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Old 03-21-2003, 06:53 PM   #1
alt
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Question to buy or not to buy?

I have the opportunity to by a 30ft Airstream trailer, circa 1975. Asking price is $7000. Cdn. I love it. I want it. Everyone around my is saying DON'T DO IT!!!! I want to live in it year-round [BC] they say I'll freeze in 'the metal box' in the winter. Local dealers tell me that they are HELL to work on- all those blasted rivets! But, I want it! Then they say everything is worn out...the hot-water heater, the fridge,the carpet...And I say it's a fixer-upper! I want to funk it out. Be creative. Not spend a whole bunch of money on it. What are my chances? What is the reality? Hard to find parts? Is it true that I can't replace the skylights? Can I access all the water/gas lines through the floor or do I have to come up from underneath? Am I nuts? Is loving the look/feel of the trailer enough? Any feedback is appreciated. A
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Old 03-21-2003, 07:00 PM   #2
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Uhhh we are mostly dumb Americans. Give us a rough US dollars figure.

Welcome to the forum. You will find plenty of "fulltimers" here.
As for fixing it up...yeah the initial rebuild will not be cheap if you can't do the labor but once it's done it's done for another 20 or so years.
It's on Wheels and you don't have to stay there in the winter, no snow in Florida LOL.
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Old 03-21-2003, 07:01 PM   #3
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For starters...you may want to spend some time reading through some of the threads here on the forum to give you an idea of what you may be in for.

A great "guide" to help you figure out whether the asking price is fair is: VintageAirstream.com
There is a terrific section on "Price vs Condition".

Good luck on your search...& welcome to the forum!

Shari
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Old 03-21-2003, 07:12 PM   #4
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Wow! Quick response time. American cost approx. $4700. And, unlike you lucky ones in the sun...I have a great job here and want to stay on the Island for a few years. Eventually I will take her on the road...for now she keeps my dream alive!

Thanks for directing me to other info sites - the more I can learn the better.

Also...just curious...I am 31yrs old - anyone out there choose trailer over house at my age? Feedback? A
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Old 03-21-2003, 07:17 PM   #5
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Here are a couple of appropriate links to get you started:

What to look for...

Evaluating Vintage Airstreams

Trailers to avoid

You may also want to perform a forum search using the key words "Winter Living"...I'm not sure how severe your winters are there in the great northwest, (I've only been to Vancouver Island in the summer ) but these threads could be enlightening.

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Old 03-21-2003, 08:18 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by alt
Also...just curious...I am 31yrs old - anyone out there choose trailer over house at my age? Feedback? A
Uhhh a few weeks in a tin can a year is plenty for me with two kids and a wife.
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Old 03-21-2003, 08:25 PM   #7
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Ha ha! Lucky for me, I don't have a husband...so I don't have to worry about him wanting out of the 'tin can'!
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Old 03-21-2003, 08:47 PM   #8
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I dunno,

I guess if I were to live in one it would be a different story. I would say I am like most folks here on the forum who use their A/S's mostly for recreation. If you just want a place to live $4700 would probably be a good deal. If you wanted to travel in it then it would be a whole different ballgame. You would then be getting into axle, tires, brakes, tow vehicle, standard RV appliances vs. household stuff, getting the picture?

A $4700 trailer could double in price in no time at all!!

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Old 03-21-2003, 09:02 PM   #9
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alt,

Your basic idea is a good one. A/S in my opinion are the best RVs you can find. They are appealing to look at, the quality is high, they are well made and the mere fact that this 70's unit still works testifies to their over-engineering.

Having said that, I think the best value is in the 80's units. The cabinets are made out of oak and there are other improvements. They are also heavier. Something from 83-89 would be ideal IMO. A 15 year old A/S is more likely to be in good shape than a 25 year old one.

However, the best prices are on the 70's, undoubtedly. There are so many of them that they are a dime a dozen. I would negotiate down to $4,000 US. Even then the rear bathroom causes the infamous "tail droop". You can find 70's everywhere, especially in Florida. The market is flooded with them. If you get it, I doubt you will be able to sell it for more than $4K so don't pay more than that.

After a certain age, probably 12-15 years, the year doesn't matter as much as the condition. So that '75 could be perfect or not worthwhile at all.

I guess it won't get as cold on Vancouver Island as elsewhere in CA. But in the winter you will spend a lot of propane heating the unit. Make sure you got good insulation everywhere.
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Old 03-21-2003, 09:08 PM   #10
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As an investment - I have noticed that vintage is 60's & under. Are the 70's trailers a dime a dozen? This one that I am looking at has some dings and what looks like a 'banged back out' front right corner. I have been all over this site and back and forth to numerous links...now I want one even more! But now I want to make sure I take the 'vintage value' into consideration. I know I will have to rebuild whatever I buy - but I am interested in doing that over the next 2-5 years [while I live aboard!] And, I don't want to worry about keeping it or bringing it back to stock - been down that road with a '67 split-windshield 6V Volkswagen van.

