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Old 12-02-2017, 04:25 AM   #1
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Travel nurse in an airstream with question.

Hello everyone, so in about two year I am thinking about going on different assignments around the country with my dog in an airstream. I donít want something too big something between 23-25 ft. I will be towing it with a ml 350 Mercedes Benz. I do want to re model the whole thing, gut it out and put my touch into it. My father and I are pretty handy and can build, do plumbing , electric etc. I know that there are some things that we wonít be able to do and Iím cool with having a professional do it. What Iím here for is to ask any basically where do I start? I want a used airstream. I really love the international serenity but the one with the two large windows in the back and front. Also is it possible for me to buy an airsteam and cut out window holes to let more light in? Where do I look? What question should I ask? If the bottom is missing how much is it to replace it?

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Old 12-02-2017, 07:01 AM   #2
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Montgomery , Texas
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Hi! Sounds exciting! I'd suggest the following if I were giving you advice:

1. Set your budget. Since you're tow vehicle isn't a clunker and your profession is a reasonably well-paying one, determine what you want to spend. Multiply that by 1.5 (or higher if you'd like to get it out of the way now and not later).

2. Decide what you want the purchase price versus renovation budget to be. Take 75% of the renovation budget and move it to the purchase price column. That will leave you money for your own touch in interior aesthetic treatments and any other cool gadgets you can't live without (tracking device, solar/battery/converter stuff, A/V stuff, LED light upgrade, new awesome tires, hitch, etc etc).

3. Hit the road and let the dog hang it's head out the window while you embark on an awesome lifestyle if your attachments are minimal (kid level = 0, mostly).

I know several people who've done great renovation without major hiccups, but I see far more abandoned projects for sale at unreasonable prices because the owners ran out of steam or underestimated how much effort was needed or what the right mindset to have was. I'd personally advise you to steer clear of the Airstream renovation market unless that's a non-negotiable part of the experience. Like doing the project with your dad, or as a personal accomplishment, or similar reason. No problem there at all--go for it if that's the case!

If the reno experience isn't integral to the deal, get a solid, still-factory trailer that you can put your own tastes to and roll on down the road. Spend your energy saving money and scanning Airstream Classifieds, RV Trader, Airstream Hunter on FB, and Craigslist to get a sense of the market. Look at them daily/weekly to be familiar with the different models and what their price is. Good luck, again, it sounds like a great time and an awesome experience to have!


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Old 12-02-2017, 08:17 AM   #3
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As a father of a handy daughter myself, I canít begin to tell you how much it will mean to your father when you do this project together.

Above the price of the camper I spent 15k on my first remodel. 1974 28ft Argosy. It had spots of rotted floor so I chose to do a total gut with a shell off floor replacement. Iím glad I did. When removing the inner skin I found tons of mouse droppings and a few skeletons. After everything was clean and disinfected I had a blank slate. So I changed the layout. All new everything, wiring, plumbing, insulation etc.
Then I bought a second camper 1978 20ft Argosy 6.0 Minuet. I knew I was going to keep the same layout so I did not need to gut it but having the mouse issue with the other one I chose to gut this one. Glad I did. Not just tons of mouse droppings but tons of hickory nuts. Again new wiring, plumbing, etc.
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Old 12-02-2017, 08:47 AM   #4
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IMHO You have at least crossed the first major hurdle that afflicts most Airstream remodel wannabee''re admitting your shortcomings and seem to acknowledge that you have limits. So, knowing that, make a list of things that are outside your budget and expertise and buy a trailer that fits the bill. If you don't want to get into rebuilding frames and sub flooring, then buy a trailer that doesn't require either. Spending a bit more on a good bones trailer can save you thousands, and hundreds of hours labour later on.

As far as cutting new holes for can be done, very carefully, and know that you most likely will have electrical running through the walls in that area; (see Murphy's Law on cutting holes and electrical).

