cut corners, what I didn't spend enough time on, what I could have done better, etc., so buying a well-preserved, modestly renovated example spares me the regret of not doing a better job, then that is actually priceless.

As far as a TV, this afternoon I put a deposit down on an absolute, unequivocal beast. And while technically not designated a "crime against humanity", this vehicle will definitely get the neighbors calling the Homeowner's Association

As far as a hitch, the Overlander came with a monstrous hitch reminiscent of the sort of thing one is bludgeoned to death with. It's an old Reese Strait-Line frame hitch (circa 1972 if I am to believe the original installation instructions) with the dual cam sway control & snap-up brackets.

Likely I will have to fabricate or purchase some sort of drop hitch, as the TV I am destined to get seems to have provisions for the hitch about seven feet in the air. Maybe eight. Heh. I'd like to use the original hitch (it has to weigh a hundred pounds) but I think I would have to install a new frame tow bar assembly. I know whatever I get has to have provisions for the spring bars.

Lastly, and I suspect I am insane for even pondering this, but every time I look at my TT, I think, "It really would look a hundred times nicer if it were polished." I would think polishing is akin to scrubbing the Statue of Liberty with a Brillo pad, i.e., generation after generation of your family would have to work until it were finished.

Actually, I know it's not that bad, but once I strip the lacquer off, I'm obligated to polish it. And polish it. And polish it. And polish it. Of course, in Arizona, with a whopping 7% humidity, I may have it easier than you poor jokers in Florida, but still . . . is there any over-the-counter medication I can take to dissuade or at least stave off this irrational desire to polish it?

Again, thoughts are welcomed.

Regards,

Bill
1966 26' Overlander
Team No Adventure Racing
Mesa, Arizona
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Old 12-06-2007, 09:26 PM   #12
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AZ WBCCI rallies

Quote:
Originally Posted by azflycaster
Once you get the TV, the next thing is rallies! The 4CU of the WBCCI has several local rallies here in the area. The next one is New Years at Picacho Peaks. After that we have Dead Horse 2 in Cottonwood in February. Both events will be a lot of fun and it would be great to see you there.
As far as New Years, we're actually flying back East to visit family over the holiday, but I'll definitely pencil in the shindig in Cottonwood.

I contacted the PO to ask her if she could relinquish her membership number in the WBCCI so I can apply for it. That way, I won't have to cover up the membership number with black construction paper. Heh.

Bill
1966 26' Overlander
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Old 12-06-2007, 11:02 PM   #13
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OK Bill, you've got us curious about your new TV. The way you decribe it in your post, we must know what it is and see photos. A TV that would raise the ire of the homeowners's association, must be something really cool.

Brian
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Old 12-06-2007, 11:18 PM   #14
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Easy perfect polish every time!

If you polish it once you'll have to polish it again and again. Lots of time and effort.

So here's my method for the perfect easy polish.

Before you do the strip job take your trailer up to the ranch and park it. Now you need your supplies. A chair a side table and an ice chest. Fill the ice chest with your favorite beverage. Sit in the chair and drink the beverage until the trailer looks perfect and the insanity has passed.

Trust me it works.
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Old 12-06-2007, 11:33 PM   #15
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Welcome to the forums

Like someone said earlier - you'll get lots of varying opinions.
I polished my trailer a year ago October, haven't done a thing with it since other than wash it and it still looks pretty darn good. Yes, it sits outside in the weather year-round. I say, if you feel like it and like the look - go for it.
BTW, great looking trailer!
Dave
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Old 12-07-2007, 06:19 AM   #16
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The number on your trailer is not listed in the WBCCI directory. It is possible that the PO never jpined the club or joined too late in the year to be listed. You can email Jodi Morris jmorris@wbcci.org to find out the status of that number. If you can't get that number you can always get a number that is close. One example would be to change the 3 to an 8.

If you polish your trailer you will notice that the numbers are faded into the skin. Because of that many folks do not put the numbers back on.

Send me a PM if you have any questions about WBCCI membership.
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Old 12-07-2007, 01:02 PM   #17
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1966 26' Overlander
Mesa , Arizona
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WBCCI membership number

Quote:
Originally Posted by azflycaster
The number on your trailer is not listed in the WBCCI directory. It is possible that the PO never jpined the club or joined too late in the year to be listed. You can email Jodi Morris jmorris@wbcci.org to find out the status of that number. If you can't get that number you can always get a number that is close. One example would be to change the 3 to an 8.