So, if not stock, does 'vintage' matter?
Will the 1975ish 30fter do?

When I do decide to tow...if the running gear is toast, can it be replaced - parts hard to find?
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Old 03-21-2003, 09:15 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by ipso_facto
[B]alt,


However, the best prices are on the 70's, undoubtedly. There are so many of them that they are a dime a dozen. I would negotiate down to $4,000 US. Even then the rear bathroom causes the infamous "tail droop". You can find 70's everywhere, especially in Florida. The market is flooded with them. If you get it, I doubt you will be able to sell it for more than $4K so don't pay more than that.


Hey ipso, put me down for two dozen!! Kinda reminds me of when 70's models Corvettes were a dime a dozen, late 60's Mustangs, etc, etc, get my drift? What a slam!! (especially coming from a non-owner)

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Old 03-21-2003, 09:17 PM   #12
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Again. thank you for all the replies...

I guess you don't know how dumb you are until you start asking questions! There aren't many A/S's on Vancouver Island - maybe because there isn't much of a market. The one I'm looking at has two singles at the back. And it has those cool little 'skylight' windows just above the main windows. Anyone know what it is that I'm looking at? Can it be stripped back to the skin? I want to ditch the carpet and sun-bleached upholstry. I have a pipe dream of customizing this one over time...eventually using it as my mobile editing suite...shoot film in Canada for the summer...roll down to Mexico to edit for the winter. I guess I am looking for the right 'shell' to build from.
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Old 03-21-2003, 09:19 PM   #13
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FYI,

Vintage is 25 years and older.

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Old 03-21-2003, 09:31 PM   #14
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alt

As an investment - I have noticed that vintage is 60's & under. Are the 70's trailers a dime a dozen? This one that I am looking at has some dings and what looks like a 'banged back out' front right corner.

See, that's the problem. A '75 is not vintage enough to fall into the classic category like the desirable 60's units but it is not new enough to worth as much as 80's. With 80's, they are usually in better shape, so you don't have as much leverage when negotiating, which may be a problem.

I know I will have to rebuild whatever I buy - but I am interested in doing that over the next 2-5 years [while I live aboard!] And, I don't want to worry about keeping it or bringing it back to stock - been down that road with a '67 split-windshield 6V Volkswagen van.

There is no way to recommend a good price without seeing it. It could be worth anywhere from almost nothing to $10,000. I wouldn't buy it if it wasn't road-worthy. It could quite possibly be a great buy. But do realize you are getting a 28 year old unit with 28 year old appliances. What has the owner replaced? Do realize you could easily spend thousands replacing things, like $1000 for a fridge, $400 for tires, hundreds for univolt, etc.

If the clear coat is good, that's a major plus.

It should have a fridge that runs on both LP and electric, otherwise substract a $1000.

The skin ought to be basically good.

No rot in the floor.

The tires should be road-worthy but no way to check.

Check out the following for sale links:

http://hometown.aol.com/cmich80220/U...eams/index.htm

I.e.:
Quote:
1988 Excella 1000 Airstream - 34 Feet
Plush gray interior. End couch. Chair. Original upholstery. Curtains and mini blinds. Light gray carpet. Oak cabinets. Twin rear beds. Awnings. Dinette. Electric refrigerator. Stove/oven. Double sink. Catalytic heater. Furnace. $8,000
The Vintage Airstream Club has lots of 70's for sale but the site doesn't appear to be up at this time.
http://www.airstream.net/index.html
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Old 03-21-2003, 09:41 PM   #15
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alt

I guess you don't know how dumb you are until you start asking questions! There aren't many A/S's on Vancouver Island - maybe because there isn't much of a market. The one I'm looking at has two singles at the back.

I saw an A/S less than 2 hours from my place, remarkable. It had mostly everything I wanted -- except the full size queen bed. It had the "twins" in the back. That in itself was not acceptable to me, while mostly everything else was. I ended up traveling for 15 hours to get mine.

The skylight windows sound really neat, wish I had them. Though I hear they introduce some problems, like fogging up.

Yes, upholstery can be replaced. I too hate carpets, all carpets. Too much maintenance. Will eventually install wood floor.

Only you know what this unit is worth to you. In good shape, it should be worth at least the asking price. There is some correlation but age doesn't matter, condition does.

