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Old 05-27-2002, 09:54 AM   #1
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1973 23' Safari
North of Boston , Massachusetts
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Question What to look for.....

Hi folks, I'm new....kicking around the idea of buying an older airstream. I've been browsing a bunch of stuff on the 'net, picking up tid-bits of information here and there. There are a couple of units for sale in my area, and I was thinking of going to take a look at them, but there's one thing holding me back: I wouldn't know what I'm looking at. Is there a comprehensive document somewhere out there that'll tell a newbie what to look for in a used a/s? after reading the thread below (you think you got a deal?), I'm a bit wary. Sure, I could spot a shoddy propane line repair, but I wouldn't know where to look.


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Old 05-27-2002, 01:05 PM   #2
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2004 30' Classic Slideout
Fenton , Missouri
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I could probably write a book about buying a used trailer (although I never have). In many cases some of the things you look for are universal regardless of brand. A lot depends upon what condition you expect the trailer to be in and what you pay. The year of the trailer's build has a lot to do with how you check things out. Some of the things I list below may not be germain dependent upon the year and operation of various components. My view is from the more modern venue.

Obviously one of the big expenses is the "trailer infrastructure" and appliances. Personally I would never purchase a trailer without demonstration of the unit holding water pressure, and gas pressure, operation of the refrigerator, furnace, water heater, stove and air conditioner.

Water can be checked by partially filling the fresh water tank and turning on the water pump. Once the pump gets the lines pumped to pressure, it shouldn't run if the faucets are closed. If the system holds pressure, I would then hook up city water and run water through each faucet. Enough to run down the drains for a bit. Open up the cabinets and check the piping from the drains for leaks. Look under the trailer for tell-tale signs of water leaks from the shower drains or other places.

See if the owner is willing to start the refrigerator up prior to your visit. It will take some time for the fridge to start up but you will save many $$$ to check this out.

Check the gas lines by turning on the gas and lighting a burner on the stove. Turn off the stove and then turn off the gas at the bottle. Go back in about 20-30 minutes later. Go to the stove and try to relight the burner (without turning on the gas bottle valve). If the lines are tight, you will still find gas in the lines to burn. If it doesn't light, you might have a leak.

Hopefully you can get power to the trailer so you can check out the air conditioner and other things like the power outlets and lights.

Where is the trailer stored? How was it used? What does it smell like when you walk in? What is the condition of the exterior? Look for water stains, soft spots in the floor.

Look at the tires. Are they trailer tires or automobile? (Automotive tires may be a sign of someone not spending the $$ necessary to maintain the trailer) Cracks in the sidewalls? How old are they (even if the tread is good)?

Maybe if you have a friend who has a trailer, have him come with you when you do your inspection. Another set of eyes helps.

I'm sure others on the list will have their thoughts. Maybe a thread that addresses what I didn't check but I wish I had, might pick out the little things we tend to forget.

Jack Canavera
AIR #56
'04 Classic 30' S.O.,'03 GMC Savana 2500,'14 Honda CTX 700
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Old 05-27-2002, 06:26 PM   #3
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1983 27' Excella
Airstreamville , Kansas
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You may also want to look at www.vintageairstream.com they have an area about buying a trailer and what to look for. Let us know what you get, have any questions just ask we'll be happy to help.

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Old 06-01-2002, 02:59 PM   #4
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What a great thread...I too am looking for a classic A/S but want to make sure I don't get stuck with a lemon. I have already printed off Jack's informative list of things to check for reference. (Keep the suggestions coming!)

Here's my question: I located a '68 Overlander a few hours away that is selling for $2800. This seems really cheap to me. I received a bunch of digital pictures from the seller (who I think is not the actual owner...)

From the pics, this unit seems to be in really good shape, at least cosmetically. My thought is that if it looks good on the surface, it could indicate that it has been well cared for and is in good shape all over. Then again, looks can be deceiving...

Anyway, do you feel like this is a great deal at this price, and even if it proves to have some problems here and there after inspection?

I get the impression the seller may not be real interested in pulling out all the stops to show me every little detail. Normally I would pass up that kind of deal, but again the price seems so reasonable.

I'm trying to decide if it is worth the drive to take a closer look. I'm hoping to hear back from the guy soon with some more details, will let you know if I get any more specifics.

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Old 06-01-2002, 03:53 PM   #5
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$2800.00 is a good price based on the research I have done. But each person has a budget and has a diffrent opnion of what is acceptable vs not acceptable. Meaning the trailer could be $2800 but need $2000 dollars worth of appliances. Unfortunatley the only way to know what you are getting into is to make the drive.

My wife and I flew from Florida to Ohio to look at a motorhome we were almost willing to buy sight unseen( one picture on the web) It was the best 700.00 I ever spent because the unit was a DISASTER. So if this is the model/floorplan yo want you will just need to saddle up and make the drive. Good luck and keep us posted on your desision.
Brett G
WBCCI #5501 AIR # 49
1978 Argosy 28 foot Motorhome

Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something. -- Plato

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