Free 7 Day Trial RV GPS App RV Trip Planner RV LIFE Campground Reviews RV Maintenance Free 7 Day Trial ×

Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 01-24-2018, 04:21 PM   #1
New Member
2014 27' FB International
Riverton , UT
Join Date: Jan 2018
Posts: 4
I am shopping for a project - Skip the 80's and 90's?

Hi all,

I am actively researching and shopping for a modernization/restoration airstream project.

I am ready for a long haul effort and there is a strong appeal for me to go vintage. (60's and 70's most likely)

While shopping though, I am often running across "deals" from the early 90's where I can get started with something that looks a bit more solid from a skin and bones perspective.

My main question at this point is, are there any main arguments against starting a restoration project with a 90's model?

I am in this for the long haul, I want to build something that will last me and my family nearly indefinitely. I am not building something to sell.

Strong skin and a strong frame are my priorities.

(I am assuming a subfloor replacement and maybe some frame work for anything vintage... but maybe that step is not as likely for a 90's model?)

Thank you,

DallasUtah is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-24-2018, 04:53 PM   #2
Rivet Master
vswingfield's Avatar
1983 34' Excella
1967 24' Tradewind
Little Rock , Arkansas
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 3,824
Images: 32
I like my 1983 very much.

The newer trailers have gray water tanks, not just black water.

I like the double pane windows. I also like the way they open vs those on my 1967.

I'll admit that the cabinets and bulkheads with the cheesy laminate aren't as nice as the wood on the older trailers, but you'll probably change those anyway.

Keep looking till you find what you want, but don't automatically ignore the "newer" ones.
vswingfield is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-24-2018, 05:56 PM   #3
Rivet Master
1995 25' Excella
xxxxx , xxxxxx
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 2,053
My 1995 is built pretty well. It has very nice oak cabinets.
CRH is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-24-2018, 07:22 PM   #4
Rivet Master
1986 31' Sovereign
Miami , Florida
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 2,880
Blog Entries: 13
My 86 is structurally solid. It was cheap and we started camping right away. Did our many upgrades as time and finances allowed.
Sorta new (usually dirty) Nissan Titan XD (hardly paid for)
Middle-aged Safari SE
Young, lovely bride
Dismissive cat
n2916s is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-24-2018, 08:08 PM   #5
Rivet Master
dbj216's Avatar

1986 34' Limited
1975 27' Overlander
Conifer , Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 7,215
Images: 1
Hi and welcome from Colorado: Heck, we're practically neighbors! We've owned an Airstream since 05. It is a 86 Limited 34'. It has the optional hickory cabinetry which has stood up well these last 32 years. I also bought a project trailer early last fall. It is a 75 Overlander. It is in pretty good shape but has the dreaded rear end separation. I've repaired it now. I wanted a project, right? I have many other projects to complete on this trailer. My goal is a bit like yours. I want a family Airstream that is reliable and comfortable.

The 80s and 90s trailers are not as likely to have rear end separation and frame sag. There are improvements Airstream made to these trailers through the years. One thing I don't like is the OSB subfloor material starting about 83. That stuff is very poor in resisting moisture. I've repaired two rotted out sections of subfloor on my 86.

I also don't like the poly butyl plastic fresh water plumbing in our 86. I've not got that all replaced with PEX. Old Airstream appliances wear out. Things like air conditioners, furnaces, water heaters, water pumps, converters and the like may be ripe for replacement on a 80s or 90s trailer.

Never the less, I think you are wise to consider 80s and 90s models. And they may be less expensive in the long run than a 60s or 70s trailer.

Check out the Airstream Forums Classifieds and search for a year range or a model. There are lots of Airstream trailers for sale there. That's where I found my 75 Overlander. My old 66 Trade Wind I found on ebay at "buy it now" pricing.

