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Old 06-10-2019, 10:35 PM   #1
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Henderson , Nevada
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Advice needed ....much advice!:-)

Hi y'all. No idea where to post this, but I'm a solo female who would like to take on a restoration project. I am faaaar from retirement at 33 but this idea has been a gleam in my eyes since I was about 16 years old. I'm currently in Vegas and well.....I'm not sure where to start. I have some experience with home restoration and it has always been a dream of mine to own my own vintage AS. I see all the classifieds but could always use help. Where have others started when looking into and starting on this crazy path and lifestyle. Also where should I post this in order to be more appropriate or more in line with the direction of the forums? Or just to get the most help in general? Thank you in advance friends. I can't wait to hear some of your replies.
Dreaming in the Desert.
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Old 06-11-2019, 06:05 AM   #2
Rivet Master

1966 22' Safari
1955 22' Flying Cloud
Fredericksburg , Texas
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As far as a vintage AS, I would start with reading all I could about the different models over the years. Airstream Archives/Pictures is a good place to start. Figure out the year/model and start putting feelers out. Know your skill set, budget, location where this renovation will take place. Check out a few AS vintage rallies around your region during open house. Check out Vintage Camper Magazine. I know thereís a company in Tehachapi that searches out and rescues old trailers. Airstream Hunter is another source for vintage ASs. There is plenty of information on the forums for a DIY AS project. Take it slow and easy. Good luck
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Old 06-11-2019, 07:50 AM   #3
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The world is full of former Airstream projects that others have started and could not or would not not finish. Depending on your needs wants and interests, you can probably find something out there that suits your fancy.

Be thoughtful and clear-headed about your own skill level, where you'd work on it, who would help you, whether you are prepared to remove/replace the shell so you can get to and replace the possibly rotted plywood base and badly rusted parts of the frame under it, and how much time you can dedicate to the project until it's done. Also, be clear on whether you want to do a restoration, a renovation, a remodel, or whatever.

This thinking will help drive the decision about what Airstream you want to adopt for your project, and what kind of shape it must be in at the start for your project to be successful. For example, if you're renovating, you can probably pick up someone else's gutted / stalled Airstream project and move that work in whatever direction you like.

As you know, it's wicked hot in Vegas much of the year. Would you be working on this trailer out under the blazing sun, or can you score some kind of covered area that would protect you from some of that heat while slaving away inside the trailer?
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Old 06-11-2019, 10:28 AM   #4
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Houston , Texas
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Welcome to the Forums!

As far as where you post, it doesn't matter too much as long as your post isn't way off topic. I have a hunch that most people browse through the "New Posts," in which case they aren't seeing a specific forum anyway.

I would say, step 1 is to get calibrated on your expectations, just so you are going into this with eyes wide open. You can do this by reading several of the "full monty" threads that describe complete rebuilds of trailers. You can find all of those threads here:

Another useful resource is The Vintage Airstream Podcast (The VAP). You can buy a DVD of all the back episodes at The early episodes in particular went into a lot of detail about finding, retrieving, and rebuilding vintage Airstreams. The episodes can be a little jokey sounding, but there are some gems of wisom in there.

Why get calibrated? As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of aborted Airstream projects out there, where someone gutted the trailer, and then realized when they saw the rotting floor and drooping frame, that they were in over their head. They thought they were going to spend a few months sprucing things up, and then realized they were looking at a year or more of work. When you are confident that you understand what you are up against, you may make the decision that taking a 50 year old trailer that has been neglected for the last 30 years is not where you want to start, and that refurbing a trailer that has already had some heavy lifting done, and has been used regularly makes more sense.

As mentioned previously, one of the best ways to decide what genre and size of trailer you want is to actually get inside of them. One of the easiest ways to do this is to go to a rally or two and attend the open house. It is useful to understand the differences between the genres, as the alluminum alloy changes, the body shape and width changes, the window placement changes, modern conveniences are present (like grey water tanks).

At the end of the day, none of it is rocket science. You need not have a complete sheet metal shop or access to a cabinet making operation, but you will need the space to do the work, and you will likely collect a variety of basic tools, if you don't already own them (basic to me, is a table saw, band saw, wire welder, air compressor, sheet metal sheers, drills, pop riveter, buck riveting tools, etc.).

Final word is budget: You will spend twice as much as you thought you would, and it will take triple the time. Balance your budget between initial cost of the trailer against the expected cost of the rebuild. Typically the cheapest trailers are the biggest wrecks. You may not be doing yourself a favor by trying to buy the cheapest trailer you can find. Similarly, there are people out there who claim to be selling a refurbished trailer that took a lot of shortcuts (these trailers are often referred to as a "polished turd"). Make sure you know what "good" looks like before you start shopping for a trailer and kicking tires.

Good luck!
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Old 06-12-2019, 10:38 AM   #5
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Sulphur Springs , Texas
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Among the thousands of things to learn, one of the first is to be able to recognize a separated out rear frame/floor.

Another is the ability to tell if the axles are good.

If you are rebuilding from those items up, you're in for a journey.

Also make sure you have a place to work on it and still park your car. You will collect quite a few tools, they will need a safe place.

I jumped in WAY over my head, but after I caught my breath it has been fun.

Good luck,
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Old 06-12-2019, 11:36 AM   #6
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Lots of YouTube videos to get you started.
"No job is so simple that it cannot be done wrong."
"Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but some abuse the privilege."
"Either I will find a way, or I will make one."
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Old 06-12-2019, 12:42 PM   #7
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2005 22' International CCD
Buckhorn , Ontario
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Welcome to the Forum...and world of tin can adventure.

