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Old 06-17-2019, 02:08 PM   #1
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Concord , North Carolina
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 14
Airstream not towed in years

I am considering the purchase of a 1990 Airstream. Longer model - 31 ft long. It hasn’t been moved in years. What maintenance should I anticipate right off the bat - tires, axles..... and i wonder how much it might cost.
And what else might you be concerned about?
Thanks for your input!
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Old 06-17-2019, 02:20 PM   #2
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 3,006
Are you asking "what do I need to do to this trailer to get it ready for an hour drive back to my house," or "what all do I need to do to make it ready for a 2000 mile road trip?"

If all you are trying to do is get it ready to tow back to your house, then a short list of things to do would be as follows:
-New tires
-greased bearings
-electric brakes confirmed functional
-lights functional
-coupler confirmed to be locking in place correctly
-Safety chains present and in good shape
-weight distribution equipment???
-All doors, windows, and hatches secured.

Month long road trip:
-All of the above, plus, your axles are now almost 30 years old, and if they haven't been replaced, then they probably need to be.
-everything else depends on what condition it is in. If the trailer has had uncorrected leaks for the last 20 years, then you can expect rotting floors, rodent infestations, etc. You might be looking at a shell-off, or just wiping it down and spraying some Febreeze.

good luck!
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Old 06-17-2019, 02:26 PM   #3
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 3,006
Go to the "portal" tab at the top of this page. Scroll down with your eyes on the right hand side, and you will find "the trailer inspector's checklist." Download a copy. Also, there is a utility to help you find local volunteer inspectors.

As mentioned earlier, a trailer that has sat unused and neglected, regardless of age, can quickly become a candidate for a total rebuild if conditions are right. Try and educate yourself as to what "good" looks like, and decide how much of a project (if any) you are interested in taking on. There is a thread on these forums that is a "sticky" in the General Repairs section, that is a compilation of the total rebuild threads. Look through a few of them, if only to get an idea of the hidden floor rot and disintegrating frames that change so many "spruce it up" projects into complete rebuilds.

good luck!
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Old 06-17-2019, 02:30 PM   #4
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2007 27' International CCD FB
San Diego , California
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 1,759
Absolute minimum requirements in my mind. I towed home a newer 2007 that had been sitting for 4 yrs.

1) Tires. Absolutely new tires. I had some ordered close to where I was picking up the trailer. Brought a floor jack and jack stands. Spent a few hours to remove wheels, get new tires installed, and re-mounted. Even on a newer trailer, the tires were dry rotted out and in no way roadworthy or safe.

2) Battery. You'll need a working battery to operate the tongue jack and provide juice for emergency braking.

3) WD hitch. As she is a big girl, it's not safe to tow without some form of a WD hitch, setup roughly correct. Keeping speeds down will also mitigate sway events.

4) Brake controller. Prior to getting on the main road, you'll want to manually actuate the brakes to ensure they are operating.

And yes, makes sure everything is secured.

That's it. Best of luck!
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Old 06-17-2019, 06:39 PM   #5
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1963 28' Ambassador
Vintage Kin Owner
Northern VT , Vermont
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 360
All above plus. 1st tow after years setting the brakes could engage and "stick" on due to rust, lock up. You may want to move it gently to a hard surface spot before you plug them in and test. Often as not if locked you can move it a few feet forward and back on pavement and they'll release. After a mile or so stop and feel the hubs for heat, dragging brakes or bad bearings. Make very sure the entry door is secure, it opens on the road and there goes your first thousand bucks!
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Old 06-18-2019, 10:49 AM   #6
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2005 25' Safari
palm beach gardens , Florida
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 202
Just to give you some confidence of the quality of some older Airstreams, I bought a 1971 27' that had been sitting a long time and I brought it home, cleaned it, put new tires on, loaded the three kids and drove from Fl. to Portland, Oregon drove all around the west for six months and drove back to Florida. No problems. [probably "ignorance is bliss" entered into this situation]. I'm now on my fourth AS and yes, check brakes, axles and everything else that has been suggested. Have a blast!
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Old 06-18-2019, 11:11 AM   #7
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1967 26' Overlander
Bugtussle , Oklahoma
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 371
Good advice above. Especially pteck's tire suggestion. I'll just add that it's a good idea to get a ladder and check the top of the trailer and make sure everything up there is secure. When I was towing my trailer home I hit a big bump in the road causing the AC shroud and a bath mat to fly off on to the road. Thankfully my son was driving safely behind me and there was no other traffic at the time.
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