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Old 09-28-2014, 02:25 PM   #1
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Input requested - Ideal restoration target (year(s), model(s), Length

Good afternoon -

I am a brand new forum member, and have coveted and dreamed of restoring a vintage Airstream for many, many years.

I am finally at the point in life where I can get more serious about beginning my search for a restoration candidate, and would welcome any and all input with regards to the ideal age range, model, and trailer length.

A little bit about me... I am late 40's, married with a very active and supportive wife, and we have seven (7) kids, with all but two out of the house. We are likely going to have many, many grandchildren. I would say that I am very handy, good with my hands, and have been a woodworker for many years with my own well-equipped shop.

I seem to be drawn to the 60's era trailers, and would ideally like to find one of the larger sized floor plans that would accommodate more 'sleepers'. My hope is that the members here can help direct me to a particular year or two, and model or two, where historical failures seem to be lower, and where replacement parts are more readily available. In fact, any advice about specific years and models to stay away from would be welcomed as well.

I look forward to hearing your collective thoughts. Thanks in advance for you input and advice.
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Old 09-28-2014, 03:18 PM   #2
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1962 26' Overlander
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Best built 1961/62
Next best 1959/60
third 1958

I say this after taking many apart and putting them back together again.
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Old 09-28-2014, 03:27 PM   #3
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Thanks for your input.

After hitting the send key, I've been sitting here fretting that I may be opening myself up to a larger project than I should.

I went back in to try and edit my message, and learned that it can only be edited within the first 30 minutes after posting.

So, at the risk of completely confusing everyone, I think I might want to start with one of the smaller varieties, earn my 'chops', and then progress to one of the larger models, better equipped for more 'sleepers'.

Doing so should coincide better with the arrival of grandkids.

So, with that being said, which of the smaller models, and years should I be on the lookout for?

Thanks again.
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Old 09-28-2014, 03:45 PM   #4
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the smaller the trailer the more expensive they are and the greater the competition is to buy them. The Europeans have little roads and and want shorter narrower unit. They also have bigger wallets and many over there think turning them into wiener wagons the perfect use.
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Old 09-28-2014, 03:46 PM   #5
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btw, you are going to get a lot of opinions here...
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Old 09-28-2014, 04:26 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by 62overlander View Post
btw, you are going to get a lot of opinions here...
Yup, Frank's got it right.

But remember opinions are not always facts.

The source on this Forums for opinions, is overwhelming, and for facts, somewhat rationed.

Andy
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Old 09-28-2014, 04:47 PM   #7
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Yup, Frank's got it right.

But remember opinions are not always facts.

The source on this Forums for opinions, is overwhelming, and for facts, somewhat rationed.

Andy
so, with 50 years of Airstream experience, what is your opinion to his original question?
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Old 09-28-2014, 05:25 PM   #8
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For what it's worth I talked my husband into buying our 1974 Argosy in May & even though he had a lot better idea of the work that needed to be done (40 years of wear & lots of dirt & mold) he worked on for 6 weeks almost daily to get it ready. The interior was in great shape but it needed lots of trailer work, new sub floors, window repairs, new belly pan, wiring, hot water heater, lights, lots of mold removal & painting (that was my job), etc. The trailer looks great & we've used it all summer but it was more than we thought. I think this may be common just due to the age of the trailers. 62overlander renovates vintage airstreams so they would definitely know which models to focus on. Their renovations are beautiful.
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Old 09-28-2014, 05:26 PM   #9
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Schram,
I think a 60-62 Sovereign or Ambassador would suit you well.
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Old 09-28-2014, 06:04 PM   #10
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I would cast my vote for the 60-62 Ambassador


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Old 09-28-2014, 06:25 PM   #11
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I wouldn't start with a smaller one... Start with the one you want! Many people after doing a restoration declare they will never do it again. Plus the smaller the trailer the greater the initial cost. You probably will find more of the Sovereigns and Ambassadors to choose from. Find yourself the one with the best exterior skins and windows. If you can find one that doesn't have a ton of layers of paint inside that's good too. It's amazing how much time I spent on simple paint and sealant removal.

None of this is rocket science that needs to be learned...it's basically a lot of hard grunt work like stripping paint and oxidation, removing rivets and putting them back. Sounds like you have the woodworking experience so there's no learning curve there either.

It would be awful to spend a bunch of money on the small one and be short of funds/ time for your dream trailer.

Double your time and budget, Go big!
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Old 09-28-2014, 06:41 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by reinergirl View Post
I wouldn't start with a smaller one... Start with the one you want! Many people after doing a restoration declare they will never do it again. Plus the smaller the trailer the greater the initial cost. You probably will find more of the Sovereigns and Ambassadors to choose from. Find yourself the one with the best exterior skins and windows. If you can find one that doesn't have a ton of layers of paint inside that's good too. It's amazing how much time I spent on simple paint and sealant removal.