The one tid bit of advice I can give you is; don't throw anything out during the gutting portion of the renovation. You never know when you're going to reuse something because you can't find something else to work in its place or you decide to reuse something as you can't build its replacement any lighter. For example, I initially though about replacing all my interior gables as they were a very dark MacTac walnut vinyl, only to find them constructed with aluminum sheets encasing paper core material, (very very strong but light building technic). so I decide to revinyl them with a 3M Di-noc Weave white vinyl. Yes, the vinyl cost me $2,000 to buy and install, but it only took one day to revinyl every wall, gable, shower bathroom and wardrobes in my remodel.


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Old 12-02-2017, 10:02 AM   #5
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Your plan is doable as I know several Travel RN are doing the same thing. As a retired RN who has done the traveling as well, Among all the things that you will need to consider is what to do with your furkid while you are away for 14 hours (12 hour shifts plus commute time) and there is a power outage and your stuck at the hospital and it’s summer. I know this is the Airstream forum and not the RN forum but you may want to reconsider taking furry family members on assignment.
Finding the perfect Airstream for what you want do just takes time and really watching the classifieds, be ready to pay cash the moment the right one comes along which may take 6 months. The size you are wanting is very popular so finding a really good used one is tough and you may find yourself in a bidding war. Read very thing you can in this forum about repairs and remodel, the more you know the better you will be at looking for big problems like rot, axils, leaks, etc. Remodelling can be done most of the time, just make sure you understand the cost and time involved. You may decide that buying new would work better than used because on the time and money involved. As was mentioned earlier, a lot of remodeling jobs end up sitting in a sad state, half gutted and never finished because the person ran out of money or time. Just trying to be helpful and honest...

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Old 12-02-2017, 01:44 PM   #6
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Congratulations on your positive thinking, and welcome to the Airstream community.

Originally Posted by Ctorr720 View Post
I know that there are some things that we wonít be able to do and Iím cool with having a professional do it.
SAFETY first! Insist on a licensed electrician, use UL 1426 marine wire throughout, and upgrade to a new power panel with GFCI/AFCI combo breakers on all circuits. You will not regret it.

Upgrade everything - electrical, plumbing, appliances - as your budget allows.

Originally Posted by Ctorr720 View Post
What Iím here for is to ask any basically where do I start? I want a used airstream. I really love the international serenity but the one with the two large windows in the back and front.
Recommend starting with what you already "love" - a used International Serenity. Get into it, get on the road, live the RV life for a bit, make sure it fits you, and then start planning and modifying to add your touches. How else will you know what suits you best?

We are now doing a major interior renovation after 14 years. We know just what we want, but only after many miles and many nights on the road.

Shop nationally, be patient, and you will find a well kept International Serenity.

Again, congratulations.

Dr. Gus Lott
Gus - KR4K : Mary - K5MCL
2004 30ft. Classic
2017 Infiniti QX80 Limited
ProPride 3P/Prodigy P3
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Old 12-02-2017, 02:04 PM   #7
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2016 22' Sport
Palos Verdes Estates , California
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Mercedes ML 350 Tow Vehicle

We bought a 22 foot Bambi Sport and tow it with our Mercedes ML 350 without any problem. Fully loaded. I believe the Mercedes has a towing capacity of 7200 pounds. You should always have about 1000 less pounds to tow than your TV towing capacity. Have fun...sounds interesting!
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Old 12-02-2017, 03:05 PM   #8
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I would strongly suggest spending some quality time looking at floor plans from the last decade or so. Narrow things down to models that are as close as possible to your desired outcome. Things like windows are a pain to add in. Life is much easier if the plumbing is roughly in the right place.

Full time implies 4 seasons. Can you plan your work schedule to be "south" when it's winter and "north" when it's summer? Setting up a trailer to function well in Fargo ND in mid winter is tough. AC parked in a cement jungle in the desert in August ... not so much. This sort of thing impacts cutting in more windows. Windows do not help the (already challenged) insulation on the trailer.

You have time to do it right. This *is* the season to be shopping for a "victim" to renovate. Be careful about stuff that may have recently gone under water ....

My suggestion for the budget would be three equal piles. First pile goes for the purchase and basic fix up (batteries, brakes, tires, ...). Second pile goes for the reno (I'm guessing appliances, rebuild, solar ...). Third pile is for "just in case". You may not make it all the way through the second pile. If something really strange comes up, the third pile *is* there.

Have fun !!!


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