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Old 10-15-2008, 06:15 PM   #1
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Hypothetical restoration question

I just read thru the sticky "Vintage Trailers: What can we agree on?".

This brought up a series of questions that I would like to ask the masses of Airstream owners, and especially those that have done major repairs themselves.

What year/s had the least amount of major and/or minor component failures?
What year/s are now the most desirable for restoration?
What year/s are known to be the easiest to work on?
What year/s were known for the best corrosion protection, in terms of both rust and aluminum oxidization?
What year/s were the trailers known for being "well built"?

And lastly, if you had to do it all over again, what year Airstream would you buy?

Woody
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Old 10-15-2008, 06:28 PM   #2
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all you need to know is 1962. It the best year of all. Now some will dispute this, but do not be fooled, you want a 1962.
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Old 10-15-2008, 07:08 PM   #3
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You are so close to being right. You're only about two years off. My 1960 is by far the best AS I've ever owned.

Ok...it's the only one I've ever owned.

I'm a tinkerer and a cheap skate. So i'd get an older trailer that is the size I need for as cheap as I can get it and then enjoy making it wonderful. I love the 1960's. You may need to add or settle for no gray-tank. The door within a door is wonderful. My frame lasted very well. That may be more related to how the trailer was cared for instead of a year thing.
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Old 10-15-2008, 07:21 PM   #4
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With all respect, the '60 and '62 models meet all the requirements. . .

. . . but the '59s had that delicious mahogany woodwork!
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Old 10-15-2008, 07:28 PM   #5
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I will submit that you need a desert unit. Contray to popular opinion all old Airstreams do not have floor rot or corrosion issues. The woodwork on my '67 is dry as a popcorn fart but completly sound.
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Old 10-15-2008, 09:10 PM   #6
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Yep, you can not answers your questions... it will depend where it was, how it was stored, lots of factors... I have a '68 (the true best year) it was in ok condition, and I still tore the inside out and am redoing it...
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Old 10-15-2008, 09:12 PM   #7
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What year/s are now the most desirable for restoration?
The one sitting in your driveway that still isn't done, at least that's the one my wife desires most.

What year/s are known to be the easiest to work on?

Apparently everyone else's.

And lastly, if you had to do it all over again, what year Airstream would you buy?
That same shell sitting outside....by reason of insanity .
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Old 10-15-2008, 09:29 PM   #8
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I like our '74, as it is slightly wider and longer than the 1960's units, and has the "modern" equipment such as holding tanks. The 1970's and older had what seems to be better aluminum skin, but our trailer is living proof the frames leave something to be desired. Our '63 was the easiest to tow and work on, as it was pretty simple and basic. That means less stuff to break.
The 24' and shorter trailers have more of a cute factor, but there is a lower limit to practicality. If I was looking for the "perfect trailer" for the three of us, I'd look at a 25' Tradewind or 24' Argosy 24, either in center twin configuration. These are the biggest small trailer, and the biggest small trailer, are relatively lightweight, tow well, and are still large enough you don't have to set up the bed every night and couch every morning, and have a good amount of storage area.
If you want 1950's-1960's, probably a double axle Tradewind would be a good choice, followed by a single axle version of the same trailer.
These are personal preferences based on our own experiences, and some people may have entirely different opinions. If you don't believe me, you can look at the other posts in this thread...
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Old 10-15-2008, 10:26 PM   #9
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Old Bambi or 2005 Safari

Quote:
Originally Posted by Woody.303 View Post
I just read thru the sticky "Vintage Trailers: What can we agree on?".

This brought up a series of questions that I would like to ask the masses of Airstream owners, and especially those that have done major repairs themselves.