If you polish your trailer you will notice that the numbers are faded into the skin. Because of that many folks do not put the numbers back on.
Actually, the immediate PO revived that membership number but it may have been over 12 months ago. If she had let it lapse, it's possible that she is not listed. Regardless, I know she re-newed it because I have the Welcome letter as well as two new sets of the numbers & the WBCCI decal they sent to her.

I can't very well put the new numbers on without polishing the AS, can I?

Heh.
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Old 12-07-2007, 01:06 PM   #18
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TV info

Quote:
Originally Posted by moosetags
OK Bill, you've got us curious about your new TV. The way you decribe it in your post, we must know what it is and see photos. A TV that would raise the ire of the homeowners's association, must be something really cool.

Brian
In the fullness of time all will be revealed. I haven't fetched it yet so I don't want to jinx myself.
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Old 01-01-2008, 04:40 PM   #19
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Revelations on TV

Quote:
Originally Posted by team_no
In the fullness of time all will be revealed. I haven't fetched it yet so I don't want to jinx myself.
Okay, so I am back from a Holiday dash to the East Coast . . . thought I'd follow-up my own message with images of my TV and the AS on the first "official" outing:

http://www.billgau.com/mega_creampuff/beast_1.jpg
http://www.billgau.com/mega_creampuff/beast_2.jpg
http://www.billgau.com/mega_creampuff/beast_3.jpg
http://www.billgau.com/mega_creampuff/beast_4.jpg

It is a 1993 Dodge D350 1-Ton Dually with the Cummins 5.9L turbodiesel and a 5spd. It is relatively low-mileage, has a host of repairs/improvements, good documentation and at first glance, you would think it is an automotive crime against humanity;

And you'd be right.

Heh.

Within TWO DAYS of parking this beast in front of my house (it was, after all, temporary until I could clean it out and move it to join the AS at the local covered R/V parking facility) my phone was ringing in what was the FIRST DIRECT PHONE CALL EVER from my homeowner's assn. I have recieved threatening letters but I have never had anything which would evoke such an immediate response.

I was originally contemplating this vehicle, which I test-drove, investigated ad nauseum, put a sizeable deposit on, etc.:

http://www.billgau.com/ramolamadingdong/17.jpg
http://www.billgau.com/ramolamadingdong/0.jpg

This was extraordinarily cool because of all the extra storage in the utility bed, but ultimately the big V10 and the unwieldily-ness of it would be its downfall. As the date to pick it up drew near, I kept my Craigslist alert stream going and the `93 turned up for sale down the street. To me, the Cummins motor is the greatest accomplishment in the history of the automobile and while there are many for sale in AZ, they all command a premium and almost all are in the 2nd & 3rd generation Rams, which--while cool-looking--are just monstrous. So, I seized the `93 when it popped up for sale, particularly because it was so cheap.

Apart from being perhaps the most filthy vehicle I have ever purchased (and having spent every day of its life in the Arizona sun) it is, of course, a creampuff. This will be a dedicated TV and I bought it almost exclusively for the engine/transmission. I'm not entirely thrilled with the dually and the suspension, but it actually rides softer than the 3/4 Ton `98 I test-drove and I suspect I can yank a leaf out of the suspension and it will soften it up.

Or some such.

It also has a "cowboy sleeper", consisting of a custom-installed cab on the rear of the passenger compartment, complete with the original side jump seats and the most period-correct barcalounger in the back.

Unfortunately, no matter how much I vacuum, steam-clean, etc., it still smells like a cross between the kennels at the Leader Dogs for the Blind and the former Mustang Ranch(tm). Not sure what I'll do about that. Maybe replace the carpet and seats.

Presently, my wife forbids me to have it re-painted (as it will never appear in public without our being disguised) but it is my thought (and perhaps intention) to STRIP the paint off of the panels and POLISH the bare galvanized steel and clear-coat it so it will--in an odd way--match the AS. Heh.

Anyway, thought I'd give a short update. Happy New Year's to all.
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Old 01-03-2008, 10:35 AM   #20
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Thank you for the photos, I'm pretty new here, but we seem to be a photo hungry group. I'm moving to Ruidoso, NM. in a few days from Tampa. I'm really looking forward to the trip out west.

See you boondocking!

Michael
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