None of this is rocket science that needs to be learned...it's basically a lot of hard grunt work like stripping paint and oxidation, removing rivets and putting them back. Sounds like you have the woodworking experience so there's no learning curve there either.

It would be awful to spend a bunch of money on the small one and be short of funds/ time for your dream trailer.

Double your time and budget, Go big!
What she said X2! Go for the size you really want, otherwise while you are fixing up the smaller one, you'll be dreading having to do this all over again on your dream trailer.

Besides, I think the only time size makes a real difference in restoring a trailer is if you decide to mirror polish, or in the number of axles you have to replace. Otherwise, they all have a bathroom, all have a kitchen, all have beds of some kind, all have storage cabinets/bins of some kind. So the difference is just a few feet here and there of maybe paint removal? Cleaning? Not such a big deal. (And now I'm going to really catch it from all the members who disagree with that opinion!!)

Welcome to the forum and enjoy your eventual Airstream!

Vivian
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Old 09-28-2014, 07:08 PM   #13
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Yep. Like the 2 above. Do the one you want.
We bought a small one last fall. We don't plan on a bigger one, but the amount of work is staggering.

You will get your head stuck in this forum, and you won't get it out any time soon.



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Old 09-28-2014, 10:51 PM   #14
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When you buy a 40-50 year old trailer you are buying a shell, and most of the balance of it might as well go in the landfill. So it doesn't matter whether the trailer was built during the years where Wally was still alive or not. Buy the trailer that you want, (length, floor plan, window placement, etc.) and do it one time. Just get the best shell you can, as it will reduce the amount of labor you put into sheet metal work (and get educated to the pros and cons of shell materials, sheet metal, windows, etc.). As for availability of parts, I might suggest being wary of extremely old trailers (pre-60's) and unique years (1969) as their replacement parts will be harder/more expensive to come by--but then a rare trailer makes a nice show-piece as well. It is all about compromise.

Wood working seems to be a common gateway (slippery slope) that leads to Airstream renovation. It is dangerous. I am three years into the shell-off of a 21 ft. '73 GT. It has pretty much been my full time hobby. I still have a full time job, and not much family to compete with the trailer. There is at least another year to complete this trailer. I don't have any plans of another one after this one, but who knows, "distance enchants the view," as they say, and I might forget what a time sink this has become. The only thing I can say to recommend doing another one is that I would spend less time figuring things out. Then again, I suffer from the "as long as I am here, I might as well..." scope creep. Others who are more disciplined may not experience this.

good luck!
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Old 09-28-2014, 11:17 PM   #15
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To help figure a length, rent some SOBs (some other brand) and go camping. Get a feel for your camping style and how much room you use. Take your time. Years? What ever catches your eye. It's about taste.


There is many many AS out there. Some in great shape needing only axles, tires, and updates, and many many others that should have a shell off restoration.

Take your time, find one with a great shell, and go from there.






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Old 09-28-2014, 11:35 PM   #16
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I have to agree about finding the right shell and doing it all once. Far far too many Airstreams and close cousins (Streamlines, Silver Streaks, Avions, etc.) get started and are never finished after the first month of reality sinks in.

Choose one that has NOT had two or three cosmetic only updates (especially when "cosmetic" means four layers of poorly applied latex paint and gobs of silicone. A "stuck in a barn for 30 years" is GOOD.

Paula

OR get each of the 5 that are out of the house to send you $10K and buy a newer one!!!!
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Old 09-29-2014, 07:04 AM   #17
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so, with 50 years of Airstream experience, what is your opinion to his original question?
Frank.

I would suggest a 27 to 31 foot Airstream starting with a 1974, since that was the first year with a gray tank.

Granted, the gray tank can be added to an older model, but as you know, considerable considerations must be taken before a newbie can successfully add a gray tank, PROPERLY.

Plus, the 70's models basically solved the electric issues.

Construction, yes indeed, would need some work to assure longevity.

Andy
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Old 09-29-2014, 12:00 PM   #18
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I would stay away from the 69's. More spare parts for me.
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Old 09-29-2014, 05:36 PM   #19
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For the money, its worth buying the 4 dvd set of the VAP pod cast and listen to all of them before you buy an airstream. Then buy as large of one you can find. Then expect to do or have done a shell off replacement of the floor. and on and on and on.
Oh!! welcome to the forums and good luck
remember the VAP podcast
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Old 09-29-2014, 05:52 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by JCPOTTERF View Post
For the money, its worth buying the 4 dvd set of the VAP pod cast and listen to all of them before you buy an airstream. Then buy as large of one you can find. Then expect to do or have done a shell off replacement of the floor. and on and on and on.
Oh!! welcome to the forums and good luck
remember the VAP podcast
Hi jcpotterf -

Where do I look for the 4 DVD set? I see that I can subscribe via itunes, but don't see any reference to a DVD set.

Please advise.
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