What year/s had the least amount of major and/or minor component failures?
What year/s are now the most desirable for restoration?
What year/s are known to be the easiest to work on?
What year/s were known for the best corrosion protection, in terms of both rust and aluminum oxidization?
What year/s were the trailers known for being "well built"?
Hi, I would look for an old Bambi or similar in size Aistream to remodel, if it were me; Or as I did, buy a new trailer. Reasons: I would like to re-do an old small trailer due to size. [cute factor]
(1.) Do you have the time needed to re-do a trailer?
(2.) Do you have the space needed to work on it?
(3.) Do you have the ability to do the work yourself?
(4.) Do you have the tools needed to do the job?
(5.) Do you have the money it will cost to re-do a trailer?
(6.) Are you willing to put as much money into restoring an old trailer as it would cost to buy a new one?
Even if you buy a new trailer there are things that need improvements and repairs from time to time. As listed above: The reasons I bought a new trailer versus an an old one.

(1.) No time.
(2.) No room.
(6.) Not willing to spend more on an old trailer than a new one.
These are my opinions.
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Old 10-16-2008, 04:49 AM   #10
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I have the 1978 24ft Argosy (mid full bed) and the 1976 31ft Sovereign with rear bedroom. The Argosy is easy to tow, easy to work on, but no real wood and that mid full bed is a pain to make up or try to sleep two people in. The trailer has all the storage you could pack into 24ft. And it's sooooo cute. The 31ft. rear bedroom is a dream to live in, and for my money easier to work on. All the plumbing is on one side, and the heat runs right along with it. I will say that both my trailers were well taken care of by the PO. They came to me with only a few problems. My only caution to you is don't get the VistaView windows because you think they're cool. They are not cool in either sense of the word. They let in lots of heat and unless you completely re-do them, they do not look cool. Actually the trailer you choose should be something to fit your camping needs, not something you can make a profit on. I don't believe there is a profit to be made once you start restoring an old Airstream/Argosy. If it's going to be used for your camping pleasure, get the biggest you can tow, the best kept you can afford and go camping!
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Old 10-16-2008, 12:02 PM   #11
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It's all subjective...

...it really depends on your paradigm. What's a "perfect trailer"?
Quote:
Originally Posted by ROBERTSUNRUS
(1.) Do you have the time needed to re-do a trailer?
(2.) Do you have the space needed to work on it?
(3.) Do you have the ability to do the work yourself?
(4.) Do you have the tools needed to do the job?
(5.) Do you have the money it will cost to re-do a trailer?
(6.) Are you willing to put as much money into restoring an old trailer as it would cost to buy a new one?
The above are all really good questions...

Here's some more:

(7.) How will you use it? Weekends, extended trips or full-time?
(8.) How many months a year? Spring? Summer? Fall? Winter?
(9.) What are your tow vehicle limitations?
(10.) How many traveling companions? Adults? Teens? Small children???
(11.) Any pets?
(12.) Where will you stay? Campgrounds? Full hook-up? Resorts? BLM land? Boondocking?
(13.) Where will you store it when it's not in use? On-site? Off-site? Storage lot? Barn? Backyard?

All these (plus some I'm sure I forgot!) go into the formula in determining what's YOUR perfect trailer. You can always do what many of us have...buy more than one!

Shari
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Old 10-16-2008, 03:02 PM   #12
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>>Diesel1

Dry as a popcorn fart???





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Old 10-16-2008, 03:05 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2333 View Post
What year/s are now the most desirable for restoration?
The one sitting in your driveway that still isn't done, at least that's the one my wife desires most.

What year/s are known to be the easiest to work on?
Apparently everyone else's.

And lastly, if you had to do it all over again, what year Airstream would you buy?
That same shell sitting outside....by reason of insanity .
Hi 2333; I prefer a 1973 26' Argosy with Stainless Steel frame and aluminum clad floor. "Boatdoc"
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Old 10-16-2008, 09:21 PM   #14
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Boatdoc,

I've followed your threads just like I follow the performances of Olympic athletes....in awe. There's just some people on this forum like yourself, Carlos, a-merry-can, uwe, aerowood (and a few others I am forgetting) who can do incredible work. I think if someone follows some of those amazing threads, they might fall under the alluminitis spell and get themselves into some deep trouble. So, while I did write my reply with a humorous bent, it's pretty realistic, don't you think?
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Old 10-17-2008, 04:34 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Woody.303 View Post
I just read thru the sticky "Vintage Trailers: What can we agree on?".