WBCCI #8607 VAC Region 11
KnowledgeBase trailer renovation threads: 69 Globetrotter, 76 Sovereign, 75 Overlander, 66 Trade Wind Such fun !
dbj216 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-24-2018, 09:25 PM   #6
Rivet Master
DryFly's Avatar
1972 Argosy 20
Snoqualmie , Washington
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 503
Find a layout you really like and a look you're happy with, disregard the age of the trailer. If it's in a condition that will require the level of rehabilitation you are willing to tackle, walk into it with eyes wide open, negotiate a price you're happy with and go for it.
You say you are willing to replace the subfloor - once you've done that I would guess everything will look easy in comparison. On my trailer ( a '72 ) repair of the furnace and replacing the plumbing with PEX was pretty simple. Older trailers also don't have computer boards on the furnace or refrigerator, or other electronics to vex you. Less convenient in some ways but less of a headache.
As far as "strength", the aluminum shell is as strong from the 60's on up, probably earlier - in fact the older units may be "stronger" because the aluminum used was a different alloy than that which is used in the newer units. The frame and subfloor are always the biggest structural problem.

That's my 2c, and it's worth every penny you paid.
DryFly is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-24-2018, 09:47 PM   #7
Rivet Master
PKI's Avatar
Currently Looking...
Walnut Creek , California
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 3,944
There were variations to the build over the years. Some lighter weight materials were used in the earlier models as aircraft tech was used. However, newer coaches are more glamping in style and finish. In addition to Airstream, there are kin models like Avion and Silverstreak, which some feel were better built.

Research is your friend. Your rebuild can correct a lot of not so desirable design features like that OSB which was mentioned prior. Marine spec appliances can give better service that RV spec. Certainly, better construction can help with the limited season capability. Long haul might be a first coach project to learn methods and a second one to get the configuration well and truly to your personal perfect specification.

Good luck with your project. Pat
PKI is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-25-2018, 01:16 AM   #8
3 Rivet Member
1980 24' Caravelle
vallejo , California
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 247
hello Dallas, as others have said, pick a length and 80 caravelle was jutted. but had it's wiring-plumbing intact. take your time to choose and rebuild and you will have your very own special airstream with memories already set before you even take it out. good luck. kurt
ke6gkv is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-25-2018, 07:22 AM   #9
Rivet Master
Lumatic's Avatar
1971 25' Tradewind
1993 34' Excella
Currently Looking...
Estancia , New Mexico
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 7,630
Images: 16
Blog Entries: 1
I have a 72 Sovereign. will send you a PM
Sail on silver girl. Sail on by. Your time has come to shine.
Lumatic is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-25-2018, 08:53 AM   #10
2 Rivet Member
KMantz's Avatar
1972 31' Sovereign
Harpers Ferry , West Virginia
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 27
I am in the final stages of a 72 sovereign. Most for the cons I read about an older trailers I have replaced in mine so if you are going to be in it for the long haul you will need not to worry about.I replaced the floor so I took the time to fix frame and install new black water and grey water tanks and changed the floor plan to a mid bath rear bedroom all new appliances and furnace etc. In short if you want an older model or newer one you can make it yours, you will still have an eye turner when you enter a campground and you have the satisfaction you did it.
KMantz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-25-2018, 09:19 AM   #11
2 Rivet Member
Schoharie , Unknown
Join Date: Jan 2018
Posts: 68
We have a 1989 32' Excella that was pretty solid, everything worked and we bought it for a fair price($13k). We have gotten to camp in it from day one and have changed things along the way to suit use, no pressure, little stress and still fun! I think fun should be an important factor in your project. You WILL run into surprises, some(most) not so good. So, be careful of how much "project" you get into. All Airstreams have their quirks and shortcomings, learn all you can about all eras and settle with what you can work with. Also, "vintage" is an AS that is 25 years old or more, so 1993's are now "vintage"!!! Good luck and safe travels... Jim & Gretchen
EZTOO is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-25-2018, 11:29 AM   #12
2 Rivet Member
minnstream's Avatar
1972 29' Ambassador
golden valley , Minnesota
Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 22
particle board etc

