Journey with Confidence RV GPS App RV Trip Planner RV LIFE Campground Reviews RV Maintenance Take a Speed Test Free 7 Day Trial ×

Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 05-28-2012, 11:19 AM   #1
New Member
Dartmouth , Nova Scotia
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 3
The Airstream Dream

Hi all,

I'm considering obtaining an Airstream for seasonal, or a possible full-time home. I have Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, and I understand these can be converted into a safe space.

As some of you probably know, there is a company that does MCS conversions: Healthy Homes :: Home It looks like they do good work, but from what I can gather, their prices are higher than other restorers. For this reason, I'm thinking about hiring a local trailer shop for the frame and axle, and a local carpenter.

The above mentioned link has a 1954 AS, which was gutted, and buffed for $25,000. This seems overpriced by $20,000. Thoughts?

Labour to rebuild a trailer should be cost competitive, so the only difference in the renovation cost should be materials. I'm thinking that it can't be tens of thousands more to build one with non toxic materals (no formaldehyde, or wood, but lots of metal).

If anyone could give me a ball park for what such a renovation would cost, that would be terrific.

Thanks a bunch.

Matt in Nova Scotia
AS dream is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-28-2012, 11:50 AM   #2
Rivet Master
CanoeStream's Avatar

2006 25' Safari FB SE
St. Cloud , Minnesota
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 13,280
Images: 19
Blog Entries: 3
Hello Matt. Welcome to the forums!

One one hand, it truthfully is said that a professional, high quality vintage restoration will cost about as much as a new Airstream. Without knowing the work of, their prices could be an example of that. It's just not possible to say. Would their prices be better if they didn't concentrate on vintage units? Those certainly aren't the only choice. The healthy-homes pictures look like they've gone to a lot of metal fixtures. Are they only covering up plywood?

The MCS topic is covered in a variety of ways here at AIR. Easiest way to find past discussions is just to search on 'formaldehyde'.

Outgassing on any new construction seems to less of an issue after a unit has aged a couple years. You might consider broadening your search to units that no longer have that new car smell. Could you tell enough by spending as little as one night in one?

"They all leak." Think of the challenges of competently restoring a 20-, 30-, or 40-year old car. Leaks at seams and shell-floor junction can yield a musty smell that is indicative of water intrusion, floor rot, mildew & black molds. One must have a very good understanding of the type of restoration done for this reason alone.

5 meter Langford Nahanni

CanoeStream is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-28-2012, 01:22 PM   #3
Rivet Master
mutcth's Avatar
2007 23' Safari SE
Central , Connecticut
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 1,652
I wish the website was more detailed about the work they did on things like the subfloor and axle replacements (a lot of the pictures show vintage units that seem to be sitting low - you can see by where the top of the wheel meets the wheel well.)

My thoughts: That 1954 could easily have $25k worth of work in it if it was taken down to the frame, the frame painted, the floor redone, all inside skins removed, and the trailer reinsulated.

Listen to some back episodes of The Vintage Airstream Podcast. In one, the experts (two experienced restorers) discuss what it takes to do this 100% on a vintage trailer. Expect 800 to 1000 hours of labor, plus $10k-$20k of parts.

For your goals, I would start with a late model trailer (that won't need to be completely dismantled) and then redo the interior as need be. Even if you pay $25k upfront for that, if you get the right trailer, it won't need floors redone or major framework or rewiring. Or Timeless Travel Trailers in Colorado can get a new shell from the factory and build what you want from scratch.

mutcth is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-28-2012, 01:25 PM   #4
Rivet Master
2006 22' International CCD
2007 Base Camp
Elk Valley , British Columbia
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 657
In my experience with home and trailer renovations, your expectation are going to dictate the cost. Lots of people are happy with a 1/2-ass job because they are going to use it a lot and know it is going to get beat up anyway. They'll go for the laminate floor instead of hardwood... painting over defects... tiling over leaks...

Low volatility products aren't the biggest cost... your labour will be. An aluminum panel for an Airstream can be $500, but $5000 for a shop to replace it. I was quoted $7000 to replace the vinyl flooring in my 2006...

I'd try to spec out a good air filter system if you are going to be living in a smaller space... some type of exchange system...
Friday is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-28-2012, 02:07 PM   #5
Rivet Master
1977 31' Sovereign
1963 26' Overlander
1989 34' Excella
Johnsburg , Illinois
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 2,944
Non-toxic Interiors

The degree of non-toxic is a relative thing. The Toxcitity is in the dose. Buying a late model unit that has spent a fair amount of time in the south, means a lot of the outgassing has already occurred because of the temperature. Buying a unit that has a all aluminum interior would be a good start. You will spend $50 -$100 per hour to take out any material that bothers you. Then you will pay the same amount plus new materials to put the new items back in. It could count up quickly. I would not bother about polishing the outside of the unit. That is a job that will be costly to maintain. It is all a matter of what is important to you for your health and the image you wish to convey.
dwightdi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-28-2012, 03:20 PM   #6
New Member
Dartmouth , Nova Scotia
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 3
Thanks for the replies everyone.

I had been thinking about a frame-off restoration, but from what I just learned, purchasing a newer model that only needs slight re-working might be the way to go. I have a limited budget.

How much is this one worth? In Over My Head! 1986 Excella 32' Airstream Restoration Project - Nova Scotia Travel Trailers, Campers For Sale - Kijiji Nova Scotia Canada.
AS dream is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-28-2012, 03:29 PM   #7
New Member
Dartmouth , Nova Scotia
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 3
What do you mean by "late model?"
AS dream is offline   Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by


This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Airstream, Inc. or any of its affiliates. Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 12:56 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.