This brought up a series of questions that I would like to ask the masses of Airstream owners, and especially those that have done major repairs themselves.

What year/s had the least amount of major and/or minor component failures?
What year/s are now the most desirable for restoration?
What year/s are known to be the easiest to work on?
What year/s were known for the best corrosion protection, in terms of both rust and aluminum oxidization?
What year/s were the trailers known for being "well built"?

And lastly, if you had to do it all over again, what year Airstream would you buy?

Woody
Hi woody; Our forums contains immense ammount of information in which you can immerse yourself for ever. Secondly, there may be as many different opinions, as there are posts. Replies made in reference to the quality of aluminum itself are accurate however, much of it will depend on where in US the trailer spent most of it's life. It also depends on how it was cared for, maintained and stored. How many times was the trailer in Alaska or any other bad roads. Before you zero in on any particular model or a year, be sure that you do not hinge your life on getting exactly what you want, unless you are willing to pay the piper. I think that you should first decide what size trailer will be comfortable for you. What interior layout appeals to you. What amenities you cannot do without. Once you make those decisions first which require looking at many many trailers, you can begin to size your pocketbook to your taste. From here on, be prepared for some or many disappointments, because the deals may not always go your way. If you allow yourself to be discouraged by it, things may even turn for worse.

It took us over three years to find what we wanted and when we did, the condition of the hidden parts of the trailer [such as frame] nearly broke my spirit. There was few facts on my part which allowed us to be able to camp comfortably. One I own a boat business with fabricating capabilities. I have hands on knowledge in engineering and fabricating including welding. Have best welding equipment and a shop to do anything. As a rule I have never been known to give up on any project, because any challenge has a way to drive me to no end. But I must admit that the strongest push I got was the love for my wife Margaret Kay. There was no way that I would allow myself to give up or do something half fast. To me, she deserves the best. For that reason the huge project of total remodel including building a new Stainless Steel frame became fun, instead of painful experience. As any other labor of love which usually always produces the ultimate results. Please do not be misled that I have a perfectly finished trailer, because that is not the case. At the end of my two year restoration period, I was forced to cut some corners in order to be able to take my wife camping. Perhaps I will never be done tinkering with it, changing, improving and modifying, and I know that for a fact. Airstreams are not just for camping, it becomes your second love from which it is impossible to shake loose from, because they are not capable of breaking your heart. Wallet yes, but not your heart. Until you own one for few years, you will not understand it.

I wish you plenty of luck in finding your dream trailer, be strong and persistent and you will be happy some day as I am. Thanks "Boatdoc"
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Old 10-18-2008, 09:10 PM   #16
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All y'all,

Thanks for the many replies, the humor and the help.

I guess I was just feeling a bit down. I really do like my trailer, it fits me nicely. I'm starting to feel at home in it. I was just bothered when I discovered the many problems with it. A bit of naivety on my part allowed me to purchase this trailer without having a professional look at it.

I've discovered that I have a sagging frame with a small amount of frame separation. I haven't yet removed any of the belly pan material to figure out the extent of the damage, and I'm quite afraid of what I might find when I do.

This was quite discouraging news, and prompted me to want to look at trading this one in on something with a few less problems.

I'm capable of fixing this frame, and I'm willing to do so. However, there are a couple of problems.

Problem #1
I'm leaving for Kansas in a couple weeks, and will be needing the trailer out there with me to stay in. I won't be home for at least 15 months, and will be full-timing in the trailer while I'm gone.

Problem #2
I can't necessarily afford to buy an additional trailer. (I suppose I could if I absolutely had to, but it would really tighten the budget a bit more than I'm comfortable with.)

Problem #3
Because I am capable of doing this job myself, I will have a hard time reaching into my pocket to pay someone else to do it. I'm also a perfectionist, and want things done right. Usually this means that I have to do it myself.