It is good to know the years of the particle board subfloor. I am also wondering about the years for the narrow vs wide body. are the frames new and improved at some point (sturdier vs lighter) My current trailer is a 72.
Mike and Laurie
minnstream is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-25-2018, 11:31 AM   #13
3 Rivet Member
MickeyC's Avatar
Newcastle , Oklahoma
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 118

I have a 79 trade winds. The floor is made of 1/2 inch plywood from the factory. AS only did that for a few years. Mostly I see 5/8 or 3/4 inch plywood on the floor from the factory on other models. I would try to avoid the 1/2 inch floor unless you are planning to do a total floor replacement. The 1/2 inch is a little soft even when the wood is in good condition. I had to replace the rear floor in the bathroom area. I went back with the same 1/2 inch thickness just to keep it simple. But I would go with 5/8 or 3/4 inch if I were doing a complete floor.

Good Luck
MickeyC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-25-2018, 01:14 PM   #14
2 Rivet Member
Schoharie , Unknown
Join Date: Jan 2018
Posts: 68
Originally Posted by minnstream View Post
It is good to know the years of the particle board subfloor. I am also wondering about the years for the narrow vs wide body. are the frames new and improved at some point (sturdier vs lighter) My current trailer is a 72.
I think the 70s AS models had frame issues with the longer ones. The rear bath models at least, were prone to "drooping". There was a frame strengthening "patch" added to help with this issue. I think by the late 70s, the frames had been strengthened enough to fix any "drooping" problems...
EZTOO is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-25-2018, 01:22 PM   #15
2 Rivet Member
1978 25' Tradewind
1979 28' Airstream Excella 28
Mountain Home , Arkansas
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 22

I have a 77 24 foot Argosy. Couple soft spots on the floor and needs new plumbing. Outer skin is almost perfect, upper cabinets were replaced at the factory about ten years ago. good tires. and towable. Asking $3,000.00 Ed Normandy 870-404-2319
ednormandy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-25-2018, 04:21 PM   #16
2 Rivet Member
Schoharie , Unknown
Join Date: Jan 2018
Posts: 68
Originally Posted by minnstream View Post
It is good to know the years of the particle board subfloor. I am also wondering about the years for the narrow vs wide body. are the frames new and improved at some point (sturdier vs lighter) My current trailer is a 72.
Sorry, my other post didn't launch properly. I think the "wide body" AS models started in 1996 to current and I believe they are 6" s wider than the "narrow body" AS models.
EZTOO is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-25-2018, 08:15 PM   #17
1 Rivet Member
Boxcardawg's Avatar
1964 22' Safari
San Diego , California
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 12
1964 22' Safari, single axle, partially gutted and it sports refinished vintage wood-work cabinetry (not installed!). Also have beautiful new Floral print upholstery ready to enjoy. Many extras included - Wife is determined to "not go camping" and is demanding that this vintage AS be sold (probably at a great loss..! :<( ). Heck of a deal if interested...At our "Casa" in Playas de Tijuana, BC Mexico, but can tow back over the Border to our little "casa" in San Diego! Mike in North Park (SD, CA) 619-299-6964
Boxcardawg 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

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Don't skip MACON, GA ALANSD On The Road... 15 02-23-2017 08:56 AM
Shopping and asking questions =) Ganado Member Introductions 2 11-28-2014 08:08 PM
Nuvite -- Did I skip a step? Air Cruiser Cleaning, Stripping & Polishing 5 08-16-2013 09:55 PM
Skip the Fridge? (Overlander Newbie) pyrenees Refrigerators 15 05-09-2011 06:30 PM
She is home and we have been on a shopping spree Scott J-24 On The Road... 12 04-18-2011 11:33 PM

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 10:09 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.