I have had my share of getting elbow deep in restoring, fixing and maintaining airstreams from a 1969 Globetrotter, 1961 Overlander, 1963 Globetrotter, a wrecked 1999 Excella to my current 05 CCD International (nightmare) but I love her and would not have anything else....

As for Vintage, I am partial to the 60ís. First be patient. There are still lots out there so donít jump on the first one that comes along.

As everything can be fixed my priority was to have the nicest skin possible. Some scratches or minor dents gives character, but the whopping dents finds are a lot more work and money and the dent will bother you if you canít get it fixed.

Next No rust through frames, run away!

No matter the one you settle with, unless the PO has replaced the axles count on the first major project being the running gear. Axles, brakes , running lights.

A good find is one that someone canít finish for whatever reason. Be sure it is done right and they have a pictorial account of their repair. Those are the ones that can give you a huge jump on the restoration.

Next at least here on the forums there is two schools of thought when it comes to vintage, purists, keeping it original, or upgrade I your own needs, tastes and wants. Your choice no one elseís!

Next step is all the systems, electrical, pluming and propane, bring all the appliances up to working order or replace with new. This can be a daunting process and expensive. But there are great deals on line. Take it one step at a time.

Next is the cabinetry and furniture build. If you find one with a good interior, then it is a lot easier to refinish wood elements. If you have one with nothing the. A good carpenter has a blank slate.

Next your cushions and curtains.

Lastly is the polishing, worth the money to have someone do it.

As for models, most of the. 60ís are single axles. I would bump up the axle by 500 lbs, for todayís speed and roads.

Good luck the most fun is the Hunt so enjoy and again donít rush into it. Do as much research as you can, comb through the restoration threads on here to see what you really are getting into. And prepare a realistic budget!!!! And have money in hand for the purchase before you start the purchase search.

Another point is time and money. Sometimes it can be better to pay fir one that is already done, thus only the tweaking which is fun too, along with getting out there.
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Old 06-12-2019, 05:31 PM   #8
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Mujo, this IS something you can do BUT, what is your CURRENT level of experience in "construction trades" AND as an RVer in general? EVERYONE has to start at the bottom of the learning ladder and, work their way up. If you're new to RVing, do yourself a HUGE favor; find and attend an RV Boot Camp first. In as little as two days (Escapees RV Club class), you (along with ~ 200 other "newbies" ) will have ALL of the systems found on a modern RV explained & demystified. This includes critical safety areas like GVWR, GAWR, wheel & tire ratings etc, etc, etc. RVBC does NOT explain construction but, since YOU will be taking the place of an RV builder's design engineers, YOU will be the one responsible for all the things usually done BY those people. RVBC will at least make you aware of these important concepts. Do you have a SAFE place to work on what is likely to be an extended project? "Life" has a was of interfering, likely leaving you with less time to work on a big project than you expect you'll have. If you ARE new to the RV lifestyle AND, this would be your first RV, I would STRONGLY recommend that you start simpler. I started with a new 2010, 17' Casita Spirit Deluxe Travel Trailer which I could easily tow with the minivan I then owned. In four years, I put over 50,000 miles on that little egg learning a great deal about RVing in the process. Those little fiberglass "eggs" are a GREAT way to "test the waters" re the RV lifestyle before you spend many thousands of dollars. You'll learn a LOT about what you like, don't like and wish you had (but don't) in your "starter RV". Over time, fiberglass "eggs" generally hold up well and, retain much more of their initial cost when you sell them to "graduate" to your second RV. Where you live, are adult night classes available? Classes in riveting, electrical, plumbing, carpentry would all be useful in a large project such as restoring / rebuilding an Airstream. Can you attend an Airstream Rally? That would be a GREAT place to harvest information and contacts (and there should be several in the southwest to choose from)! Las Vegas is a long way from Jackson Center but, if your in the Ohio area, a trip to the Airstream Factory would be well worth the detour for a genuine factory tour. Again, this project is something you CAN do! I expect everyone on this forum will be cheering for you, I know I will!
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Old 06-23-2019, 09:56 AM   #9
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West Fork , Arkansas
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 324
More Suggestions

Welcome to Air Forums! You've received excellent advice from other members but I'll mention two more:
  1. When you narrow down your trailer choice, go to the AF Model Specific Section to see what others have done. In many cases you would find their renovation experience documented. Ours is at Airstream Forums > Airstream Knowledgebase > Airstream Trailer Forums > Safari > 1966 - 1968 Safari Jim+Jane's '67 Safari.
  2. We have found much of the parts and associated advice from Vintage Trailer Supply and they will be opening their first showroom in Santa FE, NM with a festival September 13-15, 2019. You might want to check this out.
If it were easy, the PO would have done it.
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Old 06-23-2019, 10:34 AM   #10
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Hi Mujo

Welcome to the forums.

All the above advice is all good. There are many here with lots of experience that can help you. Just be advised when restoring a vintage trailer there are many pitfalls. A good set of videos are from Drivin & Vibin. Those two just restored an Argosy trailer. They have a few tips on whether it was worth it or not. They spent lots of money and more time than they thought. As a Youtube channel, many manufacturers provided the majority of the parts that they needed for sponsoring advertising or they would have never had enough money to finish it.

My wife and I started out wanting to restore an old Scotty 1966 trailer. We bought two just for the parts. We also had $16,000 into it when a cabinet maker backed out of all the woodwork and took $12000 of our money! Another nice addition to all this work was the arrest warrant and court appearances we had to attend. Attorney's fees and a final judgment in our favor for the $12,000 that we found out we will probably not see a dime.

This is a commitment on the highest scale. We survived losing the money and two years of our life and on the very next day after the final court judgment, we bought a brand new Airstream.

I would advise saving up and buy an Airstream that has already gone through a lot of loving care for your first venture.
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