I looked at 15 units until I realized what I wanted, the decision-making process is agonizing. It will become obvious if it was right only some time after you get it. Decide what's acceptable and what's not.
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Old 03-21-2003, 10:02 PM   #16
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The existence of this site is enough to give me the courage to buy an A/S. I spent some time in the one I have mentioned- I felt right in it - we suit each other. Its all the curves...

I'm just trying to be 'practical'. Ask all the questions my Dad would want me to ask. I know it will end in an emotional decision for me...but at least I'll know that I asked all the questions.
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Old 03-21-2003, 10:06 PM   #17
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alt

Ha ha! Lucky for me, I don't have a husband...so I don't have to worry about him wanting out of the 'tin can'!

Yeah, well maybe you can find one who fulfills this criterion. A great way to weed out the ones who are incompatible.

(i.e. 99% of them)


Chas

Hey ipso, put me down for two dozen!! Kinda reminds me of when 70's models Corvettes were a dime a dozen, late 60's Mustangs, etc, etc, get my drift? What a slam!! (especially coming from a non-owner)


Sure they are. When they cost only 10% of the price of the new ones? Damn good deal. The new ones depreciate more than that in the first year. My truck is the same thing, costs 10% of what a new Ford 1-ton costs. It is old enough to not depreciate anymore. But the engine is new and I am happy.

Enjoy your frugality, $-wise, you are coming out way ahead of the average person. In fact, after 5 years of owning it you can sell it for parts and still come out ahead. Wish I had thought of that years ago, when I was paying almost $10,000 in rent annually.
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Old 03-21-2003, 10:24 PM   #18
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alt

The existence of this site is enough to give me the courage to buy an A/S. I spent some time in the one I have mentioned- I felt right in it - we suit each other. Its all the curves...

Sounds like you already reached your decision and now are trying to get a confirmation, a validation of your decision. If you like it, get it! If the owners took good care of it, it is a good deal. Don't mean to imply that 70's are *never* good deals.
Just be selective.
An extra $1000 plus or minus won't make that much difference considering how much they cost new. Make sure you get the essentials that you want. Other things you can compromise on.

I'm just trying to be 'practical'. Ask all the questions my Dad would want me to ask. I know it will end in an emotional decision for me...but at least I'll know that I asked all the questions

Originally I started looking at generic RVs (SOBs). Only fairly recently I realized I wanted an A/S. Once I did that, it took me months to realize exactly what I wanted. Sizes, floor plans. Then it took me a while to find it.
If it makes you feel any better, I think the one you are looking at is a better buy than a 3-year old SOB, more cost-effective, better value for your money.

I made my decision the same "emotional" way, based mainly on the fact that it had the right bed in the rear. Weird, but I felt comfortable. You will never get 100% of what you want, get the vital things.

I decided that it's cosmetic condition wasn't that important to me. I.e. clear-coat and upholstery and carpet. I don't spend all of my time cleaning anyway. But I knew that mechanically it had to be very good, everything running, all appliances working. With these criteria, I was looking for mine. With perfect clear-coat and upholstery I could have paid $5K more but it wasn't worth it to me (while it would be to others) The clear-coat on mine needs partial replacement, the upholstery is very good but not perfect, the carpet same way. I could have done better - but I could have done worse.

I was, however, scared of something like the water pump quitting on me or windows leaking or something else like that, which wasn't acceptable. Mechanical failures are not good at all.

You do have a towing vehicle, right?

Does it come with a hitch?
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Old 03-21-2003, 10:46 PM   #19
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Smile to alt

as the old saying goes you dont find the airstream
the airstream finds you.
it sounds like the airstream has found a new and hopefuly a better owner.
good luck on your quest and welcome to the forum
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Old 03-22-2003, 01:03 AM   #20
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My 9 cents

It is all very subjective as I see it. But at 31 with a steady job I would take the chance. Offer the owner 3900 and work up to say 4450 or what ever max you can abide. What kind of tax at sale and yearly in Canada might be a consideration as well.

Do you have a place to keep it? Will you have to pay rental for a keeping place? If you are a renter and subject to have to move you might want to think twice. Unless of course you have the tow capability to just hook and go.
My ideal would be a covered (not necessarily enclosed) and paved (prefer concrete) slab, where I could raise my 31footer and use a creeper to easily work underneath for months at a time. Another ideal would be to have enough slab on the side for placement of a scaffold. And I would build a saddle for the roof. i.e. making the trailer water tight and acessing the belly for rust repair and tank work and assorted checkout would be my first priorities. Interior work to be interspersed at same time for a change of pace.
Many of the tasks ahead will require a helper or alot of patience or both. It is a long road and only you know your burn out capacity. The hardest "project" to wash your hands of is one that is started in many areas but complete in none.
I made a similar purchase and often wonder why.
My decision was finally made because of two zip dee awnings which I figured to be worth about 1000 dollars each.
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