I'm in construction, and use the trailer while on a job out of town. (My per diem is quite small, and I bought this trailer to avoid the outrageous prices of hotels.) Quite often jobs can last for a year or more. And as such, I'm not home very much. Because I'm basically "living" in this trailer, I need lots of wardrobe space. (Winter clothes take up lots of room.) I am also accustomed to living in a large house, and prefer having as much space as is possible. Hence, I purchased a 31 footer. I also need a bit of room for a printer and a few other office necessities. My modified diesel truck is capable of pulling much more than what I have now. I could realistically pull 15,000 lbs. without much problem. I live alone, but am considering getting a cat. (I like dogs too, but cats can be left alone for 12-16 hours if necessary.)

Assumptions
1. I'm going to need to hire the services of a frame straightening shop/welder.
2. This is probably going to cost me about $2500 to $4000.
3. A piece of c-channel will have to be welded to the inside or outside of the existing main frame member. And the appropriate cross-members shortened, and re-welded in place.
4. The black tank and fresh water tank will have to be removed. Which, in turn, means the toilet and DWV plumbing has to be disconnected.
5. I have a rear bath layout, so the weight of the bathroom/black tank contributed to this problem.

Question #1
What is the feasibility of holding off on these repairs for a year or so? (Assuming the frame isn't rusted too badly.)

Question #2
Does a sagging frame usually require a shell off resto? Does the plywood sub-floor have to be removed?

Question #3
Boatdoc, could you get me some specs/photos on the stainless steel frame that you used? Or a link on these forums? This has me intrigued.

Question #4
Is it feasible to sister on a piece of c-channel to only the rear portion of the main frame?

Question #5
What weight beam should I use? What weight beam is the original?

Thanks to all,

Woody
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Old 10-18-2008, 10:56 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Woody.303 View Post
All y'all,

Thanks for the many replies, the humor and the help.

My modified diesel truck is capable of pulling much more than what I have now. I could realistically pull 15,000 lbs. without much problem. I live alone, but am considering getting a cat. (I like dogs too, but cats can be left alone for 12-16 hours if necessary.)
Hi, only 15,000 lbs? I think the 12lb cat will be the deal breaker.
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Old 10-19-2008, 07:20 AM   #18
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Wow, Woody. Glad to hear you are afflicted with the aluminium disease but sorry to hear that your box has frame problems. That would have been worth a prepurchase inspection. I have a 31' Excella and agree it is much nicer than my previous 25' Land Yacht. I m now restoring and have it bad for an up-to-date interior with modern appearing materials but would like to limit the weight. Total tear-out, repair and replace. I'm going with Wilsonart laminates and Armstrong vinyl flooring with throw rugs. If plumbing needs repair, I'll use PEX to limit the weight.

Yes, I have it bad and will be using this trailer to go cross country with my family. Good luck.

Joe
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Old 10-19-2008, 08:34 AM   #19
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Best

The great thing about vintage Airstreams is they are all built the same way except for size. I like the 27 ft. Excella I have now, I do upgrades as I get the time and money. I don't know if you ever get finished with one as with a house things always seem to pop up. I think the wife and I like working on it almost as much as camping in it.
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Old 10-19-2008, 02:59 PM   #20
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Hi Woody; Sorry for not replying sooner, but we just got back from camping at Prince Galitzin Park, north of Altoona Pa. First off, you should tie yourself to a whipping post and get a good whipping for not getting one of inspectors from the forums. Putting jokes aside however, without knowing the details pertaining the condition of your trailer, I as anyone else, would hesitate to send you on the road with it. Second possibility is to have the trailer delivered to your work site on a flatbed trailer properly supported. At the site you can level it and prop it up so that you can use it for required period. When you done bring it home and we will ask you to see some pics first, and possibly recommend how to go about repairs. If you wish to check out my frame, find posts titled "Quest for Stainless Steel frame" If you have any more questions PM me. Thanks "Boatdoc"
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